Mike Dunford posted Entry 1501 on September 22, 2005 04:07 AM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/1497

There’s an article in today’s York Dispatch about the upcoming Intelligent Design lawsuit. This particular article discusses the rats leaving the sin Discovery Institute’s principled decision not to support the Dover school district in this case. Most of the quotes from the various DI talking heads is the usual stuff, but there was one statement attributed to Casey Luskin that displays a disregard for reality that is below and beneath even the rather loose standards of the Discovery Institute:

He [Luskin] said the Discovery Institute is “not trying to hinder their case in court,” but the organization wants intelligent design to be debated by the scientific community, not school boards

Read more (at The Questionable Authority):

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Comment #49162

Posted by Joe Blough on September 22, 2005 6:28 AM (e)

York Dispatch wrote:

Teaching intelligent design is not unconstitutional, but the institute doesn’t support the Dover school board’s stand because it doesn’t want intelligent design to become a political issue, said Casey Luskin, program officer in the Public Policy and Legal Affairs department at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

They don’t want ID to become a political issue?? Uhhh, it’s a bit late to worry about that. This became a political issue years ago with things like the Santorum Amendment and Sen. Santorum himself writing pro-ID op-eds in various newspapers. It became a political issue when the DI held their ‘Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design and Its Implications for Public Policy and Education’ briefing on Capitol Hill, in May 2000. And add to that the DI’s press releases, public opinion polls, lobbying state and local school boards to “teach the controversy”.

ID is politics and has been almost from the very beginning.

Comment #49163

Posted by El Brujo on September 22, 2005 7:10 AM (e)

The York Dispatch wrote:

But the institute has been a hindrance to the school district’s attempts to find “scientific” witnesses to testify about intelligent design, Thompson said.

That was a nice touch, putting “scientific” in quotes, as if they’re going to have to hold auditions at the local community theatre so they can find actors to portray ID proponents.

Comment #49164

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 22, 2005 7:17 AM (e)

But the institute has been a hindrance to the school district’s attempts to find “scientific” witnesses to testify about intelligent design, Thompson said.

I would think that the complete total utter inability of ID “theory” to produce anythign remotely resembling science, might have something to do with that …

Comment #49166

Posted by KL on September 22, 2005 7:26 AM (e)

The most revealing thing about this debate is the number of well known, nationally printed columnists and politicians who write essays filled with errors, misconceptions, and in some cases, outright lies. They fail to do their homework and believe propaganda from people like Behe and Dembski, and from places like the DI. When they write so poorly about the one thing I know something about, how can I believe what they write on topics I am ignorant of? To me, everything printed is now suspect. If I want to educate myself about an issue, who can I trust?

Comment #49168

Posted by minimalist on September 22, 2005 8:11 AM (e)

I don’t know, KL, there have been some bright spots. I’ve seen plenty of prominent columnists coming out in favor of science on this topic. Even archconservative columnists like George “Hooray for rich people” Will and Charles “Hooray for war” Krauthammer have thoroughly bashed ID in their syndicated columns.

Most of the really ignorant articles and essays have come from no-name reporters and crank guest editorials, as far as I’ve seen.

Comment #49169

Posted by kay on September 22, 2005 8:11 AM (e)

I think I figured out the Waterloo thing – Dembski is actually French.

Comment #49170

Posted by Andrea Bottaro on September 22, 2005 8:28 AM (e)

Sure. That’s why they hired the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” P.R. company to push their agenda. That’s what we all do in the scientific community. Currently, I am working hard on a new ad campaign I’d like to associate with my next grant submission. We’ll broadcast it to the TVs of perspective grant reviewers at the NIH “study section”. Marketing studies show that successfully placed TV commercials can increase grant funding chances by 57% for reviewers in the 35-50 age range. If anyone here has ideas about a catchy jingle, please let me know.

Shame on you, Casey!

Comment #49171

Posted by JJ on September 22, 2005 9:04 AM (e)

A thought just occured to me ( don’t have these too often)…What would happen if we(pro science people) started to use the anti-science peoples’ rhetoric against them, we might be able to (at the very least) put a kink in their armor.

For example, we can say, this ID thing is just a non-scientific hypothesis and hasn’t come close any scientific rigor nor observable data that would indicate that it is a viable alternate to any scientific theory.

My main emphasis here is for us to band together and use similar rhetoric that they use such as… non-scientific hypothesis rather that the word “theory.” In my (humble) opinion, using the word theory (even when it is quotes) actually gives ID some credibility.

I have to give the anti-scientists credit for getting out their word. Over the past five years or so, I kept hearing the phrase “evolution is just a theory.” I remember the first time I heard this phrase. I fellow racquetball player and I were discussing the state of education in the US. I brought up science education and he just latched on to that and said “evolution is just a theory.” I was speechless. i didn’t know how to respond. I wondered if he knew that what I was hearing was…”evolution is just this thing that has been established over the past 140+ years by observations of the natural world, fossil records, DNA evidence, etc. by these hack athiests who know nothing of the miracles of god.”

Our discussion turned into a debate (a crowd gathered at the racquetball court). The only thing I thought to ask him was “do you know of an alternate theory that better explains how we and all animals and plants formed?” Of course his response was ID Theory. I then asked him if he knew what a theory was. I don’t really remember his response because he went off on some rant about “this guy that came to discuss this issue at his church.” This guy told him that whenever discussing the issue of evolution to “…throw back that evolution is just a theory.”–I get nauseous very time I hear this. Then, he started talking about the “missing link”…blah blah blah. I had heard it all before.

I really think we need to come up with some catch phrases that we can all keep repeating and repeating and repeating. If we do this, we might make them feel some of the nausea that I (and I’m sure some of you) have felt over the years every time I hear that stupid phrase “evolution is…” …I can’t even type it.

Thanks for having a site where we can vent about the sillyness and stupidity that surrounds us. I think I’ve said too much.

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch all of you with His Noodly Appendage.

Comment #49172

Posted by JJ on September 22, 2005 9:05 AM (e)

A thought just occured to me ( don’t have these too often)…What would happen if we(pro science people) started to use the anti-science peoples’ rhetoric against them, we might be able to (at the very least) put a kink in their armor.

For example, we can say, this ID thing is just a non-scientific hypothesis and hasn’t come close any scientific rigor nor observable data that would indicate that it is a viable alternate to any scientific theory.

My main emphasis here is for us to band together and use similar rhetoric that they use such as… non-scientific hypothesis rather that the word “theory.” In my (humble) opinion, using the word theory (even when it is quotes) actually gives ID some credibility.

I have to give the anti-scientists credit for getting out their word. Over the past five years or so, I kept hearing the phrase “evolution is just a theory.” I remember the first time I heard this phrase. I fellow racquetball player and I were discussing the state of education in the US. I brought up science education and he just latched on to that and said “evolution is just a theory.” I was speechless. i didn’t know how to respond. I wondered if he knew that what I was hearing was…”evolution is just this thing that has been established over the past 140+ years by observations of the natural world, fossil records, DNA evidence, etc. by these hack atheists who know nothing of the miracles of god.”

Our discussion turned into a debate (a crowd gathered at the racquetball court). The only thing I thought to ask him was “do you know of an alternate theory that better explains how we and all animals and plants formed?” Of course his response was ID Theory. I then asked him if he knew what a theory was. I don’t really remember his response because he went off on some rant about “this guy that came to discuss this issue at his church.” This guy told him that whenever discussing the issue of evolution to “…throw back that evolution is just a theory.”–I get nauseous very time I hear this. Then, he started talking about the “missing link”…blah blah blah. I had heard it all before.

I really think we need to come up with some catch phrases that we can all keep repeating and repeating and repeating. If we do this, we might make them feel some of the nausea that I (and I’m sure some of you) have felt over the years every time I hear that stupid phrase “evolution is…” …I can’t even type it.

Thanks for having a site where we can vent about the silliness and stupidity that surrounds us. I think I’ve said too much.

May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch all of you with His Noodly Appendage.

Comment #49174

Posted by AR on September 22, 2005 9:57 AM (e)

Perhaps it would be proper to add to the count of those peer-reviewed papers by ID adviocates a few words about the quality of those papers and their relevance to the ID vs science debate. While I know nothing about the rest of the papers in question, at least two of them have been discussed in detail including right here on PT. These are papers by Meyer and by Behe & Snoke. They are different - Meyers’s paper is a review while Behe & Snoke’s paper is closer to a normal research paper. But both have been found seriously flawed. Quality may be even more telling than quantity - it can be justifiably stated that so far ID crowd has not produced anything of value in any field of science or math insofar as their output relates to the evo vs creo debate.

Comment #49175

Posted by AR on September 22, 2005 9:58 AM (e)

Perhaps it would be proper to add to the count of those peer-reviewed papers by ID adviocates a few words about the quality of those papers and their relevance to the ID vs science debate. While I know nothing about the rest of the papers in question, at least two of them have been discussed in detail including right here on PT. These are papers by Meyer and by Behe & Snoke. They are different - Meyers’s paper is a review while Behe & Snoke’s paper is closer to a normal research paper. But both have been found seriously flawed. Quality may be even more telling than quantity - it can be justifiably stated that so far ID crowd has not produced anything of value in any field of science or math insofar as their output relates to the evo vs creo debate.

Comment #49176

Posted by AR on September 22, 2005 10:00 AM (e)

Sorry for pressing the “post” button twice. My fault. AR

Comment #49178

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on September 22, 2005 10:05 AM (e)

For example, we can say, this ID thing is just a non-scientific hypothesis

Technically, does an idea have to be testable to qualify as a hypothesis?

Whether the DI is involved or not, the Kitzmiller case will establish a legal precedent that IDC = creationism and that IDC = religion. This is going to hurt them next time around, no matter how carefully they choose the situation.

Comment #49179

Posted by Tom on September 22, 2005 10:15 AM (e)

AR wrote:

… it can be justifiably stated that so far ID crowd has not produced anything of value in any field of science or math insofar as their output relates to the evo vs creo debate.

Oh yeah? Here’s Three ID discoveries that say otherwise.

Comment #49181

Posted by PSL on September 22, 2005 10:21 AM (e)

I love the idea of our own catch phrases to combat ID. We should also come up with a slew of questions we can put to any IDer that confronts us with ridiculous statements about evolution or irreducible complexity like where did the Intelligent Designer come from? Why would s/he make so many “mistakes” is design like the ostrich or dodo, birds that cannot fly?

Also, did anyone catch the article about creationists confronting museum docents at
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/sep/22/evolution_teaching_debate_makes_its_way_kansas_his/

The creationists state that there is a lot of criticism out there for evolution. This statement just makes me want to scream! It doesn’t matter how much criticism there is, it matters WHO is making the criticism. When people without any understanding of basic biological and scientific principles criticize science, it is irrelevant whether there is one person or one million people doing the criticism. They don’t know what they’re talking about and therefor their opion carries no weight. That opinion doesn’t matter!!!

Sheesh…. I get really upset about this stuff.

Comment #49182

Posted by Ken Willis on September 22, 2005 10:27 AM (e)

There is one thing wrong with evolution but I think it would be a flaw in intelligent design as well. Why are so many people near sighted? Why didn’t near sightedness get wiped out by sabre-toothed tigers a few thousand years ago?

Comment #49185

Posted by KeithB on September 22, 2005 10:58 AM (e)

Ostriches do very well, thank you - hardly a “mistake” at all, whether designed or not. It must be a pretty good niche, emu’s and the other large flightless bird do very well, too.

Dodo’s did fine until the ecosystem changed.

Maybe nearsighted folks were protected by the others since they were good at picking small seeds out of the dirt. Also, early humans were pretty social, so the poor-sighted ones - like me 8^) - could depend on others for warnings.

Are there near-sighted chimps or Gorillas?

Comment #49186

Posted by Scott Simmons on September 22, 2005 11:17 AM (e)

One possible explanation, Ken, is that nearsightedness is caused by primarily environmental rather than genetic factors, and thus isn’t susceptible to natural selection. Another is that the gene or genes responsible are linked to genes with positive value, so there is a net selective pressure in favor of the overall group (as with the sickle-cell anemia gene helping confer resistance to malaria). Here are some papers suggesting that myopia is linked to brain development; if this hypothesis is correct, the survival of the myopia gene can be attributed to the increased brainpower of the nearsighted. (On average, of course. And as someone having about 10/200 vision, I’m naturally attracted to this theory!)

The big difference between these evolutionary hypotheses and any ID hypotheses (whatever they might be-the FSM likes the nearsighted, maybe?) is that the evolutionary hypotheses can be, and are being, tested …

Comment #49187

Posted by Mona on September 22, 2005 11:26 AM (e)

I always feel a bit stupid commenting on such things, cuz I’m no scientist, but here goes: isn’t near-sightedness something that gets worse with age? That is my personal experience; I could get away without corrective lenses until I was 15, but could not remotely do it now, at 49.

The lifespan when humans were in caves fighting tigers was about 20-25, was it not? So a minimal amount of near-sightedness in the “young” might not have been an insurmountable affliction. And, one would assume the profoundly near-sighted were frequenly selected against before they reproduced.

Anyhoo, my frequent come back to those who claim we are intelligently designed is the location of the human female urethra. It is the cause of much suffering from bladder and kidney infections, as I can personally attest to. Then there is the fact that until modern surgery, appendicitis killed something like one in ten children or young adults. So why did the “intelligent” Creator give us the freakin’ thing?

Comment #49188

Posted by Moses on September 22, 2005 11:27 AM (e)

Comment #49182

Posted by Ken Willis on September 22, 2005 10:27 AM (e) (s)

There is one thing wrong with evolution but I think it would be a flaw in intelligent design as well. Why are so many people near sighted? Why didn’t near sightedness get wiped out by sabre-toothed tigers a few thousand years ago?

I was at a seminar at the Pepperdine School of Law years ago. It was boring, so I went into their library and by happenstance read a book by Jon L. Karlsson titled “The Genitics of Human Mentality.” Karlsson explored three factors of human mentality in the Icelandic population. These were a family history of myopia, psychosis and alcoholism.

What I read, and it was a long time ago, was myopia was inheritbable condition that provides benifit without liability in a heterozygous condition and twice the benifit with liablity in a homozygous condition. Speficially, a population of persons with one myopia gene will (all other factors being controlled), on average, have an IQ 7 points above “average” on full non-myopes. A population fo persons with two myopia genes will (all other factors being controlled), on average, have an IQ approximately 15 points over average.

Karlsson’s work on myopia has been duplicated over time. i.e., myopes run “smart” and mypopia is an inheritable condition, not from reading, masturbation or excessive near-work.

I read this article a few years ago and it brings up evolution, myopia, asthma and allergies. I don’t know enough about the fundamentals of evolution to address the evolutionary concepts, but I thought it was interesting:

MYOPIA, INTELLIGENCE, AND THE EXPANDING HUMAN NEOCORTEX
[International Journal of Neuroscience (1999)]
Precis of Storfer on Brain-Intelligence

I have never discussed it with anyone so I don’t know if it’s solid science, speculative science or just complete bull**** as it goes into a lot more than Karlsson. But, it was interesting.

Comment #49189

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 22, 2005 11:30 AM (e)

Are there near-sighted chimps or Gorillas?

I think I saw some TV show in the late 60’s where a chimp was wearing glasses…

Comment #49193

Posted by Moses on September 22, 2005 11:55 AM (e)

Comment #49189

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 22, 2005 11:30 AM (e) (s)

Are there near-sighted chimps or Gorillas?

I think I saw some TV show in the late 60’s where a chimp was wearing glasses…

Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp. Not only did Lancelot wear glasses in his disguise, but the Duchess also wore glasses and the Baron wore a monocle and Wang Fu had a Charlie Chan mustache.

Comment #49194

Posted by W. Kevin Vicklund on September 22, 2005 11:58 AM (e)

Actually, it is far-sightedness, not near-sightedness, that is correlated to age.

Comment #49195

Posted by Skip on September 22, 2005 12:04 PM (e)

The paper’s supposed relevance to ID is the key point. While a couple of them, penned by DI fellows themselves, may promote ID, the rest probably do not.

The DI shot themselves in the foot and lost a considerable amount of credibility when they compiled their bibliography of papers that supposedly cast doubt on evolution and submitted them to the Ohio Board of Education back in 2002.

The initial response was what I imagine the DI was hoping for: confusion. How were board of education members supposed to decipher these highly technical papers and decide if they really posed any challenge to evolution? Clearly, they couldn’t, so the DI simply hoped they’d take their word for it.

NCSE did an analysis of the bibliography that included contacting many authors of the papers, and many of them were, to put it bluntly, seriously pissed off that the DI would distort their work to use as a tool in their political agenda.

It may have been written a while back, but I would highly recommend reading NCSE’s analysis and the comments by the authors of some of papers used back in 2002 to gain a real insight into the downright dishonest and slimey way the DI tries to use real science as a prop to compensate for their complete lack of any actual original research supporting ID:

http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/3878_analysis_of_the_discovery_inst_4_5_2002.asp

Comment #49196

Posted by sanjait on September 22, 2005 12:45 PM (e)

JJ wrote: “For example, we can say, this ID thing is just a non-scientific hypothesis and hasn’t come close any scientific rigor nor observable data that would indicate that it is a viable alternate to any scientific theory.”

I was thinking the exact same thing as I read the start of this thread. Blast you, you beat me to publication!

What better way to illustrate to a lay public about what “theory” means than with a counterexample, a hypothesis. To be useful scientifically, a hypothesis should be testable (one major strike against ID), but I think an idea can qualify as a hypothesis without testing. We can’t positively conclude that ID will never think of a way to test (although it is looking doubtful now), but by framing the issue in this way we put the onus on them to do so. Anyone can have a hypothesis, but to qualify as theory, in the scientific rather than colloquial definition of the word, a hypothesis must be rigorously tested and supported by evidence. Our revulsion to IDists is rationally based on their obvious attempts to claim theory status without coming up with any evidence. If and when they go through the process of providing evidence for their hypothesis over the established theory, I think many researchers, including myself, would take great interest in examining the issue further. The key aspect is that even non-science types can understand that, we don’t reject it because it conforms to someone’s religious ideas, we reject it because it is as yet entirely unfounded.

Tom wrote: “Oh yeah? Here’s Three ID discoveries that say otherwise.”

I don’t know if this is a joke or what, but so far nobody has responded to Tom so I’ll do the honors, as it relates to the rest of this post.

That page is a talking points memo from an ID website. There is nothing there in the for of actual evidence that supports the ID hypothesis. Did you post the wrong link? When you have any evidence to support the ID hypothesis, come back and the scientific community will gladly discuss its veracity and significance with you.

Comment #49199

Posted by Ed Tayter on September 22, 2005 1:06 PM (e)

sanjait,

Tom’s link was to an ID spoof site. The Predator designer should probably have been a dead giveaway.

Ed

Comment #49200

Posted by Bayesian Bouffant, FCD on September 22, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

I don’t know if this is a joke or what

The line about pastry science did it for me.

Comment #49206

Posted by qetzal on September 22, 2005 2:29 PM (e)

I wouldn’t say ID is “just a non-scientific hypothesis.”

Rather, I’d say ID isn’t even a hypothesis.

Comment #49211

Posted by JohnK on September 22, 2005 3:13 PM (e)

AR wrote:

Perhaps it would be proper to add to the count of those peer-reviewed papers by ID advocates a few words about the quality of those papers and their relevance to the ID vs science debate. While I know nothing about the rest of the papers in question, at least two of them have been discussed in detail including right here on PT. These are papers by Meyer and by Behe & Snoke. Meyer’s paper is a review while Behe & Snoke’s paper is closer to a normal research paper. But both have been found seriously flawed.

Of the remaining 4 papers Mike Duford listed:
Denton’s two papers deal with non-Darwinian evolutionary processes, Denton et al. (2002) explicitly refers to natural law. They imply, at best, a cosmological fine-tuning argument – of course “intelligent design” can’t be probabalistically inferred from a sample of one. Denton is a favorite of ID because his flawed two decade-old book has become a chestnut of theirs, a critique which Denton has basically abandoned.

Loennig and Saedler (2002) cite Behe and Dembski only in a couple long lists of references. Neither’s concepts or methodology is singled out; the term “design” never appears.

Finally and most interesting
D.K.Y. Chiu & T.H. Lui, “Integrated Use of Multiple Interdependent Patterns for Biomolecular Sequence Analysis,” International Journal of Fuzzy Systems, 4(3) (September 2002): 766-775.
used to be available here
http://www.fuzzy.org.tw/download/IJFS_%AD%5E%A4%E5%B4%C1%A5Z/4(3)/4(3)-4.pdf
The opening paragraph (not the abstract):

Detection of complex specified information is introduced to infer unknown underlying causes for observed patterns [10]. By complex information, it refers to information obtained from observed pattern or patterns that are highly improbable by random chance alone. We evaluate here the complex pattern corresponding to multiple observations of statistical interdependency such that they all deviate significantly from the prior or null hypothesis [8]. Such multiple interdependent patterns when consistently observed can be a powerful indication of common underlying causes. That is, detection of significant multiple interdependent patterns in a consistent way can lead to the discovery of possible new or hidden knowledge.

Reference [10]: Dembski’s The Design Inference

The article does not cite [10] again, has nothing to do with a conclusion of “design”, and never mentions “specification”, “detachable”, Dembski’s Explanatory Filter, his Universal Probability Bound or any other Dembski concept – including CSI after those initial sentences. It is basically about finding correlations, and essentially employs Bayesian hypothesis testing, which Dembski-ism eschews. Its methodology addresses an example of human disease, not evolutionary relationships. The first author was a member of Dembski’s ISCID and had a background in algorithms for voice recognition before writing this paper. Seems like a gratuitous attempt to insert a irrelevant citation to a Dembski term and reference to get it into the peer-reviewed literature. His Fuzzy Logic reviewers (perhaps Taiwanese?) probably never heard of Dembski and had no idea of the significance of formal DembskiCSI.

Comment #49217

Posted by sanjait on September 22, 2005 4:01 PM (e)

“Tom’s link was to an ID spoof site. The Predator designer should probably have been a dead giveaway.”

Ok, I don’t know who this makes look worse, me for being inattentive or IDists for being so near to self-parody that I couldn’t immediately tell the difference.

Regarding the Taiwanese paper mentioned above: This is extremely interesting. It is not surprising that Demski would trumpet the reference, but if one reads this paragraph closely it is very reasonable and actually demolishes Demski’s design inference in the first sentence.

“Detection of complex specified information is introduced to infer unknown underlying causes for observed patterns [10].” CSI isn’t used to infer design, it is used to infer unknown underlying causes. Even if Demski’s models accurately protrayed the probability of a complex system evolving using present knowledge of evolutionary theory, the low probability outcome wouldn’t lead to a design inference, it would lead to an “unkown” inference. I read a criticism of Demski from Shallit (can’t remember where but it was linked from a PT thread) that said essentially the same thing.
If we calculated our present understanding of evolution was insufficient to account for the observed, we would reasonably infer unknown rather than supernatural causes. However, it also must be observed that Demski’s calculations don’t accurately model the evolutionary process, which makes the methodology flawed on two major fronts.

Lastly, there are many defitions of “hypothesis,” some that require and some that don’t require testability. In a scientific sense, I don’t think it is necessarily complimentary to call an idea “hypothetical.” I would grand ID that if it helped people to understand what “theory” by contrast implies.

Comment #49220

Posted by Ken Willis on September 22, 2005 4:30 PM (e)

Thanks much to Scott Simmons, Mona and Moses. Good stuff. I should have thought of the link between whatever gene causes myopia with some other gene of positive value, as is the case with sickle cell anemia. If so, that would be a powerful explanation.

If there is a link with being smarter I wonder how that relates to the cultural phenomenon of people putting on glasses because they think it makes them look smarter? That has existed since before there was any research showing any definite link.

Speaking of genes that give one a higher IQ, there has been news recently of the discovery of a gene in certain populations that seems to be related to higher IQ. I wonder if such a gene would be selected for anymore. One need not be very smart nowadays to have a lot of offspring who survive, so is high IQ even an adaptive trait anymore? Of course, I realize that this newly discovered gene would not be a recent occurrence but would no doubt be the present result of selection processes a few tens of thousands of years in the past.

Comment #49221

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 22, 2005 4:49 PM (e)

I wonder if such a gene would be selected for anymore. One need not be very smart nowadays to have a lot of offspring who survive, so is high IQ even an adaptive trait anymore?

Not that education necessarily correlates with intelligence (high IQ), but in the developed world, the well-educated have fewer children than other segments of society.

In my view, it’s a fairly dicey prospect determining what traits might or might not be “adaptive” for modern humans. Evolutionary Psychology, for instance, concentrates largely on explaining behavior in terms of its adaptiveness to our Neolithic (and earlier) ancestors. Obviously, resistance to pathogens never goes out of style, but, again, speaking of the developed world, cultural factors like access to healthcare are going to be much more salient than genetic predispositions. It’s most “adaptive” to be rich, which is, of course, heritable, but not in the sense of that word biologists are familiar with.

Comment #49222

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 22, 2005 5:30 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #49223

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 22, 2005 5:34 PM (e)

We should also come up with a slew of questions we can put to any IDer that confronts us with ridiculous statements about evolution or irreducible complexity like where did the Intelligent Designer come from? Why would s/he make so many “mistakes” is design like the ostrich or dodo, birds that cannot fly?

Also, did anyone catch the article about creationists confronting museum docents at
http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2005/sep/22/evoluti…

You guys haven’t been here very long, have ya. ;>

Comment #49236

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 22, 2005 7:07 PM (e)

CJ O’Brien: …it’s a fairly dicey prospect determining what traits might or might not be “adaptive” for modern humans.

At least one trait will indubitably be adaptive in the next several centuries for humans and all other species: resistance to the toxic, carcinogenic and teratogenic effects of the long-lived chemicals & radioisotopes which have been released into our planetary ecosystem over the last century or so.

Comment #49237

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 22, 2005 7:13 PM (e)

Indeed.
But, again, socio-cultural factors will determine for what sectors of the population it will be the most adaptive.
i.e. the poor citizens of the undeveloped world have no choice to drink Dasani, or move away from the refinery, etc.

But good point.

Comment #49254

Posted by A on September 22, 2005 10:20 PM (e)

They’re not actually backpedaling as such, the DI doesn’t want ID to be taught in schools, they only want Darwinian Evolution to be criticised in schools.

Comment #49255

Posted by Ron Okimoto on September 22, 2005 11:15 PM (e)

They’re not actually backpedaling as such, the DI doesn’t want ID to be taught in schools, they only want Darwinian Evolution to be criticised in schools.

Read the Wedge document, then go to the Discovery Institute web site and go to the author publications for Meyers and Dembski and look at their education essays from around 1996 or 1997. Both of these guys advocated teaching ID. The Wedge document that the Discovery Institute claims was just a “fund raising” document sets forward a plan to lobby school boards and legislatures. ID was the Wedge, but recent quotes from West indicate that around 1999 they dropped the ID scam for the teach the controversy scam. West was mumbling something about the DI not wanting ID to be misrepresented, but it seems that the scam artists realized by 1999 that ID wasn’t going to work as the Wedge. So the Discovery Institute backpeddled on ID they just did it half a decade ago, but forgot to tell the rubes in Dover that believed the ID propaganda. The rubes in Ohio hadn’t gotten the message either. For a change in policy the DI sure kept it quite. I didn’t know that they had changed the scam until Meyers gave the Ohio rubes the new scam in 2002-2003. The Colloquy had a discussion on the topic of teaching ID in 2002 just before Meyers told the Ohio board to drop ID and go with the new scam, and not a single ID advocate even mentioned that the Discovery Institue policy had changed. They obviously didn’t know, or were too embarassed to say anything. It was a big surprise to the ID organization that was backing the Ohio board (the SEAO, supposedly a group of academics). The SEAO web page used to claim that they supported teaching the scientific theory of ID, but after Meyers told them that the old scam was off, they changed the web page to the new scam. Santorum seems to have switched over to the new scam, but he used to advocate teaching ID. It is probably the reason that they can produce Santorum quotes that contradict each other on this issue.

Backpedaling would seem to be the least that you could say about what the DI is doing.

Comment #49259

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 12:15 AM (e)

There backpedalling in the sense that their changing their ideas very rapidly, probably because of outside pressure, but their not backpedalling in the sense clearly intended, that is they are not changing their views for this particular situation.

Oh, by the way, I’ve a suggestion for the colloquy society, put some energy into Gifted and Talented Education and encourage all the other high IQ societies to do so. The state of Gifted and Talented Education is appalling, we need people with actual high IQ’s to stand up to the “I don’t believe in IQ” crowd. Show them where their supposedly egalitarian ideas lead and have led.

The whole IQ controversy has a number of similarities with the ID controversy.

1- The whole things already been solved, 99% of experts agree that Intelligence is quantifiable, at least in some form, just like 99% of experts believe Darwinian evolution is true.
2- The controversy has been created for political reasons. The IQ debate was created by Stephen Gould to propagate his bizarre Marxist fantasies while the ID debate was made up to satisfy a bunch of fundies.
3- Like evolution deniers IQ deniers are acting for what they feel are pure motives, not realising the catastrophes they would create if they managed to bring everyone over to their side. (i.e Gifted and Talented Education would collapse, as would education for the retarded, if anti IQism triumphed, while new fields of medicine and the separation of church and state would buckle if ID triumphed.)

Comment #49260

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 12:15 AM (e)

There backpedalling in the sense that their changing their ideas very rapidly, probably because of outside pressure, but their not backpedalling in the sense clearly intended, that is they are not changing their views for this particular situation.

Oh, by the way, I’ve a suggestion for the colloquy society, put some energy into Gifted and Talented Education and encourage all the other high IQ societies to do so. The state of Gifted and Talented Education is appalling, we need people with actual high IQ’s to stand up to the “I don’t believe in IQ” crowd. Show them where their supposedly egalitarian ideas lead and have led.

The whole IQ controversy has a number of similarities with the ID controversy.

1- The whole things already been solved, 99% of experts agree that Intelligence is quantifiable, at least in some form, just like 99% of experts believe Darwinian evolution is true.
2- The controversy has been created for political reasons. The IQ debate was created by Stephen Gould to propagate his bizarre Marxist fantasies while the ID debate was made up to satisfy a bunch of fundies.
3- Like evolution deniers IQ deniers are acting for what they feel are pure motives, not realising the catastrophes they would create if they managed to bring everyone over to their side. (i.e Gifted and Talented Education would collapse, as would education for the retarded, if anti IQism triumphed, while new fields of medicine and the separation of church and state would buckle if ID triumphed.)

Comment #49264

Posted by Louis on September 23, 2005 3:24 AM (e)

As an humorous aside, I heard a very amusing comedy “argument” against evolutionary biology today. It runs roughly thus:

“If evolution were true then antelopes would have evolved pictures of chairs on their backsides because one thing that years of circuses have shown is that lions are afraid of chairs.”

QED if you ask me ;-)

Comment #49266

Posted by Ron Okimoto on September 23, 2005 6:18 AM (e)

A:

Claiming that the Discovery Institute has the same goals is not the same as claiming that the DI is not back peddling on ID. It may be possible that a high IQ isn’t all it is cracked up to be. Claiming that you are going to use ID as the Wedge to accomplish your political goals, and then having to drop ID as the Wedge is back peddling on ID. What does it tell you when you find out that the DI has a new scam that doesn’t even mention ID? Go to the Discovery Institute web site and look up the Ohio model lesson plan and try and find the ID in it. All that you will find is the old creationist obfuscation scam. These are the guys that claimed that they were not scientific creationists, and what are they now trying to do? They are using the same junk as the scientific creationists, but they make no mention of creationism or the Bible so the arguments don’t make a whole lot of sense in terms of their goals that have remained unchanged. The IDiots used to claim that they had something more than the scientific creationists that failed before them. They tried very hard to claim that they were different, but what is different about the new scam? What good is teaching a controversy, when you can’t mention why you really want to teach the controversy without looking like a scientific creationist scam artists? It looks like they don’t have something more, but that they have to leave out the relevant parts.

I’m all for gifted classes. My kids have done well by them. I don’t know what IQ deniers are. Have you ever tried to measure a trait with a large environmental component? It should probably be required for all persons that want to use any IQ measure for something. They should have to go someplace and measure a trait that doesn’t have the emotional baggage of IQ and see how difficult it is to get accurate trait measures when you do have some control over the environment of the test subjects.

Ron Okimoto

Comment #49272

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 7:01 AM (e)

“I don’t know what IQ deniers are”

Sorry I assumed that when you said there was discussion going on at Colloquy about the subject, I assumed you were referring to the high IQ society Colloquy ( Colloquy accepts persons with a body of evidence suggesting an IQ in the 99.5th percentile plus, which equals an IQ of 140+.)

The IQ deniers are a singularly infuriating people, usually with relativistic or sceptical epistemological tendencies ( often Marxist or postmodernist), who claim that IQ is a meaningless social construct, and that there is no real difference between a child with an IQ of 100 ( or even 50) and an IQ of 200, their posthumous leader is probably Stephen J Gould who published “The Mismeasure of Man”. They pose a great threat to gifted and talented education, as they would in essence broaden the definition of gifted and talented to include every child, such that money allocated to Gifted and Talented programs would be distributed equally between all students, the ultimate pseudo egalitarianism.

Personally I feel that there is a substantial difference between a child who learns to read at 8 months and goes to uni at five ( believe it or not, there are well documented cases.) and an adult who has a vocabulary of 30 words, but maybe that’s just me.

Oh by the way, did anyone notice that a counter ID game has came out, to match “Pandamonium”? you get to play the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and you have to convert people as quickly as possible.

Comment #49273

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 7:01 AM (e)

“I don’t know what IQ deniers are”

Sorry I assumed that when you said there was discussion going on at Colloquy about the subject, I assumed you were referring to the high IQ society Colloquy ( Colloquy accepts persons with a body of evidence suggesting an IQ in the 99.5th percentile plus, which equals an IQ of 140+.)

The IQ deniers are a singularly infuriating people, usually with relativistic or sceptical epistemological tendencies ( often Marxist or postmodernist), who claim that IQ is a meaningless social construct, and that there is no real difference between a child with an IQ of 100 ( or even 50) and an IQ of 200, their posthumous leader is probably Stephen J Gould who published “The Mismeasure of Man”. They pose a great threat to gifted and talented education, as they would in essence broaden the definition of gifted and talented to include every child, such that money allocated to Gifted and Talented programs would be distributed equally between all students, the ultimate pseudo egalitarianism.

Personally I feel that there is a substantial difference between a child who learns to read at 8 months and goes to uni at five ( believe it or not, there are well documented cases.) and an adult who has a vocabulary of 30 words, but maybe that’s just me.

Oh by the way, did anyone notice that a counter ID game has came out, to match “Pandamonium”? you get to play the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and you have to convert people as quickly as possible.

Comment #49274

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 7:24 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #49275

Posted by Keith Douglas on September 23, 2005 8:06 AM (e)

Bayesian Bouffant, et. al: ID itself is not a hypothesis - at best it is a means of generating other hypotheses. For example, take Behe’s mousetrap analogy: the claim that (e.g.) bacteria flagella did not evolve, is a hypothesis as ordinarily understood.

Also, “IQ” deniers do come in various stripes. There’s a good discussion, for example, of the lack of genetic “basis” - that heritability analysis can’t do what is claimed for it in this case, in Sahotra Sarkar’s Genetics and Reductionism. Sarkar is neither a Marxist nor a postmodernist.

Comment #49276

Posted by DrFrank on September 23, 2005 8:16 AM (e)

I wouldn’t classify myself as an ‘IQ denier’, in that I do believe IQ tests do give an indication of intelligence level, but I also think that IQ tests are pretty flawed and people often take too much notice of them, along with plenty of other psychometric testing. The fact that you can practice IQ tests and get better at them is evidence that they are in several important wat invalid, since the basic assumption (certainly of the original Binet test) is that intelligence is innate and unchanging.

Of course, let’s not forget all the fun America had sterilising immigrants by asking them IQ tests filled with Americocentric questions. Similarly, Cyril Burt’s (fraudulent) work lead to the 11+ system, which condemned plenty of people here in Britain to second class education.

Yes, I agree that the gifted should be given the opportunity to develop those gifts to the fullest, but you must be very careful not to exclude those who do not pass a fairly unreliable test, particularly at an early age.

Comment #49277

Posted by Pierce R. Butler on September 23, 2005 8:25 AM (e)

A: The IQ deniers are a singularly infuriating people, usually with relativistic or sceptical epistemological tendencies ( often Marxist or postmodernist), who claim that IQ is a meaningless social construct…

Ya know, A, people in this forum are exceedingly familiar with “straw man” arguments, and most of us are on to red-baiting and pomophobia too.

It doesn’t require being in the top 0.5% bracket to grasp that human intelligence is a bit too complex to be represented very accurately by a single number - nor even to avoid duplicate postings twice in a row…

(BTW: Yay for the new “check spelling” option - now can we have a “check KwickXML formatting” button?)

Comment #49278

Posted by Flint on September 23, 2005 8:27 AM (e)

There [oops, should be they’re] backpedalling in the sense that their [second try, but should ALSO be they’re] changing their ideas very rapidly, probably because of outside pressure, but their [still not it, and should be they’re] not backpedalling in the sense clearly intended, that is they are [ahh, spelling out the contraction finally gets it right] not changing their [and this one is correct!] views for this particular situation.

I think we have found a member of the “homonyms are synonyms, just stick in any one of them” school of “thought”. Perhaps basic literacy is part of the Marxist conspiracy?

Comment #49279

Posted by Mike Dunford on September 23, 2005 9:04 AM (e)

With regard to the IQ “debate”:

1) It is entirely possible to be completely skeptical about the value of the concept of IQ, and yet fully support the various forms of “special ed”, including gifted and talented programs. “Intelligence” is an extraordinarily complex concept, and attempts to use a single number to quantify “intelligence” suffer from the fundamental flaw of assuming that everyone’s brain works in pretty much the same way.

2) I suspect that the reasons for Gould’s opposition to IQ were a bit more complex, and more personal, than simple political ideology.

Comment #49280

Posted by Flint on September 23, 2005 9:26 AM (e)

Gould makes it very clear in his books that he has no objection to the notion that people have varying ability to do the kind of mental processing we lump under the general term “intelligence” – in fact, he considers this trivially obvious. However, he goes to great lengths to point out that exactly what this ability IS, is complex beyond our ability to define, multifaceted beyond our ability to specify facets, variable over time for any individual, etc. This being the case, any effort to quantify what we can’t qualify is an open invitation for abuse, which has been accepted consistently by those in power to cloak the status quo in scientistical trimmings.

Sure, we can quantify intelligence. But since we have little or no consensus what it IS that we’re quantifying, the resulting numbers mean whatever we choose them to mean. Gould consistently wrote that IQ testing can be a very useful way of identifying areas where individuals need help, but are instead applied as post facto justification for why whole classes of people deserve special treatment.

The IQ business has this in common with the creation business: it starts by assuming there IS such an animal just as creationists start by assuming everything happens through God’s Will. And from that point on, little that either camp says or does makes any sense unless that underlying assumption is accepted as true.

Comment #49281

Posted by guthrie on September 23, 2005 9:34 AM (e)

SAid A:
“They pose a great threat to gifted and talented education, as they would in essence broaden the definition of gifted and talented to include every child, such that money allocated to Gifted and Talented programs would be distributed equally between all students, the ultimate pseudo egalitarianism.”

Personally I think education should be funded (and tailored) so as to enable everyone in education to be educated to their potential.
The “fact” that I come out as a “libertarian leftie” on the political compass quiz is to my mind entirely besides the point.

Comment #49283

Posted by SteveF on September 23, 2005 10:12 AM (e)

I don’t know too much about the debates surrounding IQ - I can only speak from personal experience. I don’t have a massively high IQ (its OK, about average), but I have 2 degrees (getting a 1st at BSc and a distinction at MSc) and will soon have a doctorate. So quite frankly I couldn’t give a stuff what my IQ is.

Comment #49286

Posted by Alienward on September 23, 2005 10:38 AM (e)

From the end of Discovery Institute’s position statement on the Dover trial:

Discovery Institute strongly opposes the ACLU’s effort to make discussions of intelligent design illegal. At the same time, we disagree with efforts to get the government to require the teaching of intelligent design. Misguided policies like the one adopted by the Dover School District are likely to be politically divisive and hinder a fair and open discussion of the merits of intelligent design among scholars and within the scientific community, points we have made repeatedly since we first learned about the Dover policy in 2004. Furthermore, most teachers currently do not know enough about intelligent design or have sufficient curriculum materials to teach about it accurately and objectively.

The DI knows it can’t get away with promoting the teaching of ID, and teachers don’t know about ID, because there is no theory of ID. But even though DI YECs like Paul Nelson will admit there is no theory of ID, the DI is still deliberately lying to try and make people think there is. In their Dover Intelligent Design Trial Information section, they have a link to “Top Questions and Answers About Intelligent Design Theory” with the first question asking:

“1. What is the theory of intelligent design?
The scientific theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.”

“Rather than require students to learn about intelligent design, what we recommend is that teachers and students study more about Darwinian evolution, not only the evidence that supports the theory, but also scientific criticisms of the theory.”

Scientific criticisms like what, common descent no thappening? Even the DI creationists can’t agree about this one amongst themselves. And I wonder how the debate between Paul Nelson and Guillermo Gonzalez on the scientific criticisms of areas of science like astronomy, carbon dating, cosmology, geology, ice core dating, lake sediment dating, plate tectonics, and radiometric dating is going…

Comment #49289

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 11:11 AM (e)

Pierce R. Butler claims: Ya know, A, people in this forum are exceedingly familiar with “straw man” arguments, and most of us are on to red-baiting and pomophobia too.

It does not constitute “red-baiting” to face the amply documented fact that Marxists tend to be as intellectually confined as are certain religionists. They are extreme egalitarians, and notions of innate differences in intellect are difficult to reconcile with their political doctrine. Further, a left-leaning fellow such as Richard Dawkins has writing scathing indictments of pomo idiocy. Is he “pomophobic?”

Is PT contributor – and co-author of anti-ID Creationism’s Trojan Horse – Paul Gross “pomophobic”? Because he also co-authored a book about some radical leftists and the pomo crowd called Higher Superstition. Therein he documents this cohort’s hostility to reason and science.

The debate over IQ is an angry one. But it must be possible to quantify intellectual aptitude, else the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, such exams (when are basically IQ tests) are futile jokes. But in reality, they are predictive (tho not invariably so) of success in school, as well as ability to pass licensing exams.

That some of yesteryear’s IQ tests were flawed does not indict the entire endeavor, and my lay understanding is that such flaws have long been corrected. But it is hard to discuss this entire subject, because IQ tests consistently yield results that make us politically uncomfortable in the areas of gender and ethnic differences. And, there is legitimate concern as to what some not very enlightened people would like to do with such data. But if the data nevertheless has some validity, should it simply be angrily dismissed?

Comment #49292

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 12:01 PM (e)

Just as a point of information this article The Ineqaulity Taboo by Charles Murray seems to be a good, if lengthy, overview of the state of the current debate over innate intellectual differences. I’m not competent to know whether Murray is correct – I’m no psychometrician – but I ran into it at a blog linking to it wrt the brouhaha over Harvard President Larry Summers’ comments about gender and math skills. I would anticipate the discussion of racial differences later in the piece would be the most controversial, and it is this sort of data that makes everyone skittish about entering the territory at all.

Comment #49293

Posted by Mike Dunford on September 23, 2005 12:03 PM (e)

The GRE general exam might be more or less an IQ test, and I’m not sure about the LSAT since I’ve never taken it, but the MCAT and the GRE subject exams are not. They test whether or not the student has mastered specific concepts.

As far as the rest of that argument goes, I would suggest that the GRE general exam, the SAT, etc, test the student’s ability to do well on multiple choice tests. Since such exams are relatively common in school, and since many licensing exams follow that format, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see some correlation.

The concern that I have with relying heavily on such tests is that they essentially pick a single method of learning, and assess people based solely on their skills in that area. They do not take into account the incredible diversity that exists in ways of thinking, and they do not take into account the possibility that different might not be the same as “worse”.

Comment #49307

Posted by Ken Willis on September 23, 2005 1:17 PM (e)

Are the IQ tests one can take on the internet, such as at tickle.com, any good?

I’m no IQ denier, but my sister-in-law has a mensa IQ and I think she’s dumb as a post.

Comment #49308

Posted by Ken Willis on September 23, 2005 1:22 PM (e)

That link won’t work. This one does: tickle

Comment #49314

Posted by sanjait on September 23, 2005 1:51 PM (e)

Mona said: “But it must be possible to quantify intellectual aptitude, else the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, such exams (when are basically IQ tests) are futile jokes.” and “… there is legitimate concern as to what some not very enlightened people would like to do with such data. But if the data nevertheless has some validity, should it simply be angrily dismissed?”

I’m not angrily dismissing the idea of “innate intelligence” or the possibility of quantifying “intellectual aptitude”, but I notice there are some inherent problems with the process even as they are used and interpreted today, not just yesteryear. Mona seems to like to paint with broad strokes regarding the significant presence of raging Marxists or whatever controlling American education, but I can assure you I’m a capitalist, I believe in meritocracy and I’m perfectly calm at the moment.

Those test measure limited skill sets. I was an instructor for Kaplan, the nation’s largest testing service, for the MCAT and DAT tests (the latter basically an MCAT for dentists), and I promise they, like the GRE, SAT, LSAT and even all of them combined, paint a very incomplete picture of intelligence. A cynic would point out that one thing they strongly measure is who has enough money to hire a preparation service like ours.

They do have some predictive value regarding academic success in their particular fields, which should not be disregarded, but any admissions officer will attest to the fact that they are merely the most convenient available quantifier, rather than a strong predictor. The GRE and SAT are more general, but still only test basic algebra, geometry in the math section, and strangely obscure vocabulary coupled with reading using short term memory in the English sections. Kaplan teaches a mapping strategy, which is not intuitive but is highly successful, for beating the reading section’s predictive capacity. Similarly, the GRE analytical component tests a very specific puzzle solving skill, which ends up being mostly predictive of the amount and quality of preparation.

“Intellectual aptitude” is far too general a term to apply to these tests, and it is laughable to claim they measure “innate intelligence,” which seems to imply a genetic or other deterministic basis.

Guthrie put it best in another post:
“Personally I think education should be funded (and tailored) so as to enable everyone in education to be educated to their potential.” We should use the tests we have, keeping in mind their limitations, to try and apply our educational resources and strategies in an efficient way, but we shouldn’t pretend that intelligence is linear.

And an interesting post script: If my youthful recollections of how Soviet education was portrayed in my gradeschool classroom videos in the 1980s are correct, the Communists were the ones who relied heavily on aptitude tests to decide for which university program a person was qualified and which jobs person was to perform.

Comment #49317

Posted by Ed Darrell on September 23, 2005 2:23 PM (e)

2- The controversy has been created for political reasons. The IQ debate was created by Stephen Gould to propagate his bizarre Marxist fantasies while the ID debate was made up to satisfy a bunch of fundies.

I keep asking, without any success, why enemies of science claim that Stephen Jay Gould was Marxist. I can’t find any corroboration of the claim, and I believe it is done chiefly to try to tar Gould, unfairly. Were he Marxist, he’d not have been such a defender of evolution, most likely, considering the Marxists’ anti-Darwin views (which are close to those of creationists, ironically). Several right-wing-wacko web writings claimed Gould kept a picture of Marx reverently above his desk in his office. Had he done so, I suspect it would have been as part of a joke on the accusation that his science views were “Marxist” (go figure); but again, I can’t find any corroboration of the claim.

Then there is the issue of Gould’s book, The Mismeasure of Man. Does he argue that IQ can’t be measured? My recollection (and I’m away from my copy, so it will have to do at the moment) is that Gould argues we should not use such measures to determine social, political or economic rank. His argument is that such measures, even when the measures are rationally done and measure real stuff, cannot be done accurately enough to make such decisions, and that IQ is only one part of what makes a person “successful” – so the measures cannot be fairly said to measure one’s total potential for success. Howard Gardner at Harvard argues that there are at least eight different kinds of intelligence, and that almost all people are “genius” level in two of them. IQ tests measure only two of the eight kinds of intelligence, however – and so they miss three-quarters of the talents people use to make their way in life.

I’m puzzled how anyone could think Gould argued that IQ can’t be measured. I don’t think that’s at all what he said. I’m also puzzled that it should be a great controversy in an era where standardized tests are rapidly and not always wisely becoming a norm.

Comment #49319

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 23, 2005 2:58 PM (e)

I’m no IQ denier, but my sister-in-law has a mensa IQ and I think she’s dumb as a post.

Maybe my experiences are not entirely representative, but everyone I’ve ever known who’s actually been in Mensa has been so hopelessly socially inept that it renders their IQ’s entirely irrelevant…

Comment #49325

Posted by Dene Bebbington on September 23, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

Talking of IQ, whatever happened to Chris Langan who supposedly had a scale busting IQ? He had a paper published by ISCID and had lots of talk about his CTMU on the Internet around that same time. Since then he’s disappeared from the ID scene and is receiving less attention on the Internet from what I can see. He also had the dubious honour of being an ID advocate who was suspended or banned from ARN.

Comment #49326

Posted by Ken Willis on September 23, 2005 3:47 PM (e)

I once met a guy who is motor officer on a large city police dept. He has a mensa IQ but never rose above patrol rank in 25 years. He seemed plenty smart. Maybe he just liked riding the motorcycle, but other than the exceptional riding skills required it’s a pretty boring job consisting mostly of traffic matters. Another mensa member that I know of but don’t know personally murdered his nieghbor and their entire family for some trivial reason. Maybe that had nothing to do with his IQ, my personal experience is probably not representative of anything but it sure seems that the high IQ people I know or know of have had serious social problems.

Comment #49334

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 23, 2005 5:33 PM (e)

Maybe that had nothing to do with his IQ, my personal experience is probably not representative of anything but it sure seems that the high IQ people I know or know of have had serious social problems.

My original statement did not imply that high-IQ people have serious social problems, it was specifically that the kind of people who would actually want to do something as unimaginably lame as joining Mensa are the ones with serious social problems. Big difference.

I know lots of people who are very likely smart enough to get into Mensa who relate to humans just fine – often better than ‘dumb’ people – they’re just sensible enough not to join.

I was actually invited to join Mensa when I was young – around 12 or so – but even back at that tender age, I was savvy enough to take one look around and say screw this

Comment #49337

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:40 PM (e)

Marxists tend to be as intellectually confined as are certain religionists. They are extreme egalitarians

That’s pretty funny.

Ever wonder why the Party privileged lived in nice houses, and everyone else lived in cement block apartments?

I must confess that NOTHING the Leninists have ever done, strikes me as being “egalitarian” in any way, shape or form.

But I’m bored of your political rants, so I’ll just let you go ahead and ride your John Birch hobby horse again.

Comment #49338

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:42 PM (e)

I keep asking, without any success, why enemies of science claim that Stephen Jay Gould was Marxist.

‘Cause he was. He taught volunteer courses at the New York Marxist-Leninist school. Odd, since he wasn’t a Leninist (most people in the US, of course, being far too dumb and uninformed to know the difference between a “Marxist” and a “Leninist”).

Comment #49339

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:47 PM (e)

I once met a guy who is motor officer on a large city police dept. He has a mensa IQ but never rose above patrol rank in 25 years. He seemed plenty smart. Maybe he just liked riding the motorcycle, but other than the exceptional riding skills required it’s a pretty boring job consisting mostly of traffic matters.

Well, I tested at 142, and I dropped out of college ‘cause I hated it. Now I put prescription lenses in scuba masks for a living (a job that any reasonably bright chimpanzee could probably do just as well as I do, for not very much less money). (shrug).

I guess different people just have different definitions of what constitutes a “successful” life.

Comment #49341

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:50 PM (e)

I wouldn’t say ID is “just a non-scientific hypothesis.”

Rather, I’d say ID isn’t even a hypothesis.

More accurately, it’s a strategy for AVOIDING putting forth any hypothesis.

Comment #49342

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:52 PM (e)

Maybe my experiences are not entirely representative, but everyone I’ve ever known who’s actually been in Mensa has been so hopelessly socially inept that it renders their IQ’s entirely irrelevant…

Ya know … some people say the very same thing about those who hang out on computer blogs and Internet usegroups …. .

;>

Comment #49344

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 5:54 PM (e)

Communists were the ones who relied heavily on aptitude tests to decide for which university program a person was qualified and which jobs person was to perform.

The US military depended very very heavily on aptitude tests to determine which MOS its troops would go to.

Still does, IIRC.

Comment #49350

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 23, 2005 6:05 PM (e)

Karl Marx originally wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin, who, as a Manchester liberal, would seem to have been a strange choice. Intellectual history is far too complicated to be depicted in crayola.

Comment #49358

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 6:52 PM (e)

“Howard Gardner at Harvard argues that there are at least eight different kinds of intelligence, and that almost all people are “genius” level in two of them. IQ tests measure only two of the eight kinds of intelligence, however — and so they miss three-quarters of the talents people use to make their way in life.”

Firstly, there is no such thing as genius level, being a genius is as much about a spiritual state as intelligence, one can have any IQ you care to name and it does not guarantee you are a genius, that’s why psychologists stopped using the term in relation to IQ tests.

Secondly, when Psychologists do (releluctanlty) discus the idea of a genius level the norm used is around 1 in 200, or an IQ of 140 ( Terman one of the first IQ researchers used to term those getting an IQ above 140 “Geniuses”.)Hence even if the eight “Intelligences” of Garder exist, and are uncorrelated the probability of a genius is only 8 in 200, or 1 in 25. In actual fact the “Intelligences” correlate to such a high degree that a reasonable estimate of the probability of having an IQ over 140 in some area is probably 1 in a 100, that’s certainly not almost everyone as you maintained.

You have also misquoted Garder, who maintains that his work certainly does not imply that everyone is a genius in something. It’s only educators who have interpreted him poorly who believe this, engaged, as ever, in their futile attempt to prove “All children are gifted”. The idea sounds very nice to the first ear, but in practice the denial of access to grade skips and enrichment it results in for gifted students is one of the key reasons for the high suicide rate among the profoundly intelligent, (a recent study of 64 profoundly gifted kids, IQ 175 plus, or the one in 500,000 level depression and future academic success is very, very, very strongly correlated inversely with number of grade skips and enrichment programs the students had access to.)

Comment #49359

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 23, 2005 6:54 PM (e)

I’ve ever known who’s actually been in Mensa has been so hopelessly socially inept that it renders their IQ’s entirely irrelevant…

Ya know … some people say the very same thing about those who hang out on computer blogs and Internet usegroups …

Well, I know they say that… But Lenny, you and I know that’s just not true… :-)

Comment #49360

Posted by a on September 23, 2005 7:02 PM (e)

sanjait

There’s a reason the GRE and SAT test vocabulary. Vocabulary of all the subsections on an IQ test has the highest average correlation with all the others ( a huge 0.8 on the -1 to 1 scale). Indeed some have maintained that the best way to give IQ tests is to test vocabulary.

Consider the areas vocabulary correlates with

1- Long term memory
2- Logic skills ( working out what a word means from context).
3- Amount of learning ( Time spent reading etc has a very, very high correlation with IQ)
4- Verbal capacity ( Ability to see fine grains of meaning as well as ability to work out what the word means by comparsion to words with similar roots, for example being able to work out what Hyperlexia is, just by knowning what Dyslexia and Hyper mean.)

Comment #49362

Posted by SEF on September 23, 2005 7:10 PM (e)

What being repeatedly held back and held down to the level of the “normal” kids teaches smart kids is to say “stuff you” to the establishment or to the whole human species.

Comment #49363

Posted by A on September 23, 2005 7:28 PM (e)

SEF, do you mind if I quote you on that one. As you’ve probably figured out I am a Gifted and Talented Education advocate. I’d like to quote you becuase you just summed up the feelings of ever Gifted and Talented Education advocate of the last hundred years. I’d like to put your comment into an essay, it will be attributed to you of course.

By the way ( trying to tie this back to evolution, because this is a blog on evolution) has anyone considered the possibility that discrimination against the gifted might be an evolutionary stratgey designed to maximise chances of mating?

Comment #49371

Posted by Flint on September 23, 2005 7:58 PM (e)

Ed Darrell:

I’m puzzled how anyone could think Gould argued that IQ can’t be measured. I don’t think that’s at all what he said.

Gould quoted Tuddenham approvingly as saying “Test constructors will continue to employ factorial procedures, provided they pay off in improving the efficiency and predictive value of our test batteries, but the hope that factor analysis can supply a short inventory of ‘basic abilities’ is already waning. The continuous difficulties with factor analysis over the last half century suggest that there may be something fundamentally wrong with models which conceptualize intelligence in terms of a finite number of linear dimensions. To the statisticians dictum that whatever exists can be measured, the factorist as added the assumption that whatever can be measured must exist. But the relation may not be reversible, and the assumption may be false.”

Not that Tuddenham (and by extension, Gould) is rejecting the notion of a “finite number of linear dimensions.” The number of dimensions may not be finite, the dimensions are most probably not linear, and what we are “measuring” is surely an artifact of our methodology. To a discouragingly large degree, IQ tests measure ability to take tests, or more proximately, ability to perform on tests of the IQ test format. Unfortunately, we are stuck with statistical correlations, and the correlation between high IQ scores (as a single, hopelessly linear number) and anything OTHER than the ability to perform on tests of the same format are pretty damn low.

But the human mind seems to rebel at such subtlety. We want a SINGLE NUMBER, dammit, a number that somehow captures a person’s ability to think, now and forever, in all circumstances and about anything. And because this is what we want, this is what we have engineered. This number allows us to rank-order ourselves, the higher the more “superior”, whether OR NOT the number has any deeper meaning or relates to anything a person actually IS. It’s no accident there is a large industry dedicated to helping people raise their number by gaming the tests.

Does this mean there’s no such thing as intelligence? Gould is emphatic in disagreeing with this. Our tests are probably, although extremely indirectly, nibbling around the edges of something “real” in a neurological sense, but it’s something that is (at least currently) hopelessly less fixed and quantifiable than sex appeal, charisma, or beauty.

Comment #49374

Posted by the pro from dover on September 23, 2005 8:18 PM (e)

creationism: On the 23rd of october 4004 BC at approximately 2100 hrs, God, over 6 24 hour periods, using His supernatural powers created the universe and all that it contains exactly like is is today so that man could live and worship Him and follow the example of His Son, Jesus Christ. Intelligent Design: At an unknown time in the past and for an unknown duration (an)unknown entity(ies) designed the universe and all that it contains and using mechanisms of action that are incomprehensible and apparently not operating currently in any part of the observable universe made it all happen for no apparrent purpose. ID restated: Some features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause and not by undirected processes such as natural selection. the first is a belief which although wondrous has competition from other equally valid belief systems, the second is the same as the first with all uplifting language removed and the third is at best a mathematical probability statement. As far as science is concerned…Where’s the beef?

Comment #49376

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 8:23 PM (e)

Well, I know they say that… But Lenny, you and I know that’s just not true… :-)

Right. It’s entirely normal that I haven’t seen sunshine since I first got an Internet account back in 1990. :>

(I’m just kidding, folks. Indeed, this weekend I will begin building yet another hand-made kayak to go paddling with – my fourth.)

Comment #49377

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 8:29 PM (e)

Lenny Flank writes: But I’m bored of your political rants, so I’ll just let you go ahead and ride your John Birch hobby horse again.

Have I written something egregious? I just do not get why you are so hostile to my comments, when I have never at all aligned myself with Birchers or any other idiots on the far right – I am close to total agreement w/ Paul Gross politically, near as I can ken his views. Is Gross a Bircher? (If so, get him out of PT!) People post something, I reply to their post on point, and you invariably indict me as some sort of extremist. Why?

Really, Lenny, I’m sane and rational, or so who know me appear to believe. ID sucks big time, and your constantly repeated questions to Sal are excellent; I love them. But it is worrisome that one’s reasonable dissent from political views unrelated to ID,when in a minority here, should inspire such venom. Seriously, what have I ever posted that makes you take such a mean position where I am concerned?

Comment #49378

Posted by Steviepinhead on September 23, 2005 8:40 PM (e)

Mona, I don’t know about Lenny, but as far as I am concerned, you give the appearance of straining to bring anyone you regard as ever having exhibited the slightest trace of socialist sympathies into your discussions somehow.

I’m neither agreeing with your views on political history, nor disagreeing with them. I’m just saying that’s how it appears from the outside.

It’s kind of like carol clouser, and her interminable urge to want to talk about some book published by someone she works for. I’m sorry, but after a while, it just looks weird, y’know.

But then there’s Lenny and his under-tipped, overworked pizza guy. PZ and his cephalopods. Steve Steve and his single malt scotch. ts and his–well, actually I’m kinda missing ts, so maybe I better not get into attempting to characterize his schtick.

Hmmm. Maybe we’re all a little weird, come to think of it.

Comment #49380

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 8:56 PM (e)

sanjit writes: I’m not angrily dismissing the idea of “innate intelligence” or the possibility of quantifying “intellectual aptitude”, but I notice there are some inherent problems with the process even as they are used and interpreted today, not just yesteryear. Mona seems to like to paint with broad strokes regarding the significant presence of raging Marxists or whatever controlling American education, but I can assure you I’m a capitalist, I believe in meritocracy and I’m perfectly calm at the moment.

Those test measure limited skill sets. I was an instructor for Kaplan, the nation’s largest testing service, for the MCAT and DAT tests (the latter basically an MCAT for dentists), and I promise they, like the GRE, SAT, LSAT and even all of them combined, paint a very incomplete picture of intelligence. A cynic would point out that one thing they strongly measure is who has enough money to hire a preparation service like ours.

They do have some predictive value regarding academic success in their particular fields, which should not be disregarded, but any admissions officer will attest to the fact that they are merely the most convenient available quantifier, rather than a strong predictor.

First,I do not paint with a broad brush. I align myself with Paul Gross, Alan Sokal and Richard Dawkins as regards the sickness in academic enclaves re: “raging Marxists.” Are these men insane Birchers, or painters with a broad brush?

Second, even controlling for who has paid for Kaplan, Princeton Review (one of the co-founders was my client and PR is Kaplan’s main competitor – the two founders of PR sued each other, one of them my former firm represented, thus I know far more about such testing than anyone would want to as a result), or whatever, the gender and ethnic differences hold. They scores are not the only predictor, but are the strongest one. There is no serious gainsaying that these tests measure who will succeed with a reasonably high predictive value, or else the tests themselves are a stupid, wasteful fraud. Are they? Their results correlate not perfectly but strongly with IQ tests.

Comment #49381

Posted by sanjait on September 23, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

A wrote: “sanjait, There’s a reason the GRE and SAT test vocabulary. Vocabulary of all the subsections on an IQ test has the highest average correlation with all the others ( a huge 0.8 on the -1 to 1 scale). Indeed some have maintained that the best way to give IQ tests is to test vocabulary.”

I’m not sure what A is implying: that I disagreed, said something contradictory, or that people who don’t speak English are retarded (just kidding)

I would even add to A’s point that, as far as I’ve seen in the test prep industry, the vocab part is the hardest to cheat at prepare for. In a short amount of preparation time, reading/mapping strategies, analytical puzzle solving methods, even basic algebra and geometry can be learned, but the vocab section scores are much more difficult to inflate in a few weeks of training.

But, I still don’t think “intelligence quotient” is a number we are currently able to measure unless we use an artificially narrow interpretation of “intelligence,” no matter how well the different tests correlate. And I’m not just saying that because vocab was always my worst section…

I stand by my previous conclusion: We should use the tests we have, keeping in mind their limitations, to try and apply our educational resources and strategies in an efficient way, but we shouldn’t pretend that intelligence is linear.

Comment #49382

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 9:35 PM (e)

steviepinhead writes: Mona, I don’t know about Lenny, but as far as I am concerned, you give the appearance of straining to bring anyone you regard as ever having exhibited the slightest trace of socialist sympathies into your discussions somehow.

Well, it is true, I am no socialist. But what drives me to distraction is one after another comment PRESUPPOSING that leftists have it all down pat and that the rest of us are mean morons.

They do not have it down. But then, I follow scholarly lists on the history of communism that include newly liberated Eastern European scholars. I believe what they say about the horrors of Marxism/Leninism and how revolted they are by Westerners who think such political theories were ever worth defending. To me, it as much a moral issue as opposing Nazis - but the academic left in the West has not remotely described prior support for Stalinism as outside the pale.

I am repulsed by the purge trials, the gulags, the lack of freedom and KGB. This makes me a McArthyite idiot and red-baiter, as I am given to understand by Lenny and a few others. Very well.I hope that had I lived then, I would have “baited” the Nazis also, whose views do not, unlike Marxism, survive in reputable quarters.

Does PT think it fine to diss fascists and Nazis, but “baiting” about Stalin supporters is not awful? How depressing. Stalinists and other Marxists killed more people, you know.

Comment #49384

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 9:59 PM (e)

Mike Dunford writes: The GRE general exam might be more or less an IQ test, and I’m not sure about the LSAT since I’ve never taken

I studied my ass off, and never got above an 88% on the LSAT bogus exams issued by my commercial preparer. It *is* an IQ test, and does not measure specific knowledge. My actual score was 86%, on the real deal.

That meant I didn’t waste my time and $$ applying to the U of Chicago; but did get into my second choice, still top-tier Notre Dame. I’m real smart, but not extremly so, and no doubt would have been smothered by the U of Chicago students. I think the test worked well.

Comment #49385

Posted by Steviepinhead on September 23, 2005 10:03 PM (e)

Equating the results of the scholastic tests, or of IQ tests in general, with success in life is simply silly at this point, Mona. What they “predict” is limited success in school, and on other similar tests, which are mainly used in acacemia. This is particularly odd for someone who is claiming at the same time that academia is infested with some kind of marxist sickness–how do you think all those academicians scored on the tests, the accuracy of which you are lauding? You don’t seem to be deeming them “success”ful.

No one here is defending what the repressive regimes in the USSR, the Eastern bloc, or in China did to their people.

But: grouping the entirety of academic “marxists” in the US (who generally tend to be identifying with a kind of historical/economic analysis, more than with the regimes that also traded under the name of Marx)–or even the old-line “idealistic” socialists– with the statist Marxists of the Iron Curtain countries–and attributing each crime committed by the latter to the former, is also getting pretty carried away (from the interests of this forum, at a minimum, regardless of your historical perspective).

Disagree with some given “leftist” slant or opinion that gets expressed here all you like. On the facts, with whatever evidence you’ve got. But most US “leftists” or “liberals” do NOT connect historically or self-identify with Soviet-style “marxism.” And repeatedly roping the latter in to browbeat the former is going to continue to chime oddly.

Of course, you can say what you want, whether you think anyone’s getting it or not. Unlike the USSR, this is a free country, kinda sorta.

Comment #49386

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 10:16 PM (e)

Equating the results of the scholastic tests, or of IQ tests in general, with success in life is simply silly at this point, Mona. What they “predict” is limited success in school, and on other similar tests, which are mainly used in acacemia.

Uh, yeah. Except I did not speak of success “in life.” So my “silliness” is in your head. In *academia*, LSAT, GRE and MCAT scores are higlhy predictive of scholastic success and ability to pass licensing tests.

Got it? That’s what I wrote about. School and licensing exam success. Do you think schools and licensing tests are wrongly constituted? Id not, should we let idiots practice medicine or make them be licensed, at rates predicted by the MCAT?

Do you think the GRE, MCAT and LSAT should be dropped? Are they valueless, or valuable?

Comment #49387

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:20 PM (e)

Mona, I don’t know about Lenny, but as far as I am concerned, you give the appearance of straining to bring anyone you regard as ever having exhibited the slightest trace of socialist sympathies into your discussions somehow.

Right. The same old John Birch crap from fifty years ago.

Mona apparently wants to see a commie behind every tree.

It’s boring.

Comment #49388

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:23 PM (e)

I am repulsed by the purge trials, the gulags, the lack of freedom and KGB. This makes me a McArthyite idiot and red-baiter, as I am given to understand by Lenny and a few others. Very well.I hope that had I lived then, I would have “baited” the Nazis also, whose views do not, unlike Marxism, survive in reputable quarters.

Does PT think it fine to diss fascists and Nazis, but “baiting” about Stalin supporters is not awful? How depressing. Stalinists and other Marxists killed more people, you know.

(sigh) Jesus fucking Christ, Mona, will you PUHLEEZE take your goddamn John Birch political rants somewhere else?

Comment #49390

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:30 PM (e)

But most US “leftists” or “liberals” do NOT connect historically or self-identify with Soviet-style “marxism.”

Me, I’m an anarcho-syndicalist (which most Americans can’t even PRONOUNCE, much less understand what it is).

One of the initial sparks that set off the crisis that eventually toppled the Soviet government was a coal miner’s strike in the Ukraine. I am very happy to say that I (and the union of which I was a member) sent what was, for each of us, a quite considerable contribution to those striking miners. So not only did I not support the Soviets in any way shape or form, but, in my own miniscule way, I helped to bring them down.

And I very much resent idiots like Mona who attempt to equate me with them.

Comment #49391

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:32 PM (e)

In *academia*, LSAT, GRE and MCAT scores are higlhy predictive of scholastic success and ability to pass licensing tests.

You mean that people who are better educated tend to do better at, well, education?

Gee, who woulda thunk.

Comment #49392

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 10:37 PM (e)

Lenny spews: (sigh) Jesus fucking Christ, Mona, will you PUHLEEZE take your goddamn John Birch political rants somewhere else?

No. Nope Lenny, I plan to object to pro-Marxist or nihilist pomo commentary here, every time I see it. See, I find totalitarianism revolting, and will say so even if it means moral idiots call me a Bircher.

I note, Lenny, you do not refute my documentation that Dawkins and Gross see what I point out about the leftist anti-science mentality. No, like an IDer you ignore the gravamen and substance you “respond” to, and revert to ad hominem notions of Birchism and such.

Say Lenny, are Dawkins and Gross (gasp!) Birchers!?

Comment #49393

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:40 PM (e)

e?

No. Nope Lenny, I plan to object to pro-Marxist or nihilist pomo commentary here, every time I see it.

Ok, well have fun. (yawn)

Comment #49394

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 23, 2005 10:44 PM (e)

I plan to object to pro-Marxist or nihilist pomo commentary here, every time I see it.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I think equating “doesn’t think IQ tests actually measure anything useful” with “pro-Marxist or nihilist pomo commentary” is, uh, kind of stupid.

How about flouridated water, Mona. Is that a commie plot by Marxist academics, too? (sigh)

Geez. Are *all* right-wingers paranoid nutjobs, or just the fundies?

Comment #49395

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 10:51 PM (e)

And I very much resent idiots like Mona who attempt to equate me with them.

You are way out of touch; I never equated you with Stalin – show me, if you insist I did. I have never defended what Stalin did to leftists he considered “wrong.” That monster hunted and killed Trotskyists and social democrats. Good people, of which I am not one, but good people nevertheless. However, for many years, in the U.S., leftists who criticized Stalin were fucking PILLORIED in some of the best left-wing venues. By the best of the left venues. Do you really not know that?

You have tried to create a cartoon, Bircher picture of me, and you are no better than any creationists in that respect. Nothing I have written honestly suggests Birchism – that is an attempt to illegitimate anything I post. I am likely more aware than you are how Stalinists slaughtered leftist sectarians not in their fold.

Comment #49398

Posted by Mona on September 23, 2005 11:08 PM (e)

How about flouridated water, Mona. Is that a commie plot by Marxist academics, too? (sigh)

No, a shot in the head after a purge trial was a commie plot. (sigh, laugh, roll eyes, express how stupid Mona is & etc)

(They should have been so lucky as to only worry about chimeras in their water. But then, my concern for that is a “Bircher” fantasy.” As sick as that is, to deny Stalin’s evil.)

Comment #49399

Posted by sanjait on September 23, 2005 11:43 PM (e)

Mona wrote: “I do not paint with a broad brush. I align myself with Paul Gross, Alan Sokal and Richard Dawkins as regards the sickness in academic enclaves re: “raging Marxists.” Are these men insane Birchers, or painters with a broad brush?”

Before this thread unravels and gets deleted like the last one did when Lenny and Mona got into it, I have to make a couple points.

Mona- I think you will find that I am not like Lenny in many ways, and you would do well not to conflate him, me and everyone else in this forum together. I’m probably a bit younger than he, and I must make an admission of perhaps youthful ignorance: without doing a google search, I don’t even know who Paul Gross, Alan Sokal or John Birch are. I only know of Dawkins as the uber-atheist that writes books about evolution that makes creationists crazy. So I have no idea what aligning with those men means. That being said, on the issues of race and gender relations I personally align myself with Larry Summers, Dave Chappelle and Jesus.

But Mona, I have to point out, no offense intended, that it does seem like you are overly willing to cry “Marxism” at the drop of a hat. Someone barely mentioned a perceived lack of veracity in IQ tests and that was enough “Marxist nihilist pomo” to spark you on what appears to everyone else as a tangent. To me, doubting IQ tests has nothing to do with purge trials and gulags, and is by itself no more Marxist than small rectangular mustaches are nazi fascist.

I would agree that there is an orthodoxy in some departments at universities (and I am still going to one), but it certainly isn’t an “antiscience” “sickness” common to all of academia. At our college newspaper, where I was working until just recently, there is vigorous debate about how and even if we will discuss certain issues of race and gender, and I was often the lone voice of free speech in these matters. I think people and researchers should have broad leeway to express their opinions and findings.

This also appears to be a very important issue to you, and I appreciate that, but you seem to be bringing it into every topic even where it is irrelevant. Lenny seems to have a low tolerance for these things, but instead of protesting his ungentlemanly tone, you would do well to reconsider why you have brought up the issue of Marxism/Communism in two separate threads when they didn’t really relate to what everyone else was talking about.

Comment #49400

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 12:24 AM (e)

First an apology for making my posts to long, sorry.

Has anyone noticed that POMO, of the style resisted by Skolal, Dawkins etc is actually behind a lot of Creationist and IDist thought? Consider for example Phillip Johnsons attempts to prove that the issue of evolution vs creation can never be neutral, and it is impossible to be even relatively unbiased on the issues. This form of anti-foundationalism goes back to Van Til, who arguged that he bible made it clear that all perspectives were determined by one’s view on god, and hence a proof of god’s existence that would be valid for atheists is impossible? ( This view has been well put and deveolped by Plantingia.)This whole angst about the impossibility of escaping one’s perspective is very postmodern, interesting that the view of a bunch of Christian fundamentalists is similar to the views currently popular in trendy English Lit and Continental Philosophy departments.

Someone said

Equating the results of the scholastic tests, or of IQ tests in general, with success in life is simply silly at this point, Mona. What they “predict” is limited success in school, and on other similar tests, which are mainly used in academia.

To which I respond, a list of other things aptitude tests correlate with, both positive and negative:

Positives

Objectives (based on actual numerical data)

Income
Success in employment
Longer lasting marriages
Lower crime rates
Longer lifespan
Winning Nobel prizes
being considered an eminent scientist ( Roes study, look it up)
Changing the world ( Catherine Cox’s study)

Subjectives ( based on the impression of those that have spent considerable time with the gifted.)

Skill with humour, esp with bad puns
A love of chocolate ( That one might be made up, but I’ve read it a few times in otherwise serious articles).

Negatives

Low EQ scores
Anorexia

Subjectives

Extreme argumentiveness, refusal to admit when wrong
A tendency to bring law suits
A radical disgust of all orthodoxies, even when there is considerable evidence in favour of them
Ego problems ( either too big or too small).
General aversion to sex, with either gender ( usually found in very extreme cases.)

Sanjat

“I would agree that there is an orthodoxy in some departments at universities (and I am still going to one), but it certainly isn’t an “antiscience” “sickness” common to all of academia. At our college newspaper, where I was working until just recently, there is vigorous debate about how and even if we will discuss certain issues of race and gender, and I was often the lone voice of free speech in these matters. I think people and researchers should have broad leeway to express their opinions and findings.”

To me the fact you were the only vocal voice defending free speech on some issues on the entire staff of the newspaper proves that there is in fact something of a universal sickness, but maybe I don’t understand the situation. Sorry about misinterpreting you on Vocab and IQ, it’s just you said “and some very obscure vocabulary” I assumed that the obscure bit was an oblique snipe at it’s usefulness in predicting anything. I probably got so trigger happy because the Vocab section of various tests is the one that most often comes under attack by people who don’t understand the issues very well, I was just so use to fighting about it I thought you were yet another detractor ( When you are an amateur Gifted and Talented civil rights activist you get very sick of ignorance very quickly, everyone expects that their views are well defended by evidence in this area, but when you ask for specifics they give vague responses like the dreaded “Social Reasons”.

Comment #49401

Posted by sanjait on September 24, 2005 12:55 AM (e)

A: “To me the fact you were the only vocal voice defending free speech on some issues on the entire staff of the newspaper proves that there is in fact something of a universal sickness, but maybe I don’t understand the situation.”

Strangely, this does loosely relate to the topic of this thread. My newspaper, the Daily Barometer at Oregon State University, in my opinion did and probably does have a problem with what some might call leftist orthodoxy. I don’t want to dwell on my own story, but if anyone is curious they can google “David Williams” and “Leonard Pitts” and dig up the source of the rift I had with the paper itself, which had to do with whether a white columnist of ours had the right to write about black issues in a non-complimentary way. I probably was alone in standing for free speech at that time, but those opposed were the student editorial staff and the media committee, which hardly qualifies as representing the university universally.

There probably are some departments who could use a flush of antiorthodox thinking, like the various social sciences that people get into in order to be social activists.

This still is far different from the university or academia as a whole. My major is microbiology, and in my experience this problem doesn’t seem to exist at all there. The hard sciences as a whole have a far greater commitment to truth than orthodoxy.

Many IDists claim this is not the case, that we defend evolution out of anchoring bias or simply because we are all atheist/humanist/hedonists. I believe it is important to recognize when dissent is being stifled, and to recognize that generally, especially in the hard sciences where the work is rarely political explosive, people are free to express their opinions. Even when there is broad agreement at a meeting of researchers, often one (like myself) assumes the role of Devil’s advocate just to put a little pressure on others to formulate their ideas well. Maybe if one spends their time in an ethnic studies department, they perceive the university as being a bastion of leftism, but the view from the science building makes this concern seem trivial.

I would welcome any data the IDists tried to produce and present to the scientific community, as they now claim is their primary mission, and if any of it ever turns out to be relevant and enlightening, I may be forced to incorporate it into my research.

Comment #49402

Posted by SEF on September 24, 2005 3:54 AM (e)

A wrote:

SEF, do you mind if I quote you on that one.

Yes, you can quote me. I’m not just saying it, I’m living it. I’m one of the extremely intelligent and gifted (in multiple “dimensions”).

I found out that, because of the repressive nature of the state school authorities in the area in which I grew up, I was being held back even more than children in other areas (who had been allowed to skip grades) or at private schools (who had been allowed to take more exams and earlier). There are quite a few qualifications I wasn’t allowed to take, despite having the ability and even having done the coursework, because the school and college couldn’t be bothered to make provision for the extra exam-sitting session (the timings conflicted since they expected “normal” kids to only be capable of covering one of the subjects). So although I stuck it out to university, I then carefully made sufficient money in the “real” world to retire and live like a computer-age hermit, just waiting to die.

What “normal” people don’t realise is how much more tolerant the highly intelligent have to be to put up with them at all. The “normal” people are surrounded by people much like them in ability. Whereas the few exceptionally smart people are surrounded by effective morons who need to have “obvious” things explained slowly, multiple times over before they begin to get it (if at all). It’s an acceptable trait in a small child or a pet but it gets pretty wearing from adults, especially when they are the ones who are also ignorantly discriminating against your kind of person with their whole system of education (typically being aimed at the lowest common denominator).

If you don’t value us, then why should we value you?

Comment #49403

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:00 AM (e)

I phrased my remark very poorly, I meant a universal problem in the social sciences, I must think more before I press the post button. Now that I think of it, it’s not even a universal problem in the social sciences, there are some small areas, i.e advertising theory, that avoid the whole relativistic debacle, largely because of financial nessecity.

Comment #49404

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:00 AM (e)

I phrased my remark very poorly, I meant a universal problem in the social sciences, I must think more before I press the post button. Now that I think of it, it’s not even a universal problem in the social sciences, there are some small areas, i.e advertising theory, that avoid the whole relativistic debacle, largely because of financial nessecity.

Comment #49405

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:00 AM (e)

I phrased my remark very poorly, I meant a universal problem in the social sciences, I must think more before I press the post button. Now that I think of it, it’s not even a universal problem in the social sciences, there are some small areas, i.e advertising theory, that avoid the whole relativistic debacle, largely because of financial nessecity.

Comment #49406

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:03 AM (e)

Oh, when I say social sciences I don’t mean to include psychology or economics.

Comment #49407

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:03 AM (e)

Oh, when I say social sciences I don’t mean to include psychology or economics.

Comment #49408

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:13 AM (e)

Oh, when I say social sciences I don’t mean to include psychology or economics. I mean to include only Sociology, Modern forms of Theology, Anthropology, Education, Continental Philosophy, some forms of Legal studies, Media studies, Gender studies, Women’s studies, the little known Mens studies, queer studies, (insert ethnicity) studies and Journalism studies. It’s not to say that all of these areas are entirely relativistic, but rather that anyone working in these studies will be bombarded with cognitive relativism on a regular basis, and will probably have to pay lip service to these ideas to get top grades. Outside these areas your not safe either, there’s English lit and History. English lit is particularly bad, in some uni’s you have to be a postmodernist or the politically correct mob eats you alive. As skeptics, we should fight irrationality in these areas, just like we fight it in the sciences. The formation of an anti Pomo website much like Panda’s thumb would be a good first step.

Comment #49409

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 4:13 AM (e)

Oh, when I say social sciences I don’t mean to include psychology or economics. I mean to include only Sociology, Modern forms of Theology, Anthropology, Education, Continental Philosophy, some forms of Legal studies, Media studies, Gender studies, Women’s studies, the little known Mens studies, queer studies, (insert ethnicity) studies and Journalism studies. It’s not to say that all of these areas are entirely relativistic, but rather that anyone working in these studies will be bombarded with cognitive relativism on a regular basis, and will probably have to pay lip service to these ideas to get top grades. Outside these areas your not safe either, there’s English lit and History. English lit is particularly bad, in some uni’s you have to be a postmodernist or the politically correct mob eats you alive. As skeptics, we should fight irrationality in these areas, just like we fight it in the sciences. The formation of an anti Pomo website much like Panda’s thumb would be a good first step.

Comment #49410

Posted by SEF on September 24, 2005 5:43 AM (e)

That’s quite a stutter you have there. ;-)

That’s another interesting point though. People have remarked on how tolerant I am of those with stutters or genuine learning disabilities and get on well with young children. What they don’t seem to realise is that this is more a reflection of their own intolerance. From my point of view, there’s very little difference between those of low ability and the “normal” people. It’s just their perception of how inferior those people are and how they should be treated compared to themselves which differs. Similarly, “normal” people are not usually fit to judge the difference between who and what is really clever and who and what, like ID, is merely pretending to be clever. They just don’t have the right perspective (through intelligence and education) to see where these things really fall. For some reason, too many of them also don’t have the good self-judgement to realise that they can’t tell the difference.

Comment #49411

Posted by T.SEliotFan on September 24, 2005 6:13 AM (e)

Sef, Let’s hope we find a cure for neurotypicalism quickly! I can stand the retarded but for some reason the NT’s infuriate me, like you said. They just can’t get simple concepts through their head. Have you ever noticed that when you correct a factual mistake in a neurotypical’s argument they assume your disagreeing with the moral behind their argument, and can’t see that you could just be frustrated with the fallacies of the argument in itself? Is it any wonder some members of high IQ societies join because they want psychological support for dealing with all the bad arguments, factual inaccuracies and bland unchallenged orthodoxies around them?

That diffculty in seeing the distinction between the arguement and the belief it is meant to support is in my experience half the problem of the NT’s. They view arguments pragmatically, not seeing that their validity matters in and of itself. For example I believe in evolutionary psychology, but once I noticed a serious flaw in a specific argument of a proponent, he couldn’t seem to understand that I was disagreeing with that specific argument, not the whole of evolutionary psychology. I think that simplistic view of things is probably itself an evolutionary adaptation, NT’s just don’t have time, with their limited brain power, to look at the nuances and faucets of an idea. Hence they equivocate like crazy and commit a sort of genetic fallacy, that if the origin of an argument is in supporting a true or valid idea, it must itself be correct. I really can’t see much help in site for the problem of Neurotypicalism. Compulsory classes on logical reasoning would be a step, but it’s just a bandage solution.

That’s one of the major factors with the whole ID argument. Persons on the right can’t see the distinction between attacking, say the validity of morality, and attacking a specific argument for the validity of morality, that it was inbuilt into mankind by a Great Big Really Transcendent Ultra Being ( GBRTUB) ( I just like that phrase for some odd reason.)

Comment #49412

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 6:18 AM (e)

Is there any way I can delete all those doubled and tripled posts? there was a bit of a problem with computer, and I was tired and, well it’s a long story.

Comment #49413

Posted by darwinfinch on September 24, 2005 7:05 AM (e)

You could also modify the silly, hugely overstated, insulting characterization of literature, anthropology, and pretty much everything else you know nothing more about than the typical creationist foot soldier about about science or the ToE (I’ll give you a place to start: THIS is your elbow, and THIS is your…)

Comment #49414

Posted by Moses on September 24, 2005 7:07 AM (e)

Comment #49319

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 23, 2005 02:58 PM (e) (s)

Maybe my experiences are not entirely representative, but everyone I’ve ever known who’s actually been in Mensa has been so hopelessly socially inept that it renders their IQ’s entirely irrelevant…

Wow, you are a complete and utter ***, despite your weasely qualifier. What’s next, blatent racism? “Blacks don’t succeed because they’re inept?” You and Trent Lott…

And, FYI, I was in Mensa for years. People in Mensa are, frankly, like most everyone else in their maturity, problems, and what-not. We had people that were highly successful attornies, bankers, accountants, engineers and other professionals. There were people that were squandering thier intellectual gifts because they couldn’t/wouldn’t deal with their emotional issues; especially the trauma of growing up highly gifted (something you’ve obviously escaped), and bounced around from construction job to construction job. There were vague and unfocused people who were not interested in the socially normative life, there were highly focused and highly driven people that complied socially and were highly successful in business, academics, etc., such as myself.

But none of them were as judgementally jerk-off as you.

Comment #49416

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 7:15 AM (e)

Maybe if one spends their time in an ethnic studies department, they perceive the university as being a bastion of leftism

As I’ve noted before, there is no “Left” in the US. There hasn’t been one since all the Wobblies were rounded up and arrested back in 1919.

If you want to see a real Left, you’ll have to go to Europe.
;>

Comment #49417

Posted by Moses on September 24, 2005 7:17 AM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'quote'

Comment #49418

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 7:20 AM (e)

Oh, when I say social sciences I don’t mean to include psychology or economics.

I once found myself in a room full of economists and economics students (I was speaking to them about, of all things, the history of the American labor movement), and casually mentioned to them that I didn’t think economics was a “science”. I then added that rather than being a “science”, economics was nothing but an apologetic for the existing social order.

Their reaction was, uh, spirited. ;>

Comment #49430

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 11:07 AM (e)

As a semi-relevant aside, I have often found it interesting that so many prominent biologists were indeed Marxists (of various stripes – there is no such thing as a “Real Marxist©” any more than there is a “Real Christian©” or “Real Republican©”). Gould, Lewontin, Oparin, Haldane, Maynard Smith, Levins, and (IIRC), Muller — were “commies” all (though, before Mona gets her undies all in a bunch again, all were opposed to Soviet Leninism/Stalinism). It’s not as easy to come up with a list of Marxists in other sciences, although Anton Pannekoek, one of the founders of the anti-Leninist “Council Communism” school of thought (most of whose members were shot by the Leninists), was a professional astronomer.

I think the relative weight of Marxists in evolutionary biology has something to do with Marxism’s dialectical outlook, which rejects the common view of reality as the product of linear cause-and-effect (where A produces B which produces C which produces D), and instead views reality as an interprenetrating web of relationships, where cause and effect intermingle and where every part has a role in determining and effecting every other part (A produces B, but is itself partly determined by B and the relationship of both to C and D). Such a view is perfectly suited for studying biology (and also ecology, which has, in the past few decades, become the most “subversive” of the sciences – I wonder offhand how many prominent ecological or environmental scientists are Marxists).

Comment #49431

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 24, 2005 11:10 AM (e)

Wow, you are a complete and utter ***, despite your weasely qualifier. What’s next, blatent racism? “Blacks don’t succeed because they’re inept?” You and Trent Lott…

Let me see. I point out the geekitude of people I’ve known in Mensa. This now makes me a white supremacist. Ooooo-kaaaaay…. The connection’s clear to me!

Why not add, oh, I don’t know, antisemitism to it, just to give your argument more weight?

(For the record, I was invited to join Mensa and turned it down.)

My original statement was that people I’ve known in Mensa (about 3 or 4) were so socially inept that upon meeting them, you hardly noticed their big IQ’s anymore. Perhaps my theory has been reconfirmed here.

Comment #49436

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 11:26 AM (e)

I’m probably a bit younger than he

Does that mean you think I’m an old fart? Gee, it used to be that ya couldn’t trust anyone over 30. Now, it’s the other way around. ;>

I’m 44. Alas, too young to have been at Woodstock. Although I did at one time share a jail holding cell with Abbie Hoffman (who has been one of my cultural/political heros since I was a kid).

I first got involved with politics in 1972, as a 12-year old kid living near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. I knew people on the reservation, and when the American Indian Movement seized Wounded Knee in 1972 and the Feds sent in tanks and machine guns, I was right there watching. It’s something I’ll never forget.

Since then, I’ve been a political campaign manager and worker (at the local, state and Federal levels), a union organizer, an environmental organizer, an anti-war organizer (several wars, including the latest one), and, of course, an anti-creationist organizer. I’ve been arrested at least a dozen times, in places ranging from several different picket lines, to the White House, to Wall Street, to the Soviet embassy, to the South African embassy (I shared a police van there with Amy Carter), to the UN Building, to the Capitol, to the Pentagon (I actually managed to get inside the Pentagon, briefly — alas, some MP’s caught me as I ran blindly through the maze of hallways).

I know this may come as a shock to many of you, but I seem to have some sort of problem with authority, and I tend to be pretty direct when confronting it. ;>

Just call me a free radical. (big fat evil grin)

Comment #49445

Posted by steve on September 24, 2005 12:07 PM (e)

Arden, I was in it for a few years, and was puzzled about that sort of thing. There are a lot of dysfunctional people in it. Those experiences led me to realize that whatever intelligence is, I don’t consider someone smart if they don’t apply that brainpower to their daily lives. I remember one guy in Gainesville whose apartment smelled like decaying rats, because he wasn’t interested in cleaning out the rats which at some point died behind some furniture. I’ve seen a grown man yell at a 5-year-old about what a toccata is. Another guy who’d been a Scientologist, but was now just a conspiracy theorist. He believed SONY stood for Standard Oil- New York, for instance. I speculate that it attracts dysfunctional people because there’s no social requirement for joining. Just a score.

Comment #49451

Posted by SEF on September 24, 2005 1:28 PM (e)

I’m rather with most of you here in having a negative impression of MENSA and their members.

I and my circle of friends are easily intelligent enough to join, being well above the set level, yet we found we unanimously hadn’t wanted to. We each, independently, came to the conclusion that MENSA’s IQ standards were actually surprisingly low, that their members were a laughing stock when they held a conference at our university and kept locking themselves out of their rooms (through failing to understand the door mechanism), and that the membership cost made it more of a con-trick on the semi-intelligent rather than being anything the truly intelligent would aspire to join.

Since then, the only people I’ve encountered on the internet boasting of being in MENSA have indeed been some of the most functionally stupid (and nasty) of the semi-intelligent. Typically, they were unable or unwilling to follow conversations properly and wouldn’t notice or even care about their inability when it was drawn to their attention. Instead they preferred to blame any results of their misunderstandings onto other people, rally gangs of like-minded attackers and be defamatory about the ones pointing out their errors rather than deal with the issues. There’s a particularly nasty gang culture of the semi-intelligent over at h2g2 on the BBC.

Comment #49452

Posted by SteveF on September 24, 2005 1:38 PM (e)

A classic Simpsons episode springs to mind r.e. MENSA.

Comment #49458

Posted by SEF on September 24, 2005 3:00 PM (e)

I haven’t seen it. So you’ll have to explain why it’s relevant if you want me to know.

Comment #49460

Posted by Bob Carroll on September 24, 2005 3:30 PM (e)

Up the IWW! Lenny, keep up the good work. Every time I read your replies to the obfuscators, your litany, I recognize that left or right isn’t what divides us, it’s the issue of social justice. And, you’re correct, the US doesn’t *have* a left now, if it ever did. Justice? I wonder.

Comment #49461

Posted by sanjait on September 24, 2005 3:32 PM (e)

I said: “I’m probably a bit younger than he”

Lenny said: “Does that mean you think I’m an old fart? Gee, it used to be that ya couldn’t trust anyone over 30. Now, it’s the other way around. ;>”

Nothing personal Lenny. I was generally referring to my own inability to understand the name drops flying back and forth, which I assumed because I wasn’t of age when they were big names. Also, there seems to be some lingering Cold War tension between you and Mona that I don’t really understand either.

Comment #49463

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 4:00 PM (e)

Nothing personal Lenny.

Nothing TAKEN personal. I’m just busting on ya. ;>

I was generally referring to my own inability to understand the name drops flying back and forth, which I assumed because I wasn’t of age when they were big names.

Geez, thanks for making me feel like “ancient history”. Ya know, back when *I* was a kid, we WALKED to school. And it was all uphill. Both ways. ;>

The 60’s were a crucial time in American history. We are still witnessing many of the effects of (and reaction to) the social movements of the 60’s – religious fundamentalism/creationism/ID being just one of them.

I think it would be critically important for everyone today to understand what happened back then and why. Teaching about the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the feminist movement, the international student movement (from Berkeley to Paris to Prague), and all the other things from the 60’s, is far far more relevant to what is going on around us than dithering on about the Civil War or the Guilded Age or lists of dead presidents. Whether one agrees with them or not. They are still determining factors in what is happening around us.

Also, there seems to be some lingering Cold War tension between you and Mona that I don’t really understand either.

Dude, the Cold War ended twenty years ago. Arguing over it now has about as much relevance as arguing whether Ishida or Tokugawa were right at Seki-ga-hara.

I’m more annoyed that Mona seems insistent on dragging her ideological hobby horse into things that have nothing to do with it. How the hell she goes from “IQ tests don’t really measure anything” to “STALINISTS KILLED LOTS OF PEOPLE !!!!!!!!”, I just don’t know. Particularly when she seems to think that “STALINISTS KILLED LOTS OF PEOPLE!!!!” is some sort of surprise to anyone here.

When she yammers about people here “defending Stalinists”, I can only assume that she is just nutty, like all the Birchers who used to scream that Eisenhower was a Communist. Or else she’s just too uninformed to know the difference between a “stalinist” and a “leftist”. (shrug)

Comment #49465

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 4:06 PM (e)

Extreme argumentiveness, refusal to admit when wrong

I *thought* I was wrong once.

But I was mistaken.

;>

Comment #49467

Posted by RBH on September 24, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

Aren wrote

(For the record, I was invited to join Mensa and turned it down.)

So did I. Told ‘em I was over-qualified. :)

RBH

Comment #49468

Posted by CJ O'Brien on September 24, 2005 4:18 PM (e)

While I do not share Mona’s political orientation, I must confess, Lenny, that I don’t see the level of “nuttiness” that you do.
Is she not correct that the left in this country (back when it had one) was slow to condemn Leninism-Stalinism? And further that those who did take such a stand were ostracised from left-political circles?
I don’t know, I mean, I like that the Thumb is kind of a free-fire zone, and that all views are welcome, and discussion of diverse topics is tolerated. But what good does it do, sniping between ourselves about politics, when we’re on the same side of the issues that are the raison d’etre of the site? Quit calling her a yammering Bircher, and maybe she’ll consider leaving references to her political opinions out of her comments.
Or, perhaps better yet, the two of you could just ignore each other.

Comment #49469

Posted by RBH on September 24, 2005 4:20 PM (e)

Um, make that “Arden wrote”.

Comment #49470

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 4:22 PM (e)

It is entirely possible to be completely skeptical about the value of the concept of IQ, and yet fully support the various forms of “special ed”, including gifted and talented programs. “Intelligence” is an extraordinarily complex concept, and attempts to use a single number to quantify “intelligence” suffer from the fundamental flaw of assuming that everyone’s brain works in pretty much the same way.

As fundies show, some people’s brains don’t seem to function at ALL. (grin)

Wayyy back when I was in school, there was no such thing as “gifted” programs. Me, I got straight A’s, in every subject, right up till age 14-15, when I discovered (1) girls, (2) beer, (3) pot and (4) teenage rebellion. :> After that, my grades (and my attendance) plummeted so sharply that it quite literally came down to one final exam whether or not I would graduate —- all I had to do was pass it, and I got a “D”.

I do think, though, that a part of why I burned out so spectacularly was that I was bored out of my skull most of the time. Every class I was in, was going over stuff that I had already learned on my own years ago.

Had I been able to move to a class where I could operate at the level I was capable of, instead of the level of the dumbest kid in the class, I probably would not have flamed out. But, alas, ’twas not to be.

Ah well. Gotta get back to my kayak frame — it should be dry by now. :>

Comment #49474

Posted by darwinfinch on September 24, 2005 5:14 PM (e)

A last note before leaving this thread to its fate - I notice “A” hasn’t bothered to return and defend, possibly in many repeated postings, his/her stupidities.
I’ll presume, till evidence suggesting otherwise surfaces, that it was a simple, dishonest (not-very-able) troll spewing for the fun of seeing mature, intelligent people (we’re still speaking very relatively, of course) become upset.

It is very, very hard to find the decent side of real conservatives these days, and to spot the complacent yet honest ones, with whom common ground and entertaining and important insights can be shared, among the blind, loud, and cowardly unsympathetic Baby Hueys that dominate the current brandname.

Comment #49476

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 5:37 PM (e)

Hmm, not dry yet….

Is she not correct that the left in this country (back when it had one) was slow to condemn Leninism-Stalinism?

No, she is not.

Keep in mind that there is a veritable smorgasbord of “leninist” groups and groupuscules in the US. Off the top of my head, I can think of the CPUSA, the SWP, the PLP, the RCP, the IMLO, and MIM. Most of these are Trotskyite, a few are Maoist. The only one that stuck to the Soviet line was the CPUSA (when it rained in Moscow, Communist Party USA members all carried umbrellas). The rest hated the USSR, hated Stalin, and also hated each other.

In addition, there are a large number of “leftist” groups that are marxist-oriented but non-leninist. They all spoke out against Stalin and the USSR (and Mao and China, Ho and Vietnam, and Castro and Cuba). Only the most ignorant of ideologues would declare that leftists, here or abroad, were “slow to condemn Leninism-Stalinism”. Only the Stalinists (the CPUSA) didn’t condemn it. Duhhhhhhh.

Indeed, one of the deadliest threats to the newly-formed Bolshevik government during the Russian Civil War was not the US- and UK-backed Tsarists, but was the guerrilla army led by Nestor Makhno, a syndicalist from the Ukraine who gathered a large number of leftist groups with the stated aim of overthrowing the Bolsheviks by military force and instituting a democratic government based on the “soviet”, or elected workers council. They were supported by the largest left groups in the US at the time, including the IWW and the Socialist Party, both of which condemned Bolshevism right from the start. Indeed, there was so much leftist opposition to the Bolsheviks that Lenin wrote an entire book, titled “Left-Wing Communism; An Infantile Disorder”, to try to respond to all their criticisms and defuse their popularity.

Unfortunately for future history, the non-leninist leftists lost, and were all shot by the Bolsheviks. As were all the members of the Worker’s Opposition and the Council Communists. Of all the people who died in Stalin’s purges, the vast majority were anti-stalinist leftists.

In the US, the most vocal leftist opposition to the Soviet Union was destroyed by the Palmer Raids, in which IWW and SP members were illegally rounded up and arrested (a predecessor to later illegal actions such as COINTELPRO and the Enemies List). That left the fledgeling CPUSA as the only left force remaining, which is why the CP, not the IWW, played the leading role in the left movement of the 1930’s. There WAS no one else.

Mona doesn’t have to lecture me on the history of Stalinism —– I suspect I long ago forgot more about it than she ever knew in the first place.

I don’t know, I mean, I like that the Thumb is kind of a free-fire zone, and that all views are welcome, and discussion of diverse topics is tolerated.

We need our Bathroom back. ;>

As I said before, the thing I like about the OT posts are that tey allow all of us to see each other as real live human beings, rather than just words on a computer screen.

But what good does it do, sniping between ourselves about politics, when we’re on the same side of the issues that are the raison d’etre of the site?

None. As I’ve often pointed out.

Quit calling her a yammering Bircher, and maybe she’ll consider leaving references to her political opinions out of her comments.

Works for me.

Mona?

But it’s not her opinions I am objecting to, nor her mentioning them. What annoys me is her proclivity to drag them out at every conceivable excuse, however tenuous (or nonexistent). It seems to me that she just wants to preach. And I have no use for preachers, of any sort.

Comment #49481

Posted by Arden Chatfield on September 24, 2005 6:28 PM (e)

But it’s not her opinions I am objecting to, nor her mentioning them. What annoys me is her proclivity to drag them out at every conceivable excuse, however tenuous (or nonexistent). It seems to me that she just wants to preach.

I have to say I agree. We’re all smart people here, we all know Stalin killed millions and millions of people. It doesn’t make one especially courageous to condemn Stalin. But Stalin has been dead 52 years, and there’s no one cheerleading for him in the West.

Stalin (and Marxism in general) ain’t very relevant anymore in America, and in fact the main people here who invoke him nowadays are rightwingers like David Horowitz who have convinced millions of gullible people that leftists and Stalinists are the same thing. (‘Leftist’ being defined by him as anyone who dislikes Bush.) I would hope Mona could understand why that’s incredibly offensive (and I hope I don’t have to remind people, a lie), and realize that’s the stink that clings to comparisons between leftists in Stalin in the 21st century.

Comment #49485

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 24, 2005 7:14 PM (e)

rightwingers like David Horowitz who have convinced millions of gullible people that leftists and Stalinists are the same thing.

In exactly the same way they have convinced millions of gullible people that atheists and evolutionists are the same thing.

I suspect that is not a coincidence.

Comment #49489

Posted by A on September 24, 2005 9:04 PM (e)

“You could also modify the silly, hugely overstated, insulting characterization of literature, anthropology, and pretty much everything else you know nothing more about than the typical creationist foot soldier about about science or the ToE (I’ll give you a place to start: THIS is your elbow, and THIS is your…)”

The thrust of Darwin Finches argument seems to be that I know nothing about the humanities, since I majored in philosophy and minored in literature at the ANU, and since I am currently doing a post graduate degree in philosophy ( Australian National University) I find this claim ridiculous. Firstly, no one could accuse me of being anti lit crit, as you seem to do, I am just against most modern lit crit. I got an A average for god’s sake. I don’t think I ever met a single professor who wasn’t at least a bit of a releatvist.

Even Harold Bloom, that supposed defender of the western tradition claimed that there was no truth. Pick up any introduction to lit crit ( I’ve read several) and you will find that every modern movement, postcolonialism, Deconstruction, Feminism, Gynocriticism, Marxism, Social criticism, the New historcism, Psychoanalytic criticism mentioned in it, treats truth as relative or takes a sceptical view of truth. Secondly I have not caricatured anthropology, as I conceded in my original post not all work done in this area is relativist, but all but the whole fields so infected with it that you can’t escape it for long if you work in it. Boas started relativism about morality and it quite quickly spread to relativism about truth, you try convincing your average anthropologist that the creation myths they study are false.

Comment #49499

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 24, 2005 10:33 PM (e)

If A continues in his or her graduate studies, I expect he (or she) will find that it’s a lot easier to lump a whole bunch of intellectual movements together than to make philosopbical sense out of the naked claim “There is truth, damn it!” A rhetorical move isn’t the same thing as a philosophically defensible position. A better hope that Socrates doesn’t parachute into his dorm with a few questions about just what this truth is and how A is so sure about it.

For the record, Marxism simply isn’t a skeptical or relativistic position. Neither is classical psychoanalysis. Deconstruction isn’t traditional skepticism either. And if A thinks Boas started relativism about morality, somebody ought to inform the Sophists and Montaigne that their copyright is being violated. Doesn’t anybody take Western Civ anymore?

In my experience, all intellectual movements in Anglo-Saxon countries decay into a pop version of cultural relativism before they expire. That doesn’t mean they start out that way.

Comment #49504

Posted by Norman Doering on September 24, 2005 11:52 PM (e)

A wrote: “Even Harold Bloom, that supposed defender of the western tradition claimed that there was no truth. Pick up any introduction to lit crit ( I’ve read several) and you will find that every modern movement, postcolonialism, Deconstruction, Feminism, Gynocriticism, Marxism, Social criticism, the New historcism, Psychoanalytic criticism mentioned in it, treats truth as relative or takes a sceptical view of truth.”

What is truth? Please define your terms.

But before you do, answer these questions:

1) does 2+2=4?
a] True
b] False
c] Maybe

2) If you believe you can jump off a twenty story building and fly, will you be able to fly?

Comment #49505

Posted by steve on September 25, 2005 12:12 AM (e)

about question #1, I hope “A” doesn’t take any Modern Algebra classes. Might think that dang ol relativism has infected the math department.

Comment #49507

Posted by A on September 25, 2005 1:30 AM (e)

“For the record, Marxism simply isn’t a sceptical or relativistic position. Neither is classical psychoanalysis. Deconstruction isn’t traditional skepticism either. And if A thinks Boas started relativism about morality, somebody ought to inform the Sophists and Montaigne that their copyright is being violated. Doesn’t anybody take Western Civ anymore?”

I did not say that Boas started moral relativism, rather that he brought it, with a vengeance to modern anthropology, I am aware that there is a fine tradition of moral relativists in western culture, from full blown cases like the Montiage and the classical skeptics to sympathisers like Hobbes and to some extent Hume ( to be honest I haven’t really got a problem with moral relativism, it’s relativism about truth which infuriates me). psychoanalysis does lead to relativism about truth, especially in it’s modern incarnations, consider Krivesta, it’s true Freud was no relativist, but in the context of literature psychoanalysis is almost always relativistic, and if Freud had have followed his ideas consistently he would have found relativism . Marxism, with it’s emphasis on ideology, becomes sceptical and relativistic in practice if not theory, and I don’t know how the hell you got the idea that deconstruction isn’t relativism, it’s main tenet that the reader creates the meaning (i.e that meaning is relative to the reader) erriely echoes Protagoras ’s comment “Man is the measure of all things” if Deconstruction isn’t relativism I don’t know what bloody is. It’s true that relativism has always been with us but it’s been a parasite on western culture from the start.
Norman Doering, Truth is a correspondence between a proposition and it’s object ( I’d be the first to admit that believing in truth is a sort of kriekgraadian act of faith.)

Comment #49512

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 25, 2005 2:52 AM (e)

I must admit I’m unfamialiar with the philosophy of Kriekgraad, though it strikes me that there isn’t a huge amount of difference between believing that truth is an act of faith and radical epistemological relativism. Well, the extremes touch.

You’ll forgive me if I thought you meant that Boas started relativism about morality just becasue you wrote “Boas started relativism about morality.” I’m not subtle enough for that one. On the other hand, when you wrote “If Deconstruction isn’t relativism I don’t know what bloody is” was a witty way of admitting you don’t know what relativism is. I did get that. But then nobody should feel bad about not knowing what relativism is. By now the word has become a blunt club indeed, a mere term of abuse that can be flung at anybody you don’t like. Thus even Freud and Marx were brothers under the skin since they would have recognized that they were both relativists if only they had understood their own ideas better. No doubt you check under your bed for relativists before going to sleep.

For all I know, Australian Universities are infested with Professors who talk like pot heads. Or it could be that in some cases, you don’t really understand what some of them are driving at. Or, horribly inconvenient thought, the truth lies in between.

Technical note: people who do the tub-thumping bit to argue for TRUTH often slide back and forth between talking about reality and talking about truth. Reality, at least in one of its common language senses, is what hangs around without reference to our opinions. If truth, on the other hand, is “a correspondence between a proposition and its object.,” it necessarily and always has a social component because language is a social and cultural fact. Whatever else it is, truth is always relational since it has to do with the relationship between people and the world. It is not necessarily a skeptical move to notice that the reader has something to do with the meaning of a proposition; and, anyhow, I’m not sure why skepticism, especially methodological skepticism, is obviously a bad thing.

Comment #49517

Posted by A on September 25, 2005 5:50 AM (e)

It is clear from the context ( the whole paragraph was about anthropology) that my comment about Boas was a way of saying that Boas first brought moral relatvism to anthropology, not to the world. The whole paragraph was about anthropology.

“If Deconstruction isn’t relativism I don’t know what bloody is” was a witty way of admitting you don’t know what relativism is.”

Firstly, relativism about a certain area is the belief that truth in some domain truth is relative to an agent, hence one can have moral relativism, cognitive relativism, religious relativism, political relativism etc. That a snappy enough definition for ya?

Deconstruction is almost the pure distilled essence of relativism. The proposition that the meaning is determined by the reader, and nothing else is relativism, because relativism is by definition the making of truth dependent on the individual, rather then on the world.

Freud’s work leads to relativism or skepticism, depending on your epistemological views. If one explains certain beliefs in terms of Id struggles etc ( let the pun be noted) there’s no real reason not to explain all beliefs in these terms.

Marxism clearly leads to skepticism ( not relativism) as a key component of it is ideology. Marx explained just about everything in terms of ideology, from economics, to religion, to histographical schools, to morality. Nothing is spared, if anything can be ideology, if nothing is safe from the all controlling hand of the economic base then it follows that one cannot know that any of one’s beliefs are true. This belief in ideology gives a valuable lesson in the dangers of relativism, consider Lysenkoism, sustained in part by a belief that evolution was a just another capitalist ideology.

Just because thinkers believe there views don’t entail something, doesn’t mean they don’t. I am clearly not engaging in relatvists and skeptics under the bed paranoia, when one considers the works of Freud and Marx it is clear that the result of both is that scientific, historical, even mathematical and logical domains are “debunked” by both ( actually Marx’s attempts at mathematics were hilarious, you should read some of them).

Your attempt to prove truth socially relative is trivial. It clearly doesn’t prove the key proposition of relativism, that, in the words of Niszetche “there are no facts, only interpretations.”

There’s nothing wrong with skepticism, if I wasn’t a skeptic in the sense you mean I wouldn’t be posting on Panda’s thumb. The problem is with skepticism about our basic epistemological tools, which make the asking of questions possible.

Comment #49579

Posted by guthrie on September 25, 2005 6:41 PM (e)

“Guthrie put it best in another post”

Cheers sanjait!

I personally get rather bored with all this discussion of philosoophy, can we get back to the science please?

I also think that everything is relative to everything else. Does that make me a relativist?

Comment #49585

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 25, 2005 8:21 PM (e)

Since knowing is something that people do, it’s pretty hard to leave people out when you talk about truth or knowledge. Science is a social, historical, and economic phenomenon–not even a grad student should not be unware that it is something rather different than a drawing room debate. Why this obvious and highly relevant fact is so upsetting is unclear to me. It certainly doesn’t imply some sort of generalized skepticism about the possibility of figuring things out. What strikes me as unfair is the way in which scholars who aren’t particularly interested in impugning the validity of scientific results get attacked as relativists or nihilists because they dare to point out, for example, that physics is not conducted by disembodied spirits.

Meanwhile, it’s just silly to blame Marx for Lysenko unless you literally believe in ghosts, rather like blaming Christ for the Inquisition. Anyhow, as I think I mentioned before, Marx originally wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin. He was hardly some sort of anti-evolutionist. If there were no ideological profit in denouncing him, he would doubtlessly be recognized as a significant contributor to the development of economics and history. After all, the fact that we don’t agree with everything other dead white men (and women) had to say doesn’t prevent us from recognizing that they made a contribution.

Comment #49604

Posted by A on September 26, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

Jim

I willing concede that Freud and Marx have made great contributions to the study of the social sciences, but that doesn’t make them right. I don’t blame Marx for Lysenkoism ( not directly anyway), I blame Marxism. I am of course aware that science isn’t carried out by disembodied spirts, that doesn’t prevent the possibility of truth in the way demanded by relativism. The additions of interpretations of facts to phenomena doesn’t mean there aren’t any facts. I suppose I agree with that whatshisname in the Edinburgh school who argued that science is highly influenced by culture, but is also substantially corresponds with facts about the real world.

Comment #49605

Posted by A on September 26, 2005 12:08 AM (e)

Jim

I willing concede that Freud and Marx have made great contributions to the study of the social sciences, but that doesn’t make them right. I don’t blame Marx for Lysenkoism ( not directly anyway), I blame Marxism. I am of course aware that science isn’t carried out by disembodied spirts, that doesn’t prevent the possibility of truth in the way demanded by relativism. The additions of interpretations of facts to phenomena doesn’t mean there aren’t any facts. I suppose I agree with that whatshisname in the Edinburgh school who argued that science is highly influenced by culture, but is also substantially corresponds with facts about the real world.

Comment #49607

Posted by Jim Harrison on September 26, 2005 1:01 AM (e)

Now if I can just get you to notice that treating terms like “Marxism” and “relativism” as if they named unchanging essences, I would have really done you a favor… Of course one can define something like Marxist doctrine by a set of specific tenets (the labor theory of value, a materialist theory of history, etc.). Unfortunately, the standard definition of Marxism doesn’t include very much that is obviously relevant to Lysenko; and, anyhow, the vast majority of even self-proclaimed Marxists disagreed with some of the standard stuff. As Nietzsche once wrote–and this is one notion of his to which I very much subscribe–only a word without a history has a definition.

I doubt if it helps very much to decide whether a theoretical approach is right or wrong, not because all ideas are equal, but but because things are too complicated to usefully judge in such terms. Has there every been a philosopher who was willing to say that any other philosopher was simply right? Since thinking isn’t a multiple choice test and there is no answer book, I prefer to assess the worth of a thinker in different ways.

By the way, I appreciate that the correspondence theory of truth is good rhetoric. It sounds like commonsense. Unfortunately, it isn’t very easy to defend if somebody bothers to fight back. Correspondence works well in cases where I have just as many pebbles as bunny rabbits, but though I have it on the advice of Richard Feynman, that m = fa, I’m damned if I can specify exactly what in nature is supposed to correspond to the equation. Ideas in the mind of God? Platonic forms?

If all you want to say is that there are plenty of liberal arts idiots around who make indefensible statements about scientific matters, I can readily agree; but in my experience blanket rejections of contemporary ideas throw out entirely too many babies with not enough bathwater. Anyhow, one can not frame a defensible epistemology by kicking a stone and bellowing “I refute it thus!”

Comment #49609

Posted by A on September 26, 2005 3:13 AM (e)

“If all you want to say is that there are plenty of liberal arts idiots around who make indefensible statements about scientific matters, I can readily agree; but in my experience blanket rejections of contemporary ideas throw out entirely too many babies with not enough bathwater. Anyhow, one can not frame a defensible epistemology by kicking a stone and bellowing “I refute it thus!””

At some point in our epistemologies we have to do a Johnson and kick the stone (much of my epistemological though centres around, how much, at what point, why etc we must do this, I plan to publish eventually if your intrested). If you wish to preserve any facts at all you just have to take a non factual stand eventually. To even be able to believe in those liberal arts idiots (that they exist), one has to have some evidence they exist, and finding this evidence depends on dogmatically assuming some things to be truth, for example that the law’s of logic hold absolute ( with the possible exception of the law of the excluded middle.), that sense is evidence of something other then a one’s own mind, etc, etc. I can appreciate your attempt to take a more complex stand on the issue, but eventually you will have to take a stand on something. Consider the law of parsimony, what evidence is there for it? Yet knowledge of the external world as we know it would it would be impossible without it.

I am not rejecting all contemporary ideas, as I said in my earlier post there’s some very good non relativistic research out there. Even relativistic schools of thought have some components that can be removed and used usefully, consider post-colonialism, it has given us a more nuanced understanding of the value of other civilizations.

“Now if I can just get you to notice that treating terms like “Marxism” and “relativism” as if they named unchanging essences, I would have really done you a favour…”

You are absolutely correct, only words without histories have meanings as such, recall Wittgenstein’s analysis of the meaning of the word “game”. Yet the different meanings of words have common threads that run through them, common themes. It is these common theme’s that allow us to accept or reject an idea like relativism or Marxism.

Despite the implication of the line of your post “Now I if I can only get you to.” It wasn’t you who made me realise that Freudian psychology and Marxist economics have made profound contributions in the histories of these fields, I’ve understood that since I first examined these ideas. But, as I said earlier, the fact that I realise these ideas made profound contribution’s to their fields doesn’t stop me disagreeing with their implied skepticism about knowledge intensely, and disliking both at a personal level immensely.

Comment #49610

Posted by A on September 26, 2005 3:15 AM (e)

Or calling ( some of) Gould’s ideas on IQ “Bizzare Marxist fantasies” like I did near the start of the thread for that matter ;).

Comment #49741

Posted by 'Rev Dr' Lenny Flank on September 26, 2005 7:18 PM (e)

I don’t blame Marx for Lysenkoism ( not directly anyway), I blame Marxism.

You SHOULD be blaming “stalinism”. After all, most Marxists thought Lysenko was full of crap.