11 August 2016


IQ and prejudice

A recent study by Brandt and Crawford shows different tendencies regarding prejudice and IQ.

Abstract: Previous research finds that lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice. We test two unresolved questions about this association using a heterogeneous set of target groups and data from a representative sample of the United States (N = 5,914). First, we test “who are the targets of prejudice?” We replicate prior negative associations between cognitive ability and prejudice for groups who are perceived as liberal, unconventional, and having lower levels of choice over group membership. We find the opposite (i.e., positive associations), however, for groups perceived as conservative, conventional, and having higher levels of choice over group membership. Second, we test “who shows intergroup bias?” and find that people with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup bias but toward different sets of groups.

Is it prejudice to have poor impressions of people who are making a choice? (Do my negative feelings about ISIS, for example, count as "prejudice"?) Anyway, the study's results are interesting and may explain why Trump maintains a very loyal (albeit, insufficient) group of followers that appear impervious to logical argument.

28 July 2016

Two conventions, two lies

Some people were unimpressed by Michelle Obama's speech at the DNC. The two conventions are based on easily refutable lies. No, the biggest threat to the U.S. isn't ISIS and crime rates are by no means at historical highs. And no, the economic situation (for most people) hasn't been getting better. We do need change but not in the direction of Fascism. We're now left with a choice: which set of lies do we prefer?

22 July 2016

Kafka on the Shore

Today, I finished Murakami's Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ). I enjoyed this more than some of this other novels. The book's chapters skip back and  forth between two story lines that are ultimately connected (albeit, tenuously).

21 July 2016

Made Kane's comment on the Melania plagiarism controversy...

Melania’s speech was revealing; 
In her push to make Donald appealing, 
She stole lines from Michelle 
About values. 
Oh well, 
This confirms that both Trumps value stealing.

19 July 2016


13 July 2016

The Opium War

I recently finished The Opium War by Julia Lovell. It isn't great writing--there are places where it's easy to get lost as the flow of the narrative isn't always smooth. But it has some fascinating stories. This period of Chinese history when China confronts aggressive Western powers always fascinates me. And there's always a mystery in my mind as to why China failed to prepare better for (and react to) the encounter. Reading this book and listening to related university lectures (viewed on YouTube), I sense that the notion that China was simply a hidebound bureaucracy, while containing some truth, is a bit simplistic. One aspect of Qing China that is discussed to some extent in the book is the extent to which China was divided in many ways between Manchurian elites (with their special military units) and the majority Han Chinese. Another factor seems to be the Chinese government's inability to respond rapidly to situations and to confirm information.

8 July 2016

A wealthy state headed off the fiscal cliff

Alaska is a microcosm of all that's wrong with U.S. politics, particularly the Republican Party.