Linkage

by Henry on April 25, 2007

Bits and pieces from elsewhere on the WWW in lieu of a proper post.

Via “Tyler”:http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2007/04/dani_rodrik_is_.html, I see that Dani Rodrik now has a “blog”:http://rodrik.typepad.com/. And has just won the first “Albert Hirschman prize”:http://www.ssrc.org/press/firstprize/, which sounds to be an excellent institution, honoring “scholars who have made outstanding contributions to international, interdisciplinary social science research, theory, and public communication. Hirschman is notoriously a prophet without honour in his own discipline; he’s far more widely read by sociologists (see Kieran’s “article”:http://www.kieranhealy.org/files/drafts/moral-order.pdf with Marion Fourcade for further discussion) and political scientists than by economists.

Cory Doctorow is turning out, in the best of all possible ways, to be an “uncomfortable guest”:http://www.boingboing.net/2007/04/25/usc_students_try_to_.html at the University of Southern California. There’s a lot more background in this “interview”:http://chronicle.com/free/v53/i31/31a03001.htm he did with the _Chronicle_ a few weeks back, which I meant to link to at the time, and never quite got around to. More on this later today or tomorrow.

This “bit”:http://www.chrishayes.org/blog/2007/apr/05/library-homeless-shelter/ at Chris Hayes’ blog (which you should all be reading) is thought provoking:

My friend Nick Reville once said something about public libraries that has always stuck with me. “If libraries didn’t already exist, there’d be no way they could ever come into existence now. Can you imagine telling the publishing industry that the government was going to pay to set up buildings where they gave away their product for free?” That’s as good a summary of our current political-economy as any.

{ 25 comments }

1

derrida derider 04.25.07 at 9:11 pm

Yes, Hirschman is not read by economists much – mainly because he is , rightly or wrongly, considered to lack rigour (ie not enough maths in his work). Paul Krugman has a thoughtful piece on exactly this topic here.

2

Walt 04.25.07 at 9:16 pm

I had no idea that Hirschman _was_ an economist, since it’s only sociologists who ever bring him up.

3

Luis Alegria 04.25.07 at 9:21 pm

Mr. Henry,

I see that Healy and Fourcade cite Landes in their survey. He is well worth reading, particularly for frustrated development economists.

To throw the cat in among the pigeons, I will just mention that a point of view that is notably missing in that paper is Richard Lynn’s, i.e. “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”. Whether IQ is the chicken or the egg, and whatever IQ is, the correlations are phenomenal. Its speculative nature is no worse supported than any other school of thought; if anything it has better data behind it, however limited.

4

MattXIV 04.25.07 at 10:39 pm

“Can you imagine telling the publishing industry that the government was going to pay to set up buildings where they gave away their product for free?”

I can imagine the publishing industry would be quite enthusiastic about it, actually. A little regulator capture in the purchasing process and you’ve got a great way to get rid of remainders.

5

No Longer A Urinated State of America 04.26.07 at 3:18 pm

” will just mention that a point of view that is notably missing in that paper is Richard Lynn’s, i.e. “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”. ‘

Old “learning Irish Gaelic damages IQ” Richard Lynn*, buddy of Philippe Rushton? Err, no thanks: don’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

[*Well, what do you expect from a guy teaching at Coleraine.]

6

Luis Alegria 04.26.07 at 4:00 pm

Mr. No Longer, etc.

(Your mother had an odd sense of humor I must say, do you go by No or Longer ?)

Whatever the quality of his analysis, his data has been checked by a host of people, and I don’t think there is much reason to doubt the bulk of it.

7

Walt 04.26.07 at 5:15 pm

I have a new definition of conservative: someone who thinks the only question in all of social science that matters is the racial distribution of IQ.

8

Luis Alegria 04.26.07 at 7:00 pm

Mr. Walt,

I don’t think you know many conservatives. I think the more general preoccupation of the last few decades has concerned public morality, and how to restore it.

Personally, the biggest practical problem in social science I can think of is how to get the third world into the first world. There are no practical answers to this, no policy formulas, zip. There are piles of theories and speculations, but no engineering.

9

Walt 04.27.07 at 1:42 am

Conservatives have had their boot on the throat of my nation for the last six years, Luis. Trust me, I know them.

10

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 2:19 am

Mr. Walt,

What nation is that ? If it is the US, I live here too, and I am a conservative, of very long standing and the deepest dye. The place looks like it is in excellent condition, or at least as good as I have ever seen it in my twenty years here. If you want to argue the matter, come over to TheForvm.org

11

dave heasman 04.27.07 at 8:18 am

“I think the more general preoccupation of the last few decades has concerned public morality, and how to restore it.”

Wow. That would be some sort of morality that excludes mass killing, larceny, bribery and sex with under-age boys?

12

engels 04.27.07 at 1:28 pm

Its speculative nature is no worse supported than any other school of thought; if anything it has better data behind it, however limited.

That’s funny, Luis. So why do you think Barnett and Williams in their review for Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books describe it as “an edifice built on layer upon layer of arbitrary assumptions and selective data manipulation”? And why does Ken Richardson in Hereditary refer to it as “not so much science… as a social crusade”?

13

engels 04.27.07 at 2:00 pm

I do think it might be worthwhile, though, to enquire how much recent world history can be explained by the IQ of the current American president and by that of the people who voted for him, particularly those of them like Luis who after all the events of the last six years continue to maintain that everything is going swimmingly.

14

Matt Weiner 04.27.07 at 3:19 pm

The amazing thing is that Alegria thinks that he’s contradicting Walt by saying “If it is the US, I live here too, and I am a conservative, of very long standing and the deepest dye. The place looks like it is in excellent condition.” That proves Walt’s point: the conservatives are in charge here.

15

Matt Weiner 04.27.07 at 3:19 pm

Or were; now they’re, god willing, all going to jail.

16

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 4:25 pm

Mr. Weiner,

Thats true, and life is good.

I suppose all those mandatory beatings of liberals can get tiring, but a man needs his exercise after all.

17

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 4:29 pm

Mr. Engels,

Yes indeed, that is why these gentlemen, or someone else, should go off and make a similar study to check the mans facts.

As it happens, several have. The correlations are robust, even leaving out questionable data.

He draws conclusions from the data that may be entirely wrong. But yet this is a phenomenon that requires explanation, not arm-waving.

18

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 4:31 pm

Mr. Weiner,

Thank you for your most kind sentiments.

19

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 5:20 pm

Mr. Engels,

Teh “Heredity” reviewer, come to think of it, has a rather non-mainstream point of view, in that –

“Good IQ scores thus simply reflect the educational aspirations and the cognitive, linguistic, and affective dispositions that go with middle class background.”

I.e., the man is a pure environmentalist, which seems an extreme position. The mainstream position is that measured IQ is the result of both heredity and environment, the recent consensus tending to weighting heredity. This does not necessarily require that group differences be rooted in biology.

He also misses the point that even if evaluated as a pure cultural artifact, IQ says a great deal about cultural preparation for success in the modern world, as it can be shown not only to accompany such success, but to predict it.

20

engels 04.27.07 at 6:22 pm

Luis – I don’t really want to get into a debate about this but you’re misreading Richardson if you think he is a “pure environmentalist”: the remarks you quote are not addressed to the problem of apportioning genetic and environmental components of intelligence but to the question of whether IQ tests measure a simple biometric trait. Richardson thinks it doesn’t. I don’t think that’s an “extreme” position, it seems quite likely to me in the light of the existence of the Flynn effect, among other phenomena. (As a non-psychologist when trying to decide who, if anyone, is an extremist in terms of the consensus within academic psychology I must say I tend to give more weight to reviewers in Nature and the official journal of the APA then I do to you, Steve Sailer and the cranks at GNXP.)

Richardson’s argument is that IQ tests measure a nexus of sociocognitive-affective factors which are determined by social class rather than a simple biometric trait. Correlations within national measures of average IQ scores and levels of development would therefore be entirely to be expected but of no explanatory value, even if the study had been properly conducted, which it wasn’t. Thus your unsupported assertion that “the correlations are robust” misses his point.

21

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 7:01 pm

Mr. Engels,

Why does IQ have to be a simple biometric trait ? That is an attack on a strawman it seems to me. Even Flynn would not argue like Richardson.

“Richardson’s argument is that IQ tests measure a nexus of sociocognitive-affective factors which are determined by social class rather than a simple biometric trait. ”

That means to my poor dull mind that you agree that he denies a biological component to differences in IQ.

Regardless, even if such national differences in average IQ are entirely an environmental/cultural effect, which is perfectly possible, it makes the data even more interesting. It means that somewhere in that mysterious phenomenon is the key that explains the states of mind that creates material success.

It is telling that you can much more effectively and simply explain the differences between Phillipine and South Korean growth rates, or Malay and Chinese prosperity in Malaysia, for a couple of examples, with this IQ metric than with anything else.

How about another one ? Why is Thailand richer than the Philippines ? Its in the data – Thailand has higher IQ, no doubt because, voila, Thailand has maybe 3X more Chinese.

I’m not there with Sailer et. al. on ubermenschen and untermenschen, being as I am after all one of the untermenschen, but it doesn’t seem like you can get away by waving the thing off as an effect of prosperity and not a cause. There are far too many counterfactuals here, where IQ has not followed prosperity but preceded it. One sees it happening right now in China.

22

engels 04.27.07 at 7:27 pm

Sorry, my #20 was a bit garbled. I’m not really qualified to detail Richardson’s views but as far as I can see his main points are that IQ does not measure intelligence and high IQ essentially consists in membership of the middle class. All Lynn could hope to have shown with his study, according to him, is that developed countries have a bigger middle class, which isn’t informative.

23

Luis Alegria 04.27.07 at 8:10 pm

Mr. Engels,

That gets right down to the chicken-egg issue.

Richardson is assuming prosperity is the cause of high IQ. This assumption is no better supported than that where high IQ is a cause of prosperity.

And there are enormous counterfactuals he has to explain away.

Which gets to my point – this is an interesting correlation that needs, no, cries out for exploration.

24

Matt Weiner 04.27.07 at 9:21 pm

Thank you for your most kind sentiments.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to express a wish that you or any other grass-roots conservative go to jail (of course I disagree with your ideology most profoundly); I meant the conservatives who until recently were in charge, that is the congresspeople, administration officials, and fixers who are currently the subjects of various corruption investigations; sometime soon I hope that some of them will also be prosecuted for war crimes and other abuses of power.

25

sara 04.28.07 at 2:03 am

If libraries were invented today, the books would have many pages torn out, to protect copyright. To find out how the gripping mystery novel ends, you’d have to buy the book.

Comments on this entry are closed.