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Kees Jan can't

Kees-Jan Kan, a young Dutchman, has recently rediscovered one of the most basic facts in IQ testing: That it's easiest to detect IQ differences if the people you are studying (Ss) have a common background.  So if the Ss are all in the same class at school, for instance, a vocabulary test (finding out how many hard words they know) will give you a quick and easy way to sort them out.  And you will find that the guys who know lots of words are also good at a whole range of puzzles, even mathematical ones.

So a common background optimizes your chances of assessing IQ accurately. And to be a bit technical, vocab loads highly on 'g' (the general factor in intelligence), meaning that, where it can be used, it is a powerful predictor of other abilities.  Vocab is however convenient rather than essential in IQ measurement.  Tests designed for use among people who do not have a common background (such as the Raven PMs) don't use it but still work perfectly well.

On those basic facts, KJK has erected an elaborate theory, which comes to the conclusions that IQ is mostly cultural, with a genetic component much smaller that is generally thought.  And it is the cultural part which is hereditary.

To arrive at that, KJK goes via the concept of the "cultural load" of each IQ question -- which he assesses by looking at how often a question has to be altered when you are adminstering it to a new and different population.  And he finds that by removing (statistically) the influence of cultural load, all other correlations are much reduced.

When we look more closely at his data, however (e.g. Table 3.1 in KJK's doctoral dissertation) we find that only two out of 11 question types have a high cultural load:  Vocab and general knowledge.  And the cultural dependency of those two question types has been obvious to everyone since the year dot.

What is interesting however is that the remaining 9 question types have low to negligible cultural load.  In other words, we could remove the vocab and knowledge subtests from the overall test and still have a robust test.  So my conclusion is that what KJK should have done from the beginning is to remove those two flawed item types from his calculations altogether.  Once you do that all his exciting findings melt away.  His findings rely on items that he himself knows to be flawed.

There is a summary of KJK's dissertation at  The Unscientific American -- JR

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Stereotype threat

Putting it bluntly, Stereotype threat is an invented process to explain why blacks do poorly on IQ tests.  If blacks know that they are expected to do badly they allegedly get all anxious and do even worse than they otherwise would.  But shouldn't the knowledge that they are expected to do badly energize them and make them try harder -- just to prove the stereotype wrong?  I would have thought so but I am not a Leftist.

I have had a bit of a laugh at the theory before (e.g. here) and also see here

The theory has also been used to explain away the fact that women on average do badly on mathematical tasks (those nervous ladies!) and there has recently been some interesting work suggesting that the theory is wrong in that field too.  Steve Sailer summarizes:

"Although the social sciences are considered a bastion of progressivism, it's remarkable how few data-driven ideas they generate in support of their ideology. We can get a feel for this by noting how rare are the "exceptions to the rule" studies that become immensely popular due to bolstering the dominant worldview, such as Hart & Risley's finding that black people don't talk enough and Claude Steele's little study of Stereotype Threat in which he induces black students at Stanford to score lower on a low stakes test of his devising than their high stakes SAT scores would predict. (I wrote about Stereotype Threat in VDARE.com in 2004, suggesting it's not hard to get across the message to black or female students that the professor wants them to not exert themselves fully on this meaningless test. That you can "prime" groups of people to work less hard on an unimportant test does not prove that you know how to make them score higher on an important test.)

Lately, the evidence has been mounting that the existence of Stereotype Threat is quite dependent upon the file drawer function: studies finding its existence are quickly published while studies not finding its existence are in much less demand. A recent article:

An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects on Girls' Mathematics Performance

By Colleen M. Ganley et al.

... Conclusion

Taken together, the findings from published research, unpublished articles, and the present studies reveal inconsistency in the effects of stereotype threat on girls’ mathematics performance. The discrepancy in results from published and unpublished studies suggests publication bias, which may create an inaccurate picture of the phenomenon. A recent review suggests that this publication bias may also be an issue in the literature on stereotype threat in adult women (Stoet & Geary, 2012). Overall, these results raise the possibility that stereotype threat may not be the cause of gender differences in mathematics performance prior to college. Although we feel that more nuanced research needs to be done to truly understand whether stereotype threat impacts girls’ mathematics performance, we also believe that too much focus on this one explanation may deter researchers from investigating other key factors that may be involved in gender differences in mathematics performance. For example, there are a number of factors (e.g., mathematics anxiety, mathematics interest, spatial skills; see Ceci & Williams, 2010) that have been shown to be consistently related to mathematics performance and mathematics-and science-related career choices and may warrant more research attention than does stereotype threat."

SOURCE

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Socialism and the individual

The extreme forms of socialism (Nazism, Communism, Fascism) show us vividly what lies beneath the "good intentions" of "Progressives" generally.  Writing below, Richard A. Koenigsberg shows us how inimical to conservative ideas of individual liberty socialist ideas are.

From their devotion to the collective rather than the personal, it is hard to avoid the impression that socialists must have dismal personal lives.  Love of family must be largely alien to them.  It is certainly true that Marx hated just about everybody; Hitler's largely unconnected personal life is well-known and Stuckart (excerpted below) appears to have been a "mother's boy" well into his adulthood

Incidentally,  the quote from Stuckart could well have been from Hegel, the philosophical tutor of Karl Marx.  The ideas are just about identical -- JR

Bob Dylan’s song “Like a Rolling Stone” —one of the most popular of the twentieth century—may contain esoteric meanings:

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

However, it also serves as a description of one’s emotional reaction upon coming to live in New York City—the ultimate “Gesellschaft society.”

Sociologists define the “Gemeinschaft society” as one characterized by personal interaction: one’s relationship with other human beings defines the community. The Gesellschaft or urban society, on the other hand, is characterized by the absence of interaction and intimacy among people in the physical environment.

One of the first questions I asked myself when I began living in New York City was, “How can I connect with other human beings?” I knew no one on my block (West 95th Street near Central Park West) and barely spoke to people in my apartment building. What was my “community,” and how would I develop a relationship to it?

I began reading The New York Post and The New York Times—and following the Knicks. Like so many others, my relationship to the community came to be constituted by a relationship with the mass media and “famous people.”

The mass media are so ubiquitous now that we take them for granted. We forget that one has to learn—be socialized into—this feeling that we have an intimate and personal relationship with events and people in the “outer world.”

When I was young, there was a clear distinction between one’s personal life and life presented by the mass media. One had to be seduced into paying attention to “current events” (David Letterman uses the term current events in a satirical way, bringing us back to a time when we didn’t take public events so seriously). We clearly distinguished between our “real lives,” on the one hand, and what was happening “out there”: what we read about in newspapers, heard on the radio, and saw on television.

What is totalitarianism? It is an ideology insisting that public life—the national community—is far more significant than one’s personal life. Totalitarian ideologies insist that there is no such thing as private life: one’s personal existence should be subordinated—always and forever—to the “life” of one’s nation.

Hitler explained to his people, “You are nothing, your nation is everything.” Nazi legal expert Wilhelm Stuckart described the German “Volk community”:

"The community of the Volk is the primary value in the life of the whole as well as of the individual. National Socialism does not recognize a separate individual sphere which, apart from the community, is to be painstakingly protected from any interference by the state. The moral personality can prove itself only within the community. Every activity of daily life has meaning and value only as a service to the whole."

Totalitarian ideology revolves around the idea that there is no domain of life or sphere of reality separate from the national community. Totalitarianism means devotion to “the whole.” The significance of the individual is denied. Totalitarianism means denial of separateness and separation.

The development of the modern nation-state is dependent upon accepting the proposition that one’s own fate and destiny are intimately linked with the fate and destiny of one’s nation. Totalitarian ideology takes nationalism a step further, insisting that the fate of the individual and the nation are entirely bound together: there can be no domain of reality where individuals pursue desires unrelated to the state’s goals.

Embracing the Volksgemeinschaft, Hitler required that individuals identify absolutely with Germany. It was necessary to overcome “bourgeois privatism” in order to “unconditionally equate the individual fate with the fate of the nation.” The Volk would encompass each and every German: “No one is excepted from this crisis of the Reich,” Hitler declared. “There may not be a single person who excludes himself from this joint obligation.” The Volk, Hitler explained, “is but yourself.”

Karl Marx similarly embraced the proposition that separation of the individual from society was intolerable, explaining that “liberty as a right of man” is not founded on the relations between men, but rather upon the “separation of man from man.” Human rights were founded on the “right of such separation”—the right of the “circumscribed individual withdrawn into himself.”

“Man as a member of civil society,” Marx said, is an individual separated from the community—“wholly preoccupied with his private interest and private caprice.” Like Hitler, Marx disdained “bourgeois individualism”: a mode of existence insisting upon the individual’s freedom to pursue personal interests and private aspirations.

According to Marx, “Human life is the true social life of man.” Only by virtue of one’s relationship to society did one become a human being. The ideology of freedom or the “rights of man”—asserting the individual’s right to act in accord with private interests—produced an exclusion from societal life that was “more complete, unbearable and dreadful” than exclusion from political life.

The liberal idea of freedom, from Marx’s point of view—the right to become “released from the shackles and limitations imposed by man”—was the expression of man’s “absolute enslavement and loss of human nature.” Liberation from society was a form of slavery.

The true achievement of “human emancipation,” Marx insisted, would occur only when the individual man had “absorbed into himself the abstract citizen.” Liberation would occur when the individual—in his everyday life, work and relationships—had become a “species being.”

What Nazism and Communism had in common, philosophically, was the idea that there could be no truly human existence unless one’s life was devoted to the life of the community or collective. “Society” was all. The individual was required to subordinate himself to, and live for, “the whole.”

Hitler’s life consisted of his determination to kill off the idea of separation or separateness. This is precisely what “the Jew” meant: someone who was incapable of integrating into a national society. The Jew symbolized a “free-floating individual,” unable to bind to a nation-state—like a bacterium that roamed within a body, but was unable to find a permanent, stable place within it.

In killing “Jewish bacteria,” Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels sought to kill off the idea of individuality: exterminate individuals who were imagined to exist in a condition of separateness from the nation-state. As one ideologue put it, “You will be a Nazi—or we will bash your head in.” “You are one of us—part of the German nation—or you have no right to exist.”

Hitler’s Official Programme (Feder, 1927) put forth as its central plank, “The Common Interest before Self-Interest,” condemning leaders of public life who “worship the same god—Individualism” and “make personal interest the sole incentive.” Nazi totalitarianism was a revolution against individualism—the idea that a human being can exist in a state of separateness from society, the national community.

Germany was everything. That which was or desired to become separate from Germany could not—would not—be permitted to exist. Hitler’s fantasy of mass-murder was generated by his desire or need to destroy anyone and everything that was not part of the German self.

Received via email from Richard A. Koenigsberg, author of "The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism"
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More on the Left/Right difference

I have been updating my big article on the history and psychology of conservatism and I present below my new introduction to it:

Left-leaning psychologists and other Leftist "thinkers" sometimes "study" conservatism -- usually with the obvious motive of proving a  theory which discredits conservatives in some way.  But the shallowness of their actual knowledge of conservatives is shown when they feel the need to consult dictionaries just to find out what conservatism is (e.g. Altemeyer and Wyeth).  That is a remarkably desperate recourse.  Dictionaries record usage but they cannot tell you whether the usage is right or wrong, shallow or profound. They even record mistaken usages.

The problem underlying the recourse to dictionaries is that the Leftist wouldn't know conservatism if he fell over it.  His only concept of conservatism is the caricature of it that circulates in his own little Leftist bubble.  But he does realize dimly that he doesn't know what it is. So with a schoolboy level of sophistication, he turns to his dictionary to find out what it is!

By contrast, in my studies of Leftism, I feel no need to rely on dictionaries.  From many years of reading Leftist writings, I can tell you what Leftism regularly is.  What the Leftist does or tries to do is to stop people doing what they want to do and make them do things that they don't want to do. They are not alone in that but that underlies all that they do and say.  What changes they want and why they want them I consider in detail elsewhere. So conservatives tend to allow the natural world to continue on its way while Leftists forge an inherently unstable world that can be held together only by coercion.  Leftism is quintessentially authoritarian.

The redirection of a large slice of people's spending power via compulsory taxation is only one part of the coercion. There are also many direct commands and prohibitions.  The very expensive "mandates" of Obamacare were under much discussion at the time of writing.  Only a Leftist would think that old ladies should be forced to pay for obstetric care.

It may be noted that some people with strongly-held religious views tend to be like Leftists in trying to forge an unnatural world. That helps to explain why Leftists are infinitely tolerant of  Muslim Jihadis and why the major churches tend to support the Left, some of them being very Leftist.  In the 2004 Australian Federal elections, the leaders of ALL the churches came out in favour of the (Leftist) Australian Labor Party.  The only exception was a small Exclusive Brethren group in Tasmania who supported the conservative coalition -- and their "intervention" sparked huge outrage in the media and elsewhere.  (The conservatives won that election in a landslide).

And in England it is sometimes now held that "C of E" stands for "Church of the Environment", because of the Church of England's strong committment to Greenie causes.  Cantuar Welby's scolding of business might also be noted. And a previous Cantuar (Carey, a generally decent man) called his little grandson "pollution" on Greenie grounds.  Pity the children! And, in stark contrast with the Bible, a senior  Anglican cleric has called "homophobia" a sin.  The C of E and most of its First World offshoots no longer have strong feelings about salvation but they have strong feelings about Green/Leftist causes.

Because they focus so much on personal feelings and the promise of salvation rather than on "the world", American evangelicals are something of an exception but, even there, 10 million evangelicals voted for Al Gore in the year 2000 American Federal elections.

But back to conservatism: While conservatives tend to let the natural world run its course, that is not a defining characteristic.

What Leftists find in their dictionaries is that conservatives are opposed to change.  That is indeed the prevailing Leftist conception of conservatives but it ignores one of the most salient facts about politics worldwide  -- that conservative governments are just as energetic in legislating as Leftists are.  Both sides busily make new laws all the time.  And the point of a new law is to change something.  The changes that Left and Right desire are different but both sides push for change.  On the Leftist's  understanding of conservatism, a conservative government that wins an election should do no more than yawn, shut up the legislature and go home until the next election!

So in a thoroughly anti-intellectual style, the Leftist ignores one of the most basic facts about politics. That sure is a weird little intellectual bubble that he lives in.  EVERY conservative that I know has got a whole list of things that he would like to see changed  -- usually reversals of Leftist changes.  But Leftist intellectuals  clearly just doesn't know any conservatives.  Conservatism is NOT a rejection of change, though it may be a rejection of Leftist change.

So what really is conservatism? I have taught both sociology and psychology at major Australian universities but when it comes to politics my psychologist's hat is firmly on. One can understand conservatism at various levels but to get consistency, you have to drop back to the psychological level. And at that level it is as plain as a pikestaff. Conservatives are cautious. And that is all you need to know to understand the whole of conservatism.

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Andrew Sullivan

Sullivan is something of a figure of fun to many of us.  He gets a lot of readers but his changes of direction make it possible to answer almost anything he says today by quoting what Sullivan himself said 5 to 10 years ago.  He has for instance gone from being a passionate Zionist to being a passionate Israel-hater.

And the passion would seem to be the key to his popularity.  I am  guessing that most of his many readers are Left-leaning, and Leftists mainline on emotion, regardless of the facts.

There is a big survey of Sullivan's "thinking" (if you can call it that) here that endevours to make some sense out of what drives him  -- without success.  I think he just likes hearing the sound of his own voice (or its written equivalent).  And he would appear to make significant money out of his writings.

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The Flynn effect

The Flynn effect is the fact that average IQ scores throughout the world rose substantially throughout the 20th century.  The scores for both blacks and whites rose but the gap between the two remained essentially the same.

The effect has been something of a puzzle.  Why did it happen?  There are probably a number of processes causing it  -- processes which could be broadly grouped as "modernization".  An interesting part of the effect is that scores on subtests that load most highly on 'g' (the general factor) have changed least.  This suggests that scores on a perfect test would not have changed at all.

A new researcher has fastened on to that fact and looked at what characterizes high 'g' and low 'g' subtests.  He finds that the subtests which have shown the biggest change are tests where a small group of strategies allow you to answer most of the items successfully.

And that ties in with an explanation commonly given for the Flynn effect -- that ever rising number of years spent in the educational system give students more and more practice at using test-answering strategies.  And they can use some of those strategies in answering IQ tests too. So education increases scores on the least-central question-types.  On items that strategies cannot help you to answer (such as testing how many hard words you know) there has been virtually no change over the years.

So education has now been fairly conclusively identified as the main cause of the rising scores and at the same time the rising scores have been shown as not reflecting a real  rise in underlying abilities.

Steve Sailer has the details

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The genetics of politics

People on both the Left and the Right are usually quite firm in their view that their political choices are reasonable and the product of thought.  But what if they are not?  It would tend to explain the vast gulf in views betweeen the Left and the Right in America today.  And I have for some years been pointing out the various studies that have found that there is a substantial element of genetic inheritance behind our political preferences.  We are to a degree born to be Leftists or Rightists.

This sits comfortably with just about no-one so it behooves us to check and recheck the research concerned.  That has recently been done, looking at many of the bodies of data that enable us to research the matter.  The result is a remarkable degree of agreement that genetics IS a major factor influencing our political opinions.  The abstract of the paper concerned is given below.

The paper also tried to identify specific genes behind the effect but was unsuccessful.  Investigations of that sort are still at an early stage.  The paper also did not try to ascertain if there were any personality variables that mediated the genetic connection.  My deduction is that the correlation indicates that Leftists are just born miserable.  All the research certainly shows that conservatives are happier.

The paper below was concerened with detailed political questions  such as abortion, gay marriage etc.  It did not deal with actual vote at election time.  Is Democrat or Republican loyalty inherited too?  We do have some data on that from elsewhere which points to a somewhat qualified conclusion.  Hatemi et al (2007) found that vote was substantially inherited but only because many of the things influencing vote were inherited -- church attendance, specific attitudes etc.  Vote does not have its own set of genes behind it.

REFERENCE: Hatemi (2007) "The Genetics of Voting: An Australian Twin Study" Behav. Genet., 37:435–448

Genetic Influences on Political Ideologies: Genome - Wide Findings on Three Populations, and a Mega - Twin Analysis of 19 Measures of Political Ideologies from Five Western Democracies

Forthcoming in Behavior Genetics – Lindon Eaves Festschrift

By Peter K. Hatemi et al.

 Abstract:

 Almost forty years ago evidence from large studies of adult twins and their relatives suggested that between 30 - 60% of the variance in Liberal and Conservative attitudes can be explained by genetic influences. However, these findings have not been widely accepted or incorporated into the dominant paradigms that explain the etiology of political ideology. This has been attributed in part to measurement and sample limitations as well the inability to identify specific genetic markers related to political ideology

Here we present results from original analys es of a combined sample of over 12,000 twins pairs, ascertained from nine different studies conducted in five western democracies (Australia, Hungary, Denmark, Sweden, and the U.S.A.), sampled over the course of four decades. We provide definitive evidence that heritability plays a role in the formation of political ideology, regardless of how ideology is measured, the time period or population sampled. The only exception s are questions that explicitly use the phrase “Left - Right”.

We then present results from one of the first genome - wide association studies on political ideology using data from three samples : a 1990 Australian sample involving 6,894 individuals from 3,516 families; a 2008 Australian sample of 1,160 related individua ls from 635 families and a 2010 Swedish sample involving 3,334 individuals from 2,607 families . Several polymorphisms related to olfaction reached genome - wide significance in the 2008 Australian sample, but did not replicate across samples and remained suggestive in the meta - analysis. The combined evidence suggests that political ideology constitutes a fundamental aspect of one’s genetically informed psychological disposition, but as Fisher proposed long ago, genetic influences on complex traits will be composed of thousands of markers of very small effects

SOURCE


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Wonders of the North. A VISITOR'S VIEWS AND IMPRESSIONS

From the Hillston Spectator and Lachlan River Advertiser, Australia, Friday 16 October 1908

A former resident of Nowra writes: — I am still in the 'black north,' as some call it, I can hardly find words to express the pleasure I had in travelling in these regions.

My journey ended at the Barron Falls, where I made a turn for home. Such a pleasant  Sunday, amongst old cannibals [Pacific Islanders; Melanesians] in the coffee plantation, climbing the cliffs at the Falls, pulling bananas and paw paws, and oranges — all this was a new life to me.

You know nothing of paw paws. Well they are a fruit as large as a rock melon and somewhat similar in flavor. You can eat them all day. The grenadillo [granadilla, a tropical vine in the passionfruit family: Passiflora quadrangularis] (a fruit much nicer than passionfruit, but much after the same style, and as large as a small rock melon), is simply delicious. Then there are the mangoes and custard apples, pineapples and other fruit unknown to southern soils.

They get the heat here it is true, but they have many compensating advantages in tropical fruit. There is also the cotton (I am bringing some back in its native state) and cocoa, and indiarubber. All these are exceptionally interesting.

The creeks around here swarm with alligators but I am sorry I cannot afford time to go out. They are in the pools below the Barron Falls, and many a Chow has been swallowed holus bolus.

It is this way. The Chow goes down to the creek to wash his clothes. He goes down often. The 'gator, no doubt, saw him when he went down first. But he doesn't act then. He allows the Chow to come down often, and when the yellow-skin feels that everything is safe there at the particular spot the 'gator steals silently from the water, and there is one chow less in Redlynch — that is the name of the creek.

There is a great hullabaloo in Redlynch that night among the Chinamen. Next day, or the day after, or a week after, that alligator comes looking for more Chow, but instead of that he gets a dog! (poisoned with strychnine). Then the hilarious Chows shout with joy as the 'gator jumps frantically out of the water in the middle of the stream, in his endeavor to form the letter G. All is soon over. The 'gator is cut open, and a few brass buttons are found, but no bones to send home to China.

The alligator is now and again seen in the ocean, but very seldom, as the shark beats him every time. If a 'gator wants co go from one creek to another he crawls along the beach inside the surf so that the shark can't get at him. The 'gator as a rule, but not always, immediately feeds off his catch, and then buries it for a week or more. He will bury a dog for that time, and then go up and devour him.

He will drag a horse or a bullock into the water and hold him under till he is drowned. A favorite, method is to rush anything into the water with its tail, then all is Over. He doesn't always grab with his claws.

Hundreds of cattle and horses here show marks of struggles with alligators. If an alligator grabs a horse which is out of the water, the horse runs away with him, the 'gator holding till the horse's flesh gives way. You next find the horse with a great piece taken out of him, but he usually recovers.

Alligator shooting with a dog tied on the water's edge as a bait, is common sport, The 'gator likes a dog better than anything else, except a Chow. It is cruel sport, but as it is somebody else's dog, Queenslanders don't mind.

There is a black' mission station at Cairns, where the blacks print a newspaper, maintain a band, have water and gas works, and grow everything known to a tropical country. They marry and bring up children, and generally spend a useful life.

The Chinaman is everywhere. Whole streets, like Junction street, with every shop Chinese, are common. In Geraldton [Innisfail] they own the sugar and banana plantation. Their joss-houses face the street. Chinese women and their families are in the streets just like white people.

All the pictures you see of Chinese in China are reproduced here. The big-rimmed hat and the umbrella — they are common. In going to Cairns, we had a special carriage on for them. Even the railway stations and villages bear Chinese names.

I only heard of one Chinese publican who refused to employ a Chinese cook 'What do you chink?' he used to say, 'that chow wants me to give him a job as cook. No fear, me keepee white cook!

Nearly everybody in Geraldton carries a blue umbrella.- When I inquired the reason, they told me the white ants eat up all the black ones. Geraldton is the wettest place in Australia; if not the world. Tney measure the rain by yards,' said a prominent townsman ; 240 inches a year — that is a record— 20 feet. What do you think of it?' 150 inches have already fallen this year. lt was raining all. the time I was there...

Well, I am leaving the north with very great regret. Although I travelled right through inland Queensland— 400 and 500 miles from the coast, there is still much I would like to see. It is all so very, very interesting. I have never enjoyed a trip better.

And it was a revelation. There are cities up here and thousands of people, white, black, yellow, and copper. Every town of any size has its two daily papers. All is reported here in the telegrams in the daily papers of the northern towns.

Every place is a centre, depending on itself. They don't send to Brisbane if they want anything — at least not necessarily. Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Maryborough, Buudaberg-they are all centres.

They think more of Sydney than any other place outside their own towns. . .. The fact that I am from Sydney helps me in business, because they know Sydney can beat Brisbane. Of course, Brisbane is necessarily their political centre hut but necessarily their trading centre.

I have met no one up here from Illawarra, but my word, if a man liked to brave the heat, this is the place. Cairns, has Atherton behind it, 3000ft  up on the hills, a place like the scrub country of the Richmond River.

It is still in the primitive state, and likely to undergo a boom like the Richmond River. The climate is beautiful and land cheap. Atherton has railway communication and is about 60 miles from the sea. You mark my words; there will be a big rush as the land is thrown open There is plenty of timber on it and an inexhaustible supply — an Illawarra really in a tropical country.

I forgot to tell you the Barrier Reef is 30 miles from here and runs along the coast for over 1000 miles, consequently there are  no breakers of any size along the shores. The water is nearly always smooth.

Picnic parties go out and camp on it for a week or a fortnight. Plenty of fishing, and thousands of turtles. The Japanese fish all along it for beche-de-mer — something that resembles a sausage in appearance, and is dried and eaten — by Chinamen principally

SOURCE

I have posted the old newspaper article above to show what the world was like before political correctness.  You will see that minorities were identified by mildly derogatory nicknames but the attitude towards them was amused rather than hostile.  What would now be identified as "hate speech" was in fact innocuous.  The Anglos and the Chinese just lived their own lives and did so in peace.  The area described is the Cairns/Innisfail area of Far North Queensland, Australia, where I was born.

As I was born only 35 years after the above was written, I can recognize the accuracy of most of what is written there.  I even remember the Chinese joss-house that he describes in "Geraldton" (now known as Innisfail).  When I was a little boy, I occasionally went in there and banged the drum.  One day an old Chinese man who was a custodisan of the temple caught me doing it.  Did he abuse me, chase me or attack me?  No.  He gave me a mango.  Pretty relaxed race relations I think -- JR

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A small revival here

Over 90% of what appears on my blogs are words written by others that I find some merit in.  But I also write a great deal myself.  And I have been writing for a long time.  So sometimes when I want to refer back to something in my previous writings, I can't find it.  I have written too much to keep mental track of when and where I wrote it.  

So in such circumstances I use good old Google to find my own writings.  I add the term "John Ray" to a subject search and I can usually find what I want.

An odd thing I notice however is that this site seems to be in some way preferred by Google.  Quite often I have put up a post in more than one place and when that is so the post on this site is the one that comes up first  -- with the other sites not mentioned at all or being given way down in the list.

I don't know why that is but I think I should take advantage of it.  So posts that I would not like to get "lost" I am going to put up here occasionally.



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On war  -- and WWI in particular

I write under the above heading with apologies to Clausewitz, Sun Tzu and many others. What inspires me to write on this occasion is that a relative sent me a rather heartfelt rendition of a famous Australian antiwar song.  It is here.  It uses a lot of Australian English so is unlikely to be fully understood by non-Australians  -- but you will undoubtedly get the gist of it.

The thing that characterizes all antiwar songs that I know is that they take a very superficial view of war. They see the suffering and waste and make no effort to see WHY the suffering and waste took place.  They think it is sufficiently profound to deplore war rather than attempt to understand it.

And a lot of people in general do that.  They speak of the "folly" of war, which is in fact a confession that they do not understand it. And I imagine that anyone reading here has been confronted by such sentiments at some time or other.  I thought therefore that it might be useful to set out in a simple way how war is to be explained.  Some people seem to need such an explanation.

The first thing to note is that conquered people are often treated very badly by victor nations.  It can be literally a matter of life and death.  There are therefore very good reasons to fight a defensive war.  You may avoid oppression that way.  And that is the basic argument for war.  There may also be reasons for an offensive war but I doubt that any of those are good reassons.

The second thing we need to understand is that most people prefer prevention to cure.  It is all very well to defend yourself if attacked but it is surely best to prevent war breaking out in the first place.  The best known of such strategies is "Si vis pacem, para bellum", a Latin adage translated as, "If you want peace, prepare for war".  And there are some good examples of that as a successful strategy  -- 20th century Switzerland and Sweden, for instance.

There is however a very important second strategy, one that tends to slip below the public consciousness:  Treaties and alliances.  To most people such things seem to be old men talking to one another with no relevance to everyday life.  In fact, however, they are a major deterrent to war and should therefore be highly valued by any reasonable person.  And politicians at least do usually value them highly.

What treaties do is to make a group of nations to big or too strong to attack. They say to potential aggressors:  "If you attack any one of us, all of us will strike back at you."  Unity is strength, in other words.  And there is no doubt that treaties do prevent wars.  At a time when the Soviet Union was in an  aggressively expansionist phase, Western Europe would not have retained its independence but for its treaty with the United States (NATO).

So treaties are very important.  And you must honour them.  If you fail to come to the defence of a country that you have a treaty with, ALL treaties will tend to be undermined and an important deterrent to war will have been lost.

Which brings us to WWI, the subject of the antiwar song I mentioned above.  Even to me, WWI seems a foolish war.  Why did civilized countries line up their young men in opposing ranks in order for the other side to machine-gun them down?   Why did Australian soldiers end up trying to invade Turkey?  And for those who take a more informed view of the matter, why did the assassination of an Austrian Archduke in Serbia by a nonentity known as Gavrilo Princip lead to the fine young men of Britain making war on fine young men from Germany in the fields of Belgium?

It makes no sense unless you understand the importance of treaties for war prevention. In 1914, Germany had a treaty with Austria, Britain had a treaty with France and France had a treaty with Russia.  And those treaties had to be honoured if endless war was not to be ushered in.

So when Serb activist Princip shot the Archduke, Austria cracked down on the generally hostile Serbs, with which Austria had a border. Exactly what Austria hoped to achieve by invading Serbia is unclear if not inchoate but the brief 1979 invasion of Vietmam by China "To teach Vietnam a lesson" comes to mind by way of a comparison.  A greater similarity may be with Osama bin Laden attacking the twin towers and the subsequent U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

But the Tsar of Russia saw the Serbs as fellow Slavs, brothers to Russia. The Tsar remonstrated with the Austrians but the Austrians replied that the matter was none of the Tsar's businmess. So the Tsar declared war on Austria.  Austria seemed unfazed by the prospect of a war on two fronts, a generally dangerous policy.  As a very large European power it appears to have felt that its large potential reserves of manpower rendered it equal to the task.  It also appears to have calculated that Serbia would be a pushover and that any Russian military effort would be greatly hampered by well-known Russian inadequacies in military leadership and logistics, both of which proved to have some truth.

So it was a meddlesone Russian ruler who set the ball rolling on WWI.  Because then the treaties came into effect: Germany declared war on Russia in defence of Austria;   France declared war on Austria and Germany because of their treaty with Russia; and Britain declared war on Germany in defence of France.  The logic was dismal but logic it was.

So it is not a common way to look at it but WWI was fought in defence of the integrity of treaties.  If the various treaties had been betrayed at that time, treaties might not have kept Western Europe safe from the dismal grip of Soviet Russia in the post-WWII era.  Russia might have been tempted to roll in the belief that the USA would not honour its treaty with Europe.  So some good did come from WWI.  It was a war that had to be fought.

So what about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars waged by the USA?  They were clearly defensive wars waged to discourage any repetition of the 9/11 attacks.  You would think that knocking out two of the three regimes most hospitable to the Jihadis would show them that the USA was not a paper tiger and discourage the Jihadis  for good but the fact that the Iranians have got off scot-free probably gives them encouragement.

Dropping a big one on their holy city with a promise of more to come would be a low-cost way of causing the Iranians to rethink their hostility towards just about everyone -- and with a bit of luck the Israelis might do just that in the not-too distant future -- to the  benefit of us all. The Iranians have installed substantial military facilities in the Qom area so they are asking for it. Losing their holy city would also make them the laughing stock of the Sunni world -- and ridicule can be even more grievous than defeat.  The Ayatollahs would be completely discredited.

More on WWI

The explanation given above does, I think, adequately and accurately explain the outbreak of WWI.  But does it explain why the war went on for four years of horror?  The sheer awfulness of WWI does make my explanation in sociological and legal terms seem rather shallow so I would like to put forward deeper levels of explanation as well.  Before I do that, however, I reproduce below an essay that stresses how hard it is to understand the awful events of that war.
Why War?

By Richard Koenigsberg

In 1989, I was on the fourth floor of the Bobst library at NYU. Having read most of the books on Nazism, Hitler and the Holocaust, I drifted across the aisle and started browsing through the volumes on the First World War—and was astonished at what I discovered.

I was astonished—not only by the persistence and magnitude of the slaughter—but by the blasé way historians described what had occurred. It seemed as if mass murder was taken for granted: nothing special. At least the Holocaust evoked shock and bewilderment. But the extermination of 9 million human beings (most of them young men) evoked little amazement.

I began studying the topic more deeply, assuming historians would reveal the causes. What was so significant that could generate such massive slaughter? Of course, historians were able to trace how one event led to another. But why did the slaughter take place? Why was it necessary? Gradually, I realized historians were unable to answer these questions.

Orion and I were reading back issues of the New York Review of Books earlier this week—as a model for Library of Social Science Book Reviews—and came across a terrific article by Jason Epstein. In his review essay, Epstein poses several questions I have been thinking about during the past 25 years.

Reviewing John Keegan’s The First World War, Epstein conveys this great historian’s conclusion: that the nations of Europe (and the world) “had no compelling reason to fight.” Keegan asked: “Why did the states of Europe proceed as if in a dead march and a dialogue of the deaf, to the destruction of their continent and its civilization?” It is this question—and others like it—that we pose in this Newsletter, and through our Websites.

The most profound flaw in the thinking of historians and political scientists is their assumption of rationality. They proceed as if it is possible to identify “real reasons” for mass murder—and for the tendency of nation-states to proceed as if self-extermination was their objective.

Epstein cites a sermon presented by the Bishop of London in 1915, who urged Englishmen to kill Germans…to kill the good as well as the bad, to kill the young men as well the old,…to kill them lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed. As I have said a thousand times, I look upon it as a war for purity…for the principles of Christianity. I look upon everyone who dies in it as a martyr.

The words in this brief passage (that easily could have come out of Hitler’s mouth) reveal several themes that have emerged from my research on collective forms of violence.

Warfare revolves around the idea that it is necessary to kill or destroy the enemy. There is blind passion in the Bishop’s words—he insists it is necessary to “kill Germans,” the “good as well as the bad,” the “young men as well as the old”. Why this belief that it necessary to kill—or kill off—each and every member of another nation or societal group?

Nations and enemies go together. It seems that one requires the other, almost as if nations need enemies in order to energize themselves—to stay alive. The nation’s identity seems to be dependent on its capacity to identify an enemy to hate, revile—and possibly kill.

The Bishop asserts that it is necessary to kill Germans “lest the civilization of the world should itself be killed.” I have found that the idea of “rescuing civilization” is central in generating warfare. War is not about “primitive aggression.” Rather, nations initiate acts of war when they imagine that the future of civilization is at stake.

Somehow, the other civilization (or group) is imagined to threaten the existence of one’s own civilization. This principle applies to contemporary political struggles—as well as the First World War. Warfare arises as a form of morality, or moral righteousness. The enemy Other is imagined to be acting to destroy one’s own society. Violent acts are therefore necessary—required.

Hitler explained, “We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany, we have performed the greatest deed in the world.” If you think about any case of political violence that you have studied or are familiar with, you will probably conclude that Hitler’s statement is applicable. Collective forms of violence are undertaken in the name of a rescue fantasy. “Yes, we are performing acts of inhumane violence. However, if our nation or society is to survive, we have no other choice but to undertake them.”

The Bishop’s war cry, Epstein observes, could have “landed him in an asylum” had he delivered it a year earlier. Warfare, it would appear, renders normal what in other circumstances would be judged insane. Outside the context of war, asking men to get out of trenches and to run into machine gun fire and artillery shells for four years—would be considered a form of insanity.

I worked with a psychiatrist in 1998 developing an all-day seminar on warfare. She was not a historian and was unfamiliar with the First World War. We were sitting on a couch watching Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957). When we came to the scene in which soldiers were compelled to get out of their trench and move into no man’s land—in the face of massive shelling (click the link to view the video), she jumped up from the couch and screamed, “It’s crazy. It’s insane.”

This, perhaps, is the normal or natural reaction of a human being who has not been socialized into the historical discourse on the First World War. And yes, what occurred between 1914 and 1918 was insane. However, we don’t like to say this. We shy away from acknowledging that insane forms of behavior are contained within the fabric of civilization.

What’s more, human beings to not seem to be ashamed of their proclivity toward mass murder and self-destruction. Leaders who are responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings often live to a ripe old age. Perhaps we are even proud of our willingness to kill and die for abstract ideas—our sacred ideals. It’s what distinguishes us from other animals.

Can we begin to “bracket” the ideology of warfare—to conceive of this institution as something other than who we are? Post-modernists have deconstructed nearly everything. However, the idea of warfare (and of the nation-state, which generates war) reigns supreme.

It is easy to be “against” war. However, we have yet to pose and answer fundamental questions: Precisely what is warfare? Why do we need it? Why have human beings become so attached to the idea or ideology of warfare? These are questions we seek to answer through our Library of Social Science Newsletter, our Ideologies of War website, and through Library of Social Science Book Reviews.

We may not be ready to conceive of warfare as an institutionalized form of insanity. So let’s say that warfare is like a dream that many people are having at once: a collective fantasy that has been embraced and called “reality.”

 SOURCE

At least in the essay above, Koenigsberg has no answer as to why those terrible events all happened   -- but I think a wider knowledge of history does give a lot of the answers.

The key, as I see it, is that there were many mutually reinforcing tendencies leading to that war.  I have dealt with the sociological and legal reasons above, so now I want to mention the anthropological, psychological and strategic reasons.  With influences at all five levels pointing in the one direction, the actual events and the tenacity of the fight become more understandable.

For a start, let me reinforce something Koenigsberg says:  That Britons were told the were defending civilization against the barbaric Germans. Since Germany was at the time arguably the most civilized nation on earth, this is a truly epic example of lying propaganda.

And illogical, though it was, that propaganda message seems to have been widely accepted.  A generation later,  Hitler greatly admired that.  He thought it showed that the British were masters of propaganda, something I would not dispute.

To understand why that bizarre message was even initiated, however, anthropology needs to be called upon.  And it helps if you know Melanesians.  Melanesians are the black inhabitants of the large island of New Guinea (slightly larger than Texas) and neighboring islands.  I rather like Melanesians but they do not like one-another very much.  They mostly live in small villages as subsistence farmers.


Some Melanesians

There are about 400 languages in New Guinea and a similar number of tribes that speak them.  And social relationships are overwhelmingly governed by whether the other person is a "wantok" or not.  A "wantok" is someone who speaks your language.  Your relationship with a wantok is tightly rule-governed but anything goes with others.  A non-wantok is fair game.  And that is just one reflection of the attitudes that the different tribes have towards one another:  They hate one-another.  To us the diffences between the various tribes seem minute but not so to the people concerned.

So to generalize from that, tribalism is deeply human and deeply hostile.  A different tribe has to be only slightly different to be hated.  So the WWI British portrayal of Germans would be completely understood in New Guinea.  And the acceptance of that portrayal by the British public would also be seen as unremarkable.  We and Melanesians are more alike that we would like to think.  Both of us are quick to think ill of other language groups

It could in fact be argued that Melanesians are more civilized than we are.  Anything above a skirmish between wantoks is virtually unknown in New Guinea.  But as America's two wars for Yankee supremacy show, Americans have no such scruples.  Americans  even attack wantoks. And both the war of Independence and the North/South wars were brutal, with the death toll in the second war in the same ballpark as  WWI on a per head basis.  Such slaughter of wantoks would appall Melanesians.

So we can see that anthropology adds its bit to the motivation behind WWI.

And the psychology was powerful too.  Thanks principally to the rather bewildering statesmanship of Otto von Bismarck, Europe had a long and virtually unprecedented period of peace from 1871 on.

And all the nations of Western Europe used this time to catch up with the British industrial revolution.  So there was vast modernization and a great improvement in living standards generally.  And the people of Europe saw that and were much pleased.  And each nation saw its rapid progress over two generations as its own achievement.  As the anthropology would lead us to expect, they did NOT see the transformation as riding on the coattails of British innovation and entrepreneurship.

So with vast confidence in their brilliance, all the nations felt invincible in war.  They all thought that with their obvious civilizational superiority, any war that they undertook would be over in a matter of weeks.  They were spoiling for a fight, a fight which they thought would prove their superiority once and for all.  So they rose with alacrity to the challenge when at last it came.  I expand a little on that here

And then there were the strategic considerations, particularly where Britain was concerned.  If Britain had stayed out of the war, the outcome would almost certainly have been little more that a re-run of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.  The Germans would have won, carved off a few bits of French territory, and withdrawn to fight the Russians.

And the British were in fact not really obligated to fight.  Their treaty with France did not really envisage a war where France declared war without itself first being attacked.  So British propaganda could have easily coped with staying out of the war on legal grounds.

So why did Britain join in?  Partly as a matter of honour.  British waffling to escape a treaty obligation would have degraded Britain's value as an ally and British European policy had always been reliant on having allies.  And the "honor" aspect was of course a major focus in British propaganda.

But there was also a very practical strategic reason for Britain to join in.  They were worried sick by the German Hochseeflotte (navy) --  and this was a chance to sink it  -- which they eventually did.  Their worries were highly realistic.  At the battle of Jutland, the German High Seas Fleet ran rings around the Royal Navy.  Britain kept the field only by virtue of superior numbers.  And another ten years of competitive shipbuilding on both sides could well have eroded that numerical advantage.

And the navy has always been vital to Britain.  As Drake versus the Spanish Armada and and Nelson against the Franco/Spanish fleet at Trafalgar showed, the Royal Navy was instrumental in keeping Britain safe from invasion.  And as the British empire expanded the navy assumed the extra burden of keeping a worldwide empire safe.  So British naval supremacy was sacrosanct,  even if much of the British army had to be sacrificed to preserve that supremacy.  And that is exactly what happened.

So the fact that the war persisted for four grisly but largely static years was testimony to the great range of powerful influences that impelled it in the first place.

Finally, perhaps I should say a word about the seemingly bone-headed TACTICS of WWI -- trench warfare.  They too had a historical cause.   Rather remarkably, they  were actually Japanese inspired!. The whole of Europe were once Kamikazes!  Read the link if you don't believe it.  Forgotten history is still history.  Just to make you humble about what you know about WWI, did you know that there were JAPANESE warships in the Mediterranean at that time assisting the Royal Navy against the Turks and the Austrians?

Koenigsberg would ask WHY we see ourselves as part of a nation or some other collectivity but I treat that as a given.  Something that virtually all men do can at least for my purposes be reasonably treated as axiomatic


1 comments

Review of Federal Australian hate speech law

Critical comments below by Mark Dreyfus.  Mr Dreyfus is the federal opposition spokesman on legal affairs. He is Jewish.

His article below is a typical bit of Leftist cherrypicking.  He quotes a couple of instances where the hate speech laws were arguably used to proper effect and completely ignores the Bolt case  -- the case which has motivated the intended change in the law.  And it was a Jewish judge who made the immoderate judgment that led to Andrew Bolt's conviction.

Judge Bromberg had plenty of room within the act to find Bolt not guilty but he chose to go for the jugular -- possibly because of his Jewishness.  Jews have good historical reasons for a horror of defamation.  Bromberg should really have recused himself from the case.

So Dreyfus would have been much more persuasive if he had deplored the misapplication of the law by Mordechai Bromberg but he totally ignores that.  Is he endeavouring to add substance to the old accusations of Jewish "clannishness"?  He is a disgrace.  Even some Leftists found Bromberg's verdict "profoundly disturbing"

If Dreyfus had been arguing responsibly, he might have said that the provision of an appeals court to review judgments such as Bromberg's would be more appropriate than watering down the act.  In the case of another Leftist-inspired  kangaroo court  -- the Fair Work tribunal, the present government is doing exactly that.

But what Dreyfus will not admit is that there is just one man responsible for the review of the law being presently undertaken:  Mordechai Bromberg.  Bromberg's zeal to persecute any suspicion of defamation will soon be seen to have facilitated defamation

FOR almost 20 years, since the Racial Discrimination Act was enacted by the Keating government in 1994, section 18C has embodied Australia's condemnation of racial vilification, and protected our society from the poisonous effects of hate speech.

Labor strongly believes in the continued need for laws that prohibit racial hatred in Australia.

The new Attorney-General and his Prime Minister have made clear their intention to repeal section 18C in its current form, which makes it illegal to vilify people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

The Attorney-General claims that the prohibitions in section 18C are a threat to "intellectual freedom" and "freedom of speech" in Australia.

One can only assume that he has an extremely poor grasp of history, of the appropriate limits imposed on free speech in all Western democracies, and of the dangers of giving a green light to hate speech under the preposterous claim that racially vilifying individuals in public is necessary to support intellectual freedom in our nation.

Section 18C has functioned well for 18 years in our community, without being criticised as some kind of affront to freedom of speech.

Rather, the provision has been used to respond to egregious examples of hate speech, such as the publication of false statements by infamous Holocaust denier Fredrick Toben, who wrote, among other offensive lies, that there was serious doubt the Holocaust occurred and that Jewish people who were offended by the denial of the state-sponsored murder of their families and communities were of limited intelligence.

Using section 18C, the Federal Court ordered these deeply offensive public statements be removed from the relevant website.

The Coalition's policy would allow Toben to publish material of this kind, and would take away the power of our courts to stop such racist hate speech being disseminated.

In another infamous case, an indigenous woman used section 18C to defend herself against a neighbour who had waged a campaign of intimidation against her family by attacking them with offensive racist insults such as "nigger" and "black bastard".

It is disingenuous to attack section 18C as a threat to freedom of speech by presenting it in isolation from the linked provision, section 18D.

Following extensive public consultations at the time the provisions were crafted, the drafters were well aware of the need to appropriately protect freedom of speech.

That is why section 18D provides extensive protection for free speech and political communication in our society.

Section 18C is also entirely consistent with the objectives of the London Declaration on Combatting Anti-Semitism, which was signed on behalf of Australia by former prime minister Julia Gillard in April, and was subsequently signed by Coalition MPs including Tony Abbott and George Brandis.

In May this year, I wrote to Mr Abbott calling on the Coalition to respect the pledges in the London Declaration, and to reverse the Liberals' plan to repeal section 18C.

I pointed out that section 18C is precisely the kind of legislated protection against anti-Semitism and racial discrimination that the London Declaration calls on its signatories to enact, and that repealing it would unequivocally contradict the spirit and the terms of that important declaration.

In an interview two weeks ago, the Attorney-General made clear that he intends to persist with the repeal of section 18C regardless of deep community concerns.

However, in senate estimates this week, he at least withdrew from arguments earlier suggesting that the protections provided by section 18C were somehow covered by the Criminal Code Act.

Sections 80.2A and B of the Criminal Code Act create serious criminal offences for individuals that urge the use of force or violence against a group or a member of a group distinguished by race, religion, nationality, national or ethnic origin or political opinion.

These provisions prohibit criminal incitement to violence and do not operate to prohibit the civil wrong of racist hate speech as section 18C does.

In response to questions at senate estimates, Senator Brandis revealed that his "engaging in community consultations" would be limited to "private conversations" with "community leaders" to be selected by him.

He then refused to elaborate on which community leaders he was speaking to or the nature of those discussions.

There is an unpleasant irony in the spectacle of an Attorney-General who claims to champion free speech refusing to answer questions regarding secret consultations he is conducting in a bid to remove legislative protections of great importance to communities across our nation.

It is essential that the communities affected by any potential change in this area of the law have the opportunity to put their views to Senator Brandis, not just the private group of unidentified individuals that he deigns to have a conversation with.

Public discussions regarding proposed legislative changes on matters of concern to the community such as this are essential for any government that claims to value freedom of speech.

This is a further example of how, in the short time since the election, this government is prepared to shamelessly hide their actions from the scrutiny of both the people who elected them and from the media.

Mr Abbott and Senator Brandis have refused to back down on their proposed watering down of hate speech laws in our nation, reflecting their ignorance of history and the dangers of permitting racially motivated hate speech.

In contrast, Labor is committed to supporting the rights of all Australians to dignity and protection from racially motivated hate speech ahead of enabling bigots and extremists to say in public whatever they want.

SOURCE