Quick Roundup 244

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Segway Anticipated by a Century

I mentioned a comic strip site, XKCD, awhile back, but had not noticed the associated blog. Being in the mood for a laugh yesterday, I went there, saw the blog, and was amused by the reproduction there of a December 28, 1900 cartoon from The Brown County Democrat which depicts what it supposed life will be like a century later. The blog commentary notes that the devices people are using are labeled "Footmobile".

Just in Time for the Holidays

If you have lots of liberal relatives, you should beef up on this thorough debunking of a lame study which supposedly "proves" that leftists are smarter than everyone else. Here's William Saleton discussing the idiotic notion that "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity" based on one of the tests used in the study:

Complexity and ambiguity. Go back and look at the first word of the excerpt from the supplementary document. The word is either. Participants were shown an M or a W. No complexity, no ambiguity. You could argue that showing them a series of M's and then surprising them with a W injects some complexity and ambiguity. But that complexity is crushed by the simplicity of the letter choice and the split-second deadline. As [NYU professor David] Amodio explained to the Sacramento Bee, "It's too quick for you to think consciously about what you're doing." So, why did he impose such a brutal deadline? "It needs to be hard enough that people make a lot of errors," he argued, since -- in the Bee's paraphrase of his remarks -- "the errors are the most interesting thing to study."

In other words, complexity and ambiguity weren't tested; they were excluded. The study was designed to prevent them -- and conscious thought in general -- because, for the authors' purposes, such lifelike complications would have made the results less interesting. ... [bold added to last paragraph]
This study reminds me of that article I blogged awhile back on how educators and parents who attempt to foster "self-esteem" by flattering their children as "smart" actually stunt their cognitive and intellectual development.

Children who were told they were "smart" their whole lives rather than being encouraged to work hard ended up with less experience overcoming difficulties -- but with high expectations -- and ended up being unconfident and afraid to take any serious intellectual risks. In other words, they don't conclude with their own minds and from experiential evidence that they are smart. They have no actual self-esteem.

It thus comes as little surprise that so many products of Progressive education (itself a left-wing phenomenon) and left-wing indoctrination would need a scientific study to "prove" that they're so smart: They don't know it inductively and they haven't the intellectual firepower to argue the point for themselves. (Indeed, many left-wing fads include an element of appearing to be intelligent through conformity to allegedly more intelligent norms. Hybrid cars as expressions of environmental "awareness" come to mind.)

So they turn to "science" as an authority.

Read up before the holidays, then. After all, if past experience with leftists is any guide, you can expect to hear a habitual repetition from every direction of the following simplistic portrait of clear-cut liberal superiority: "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty.... Liberals are more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses."

Get the momentary pleasure of rebutting them, and then the long-term satisfaction of vindication when, next year, they come at you with yet another pronouncement from on high that they're smarter than you are.

(HT: Adrian Hester)

Article on American Moslems

Spiegel Online features an interesting article on how American Moslems seem to have assimilated better in American society than their coreligionists in Europe. Color me skeptical based on how similar the Moslems are to the American religious right and how their political loyalties shifted over to America's (more obviously) traitorous party, the Democrats, after the Islam-inspired atrocities of September 11, 2001:
Muslims from the Middle East, Iran and Southeast Asia were traditionally among the Grand Old Party's most loyal allies. In the 2000 presidential election, Muslim interest groups even endorsed George W. Bush. They liked his canon of values -- family, faith and private enterprise -- which was compatible with theirs. But the Iraq war and Bush's antiterrorism policies turned off most Muslims. They turned their backs on the Republican Party and have voted primarily Democratic ever since. Before the 2004 election, 74 percent of US Muslims said they supported Democratic candidate John Kerry. [bold added]
Given that the terrorists' fundamental goal is the subordination of the state to their religion - which matches that of the religious right, this comes as no surprise. Nor does the shift of this now politically-invigorated constituency from one coalition that opposes America's Enlightenment heritage to another.

So American Moslems are often successful, well-dressed, and politically active. So are our fundamentalist Christians. But if either could impose its beliefs on others through governmental force, the America that permits them to live as well as they do would cease to exist.

I think it is closer to the truth to say that more of our Moslems really have assimilated than is the case in Europe, but that many have also become just another group pressuring to end separation of religion and state.

-- CAV


: (1) Corrected spelling of "Spiegel". (HT: Gideon Reich) (2) Corrected another typo.


Gideon said...

Spiegel, not Speigel. That's German for mirror.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for the catch, Gideon!

And it's good to hear from you. It's been ages.

Adrian Hester said...

Just a cool note: "Spiegel" is an early borrowing of Latin speculum. English "mirror," on the other hand, is borrowed from Old French. And that's not even to imply the old Germanic peoples didn't have mirrors of some sort; the Germanic languages lost all sorts of native words simply because the Latin or French equivalents were just more chic. (For instance, "cross," "face," and "conscience" are all words borrowed into English that replaced perfectly fine native words. We still have rood for "cross" if you're into archaic English, but no one uses inwit for "conscience," which is kind of a shame. I like inwit.)

softwareNerd said...

"parents who attempt to foster "self-esteem" by flattering their children as "smart" actually stunt their cognitive and intellectual development."

The other day, my 4th grader told me he got 86% on a math test and I replied that it was "unacceptably low". (I'm not always that way, but this is a true story) Sounds like I shouldn't feel too bad I said that to him :)

Gus Van Horn said...


Now I knew what "Spiegel" meant (and even how to spell it -- I was in a hurry here -- but I didn't know that.


Absolutely not. And if you haven't read the article I blogged back then, you'd probably find it worthwhile.


Rational Jenn said...

...educators and parents who attempt to foster "self-esteem" by flattering their children as "smart" actually stunt their cognitive and intellectual development.

That's the double-edged sword of praising children rather than encouraging them. There's a subtle yet important distinction between saying "Good Job! You're smart!" and "You must feel proud of your accomplishment."

Both kinds of parental responses are intended to help the child feel good about himself. The former response provides the parent's evaluation of the child's accomplishment. In the latter response, the parent helps the child identify the virtue of Pride, yet allows the child to evaluate the accomplishment for himself--independently of the parent--and experience the feeling of Pride for himself.

Alfie Kohn has written a lot on this subject. I recommend his book Punished By Rewards and his website.

Gus Van Horn said...

You've hit on what I think is the single most important thing a parent has to be careful of when raising a child: resisting the temptation to be an intermediary between his mind and reality. Sometimes, even well-meaning people blur the distinction between training a child and thinking for him.

I've never heard of the guy you mention, but since I am contemplating a kids, I appreciate you pointing me to him.