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"The Catholic Church tried Galileo for Heresy and convicted him. How did that exactly work out for Catholic countries? Oh yeah, Protestant nations outstripped them because knowing the reality of the world made things like navigation more accurate. Which meant Dutch and English traders could avoid running aground on reefs and make their destinations more timely, while Catholic Spain and Portugal, the early leaders, labored under the pretense of an earth-centric universe." Actually what happened is that scientific inquiry largely moved out of Catholic controlled Europe, mainly to England and Germany. Kepler, a contemporary of Galileo, had his library placed under seal in 1625 by the agents of the Catholic Counter-Reformation. He was forced to move. The next big development in modern science came from Newton in Protestant England. The fact that scientific research could be openly published and discussed is part of the reason England became the center of the industrial revolution.
Toggle Commented Dec 29, 2012 on HBD has no future? at Half Sigma
"mikeca: at 07:28 PM: Has anybody been advocating civilian ownership of mortars, rocket propelled grenades, or shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles? Your straw man is getting frayed." If you read my whole post, you would see I was arguing that in the 21st century a rebel group needs more fire power than just AR-15/AK-47 like rifles. If the argument is that the 2nd amendment gives citizens the right to own the weapons needed to overthrow the government, then that would have to include more powerful weapons like the ones I mentioned. Your right. Nobody is arguing that citizens should be able to own those kinds of weapons. The world has changed since 1791. Only very extreme fringe groups today believe that citizens should own the kind of weapons to overthrow the US government by force. We are applying some different standard to what weapons citizens may own, and we could change those standards. We could repeal the 2nd amendment too. Given the total dis-functionality in Washington and the extreme nature of the current Republicans in the House and Senate, I don't expect anything will be done. There will be a lot of political posturing and name calling, "Republicans are gun nuts!", "Obama wants to confiscate your gun!", but no real action.
"You're right. Amendment 2 isn't about hunting. It's about keeping the federal gov't in its place. Comparing guns to nuclear warheads, chemical weapons or even biological warfare is a straw man because no one considers them conventional weapons. They're WMD's and their use is banned even in wartime." What about mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, or shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles? Those are pretty standard conventional weapons today. They are not currently available to civilians to my knowledge. Look at the Syrian rebels. They desperately need better weapons than AK-47s. Do you really think that a bunch of civilians with AR-15 rifles are going to take on a modern army like the US army? This is not 1790. The world has changed. The "arms" used by modern armies are far more destructive then they were in 1790. Do you seriously want mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, or shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles to be legally available to civilians? If civilians can own those kinds of weapons, then criminal gangs certainly will. Do you want drug gangs using those weapons?
"A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The question is, what is the definition of "arms". If you want to take an originalist approach, then it would be limited to arms that were available in 1791 when the Bill of Rights was adopted. This would limit it to muskets, swords, bows and arrows, spears, crossbows, ect. Currently people are not allowed to buy machine guns (collectors with special license still can), shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles, nuclear bombs, and many other military weapons. Why is that? They are "arms" used by military today. If the 2nd amendment guarantees citizens can own semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines, then it guarantees citizens can own personal nuclear weapons too. The 2nd amendment does not say anything about arms useful for hunting or personal defense. If we can outlaw personal nuclear weapons, there must be some other unwritten standard being applied. If everyone has a "right" to own a weapon, then criminals will own those weapons. We have apparently made some decision that we don't want criminals with nuclear weapons or full automatic machine guns and outlawed them. We could do the same thing with high capacity magazines for example. Not outlawing high capacity magazines means we are willing to tolerate criminals carrying semi-automatic weapons with high capacity magazines and occasionally using them to kill large numbers of people.
"Polling shows that a very strong majority are against immigration and against affirmative action. Republicans are afraid to speak to these issues because they are cowed by the liberal-controlled media, or maybe just because they’ve internalized the politically correct views not held by the majority of voters." Big business wants cheap labor. Liberal immigration policies help keep labor costs down. Big business and their owners are the major contributors to both parties. Why is this so hard to understand?
Conservatives have treated Obama with a high degree of disrespect, questioning whether he is really an American. Asians, like most minorities, understand that experience. They have lived it. Even if they were born in America, people sometimes treat them as if they are not really Americans. Asians are turned off by the over the top rhetoric routinely used by conservatives, like calling Obama a Kenyan anti-colonialist. They see the implicit racism in that language and it drives them away from the Republican party.
Toggle Commented Nov 28, 2012 on Charles Murray agrees with me at Half Sigma
Immigration policy is just the tip of the problem Republicans have with Hispanics. The underlying problem can be seen in the comments on this blog and many other places. The loudest voices against illegal immigration are from people who don't like Hispanics or other minority groups. It is simple racial prejudice. Hispanics sense that it is nativism that drives a lot of anti immigration push. Statements like "Hispanics vote Democrat because they want free stuff," are ill-informed. Hispanics are very hard working and family oriented. They don't vote Democratic because they want free stuff from the government. They vote Democratic because Democrats make them feel welcome in this country. Too many voices on the right make Hispanics feel uncomfortable.
Another issue Republicans need to consider is the alternate reality created by conservative media outlets. The majority of Americans don't read, listen or watch conservative media. Republican rhetoric and policy positions rooted in the alternate reality of conservative media can sound out of touch to people living in the real world.
"As I predicted in the blog post I wrote early this morning around 1:30 AM, Republican bigwigs are saying that the party most appeal to Hispanics and minorities. Karl Rove, Lindsey Graham, Newt Gingrich and Ari Fleischer all say that." Most of those figures have been saying that for the last 10 years. The problem is the Tea Party base of the Republican party. Rick Perry, governor of a state with a lot of Hispanics, is more open minded on immigration, and it cost him in the Republican primaries. "And Marco Rubio is joining the chorus and positioning himself for 2016." Marco Rubio has a dream act alternative, but it is a non-starter in the Republican controlled House and can probably only get a handful of Senate Republicans like Lindsey Graham to support it. The question is will the Tea Party still dominate the Republican primaries in 2016? At the presidential level, I think the Republicans nominated the candidate with the best shot of beating Obama, but this is mostly because I think the rest of the field was so weak. In the Senate the Tea Party clearly cost Republicans a couple of Senate seats by nominating extreme candidates. To win in 2016, Republicans need better policy positions that appeal to women and minories, and they need better candidates.
"Pete Wilson single-handedly (at the behest of California agricultural interests) scuttled the main enforcement mechanisms of the 1986 immigration amnesty law." Pete Wilson was a Senator from California in 1986. I doubt he could have done this single-handedly. He may have sponsored the changes, but he must have convinced other Senators to go along. This really goes to the heart of the Republican problem with the immigration issue. Agriculture and business interests like illegal immigration, because it keeps labor costs down. It is the business and agriculture interests that contribute a large faction of the money the Republican party needs to run competitive campaigns. On the other hand the tea party base of the Republican party is anti-immigration.
"George W. Bush may go down in history as the last Republican president ever." You don't think the Republican party can reform itself? The Republican party today is totally different than the Republican party of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s or 1980s. The Republican party is the party of Abraham Lincoln. The Republican party today is a out growth of the Nixon Southern strategy. Republicans took the "sold South" away from the Democrats and made the South solidly Republican, but it cost Republicans support outside the South. The largest mistake of the Republican party in the last ten years has been their approach to immigration. Bush understood this and wanted to bring up a comprehensive immigration reform that included a path to citizenship for illegals. Bush won large numbers of Hispanic votes in Texas. The Republican hard line anti-immigration approach has pushed Hispanics into the Democrats arms. Pete Wilson did the same thing in California with prop 187, and pushed California to be a solidly Democratic state.
"The reason the old left used to be racist was that they (correctly IMO) felt only whites were evolved enough to believe in liberalism. They're reasons for hating minorities were similar to Pim Fortyn's hating of Muslims: the lower races are too primitive and unevolved to understand liberal principles." This is exactly the kind of talk which completely turns liberals off to the whole HBD community. The fact is that IQ tests measure something that is correlated with what people call "intelligence", but in the real world intelligence is not a one dimensional concept that can be assigned linear numbers. Some people, like me, have very good at math and abstract reasoning, but I have never been able to spell correctly (thank god for spelling checkers). Some people are very articulate speakers and can express ideas clearly, but may not be good at advanced math. The whole concept of giving people a test and assigning a single number to the result is extremely simple minded and of questionable value. IQ tests measure something. IQ test scores are correlated with what people call intelligence. IQ scores are correlated with success in life. These correlation are not good enough to make IQ test scores a reliable predictive tool. The science of studying IQ test scores of different racial groups is highly suspect. You are taking the average of a vaguely predictive number and attempting to draw conclusions about racial groups. Then you use that to justify a statement like "the lower races are too primitive and unevolved to understand liberal principles." Intelligence is an individual trait, not a racial trait. There may well be differences in the average intelligence between racial groups, but that does not justify racism, which is exactly what way too many HBD advocates do.
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2012 on Liberal view on race at Half Sigma
JayMan, There are two problems with using SAT scores to compare racial IQ. First not all students take the SAT test. While the SAT scores are influenced by the IQ of the individuals who take it, the average score of racial groups are not meaningful because they are biased samples of the racial group. While SAT scores certainly are influenced by IQ, they are also influenced by many other factors, such as the courses a student has taken. My daughter took the SAT when she was in 8th grade in order to get admission to a summer camp. She took the SAT again to get admission to college. Her Senior year SAT scores are a lot higher than her 8th grad SAT. Did her IQ change between 8th grade and 12th grade? I don't think so. She had, however, taken a lot more advanced math, English and Science classes. She attended a very good High School that offered a lot of advanced classes and had good teachers. Quality of schools definitely contributes to SAT scores as well as the IQ of the students.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2012 on Liberal view on race at Half Sigma
"This is false. The Gap is stable, even growing recently." The article you reference is talking about SAT scores, not IQ. While SAT scores clearly depend on IQ, they also depend on many other factors, like the quality of schools attended and which students chose to take the SAT. "Whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 had a mean SAT score of 993. This is 129 points higher than the national mean for all blacks." Not all students take the SAT test. The students who take the SAT test are a self selected sample, which makes these kinds of racial comparisons misleading. There is evidence that a smaller percentage of low income whites take the SAT than blacks. There is also considerable evidence that black who take the SAT have not taken as many advanced math or advanced English classes as whites who take the SAT. Using SAT scores as a proxy for IQ is simply invalid. SAT scores do depend on IQ, but they also depend on the quality of education, among other factors.
Toggle Commented Oct 11, 2012 on Liberal view on race at Half Sigma
"There is NO genetic difference between blacks and whites when it comes to any mental traits such as intelligence or personality. This is taken as a fact that cannot be controverted." Perhaps some liberals believe this, but I don't think thinking liberals believe this. There is a distribution of IQ as measured by tests in whites and blacks. These distributions overlap, but on average blacks score lower than whites. The amount of this difference has decreased over time. The fact is that black have historically been discriminated against in the US, force to attend inferior schools, and live in less intellectually stimulating environments. How much does that have to do with the lower average IQ test scores of blacks? We don't really know. If you are trying to hire the smartest person for a job, and you dismiss all black applicants because on average blacks score lower on IQ tests, that is discrimination. That is what liberals are opposed to. You need to evaluate each applicant based on their abilities and accomplishments, not based on their race. All blacks do not score lower than all whites on IQ tests. There are many other possible explanations for the IQ and behavior gaps between races. For example, it is known that lead poisoning in children can cause behavior and learning problems. Blood tests of children from poor families show a higher percentage of young children with dangerously high lead levels. To what extent are the IQ and behavior differences between whites and blacks and between rich and poor children caused by lead poisoning? I contend that given the history of discrimination in the US, IQ test score comparisons between races are still fairly suspect. Even if there are real genetic differences in IQ, there are still a lot of smart black people in the US, and an awful lot of dumb white people. You should not judge people by the color of their skin.
Toggle Commented Oct 10, 2012 on Liberal view on race at Half Sigma
There was a cheating scandal at a public high school in Saratoga, California some years ago. Saratoga is a very wealthy Silicon Valley city and Saratoga Hight School is predominantly Asian. As the story indicates about 1/3 of the students have 4.0+ grade averages and many of the Asian parents consider a 4.0 grade average from their children disappointing. According to US News (, Saratoga High School is currently the 157th ranked high school in the US.
[HS: The US doesn't need to invade Iran, just bomb the hell out of it and blow up all of it's military toys.] As I said, Iran isn't worried about that because it would just make the current conservative (crazy) Iranian government stronger. It would give them a pretext for arresting all of its political opponents. The big threat to the Iranian government is a revolt like the Arab spring. A US military strike would rally the Iranian people to their government and make that kind of uprising very unlikely.
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2012 on Why isn’t Iran scared? at Half Sigma
Iran knows that it is very unlikely that the US will invade Iran. Iran is a bigger country with more than twice the population of Iraq. The Iranian Army is not as weak as the Iraqi Army was. Where would the US invade Iran from? The Iran friendly government in Iraq would never allow an invasion from there. Likewise not possible from Pakistan or Afghanistan. I doubt Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia or Turkey would allow it either. That leaves invading from the sea, either the Persian Gulf or Arabian Sea. That would be militarily very difficult. US military would have to be larger than what it currently is to carry out that kind of an invasion. That means much higher levels of military spending. Iran can see our current deficit and knows that kind of spending is unlikely. Even if the US could invade Iran quickly and disable most of the Iranian Army, the US military is just not big enough to occupy a country as large a Iran. It was not big enough to occupy the smaller Iraq, which is part of the reason Iraq is still such a mess. An invasion of Iran is just impractical. What is possible is a bombing campaign directed at military and nuclear sites. Iran is not worried about that, because such a bombing campaign would just make the current conservative (crazy) Iranian government stronger. [HS: The US doesn't need to invade Iran, just bomb the hell out of it and blow up all of it's military toys.]
Toggle Commented Sep 20, 2012 on Why isn’t Iran scared? at Half Sigma
News and opinion journalism are two different things. Nobody pretends that opinion journalism is not biased. Editorials and columns on the opinion pages of news pager are by definition biased. The MSM attempts to present "news" in a unbiased fashion. Bias can affect which stories they cover, what source they use, how the story is slanted, what information is present first, what information is buried at the end of the story or not presented at all. The charge of liberal bias has been used against the media for so many years, that the MSM generally simply quotes what Republicans say and what Democrats say. When one or both sides are making very deceptive statements, MSM seldom points this out. Fact Checkers sometimes point out the deception being used by both sides, but not always. The 24 hr cable "news" networks, MSNBC, CNN and FOX, are more "opinion journalism" than they are "news". There are many reasons for this. Opinion journalism is cheaper to produce. You don't need reporters and offices all over the world. Opinion journalism also has better ratings. People who will take more extreme position, say more extreme things on the air, produce better ratings. People like Michele Bachmann or Barney Frank get much air time on cable news channels because they take extreme positions and sometimes say crazy things on the air that are good for ratings. If you look at things like Sunday morning political talk shows, Republicans have long dominated those shows as guests. In 2009 and 2010, with Democrats controlling House, Senate and White House, Republicans only slightly outnumbered Democrats, and without FOX it may have been evenly split. However in 2011, with Republicans controlling the House, and Democrats the Senate and White House, Republicans out numbered Democrats almost 2 to 1 as guests on the Sunday talk shows. I remember many years ago a friend of mine got very upset about a small news story in the San Jose Mercury News about a drug arrest of several people who flew a plan full of drugs to an airport in Alameda, Calif. The only airport my friend knew of in Alameda was the Alameda Naval Airbase (which is now closed, but was still a Naval base at that time). My friend was upset that a military base was being used to smuggle drugs and he thought the Mercury News was helping to cover this up. He eventually called the reporter who wrote the story and talked to her on the phone. The story was entirely based on a law enforcement news conference. It turned out there was another small airport in Alameda for private single engine planes. Reporters at the news conference tried to get law enforcement to say whether it was the Naval airbase or this small private airport at which the arrests had been made. Law enforcement refused to answer the question. The reporter wrote the story simply saying an airport in Alameda, even though she suspected it was the Naval airbase and law enforcement was covering this up. The story did not say that law enforcement refused to say which airport. The story reported only the facts that law enforcement had released and did not report or speculate on the questions law enforcement refused to answer. Was this a biased news story? Whether this story was biased or unbiased all depends on your point of view. In reality news bias is in the eye of the beholder.
Toggle Commented Sep 7, 2012 on Bias in the media at Half Sigma
"And once again, I’d like to mention the difficulty of building a tunnel under the Hudson River for trains. Governor Chris Christie had to cancel the project because New Jersey couldn’t afford it. Yet somehow, we were able to afford to build a tunnel in 1908, which was 104 years ago. Civil engineering is obviously a technology that has stalled and is not advancing. In another decade, we may see the end of Moore’s law and computer chips may be like civil engineering, not improving much for over a century." A lot of the problem is the procurement system used for government construction projects today. Because of wide spread corruption in earlier times, almost all government construction contracts must be put up for bid and awarded to the lowest bidder, regardless of the quality of the lowest bidders expected work. Since quality of work cannot be a criteria for accepting bids, the contract must be written with all kinds of inspection and testing requirements to force the winning contractor to do quality work. All of this adds and enormous amount of overhead for these kinds of contracts. The government agencies must hire consultants to help write the contract to cover every trick the winning bidder might use to cut corners on quality and hire more specialist to inspect the work in great detail at every stage. The contractor cannot work efficiently because of all the inspections required in the contract.
Toggle Commented Aug 30, 2012 on Robots and the singularity at Half Sigma
In Europe and Japan gasoline prices are already very high. I think Japan is in $6-7 range and most of Europe is around $8 per gallon. That is because Europe and Japan import almost all their oil, so they put very high import duties on oil. The US use to be almost entirely domestic oil production and had no import duties. That changed over time to where imports exceeded domestic oil production, but the US did not impose import duties for political reasons. With the great recession causing demand to drop and increased dilling, domestic production is slightly ahead of imports again. Foreign oil imports are a big part of the US balance of payments problem. Since we lack the political will to impose import duties on oil, millage standards are another way of trying to bring out balance of payments back into line.
"If you look at SAT scores of incoming freshman, UCR has 19% of freshman in 600-800 range." There are worse schools than UCR in California. San Jose State has 12% in the 600-800 range. Chico State has 14%. Fresno state has 8%. Fullerton state has 12%. Cal State Monterey Bay has 9%. Monterey Bay is a new campus build on a closed military base.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2012 on Holmes's background doesn't add up at Half Sigma
If you look at SAT scores of incoming freshman, UCR has 19% of freshman in 600-800 range. UCB has 78%. UCLA has 65%. Even touch me, feel me campuses like UCSC has 39%. San Diego State also has 19% in the 600-800 range and CalPoly has 50%. By contrast, Standford has 94% in the 600-800 range and Harvard 96%. UCR is the newest and lowest prestige of the UC campuses.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2012 on Holmes's background doesn't add up at Half Sigma
"HS: Stanford is in CA, so it's not like there aren't people on the west coast who are sensitive to school prestige. His parents were clueless here." There are lots of people in CA that are sensitive to school prestige. Most of them are Asian. Asian's parents put a far higher importance on education. It is Asian parents that pay the million plus prices tags for small, old, ordinary track houses in Cupertino, CA because of the quality of the Cupertino schools. It is Asian parents that enroll their kids in SAT training classes and are willing to pay the high tuition at schools like Standford. To the immigrant Asian's that did not speak English well, science and engineering degrees were the keys to the upper middle class in the USA. High tech companies here in silicon valley were willing to put up with engineers that could barely speak English, but there was a limit to how high those people could rise in management. Those Asian parents immigrated and succeeded in the USA because of higher education and they are trying to instill that in their children. The white middle class just does not place the same kind of value on higher education and is not willing to make the same kind of financial sacrifices to make sure their kids get the best higher education.
Toggle Commented Jul 22, 2012 on Holmes's background doesn't add up at Half Sigma
"So she avoided him because he was “a little strange,” but she hinted that she felt the same way about a lot of the male honors students. I guess a guy like him can't get a girlfriend." He probably couldn't get a smart, college educated girl friend, but maybe he could get a stupid girl friend. I remember in college, the first guy to get married amongst my friends was the biggest nerd you have ever seen. All the women I knew were dumb struck when they heard he was getting married. When I met his wife, she was nice looking (not super hot), but boy was she stupid. My description of her was "the perfect doormat". Problem is college guys like him don't associate much with those kind of women. Maybe today, even those stupid women want more alpha type guys.
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2012 on A classic case of beta-male rage at Half Sigma