Morning Ed: Society {2017.04.04.T}

Tom Townsend won the argument, in the end.

Of all the arguments that Belle should have married Gaston, the French Revolution is the biggest one.

At some point, the solution is going to be to just stop responding.

Sports is becoming a legacy institution.

Noah Berlatsky argues that 1984 was too sanitized.

Bo and Ben Winegard look more closely at what The Bell Curve actually was.

When you make fun of that loser on the Internet, you’re making fun of somebody.

There are some pretty cool photographs here.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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130 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Society {2017.04.04.T}

  1. 1. Aliteracy, the idea that reading is something we should be encouraging kids and people to do is recent. Basically, it didn’t exist before television unless you happened to be born to Jewish parents or a particular literary or intellectual parents. When you look at old pre-television movies like Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, you might hear the phrase that “you’ll hurt your eyes if you read too much” spoken at some point.

    2. The counter argument is that Beauty and the Beast might either take place in the early 18th century and the war Gaston is returning from is the War of Spanish Succession. Even if it takes place during the 1760s Gaston would be in his forties by the time the Revolution breaks out and that was old back than. He wouldn’t be in fighting condition. Belle and the Prince are going to be guillotined. Also if the Beast is indeed a Prince, doesn’t that mean he is a member of the House of Bourbon in some way? Louis XIV and Louis XV were prolific so it is possible. That makes him a prime target.

    3. These debates are going to get more common. The best defense that Hollywood has for not casting many people of color is that key word in show business is business and they exist to make money and very few people of color are going to be that bankable. Its not going to work but it is the most honest answer.

    I’m not sure about the Exodus:Gods and Kings complaint from the social justice stand point though Should they have cast “white” Jewish actors as the Israelites and people of color as the villainous enslaving Egyptians. That wouldn’t have worked well either for the social justice people. The theoretic descendants of the Israelites still exist in the model world though and according to Social Justice theories on movie casting, we Jews should always be cast as the Israelites. I’m not sure that they would see this as diversity since the Social Justice have decided to exclude Jews from intersectionality.

    3. Noah Berlatsky makes a good point. The modern totalitarian governments did attempt to control what the people believed but they were also big on playing brutal and bloody sociological experimentations and persecution.

    4. I think this relates to the first link in someway. People rarely read entire books, especially big thick scholarly ones and this means that the most controversial parts of a book come to define it. Murray’s arguments weren’t help by the fact that he is conservative and one of liberalism’s tenants since World War II was a total denunciation of anything remotely Eugenic. Maybe if Murray had all the other standard liberal beliefs like belief in the welfare state it would come across better. The Bell Curve was used by many American conservatives to justify the low socio-economic status of African-Americans and arguments that this group is and that group is that are too easily used to support some illiberal public policy.

    5. People can be mean and love to do the beat down.

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    • Regarding 3, that is true, up to a point.

      I wouldn’t have watched prince of persia in the theatres if it had not starred some big name actor or another (most of whom are already white). About the only people who I see as having some room to experiment are Marvel, DC and StarWars franchises. I will pretty much go to watch those movies regardless of who stars in them. On that note, DCshould just do a static shock movie.

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      • People also miss an awful lot with their criticism. Danny Rand is white, always has been (AFAIK). Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage all kept their main characters in line with the source material, but Danny Rand has to be different?

        I also think a lot of times the people doing the criticism need to actually watch the movie. I saw The Great Wall with Matt Damon, he was not the White Savior. He was more like, the unexpectedly competent ally. The Chinese characters did all the work and the big end was at the hand of the Chinese general.

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        • I haven’t seen the movie but it’s funny how that can happen. Based on your assessment I’m guessing they put Matt Damon in it to get American (and to a lesser degree European) asses in seats for a movie otherwise designed to get Chinese asses in seats.

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          • Ha! As my friend and I were walking out of the movie, we were talking about how that movie was gonna do real well in China, because the 3 white characters weren’t all that special (Matt Damon is good with a bow, but all the other characters are expert martial artists in their own right, so that’s nothing special).

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          • That sounds like a pretty reasonable explanation. A lot of confusion people have about movies now can be explained by the fact that big movies are released to a worldwide audience. There are ethnic preferences that need to be averaged over and culture-specific subtleties that need to be sanded off to maximize viewership. We all like to see movies of people who look like us or have familiar faces. We may not understand a particular cultural nuance, but we all know how we’d feel about being eaten by a dragon or torn apart by an angry robot. A profit maximizing strategy accounts for that stuff.

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        • AFAIK Iron Fist was always white; he was an American explorer who found a hidden mystical city in the mountains of China. This seems like a pretty common trope of the Westerner discovering Shangri-La or somesuch and gaining power or knowledge, and perhaps they wanted to abandon it (haven’t watched it), but Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, was a Chinese character that Marvel created.

          I think some of the complaints about skin color in the Middle East are overstated. The gene for lighter skin color originated in the Middle East and spread into Europe and to the Indian subcontinent. I don’t think we know with that level of certainty to be making these complaints. Or at least not at the same level as actors with obvious European ancestry playing Native Americans.

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            • I don’t know. Busiek’s basic point appears to be that they should have done a show based upon Shang Chi, or some of these other martial arts heroes that nobody except him has heard of. But the apparent reason for doing Iron Fist is that he’s buds with Power Man, so its the black man’s fault?

              I don’t care much what they do with a third tier character; I just don’t think casting a white actor to play a white character should be seen as racist or in the same category as white actors cast to play Native American characters.

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              • Busiek’s point, as I take it, is that at the time there were lots and lots of actually-Asian martial arts masters, any one of whom could go toe-to-toe with Iron Fist and win. It was clear that if it weren’t for literal Magic Kung-Fu Power, the Iron First wouldn’t be anywhere near them.

                However, modern audiences don’t have that context. So all they see is, hey, here’s another White Dude who somehow is the best at Kung Fu, here to save all those Asians who just sat around the whole time doing nothing useful.

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                • But Iron Fist wasn’t selected because he was the best at martial arts, the character was selected because he was partners with Luke Cage and they had backstory; there is supposed to be a build-up of related characters to form the Defenders. I’m not sure I get Busiek’s point; is he saying that there should be no Iron Fist movie, it should be a movie about some lesser known character because modern audiences associate martial arts with Asians?

                  I guess the more I think about it, it seems like the complaint is built around perpetrating a stereotype that Asians innately excel at martial arts. That kind of seems like a 70s stereotype itself.

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                  • The reasons why Marvel Entertainment Inc. decided to push the “Iron Fist” character at this time are clearly based on comics history. Thing is, contemporary society is less willing to accept “white guy rolls in and it turns out he’s the Kung Fu hero all the Asians were waiting for”; the Marvel Cinematic Universe, an entity distinct from the Marvel Comics Universe, is unable to support the story to the point where it could work after all; and while they could have gone for a Greatest American Hero style of show (and many people were expecting exactly that) they just played it straight to the original comics.

                    “I guess the more I think about it, it seems like the complaint is built around perpetrating a stereotype that Asians innately excel at martial arts.”

                    The complaint is that, in this story, Asians have been doing martial arts for thousands of years but they still couldn’t figure their shit out until some white dude showed up. And the Seventies Iron Fist stories had a lot of actual Asian background and characters, and made it clear that they had figured their shit out and the only reason Iron Fist could hang with them was magic power. And the oh-teens don’t have any of that background.

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        • I haven’t seen the Great Wall. I think there are some unappreciated benefits for an American movie dealing with a different culture, particularly in a different time, to have an outsider present through which we learn about that culture. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen The Last Samurai, but I don’t recall Tom Cruise being that much a savior, he is deeply flawed and inadequate individual who has a growth arc from his time in Japan. My recollection was that Japan saved him.

          Now maybe American cinema doesn’t do American films anymore . . .. Its Transformers and loud special effects all the way down and no hurt feelings.

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        • Yeah, Great Wall was one case where there may have been a right thing to say, because the issue had to do with the marketing campaign, which didn’t really reflect the movie itself.

          In general, though, there’s something to be said for, you know, not responding to every controversy with statements from stars, directors, et c.

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        • The Unexpectedly Competent Ally is my kind of super hero.

          I’m guessing part of the confusion relates to marketing. The movie posters and such here in the US feature Damon so people would think he is the big deal. I’m guessing in China his mug isn’t the biggest, or any, part of the marketing.

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          • I’m a bit of a hater on the super hero movie genre but my understanding is that Hollywood tried to include a cameo of famous Chinese actors in one of the Iron Man movies and it was so unsubtle that it blew up in their faces. They’ve probably learned their lesson and are now trying to weave stars from each country into films so that they can emphasize accordingly in the advertising. I bet all of the posters over there for Independence Day 2 prominently featured Angelababy for this reason, while ours prominently featured the American cast. Same deal with this. We see a Matt Damon movie, they see a movie starring a prominent Chinese actor.

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        • My take, from the previews, is that Matt Damon’s character is an archetype I call The Visitor. You see that type in, say, The 13th Warrior, where The Visitor is Muslim, and from the Middle East, and he’s hanging out with Vikings. It’s a common trope which goes back to, for instance, John Carter of Mars, and yeah, it’s kind of silly at one level, but then humans are kind of terrible.

          It’s kind of strange when the avowed purpose is to put more Asians on screen, and here is a film full of Asians, but people are avoiding it because of the one white guy. The potential for wrong conclusions drawn is high.

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          • Doctor Jay,
            I’d prefer to call him the Noob. It catches a bit more than just “The Visitor”. And it’s always a good strategem for information dumps.

            This is Harry Potter, just as much as it’s John Carter — and it’s virtually every PI you ever meet.

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            • Yeah, Harry Potter is a young person and we learn about a new world through his eyes. But both the Hobbit and the LOTRs also have provincials at the center of the stories, that provide the frame for learning about Middle Earth.

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          • I think the 13th Warrior is criminally underrated in some respects. They sliced and diced it so much that it was never going to be good but I thought it had a lot of cool concepts, including the educated, urbane Arab scholar among barbarian Vikings. I liked it even more when I found out ibn Fadlan was an actual historical figure.

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    • Lee,
      Well, apparently you haven’t heard of a nice big country called Russia.

      People don’t want to think about how stupid Murray’s arguments are, either. America is REALLY a shitty place to use as a microcosm of the world.

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  2. “The Least of These” article: yes, that explains a lot of my discomfort with “people of Wal-Mart” and the like. Part of it is the sense that I have seen people who either don’t have the financial wherewithal to dress “acceptably,” or who have other issues in their lives. Part of it is, I confess, I was that weird egghead kid who dressed badly and cried easily, and I’m glad the internet wasn’t around when I was a kid, because I’d probably at least have been a local butt of jokes on it. (Kids are super cruel)

    I have less pain over someone who is a troll or a jerk to other people being made fun of, though I suppose in a WWJD sense I shouldn’t.

    I dunno. I like Doge meme, is that still okay?

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    • I tend to agree and have a similar discomfort with it. I also think that we haven’t yet adapted well to the realities of social media. A chuckle to yourself at someone else’s expense in the circumstances described is ugly and wrong but also human. It can be a teachable moment. Something about making someone else’s shame go viral just to get kicks, and the popularity of it, says something very ugly and harder to remedy about human society more generally.

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    • I love bad advice dog.
      But hell, you’re a teacher, right?
      Play the game.
      Find a picture, put some words on it — make a character.
      Post said picture.
      You win the game if it takes off like bottled lightning.
      (You shouldn’t need to post more than once).

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  3. Berlatsky would have a much more interesting point if he didn’t veer off into intersectionality foolishness at the end. The threat of violence is real in totalitarian societies, and I think it’s fair to consider its absence in some of our more famous allegories (1984, Brave New World). However in his zeal to he misses how arbitrary, inane, and stifling modern attacks on free speech can be, from the illiberal campus left, to British libel law, to German comedians facing charges for mocking Recep Erdogan. You don’t need highly personalized torture to stifle free thought any more than you need a body count (though the latter no doubt helps).

    He also needs to update his research on World War 2. Now that we’ve got records from former Eastern Bloc countries Auschwitz really should fade from the forefront as our image of the holocaust. The better one is a silent forest and men with rifles herding civilians to be shot into cold, unmarked graves. Of course considering historical research might also require him to try to square the fact that most civilian deaths caused by Soviet and Nazi policy in eastern Europe were white Christians (Kulaks, ethnic Poles, Ukranians, Belarussians, and Baltic peoples). God forbid we consider the limitations of modern American identity politics in explaining history.

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  4. Noah Berlatsky: He’s right, but what’s more scary, having someone control how you think or that they can kill you. I’d argue the first.

    Making Fun: Before the internet this was going on. But meh. But I’m not a Christian, so….

    Pics: Nice. I prefer the pic of that Lion though…oh yeah….snack time.

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  5. At some point, the solution is going to be to just stop responding.

    Yup. I keep wondering why these guys respond at all. Even when the complaint has some merit.

    Especially when the complaint has some merit.

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      • Well, sure.

        But by the time the lead actor who isn’t a minority is being bombarded by questions about it, it’s way too late for that. There’s nothing they can say at that point which will truly address the complaints.

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      • I want to see this, but fixing Iron Fist, for instance, would mean changing a lot more than the racial background of Danny Rand. The story is about an American who gets caught up in Asian mysticism and a warrior ethos, and how that damages him. Not that Asians are bad, but the loss of his own family, and the subsequent dehumanization has left him something a bit less than a hero. Rand does not become a hero until episode 11 or 12.

        Now, is that a racist message? You could take it that way, though I think that the target was supposed to be martial culture and male culture. But I find the critique offered to lack substance.

        I thought Doctor Strange faced some very difficult problems posed by its source material, which was shot full of Asian exoticism of the most racist kind. And the Ancient One embodied that. I think it offered a very reasonable solution: Put all that classic exotic talk in the mouth of someone who wasn’t Asian. They reworked the relationship between Strange and Wong, too (In the books, Wong is Strange’s butler), in a much more satisfactory way.

        I have nothing to say about Ghost in the Shell, I haven’t seen it.

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        • You and Lee beat me to this comment. I would just add to Lee’s point, that I could see a desire to rework the origin away from the Westerner discovers ancient powers or knowledge in the mountains of China, but more because that is a common trope, used in Batman and other stories.

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        • Doctor Strange also made the Ancient One a white Celtic woman for political reasons, they didn’t want to risk the ire of the Chinese government by depicting Tibet in anyway and loose the lucrative Chinese market. A lot of the critics of Doctor Strange recognize this but state they could have made the Ancient One a Nepalese Hindu, which would still have some worrying issues of Orientalism lingering about.

          Many of the shows that are getting some rightful criticisms come from a much earlier era. A lot of what seems bad or problematic to us now were signs of liberalism and enlightenment back than. Having a comic book with Asian mysticism showed you were open to other cultures during the 1960s. Trying to adopt these things to perfectly match the most advanced liberal sentiments isn’t going to be easy or might not even be possible.

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      • Iron Fist was probably the wrong title to adapt as Marvel’s newest Netflix show. Keeping Danny Rand white has its obvious problems but casting an Asian-American man as the Iron Fist as other issues as Doctor Jay points out. The original Iron Fist comic was created during the 1970s kung fu/Asian mysticism craze. That came out as risqué and multicultural back than but seems very racist in the early 21st century, at least for a decent number of people. Casting an Asian-American who I guess would reconnect with his Asian heritage in a mystic magical city is just going to scream Orientalism along with an implicit message that Asian-Americans who are more at home with Western/American culture have issues.

        If Netflix wanted a Marvel bruiser they really should have adopted Marvel’s interpretation of Hercules to the screen. You could cast a bearded white man and get a lot of good beat them up action. Plus Hercules was always a fun character.

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    • pillsy,
      Ah. You haven’t noticed the response to the queerset, have you?
      Active queerbaiting (yes, this is a word, yes people howl about it) in order to get views and then piss off the people in question at the end of the show.

      To prove a point: They are a minority, and the show won’t bomb if you tease them.

      7 years of mischief called Sherlock, for one.

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  6. I thought Berlatsky’s take on Casablanca was bad, but I ain’t seen nuttin yet.

    The essential plot of 1984 was that Smith started Not Woke, got Woke, and the Party came crashing down on him and he became Alt Woke.

    It’s quite normal if you’re a middling schlub in a totalitarian regime, that if you keep your head down and color inside in the lines, you’ll go about your daily life mostly completely unaware of the state violence being perpetrated on vast swaths of the population. That violence itself is rarely a continuous grind, but comes in and out like the tide as factions shift, new enemies are created, and purges are carried out. We saw this in the Soviet Union, we see it in the DPRK, heck we see it from 1770 to 1970 in Dixie. That the political violence in Nazi Germany was more or less continuous was a function of the relative brevity of its reign.

    And even then, it was fairly easy to be insulated from the brutality of the Nazi regime if you were born right (until the Russians came knocking on the door). This was demonstrated, for instance in Schindler’s list, where Herr Oskar was Not Woke at the begining, living the comfortable life of an industrialist in a war economy. It’s also fairly well known, I thought, that Nazi Germany didn’t curtail production of domestic, non war goods, nearly as much as the US and UK did.

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  7. Regarding The Bell Curve. We’re still stuck in the same place, where the detractors of the book don’t really know how to rebut it scientifically, and the proponents, like this author, don’t really get why it’s pseudo-science.

    Here’s the core: We don’t know what intelligence is. We measure it behaviorally. We have no direct physiological observations that we can make that pertain. It’s like measuring someone’s vertical leap, and then calling it their height. They are maybe correlated, but they aren’t the same.

    This is not an argument that IQ is meaningless. It is not. It contributes to all walks of life. 10 points of IQ has a distinct observable impact on many, many observable indices. And here’s something that should give you pause: In aggregate, African-Americans with an IQ measured at 85 do about as well on all those social indices as Anglo-Americans with an IQ of 100. That should give one pause, I think.

    The second important fact to know is that according to IQ tests, everyone is getting smarter. A person getting a 100 in 1950 would be maybe 90 today. And here’s the kicker: Black people are getting smarter faster than white people. They are catching up. There is very clearly a learned, cultural component to this.

    I recall hearing that IQ tests were racially/culturally biased (the most common conclusion drawn from the above data) in the Seventies. How is it that we can’t seem to absorb these concepts?

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      • Liberals believe that everybody gotta be fucking identical twins, or their brains break.
        Isn’t the case (which shouldn’t surprise, lotta selection pressure on people).

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    • Doctor Jay,
      Nah, they’ve got better data on you than you think. We understand intelligence better than you think as well — primarily cognitive flexibility, ability to pattern match and notice when your pattern is wrong.

      Critique of the Bell Curve is simple: Don’t for the love of GOD use such a biased set. It’s inane and stupid.

      I don’t think REAL IQ tests show people getting smarter (old, “verbal memorization” tests may, but that’s not really testing IQ).

      One other thing: IQ Ain’t Static. You can train it, it’s just brutal.

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      • The things that you cite – cognitive flexibility, ability to pattern match – are measured behaviorally. Nobody’s counting neurons, or sampling neurotransmitter levels, or anything else. Which is my point.

        And you haven’t addressed my other point, which is that while IQ gives people a boost, African Americans do better on secondary indices than Anglos with the same IQ.

        It’s not that I don’t think there are physiological differences that drive intelligence. It is impossible to explain my own existence without that. It’s that I’m deeply skeptical that IQ tests adequately capture those differences without bias.

        As to IQ tests going up, this is well understood. See “Flynn effect”.

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        • Doctor Jay,
          Never assume you know all the research going on, for god’s sake man!
          The military does tons of stuff under the radar (some under color of the NSF, too).

          I know people who have written better IQ tests than some old bastard from the 1920’s. I trust their ability to measure people internationally better.

          We may not have quite unbiased IQ tests, but we have ones that are a lot closer to reality than something developed for WWI.

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    • IQ is a bear to measure because a lot of what we think of as intelligence is highly contextual. Ideally, an IQ test should be able to gauge intelligence regardless of background, but I’m not sure that is possible. Two people from different backgrounds will approach problems differently, and both might have successful outcomes, but a simple test is only going to consider one as correct.

      Now, if the test was somehow done as a Computer Adaptive Test, where the first group of questions acted as a contextual filter for the rest of the test…

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      • Oscar,
        The best data we have on IQ is from cellphones. There, you are looking at adaptability, and you can measure pattern recognition and learning.

        Don’t you just love worldwide technology?

        And with the AIs we have now, simple tests aren’t the only metrics we can use.

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    • We can’t see electrons. We can see the effects they have. While social science data is always fuzzier than hard science data, the theory that there’s something real behind IQ is really solid. Your second paragraph seems to be a deflection. The point you make in your fourth paragraph is the big one. You’d do better to lead with it.

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    • Doctor Jay: In aggregate, African-Americans with an IQ measured at 85 do about as well on all those social indices as Anglo-Americans with an IQ of 100. That should give one pause, I think.

      Source?

      Also the part about the racial IQ gap closing.

      The thing is, the claims you’re making are not things that Murray and Herrnstein were too careless or disingenuous to mention. They explicitly contradict the findings in TBC. Three was also extensive discussion of the topic of racial bias in IQ tests.

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      • To clarify, I mean that there was a whole chapter in TBC about how if you control for IQ, most of the achievement gap goes away, and also a literature review concluding that the IQ gap had stopped closing.

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        • And this would be a fine treatise about races and innate stuff, if it wasn’t completely and utterly confounded by selection, both self and otherwise.

          In fact, that’s a provable statement. You see better outcomes for Africans in Europe than you do in America. Again, selection bias — who comes to America? (in the main? Slaves.) Who comes to Europe? (a better representation, tilted more toward the canny and prospective middle class).

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      • The racial IQ gap is closing. There’s a term for it I can’t think of, how every wave of immigrants to the US starts out with lower IQ’s and moves up to average. Thomas Sowell wrote about it in his review of The Bell Curve, only excerpts of which are online. It was great to be a conservative back then. There was music in the cafes at night and revolution was in the air.

        I’ve never heard of Doctor Jay’s other claim that B85=W100.

        I recently ran across my old copy of Human Accomplishment, another Murray book. I never read it cover to cover. I found it interesting but flawed, using innovative but risky methods to quantify things. I always figured that The Bell Curve was similar. (Man, this overlaps a lot with The Data thread.)

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    • Doctor Jay: In aggregate, African-Americans with an IQ measured at 85 do about as well on all those social indices as Anglo-Americans with an IQ of 100.

      It only just now struck me how bizarre a claim this is. If, in the US, blacks with IQs of 85 do about as well socioeconomically as whites with IQs of 100, and blacks have an average IQ of 85 and whites have an average IQ of 100, then doesn’t it follow that on average, blacks are doing about as well socioeconomically as whites?

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  8. ‘Gentirifying’ sports – I’d like a lot more time series data than one freeze frame in ’10 and the other in ’15 before even asking Mr. Symkowski to borrow his mat.

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  9. Oh Whit Stillman, the closest thing that WASPs have ever produced to Woody Allen. FWIW, some of the characters from Metropolitan make brief cameos in the Last Days of Disco and some of the action of the Last Days of Disco is a preview to what happens in Barcelona.

    So Metropolitan takes place in the early to mid 1970s, Last Days of Disco is decidedly in the early 1980s (probably 1980) and Metropolitan is the early to mid 80s but this involves a fair bit of retconning and the pony-tailed Lothario of Metropolitan is an anachronism.

    Reading for pleasure, especially reading fiction/literary fiction seems to be seen by decadent as many people. More so than other forms of entertainment. As far as I can tell, there is a general idea that if you have the brain power to read literary fiction, you should be doing work. When I was in law school, people would say stuff along the lines of “I wish I had time to read but I should be doing school work” and then they would launch into a discussion of the two hours of TV or video games they did last night. So for some reason TV or video games is acceptable as wind-down time from work but reading is not.

    I imagine that this continues to the workplace. “If I can read a book, I can do my job…..”

    I find it kind of sad. Reading refreshes me. I do a lot of reading for work as well but reading for pleasure refreshes me.

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  10. “Casting Controversy”

    As I keep saying elsewhere, there’s only so many times you can say that someone is an Incorrigible Unforgivable Inherent Racist before they start to believe you and quit trying to do better.

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    • DD,
      This is Hollywood. You can’t throw a shoe without hitting a pedophile there. What makes you think they WANT to do anything right, when all they need is a bit of blackmail to get a movie made?

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  11. I’m just gonna leave this here.

    Well, no, I’m going to criticism this:

    Finally, an effort needs to be made to change the disincentives currently built into regulations covering pre-existing conditions. But we need to address this rationally. Federal laws requiring insurance companies to accept pre-existing conditions result in incentives to offer lower quality plans. If you’re uninsured, and get sick, you are going to sign up for a high cost plan that provides great coverage. Insurance companies will have to stop offering high cost, high coverage plans or risk bankruptcy. Americans who buy insurance will have poor choices, as those choices will provide only minimum coverage.

    The private sector can find innovative answers to the problems we face if Congress would simply create a legal framework that allows America’s entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness to explore the possibilities unhindered by burdensome regulation and ill-conceived government control. Experience has taught us government isn’t going to give us a solution that works.

    They will give us a solution that requires lobbyists, campaign contributions, and new unions, all to keep the flow of money heading toward Washington. They will give us a system that allows lawyers to continue to treat doctors as lotto tickets.

    He had me right up until “Congress would simply create a legal framework…”, and then he lost me. You can’t just make a statement like this without talking about what such a framework would look like and what regulation or controls are problematic.

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    • Many other doctors just wants the United States to go full socialism when it comes to funding healthcare. I really don’t understand this relenting obsession with trying to create a free market and entrepreneurialism in healthcare. The evidence and history really suggests that markets really don’t work in healthcare and never worked.

      Some people are so adverse to any form of socialism or welfare that they are willing to advocate for absurdities like Congress creating a “legal framework that allows America’s entrepreneurial spirit and inventiveness to explore the possibilities unhindered by burdensome regulation and ill-conceived government control.” The idea that all Americans possess a unique entrepreneurial spirit is silly. In healthcare, snake oil merchants have entrepreneurial spirit because they are willing to rob people peddling useless cures because people don’t themselves or loved-ones to die. At what point and what amount of evidence is needed to make the advocates of free market healthcare just admit that this might be one area where socialism does work.

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      • Doctor politics can be weird. I know Republican doctors who want single payer and liberal doctors who think it would help a lot if Medicaid patients just had a $20 copay.

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      • markets really don’t work in healthcare

        Markets work just fine in healthcare. What they don’t do is work in a way that satisfies the medical, or ideological, needs of everyone. They also tend to fail with regards to emergency medicine (for obvious reasons).

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        • That’s why markets don’t work in healthcare. Your not going to tell a mechanic and nurse whose kid has leukemia that they need to prepare your kid for death because they can’t afford treatment.

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          • That proves my point.

            The problem is not the way the market works, the problem is we, as a society, are not willing to accept the logical market outcome. So we interfere in the market in order to strive for an outcome we find more acceptable. We are just really bad at it because there are too many competing interests and goals.

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            • I think that many Republican politicians and other ideologues seem perfectly willing to accept logical market outcomes in healthcare. They know its politically unpopular to say this though even with white people.

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      • The evidence and history really suggests that markets really don’t work in healthcare and never worked.

        I spent last week in Malaysia. My wife has had a wisdom tooth bothering her for a couple of years and every dentist she went to in the States refused to take it out. It got bad last week and she went into a clinic in Penang. The dentist/oral surgeon took it out in about thirty minutes and charged her fifty bucks, US.

        Oh wait, I must have made that up, because ” markets really don’t work in healthcare and never worked.” Never mind.

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  12. Every discussion of The Bell Curve should link Cosma Shalizi. Here’s a start. There’s more at the site.

    The ultra-short version is if you look only for a single g, then you’ll find it. But assuming your conclusion is not good science.

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    • Two things about factor analysis. First, it is an entirely linear model, meaning it will find linear “explanations” of variance, but it will not find non-linear factors. Does anyone think human intelligence is an entirely linear process?

      Second, and more importantly, it is a “latent variable” method, meaning it assumes a model where we use the observed variables to infer some set of unobserved latent factors (in this case linear and normally distributed latent factors). These can be powerful models, for a host of reasons. First, they can perform dimensionality reduction. Second, they give a framework to “factor out” missing data. Third, they are more likely to accurately model nature, since we can seldom measure everything that happens.

      However, factor analysis will only find “latent factors” that “explain” correlation. The problem is, correlation is not the only way variables can be linked.

      Furthermore, in statistics, to “explain” something does not mean we’ve done real science. Having found a “factor,” that does not mean that factor is an independent ontological entity. It could just as easily be a mathematical anomaly. In other words, the “g factor” may not map to any identifiable set of structures in your brain. All it names is “something complicated with which we can do math,” but nothing further.

      It is this: if two variables are dependent, meaning the value of one somehow affects the probability of the other, we can draw one or more conclusions:

      1. Factor A somehow causes or influences Factor B.
      2. Factor B somehow causes or influences Factor A.
      3. There is a third factor C (or perhaps more) that cause or influence both A and B.
      4. Factors A and B influence each other in a complicated way.
      5. Some combination of all of these things.

      Keep in mind, causality is isolated in time and space. In other words, event A at time T1 and location X can cause event B at a later time T2 and location Y. Things such as human intelligence, however, evolve over the course of one’s life. Each factor might influence the other factors, back and forth, in complicated ways. It is about interactions.

      It is difficult, statistically, to distinguish these four types of dependence. With enough data, and with a sufficiently detailed model, Bayesian networks can distinguish 1 from 2 from 3/4. However, they cannot easily distinguish 3 from 4. Moreover, linear factor analysis won’t even distinguish the former.

      That said, it remains a powerful method to do statistical inference. If we want to predict what happens, it is a good tool in your toolbox, in that it will produce effective models to run on a computer to produce outputs. To draw conclusions in social science, however, it pays to be highly skeptical.

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  13. The word on the street is that variations on a Cassidy/Collins theme are being floated in the House’s latest rollout: Repeal/Replace part 2: This Time It’ll Be Easy. Part of the proposal is to allow states to choose whether to keep the ACA mandated essential health benefits package as well as community rating. Hmmm. Is that enough to get Democrats on board or is this just legislative theater?

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    • One thing I’m curious about (something Michael Cain might know the answer to!):

      Depending on the particular levers in the final bill of course, to what extent would a Cassidy/Collins type R/R coupled with Medicaid block grants and etc. grease the wheels for state-based single payer healthcare?

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    • theater. If Paul Ryan seriously wants to pass health care reform that can make it through the Senate, he needs to start by reaching out to House Dems.

      No Dem will vote for a bill where a cancer survivor gets to be told that he still has access to insurance, but it costs $2,000 per month and excludes coverage for any new cancer.

      State-based single-payer healthcare realistically requires the elimination of employer-sponsored insurance to work. Single payer works only if everyone’s in the pool, especially the cheap kids. I doubt that House Repubs would vote for a bill that would allow for that.

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      • I think it’s theater too. Ryan basically said he wants to pass a bill on a party-line vote, and I don’t see how he can thread that needle any better this time than before. (Without Dems on board anyway.)

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