18 March 2019

Intelligence and intimidation

IQ (intelligence quotient) as a single measure of intelligence started to become prominent with the inception of compulsory education. Those in charge of schools and colleges wanted to be able to select those most likely to succeed academically.

The idea of IQ now seems to be considered dubious by the academic and educational establishments, and IQ tests are regarded with suspicion.

Also regarded with suspicion — particularly among those paid to intervene in other people’s lives — is the idea that intelligence has a significant heritable component.

For example, a Guardian editorial described recent research linking IQ to specific genes as ‘problematic’ and ‘troubling’. Apparently this is because the results might undermine demands for more intervention to iron out inequality.

The prejudice against the possibility of IQ heritability is not confined to left-wing journalists. The editorial refers to academics who argue that ‘the heritability of human traits is scientifically unsound’.

The editorial tries to imply guilt by association, conflating heritability with genetic testing and eugenics. The scientists responsible for the research are disparaged as ‘hereditarians’, and their arguments are described as ‘advocacy’.

Ironically, the editorial complains that the research has created ‘an intimidatory atmosphere’. In the area of IQ, it is those who try to make the idea of heritability seem morally unacceptable who are the real intimidators.

24 February 2019

Churchill, America and socialism

The rise of Nationalsozialismus in Germany was only one element in the more or less continuous socialist onslaughts on European capitalist, or aristocracy-based, civilisation. Nationalsozialismus ruined the British Empire, which had to put all its resources into opposing it. Britain could not have done otherwise, because the insularity which had protected it from invasion was no longer effective against modern technology.

Churchill knew that America’s support was indispensable, but America, which was far enough removed to treat this as a European problem, initially held out against him.

Of course this was the way things always were; countries did not support one another against external threats unless it was in their own interests to do so. America, at this time, recognised no obligation to defend civilisation against socialism, nor of course has any country done so at any time.

America came into the war at a late stage when all seemed lost. At first, the plan seemed to be to make Britain pay for the aid it received. I remember a system called Lend-Lease under which food, to be paid for after the war, arrived from America. Powdered dried egg, dried milk, and so on. In practice, the envisaged repayment after the war never materialised.

While America recognised no generalised obligation to aid civilised countries against the onslaughts of socialism, it has no doubt made plenty of donations to uncivilised countries without expecting repayment. As, of course, Britain has also done; making loans in ‘aid’ to ‘developing’ countries and then writing them off altogether or ‘re-scheduling’ them when they were not repaid.

Trade protectionism is supposed to be a bad thing. However, it is probably necessary for a country that has started to fall to socialism, as Britain has. Employment laws and welfare benefits raise the production costs of British goods. British manufacturers are in no position to compete with the flood of imports from countries where workers still work to keep themselves alive, and where the cost of their work is largely determined by how much they are willing to do it for.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.

02 January 2019

Denis Compton: genius cricketer

Denis Compton CBE
(1918 - 1997)
Denis Compton, a cricketer who played in nearly eighty Test matches for England and who was a household name during the 1940s, is widely regarded as one of the top batsmen of all time.
By the late 1930s, Compton was one of England’s finest batsmen, and remained at the top of his profession for some twenty years. His dashing approach to batting and the sheer enjoyment he exuded endeared him to a generation of cricket lovers.

On the England tour of South Africa 1948–49 he scored 300 against North-Eastern Transvaal in just over three hours — still the fastest triple-century ever in first-class cricket.
Compton’s style of playing could be described as inspirational. He became known for inventing new ways of batting which would then be imitated by other players.

His performance could be erratic, and I remember finding it disappointing on occasion. He would sometimes raise one’s expectations, then dash them.

Compton also played professional football, representing England during wartime in a number of friendly matches against allied countries such as France.

Compton seems to have had an unusual personality.
Compton’s absent-mindedness was legendary. Cricketer Colin Cowdrey writes that Compton turned up for the Old Trafford Test of 1955 against South Africa without his kitbag. Undaunted, Compton sauntered into the Old Trafford museum and, borrowing an antique bat off the display, went on to score 158 and 71 runs in the first two innings.

Peter Parfitt, another England Test cricketer, was a speaker at a major celebration in London for Compton’s 70th birthday. He says that Compton was called to the telephone by a lady who had heard about the dinner: eventually he agreed to take the call. “Denis,” she said, “it’s me, your mother. You’re not 70, you’re only 69.”
Extracts are from Wikipedia article about Denis Compton.

18 December 2018

Getting one’s eye in at cricket

50 years ago people used to talk about ‘getting one’s eye in’ when playing a game. This was associated with scoring more freely.

My father told me of something that happened to him once when he was playing cricket. Usually the ball came to him so fast that he could not see it at all. On this occasion he suddenly found that he saw the ball floating towards him so slowly that he could see the stitches on its binding, and he found it very easy to hit it with his bat.

I have never heard anyone describing a similar experience. The expression ‘getting one’s eye in’ used to be quite common, at least in cricket, and may sometimes have been used to refer to something similar. My father was not particularly good at games, but he did have a high IQ.

11 December 2018

The risen Jesus: hard to recognise

Fresco by Giotto,
Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi
According to the Synoptic Gospels, the risen Jesus who was seen by his disciples was at first difficult to recognise. After the initial difficulty, however, the disciples seem to have had no doubt that it was indeed him.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’

‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary’.

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.’ (John 20:11-17)
Possibly parts of the Jesus story are apocryphal. However, as Richard Bauckham points out, this particular element seems an odd thing to have invented if there was no factual basis for it.
I think this pattern of non-recognition followed by identification of Jesus, which we find in several of the stories of his appearances after the resurrection, is one of the rather odd features that make these stories credible as genuine testimony from those who experienced them. Would they have made this feature up? Why should they?

18 November 2018

Adopting male psychology

Most positions that disagree with feminism argue either that women are inferior, or that they are equal to, but different from, men.

A third possibility is rarely expressed: that women tend to adopt a certain kind of psychology which makes them less functional, in many areas, than men.

Two thousand years ago, somebody appears to have expressed the idea that women had the same potentialities as men, but could only realise them by adopting male psychology.
Simon Peter said to them: ‘Let Mary go out from among us, because women are not worthy of the Life.’

Jesus said: ‘See, I shall lead her, so that I will make her male, that she too may become a living spirit, resembling you males. For every woman who makes herself male will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.’
(Gospel of Thomas, saying 114)

30 October 2018

Havelock Ellis: ability arouses hostility

Havelock Ellis
(1859 – 1939)
Every original worker in intellectual fields, every man who makes some new thing, is certain to arouse hostility where he does not meet with indifference [...]

It is practically impossible to estimate the amount of persecution to which this group of pre-eminent British persons has been subjected, for it has shown itself in innumerable forms, and varies between a mere passive refusal to have anything whatever to do with them or their work and the active infliction of physical torture and death.

Havelock Ellis, A Study of British Genius

For more on the topic of hostility to exceptional ability, see my colleague Charles McCreery's book The Abolition of Genius.

25 October 2018

The Cloister and the Hearth

The Cloister and the Hearth is a nineteenth century novel written by Charles Reade. It was once considered a classic of literature but is nowadays not widely read.

The plot is a fictionalised account of the parents of Erasmus — Gerard and Margaret — and the many obstacles that stand in the way of their relationship.

The book made an impression on me when I read it as a child. The authority figures in it are presented as largely hostile and unreliable. The comprehensive cynicism about social authority, and about its supposed benevolence, distinguishes the book from other nineteenth century novels.

It is even more in contrast with current literature.

In modern fiction, even if some part of the establishment is behaving badly, there is almost always some part of it whose behaviour accords with the ideal, in which many people would no doubt like to believe.

30 September 2018

St Anthony of Egypt

detail from:
Hieronymus Bosch (attrib),
Temptation of St Anthony
St Anthony of Egypt is considered to be the first of the ‘Desert Fathers’. These were early Christian hermits, ascetics and monks who lived in and around the Scetis desert beginning about the third century AD.

Anthony was born in Egypt in 251 to wealthy landowner parents. After his parents died when he was a young man, he gave away his wealth and went to a mountain by the Nile, where he lived by himself in an old abandoned Roman fort for about twenty years. While in the fort, his only interactions with the outside world were via a crevice through which food would be passed by local villagers. Those who came to consult him stood outside and listened to his advice.

According to Wikipedia, after passing many years in this state, Anthony one day
emerged from the fort with the help of villagers, who broke down the door. By this time most had expected him to have wasted away or to have gone insane in his solitary confinement. Instead, he emerged healthy, serene, and enlightened. Everyone was amazed that he had been through these trials and emerged spiritually rejuvenated. He was hailed as a hero and from this time forth the legend of Anthony began to spread and grow.
St Antony’s College, Oxford, is said to have been named after him.

I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position.
I need people to provide moral support both for fund-raising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.

21 August 2018

‘The over-60s are not worth treating’

A version of this post was first published in 2007. It has been republished in the light of the Gosport hospital case.

The Daily Mail has reported that half of all GPs say that patients (victims) over the age of sixty are not worth diagnosing or treating. Of course, what GPs say has no necessary relationship to what they actually do. Telling the truth is not, even nominally, part of their remit. But it is likely that what goes on, and has been going on for a long time, is worse than they admit openly.

* * * * *

Some years ago there was a similar article revealing that, in the case of women, fifty-five was the age at which doctors thought them past bothering with.

Taking a short break at Boscombe in a seaside hotel, I was discussing this with a lady in her fifties, sitting opposite me at the breakfast table. She protested at so painful a topic being discussed, so I stopped talking about it. But this may illustrate both how demoralising the immoral power of the medical Mafia is, and why there is no sympathy with those who complain of it.

When this lady went to her doctor she liked, no doubt, to maintain an uneasy fiction that she could trust him, rely on him to exercise his powers in her best interests (as understood by herself), and believe what he said.

She would wish to do this in order to relieve her anxieties about any symptoms she might have. However, doing this in the face of evidence to the contrary is likely to take quite a lot of emotional energy. Taking up emotional energy in this way is essentially decentralising.* Recognising that one is alone in a hostile world is, or may be, eventually liberating (although, no doubt, there are plenty of ways of doing it wrong).

The psychological social contract is what happens when the individual gives up his own drives to self-fulfilment and becomes the willing slave of social oppression, in return for the possibility of oppressing others, or enjoying the spectacle of their being oppressed by the social forces with which he has thrown in his lot.

Once a society has instigated an oppressive regime, such as the modern Welfare (Oppressive) State, there is no real possibility of reversing it, as an increasing number of people wish to believe in the ‘benefits’ they are deriving from it — including in many cases the opportunity to oppress other people — rather than face up to the terrifying nature of the threats to which they are exposed.

* For an explanation of the concept of centralisation, see here.