26 May 2012

The bell curve: one third are ‘special needs’?

In relation to my recent post regarding the shifting of the bell curve, it is interesting to note that there has recently been a spate of newspaper articles commenting on a perceived lowering of ability amongst schoolchildren.

An article in the Daily Mail (9 May 2012) quotes a Department of Education official, Dr Sidwell, as saying: ‘Even the outstanding primaries tell me that children at five are coming in with lower and lower ability to get on with their work.’

An earlier Daily Mail article (5 May 2012) gives some figures: of children aged four to sixteen, 21% are recorded (as of 2011) as having ‘special needs’, an increase from 19% in 2006; amongst nine to ten-year-old boys the figure rises to one third.

Various explanations for this are offered, in particular that it is due to bad parenting, or deliberate misdiagnosis to cover up for poor teaching standards. One of the articles is headlined ‘Poor parenting to blame for surge in special needs’.

A possible explanation that is not mentioned is a genetically caused reduction in IQ of the overall population. As my earlier post points out, an increase in the proportion of low-IQ people in the population implies a corresponding reduction in the proportion of high-IQ people.

Of course, it is characteristic of the exponential growth effect that it starts off small but continuously increases. The initial shifts are unlikely to be noticed. If there has been a shift in the IQ curve which is now causing noticeable effects among those of school age, this might prime us to notice some signs of reduced performance in those older than the current school-age population that might otherwise have gone unobserved.

Interestingly, another recent Daily Mail article (22 May 2012) mentions a study of adults’ spelling ability, reporting a poor standard, supposedly because of over-reliance on computer spellchecks. Tellingly, the youngest of this test population, the students, performed worst. I suggest that this poor standard may not be entirely due to an over-reliance on computer spellchecks.

Exponential growth may start at an imperceptible level, but by the time it has become noticeable, ever greater increases may be expected in the near future.

The reports of significantly lower standards in various areas over short timescales are compatible with the view that a significant shift in the IQ of the population has already taken place, and that the speed of the shift is very likely to accelerate.

21 May 2012

Existential urgency and commercialism

And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:
And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?
And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there shall I bestow all my fruits and my goods.
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.
But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on.
The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment.
(Luke 12: 15-23)

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
(Luke 12: 33-34)

Jesus said:
There was a rich man who had much money. He said: I will use my money that I may sow and reap and plant and fill my storehouses with fruit so that I lack nothing. This was what he thought in his heart. And that night he died. Whoever has ears let him hear.
(Gospel of Thomas, log 63)

Sayings of this kind are usually taken as being against capitalism, or any kind of commercial activity. The alternative is supposed to be social interactions of a kind favoured by the prevailing religion.

Although my intentions were not obviously commercial, being only to take exams (but as many as possible) and to do research, Mother Mary Angela disapproved of them in a similar way, as being insufficiently people-oriented.

My awareness of the insecurity of finiteness, and the fact that one's life could be terminated at any time by various circumstances over which one would have no control, certainly contributed to my sense of urgency and the need I experienced to get on as fast as possible.

Other people might make plans about how I would not take exams before a certain age, get to university before a certain age, do research before a certain age, and so on, but it seemed to me in no way natural to hang about in a dangerous situation.

So in fact Mother Mary Angela and all concerned were really advocating that I should go in for time-wasting social interactions as if time was no object.

The modern ideology, and human psychology generally, seem to be very much geared against living at all purposefully, or with any sense of urgency. To do so is to behave as if anything one did mattered, or was of any importance, so it is taking oneself too seriously, which is much disapproved of.

The Gnostic form of this parable merely points out (without suggesting any alternative course of action) that all one's plans may come to nothing if one happens to die in the night, so it can really be seen as an incitement to urgency, in the way that I thought my plans for taking exams might be aborted by death or other adverse circumstances, so I had better waste no time with getting on with them as fast as possible.

The concept of moth-free treasure does occur in Thomas, but not as an alternative to commercial planning. It is the pearl of great price, which is worth more than anything else; but one might note that it is bought, and that it is a merchant who buys it.
Jesus said:
The Kingdom of the Father is like a man, a merchant, who possessed merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent. He sold the merchandise, he bought the one pearl for himself.
Do you also seek for the treasure which fails not, which endures, there where no moth comes near to devour and where no worm destroys.
(ibid., log 76)

05 May 2012

Has the bell curve shifted?

One expects any variation in the IQ bell curve to show up most noticeably at the upper and lower ends, where the percentages approach zero along the x-axis.

It used to be said that the female bell curve was narrower than the male; so women were much less likely to be geniuses, but also much less likely to be idiots.

The shift in the bell curve subsequent to the onset of the Welfare State may well have caused a significant reduction in the numbers of people with IQs above 150 or 160, as the mean has shifted downwards. But if it has done, it has also created an even greater increase in the population of the dysfunctional, with IQs below 50 or 40. I speculated that if the number of people above a certain IQ level (100 + x) has been reduced to 1/n of what it was before the shift, then the number of people below (100 – x) might well have been multiplied by something like n.

My speculation turns out to be not too far off. If you reduce the population of the exceptionally intelligent by shifting the bell curve, without changing the shape, you more than correspondingly increase the population of the most dysfunctional.

Say that, before any shift takes place, the proportion of the population with an IQ over 140 is 0.38%. A shift in the mean of one point downwards reduces it to 0.31%, and a shift of 2 points to 0.25%. A shift of 5 points reduces it to 0.13%, which is about one-third of 0.38%. So in this case the number of people in the population with IQs over 140 has been reduced to a third of what it was.

The shift of the mean to the left would also have affected the proportion of those with IQs below 60, originally also 0.38%. A shift in the mean of 5 points downwards makes it 0.99%, i.e. 2.6 times 0.38%. Reducing the proportion of the population with IQs above 140 to a third of what it was, has at the same time increased the number of those with IQs below 60 (which is fairly dysfunctional for any purpose) to nearly 1 percent of the population, making a group formerly thought of as marginal into a considerable element in the total population.

If there are now one-third as many people with IQs above 140 as there were before the shift, say, then there are now about three times as many with IQs below 60. The reduction in the population of really high IQs may have something to do with why we (the real University of Oxford in exile) find it so difficult to increase the number of our associates, but it is otherwise easy to overlook.

What is probably less easy to overlook, if one is in a position to observe it, is the multiplication of people with low IQs and other genetic deficiencies who can never be self-supporting.

This is clearly a tremendous drain on taxpayers’ money, although it is diffused throughout the general cost of benefits, the NHS, ‘education’ and ‘social services’.

What is paid out to pensioners, on the other hand, is clearly identifiable. Pensioners are a section of the population with an average IQ above the mean for the population as a whole, so the finger can be pointed at them, and the process continued of transferring resources from the above-average to the below-average.

A graph illustrating the possible shift in the bell curve, with close-ups of the tails:

Graphics by Andrew Legge

The relevant departments of my unfunded independent university are effectively censored and suppressed. They have been prevented for decades from publishing analyses of the complex issues involved, while misleading and tendentious representations of them have continued to flood out from socially recognised sources.