23 November 2007

On felicitous phrasing

In the midst of a deeply serious and concerning article about the manufacture of psychological ailments by the labelling activities of big Pharma, I came across this gem;
    ...Lane is not a psychiatrist but a psychoanalytic literary critic who aligns himself with such empirically insouciant authorities as Jacques Lacan...

What a lovely phrase! It means "couldn't give a damn about the facts." With intellectual style.

21 November 2007

On IQ back in the news

James Watson really stirred things up the other week with his remarks about Africa, and has been met with universal condemnation. Without wishing to endorse--or reject outright-- a long and complex paper with both good and not-so-good stuff, do read this counterblast.

It does pose the seriously difficult question of whether or not political factors should be taken into account in the publication of awkward findings. There is a lot of poor science out there which comes to facile conclusions about that endlessly contestable concept of "race" (see here for another blog making that point), but it is not all by definition poor.

At the same time, see here for a review of What Is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect by James Flynn. Flynn is a political scientist (of all disciplines) from New Zealand, who has noted the year on year rise in average IQs across the world (known as the "Flynn effect"), and has unpicked its significance—which is much more complex than at first appears.

17 November 2007

On where to go

Assuming that you have not set up an RSS feed to alert you to my latest words of wisdom, you have probably stumbled idly on this blog. Instead of stumbling idly in the vain hope of finding something stimulating, go to ted.com. I'm not going to describe it--go there and find out for yourself. It is the web at its best, both in content and in implementation (although I have not yet checked how accessible it is to people with disabilities; I suspect that its reliance on video marks it down on that front).