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Well, that is the main thing. Joel Send a noteboard - 05/02/2012 02:25:36 AM
For the study itself, your last line covers my reaction well, though you made a number of good points prior to that. Ultimately, if it were as simple as "smart people vote x, dumb people vote y," elections would be rather superfluous: Just poll all the Mensa chapters and whoever wins is president. :P Any study like this that draws broad and/or firm conclusions is all but guaranteed to be unavoidably oversimplified (and even the title of the Huff Post article only claims "links," which is far from definitive.)

<a href="http://www.ma.utexas.edu/howto/images/far-side_MidvaleSchoolForTheGifted.jpg">This</a> is the comic that used hang on the bookshelf in the gifted class I was in as a kid, pre-home school, as the teacher used to remind us, represented a valuable lesson in humility. I've tended to keep a copy of it around and visible in many an office or setting I worked in, every time someone suggests rule by the smart in any given situation, I think of that.

The biggest problems I see are that making sausages remains a messy business, and that, as a rule, the more familiar people are with books the less familiar they are with people. In many professions that is a trivial matter, but it is huge in government. Not only in serving the publics needs and desires (which often conflict,) but in getting the opportunity in the first place. I still think Stevenson and Gore would have been light years better presidents than Ike or Bush, but their relative ability is irrelevant since neither could get the job. Patton was a better general than Ike, too, but a grossly inferior politician, which is why he went from his superior to his subordinate (in the middle of the war that proved him our greatest general, no less.)

About the only complaint I have with your response is: Cut social scientists some slack. Physicists get to measure things like the volume of the Hindenberg filled with hydrogen at STP. Social scientists are tasked with measuring its volume with a ruler—after it explodes but before it hits the ground, and they are on their own figuring out temperature and pressure. They say it is an "not an exact science," which is like saying, "the sun is larger than Pluto." They do rather well despite that, IMHO, and as long as we do not expect and they do not claim accuracy to fifteen significant figures, all is well.


Oh, I cut them some slack, they routinely hang themselves with it. But that was fairly tongue in cheek anyway. A lot of these kinda studies are legit enough in of themselves they just get warped by the news the way so many science article do. I also like ragging on the soft scientists, because it allows me to remind myself how superior us physical scientists are, really though I just think anyone who produces research of this sort in the name of scientific purity should publish their own political affiliations and opinions to go with it. Of all people, psychologists should know about mental bias and how awareness of it does not automatically remove the effect of it.

As noted elsewhere, they also know best how to frame questions in a way that mitigates such biases. While I dislike how he expressed it, I agree with Cannoli that sounds like another allegation of "cultural bias." I never put much stock in that, and still do not. I recall that article I linked about eye witness accounts noting even neutral questions can induce people to believe they SAW things that never happened, a belief that grows with each retelling, but I have no reason to doubt the questions themselves in this study.

Feel obliged to point out though that the Hindenberg was a rigid airship, and thus wouldn't have varied significantly by temperature or pressure. Also I can think of about half a dozen way I could measure the volume of a recently detonated ruler before it hit the ground, including some which would not require computerization and would be able to take into account vaporization. It's pretty much the same concept as a detonating artillery shell.

I was thinking more in terms of the gas than the container itself, but it was hard to think of a concise way to express it as such, since gases expand to fill their container. It was an imperfect analogy, as all such are, but I am sure you got the gist of it: Social scientists must measure dyanamic systems, often when even identifying, let alone calculating, all equally dynamic variables is impossible, and frequently with improvised tools and an observer effect that would give Heisenberg himself pause. Oh, and the vote/election/budget allocation is next week, so make it fast. At least when they are done they have the satisfaction of knowing they cannot claim even general certainty about ANY of it, but dozens of people with stated agendas prejudiced by the research will still be there with a list of errors.

Physicists have their own set of challenges, some unique, but need never deal with people insisting the "kinetic elites" "gravitational media bias" is denying hydrogen has 1.5 protons because they hate God and America. :P And if they did, they could point to cold hard indisputable and independently measurable data refuting that claim. The social scientist has no such luxury; his choice is who will attack him, and why. ;)
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Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism - 03/02/2012 08:58:00 PM 653 Views
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Clearly you endorse it. - 05/02/2012 02:23:41 AM 119 Views
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I expected no less. - 05/02/2012 12:25:14 AM 256 Views
Still fun though - 05/02/2012 01:30:26 AM 211 Views
Well, that is the main thing. - 05/02/2012 02:25:36 AM 224 Views
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I think that generally agreed, though we need a study PROVING what we already know. - 05/02/2012 12:41:26 AM 257 Views
Proving is something you do in maths, not science. - 05/02/2012 09:05:30 AM 133 Views
So the Moon might still be made of green cheese? - 05/02/2012 10:20:57 AM 164 Views
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Oh, let us not go THERE. - 05/02/2012 02:54:30 PM 266 Views
Bad comparison - 05/02/2012 03:36:12 PM 178 Views
Well, that last part will make sure this gets ugly.... - 04/02/2012 02:05:11 AM 158 Views
Do you not think it's true then? - 04/02/2012 07:32:13 AM 279 Views
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Granted, you do move in different circles than I (or Jens, for that matter.) - 04/02/2012 10:24:52 PM 224 Views
Corfirmational bias much? - 04/02/2012 04:25:24 PM 202 Views
I did mention that I didn't care enough to look into it. - 04/02/2012 10:22:09 PM 178 Views
As a few others have noted, it is important to preserve the causality chain. - 05/02/2012 02:35:02 AM 180 Views
I dont see that it matters. - 13/02/2012 01:40:45 AM 142 Views

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