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May 04, 2010


Captain Hate

I'm pretty sure TM is sending the troll du jour on the world's longest snipe hunt. It's like ants and a magnifying glass on a sunny day.


Your problem is you are not an academic, TM. Were you, all this would seem perfectly logical.


Ugh. Symbolic logic. Yes it has it's uses--usually in science and math--but overall it's a snare and a delusion when it comes to reasoning about reality. Words keep you closer to reality and provide a much more useful check.

not harvardian

High heritability is powerful evidence of genetic cause, even if it's not conclusive evidence. As you note, Leiter's original post twice made the unwarranted leap from "high heritability does not 100% entail direct genetic cause" to "high heritability isn't even evidence of genetic cause." But, let's take him at his word that he's not now making that leap. In refusing to defend what he previously asserted, Leiter has lost the grounds to attack the sensible reading of the email. All that he has left is to attack a tendentious reading of the email.

If you want to understand the limitations of the Block article and why it mostly attacks a straw man, google "The Philosophy of Science that Ignores Science."


Right, non harvardian. If I'm a betting man then, when confronted with heritability, I'm gonna spend my time looking for a genetic cause and not so much time exploring randomness.


non harvardian, indeed--thinking non harvardian thoughts!

not harvardian


High heritability places stringent limits on what kinds of environmental factors could be driving phenotypic variation, and in the case of intelligence I personally would spend a lot of time look at both environmental and genetic causes.

Leiter's fall-back position, consistent with the Block article, is a kind of armchair philosopher's position coupled with a passive-aggressive "you haven't proven it to my satisfaction." But staking your entire empirical position on unusual hypotheticals isn't about science; it's about dogma. Leiter's position is very much like the creationists who nit pick some difficult aspect of evolution science and use it as cover for their denial.

Jim Ryan

Leiter is gradually coming around to Grace's position, the one he labeled "ignorant."


And, if Leiter weren't reading impaired, he'd have recognized that Grace's position is far more nuanced than that of either extreme.

Jim Ryan

It's been half a decade since I last read Leiter. He's a nasty piece of work. Few nastier in the blogosphere. Well, one prefers one's sophists to be nasty. The sweet ones are more insidious.

not harvardian

For people like me, who do not subscribe to race-IQ theories, you might want to read James Flynn's careful criticisms of Arthur Jensen and model that approach.

Danube of Thought

Could it simply be that Leiter equates "evidence" with "conclusive proof?" (I ask for help on this because I'm damned if I'm going to go back and re-read this stuff.)


For people like me, who do not subscribe to race-IQ theories, you might want to read James Flynn's careful criticisms of Arthur Jensen and model that approach.

Or, you could just admit that you're a dumbass and IQ is one of any number of heritable genetic linked traits linked to phenotype.


Ponder the saying

"The apple don't fall far from the tree."


I personally would spend a lot of time look at both environmental and genetic causes.

Fine. How about you do a study of Africa? Yeah, I know, that's not very PC. But, there's got to be a reason that most of the continent, one that has an abundance of resources, is generally such a shithole.

Tom, who also hasn't made enough money
Could it simply be that Leiter equates "evidence" with "conclusive proof?" (I ask for help on this because I'm damned if I'm going to go back and re-read this stuff.)

I thought so, but his actual error is more absurd, coming from a guy with his background.

His entry point is that a fact cannot be evidence if it can be used to support both a proposition and its opposite.

However, he is snarled up in thinking that nature and nurture are the only two, and opposite, poles of the debate. In fact, they are alternative, competing hypotheses; one is not the negation of the other, and both (or neither) may be true.

So, for a quick, bizarre example: Suppose my scientific proposition is that a rock will get hot if left in direct sunlight.

My negated hypothesis is that a rock will *not* get hot if it is left in sunlight.

An alternative hypothesis, since I am blogging from Reykjavik, is that the rock will get hot if left in flowing lava.

So, I leave the rock, check it in an hour, and its hot. Per Leiter, that is evidence for both the sunlight and lava theories, so therefore it is not evidence at all.

Per me (OK, and logic), the rock being hot is evidence against the the negated hypothesis - the idea that leaving a rock in the sun will not heat it up loses support.

Obviously, the experiment is poorly designed (maybe the rock heated up due to exposure to lava; maybe it is made of radoiactive materials - who knows?)

But the point would be, the rock being hotter could not be used as evidence in support of both of the sunlight propositions.

Leiter wants to say that since the heritability studies could support either the nature or nurture arguments, they are not evidence of either. In fact,they are (inconclusive) evidence of both, and evidence against negated (and unstated) hypotheses such as "there is no heritable direct genetic influence on IQ".

I have a strange feeling that did not make it any clearer... I am leaping into the volcano now.

Greg Q

I skimmed Block's article (I dont' want to get too much stupid splattered over myself), and note that he missed on the best argument for genetic heritability of IQ: separated twin studies.

Once upon a time, adoption agencies allowed twins to be separated at birth and adopted by different parents, from different socioeconomic groups. Years later, researchers went in and interviewed and compared a lot of these separated twins (many who had never before met their fellow twin).

I don't not recall the exact number they found for the heritability of IQ among those separated twins, but it was high, higher than that of separated non-twins. Which pretty much destroys all of Block's "arguments".

If you have a genetic characteristic (e.g. love of reading, great curiosity, strong desire to know more about the world around you) that causes people to give you experiences that help you grow yoru intelligence, then an intelligent person would call that characteristic "a genetic component of intelligence." An imbecilic political hack may claim something else, but why should we care?

Greg Q

Shorter response to Leiter:

Leiter can't tell the difference between any evidence, and conclusive evidence. This lack of intellectual capability, and failure to understand English, marks him as someone not worth reading, listening to, or in any other way, shape, or form deserving of attention.

Flip the twit bt on him.


Who would have thought Gibbs was so thin skinned?

Gibbs, responding to an oil leak query from Goler, called the network out for failing to challenge Brown, now a conservative Colorado radio host.

"I watched Fox yesterday -- you open both the double doors -- and waaah! -- here I am," Gibbs said.

As Goler tried to calm Gibbs down, the press secretary began talking about "the special and unique interview with Michael Brown, who for those who weren’t let in on the big secret ... intimated on Fox and it wasn’t – didn’t appear -- to be pushed back on real hard — that this spill was leaked on purpose in order for us to undo decisions."



"a fact cannot be evidence if it can be used to support both a proposition and its opposite"

Ha! Politicians do it all the time. So do global warming/climate change advocates.

Maxie Zeus

Quick summary of points made by Our Esteemed Host and select commenters, some of which are corrections to OEH and some of which are amplifications of his general point:

Consider the sentences "The evidence means the man was not murdered" and "The evidence does not mean the man was murdered." These do not say the same thing. The first draws a conclusion about fact ("The man was not murdered") while the other draws a conclusion about evidence ("The evidence for murder is too thin to be asserted").

Now compare these to the sentence OEH highlights in his "gotcha!":

"The evidence means the man was not murdered." (Conclusion of fact)
"The evidence does not mean the man was murdered." (Conclusion of evidence)
"The [substantial] evidence [that IQ is heritable] ... does not mean ... that it has a genetic basis."

The placement of "not" as qualifying "means" makes the professor's statement a conclusion of evidence. This sentence does not assert that "there is no genetic basis" to IQ; it says nothing more than what OEH has said and should not embarrass the professor.

If Professor Leiter has fallen prey to a fallacy, though, it seems to be with this inference:

1. The evidence that IQ is heritable does not mean that it has a genetic basis.
2. Therefore, there is no evidence that IQ has a genetic basis.

Leiter argues that if some bit of evidence equally well supports hypotheses that are inconsistent with each other, then it cannot be taken as evidence for either. OEH host rightly has fun dramatizing the absurdities that Leiter's epistemology implies.

Generalizing his point: Any bit of evidence can always be construed in support of some pair of inconsistent hypotheses; therefore, Leiter should conclude that nothing can ever be evidence for anything. [Note to Professor Leiter: Beware the Goodmanian "grue"; you are one step from arguing that the theory that sapphires are blue is insupportable because the evidence equally well supports the hypothesis that future specimens will be green!] It is not just heritability studies that go up in smoke; the reality-based community would have to join the sun-botherers in taking the coming of tomorrow's sunrise completely on faith.

Contra Leiter, when we have evidence that supports rival hypotheses, we typically say that the evidence supports both while qualifying our support for them. This works because evidence (at least outside of Leiterworld) comes in degrees; it can be strong or weak, sufficient or insufficient. The presence of a gun next to a deceased gunshot victim is strong (but not sufficient!) evidence for foul play, and it would be absurd to argue that because the evidence for foul play does not conclusively exclude rival hypotheses it must therefore be regarded as null. Similarly, evidence for the heritability of a trait should provide some (but not sufficient!) evidence for a genetic basis to that trait. But the professor may in extremity choose to argue that a raven that is not black is not a raven.

THE TAKEAWAY: Professor Leiter does NOT say that "It is false that IQ has a genetic basis"; he has only said that the evidence of IQ's heritability is not sufficient evidence that it has a genetic basis. On that point, he and OEH can join hands (while undoubtedly flinching from each other as they do so). But Professor Leiter has also said that "There is no evidence that IQ has a genetic basis." To back up this claim without falling into an epistemic black hole, Professor Leitner needs to assert either (a) actually, there is no evidence of IQ's heritability; (b) evidence of heritability is never in any circumstance evidence (even weakly!) for a genetic factor; or (c) we know a priori that there is no genetic influence on IQ, and so all putative evidence can be safely dismissed as null.

Any of these assertions would no doubt occasion a merry discussion for OEH.

nathan hale

We were speaking of Saletan in an early thread, it seems he can't get out of his
'epistemically closed' cul de sac

Greg Q

Maxie Zeus,

Professor Leiter does NOT say that "It is false that IQ has a genetic basis"; he has only said that the evidence of IQ's heritability is not sufficient evidence that it has a genetic basis.

No, he doesn't say that. He says it is not "evidence", not that it is not "sufficient evidence". The latter claim (your claim) is at least arguable (it's pitifully stupid and lame, but it's at least arguable).

The former claim (Leiter's claim) is so wrong that all it's good for is providing reason to mock Leiter.


If you are making a public policy argument about racially disproportionate outcomes and whether or not they are evidence of racial discrimination, then heritability is what you are arguing about, not genetic basis. In fact, you are arguing about something even weaker than heritability -- you are arguing about whether it is some legitimate non-racial discrimination.

The claim (made in the Bell Curve) is basically that people do not discriminate on the basis of race, but upon other legitimate bases that only look like race. Race is inherited, the other bases which are proxies for race look more or less like inherited things, but it's not necessary for them to be inherited for the argument to be valid.

Take three mothers. One is an alcoholic because she has been beaten down by the racist system, and she drank heavily during pregnancy, and her son Johnny has fetal alcohol syndrome and an IQ of 50. The second mother is an alcoholic because her stepfather sexually abused her, and her son Jimmy has fetal alcohol syndrome and an IQ of 50. The third mother, for reasons completely inexplicable, had her son Jamal at 22 weeks and he had brain damage at birth and is retarded and has an IQ of 50.

Johnny is surely a victim of racism. Jamal is a victim of a genetic trait. Jimmy is a victim of non-racial evil. But the reason that Johnny, Jamal and Jimmy did not get in to Harvard is all about their IQs of 50. In the case of Johnny, the reason is, in fact, ultimately racism. But it's not the racism of the Harvard admissions committee...


There are so many variables t be measured, some of which are practically impossible , others which are immoral. I don't expect in my lifetime that the nature/nurture question will ever be reliably answered.

But then I remember my very good 7th grade science teacher saying he didn't expect man would go to the moon in his or our lifetimes and a few years later we did.

Danube of Thought

I have risen above it all by sending a snotty message to the hapless Leiter, taunting him in a studiedly adolescent manner. The Phantom strikes again!


"then heritability is what you are arguing about, not genetic basis"

A base is stolen when a claim is made that brain damaged redheads should be allowed to become brain surgons because they weren't supposed to be born that way.

Still, I doubt that DNA evidence is very far off. We already know that Africa has greater genetic human diversity than the entire rest of the planet.

It's a blessing and a curse.

Make a baseball team of using 2 or 3 of the top athletes from each of the pro sports ... football, basketball, tennis, hockey, baseball ... etc

Have them play a series with an actual pro baseball team. Who wins, the Diversity Team or the Yankees?

Remember ... the Diversity team has the 3 best baseball players.

Doesn't really matter how much is genetic, cultural or environmental ... the Yankess are going to win most games.


Leiter seems to rush to that last bastion of defense for a philosopher unmasked -- A. J. Ayer's damning of metaphysics with logical positivism. Similar to Ayers' proposition that if the results of two different hypotheses can't be distinguished in practice, then the two hypotheses are meaningless.


"f the results of two different hypotheses can't be distinguished in practice ..."

Wiki on Occam's Razor:

"When competing hypotheses are equal in other respects, the principle recommends selection of the hypothesis that introduces the fewest assumptions and postulates the fewest entities while still sufficiently answering the question"
ISTM SOP is to demand an impossible standard of evidence on this issue but not wrt discrimination, global warming, terrorism ... etc.

hit and run

I have risen above it all by sending a snotty message to the hapless Leiter, taunting him in a studiedly adolescent manner.

When I grow up,I want to be just like DoT.

Maxie Zeus

Greg Q-- Hmmm. I don't know who you think you're arguing with. Which of the claims in the italicized passage is one that I have endorsed? Every one of them is explicitly tagged as what *Leiter* has said or what *Leiter* has not said. I also have no idea which statement is "the former" and which is "the latter" and which is the "that" in "he doesn't say that." So, I confess I'm not even sure *what* you're arguing.

But I do agree that it is more fun to mock Leiter. So I am back with some more.

Leiter says: "If a purported piece of evidence does not discriminate between P and ~P, then it can't actually be evidence for one rather than the other."

Okay, then let us take an example: apparent anomalies in Neptune's orbital movements. One astronomer says this is evidence of perturbations caused by a large, unobserved planet. Another astronomer says it is evidence of faulty observations of the sort that can be corrected by more careful ones.

Leiter then comes along and observes that the evidence equally well supports both hypotheses. [But see technical aside below.] As per his Principle of Null Evidence, he then rebukes both astronomers by telling them that neither has a shred of evidence to support his hypothesis and peremptorily orders them to stop indulging in invincible, wingnuttery ignorance. We in the peanut gallery are left to wonder how Neptune's oddball orbit is to be explained, since the philosopher will not let the scientists hash it out amongst themselves; but Leiter's work is done and I'm sure he's happy with it.

Still, Bud and Lou could have had more fun with Leiter's Principle.

Bud: What's that you got there, Lou? A hundred dollar bill?
Lou: Sure, I just got it from the bank.
Bud: It could be counterfeit.
Lou: Nah, I told you, I got it from the bank.
Bud: But you admit you couldn't tell a good bill from a really good counterfeit, right?
Lou: I couldn't, but they got experts at the bank—
Bud: Oh, what good are experts up against a first class counterfeiter? That's the difference between a really good counterfeiter and a bum. The good ones, they make bills you can't tell from the real ones.
Lou: Well, yeah. I mean, they take pride in their work.
Bud: Of course they do! That's what I mean. And the better the work, the more you can't tell the difference.
Lou: Sure, they're crooks, but they're professionals.
Bud: Naturally! Now, you take that hundred bill you got there and show it to the best experts in the field. If they tell you it's absolutely genuine, there's the best proof you could have that it's one of the smartest fakes ever made!
Lou: Sure. I mean, it's only logical ...
Bud: Of course it is! So, you better let me have it. You don't wanna walk around with a fake.
Lou: Wait, who says it's a fake?
Bud: Now, look, don't start backtalking me now. Didn't you just admit that the best experts give the best evidence?
Lou: Yeah.
Bud: And didn't you just say the experts couldn't tell the difference between a genuine C note and a perfect forgery?
Lou: Sure. But—
Bud: But nothing! Didn't you just say that the best evidence for its being real would also be evidence that it's a terrific fake?
Lou: Look, I'm not arguing with you—
Bud: So stop arguing already! If your expert can't tell the difference, then he's not really an expert, right?
Lou: Of course not! What kind of expert can't tell the difference between a real note and phoney?
Bud: Exactly! That's all I'm saying, and Brian Leiter agrees with me.
Lou: Who?
Bud: Uh, never mind. But see, if your expert can't tell the difference—
Lou: No-good, rotten, lousy incompetent! I paid him plenty to look at my money—
Bud: Shh, please! The man has a family to feed!
Lou: They should starve for the work he does!
Bud: Take it easy! Now look, if he's such an incompetent, then he can't give you any reason to think that bill is genuine.
Lou: That's right!
Bud: So what possible reason do you have for thinking it's real?
Lou: I ain't got any reason to think it's real! That lousy bank! They're the ones who—
Bud: Oh never mind them. The point is, you don't know it's real. You got no evidence. We just said that. But we said earlier that if an expert said it was real that would show it was probably fake.
Lou: Right.
Bud: So there you are. Simple logic. You've got no reason to think the bill is real, but you've got plenty of reasons to think it's fake.
Lou: Oh, Bud. I'm in a world of trouble.
Bud: You are.
Lou: I'm walking around with funny money.
Bud: That's right.
Lou: Suppose a cop stops me?
Bud: That's why I'm here to help. You just give it to me and I'll run the risks.
Lou: You're a pal!

Of course, Bud is conning Lou. The scrupulously honest professor, though, would have to tell Lou that he has absolutely no reason to think his bill is counterfeit, and that he has absolutely no reason to think it's genuine. At this point we can insert another snarky "faith-based" wisecrack, this time about economic theory.

BUT LOONEY TUNES GOT THERE FIRST: Foghorn Leghorn indulges in fine Leiter-style reasoning in ">A Fractured Leghorn". Scroll ahead to 5:20, and linger thru the cat's reaction. He speaks for all of us.

[Technical aside: Leiter talks about evidence for P and its negation. Technically, the astronomical debate would be about evidence for P and for another proposition, Q. Little turns on this difference, though, as can be seen when P implies not-Q and Q implies not-P (for some interpretation of "implies"). For then evidence for Q is evidence for its consequences, including not-P. Thus, if the evidence cannot discriminate between P and Q, it could not discriminate between P and not-P, or between Q and not-Q. Few scientific hypotheses rigorously forestall each other, but the absurdities that follow for Leiter when they don't forestall each other would also follow when they do.]


"it refers, explicitly, to the confusion of the HLS student (and various bloggers) about heritability and genes"

Leiter is blogging confusion.

His redhead analogy is a poor substitute for the saying "speaking Chinese runs in families bit is not genetic".

Well speaking Chinese is not considered "heritable" even though it runs in families. Heritable is generally assumed to have a genetic basis when it refers to traits rather than wealth.


Yikes speelink is attroshus 2nite ...

JM Hanes

I know y'all have been breathlessly awaiting the N.C. primary news!

Since edu has been one of today's themes, I'm happy to report that all but one of my (7!) "non-partisan" school board picks came through. I'm a little out of the soccer mom loop these days, but our local branch of community organizers had a helpful list of candidate responses to "key" questions. I just voted for the folks who opposed their agenda.

One of my two Appeals Court judges lost his bid, but it was his successor's inexperience, not his politics, which concerned me.

Richard Burr & Va. Foxx were no sweat Republican Senate/House incumbents, but there was some gratifying disarray among the Dem Senatorial candidates which apparently included last minute attack ads. With over 97% of precincts reporting, I don't suppose I can still jinx anything, but it looks like Elaine Marshall (the HopeNChanger) won't break the 40% required for an outright win. The $4 million Democrat runoff should be fun!

Voter turnout: 14.24%


Thnx for the report, JMH.
In out local elections I'm writing in you, Boris and Hit.

JM Hanes

LOL, Maxie Zeus! Very funny money.

JM Hanes

If elected, I will serve, Clarice.


Who would have thought Gibbs was so thin skinned?


hit and run

I know y'all have been breathlessly awaiting the N.C. primary news!

Ugh. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Howard Coble will be the R nominee for NC-6. (ok, I>cheated and confirmed). I'm very fine with that,even though my schedule didn't allow me to get out and register my official (one person,one vote,how quaint) registration of that sentiment. And I've been so busy (to my shame) that I have no idea what else here that was being voted on.


--I have risen above it all by sending a snotty message to the hapless Leiter, taunting him in a studiedly adolescent manner. The Phantom strikes again!--

Now there's the post of the day.


Then we have a deal, jmh.

Frau Waldfee

Who was that masked lawn bowler?
Will there be a report from The Phantom?

Congratulations, JMH, on your voting success and thanks for sharing your method of insuring winners.



Lefty libtard incapable of reasoned thought... news at 11:00!

Cecil Turner

Heritable is generally assumed to have a genetic basis when it refers to traits rather than wealth.

By my reading of the term (in the dictionary and various course intros, e.g., here), "heritable" is an abstract term that means precisely "genetic." Hence a study must estimate this by evaluating the phenotypes and controlling for other variables (i.e., environment). It seems Leiter (and many here) are using "heritability" to mean something like "phenotypic variance."

Block, and others, draw the distinction that even though IQ may be heritable within groups, that does not mean the difference in IQ between groups has a genetic basis. Which is of course correct. But Leiter's "heritable [. . .] does not mean [. . .] genetic basis" is simply wrong. (Unless we're all going to use a different definition of "heritable" . . . in which case I'd be obliged if someone would point out what it is.)


Probably Leiter is using "heritable" in the sense that (like speaking Chinese) IQ runs in families but is not (necessarily) genetic.

It doesn't seem that hard to make that case in a more coherent fashion. Such as ... learning Chinese as a first language results in a level of fluency that is difficult and rare to achieve be people not raised in a Chinese speaking family.

Okay ... language is apparently a mix of culture and preprogramed (genetic) traits that needs to be learned very early for best results.

Then by analogy say ... IQ is apparently a mix of culture and preprogramed (genetic) traits that needs to be learned very early for best results. Children of families that do not already "speak" IQ have a semi-permenant disadvantage compared to children of families that do.

Even if that were true to an extent, and it might help explain the Flynn effect as well as African-Euro-Asian disparity, it still remains a refutation of the principle that any difference in outcome can only be explained by discrimination.

So my question is ... why claim that genetic arguments do not refute the discrimination principle ... by using a counter argument that works just as well. Maybe they are saying "we are only going to abandon the discrimination principle if you adopt the runs in families argument ... which you won't ... so we don't have to ..."


*by* people not raised in a Chinese speaking family


One can only wonder if being an Islamic Terrorist is hereditary or based upon IQ...

Danube of Thought

OK, try this one on:

A grim report circulating in the Kremlin today written by Russia’s Northern Fleet is reporting that the United States has ordered a complete media blackout over North Korea’s torpedoing of the giant Deepwater Horizon oil platform owned by the World’s largest offshore drilling contractor Transocean that was built and financed by South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., that has caused great loss of life, untold billions in economic damage to the South Korean economy, and an environmental catastrophe to the United States.

Most important to understand about this latest attack by North Korea against its South Korean enemy is that under the existing “laws of war” it was a permissible action as they remain in a state of war against each other due to South Korea’s refusal to sign the 1953 Armistice ending the Korean War.

To the attack itself, these reports continue, the North Korean “cargo vessel” Dai Hong Dan believed to be staffed by 17th Sniper Corps “suicide” troops left Cuba’s Empresa Terminales Mambisas de La Habana (Port of Havana) on April 18th whereupon it “severely deviated” from its intended course for Venezuela’s Puerto Cabello bringing it to within 209 kilometers (130 miles) of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform which was located 80 kilometers (50 miles) off the coast of the US State of Louisiana where it launched an SSC Sang-o Class Mini Submarine (Yugo class) estimated to have an operational range of 321 kilometers (200 miles).

On the night of April 20th the North Korean Mini Submarine manned by these “suicidal” 17th Sniper Corps soldiers attacked the Deepwater Horizon with what are believed to be 2 incendiary torpedoes causing a massive explosion and resulting in 11 workers on this giant oil rig being killed outright. Barely 48 hours later, on April 22nd , this North Korean Mini Submarine committed its final atrocity by exploding itself directly beneath the Deepwater Horizon causing this $1 Billion oil rig to sink beneath the seas and marking 2010’s celebration of Earth Day with one of the largest environmental catastrophes our World has ever seen.

To the reason for North Korea attacking the Deepwater Horizon, these reports say, was to present US President Obama with an “impossible dilemma” prior to the opening of the United Nations Review Conference of the Parties to the Treat on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) set to begin May 3rd in New York.

This “impossible dilemma” facing Obama is indeed real as the decision he is faced with is either to allow the continuation of this massive oil leak catastrophe to continue for months, or immediately stop it by the only known and proven means possible, the detonation of a thermonuclear device.

Russian Navy atomic experts in these reports state that should Obama choose the “nuclear option” the most viable weapon at his disposal is the United States B83 (Mk-83) strategic thermonuclear bomb having a variable yield (Low Kiloton Range to 1,200 Kilotons) which with its 12 foot length and 18 inch diameter, and weighing just over 2,400 pounds, is readily able to be deployed and detonated by a remote controlled mini-sub.

Should Obama choose the “nuclear option” it appears that he would be supported by the International Court of Justice who on July 8, 1996 issued an advisory opinion on the use of nuclear weapons stating that they could not conclude definitively on these weapons use in “extreme circumstances” or “self defense”.

On the other hand, if Obama chooses the “nuclear option” it would leave the UN’s nuclear conference in shambles with every Nation in the World having oil rigs off their coasts demanding an equal right to atomic weapons to protect their environment from catastrophes too, including Iran.

To whatever decision Obama makes it remains a fact that with each passing hour this environmental catastrophe grows worse. And even though Obama has ordered military SWAT teams to protect other oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico from any further attack, and further ordered that all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico be immediately stopped, this massive oil spill has already reached the shores of America and with high waves and more bad weather forecast the likelihood of it being stopped from destroying thousands of miles of US coastland and wildlife appears unstoppable.

And not just to the environmental catastrophe that is unfolding the only devastation to be wrecked upon the United States and South Korea by this North Korean attack as the economic liabilities associated with this disaster are estimated by these Russian reports to be between $500 Billion to $1.5 Trillion, and which only a declaration of this disaster being an “act of war” would free some the World’s largest corporations from bankruptcy.

Important to note too in all of these events was that this was the second attack by North Korea on its South Korean enemy, and US ally, in a month as we had reported on in our March 28th report titled “Obama Orders ‘Immediate Stand-down’ After Deadly North Korean Attack” and which to date neither the Americans or South Korea have retaliated for and giving one senior North Korean party leader the courage to openly state that the North Korean military took “gratifying revenge” on South Korea.

And for those believing that things couldn’t get worse, they couldn’t be more mistaken as new reports coming from Japanese military sources are stating that North Korea is preparing for new launches of its 1,300 kilometer (807 miles) intermediate range ballistic “Rodong” missile which Russian Space Forces experts state is able to “deploy and detonate” an atomic electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device, and which if detonated high in the atmosphere could effectively destroy the American economy for years, if not decades, to come.

But sabotage may be the cause.

DoT, I call horseshit, unless, of course, it's true. Who's sure a thermonuclear device would seal the well? This is paranoid speculation.

Danube of Thought

Sure strikes me as crap.


Not to mention that this would qualify as a peaceful use of nuclear weapons, and surely nuclear states would be happy to come and use their weapons if needed.

Hmmm.  I think I like 'this well could be truly accidental' better.

Is it sabotage? Cui bono, but this could well be truly accidental.

JM Hanes

Alas, another late return to an expired thread party!


Having read both Leitner and Block, I don't think that Leitner's defense of proposition #1 is as squirrely as you make it out to be. Heritability is an unfortunate choice of terminology, because in popular parlance it's so closely associated with "inherited" traits which do have a predictable, nay, unavoidable genetic basis (like blue eyes). It seems to me that Block & Leitner are essentially, if confusingly, using heritability as a stand in for probability.

Assuming that to be the case, I would read Leitner's first proposition as something more like this:

There is a high probability that blacks will have lower scores on IQ tests (which does not necessarily mean that they have an inferior or defective IQ gene).

The argument that follows is that since we know IQ scores can be affected by environment and have not identified an IQ gene, there is no reason to assume that genetics are the principal determinant of IQ, or even necessarily a factor at all. If there is an IQ gene, they argue that it's entirely possible that it is a cross racial constant, and that environmental influences are primarily responsible for the differences observed (as in Block's genetically identical corn). There is a high probability that tall parents will have tall children, but we also know that height increases across entire groups, like the Japanese, as a function of nutrition -- which I think relates to the issues of variance they raise.

Block suggests that it is also possible that differences in IQ are an offshoot of an entirely different determinant, like lower birth weight, which might, itself, be either genetic or environmental in character, and/or might conceivably make an infant particularly sensitive to postnatal influence.

So, Leiter and Block are saying yes, there is a high probability that blacks will have lower test scores, but that absent an identifiable IQ gene, the idea that such an outcome is a genetically preordained is entirely theoretical, i.e. not evidentiary. The offensive piece of Leitner's argument, which fails his own evidence test, is his unsubstantiated, assertion that it's racist not just to assume that theoretical genetics might trump actual evidence of environmental factors, but even to contemplate the possibility that, given the unknowns, stronger evidence for genetics might exist.

Shorn of racist accusations, it seems perfectly reasonable to argue that it's a serious mistake to attribute anything we can't specifically account for otherwise to genetics. Our understanding of brain plasticity, for example, which appears to vary universally in type over time, has dramatically increased since the Bell Curve was written. We know it plays a substantive and changing role in mental and psychological development at different ages. The process of learning Chinese in childhood, as boris notes, is different from doing so as an adult. Linguistics itself suggests a relationship between language and perception. You can teach a child to read at age 3 -- if you're willing to sacrifice a lot of other learning experiences-- but it won't take nearly as long to achieve real proficiency if you do so in the first grade. I remember reading about a man who had been blind since birth, whose sight was surgically "restored" in his late 20's, IIRC. He was unable to walk without his white cane, however, because he was unable to "learn" the depth perception he needed to step step off a curb without risking a broken ankle. Plasticity is just one area of ongoing exploration.

It seems to me, contra their convoluted protestations, that Leitner and Block are really still stuck in nature versus nurture as a political litmus test mode. I don't know how defensible the Bell Curve's 60% genetics was or might be, but somehow I suspect L/B might have been considerably less outraged if Herrnstein and Murray had pegged the genetic threshold at 30%. And we would be hearing a whole lot less about "heritability." It's more than a little bizarre to rake the Harvard emailer over the racist coals for not embracing a "scientific" concept which remains nearly as obscure to readers like me as it was before Leitner and Block went to such lengths to explain it. It also strikes me as a product of soft sociological science, not biological science. Oddly enough, the first is actuarially driven, it's the second which is evidentiary.

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