BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: From the web team
« Previous | Main | Next »

Tuesday, 20 January, 2009

Sarah McDermott | 17:27 UK time, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

With news of tonight's Newsnight from Washington, here's Jeremy:

As I write, President-elect Obama is still that, he takes the oath of office shortly. So much for the immediacy of cyberspace. Anyway, how to describe the mood in Washington? The words to describe the crowds all seem rather hackneyed. Excited, happy, expectant. And very cold. It's way below freezing and many of them have been standing around outside since five or six this morning.

But the overwhelming feeling here, I think, is a sense of joy, a combination of pride in the spectacle of democracy at work, and the anticipation that things will get better.

Of course, history is littered with the ruins of careers which began in promise and ended in tears. But right now those cautionary tales mean nothing, for today there are no hard decisions to take, just a speech to make and a moment to be savoured. The hard work, on this country's two overseas wars and its battered economy, to say nothing of little matters like the future of the planet, starts tomorrow.

On tonight's extended show we'll have plenty of atmosphere, the highlights of the speech and the parade, and lots of thoughts about how this carnival of expectations is likely to turn out.

I'll be joined by - among others - Harold Evans, Christopher Hitchens, Ted Sorenson (who wrote JFK's inaugural speech) and Simon Schama.

Do join us for a special extended programme at 22:30 tonight.


  • Comment number 1.


    Theres no answer to that. Looking forward to reading the transcript - carefully - but need to know who wrote it first. does anyone know - for sure?

  • Comment number 2.

    Can't wait to watch tonight's historic Newsnight :o)

  • Comment number 3.

    Note that the 'controversial' evangelist gave Israel a plug and the BBC camera panned to Obama immediately. Obama fluffed his oath a little, came across as likeable, delivering his (long) speech well, if a little evangelically at times.

    All eyes should be on the dream-weavers behind his speech (and everything else..). They are going to need more than fine rhetoric, unless of course they've engineered the entire global economic crisis just so Obama can play the messiah...

    They wouldn't....would they??

  • Comment number 4.


    With a reported approval ratings of 83% (ITV News), President Obama will have changed the American peoples belief in themselves and the peoples belief in those that Govern them , undeniably a good thing !

    From the President Obama's point of view , what a mandate huh ?, just what is needed in troubled times.

    As always I wish the Yanks well

    I hope one day soon we will be given the opportunity to vote for political change we can believe in and unity !

  • Comment number 5.

    For I say to you now, that this we know; in all the furthest flung realms of possibility inhabiting our universe, there exists not one iota of suspicion that either barriesingleton or Jaded Jean Memsahib/Sahib had any hand whatsoever in the Inauguration Speech.

    Not one trace of Lysenkoist dysgenesis or anarcho- Trotskyist permanent revolution; not one, my fellow citizens of the world.

    A new dawn rises tomorrow; a dawn of hope, a dawn of peace, a dawn of rhetorical rising triplets.

    My friends Kayhan and Ozar think Newsnight is brilliant and the bloggers are "strange persons."

    Both of them agree that the fatalist scepticism verging on cynicism will achieve nothing but satisfy the narcissism so often mentioned.

    Still , if it keeps the "strange persons " happy and off the streets, who are we- or the moderators - to ban them ?

    Yes we can!

  • Comment number 6.

    Is this yet more evidence of dysgenesis?

  • Comment number 7.

    A historic day for America, a good day for burying news in the UK?

  • Comment number 8.


    Steve-London (#4) "Obama will have changed the American peoples belief in themselves and the people's belief in those that Govern them , undeniably a good thing !"

    Really? There is absolutely no evidence at all that self-belief ever amounts to anything more than chutzpah when it is not complemented by genetic ability. That's what's in recession in he USA and here, and it's the way we live which is driving that. The hyperbole is compensatory.

    Almost everyone is talking as if 'psychology' matters when in fact it's that which has, since the 60s, I suggest, led to this appalling mess.

    Have a look at Paul Mason's thread.

  • Comment number 9.

    kashibeyaz (#5) Along with several others, you appear to be rather selective in what you pick up on. Shouldn't what one doesn't know or understand prima facie be a little strange and isn't that experience a sine qua non for learning/change?

    That change is the other side of the decline of innate neophobia, which some, alas, clearly have a major problem dealing with throughout their (arrested, narcissistic) lives.

    Oh dear, Schama's on, reading tea-leaves along with the rest of them....

  • Comment number 10.

    Will the American broadcasters be giving British elections wall to wall coverage like this, or is it a legal obligation of the "special relationship" that the UK state broadcaster has to do servile worshipping of America, whilst America just ignores Britian? The BBC has shown itself to be an obedient fawning poodle to America. Maybe the BBC will qualify for one of those "special services to America" medals that Tony Bliar got the other week.

    There is rioting going on in Eastern Europe, but I suppose Newsnight has the attitude of "if it's not happening in America then we don't care".

  • Comment number 11.

    A remarkable newsnight tonight. A 'lost link' mercifully saved one befuddled guest, and there was an apposite flash of the title of Hitchens' book "God Is Not Great".

    Aptly, Newsnight was followed by 'President Hollywood', which briefly covered the HUAC proceedings where Hollywood 'communists' were 'persecuted' (Venona later showed that McCarthy was essentially right, they weren't exactly Stalinists, and tellingly, the Soviets gave them codenames 'rats' and 'polecats').

    Some of them later morphed into Neocons who helped with other Chicago School anarchists, to bring about the current mess. One musn't say this too boldly though, as that would be discriminatory. It would be 'persecutory', and some think they have immunity from criticism, a little like some women do.

    It's been cleverly done. Women are to be protected.

  • Comment number 12.

    Britain, please take Christopher Hitchens back, I can't take much more of him. What if we throw in Vermont and New Hampshire to sweeten the deal? Keep him on your television screens and off ours.

  • Comment number 13.

    Gordon Brown praises Barack Obama as a man of "great vision" who will tackle the problems facing the world.

    I presume he meant by vision that Obama was raising questions about sub-prime loans and their implications when Gordon wasn't a year before the crash?

    Meanwhile the world hails a man of mixed race as President.

    Nobody but a few sad, rejected and mentally deficient cranks suggested that "demographics" (race to intelligent people who don't have to lie for fear of being charged with inciting racial hatred) were going the wrong way.

    These same vile people can spell IQ because there are only two letters and its like "left foot, right foot" and that suits their plodding style. Sadly their hideous minds cannot grasp intelligence in the way that a gifted law Professor can.

    You just cannot respect such limited minds.

    Doubtless these people are so psychologically committed (and they should be) that they cannot get off the the train that they boarded for some obscure and probably long forgotten reason in the past.

    But they won't be missed.

    Probably not even by themselves.

    Thanks for making me smile. It makes me feel ... well ... like laughing at you.

    They don't use those phrases much in their propaganda now. Curious really.

  • Comment number 14.


    thegangofone (#13) That was a very creative post. Please read the report.

    Then, I suggest there is something VERY important here which you should read and think about, as this is a very important issue, one which has far more important consequences than you appear to appreciate (unless, of course, those consequences are part of a subversive, seditious agenda).

    I suggest you look into the role which ETS has played in US education since the 1940s, and that you have a very close look at the paper on their Home Page entitled The Achievement Gap: A Frontline View, we have a similar one from our own Government, which I have referenced many time clearly to little avail.

    We will shortly see changes to our own SATs, ostensibly because of the fiasco last summer (before that, I believe Pearson had part of the contract). However, the truth is that our National Curriculum SATs have shown the same, marked, group mean differences in these IQ proxies (approximately English, Maths and Science for Verbal, Quantitative and Non-Verbal subscales) ever since ethnicty was recorded as part of the process at the turn of the 21st century. The rank ordering is pretty much that which has been reported repeatedly by international researchers all over the world (people you refer to as 'cranks'.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that New Labour is happy to see our SATs in their current (population level of about 560,000) go, as they provide some very inconvenient truths.

    Your posts illustrate how creative things can be said when one is not constrained by empirical reality. There is a time and place for such writing, but this matter is not one of them.

  • Comment number 15.

    It’s a great day for America, but not so much because Obama’s taking office as Bush leaving it. Even with the public’s unrealistic, high expectations and hopes for change, we can safely assume the new President, Barack Obama will massively outperform his predecessor during his administration. Let’s face it, Bush is not a tough marker to match, nor could anybody manage to bankrupt the same country twice. My only hope is for U.S. not to increase trade barriers on its neighboring countries in times of economic difficulties, as protectionism only made things worse during the Great Depression. Maybe here in UK, we can have a little election of our own. That will certainly generate some good news in a long while....

  • Comment number 16.


    When Kennedy and Nixon debated, the listeners formed a different view (of who 'won') from the watchers. What did those who read transcripts conclude?

    I can recommend printing-out the transcript of Obama's address, and getting some food stains on it.

    Food for thought.

  • Comment number 17.

    FACTORS (#15)

    In a UK general election, winning is a matter of cunning manipulation of a gullible electorate through gross expenditure, carried out by deceitful politicians who pre-select all-but-a-few candidates and offer them as rosette-stand party-proxies.

    The good news will not even show a green shoot until we SPOIL PARTY GAMES.

  • Comment number 18.

    #14 Jean how on earth do you manage to find time to read all these things? I have just taken the time to read the summary of that report, and as you say it is very interesting. Some people here seem to take it as racsist, to me it reads like fact. I can see that this body has been studying education for over 60 years, and sometimes the truth hurts.

    Without good education and bright people in the US, how will they make the money that is then donated around the world to help other countries. The US is knocked continually for it's wars, which I agree I don't like, but they also contribute huge sums of money to the third world, which is hardly mentioned. If the US economony fails, we all do.

    My question to you Jean, is what would you do to improve this situation? How can you improve the intelligence of less able people? Or do you think it is just in the genes? I've been reading Oliver James short articles in the paper recently, he seems to be coming down on the side of nurture not nature. He feels that studying and hard work is the answer to learning, what do you think about that? I can follow your arguements quite well, but the problem is what can be done about all this? Do you feel there is little hope for the human race as we are sliding towards an uneducated and unintelligent people?

  • Comment number 19.


    Hi Lizzie. At the risk of repeating myself (:o)
    whilst the link between IQ and genes would appear to be well made, I am of the opinion that a 'neurotic' (socially incompetent) high IQ can actually do vastly more harm than a neurotic dumbo. (I have to say Dawkins springs to mind - his NEED to bash beliefs is palpable zealotry, AND HE DOESN'T KNOW IT.)

    I suspect that: were we to nurture for optimum individual competence (secure attachment, self-esteem etc) rather than apply battery-rearing followed by Mammon-shaping, the 'IQ factor' in individual and group viability, would recede dramatically.

  • Comment number 20.


    " Obama fluffed his oath a little, "
    Actually, it was the Chief Justice what flubbed it....

    My Favourite bit, but This is great and,
    "It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more uncertain of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new order of things. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions, and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones.

    --Machiavelli, The Prince (1513)"
    Back to the "real" world
    "We are often cautioned that we must live in the 'real world' by folk
    who mean 'money', a concept more abstract than theoretical physics."

  • Comment number 21.

    Ecolizzy #18

    Excellent first para. Hear-hear!

    As for the nature/nurture bit, nurture can only protect nature from harm. It can't improve on innate intelligence any more than you can change the colour of someone's eyes by talking to them.

    We need to see the bigger picture and concentrate efforts on improving mankind rather than individuals.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ed #20

    That's odd, I was sure I heard a stumble or two from OB. I really couldn't bear to listen to it all again though. Quite why we (UK) is expected to be gagging to know all the little details of an overblown junket 3000 miles away I can't imagine. How many in Washington hang on every word uttered by every returning officer in a UK by-election?

    Here's tae us; wha's like us?... ...Damn few, an' they're a' deid!!

  • Comment number 23.

    ecolizzy (#18) "I've been reading Oliver James short articles in the paper recently, he seems to be coming down on the side of nurture not nature. He feels that studying and hard work is the answer to learning, what do you think about that? I can follow your arguements quite well, but the problem is what can be done about all this? Do you feel there is little hope for the human race as we are sliding towards an uneducated and unintelligent people?"

    Oliver James says what many 'modern' psychologists and educators say, but I'd take it all with a pinch of salt as there's no good empirical evidence for a POSITIVE contribution of nurture on IQ. The generation of psychologists and educationalists (teachers) who went to university from the 60s onwards were unwittingly indoctrinated with a bias towards nuture and this Lysenkoist Marxism in my view. It was not necessarily intentional, it ws just a product of how 'learning' was widely conceived, and taught, but it is not the process which most people think it is. Vast numbers of people have been misled I'm afraid to say. Many of them mean well, but what they say simply is not evidence driven. Once this is pointed out and they persist, I think it is inexcusable. It is unprofessional. They show themselves to be incorrigible idologues.

    There is evidence for an negative impact of nurture, i.e that physical harm (and I mean physiological damage) lowers cognitive-ability as one might expect, so Child Protection is important. However, that is not the line that is sold, and it's important to appreciate the difference.

    Given the available evidence (we have no evidence that we have closed the black-White Attainment Gap despite decades of efforts to do so, and all the affirmative action programmes have produced little to justify their continuation on the basis of evidence), apart from sound investment in Child Protection, which is far more difficult than peole make out in this free, Liberal-Democratic, society where agents (such as Social Workers) of the 'Nanny State' are denigrated as 'nazis', what has to change is a) the high rate of lowish skilled (IQ) immigration and b) skewed, i.e. differential, fertility. It is insidiousy self-destructive to send the brighter HALF of the female population into higher education and then the workplace, as it lowers their birthrate by delaying motherhood whilst the lower half of the distribution breeds faster. This was understood before the 1950s, it's why our society was structured the way that it was.

    As I have said many times now, current policies of the Liberal-Democracies have to be radically reversed or our progeny can only look forward to Third World futures. Those who counter-argue without providing sound evidence, are probably doing far more to aid the slow destruction of their countries than the alleged Soviet threat ever did .... which might give some people pause for thought (Russia's TFR as plummeted to about 1.2 or 1.3) since the USSR was undermined). That's Liberal-Democracy, it's the same throughout Eastern Europe, and not much better in some Western European countres (e.g. Italy and Spain).

    What the evidence shows is completely at odds with the spin we hear. We are NOT bursting at the seams.

  • Comment number 24.

    Ed Iglehart (#20).

    "Actually, it was the Chief Justice what flubbed it...."

    Yes, I hadn't realised that until later when I read an article (#6) with a transcript, I'd just seen/heard the oath given and thought the hiccup a little odd. I assume the Chief Justice didn't do it on purpose to wrong-foot him? I thought the oath-taking would have been very well rehearsed.

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 Thank you for your reply Jean. I would like to pick up on a couple of points.

    "It is insidiousy self-destructive to send the brighter HALF of the female population into higher education and then the workplace, as it lowers their birthrate by delaying motherhood whilst the lower half of the distribution breeds faster. This was understood before the 1950s, it's why our society was structured the way that it was."

    Are you suggesting that these women ought to be paid to have babies? As it is intelligent young couples find it very difficult to have half the money to live on, being clever doesn't automatically pay well. Do you think these women show their intelligence by not producing babies, as they feel the childs life would not be a good one? Does this smack of eugenics?

    And this...

    "What the evidence shows is completely at odds with the spin we hear. We are NOT bursting at the seams."

    Do you think there are not too many people in the world? Or do you mean Britain? We hear, as you say, it's not proved, that we can only supply 50% of the food we need here. So surely that shows that in extreme circumstances we couldn't even feed all the people now living here, which I think has got to be nearer the 65 million mark now.

  • Comment number 26.

    ...I thought the oath-taking would have been very well rehearsed....

    rehearsal with nothing at stake is not the same event as doing something for real when performance is at stake.

    public speaking is one of people's greatest fears....

  • Comment number 27.

    Jeremy was WAY above outstanding! Loved ALL the guests on the show especially Chris Hitchens. Just brilliant :o)

  • Comment number 28.

    New Fazer (22),

    Actually, Obama had a bout of premature interjection, but it was the Chief Justice what got the words in the wrong order.... for all it matters. Shoulda' used the teleprompter!


  • Comment number 29.

    With some posters all you need to know is "Hitler did good and bad things" (profound for a six year old, but sad for presumed adults).

    People who despise Hitler are "anarchists and Trotskyites "who paint him in the "worst light possible". There was a better light? But they aren't BNP or Nazis.

    They are race "realists" - anybody who is not really a goose stepper will not be surprised that mainstream scientists who reject the "wisdom" of these people are "all Jews".

    Surely one of the great intellectual observations for hundreds of years?

    So if you are capable of believing their twaddle then you were always going to obey as "resistance is futile" and intellectual integrity was never your thing.

    Anybody with a brain and a reasonable grasp of history (Hitler was not selling candy in Europe and the Holocaust happened) will reject them.

    Perhaps they will start up a Goose Steppers R'Us website and they will all disappear.

  • Comment number 30.


    "Do you think there are not too many people in the world? Or do you mean Britain? We hear, as you say, it's not proved, that we can only supply 50% of the food we need here. So surely that shows that in extreme circumstances we couldn't even feed all the people now living here, which I think has got to be nearer the 65 million mark now."
    England is the 4th most densely populated large country on the globe (after such gems as Bangladesh, S. Korea, and the Netherlands (just)). We are, according to the govmint, 60% self-sufficient in food (down from 72% a decade ago).

    And, this very morning, just like yesterday morning, we find ourselves with 219,000 new mouths needing feeding

    A tribe said to the universe,
    "Sir, We exist!"
    "So I see," said the universe,
    "But your multitude creates in me
    No feeling of obligation.
  • Comment number 31.

    ecolizzy (#25) On the first point, the required policies require a radical change to how we currently live. Brighter females in Liberal-Democracies struggle if they have more than a couple of children (if that) given the financial demands put on raising a family today, bright kids require more attention. We are in this situation largely, I suspect, because of emancipation in the 20s and the pill in the 60s (look into who was driving emanipation and why). 'The market' (mortgages for these women's progeny) adjusted accordingly. Brighter people invest more intensely in a smaller number of offspring, and as you no doubt know, it is personally very demanding. Less bright people go for larger a larger number, and are less attentive. I suspect this is genetic.

    Eugenics was created by some of Britain's most creative scientists in the wake of Darwin. It was people like Galton, Fisher, Pearson, Spearman - i.e. bio-metricians who largely created statistics (basic to modern genetics). They did this because dysgenesis is the natural state post-demographic transition. I do personally think that "these women show their intelligence by not producing babies, as they feel the childs life would not be a good one?" but that is just a personal view and should be treated as such.

    On your second point, one has to look country by country. There is a NEGATIVE correlation between mean birth-rate (TFR) and mean IQ. The Liberal-Democracies are ALL (to the best of my knowledge, excluding *perhaps* Israel, although that may just be amongst the Orthodox who do not emancipate their women) below replacement level, i.e 2.1. Most Western countries are well below, and ceteris paribus, with a TFR of 1.3 a populatin haves in two generations, at 1.1 in one (30 years). This is why the EU is planning to bring in 20 million from Africa and South Asia. Would exporting Liberal-Democracy to Third World countries lower their TFRs? I doubt it, their mean IQs are already very low (sub Saharan Africa is in the 70s and South Asia in the 80s, mean IQ of Black Americans and Black British is about 85 because of some past admixture.

    The focus in my points is on Europe, USA and also, note, the East Asian Liberal-Democracies as these are the advanced economies. Or at least, they were.

    From what you have written, it appears you do understand the problem. For most, the solution is inconcievable, but it could be done *over time* through positive eugenics as China has been doing since 1995.

  • Comment number 32.

    Obama's Vindication of Thomas Paine

    " Obama quoted frequently from Paine, and particularly from Common Sense, during his campaign for the presidency. And he did so, again, on Tuesday, referencing Paine in a speech that spoke of a "return to these truths" of the American experiment.

    So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people: "Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

    That line is from Paine's The Crisis, which George Washington did, in fact, have read to the troops in the most difficult days of the revolutionary struggle. "
    I thoroughly a (re-)reading of "Common Sense", simply the best ever political pamphlet , and "the Crisis", from which the words yesterday were taken.
    " THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. "

  • Comment number 33.

    #19 yes barrie I agree with you, I'm inclined to agree one needs good social abilities as well as a high IQ.

    #21 NewFazer I agree with you as well, I can see that intelligence is in one's genes, I would agree with that statement. But it doesn't quite explain me, but never mind. But surely you have to improve individuals to make any difference to mankind as a whole.

    #10 Clown

    "There is rioting going on in Eastern Europe, but I suppose Newsnight has the attitude of "if it's not happening in America then we don't care"."

    Yes we never seem to know what's going on, on our doorstep, and always look to the US first. Look at the rioting in France on New Years eve, I didn't see it reported in the main news. And I believe the same in Sweden, but we're nothing to do with Europe! ; )

  • Comment number 34.

    #30 Ah yes Ed and I think they all live around me! ; ) I believe the South East of England is now more crowded than the Netherlands!

    I read somewhere yesterday, but I can't find the source now, silly me, that 70% of Chinese woman would like more than one child. Which for them personally I can understand, but wow what would that do to world population!

    I can see wars about food and water in the not too distant future, especially as none of us wants to work on the land anymore.

  • Comment number 35.

    Ed Iglehart (#30) "And, this very morning, just like yesterday morning, we find ourselves with 219,000 new mouths needing feeding "

    Which is great for Tesco, M&S, Sainsbury's ASDA etc.. as these are 'consumers' who will replace the one's we are not producing to replace ourselves, and that is 'good for [their] economy'.

    The (still below replacement level 1.8) birth-rate is disproportionately to S. Asians whose families originally, largely came from the poorest parts of rural Bangladesh and Pakistan. Very low educational attainment (second lowest in fact, the lowest achievers being Black Caribbeans (all of who are native English speakers of a kind), and very high unemployment rate. Still, there are state benefits, and Tesco etc will happily take that. We already had a swollen unemployed White underclass ('proletariat') and shrinking (patronising) elite - now we have an even bigger underclass.....That's progress, isn't it....

  • Comment number 36.

    The race "realists" are out in force.

    But to save time dignifying their claptrap suffice to say from previous sickening interactions that mainstream scientists who reject their notions of racial supremacy are "all Jews".

    I am an "anarchist and Trotskyite" as I portray Hitler "in the worst possible light". Hitler did "good things and bad things".

    They are not in favour of democracy and like "big government".

    Resistance is futile? I think not.

  • Comment number 37.

    #31 Thanks Jean for explaining this to me in plain language, I do understand what you mean.

  • Comment number 38.

    "The race "realists" are out in force."
    Please don't include me in that classification.
  • Comment number 39.

    Paul Mason points out the febrile doomsayers are overstaying their media welcome; there are plenty offering their opinions, but not many offering solutions; perhaps the Conservatives should be happy that Gordi has labelled them the "do nothing" party; better do nothing than tinker half heartedly, belatedly and with fingers crossed.

    Contrast Obama; anyone listening or indeed reading his speech can have no doubt as to the world's true predicaments nor about the broad course of actions to which he is setting the US compass.

    We've been waiting a long time for this and trust that, as in so many other aspects, British politicians will lose no time in following the US President and come clean with the British electorate; forget the petty tinkering and bickering and focus on the big picture.

    Congratulations on an excellent Newsnight; always lively with Jeremy at the helm; when will Kirsty be permanently transferred to Newsnight Scotland and bring back Gordon Brewer, who languishes uncomfortably in the tiny sectarian pond of Scotch (sic) politics?

  • Comment number 40.

    thegangofone (#36) "mainstream scientists who reject their notions of racial supremacy are "all Jews"."

    Well, actually, that DID tend to be so, until it was pointed out recently (by some Jewish psychometricians, and some who are not) that in fact, Jews tend to have higher mean IQs than gentiles (and East Asians higher still). Since then, the opposition hasn't been quite so shrill. Most now accept that it's probably genetic, which of course means that lower IQ (and educational attainment) is probably largely accounted for by genes too.

    It has important implications (for those who think about it).

  • Comment number 41.

    #38 Ed Iglehart

    Very happy NOT to include you in that vile classification!

    Sorry if it sounds as though I was applying the phrase to all posters.

    The phrase is used by some of the posters above.

  • Comment number 42.

    ecolizzy; why did you start her/him off again?This snake-oil about birth rates is only to give her/his agenda some kind of scientific gloss; eugenics is eugenics in anyone's book and is completely out of kilter with, and irrelevant to, today and the future.

    Don't be taken in by the cookies!

    Hasta la victura siempre!

  • Comment number 43.

    kashibeyaz #42

    Birth rates = snake oil. You don't believe quoted birth rates are accurate? Best check for yourself then.

    Now then, "eugenics is eugenics in anyone's book".

    So it is. And your problem?

  • Comment number 44.


    kashibeyaz (#42) "This snake-oil about birth rates is only to give her/his agenda some kind of scientific gloss; eugenics is eugenics in anyone's book and is completely out of kilter with, and irrelevant to, today and the future."

    'snake-oil' and 'scientific gloss' and 'here'
    'Out of kilter'

  • Comment number 45.

    NATURE REALISM (bloke view)

    Isn't Mother Nature the alpha and omega of eugenics? Women huh? AND she has the effrontery to program us to go round measuring facial geometry and hip/waist ratio, and sniffing at pheromones, just to bring about sperm and egg couplings TO HER PREJUDICED ORDER. Even then she rejects most of our 'hard' work to further promote what she regards as 'the right sort of product'. It might even be that she has programmed us, post-natally, to do further rejections. (Tempted by mischief, though I am, to expand on this thought, I suspect I would receive 'Hateblog' from well meaning guardians of some Dawkins 'meme', so - Fin.

  • Comment number 46.

    #42 kashi thanks for your thoughts. It's a free and democratic country, so anybody can state their views, please let's not be too PC here.

    As I'm quite an old woman now, I'm quite interested in all these thoughts. Because of the Nazi regime I've always been very anti eugenics, but now as I read more, it's actually more like natural selection. It would be eugenics to kill every deformed baby in the modern world, which I wouldn't like. But on the other hand without science these babies would die anyway. So is it right to keep all conceptions alive, naturally most would answer yes, but at the same time part of me thinks, what if things were so bad in the world, these babies would be disposed of anyway.

    Imagine an indeginous race in the rain forests, if there was something wrong with a baby, they would care for it to the best of their ability, but ultimately it would die without science. So are we right to breed as we do, it's a hypothetical thought, it is not in practice anywhere here, but it does make you think about our genes etc.

    I think the optimists are in fact too optimistic, without highly intelligent people we would not go forward as human beings, it is very important, but I'm not sure what can be done about it. I don't advocate genocide of any race, but it's something we all ought to think about.

  • Comment number 47.


    Hi Lizzie. One of JJ's links led to the comment by some past worthy that, in nature, the survival of a mutant varies inversely as the DEGREE of mutation. (I don't know if he could prove it). However, thinking along those lines, one cannot help hypothesising that severely damaged foetuses reaching term, have somehow got under Nature's screening system. Again there is more that I could add . . .

    PS I think there is just the one group left in the rain forest, without Ipods and Rolex (although they probably have a blackberry equivalent) who resist all our 'advantages'
    That looks like high intelligence to me!!!

  • Comment number 48.

    Newfazer; I did not say that snake-oil = birth rates and I therefore feel no need to go and check them.

    As for eugenics, then ; it's got nothing to do with "natural selection", ecolizzy, unless you think it natural that JadedJean Memsahib/Sahib and others like her do the selecting - which I'm sure you don't.

    "...anyone can state their views here...." but many don't; they quote and direct others to often spurious web pages and operate brinkmanship about "their views" by use of the dramatic dots........................They hint and hint and might just be the villains.But stop short from an open statement of their views because..........?

    Too PC? I've never liked the polis and don't intend to start now.

    And now then, Newfazer; were you against the Famine Memorial in Carfin?

  • Comment number 49.

    Kashibeyaz #48

    "This snake-oil about birth rates" your post #44.

    Eugenics is one of those words we've been conditioned to react to. Not think about. The expected reaction is to switch brain off and scream about inhumanity and suchlike. Our parents did this to us, we were taught to associate 'eugenics' with evil, Nazis, extermination camps, etc, etc. Whereas the reality is entirely different as you of course know.

    "Too PC? I've never liked the polis and don't intend to start now." Highly comical. I've always found the police (in this country) friendly and helpful and there to preserve my freedom to live under the Queen's peace. So do most other law abiding folk.

    Why should I be against a rather good looking celtic cross commemorating the potato famine?

  • Comment number 50.

    kashibeyaz (#48) Like several others posting 'argumentatively' here, you appear not to understand the difference between personal (subjective) views (which are usually worth little when it comes down to reliability as most people do not know where their 'own' personal views have been absorbed from) vs. objective, empirically based conjectures i.e. evidence based statements, which can be independently corroborated by other competent observers/readers. What those trained in science strive to do is to publicly share evidence/research which is usually expressed in terms of observation statements, and ideally as conjunctions of those, which comprise rudimentary functional empirical relations (ultimately laws). These are used to better predict and manage stimulation of our sensory surfaces, which is how we go about trying to more reliably manage our lives. When scientists (and I use the term broadly) express their views, their colleagues assume that they do so based on empirical evidence. Often they know what that is as they are working in the same field, sometimes what they hear is novel, so they ask how the additional information was obtained, i.e they ask about the methodology/published papers etc so they can replicate it for themselves or update what they know.

    You (and several others) do none of this. You just argue and abuse. That is a waste of time and space.

  • Comment number 51.


    Despite the unfortunate start, he appears to be saying the right things on the job so far.

    On another matter, something to ponder in these times when social desirability takes such precedence over reality. Negative reinforcement is when action is taken to remove aversive stimulation - sometimes it's healthy, at others it's denial and avoidance.

    Not looking at/acting on empirical trends when they make painful reading/viewing, doesn't make the trends go away, just awareness and action. In fact, it serves to reinforce the antecedent behaviour.

  • Comment number 52.


    By his own utterance Obama is 'historic' - and he should know - he is humble enough not to be (self) deceived.

    "No connection with the previous proprietor"

    So why is Tony the Grate (sic) dancing in my head?

  • Comment number 53.

    barrie (#52) "So why is Tony the Grate (sic) dancing in my head?"

    Might it be because if one looks at who Obama's campaign managers were, and who Blair's backers (fund-raisers) were (Brown was no different), they have an awful lot in common. It's the Grey Cardinals one has to watch in 'democracies'.

    Ironically, those who tend to lambast 'non-free' regimes tend to attack the cult of personality (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) and these days, Hussein, Mugabe, Kim, Ahmadinejad.

    In the meantime, Israel 'takes out' the democratic leaders of Gaza, and I don't think that meant they went clubbing together.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.