BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
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A slump in confidence in policymakers?

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Paul Mason | 21:12 UK time, Friday, 24 October 2008

I will start by quoting an AP wire that has just dropped on my desk:

"NEW YORK (AP) - Stock markets around the world plummeted Friday and oil prices plunged to their lowest in more than a year...The common denominator was growing fears that governments, central banks and finance ministers seem powerless to stop the deepening of a global recession that will slam corporate earnings and lead to deep job losses around the world."

That sounds to me spot on. Above all else what has driven the Nikkei down 10% and virtually all other Asian stock markets tanking in a panicked scatter graph around it, is this fear that the policy responses just aren't happening fast enough. They have after all seen it before - the "lost decade" after Japan slashed rates to zero and it still didn't work hangs heavily in the consciousness of Asian business.

Meanwhile in Britain the prime minister has tonight launched some winged words onto the airwaves. He said:

"We've seen cuts in interest rates from the Bank of England. I believe that they'll be looking at this again over the course of the next few weeks".

Those of us who listened to Mervyn King's hour-long speech about cricket, claiming inter alia that this is the worst banking crisis since World War one, had also gathered that. What would be useful to know is whether the government thinks "a few weeks" is the right timescale to be reacting. I say this because there are signals coming from the markets in New York that traders expect an early, emergency rate cut by the Fed.

I have been looking at the Bank of England Act 1998. It contains the power a) for the Treasury to restate its price stability (ie inflation) target at any time and b) the reserve power for the government to set monetary policy directly:

"if they are satisfied that the directions are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances".

So if Gordon Brown would like an early interest rate cut he can actually order one - without impugning the formal independence of the bank since the Act is the legislation that made the Bank of England independent.

I don't know whether a rapid interest rate cut is the right thing to do. Some economists are loudly urging rapid fiscal intervention - and if you look at the figures it is only government spending that kept the Q3 shrinkage in the UK from looking a lot worse.

I do know that everybody who supports rate cutting as a strategy - whether monetarist or Keynesian by doctrine - is urging it to be done quickly. Now the MPC has discovered in October what it did not see in September - that we are in a sharp monetary contraction - the question is whether the policy framework is adequate given the scale of the crisis. I think this is the question history will ask of Mervyn King and the Labour government and it's one that we'll be putting to a government minister tonight.

And we'll be taking a look at the index that will not die down: the VIX - a measure of expected volatility on the US stock exchange. It rocketed up and peaked on the day the US government decided to "do a Gordon Brown" and part nationalise its banks. But it's still up there around 70 tonight.

If markets are short term voting machines and long term weighing machines, the VIX seems to be a vote against the effectiveness of co-ordinated action by policymakers in this crisis.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Only the stock market parasites will benefit from a base rate cut, the " market " for cash savings says's 6% so the banks must work with this rate when lending to the public.

    A cut in rates for savers will be disastrous for many small service businesses reliant on older people with ample savings to keep the wolf from the door.

  • Comment number 2.

    Some analytical thoughts on:

    I don't know whether a rapid interest rate cut is the right thing to do

    Often when markets turn on their heads doing the opposite thing proves to be the right thing. In this case raising interest rates rather than lowering them.

    I think that is is reasonably well established that interest rates were too low for too long and that this and inappropriate levels of regulation contributed to the over-inflation of the credit bubble of the last decade.

    So in the medium term a higher interest regime and more regulation are the correct policy. The present policy is a series of panic measures to avoid catastrophic failures.

    First, it is by no means sure that the panic measures will work and secondly if they do work in the short therm there will be an even bigger shock to the system when interest rates are raised to more appropriate levels in the future.

    If rates are not raised then the bubble will re-inflate with an almost absolute certainty of catastrophic systemic financial system failure.

    So the conundrum is this lower rates now and substantially increase the risk of catastrophic re-inflation of the bubble and the inevitable failure or raise rates and suffer short therm pain but have a sounder economy in the future.

    The other problem is that the so called experts have no experience of counter cyclical economics at all as they are all too young (and arrogant!)

    Regulation needs increasing to prevent this type of catastrophic credit boom and bust. Now the same argument applies to regulation as to interest rates. If regulation is increased now the failures may be increased, but without regulation the toxic waste in the system will just grow like topsy.

    So, I would raise interest rates and increase (more appropriate) regulation, but provide protection for the worst of the undesirable consequences so far as it possible. This gets us nearer where we are going and not further away. Lowering interest rates is an admission of defeat, and such an admission will have very disadvantageous international currency repercussions.

    All of the kiddies that are being interviewed as so called experts are from the time when we were doing it all wrong and when the systemic failures were created so why are they being given the time of day? This is in itself another reason why rates should be raised - if the so called experts who got it wrong say 'lower' rates then 'raise' them for these so called experts have been proven to have been wrong.

  • Comment number 3.

    The lowering of interest rates seems doubly unjust to those of us that actually managed to be prudent and avoid the greed of the last few years: i.e. no mortgage (because the houses were well beyond our means) and no credit card debt (because we believed the maxim 'don't spend what you don't have').

    Therefore those who have some savings as a result of working hard, living sensibly and not joining the mad greedy race to destruction, are now facing the twin disasters of lower interest rates (thus a lower return on savings) and an increase in inflation (that always accompanies a lowering of interest rates). Factor in the decline of the pound, and those who were prudent end up being almost as screwed as those who spent with wild abandon. But I suppose that nobody ever said that life was fair...

    A final thought: I'm sure I recall a comment from this blog a short while ago that criticised the Bank of England's lowering of interest rates as being purely a motor for growth (- which is plainly correct). So why so on the fence now, Mr Mason?

  • Comment number 4.

    Sometimes in order to get nearer to where you are going it is necessary to go further away. A rise in interest rates now would plunge the world economy into not only a recession but a depression which would make the 30s look very tame. It is of course the case that low interest rates were part of the problem but now, paradoxically, they are an essential part of the solution, at least within the Keynesian framework - to which there is no convincing alternative - apart, of course from a complete shift to a socialist economy, which is what Obama is proposing anyway, apparently.
    However, the problem with the Keynesian model as implemented by an essentially neo-liberal elite is that is effectively a bankers' coup. What needs to really be done is to seize the banks and the bankers, confiscate their assets (we do it to drug pushers, why not money pushers) with compensation only on the basis of proven need, redistribute the seized wealth back down to the parts of society who have been funding this billionaires' paradise, namely the working class and recapitalise from below rather than above. It would be real trickle down at last!

  • Comment number 5.

    Certainly you need to keep interest rates high to control inflation.

    To prevent the worst effects of the recession you need to cut public expenditure by pay cuts for the public sector and give it back to everyone through tax cuts across the board. That will share the misery between the public and private sectors and keep the economy ticking over rather than going into freefall and taking out most of the private sector.

    Sadly, I think Gordon Brown will do whatever he can (probably interest rate cuts and a spending binge) to hide the worst effects until election time. If he spends enough, he might just scrape back in, but the country will then face rampant inflation and be in recession for most of the next decade.

  • Comment number 6.


    This is a far deeper situation than economic.


    We are told climate change will kill us if we don't reduce consumption.

    We are told to increase consumption to assist the economy.

    Therefore to save the economy in the short term we have to sacrifice our lives.

    There is a cognitive dissonance in the collective consciousness of the planet.

    A schizophrenia across the globe. Caught between 2 phases.We need transition management.

    The old paradigm is crumbling. This is our time to build the new one.

    The UK lead the world into the Industrial Revolution. We need to lead the next one.

    Other posters have talked about psychology and confidence. How can we have confidence when our leaders are trying to solve problems which have already happened?

    We need to be moving forward into a better future, we create, for all life on this planet.

    Love life.

    May you live in interesting times.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 Citizen Thompson

    Thermodynamically you make some sense. In ecology trophic pyramids are dependent on the production of the bottom level.

    But what does life and ecology know. It's only been evolving successfully for billions of years.

  • Comment number 8.

    ..............Though if you increase consumption we will collapse planetary ecological life support systems.

    We all die.

    The philosopher Eric Morcombe was quoted as saying "get out of that without moving".

  • Comment number 9.

    The important story here thats not being reported is of course what's happening with the pound.

    In previous times of distress we've seen Norman 'Black Eye' Lamont defending our mighty currency to the country's not inconsiderable cost. The 'under-reporting' is doubly surprising when also considering a certain Mr Cameron's role in such activities.

    While Gavin brought up 'beggar thy neighbourism' on tonight's show he did so only by reference to Smoot Hawley..ignoring the day's 5p 'market' devaluation of Sterling against the dollar. Bearing in mind that competitive exchange rate devaluations played a prominenet role in the unravelling after the Great Crash, the conspiracy of silence both intrigues and disturbs me. While 'express devaluation', (handily applied by the market and not the government) may certainly be good for the economy, and market intervention a tool likey to injure its user, despite the lack of journalistic questioning of our policymakers regarding either the falls or their unwillingness to squander our reserves on such a defence, its only a matter of time before those in Japan or perhaps more likely, the Eurozone, get a handle on what we, or sorry, the market, are up to here. Further base rate cuts are of course, only likely to accelerate this process. Brown's much vaunted supranationalist credentials will be sternly put to the test if this kind of behaviour triggers further measures by other countries to 'save' their domestic populations. My own theory is that France has been planning for an autarkic future for a very long time, but that's a different story entirely. So then Paul, when you next bump into Darling, maybe you could ask him straight whether devaluation is a direct policy goal. Whatever you do though, don't report the answer!

  • Comment number 10.

    By constantly emphasing that the financal crisis is international (but that the good years were down to sound national goverance), the Socialist Internationalists (SI) exonerate themselves from the downside of minimal i.e. anarchistic regulation of their national economies (which they justify in terms that stricter regulation would drive financial services 'off-shore', whilst at the same time furthering their internationalist (i.e. anti-nation statist) agenda.

    Fine, but if they can't (as they assert) regulate nationally (for all sorts of pragmatic economic reasons allegedly) what makes any of them think that they can do so collectively internationally? Is this summit yet more grandstanding?

    Brossen99 (#1) I'm sue you appreciate that pension funds and savings banks invest in the stock market too. As has been said already by another (presumably well informed poster), a lot of stock will be dumped now because the fund managers need the cash or because they can't get the loans to speculate.

    As I understand it, if interest rates go up, businesses which depend on loans are punished and have to cut costs which include staff, it also drives money out of the stock market into government (and other) bonds, and for those on variable rates and sub-prime high interest rates also increases the cost of people's mortgages (and other debts, e.g. credit cards, personal loans, refinancing etc) increasing the risk of late payment, repossession, bankrupcy and thus further increasing unemployment/recession, and the cost to the state in terms of welfare etc (which is already very high). If interest rates go down, one may well stimulate economic growth, but the downside is that if left to market forces with light-touch regulation, we now see that it also reinforces irresponsible borrowing, investment, speculation, stock 'churning' (except whilst it was 'on the up', people didn't mind and just moaned at those who said it would end in tears for being 'depressing').

    Here's smething to bear in mind. Over the same period that the UK's population increased by about 10 million, those of Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan trippled. The latter two populations comprise about 150 million (all were smaller than the UK at one point last century) . The GDP of Pakistan is only about 100 billion. Guess what the country's mean IQ is? Think of lower IQ as more immature (childlike) behaviour (inability to think ahead very far because of limited memory capacity or to delay gratification easily, i.e higher impusivity, lower self-control) and you get the picture when it comes to governance, why they tend to be more authoritarian and resistant to free-market Liberal-Democracy out of necessity.

  • Comment number 11.


    If we are honest, The Ape Confused by Language (ACL - try saying that as a word!)
    is a blasphemy on planet Earth. Too much cleverness to live in harmony (with self, other, or planet), and too little wisdom to understand how he might do so. Going extinct is the only honourable course*.

    But to Newsnight and Homo Metropolis, that is 'not important right now'.

    I'll get me coat.

    * In passing: We have declining geo-magnetism, accelerating pole drift, ultra low sunspot minimum, dramatic shrinkage of the heliosphere, an ‘electric plume’ over Africa, and even lost American birds (no, not Palin) appearing in UK. Interesting times indeed!

  • Comment number 12.

    i have to disagree with the idea the drop in markets is due to 'fear'.

    What we are seeing is forced liquidation. Hedge funds and others either because of redemptions [people taking their money out] or the inability to roll over loans have to sell. They don't want to. It is a just a mechanical roll out of what has to happen when there is no credit. Not fear.

    Players in the market do not run on fear. Retail investors might but not serious players. Buffet is buying. He is not the only one. Look at the charts at the end of everyday. Usually in the last 30mins there is massive buying on massive volume whereas the larger down move [that gets the headlines] has been on low volume. Technical chartists have down targets in place and we are just moving towards them.

    Also there has been a totally unreported options blowout where brokers have lost billions and to get the money back they have to drive down the market.

    Also i posted many weeks ago that players were buying 'nuclear war puts' [bets the market will crash] and they are making a fortune.

    Policy makers are doing most things ok and its going to take years to get out this not days. e.g we are now back at 2002 levels. 6 years growth wiped out. It might bounce back to 3 years but that still means 3 years of recession.

    As long as people can be kept working even on min wage and shorter time if necessary then day by day week by week we can claw out the hole. Which is why generation of real work and new industry like the feed in tariff is the real 'solution'.

    beware economists. they are not putting their money [ie trading the markets] where their mouth is. So treat their 'advice' with caution.

  • Comment number 13.

    I suspect that the climate of fear has a lot to do with implementation. There are cries of 'glory hallelujah' when Mr. Brown annonces his radical measures, the whole world follows suit and Britain is proclaimed as the saviour of the planet. Then it dawns on everyone that this will all now disappear into that gaping black hole the civil service and that these 'emergency measures' will actually take months before they have any effect.

    Much the same is true of interest rate adjustments which may seem sensible at the time but don't impact the real world for half a year or more. In the meantime, the real economy continues in nose dive.

  • Comment number 14.


    Sorry but that is outdated Thatcheright twaddle that was tried and failed three times under Thatcher - all it produces is the real 'boom and bust' that we all went through in the 1980s and early part of the 1990s. The only people who get the tax cuts are those who are still in work, mostly those at the higher end of the social scale - but that is the point, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, even Cameron is trying to distance himself from such utter twaddle...

  • Comment number 15.

    #11 Barrie Singleton

    APE confused by language. Applied Planetary Engineering
    was always a strange term.

    Language is a problem which many do not realise.

    Language if we disregard eastern or other holistic pictographic representations of reality, is just a linear string of boxes representing quantums of thought.

    Language is just a representational model of reality, it describes reality, but is not reality.

    The linear sting of things we call words also falls far short of the complex non linear inter related inter acting complexity of reality.

    We have unfortunately started to believe in words rather than the true reality behind them they only represent.

    Until the ape understands what language is, it will always confuse.

  • Comment number 16.


    #15 Perhaps that's because high verbal fluency is essentially (genetically) a female (or feminised male) skill? As skills come tend to come (statistically speaking) in genetic clusters/factors, one should look to what else correlates (negatively as well as positively) with high verbal 'dexterity'. It isn't good news. Pointing out what some people literally can't grasp is very frustrating and so, I guess, not a very wise thing to try to do.

    As an aside, on wisdom, I reckon Barrie doesn't need any lessons in the limits (or appropriate use) of language.

    Barrie, Looking for (but failing to find so far) one of bookhimdano's links on the two-way grid implementation in Germany, I did learn two things. First the userarchive is best used with a 'skip' increment of 10 rather than the default of 25. Secondly, an apposite remark about production matching audience whims/dumbing down But it's everywhere. Some of the presentations on Newsnight occasionally border on the style of John Craven's Newsround or Blue Peter. I can see the reasoning, but it's still regrettable (see first paragraph) as this behaviour tends to be self-fulfilling (it's starting to show up in the blog(s)).

  • Comment number 17.

    can something not be done about jaded Jean's open racism? Why do we have to have it?

  • Comment number 18.

    citizenthompson (#17) Perhaps it would help if you defined what you mean by 'racism' and then highlighted precisely what it is in any of my posts which you consider 'open racism', as I'm genuinely unaware of any racism in my posts. I suspect you may not appreciate that there are reliable behavioural/physological diferences in racial *groups* and that these group have very important policy consequences.

  • Comment number 19.

    #17 Citizen Thompson

    I have very low verbal fluency on the JadedJean spectrum of ability.

    So have to be honest that I don't know what they mean half the time.

    I have to assume as I would consider myself fairly average, other struggle to comprehend them too.

    If you look at all my posts they are short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

    JadedJean might get a larger comprehending audience if the posts were 'dumbed down' slightly to accommodate the opposite end of the verbal/spatial spectrum which many of the posts refer to.

    Better to get some of the information across to more people as well as only getting most of it across to a small group.

  • Comment number 20.


    I have always regarded Mass as UNCRITICAL or no one would turn up. But not racist so much as sectist.

    The fact that 'People of Faith' (as Gordon might say in current mode) fail to notice all the other people of DIFFERENT faith, and the RELEVANCE of their believing, shows how simplistic we are. And IQ won't save us, as there are plenty top thinkers who think they have faith.

    Paradoxically: The Ape Confused by Language is a DUMB APE; a total ACL! Back to the drawing board God.

  • Comment number 21.

    Jaded Jean
    It is difficult to know where to start because you will not accept that what you say is not fact but interpretation. But let's just take you comment #10: "The GDP of Pakistan is only about 100 billion. Guess what the country's mean IQ is? Think of lower IQ as more immature (childlike) behaviour (inability to think ahead very far because of limited memory capacity or to delay gratification easily, i.e higher impusivity, lower self-control) and you get the picture when it comes to governance, why they tend to be more authoritarian and resistant to free-market Liberal-Democracy out of necessity."

    This is openly racist because it reduces a very complex set of historical, cultural and social circumstances down to one of IQ and race. To describe a whole group as "childlike" because of this is racist by any definition. The same was once said of Jews, Eastern Europeans, the Irish and many other groups and was as racist then as it is now.
    Isn't this about economics anyway?

  • Comment number 22.


    I am often accused of being obscure by my closest friends (my enemies disdain to comment). But my obscurity is just that - obscurity - an indulgence.

    Were I to inform myself in the realms of Jaded Jean's expertise, I am inclined to believe JJ postings would emerge well founded in reason (though nonetheless open to challenge).
    I find that, as I head for my box, my intuition, and nose for b-s, is ever finer. (That is the first time I have realised I share such exalted/exhorted initials!) This, of course, applies across the board.

    For the avoidance of doubt: I have been prejudiced, in all matters, since birth, and have yet to meet an ACL who isn't. Anyone wish to cast the first stone at the ligneous intrusion in my ocular faculty?

  • Comment number 23.


    If the blogdog doesn't chew the link:

    Of search : "Success story feed-in tariffs"

    This is what I read but no idea how I got there.

  • Comment number 24.


    Oh no! What sign must one make - the cross doesn't work - it just makes him angry!

    I have a feeling we might need to invoke some 'meme' therapy, to make a possible bridge between an ethnic IQ (take that very broadly) and the cultural memes of the same group. This is an instant thought on my part (very dodgy) but perhaps IQ mediates memes and memes mediate behaviour? Just a thought.

    While we 'British' swagger about under a load of Para-Olympic medals, lets not lose sight of who dominates the Nobel Olympics. (:o)

  • Comment number 25.


    I am often accused of being obscure by my closest friends (my enemies disdain to comment). But my obscurity is just that - obscurity - an indulgence.

    Were I to inform myself in the realms of Jaded Jean's expertise, I am inclined to believe JJ postings would emerge well founded in reason (though nonetheless open to challenge).
    I find that, as I head for my box, my intuition, and nose for REDACTED, is ever finer. (That is the first time I have realised I share such exalted/exhorted initials!) This, of course, applies across the board.

    For the avoidance of doubt: I have been prejudiced, in all matters, since birth, and have yet to meet an ACL who isn't. Anyone wish to cast the first stone at the ligneous intrusion in my ocular faculty?

  • Comment number 26.


    Barrie (#20) "And IQ won't save us, as there are plenty top thinkers who think they have faith."

    Actually...the evidence (aside from views from the likes of Dawkins) suggests that's not true. People are less likely to be religious the more intelligent they are See here for some data on religiosity and IQ.

    The problem is that as more and more people seem not to believe all sorts of things which are in fact true these days (see what's happening there viz dysgenesis?), I guess soon it won't make much difference, we really are heading for an idiocracy.

    Maybe Newsnight could do a 'twiddley knob job' one night in order to ascertain what the truths of science really are and just settle the matter once and for all, perhaps lobbying for a few laws to get anyone who then disagrees with these 'truths' locked up as heretics (sorry terrorists)?

  • Comment number 27.


    I have always regarded Mass as UNCRITICAL or no one would turn up. But not racist so much as sectist.

    The fact that 'People of Faith' (as Gordon might say in current mode) fail to notice all the other people of DIFFERENT faith, and the RELEVANCE of their believing, shows how simplistic we are. And IQ won't save us, as there are plenty top thinkers who think they have faith.

    Paradoxically: The Ape Confused by Language is a DUMB APE; a total ACL! Back to the drawing board REDACTED.

  • Comment number 28.


    citizenthompson (#21)

    You are just wrong. These conclusions have been arived at AFTRE looking at the rest of the 'complex' data (note the word 'complex' is often used to obfuscate by those who simply don't know enough science to be able to objectively partition variance).

    Look up who Charles Murray (co-author of 'The Bell Curve') is and his influence on USA domestic policy. Then look up the two books by Lynn and VanHanen on IQ, GDP and global inequality.

    It's the job of researchers to analyse large numbers of measures and to try to come up with functional relations between classes of measures which are scientifically useful (i.e make predictions) in the service of policy. What I am making are statistical statements about populations (or representative samples from populations). This is the level at which governments work with data. If you, and others like, you persist in making assertions along the lines that you do you will just be writing off science as politically incorrect, which is, at minimum a little silly.

    Note: Just because one is surprised when one reads something does not make what one reads wrong or offensive. It just means one is probably learning something.

    Young people tend to have lower IQs when normed against the rest of the population. Young people tend to be more impulsive. Look into how numbers in a population change as a function of the sigmas away from the mean.

    Tis IS economics.

  • Comment number 29.

    jaded jean, I don't want you locked up and I don't think of you as a terrorist, just as someone whose scientistic attitude to what you perceive as truth should be challenged by those of us who wish to take a more complex and nuanced view of observable features of social reality.

  • Comment number 30.


    1. Look at a source of evidence
    2. Decide if you a) like b) dislike the conclusion
    3. If b) look for something to enable you to feel good about disregarding the source.

    There appears to me to be be worrying increase in frequency of those who are either unwilling or unable to assess and appraise on the basis of empirical evidence and to appreciate that much that is held true is done so on the basis of statistical probabilities i.e. actuarial analysis. There is a common failure to appreciate that this is the level at which science and policy development has to operate. These skills are precisely the ones which seem to be in decline and they are the very skills which good administration, science and technology depend upon. Something to bear in mind when looking at our SATs, OECD PISA data and the data reviewed by Lynn and Vanhanen I suggest. Not long ago the British Psychological Society reported that maths ability had delined over the past 20 years. 80% of psychology undergraduates today are female. Look at SATs, GCSE and GCE course take up and performance. To accomodate group differences, the professions change. How topsy-turvy and sane is that?

  • Comment number 31.

    POLITE ENQUIRY (sure I am going to look foolish)

    JJ, I followed your religiosity link at post 26, but Israel (natural home of the Nobel Prize) is not listed. I checked the comments - no one seemed to notice. Is it me?

    While I am on, I DO hope no one is deluded into thinking science is not a religion. Currently Einsteinism is in error, Hubbleism likewise; Newtonism is unwell and Hawkingism falling into a black hole (metaphorically).

    I checked my IQ once, but my memory won't remember what it is . . .

  • Comment number 32.

    I am neither neophobic nor anti-science. In fact I am very much in favour of both the new and the scientific method. But a) these ideas you present as fact are no only NOT fact but they are also not new. As I said before, this sort of scientistic (as opposed to scientific) view used to based on all sorts of "objective" and observable data - such as phrenology - which proved in the end to be as useless at measuring man as will IQ testing, even with all its variables built in. This is because you leave out one simple thing: namely change over time. Human society undergoes change and yesterdays' idiots become tomorrow's geniuses.
    And b) the proper scientific method is in any case to approach this data with caution and measure it against a historical and social context, not use it as some sort of incantation of absolute truth. It is only true for as long as it reveals itself to be not true. Those who appeal to some supposed factual truth tend to want to use it to support some pre-conceived political aim. I simply suspect that your real motivation is somewhat more dangerous than a simple defence of "truth".

  • Comment number 33.

    citizenthompson (#29) It has nothing to do with 'perceived truth' or 'scientism'. It has to do with measures, i.e. tangible facts which government actuaries analyse and help their political masters manage their populations by. Organisations are, in non-corrupt countries, held accountable to such meaures. You can take as 'nuanced' a view as you like, but at the same time, you should look at the data. Look at nations' GDPs, mean IQs, and other measures of development (e.g. doctor patient ratios, TFRs, longevity, disease, literacy levels etc) and then ask yourself why so many people from so many of these countries desperately want to move somewhere else if they have the means to do so.

    'a more complex and nuanced view of observable features of social reality' don't know when to listen I suggest.

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.


    Bush has just made a plea for not abandoning Capitalism. Makes me think of the robbers who bury the loot before spending a long time in jail, only to find the 'lie of the land' is totally changed when they come back for it, and it is beyond reach. Poor Dubya, what will he do if we replace Capitalism with good, honest Christian principles? Oh - I forgot . . .

  • Comment number 36.

    TESTING (ref 34)

    Blogdog. Kennel Club. Fatois.

  • Comment number 37.

    Paul, if Vince Cable says that interest rates need to be cut, they will be cut.

    I have just listened to him talking about the problems we are facing at a regional contest, and while he is far too modest to say so, he not only predicted that we were headed for big problems but the solutions he has argued for since have been constantly spot-on. What's more, if he had been in charge, the solutions would have happened straight away when they needed to be, but instead we have Brown who pontificates and dilly- dallys for weeks or months before doing what's necessary.

  • Comment number 38.

    Barrie (#31) Judaism is a tricky one and as Israel's half Muslim Israel is trickier still. Are Jews a race or co-religionists? I know the UN used to say that Zionism was racist, but that got dumped around the time of the first Gulf War. One thing's for sure, there isn't much grant money available for MRI studies looking for souls. For what it's worth, Randy Newman (Jewish) wrote a good song about God and I'd like to think that Arthur Jensen (half Jewish) and Richard Herrnstein (Jewish) would have endorsed much of what I've been saying in this blog. But yes, you have a point, Jews do *seem* very religious, except it's said that the Talmud is rather earthly, an endogamous (group and individual) behaviour management code, and one which has served them well in my view (so well in fact, that Hitler tried to copy them in order to compete with them).

  • Comment number 39.

    jj # 10

    You surprise me in showing such apparent compassion for the stock market parasites, they almost all had a chance to get out at the top of the market. I suspect that the majority of private pension holders are relatively affluent ten bob fat cats who invest in the stock market primarily for 40% tax avoidance reasons. Gavin Esler types spring to mind since they vociferously squeal for deep interest rate cuts at any opportunity, why can't they just pay the tax like poor people, surely his BBC pension alone will see him OK in old age.

    The only others caught in the net are those on relatively moderate incomes who are foolish enough to believe the corporate illusion. Those " nice gentlemen " financial advisors promise to pay them a fortune on retirement in exchange for their meager monthly contribution. In reality its just a " private tax " to pay for city bonuses and most people would be better off investing in a cash ISA every year. At least if you loose your job you have something tangible to fall back on, how many people are fortunate enough to have " jobs for life " these days.

    Even once potential Rover asset stripper John Moulton recently remarked that all the alleged growth in our economy since 2005 had been false. Cutting interest rates risks crashing sterling, even talking about it knocked ten cents off our pound this week. The less affluent will suffer the most from the resultant imported inflation, the Danish have put their rates up half a percent to help prevent their currency crashing against the Euro.

  • Comment number 40.

    brossen99 (#39) I don't have much if any sympathy for the people you regard as predatory, I'm just a bit concerned that a lot more may be invested in the stock market on behalf of large numbers of innocents than is widely appreciated. Perhaps I'm mistaken? Perhaps others more intimately involved with the markets would like to comment?

  • Comment number 41.

    citizenthompson (#32) " I simply suspect that your real motivation is somewhat more dangerous than a simple defence of "truth"."

    And that's what's so pernicious about that sort of thinking. It isn't empirically or logically driven, it's just based on 'suspicions' i.e assumptions devoid of evidence. If you look at it critically, you'll learn that your current views are mob driven, prejudicial, ill-informed, irrational and presumptuous. Look at the evidence I've provided, follow up some of the references and try to learn. There are decades of good research behind this. Behaviour is an expression genes shaped by environmental contingencies. These forces will not change without physically changing populations, i.e changing birthrates and assortive mating in different sections of populations, any more than we change phenotypes of any other species without selective breeding/hybridization (leaving aside mutation). What applies in agriculture and animal husbandry obviously applies in human populations, and most populations have been separated by genes barriers like oceans, mountain ranges etc for thousands of years after the initial 'out of Africa' diasporas. These differences are not changed through education etc. If one wishes to change economies, one has to change gene frequencies in populations. The alternative has been tried in the USA and here and it doesn't work (see the Standards Site) things justget worse.

  • Comment number 42.

    dear moderator , why are you letting all the off the subject and on occasion racist comments on this blog pass?

  • Comment number 43.

    JJ # 40

    I suppose your " innocents " could include those viewers hypnotized by programmes like BBC Working Lunch over the past ten years or so. If the BBC claims its safe to give your hard earned money to virtual gamblers who are a gullible public to question it. Past BBC reporting in general was always keen to report when the market surged ahead, but failed to even mention the numbers when the market fell. People should have learned their lesson after 9/11 which showed up just how false any previous stock market gains were. The nice cuddly presenters always managed to assure people that everything was OK, no doubt in some part due to self interest. However, like private companies the BBC must make programmes that show the corporate multinational cartel and the corporate illusion in a good light. If they fail to do so private worldwide broadcasting cartel members could refuse to buy BBC programmes.

  • Comment number 44.


    Hi Oldefarte! In all seriousness, there is a secondary thread of reaction against the BBC in many of these threads, which is indeed 'off subject' but not irrelevant. The BBC sits comfortably 'within the lie', never nailing it, presumably because all the usual suspects, will withdraw to competing media outlets.
    But (I assert) the Money Mess is a SYMPTOM of human failure; failure to engage with shortcomings and reality, and it is enquiry into such, that leads on to discussion of human characteristics - including race.
    Humanity is making a very bad fist of being human; Britain is playing its part in failure; and the BBC just does not want to exercise the Public Service bit of its function, preferring wall to wall showbiz, razzamatazz and gimmickry. Perhaps this leads to some OTT reaction, cynical comment and flippancy? I plead guilty.
    Personally, I 'condone' expressions that might or might not be prejudice as I am, self-confessed, multi-prejudiced from birth.
    Might one infer that you are free from such natural tendency?

  • Comment number 45.


    You say @ 38: "Are Jews a race, or co-religionists?" And my fevered mind recalls that one is Jewish if one's mother is Jewish (rather than father). An interesting clue to ancient origins? But I digress.
    Might the 'Nobel gene' (I jest) be carried on the X chromosome? (Out of my depth here.) It might even be preferentially expressed in the male, though I suspect bright girls are just directed to produce better Chicken Soup.
    This still doesn't answer why I struggled to get 5 + 1 O-levels and a scraped ONC Chemistry. You wanna have a go?
    My consolation is passing woodwork - I am up there with Paul Merton's metalwork pass!

  • Comment number 46.


    oldefarte (#42) Look a little more closely at the topic. Ask why the USA and UK economies are in such trouble. What did ETS warn about in Feb 2007? What have large numbers of researchers before then been warning about for decades on the basis of US and UK demographic trends and World Bank (etc) data on different countries?

    Your criterion of 'on-topic' is probably a function of what you understand the critcal variables to be. It certainly isn't racist to highlight what the critical functional relationships may be which are driving changes to economies and why tinkering with the wrong independent variables won't inspire confidence.

    Look at where the sub-prime loans were targetted. Look at where the majority of APM delinquencies and foreclosures are in the USA. What characterises these areas most? One of the reasons why so few people failed to see any of this coming was because they turned a blind eye to what's important, or because they asked someone else to censor. This was one of the alarming findings of ETS when they sampled public opinion in the wake of their report (sadly, they have removed their own press club briefing video, but others remain - I suggest you watch some of them and see if anything you see there changes your views).

  • Comment number 47.

    #41 JJ

    I think you will find as any society becomes more complex genes play an increasingly decreasing element compared to cultural and social factors, we become masters of our genes or over our genes.

    The problems I would say are not in our genes but in some false world view society has created of self interest over riding the greater good.

    Greenspan admitted on Thursday the self interest of banks was a flawed idea. it applies to people, organisations, countries, Governments.

    Was it Gandhi who said make sure your brothers stomach is full before your own. Buddhism has compassion for all life. It is in many cultures.

    Culture has to put the protection of the planet first and foremost. The opposite of what the dominant society is at present doing.

    Love life: not in the narrow self interest of advertising and marketing of newer cars, excessive foreign holidays and the rest of the myth that life has to be bought.

    Love life: as in this great cosmic adventure we are all on and share. Love the stars, the mountains, animals playing in early morning spring sunshine, the laughter of children, the strive for existence of the migrating birds overhead. Love all things.

    What do the politicians tell us, all they say is support the economy. The economy has become the monster, the master, the machine we must serve.

    The economy must become the servant to our journey of life. Then confidence will return, but not in the economy, but in life. Which is what we need.

    Genetics are only a part of that process.

  • Comment number 48.


    Hey Celtic! I gather our Eastern 'cousins' have found a way of removing selected memories? When they get round to removing the damaging memories we have forgotten, I might have a little hope. Then: if they move on to rewiring the social bit of the brain that we all make a mess of, when newborn, because we are using the outside (mad) world as a template, I will declare myself an optimist. Till then I will stubbornly see us as adapted, in a panic, to some extreme past circumstance - an ecological collapse maybe - with sub divisions due to later isolations; hence drastically unsuited to the modern world. And I haven't even touched on the 'animal years' from puberty to antipathy!

  • Comment number 49.


    Hello Barrie

    Newborn? Do You Mean Jung?

    What about Plato's Cave?

  • Comment number 50.

    jaded Jean, You still don't understand. You haven't provided "evidence". You have provided links to some statistics which might be said to say one thing but also might not, depending on how you read them. The more you write the more you expose yourself here. My comments are based on your words, which are, at the risk of being blocked by the moderators on here, eruditely stupid and naively but knowingly racist, and you know it. You simply cannot maintain that all the economic problems of the world are due to the "childlike" simplicity of blacks, Pakastanis, Jews, the underclass, women, gays, everyone who is not WASPish rather than the structures of financialised capitalism and get away with it. OK, very many very misinformed people took out loans for money which they could not afford. But that was not peculiar to one "childlike" racial group, but embraced the whole desperate community of people whose wages simply did not allow them to live a decent life and, on top of that, to have the things which a consumerist society told them they had to have. To maintain otherwise is - and I repeat this quite clearly - racist.

  • Comment number 51.


    Hi Celtic, I'm off to bed. Jung was not in my cast of characters. As for Plato's cave, I suspect its creator was of similar genetic makeup to us, but unaware that he had wired his own brain, while not qualified to do so. Had he had such knowledge, I suspect he would have peopled his cave with a throng of thick apprentice-electricians behaving like the Marx brothers, and would have been full of wrongly-drilled holes, chasing that led nowhere, dead bodies across the three-phase and a terrible tangle of wiring - mostly redundant.

  • Comment number 52.

    celticlionltd (#47) Here's some well meant advice (although I suspect I'm wasting my time saying that): Read more of what I've posted and linked to (most who have responded so far can't have, as there were days of reading). For now... post less. Most of what you are posting is, in my view, nonsense.

    We are subject to a serious demographic and economic crisis and in my view you (and many others) simply don't understand the drivers. Genes make proteins and these essentially make us what we are, including how we behave. Look at the population projections for the USA over the next generation or so by the US Census, and look at those for London. Then look to the countries where these migrant groups have moved from, noting their GDPs, TFRs and social stability. Why should a physical shift in location make any difference? It might help to look at what's happening to the indigenous population whom they allegedly moved to settle 'amidst' (why else did they migrate)?

    Don't be tempted just to make something up. Look at the data. These are hard-nosed, descriptive, empirical matters. Look at the distributions of cognitive ability by a) sex and b) race. Look at what's being encouraged in Liberal_democracies but discouraged elsewhere. Look at what's happening to TFRs in Liberal-Democracies and what's happening elsewhere. Please don't lecture me on biological fitness.

  • Comment number 53.

    citizenthompson (#50) Clearly you don't like any of this, but the problem won't go away by disagreeing with me, or by abusing me. Your assumptions appear to be the popular myths that all peoples are the essentially the same genetically and that observed differences in ability and economic development are essentially environmental/cultural. Put that all aside for a while and look up past posts on The Community Reinvestment Act (1977) and its critical revisions in the 90s under Clinton, the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999, the misguided efforts to deal with the problem with No Child Left Behind over there (see Murray's trilogy in the WSJ) and Every Child Matters here, the abject failure of all efforts to compensate via HeadStart, SureStart, Aiming High, SEAL etc. Before the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Differential Psychology (the psychology of individual differences) was a critical part of the science of psychology. Over the past four decades it has been marginalised and experimental psychology largely focused on mean effect sizes and rejection of the Null Hypothesis, effectively ignoring individual and group differences.

    Watch the ETS clips, read the report, and read the links I have provided. If you wnat data go and look up the annual SATs data in English Maths and Science at KS1, KS2, KS3 and KS4 by group, or look atthe data from Lynn and Vanhanen or OECD PISA. Take a look at social and political stability in Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Look at the regimes in other mean low IQ countries. What do you notice?

    You may not like what I am saying but does that mean it's wrong or sould not be said? The fact is that afyer 40 years of efforts to close group gaps through environmental intervention, nobody has been able to do it.

    Even if it isn't genetic, it is intractable. If groups which disproportionately cause the most crime and contribute least to the economy keep growing whilst groups which do the opposite keep shrinking, what do you think will happen. That is what is happening. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic know this. It's just that they seem to have believed that No Child Left Behind and very Child Matters etc would compensate, but they aren't. See SATs.

  • Comment number 54.

    as an illustration of what is happening [why markets are falling]

    ...The 40-year-old oligarch is scrambling to find refinancing for a $4.5bn loan from western banks, including Royal Bank of Scotland, that paid for part of his 25 per cent Norilsk stake, after a plunge in the value of the shares he pledged as collateral. If he fails to gain an extension from the western banks of a waiver on repayments or a bail-out from the Russian state by the end of next week, he could have to hand over the shareholding to creditors.....

    multiply that across all sectors and one can see why there is forced selling. Much of the market is bought using credit [sometimes without collateral]. If shares were used as collateral then their drop in value means more collateral must be found etc

    The credit has gone and so the market will have to find a new level that does not depend on credit. And that could be a long way down. imo at least 50% from the highs.

  • Comment number 55.

    citizenthompson (#50) "You simply cannot maintain that all the economic problems of the world are due to the "childlike" simplicity of blacks, Pakastanis, Jews, the underclass, women, gays, everyone who is not WASPish rather than the structures of financialised capitalism and get away with it."

    You've said this not I. That you think I have said any such thing just goes to show that you are not following what I have been saying at all diligently. First of all you have to grasp that this is a statistical issue, it is about group mean scores and standard deviations. Secondly it is about representation of groups in the underclass and elites. Jews for example are clearly over-represented in the elite as their group mean IQ is about 108 (although higher verbal than spatial - you might like to look up the statistics for groups in NYC). I suggest you also look into some of the figures on birth rates and differential fertility.

    Take this on board: like many people these days, you believe a lot of things which are in fact not true. This has consequences, one of which being that you are prone (unwittingly perhaps) to misguidedly censure those who actually do tell the truth about all of this. This is how cultural Marxism (Political Correctness) exerts its pernicious, subversive if not seditious influence, and this is why the problems which we now face will not be properly dealt with.

  • Comment number 56.


    I wonder if Paul has found time to read the post and ponder his crime? He has stepped close to the edge of 'the lie'.
    Mankind, no matter how modern the 'trappings' (an interesting word) is still an animal, intent on continuation but with an anomalous trimming of cerebral excess which is, by default, 'intent' on self destruction.

    Confidence in (acceptance of?) policy makers, can come from animal-human liking, or cerebral-human acknowledgement. For complex governance, including control of a world monetary matrix, you need the best of the cerebral. This must combine competence and integrity to be sustainable. The truth, as it appears to me, is that such credentials, in policy makers, come a poor third behind cerebral chicanery and animal dominance.

    So Paul - you have opened a can of worms in which your BBC masters slip and weave happily, while ratings affirm. Will you now investigate the underlying realities of the Money Mess AS A SYMPTOM of wider human failing, report it, and get fired for the greater good? We need a hero.

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 11:56am on 26 Oct 2008, barriesingleton

    Not sure, but I don't think the BBC do 'firings' do they?

    As for heroes, they can have a rummage in the fee chest and buy another one. Even if it is a fiction.

    Happens all the time.

  • Comment number 58.


    "It stretches credulity to its absolute bounds to think that suddenly, overnight, all those who were Communists will suddenly adopt a new philosophy and belief, with the result that everything will be different. I use this opportunity to warn the House and the country that that is not the truth...Every time the House approves one of these collective agreements, not least treaties agreed by the collective of the European Union, it contributes to the furtherance of the Russian strategy."

    Christopher Gill (CON)
    House of Commons 1995

    'A High Court judgment details the alleged social and business links between Oleg Deripaska and Anton Malevsky, a Russian mobster.'

    Times Online, Sunday 25th Oct 2008

    Does anyone else ever have a thought or two about what Anatoliy Golitsyn had to say back in 1984 and later?

    Reading some of this, and noting the extent to which so much of Russia's strategic (i.e. industrial-military complex's) means of production seems to be in the hands of 'Oligarchs' with contacts in 'the underworld', these interesting antics of Oleg the Oligarch, his other 'Russian' friends and his not so friendly associates in conjunction with the common Israeli connection, makes one wonder.

    Talk about giving 'Russians' bad names.

    Still, if they help fight terror...

    "In Israel, Cherney spends much effort on charity work and humanitarian projects that reinforce cooperation between Israel and Russia in fighting terror."

    Still, perhaps they're not quite the sort of people one would recommend to run the world financial system?

  • Comment number 59.

    The use of interest rates to control an economy unfortunately is the last remnant of monetarism. As such, like much of the other ideas coming from the Chicago School, in general there was almost no meaningful theoretical justification for this. It is true that when such rates are so low that they are negative in real terms, as they were for a number of years in the US, they actually fuel a credit boom. However where elsewhere, as in the UK, real interest rates (of around 4 %, say) exist, but which are moved by just ¼% once or twice a year, it is difficult to see what strong financial mechanism can leverage these to control the whole economy directly.

    The real value of ‘base rate’ changes is as an indicator. They show what the experts, and the wider population, expect will be the position of the economy as a whole over the next few months. The validity of this measure was considerably enhanced when it was put under the remit of an independent Bank of England; though that distance from government has undermined its power in the economic downturn. Even so, and despite the questionable basis for using just interest rates, this ‘indicator’ had the great virtue of being simple in use; and even simpler for the wider population to recognise, as well as seemingly being directly related to one of the key parts of the economy; that of house buying. Unfortunately the latter connection has been broken with the LIBOR measure diverging so widely from base rate. In addition, where the US has made much higher rate cuts, the UK’s ¼% or ½% changes have been undermined, especially when commentators are now demanding that only a 2% cut will do. The emperor’s clothes have definitely gone missing.

    The indicator that has recently, to a degree, replaced base rate is the FTSE. Market traders overall confusion, not to say panic, is accordingly reflected in the VIX index. However, where the overall trend initially was almost vertically downwards, though there is still enormous volatility the trend now follows a relatively stable flat mean of around the 4000 mark. I take that as reassuring that the worst is over in terms of catastrophic news.

    For the future it seems to me that a wider set of measures could allow better control. Thus, in addition to predictions of coming interest rates, we might also use economic growth and price indicators. These are, of course, included in the Pre-Budget Report (as well as the OECD forecasts); but, where these are annual forecasts, to be practical on the ground we now need such indicators at least monthly as the base rate currently is.

    The other major problem is that current indicators, including base rate, are based on the output of econometric models. These are now massive mathematical models which claim to take into account everything which might have an impact on the economy. This means that although base rate looks simple it is based on a model which nobody understands; it has far more variables than even the most complex of derivatives. Such econometric models, which are fine tuned by looking backwards rather than forwards, have a terrible record for accuracy. Indeed the record shows that the best of them is heavily based on the CBI measure of business confidence - which charts the (relatively uninformed) views of mere mortals. The lesson, I believe, is that survey methods are now perhaps the best starting point. [See our work from the 1990s at and

    Whatever the forecast method chosen, its use must be transparent. In particular, the measures the government chooses to use in order to then steer the economy must be clearly spelled out; and fully justified.

    Of course, such an approach will be much more effective if adopted globally; even if individual nations have their own forecasts within the overall figures.

  • Comment number 60.

    Re CelticLion barriesingleton JadedJean and citizenthompson:

    Would you like Are you the JPF? Can i join your group? I hate the Capitalists as much as anybody.

  • Comment number 61.

    #59 David Mercer


    Absolutely fascinating -really enjoyed the links that I have read.

    I can't even begin to write as I could discuss every line you wrote in a very constructive manner.

    Paul's blog is perhaps not the most appropriate place.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 62.

    Barrie (#45) A bit off-topic, but maybe saying soething about this will appease dsome of those who don't understand that thete have been great advances since the genome was sequenced, at least in quantitative genetics. There's been some interest in the X chromosome (and the homologous area on the Y). Remember, females have one X randomly (largely) inactivated in all but their gonads. There's been some interest in C6p21 too (and oter autosomes) but the MHC is in that area so C6p21 etc naturally gets a lot of attention. I've mentioned C6p21 in the context of NCAH and ethnic differences in the CYP21 polymorphism, but it's unlikely to be what's critically important as its only one gene and I only mentioned it as a possible explanation for some of the verbal-spatial tilt due to changed in the sex steroids (note 1/3 Ashkenazi carry at least one of the polymorphisms, 1/27 are homozygous - NCAH is autosomal recessive). Much of medicine and pharmacology is now looking at racial differences because of different gene frequencies acorss groups and how this affects pharmacodynamics, prevalence of disorders etc so any suggestion that any of this is 'racist' is silly given what's now known.

    The genes and IQ issue is technically difficult as it's likely to be polygenic (i.e. a QTL) which presents quantitative methodological problems of its own. The focus is currently on simple variables like individual differences in the number of grey brain cells and genes which may account for this. If there's a consensus it seems to be a parsimonious one of not looking for environmental or epigenetic factors first. We know that females have smaller brains on average, and we know that brain sizes differ across ethnic groups too, but size isn't everything as packing may come into it.... East Asians always seem to come out on top mind you, not WASPs.

  • Comment number 63.

    EFFRONTERY (#60)

    Who you calling a group?

  • Comment number 64.

    #60 Trikidiki


  • Comment number 65.

    celticlionltd (#64)

    Oh dear

  • Comment number 66.

    #65 jadedJean

    missed it when I searched


  • Comment number 67.

    63. At 4:40pm on 26 Oct 2008, barriesingleton

    For there to be a successful 'us' vs. 'them' thing to get going (or stirred up), you of course need an 'us' and a 'them', and that needs a bit of tribal collecting together and assigning of pigeon holes first. Those who tick boxes for a living just love it, I've found.

    So when some individuals on a blog start making sense and agreeing with each other (if only on a single issue), and some others (can be individuals, but they often can also be coordinated) don't like the way the overall vibe is shaping as it doesn't gel with more obviously 'correct' views, it helps to create a 'group' which you can then blanket dismiss or decry as being from the 'other', not 'right' (I use the word, of course, with no political connotations, so as not to excite some more than they are already) viewpoint.

    Get ready for more, often preceded with 'You lot...' and then containing oodles about the person(s) and often nothing about whatever is being discussed.

    Thing is, if you know you are just you, and through long and often valued experience you are pretty sure some others are just them (with the added quirk of judging what is written by its merits, or not, rather than just who writes it... BBC and employees please note) then often the reverse of what is intended by the attempted group creator can result.

    Because I now am wondering who is up to what now.

    As it happens all the time.

  • Comment number 68.


    Thanks JJ - I more or less grasped that.
    Interesting that the subtext is 'information we can't/won't consider because we are immature'.
    As you frequently point out: Just because it doesn't suit doesn't make it wrong.

    So: when Paul Mason opts, selflessly, to be the People's Champion from Newsnight (fired) making all this plain, will go on his 'To Do' list. I wonder if Gordon will recognise such service to Britain, and announce it in Parliament?

  • Comment number 69.

    Barrie (#68) "'information we can't/won't consider because we are immature'."

    As you probably appreciate, research takes time, lots of it painstaking, often for very little in terms of reward. There is a very high correlation between 'g' and memory span, especially backward digit span. Basically, effort/work hurts and many will avoid it if they can, but 'there's no such thing as a free lunch'.

    As to Gordon Brown, well, my experience with government, for what it's worth, is that if you give them anything (i.e. years of R&D), they tend to give it a makeover in order to make it LOOK and SOUND better, turning it into something completely unrecognizable/unworkable and then blame you for it not working.

    These days I tend to watch in despair as things just continue falling apart. I think the gist of what I've summarised in these posts over the past couple of years is empirically sound, but try to tell myself that that won't make much difference under the circumstances.

  • Comment number 70.


    I stand in awe of brainy Jews
    With all their Nobel Prizes.
    That might be racial prejudice
    Perhaps the thought unwise is?

    I’m glad I’m not a wan white maid
    Those Asian girls don’t play fair.
    It’s such a doddle with those looks
    To hook a guy from Mayfair.

    White sprinters weep - and well they might
    At fast receding backs.
    “Support racial equality!”
    (Let’s hang weights on the 'others'!)

    So lacking brains and looks and speed
    Great British Truth I face.
    One with my ilklings – mongrels all;
    Deferring with bad grace.

    Tatta. See you Monday.

  • Comment number 71.

    #58 "Still, perhaps they're not quite the sort of people one would recommend to run the world financial system?"

    oops! (#5)

  • Comment number 72.

    #30 - JadedJean

    Quite what all of this has to do with the global economic problems is a bit beyond me but it is very interesting.

    The problem with statistical analysis and empirical research is that the former presupposes that the statistics you are analyzing are reliable and the latter that the empirical evidence from which the statistics are derived is credible. When the latter becomes dependent on factors which are either subjective (matters of opinion) or open to an alternative interpretations, the whole thing can quickly unravel.

    Your point about the correlation between average IQ and GDP in Pakistan is a case in point. GDP is of course measurable in terms on which most economists (I am not one) would probably agree. Measuring IQ is altogether more subjective. I am put in mind of some research done in Australia many years ago which concluded that the indigenous population had a lower average IQ than people from immigrant stock. One of the tests involved taking a number of dice faces and asking the respondents to pick an odd one out. I will resist the temptation to explain why there is at least one answer to every possible combination up to five but no obvious contender when all six faces are displayed. Yet consistently aboriginals chose 6 as the odd one out. It subsequently emerged that the configuration of the 6 did not match any star formation in the southern hemisphere and accordingly was the only pattern that had no navigational relevance. My point is that these tests ignore the possibility that certain people for cultural or environmental reasons may have a different kind of intelligence.

    You pointed out in another post that more intelligent people were less likely to be religious. I believe there is also research which shows that more intelligent people tend to be more highly sexed. So there would appear to be a relationship between those who believe that sex is ordained for procreation and those that regard it as pleasure which is based in part on intelligent perception. Coincidence?

    On a lighter note, I note your point that 80 per cent of psychology students are women. Going back to my time, the subject of choice when you had no idea what to study and what you were going to do after graduation was sociology.

  • Comment number 73.

    threnodio (#72) I've said what it has to do with the world economy. You've just told us that you haven't grasped what's been said.

    You're basically doing what several others here have mistakenly done, i.e. challenged what is now the scientific community's consensus with your own subjective beliefs. You may well hold your beliefs to be true, but that's the problem with beliefs, they're intensional. In fact, here, nearly all your beliefs are false. The criterion for truth or falsehood is not intensional, but extensional, i.e the power of observation statements (conjunctions) to comprise predictive functional relations about the world. The criteria there have nothing to do with what people think, believe or desire.

    I suggest you read the references and take on board that sample based evidence is corroborated at the population level by annual UK SATs data at 7, 11, 14 and 15, and has been for as long as this has been collected and published by the DFES/DFCS by ethnicity and sex (which goes back to the beginning of PLASC in the early years of this century - in effect, the government has IQ proxies by postcode and these can be related to crime figures, welfare benefits, and much else besides).

    The scientific community throughout the world now knows of these functional relations (which are empirical and extensional), as do governments, but the latter persist in enacting (misguided) legislation like NCLB (in the USA) to try to deal with the advere consequences (see the roots in the CRA and Civil Rights movement, but especally ethnic TFRs as covered earlier). Large numbers of the educated public just do not understand any of this. I have made an effort to explain why this is the case, seemingly to little avail, so have many others. This is the effect of years of punitive political correctness.

    If you really want to see what it has to do with the world economy, I suggest you read the ETS report "America's Perfect Storm' and look back to Lynn and Vanhanen's books on 'IQ and the Wealth of Nations' and 'Global Inequality'.

    You are making some very naive assumptions. Of course, you won't think so, as hardly anyone ever does (people can't think outside their own conditioning). But they can follow instructions......but often don't.

  • Comment number 74.

    Errata: DCFS (not DFCS, which is the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services which like many bodies nobly if not Quixotically endeavour to reduce adverse environmental impacts on innate ability development.

    And it's 'IQ and Global Inequality'.

    Tip: You probably have to think about some of the things that I post, and it may hurt.

  • Comment number 75.

    #73 - JadedJean

    Firstly, I am not a scientist so obviously I do not think like one. Naturally I bow to your superior knowledge in these matters. Secondly, you are right to suppose that I have not researched all the links you posted. There is an awful lot there. Thirdly, it would be unnatural for most us to to harbour prejudices however unreasonable or irrational they may appear, but seeking to distort or willfully misinterpret information to justify a politically correct position is certainly not one of mine. If that is what the science says, I do not dispute it.

    However, I am very surprised by your assertion that 'people cannot think outside their own conditioning . . . but they can follow instructions'. I would have thought that many of the advances of human kind are down to thinking 'outside the box' and ignoring the rule book.

  • Comment number 76.

    #74 - JadedJean

    'Tip: You probably have to think about some of the things that I post, and it may hurt. '

    That is a bit condescending. Personally, I have never found thinking painful. In fact, the most painful experiences of my life have tended to be cause by people who don't.

  • Comment number 77.

    threnodio (#75,#76) Good responses up to a point, but people can't 'think outside the box', it's just one of those silly modern nonsenses. It is not condescending to teach. On the contrary, it's a benevolence, and for many it's a vocation (although the evidence now suggests that many in the profession are regretting it these days, I've said why).

    I suggest you follow up the links, they have been carefully chosen. If it isn't painful, it isn't worthwhile. Take that as a given. Nothing is ever gained by endorsing what one already believes, and the converse hurts, almost always. Neophobia is an innate, unconditoned (innate) response, which is at the heart of behavioural plasticity/change, which is probably endogenous opioid driven.

  • Comment number 78.

    threnodio (#75) "it would be unnatural for most us to to harbour prejudices however unreasonable or irrational they may appear, but seeking to distort or willfully misinterpret information to justify a politically correct position is certainly not one of mine."

    Alas, it is all too natural.

    The key thing to grasp here is that most people don't do it intentionally, it happens naturally. It *feels* like intuiton. That's how political conditioning/social engineering works. Operant conditioning is 'voluntary', or 'intentional' conditioning. That's why Skinner wrote 'Beyond Freedom and Dignity', which in the 70s frequently cropped up in an undergraduate finals paper despite Chomsky's anarchistic nonsense. You can bet that's not the case these days though. You might ask why. The answer probably lies in biologically based sex differences and IQ. But females are excused their narcissism....... until it's no longer reinforced through their ageing. The lifetime prevalence of depression in females is twice that of males. Can you conjecture why that may be so?

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 - JadedJean

    Yes, it is a horrible turn of phrase but you take my point.

    I am fascinated by the idea that neophobia could be as you describe. Certainly I understand the point but worry slightly that it can be used a cop-out.

    'I can't help being an old reactionary - it's all chemical'. (Sorry!).

    More interestingly, that seems to suggest that radical or progressive thinkers are somehow physiologically - or at least chemically - different from the majority. Is this the case?

  • Comment number 80.

    #78 - JadedJean

    "The lifetime prevalence of depression in females is twice that of males. Can you conjecture why that may be so?"

    Again not my field but two thoughts come to mind. Culturally, there is still a generation of men who believe that depression is somehow 'girlie'. It does not happen to them. So as well as being depressed, they are in denial. Perhaps a much higher proportion of depressed males are simply undiagnosed. Less statistically important but still significant is the greater life expectancy of women meaning far more women than men will experience bereavement - a significant factor in some depressive condition - than men.

    Having experienced both in recent years, I would advise any man who is depressed to own up and get it fixed.

  • Comment number 81.


    threnodio (#80) Two interesting suggestions, the first is often said, but is unlikely, the second hadn't occurred to me, but I suspect it's also unlikely. As to your (#79), it's hard to assign credit accurately (listen to Skinner'se 60 minute audio 'On Having a Poem' if you can find it) as most research relies on many contributors. Those who get/take the credit are not always the innovators or originators (which is an odd notion in itself - see 'On Havng A Poem'). In fact, many researchers avoid the limelight. Neophobia is definitely innate, it's a defensive behaviour (think of rats and bait-shyness). Its habituation is associated with habit formation i.e. 'learning'.

    We have far less control than we like to believe. What people say they do and what people actually do are all too often different classes of behaviour.

    Speaking of which, as to being 'reactionary', look into the statistics for assortive mating. What do these tell one?

    Finally, a reminder: Political Correctness = Cultural Marxism. Although I think it's important to note that the type of 'leftism' here is actually a type of rightism in that it subversively undermines authority, i.e regulations. It is Trotskyite/Neocon rather than Stalinist. It weakens statism in support of market, anarchistic, forces.

  • Comment number 82.

    Confidence won't return until everybody knows the problem is fixed. The Japanese stagflation experience shows that without the public being fully informed and confident that won't happen. The Treasury Select Committee expressed that view I believe.

    So Brown and his partners in crime can feel quite "clever" to have been partially responsible for the crisis (debt/house prices/regulation weaknesses) and be hailed as heroes.

    But eventually the full truth will have to come out so that everybody knows exactly what went wrong and that the problem is now fixed.

    So a public inquiry in the UK would go a long way to achieving that understanding and then allowing confidence that the "fix" was going to work and was not the act of a politician in a blind panic.

    Its just a question of how long it will take to achieve the same thing without a public inquiry.

    I think it was ten years for Japan.

  • Comment number 83.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 84.

    #81 - JadedJean

    You are taking me into areas where I do, I think, have a greater degree of understanding although by no means expertise.

    Rightly or wrongly, I have come to believe that the great curse of the 20th century is what I describe as the cult of the 'ism'. It stems from the need (which may be inherent) to categorise pretty much everything from music (serialism, atonalism, neo-classicism, tonalism), art (cubism, surrealism, Dadism, abstract expressionism, impressionism) to political philosophy (Marxism, Leninism, Marxist-Leninist revisionism, national socialism - the list is endless. The net effect of this 'ismism', if I can call it that, is self-imposed blinkering which - again to use that horrible phrase - prevents us from thinking outside the box. What singles out the strikingly original thinkers of that period was a refusal to be straight jacketed or categorised. Excellence is often to be found in the work of those who defy definition. To some extent, you find this in a view prevalent in American cultures which see no contradiction between something being great entertainment and great art. Europeans would tend to ask whether, for example, 'Porgy and Bess' is a smash hit musical or the great American opera because somehow it cannot be both. The American view is that it can, of course be both. It is a very trite example but it makes the point.

    As for the 21st century, it's greatest curse to date has been political correctness. Again being trite, it seems self-evident to me that if I need a personal assistant, it matters not one jot if she is a one-legged black lesbian but she needs to be intelligent. On the other hand, if I need a window cleaner for a tower block, he does not need to be especially bright but clearly being able bodied is a considerable advantage. What seem to me to be common sense observations fly in the face of affirmative action, positive discrimination and all the other mechanisms that the PC lobby have invented for no better purpose than artificial cultural and social engineering.

    You are quite right to say that political correctness equals cultural marxism but if you take that a stage further and substitute 'correctism' (to invent a word) for 'correctness', you have a recipe for disaster - the formation of an ideology from a base of false assumptions seeking to realise the unrealisable in the pursuit of an illusion. The danger is that it becomes cultural dictatorship.

    I am musing out loud - a dangerous fault with me - but perhaps it makes some sense. I better go away and try to figure what the hell it has to do with the global economy:-)

  • Comment number 85.

    Gee whiz, guys, have you all been laid off in the recession, is that why you have so much time to raise the contents of the bbc blogosphere?
    I wouldn't say it is all drivel.........but........

  • Comment number 86.

    I am astonished at the suggestions coming out of this blog:

    Raise interest rates
    Cut public spending

    Or we could just invent a time machine and travel back to 1929

  • Comment number 87.

    Nice to see the content standard being so ably raised by, er...

  • Comment number 88.

    #83 - thegangofone

    Well you know where I am based and, with close family ties to Auchwitz victims, you can guess how much change holocaust deniers will get out of me. Shalom!

    #85 - bcumulus

    Amazing the amount of stuff you can come up with when you are sitting in front of a computer waiting for the phone to ring. Of course it doesn't now - I think it is called recession.

    #86 - GHBRich

    Yes, 3% in Hungary. Probably something to do with those nice people at the IMF.

  • Comment number 89.

    Holocaust Schmolocaust

    Gangofone #83

    And you, sir are a bigot. You simply reject all opinion differing from you own. You are obstinately devoted to your own prejudices even when these are challenged and shown to be false. Name calling, screaming and pointing is the behaviour of children.

    Take a few minutes to read 'The Power of Weakness' (particularly para 3) by William S Lind and reflect awhile.

    You'll find it at

  • Comment number 90.

    Intellectual content is high, and darn nice to read after the odd foray into "Have Your Say"...
    Anyone who denies the Holocaust is incomprehensible to me....both my Dad and my husband saw the reality.

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 - NewFazer

    Well you should know - after all it was you who wrote 'And you, sir are a bigot.'

    As to William S. Lind, I don't claim to know all the answers but I am sure as hell Cultural Conservatism is not one of them.

    You will have to explain 'Holocaust Schmolocaust'- but if I am right in inferring denial on you part I will dismiss it with the contempt it deserves. By the way, what does this have to do with the thread?

  • Comment number 92.

    Holocaust Schmolocaust

    #91 - Go1


    Main Entry:
    French, hypocrite, bigot
    : a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance
    — big·ot·ed \-g?-t?d\ adjective
    — big·ot·ed·ly adverb


    By explanation of the title. Your beginning of post 83 by libeling another poster i felt to be completely unwarranted and made me wonder "what does this have to do with the thread" ;-)

  • Comment number 93.

    #92 - NewFazer

    Your temper is plainly greater than your powers of concentration. I did not post #83.

    An apology, I think is in order.


  • Comment number 94.

    Has it occured to anyone else that there is a direct and causal link between the volatility of a market and the quantity and quality of the doom & gloom media blitz currently in progress?

    If Robert Peston was working for Osama Bin Laden then he could not have achived a more magnificent result!

    How do we both stay informed and not panic? Is there any solution other than to shut down the source of the panic?

    Can democracy survive in a seemingly determined self fullfilling prophecy of despair?

  • Comment number 95.

    Threnodio # 93

    Indeed I am guilty of a lapse in concentration. Trying to do too many things at once.

    You did not write #83 and you did not libel JJ, Go1 did that. But you did write #91 so the rest of my answer stands. No apology. Bigot remains an accurate description of Go1.

    My temper is serene, i try never to indulge in anger. However, Go1's constant raking up of holocaust and calling for those whose opinions differ from his own to be thrown into prison I find tiresome and, like you, as having no place in this thread.

  • Comment number 96.

    A rate reduction wont help me, I am on a fixed rate like 1000's of other people, so no help for me then!

  • Comment number 97.

    bcumulus (#90), threnodio (#91)

    A number of contrivances which have elements of truth to them but which don't stand rigorous scrutiny have been promulgated since the end of WWII (and especially the 60s), largely to deter statism and to encourage free-market Liberal-Democracy. That's what this has got to do with this thread.

    Look closely into these 'noble lies' (which have elements of truth to them) and one sees how mass psychology in the service of a particular type of politics/economics works.

  • Comment number 98.

    #89 NewFazer

    There is vast evidence that the holocaust did happen and associates of my family were either there or saw it first hand. There are way too many people in my category for it not to have happened. #90 sounds similar just on this thread.

    Moreover I don't believe that you people do believe what you say. Thats why I think the risk, and I accept that it is a risk, to free speech is reduced as that does not cover the right to lie in my world.

    To have somebody attempt to lecture on bigotry when they are apologists for some of the greatest mass murderers in history is contemptible and laughable.

    You people take yourselves so very seriously and fortunately the rest of the world does not.

    I would point you to "The Producers" and a mirror!

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    #92 NewFazer

    You say "your beginning of post 83 by libeling..."

    Look that poster is the one that has posted that drivel at various times so it is not "libel" it is a statement of fact.

    Facts. Not twisted logic.

    As for the relevance argument I am pretty tired of hearing racist slurs being added in to almost every thread. Sometimes its more subtle, sometimes not.

    But in any event the nature of the poster is relevant.

    I am happy to be known as somebody who strongly opposes propaganda streams with a purpose of promoting racial hatred and denying the holocaust ever happened.

    If you're not happy - I am!


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