Thursday, 11 February 2010

Difference = insanity = re-education.

Authoritarian regimes love lunatic asylums. I know, there's probably some politically correct reason why we can't call them that any more but it doesn't matter to me, never did and never will.

Those regimes love such places because people can be indefinitely detained there without trial, and have no means to prove their sanity other than by convincing a doctor. A doctor who is in the pay of the State and whose job is to keep them in there. There are no legal avenues for such people to explore. You're nuts, and here you stay until we say you're not nuts. No, you can't see a lawyer, because you're nuts. Here, have a jolt off the National Grid. Want another one? No? Then shut up and take your sedatives.

All they need do is redefine what 'nuts' means and anyone is eligible for the rubber room.

As JuliaM pointed out in the comments here, if you disagree with having the police appear in your bedroom at 3 am to give a lecture, complete with PowerPoint and role-play sessions, you are being unreasonable. Reasonable people would say 'thank you'. They are going to meet a lot of unreasonable people, I think.

Still, that's just a little one. What you really need are people in white coats with crazy tufts of grey hair and wild staring eyes, clutching a clipboard as if invisible fingers are trying to tear it from their grasp. The public trust such people. Well, if that's not a case for locking up most of the population, I don't know what is.

In one fell swoop, a group of the wild-eyed white-coated spokesmen for oppression have declared smokers, fat people, and anyone else the State doesn't like as mentally deficient. Not outright, of course. That comes later. First they have to make the link and place it subtly in the public mind. Well, that link started for the smokers a long time ago but it's expanding now. They've even started planning the re-education system.

An anonymous commenter here passed on this link. It concerns itself with the dangers of being dopey. You're going to die even faster than smokers and the obese if you're a dimwit, but there's no cause for alarm. If you're that dim, you won't understand the link.

I've never thought IQ was a particularly accurate measure of intelligence. I should, because I actually come out pretty impressively when it's applied but even so, it's a long way from a perfect measure. I know a dyslexic professor who would score very low marks because he can't possibly get the anagram questions and isn't all that good at spatial imagination. Yet he's a very successful man in his field. He doesn't smoke. He does eat a lot so he'd be classed as 'too dim to know how much to eat' and would be right there in re-education with me. To prevent heart attacks.

So what are the principal predictors of heart disease these days? Here they are in order:

The relative strengths of the association were measured by an "index of inequality," which summarised the relative risk of a health outcome (cardiovascular death) in the most disadvantaged (high risk) people relative to the most advantaged (low risk).

This relative index of inequality for the top five risk factors was found to be
5.58 for cigarette smoking,
3.76 for IQ,
3.20 for low income,
2.61 for high systolic blood pressure, and
2.06 for low physical activity.

Smoking comes top, naturally. There's no way anything will be allowed to beat that for any disease.

The odd part is that physical realities such as high blood pressure and being a layabout come below lifestyle near-irrelevances such as low IQ and low income. Well below. If we give money to the poor, it seems, their myocardial infarctions will magically heal themselves at the mere touch of a nicely folded fiver. In real life, they won't switch to fruit salads, they'll just buy more pies and chips. But let's not let real life get in the way of a new control method.

It's argued that these are high risk factors because poor people eat lousy food and because those who can't get into university are incapable of looking after themselves. Naturally, this means -

The investigators note "a number of plausible mechanisms" whereby lower IQ scores could elevate cardiovascular disease risk, notably the application of intelligence to healthy behaviour (such as smoking or exercise) and its correlates (obesity, blood pressure).

There it is. If you smoke, you are stupid. If you are fat, you are stupid. If you prefer not to exercise, you are stupid. The link is made. All that's needed is to reinforce it with repetition and exaggeration by the ever-willing tabloids. Will people be fooled into accepting it as if it was real and as if actually mattered to them? Of course they will. They always have before.

I smoke. Am I stupid? I am quite sure someone will be along in a moment to say so. However, I am not stupid enough to spot the missing logic.

Smoking and obesity, we are told, increase the risk of heart attack. Why? Well, because smoking and obesity both cause high blood pressure, among other things. Yet high blood pressure accounts for only half the smoking related heart attacks, and is well behind IQ and low income too. So if smoking and obesity cause heart attacks by raising blood pressure, and low IQ and low income cause smoking and obesity, why is blood pressure so far behind? They should all have had it, surely? Something else going on here? Another reason for this study?

A further possibility, they add, "is that IQ denotes 'a record' of environmental insults" (eg, illness, sub-optimal nutrition) accumulated throughout life.

Ah-ha. Further to the 'everyone is born basically a good person and bad behaviour must be understood', we now have 'everyone is born with the same level of intelligence and it's only their subsequent life that determines their IQ'. It's more socialist cloning. More justification for control. At the same time, it places that meme of 'the different ones are mentally deficient' in the public mind. Oh, they've put some real effort into this one.

Well now. I grew up in what would, by today's standards, be a 'deprived home'. In the sixties, my father worked at the coal face for £14 a week, a pretty decent wage in those days but still somewhat out of buying-a-house range. Any car we had was second hand and so was pretty much all of the furniture. We were way behind others in getting a TV and also way behind in getting a colour one. We were not concerned by this. TV was not a priority. Brand-new was never a priority.

I didn't feel 'poor'. There was always food, always a roof, we sometimes wore cast-offs but never rags, we had coal for the fire and the house was clean. 'Poor' is what we'd see on TV shows about famines and disasters in other countries. We were a damn sight better off than a lot of people in the world but in this country, we were a long, long way down the wealth list.

Yet I did well at achool, went on to university, gained a PhD. I have since taught students from rich homes and poor and there is no link between intelligence and money. You can't buy 'clever'. You can't pay someone to think harder. Some of those students would turn up in cars I could never dream of owning, and in class I'd wonder who tied their shoes for them that morning. Those kids had been born with a silver spoon in their mouths and someone must have used it to scoop out their brains. They were, most definitely, born stupid and only progressed as far as they did on the back of parental cash.

Other rich kids were smart. Some poor kids were smart, some were stupid. It's not a socially determined thing. You're born with a set level of potential and that's just tough. The uneducated can be educated (uneducated does not equal stupid) but everyone has a different limit and everyone has a different set of abilities. Money won't change that. But you can never convince these people of such things.

"From a public health perspective, there is the possibility that IQ can be increased, with some mixed results from trials of early learning and school readiness programmes," said Dr Batty.

Take a moment. I had to, when I read his name.

"It may also be worthwhile for health promotion campaigns to be planned with consideration of individual cognition levels."

It might be worthwhile, Dr. Batty, to talk to newspaper reporters in words your target audience can grasp. If your target audience is the low-IQ group, try not to talk in boardroom gibberish. Why don't you just say 're-education' and be done with it?

Oh, and there's a reason for those mixed results too. Any test tests only one thing. The ability to do the test. Some excellent drivers would fail the video-games of the new driving test because they never play video games and aren't able to react as if it was real. Some ten-year-olds could probably pass that test first time because they have trained for years on video games. Just tell them the rules of the game and set them going.

So it is with IQ. If you want to boost your score, practice. Get hold of some tests and practice. Many of the questions use techniques that can be learned. You can increase both the number of questions you get right and the speed of completion just by practicing. You won't be any more intelligent but you'll be better at the test.

He also noted that IQ may well be one important factor behind the place of social class as a fundamental determinant of inequalities in health.

In English, he's saying that if you have a low IQ, you'll be sick and poor and if you have a high one, you'll be healthy and rich. Therefore Einstein must have dined on caviar every day of his life and Paris Hilton lives in a box. Right? Einstein was in perfect health and Paris Hilton is permanently ill. Right? Funny, history doesn't seem to have seen it that way.

So what has Dr. Batty (oh, the name!) come up with?

a) Smokers and chubbies are stupid. He missed drinkers but he'll need to keep the funding flowing. They'll be on the list. Those people cannot look after themselves because of their low IQ. Therefore their IQ must be increased.

b) He has a magic way to increase IQ. He doesn't use the word 're-education' but it's what he means. His method doesn't actually work but it must be applied anyway, and the cost charged to the taxpayers.

c) Heart disease can be cured with the application of cash. That's all it needs.

When it is shown that intelligence can't be increased above an individual's inbuilt ability, what will the socialists do? Pretty much what they are doing to equalise 'rich' and 'poor', I suspect.

I think I'll practice banjo playing and drooling. Then maybe they'll pass me by.


Dick Puddlecote said...

Wud comment but me no unnerstan. Ug. ;-)

Anonymous said...

sorry but you are wrong about asylums: I can assure you that people in UK psychatric hospitals, especially those detained under the Mental Health Act, have got lots of statutory rights, and there are legions of human rights lawyers just queuing up to provide 'support', all with legal aid money. Patients do have power, though they often assert otherwise.
It simply isn't like One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

Leg-iron said...

Anon - I wasn't writing about current British asylums, but about the way authoritarian regimes use them.

Even so, for all the lawyers and the human rights, who is it who determines whether someone is sane or not under the current British system? he lawyers can make sure patients are treated well but can a lawyer get you out of there?

hangemall said...

Harriet Harridan and Jackboot Spliff look like that and haven't fiddled facelifts at the taxpayers' expense?

They must be dim. The loony bin for them and throw away the key.

Anonymous said...

Here in Canada we're already starting to hear that 20% of the population have some kind of mental illness. Guess I'll have to dust-off my old copy of "Gulag Archipelago". BUT when they start calling it feeble-mindedness you can be sure I'll be guarding my testicles from the eugenicists (and they only thought it was 10%!)


PT Barnum said...

It's not feeblemindedness (which will result in forced sterilisation and seizure of children) you need to worry about. It's a diagnosis of Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.

The former can get you imprisoned forever without ever having committed any kind of offence.

The latter means that anything you say and do is untrue, deceptive, manipulative and probably delusional. And both are not only incurable, they're untreatable. And the current favourite diagnosis of psychiatrists up and down the land.

Anonymous said...

4% of the population are considered to be pyscopathic(unable to feel empathy) apparently detectable by DNA analysis ,compulsory swabs for parliament?.Or is that not PC

Mrs Rigby said...


Oh, and I've stolen some of your words.

Snakey said...

My husband was put in the "thicky" class at school based solely on his mother's economic circumstances. Despite this unfair "labelling" my husband passed all his O Levels, took 4 A Levels and has a BA (Hons).

Dr Batty's "research" (and I used that term loosely) is clearly flawed. It is worrying that such people are given credence but then again this "report" appears in the MSM which just loves this kind of rubbish.

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