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news archives — behaviour and intelligence 4

New translation, the Magna Carta
article archives at abelard's news and comment zonebehaviour and intelligence archives
1 2 3 4 5 III-2004: 11 23 26 29 30 IV-2004: 03

behaviour and intelligence archive 4

cost of living in cities around the world

“Tokyo has replaced Hong Kong as the world’s most expensive city, according to the latest cost of living survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Moscow is in second place, followed by Osaka.”

Hong Kong is 4th and Geneva 5th, with London 7th and New York 10th.

“ In Europe, Moscow, Geneva, and London are the costliest cities, with index scores of 114.5, 101.8, and 101.3 respectively. Zurich (score 100.3), St Petersburg (97.3), and Oslo (92.7) are the next most expensive cities in Europe.

“In the EU, London is by far the most expensive city, and has risen three places in the rankings this year to 7th position (101.3) [...]

“After London, Copenhagen is the next most expensive city in the EU, moving up to position 15 (89.4) from 62nd place last year. Other high scoring cities include Milan, ranked 17th (87.2), Dublin in 21st place (86), and Paris in 23rd position (84.3).”

“New York remains the costliest city in North America, occupying 10th position in the rankings. Other expensive cities include Los Angeles, ranked at 22 (score 85.6), Chicago ranked at 25, (83.9), Miami in 27th place (83.7), and San Francisco at position 30 (83). All the US cities surveyed have fallen in the rankings due to the depreciation of the US dollar against European and Asian currencies.”

Remember that the cost of living is generally highest where most people want to live.
Despite the recent strengthening of the euro, most of the more expensive cities in Europe are outside the euro zone.

the web address for this article is





dennett on ‘freedom’

I think this is a trivial, but interesting way to look at ‘freedom’. What the writer seems to be on about, is increasing extension of local control (options), rather than some imagined reification called ‘freedom’.

That would mean individual extensions of ‘freedom’ were offset by local reductions in ‘freedom’ of other arbitrarily designated ‘entities’.

I have picked up several of this author’s books only to put them down as uninteresting; but this seems a step forward, although I am still not tempted to read beyond this short interview!

related material
feedback and crowding

the web address for this article is


related material


feedback and crowding

imprisoned parents

“According to a Department of Justice study, some 1.5 million minors had a parent in prison during the study year 1999—an increase of over a half million kids between 1991 and 1999. Today the number is likely even higher and some suggest that it has approached two million. The average age of these children is eight. Statistics show that many of them will be incarcerated as juvenile offenders, perpetuating a disturbing cycle of hopelessness and crime."

the web address for this article is


bowling maidens with an underarm

“Luteinizing hormone is released from the brain in pulses - these become larger and more frequent as a woman approaches ovulation. Exposure to the male odour accelerated the arrival of the next hormone rush, Preti's team found.

“The volunteers also reported feeling less tense and more relaxed as they sniffed. Both effects may be a throwback to our impulse-primed past, suggests Preti.”

the web address for this article is


genes and behaviour

Item incorporated into Memory, paranoia and paradigms (under development).

the web address for this article is


i don’t want to travel on the pink bus

image credit:

Behaviour modification :

“The threat of arriving at school on a pink "punishment bus" is acting as a deterrent to badly behaved youngsters.”

thanx to Limbic for link.

the web address for this article is


struck by lightning
a light-weight article, complete with a daft error. Here is the error:

“For example, Rakov says that one square meter of terrain in a flat Florida field gets hit by lightning once every 100 millennia, thus if that area gets hit, it would not be hit for another 1,000 human generations [...] ”

[This is equivalent to saying if you toss a coin and it comes down heads, next time it will come down tails—obvious nonsense.]

Otherwise the article touches the basics.

As the auroran sunset says, “only an idiot would go out on a golf course in a thunderstorm carrying a lighting conductor.”

This guy hit by lightning is an obvious prime candidate for the Darwin Awards.

“The Darwin Awards honor those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it. We commemorate the actions of men and women who gave their all, in an effort to improve the human species. Of necessity, the honor is usually bestowed posthumously.

the web address for this article is


interesting note on the processing of written language

“In 1925 Dr. Samuel Orton, a clinician [...] hypothesized that normally developing readers suppress the visual images reported by the right hemisphere of the brain because these images could potentially interfere with input from the left.

“Advanced technology allowed researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center to discover that children do in fact “turn off” the right side of the visual parts of the brain as they become accomplished readers.”

This suggests the possibility of (experimental temporary) patching (occluding) one eye as a teaching assistance. [ab]

In my view, the item is sloppy and ‘fashionable’, therefore some caution is recommended.

From Enc. Brit.:

Evidence from a number of converging sources, notably the high incidence of the language disturbance known as aphasia after left- but not right-hemisphere damage, indicates that the left hemisphere is dominant for the comprehension and expression of language in close to 99 percent of right-handed people. At least 60 percent of left-handed and ambidextrous people also have left-hemisphere language, but up to 30 percent have predominantly right-hemisphere language. The remainder have language represented to some degree in both hemispheres.

the loss of ability to understand or express speech, owing to brain damage.

related material
establishment psycho-bunk 3 - ‘dyslexia’ [short briefing document]

the web address for this article is


related material

establishment psycho-bunk 3 - ‘dyslexia’ [short briefing document]

early experiences and behaviour

“significant role of the environment in regulating certain behaviors”

“Center for Behavioral Neuroscience (CBN) researchers have demonstrated that genetically identical mice placed in different environments both pre- and post-natally differ dramatically as adults in their stress responses and learning abilities.”

“foundation for speech perception and language acquisition are laid before birth”

“New research findings on the ability of a fetus to recognize its mother's voice and even distinguish it from other female voices confirms what scientists have speculated about for more than 20 years - that experiences in the womb help shape newborn preferences and behaviour.”

the web address for this article is


new transparent society as the global village develops

Decentralised policing where everyone knows the business of everyone, where you cannot move without being photographed, where identification by DNA will make any presence without leaving traces ever more difficult.

This is the world that is developing.

Is the power going to be cornered by oppressive governments, or will it be distributed where all have access?

I am betting on the latter: a world where government agencies cannot control information, for there will be just too many eyes.

the web address for this article is


will the real noam chomsky please stand up

“The long political history of this aging activist demonstrates that double standards of the same kind have characterized his entire career.

“Chomsky has declared himself a libertarian and anarchist but has defended some of the most authoritarian and murderous regimes in human history. His political philosophy is purportedly based on empowering the oppressed and toiling masses but he has contempt for ordinary people who he regards as ignorant dupes of the privileged and the powerful. He has defined the responsibility of the intellectual as the pursuit of truth and the exposure of lies, but has supported the regimes he admires by suppressing the truth and perpetrating falsehoods. He has endorsed universal moral principles but has only applied them to Western liberal democracies, while continuing to rationalize the crimes of his own political favorites. He is a mandarin who denounces mandarins. When caught out making culpably irresponsible misjudgments, as he was over Cambodia and Sudan, he has never admitted he was wrong.

“Today, Chomsky’s hypocrisy stands as the most revealing measure of the sorry depths to which the left-wing political activism he has done so much to propagate has now sunk.”

[link thanx to Limbic’s blog ]

the web address for this article is


the tensions between liberty and democracy—review of a recent book

“American democracy did indeed originally flourish, as Zakaria argues in the first part of his book, on the basis of constitutional liberty. And in the opening decades of the nineteenth century, Americans assumed that the two would always complement each other: liberty of property would lead to the diffusion of small property holdings, which would in turn reinforce the foundations of political democracy. But it didn't turn out that way. The yeoman farmer was replaced by the wage-earner, and the small manufacturer and craftsman by the large corporation. By the early twentieth century, the inequality of the property system was subverting political democracy, a situation that has led to a century of efforts to reverse the trend. Some of these reforms did overreach, but often they were simply infected, distorted, or overwhelmed by the very forces they were designed to counteract.”

the web address for this article is

we can’t sell our turgid books, so subsidise us

“Here in New York, the theory-obsessed Modern Language Association, the country's largest association of English professors, is campaigning to get universities nationwide to subsidize the publication of books by postmodern theorists - despite their now-admitted lack of value or relevance.”

“Since most "theorists" are leftists, it's not surprising that their admission of self-induced irrelevance would accompany a cry for subsidy of their future meanders. And it could work.”

(lead from Limbic)

the web address for this article is


america’s great shame

“Any compassionate person should feel revulsion at the extent of prison rape. The activist group Stop Prisoner Rape estimates that about 240,000 men get raped behind bars each year. By comparison, 2002 saw about 90,000 male-on-female rapes reported to the police in the entire country.

“Jail house rape victims are often pre-trial detainees or petty criminals: Quite often small, weak, or effeminate men. Given that AIDS infection rates in prison populations stand at almost ten times the levels outside, the prison rape crisis means that an arrest for a minor crime can result in a death sentence. For people in prison, many of whom suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, a rape can send them over the edge into more serious criminal behavior. Most men on death row have a history of sexual abuse.”

Next, I have been reminded of this by phil <> (n.b. fast forward to approx 31 mins / view using a RealPlayer – obtain one here, approximately 40 minutes download at 56kb/s.)

The segment discusses situations where people in the USA are attempting to medicate the insane in prison, in order to make them sane enough for them to take part in one of America’s ritual murder sacrifice ceremonies.

The United States also has approximately 2 million in jail, a very great number (the majority) of whom are there to serve the insane American ‘drug war’. I have some more detailed commentary here.

Churchill said something like, “You can judge a civilisation by the way it treats its prisoners”. Quite obviously, the USA fails egregiously on this count.

In my view, at the heart of this failure is putting too much power into the hands of the atavistic mob. It is quite impossible to be elected in the US if you stand against the regular ritual murders by the State favoured by the ignorant masses.

Similarly, had the decision to protect Madsam (Sadam Hussein) been left to the mob instead of to the elite, Madsam would still be happily torturing and murdering.

But right governance depends upon an elite who are willing to act correctly over the heads of the mob. Clearly, regarding Iraq, that did not happen in France where the mob was appeased. It does not happen in the USA, with their disgusting behaviour over their prison industry.

There is no answer in wider democracy when it is among a mob of the uneducated. There is no answer in bought and paid for corrupt politicians.

For all its faults, Britain remains better governed than most countries—no ritual murder, and no appeasement of foreign murderers.

Less appeasement of the mob means better government.

I am constantly finding myself defending honourable and sane actions by the American government against the whining of the empty ethics of the vacuous, soft-headed ‘left’. That a country can exhibit such greatness, yet be so incredibly crass and shallow is high embarrassment.

I have just read Niall Ferguson’s piece in the NY Times titled The empire slinks back. The piece expresses rather well the shallowness of America alongside greatness that so concerns those in Europe who care (I will not give the link because NYT requires registration).

Here is a sample (shhhhhhh!):

“"The British Empire has had a pretty lousy press from a generation of ''postcolonial'' historians anachronistically affronted by its racism. But the reality is that the British were significantly more successful at establishing market economies, the rule of law and the transition to representative government than the majority of postcolonial governments have been. The policy ''mix'' favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank: free trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the common law, incorrupt administration and investment in infrastructure financed by international loans. These are precisely the things Iraq needs right now. If the scary-sounding ''American empire'' can deliver them, then I am all for it. The catch is whether or not America has the one crucial character trait without which the whole imperial project is doomed: stamina. The more time I spend here in the United States, the more doubtful I become about this.”

Regards from the campaign for franchise by examination.

the web address for this article is


oppositional defiance disorder?

Does the youthful object of your discontentment have any four of the following characteristics?

hostile argumentative blaming
negative angry spiteful
defiant resentful vindictive
oppositional low frustration level bad temper
pessimistic accusatory foul-mouthed
aggressive unreasonable  

If you can decide “yes”, you and a registered thought cop (‘psychiatrist’) can pronounce that your darling bundle of teenage trouble ‘has’ ODD and impose (undefined) “behavior modification techniques”. The rotten apple of your eye will no longer be a bother, and all without needing to take any responsibility for raising possibly ill-disciplined offspring, or needing to look for any source of the child’s unhappiness—or should that be yours?.

What teenager is not unreasonable about staying out late, or resentful about doing ther homework, or negative about keeping their room tidy, or defiant when told to come home from a good party?

Indeed, methinks all ‘teenagers’ must have ODD and, maybe, most ‘grownups’ and ‘psychiatrists’ as well; plenty of scope there for the behaviour modification industry. All we ‘need’ now is the right drug to ‘cure’ it all. In fact, there are very few people I know who could not do with some with some behaviour modification!

related material
establishment psycho-bunk 2 - Ritalin and junk science

the web address for this article is


related material
establishment psycho-bunk 2 - Ritalin and junk science

call for evidence-based prison recidivism programmes

“Trying to prevent convicted felons from committing more crimes raises profound questions of character, habit, and the limits of social intervention. Sometimes only age (otherwise known as 'prisoner menopause') can make criminals go straight. But there is reason to think that the agencies that supervise convicts during and after prison can bring down recidivism, if work becomes a non-negotiable condition of parole. In addition, if the jobs of prison and parole officials depend on making improvements in public safety - if every re-arrest prompts them to deep analysis of what went wrong - we might in short order see some startling innovations in post-conviction crime control.”

This article is worth a scan, the latter part of the article is better.

the web address for this article is


a useful pattern: m/f behaviour differences—but not to be taken very seriously

“How early are such sex differences in empathy evident? Certainly, by 12 months , girls make more eye contact than boys. But a new study carried out in my lab at Cambridge University shows that at birth, girls look longer at a face, and boys look longer at a suspended mechanical mobile. Furthermore, the Cambridge team found that how much eye contact children make is in part determined by a biological factor: prenatal testosterone. This has been demonstrated by measuring this hormone in amniotic fluid.

“All this adds up to a large amount of evidence for a female advantage in empathising, with at least some biological determinants. What about the claimed male advantage in systemising?

“Boys, from toddlerhood onwards, are more interested in cars, trucks, planes, guns and swords, building blocks, constructional toys, and mechanical toys - systems. They seem to love putting things together, to build toy towers or towns or vehicles. Boys also enjoy playing with toys that have clear functions, buttons to press, things that will light up, or devices that will cause another object to move.”

Here is linked a rather trivial test for those who like such things.

A very insightful comment is made by the auroran sunset:

“i scored 13 for the female/empathising, and 18 for the male/systematising test - ie very low on both. this is not surprising given that the first test seemed to be trying to find out how much you believe you can read minds, and the second trying to find out how much a person believes that there is inherent order to the world around us. as i find both ideas totally absurd, low scores are hardly surprising.”

the web address for this article is


this looks like a serious and useful book on infotech in conflict zones

image credit:

From an adequate review:

“Today the ability to collect, communicate, process and protect information is the most important factor defining military power" -- more important than armor, firepower or mobility, he writes in 'The New Face of War'.”

The New Face of War: How War Will Be Fought in the 21st Century by Bruce Berkowitz

$18.20 [] {advert}, July 2003
£13.29 [], April 2003
Free Press/Simon & Schuster International, 0743212495

[lead from Limbic]

the web address for this article is


in praise of science
This item by Matt Ridley, a recommended writer.

“ "Organic farming is sustainable," says Indian biotechnologist CS Prakash. "It sustains poverty and malnutrition." DDT was brought in to replace arsenic compounds that left birds dead in the fields. Or, as a biotechnologist said to me the other day: "If you think GM disrupts the environment, try watching what a plough does to soil structure".

“For the past century the world has got steadily better for most people. You do not believe that? I am not surprised. You are fed such a strong diet of news about how bad things are that it must be hard to believe they were once worse. But choose any statistic you like and it will show that the lot of even the poorest is better today than it was in 1903. Longevity is increasing faster in the poor south than in the rich north. Infant mortality is lower in Asia than ever before. Decade by decade per-capita food production is rising.”

related material
establishment psycho-bunk 3 - ‘dyslexia’

This next is a tedious item on surveillance (part 2), the other two parts are not worth reading. However, this item is worth a quick scan as a comparison of the approaches to technological advances by open society vs closed society.

the web address for this article is


international comparative study on reading

How fourth-graders ranked in reading in each of the 35 countries surveyed
by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study of 2001.

(Full report here.)

  1. Sweden
  2. Netherlands
  3. England
  4. Bulgaria
  5. Latvia
  6. Canada
  7. Lithuania
  8. Hungary
  9. United States
  10. Italy
  11. Germany
  12. Czech Republic
  1. New Zealand
  2. Scotland
  3. Singapore
  4. Russian Federation
  5. Hong Kong
  6. France
  7. Greece
  8. Slovak Republic
  9. Iceland
  10. Romania
  11. Israel
  12. Slovenia
  1. Norway
  2. Cyprus
  3. Moldova
  4. Turkey
  5. Macedonia
  6. Colombia
  7. Argentina
  8. Iran
  9. Kuwait
  10. Morocco
  11. Belize

Note: There is no significant statistical difference in scores among the countries ranked four through 12.

the web address for this article is


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