Ces petites choses que je n’aime pas…

Parcourant le web depuis quelques années déjà, il m’a été donné plusieurs fois d’être frustré, voir irrité, par des conversations que j’ai pu lire. Voici quelques points les plus importants.

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Natural Monopoly and the Question of the Factors of Production

Many economists wrongly believe that a natural monopoly would emerge through price-cutting war in a free market. The cut-throat competition is a process by which a big firm can definitely (according to the theory) drive out the other competitors through price-cutting wars. They argue that this is possible simply because big firms experience lower costs of production than smaller firms due to large-scale production. When all the remaining competitors are out of the game, no one can challenge the monopoly anymore. Apart from Rothbard’s comments, there are some additional serious problems with the theory of natural monopoly.

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Heterosis Doesn’t Cause the Flynn Effect: A Critical Examination of Mingroni (2007)

Heterosis Doesn’t Cause the Flynn Effect: A Critical Examination of Mingroni (2007)

Michael A. Woodley, 2011.

Royal Holloway, University of London

Mingroni (2007) proposed that heterosis or hybrid vigor may be the principal driver of the Flynn effect — the tendency for IQ scores to increase at a rate of approximately 3 points per decade. This model was presented as a resolution to the IQ paradox — the observation that IQ scores have been increasing despite their high adult heritability — on the basis that substantial changes in IQ can only be accounted for by changes in underlying genetic factors. It is here argued that this model is predicated upon a misconception of the Flynn effect, which is most pronounced on the least g-loaded components of cognitive ability tests and is uncorrelated with genetic effects such as inbreeding depression scores (which are correlated with the g loadings of tests). Evidence supportive of the recently proposed life history model of the Flynn effect is presented. In the discussion, other theoretical objections to the heterosis model are also considered. On this basis, it is concluded that the Flynn effect is strongly entwined with developmental status and that heterosis cannot be its principal cause.

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Adoption Data and Two g-Related Hypotheses

Adoption Data and Two g-Related Hypotheses


University of California, Berkeley

Data on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised (WISC-R) from a now classic adoption study (Capron & Duyme, 1989, 1996) were used to examine the hypothesized relationship between diverse cognitive tests’ g loadings and the degree to which the scores on each of the tests is influenced by the socioeconomic status (SES) of the biological parents of the adopted children (a genetic effect) as contrasted with the SES of the adoptive parents (an environmental effect). The analysis shows that the genetic effect is reflected by psychometric g to a greater degree than is the environmental effect, a finding consistent with the hypothesis that the g factor largely reflects the genetic component of variance in cognitive tests. These data also extend previous findings on Spearman’s hypothesis that the standardized mean white-black (W-B) difference on various tests is directly related to the tests’ g loadings. It was found that the profile of the mean W-B differences on various subtests of the WISC-R (in the U.S. standardization sample) is more similar to the profile of genetic effects on the subtest scores than to the profile of environmental effects, as measured in the adoption study.

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Precautionary principle : An Evolutionary Perspective

In his 2010 paper, “Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent”, Kanazawa stated :

When our ancestors faced some ambiguous situation, such as rustling noises nearby at night or a large fruit falling from a tree branch and hitting them on the head, they could attribute it either to impersonal, inanimate, unintentional forces (wind blowing gently to make the rustling noises among the bushes and leaves, a mature fruit falling by its own weight from the branch by the force of gravity and hitting them on the head purely by accident) or to personal, animate, intentional forces (a predator sneaking up on them to attack, an enemy hiding in the tree branches and throwing fruits at their head).

Given that the situation is inherently ambiguous, our ancestors could have made one of two errors of inference. They could have attributed the events to intentional forces when they are in fact caused by unintentional forces (false-positive or Type I error) or they could have attributed them to unintentional forces when they were in fact caused by intentional forces (false-negative or Type II error). The consequences of Type I errors were that our ancestors became unnecessarily paranoid and looked for predators and enemies where there were none. The consequences of Type II errors were that our ancestors were attacked and killed by predators or enemies when they least suspected an attack. The consequences of committing Type II errors are far more detrimental to survival and reproduction than the consequences of committing Type I errors. Evolution should therefore favor psychological mechanisms which predispose their carriers to commit Type I errors but avoid Type II errors, and thus overinfer (rather than underinfer) intentions and agency behind potentially harmless phenomena caused by inanimate objects. Evolutionarily speaking, it is good to be paranoid, because it might save your life (Haselton and Nettle 2006).

Recent evolutionary psychological theories therefore suggest that evolutionary origin of religious beliefs in supernatural forces may stem from such an innate bias to commit Type I errors rather than Type II errors. The human brain may be biased to perceive intentional forces (the hands of God at work) behind a wide range of natural physical phenomena whose exact causes are unknown. If these theories are correct, then it means that religion and religiosity have an evolutionary origin. It is evolutionarily familiar and natural to believe in God, and evolutionarily novel not to be religious.

Then, if the precautionary principle, so often despised by economists, is evolutionarily familiar, it appears that this attitude is highly beneficial because this will improve our reproductive success. As such, ideology like liberalism is maladaptative; by promoting unnatural attitude, it tends to decrease our reproductive success, unless the relation has been distorted by government’s laws (an example of this is provided by Kanazawa & Savage, 2009, p. 122). This is why liberalism correlates with higher IQ, and this is why high IQ is detrimental. Not surprising if the so-called “racism” correlates with low IQ. Given the precautionary principle, it is natural to distrust strangers. Again, this is because the consequence of Type II errors (thinking that the danger is not there when it is) does not worth the risk.

Why Nobody Seems to Know What Exactly Social Capital is

Why Nobody Seems to Know What Exactly Social Capital is

Satoshi Kanazawa & Joanne Savage, 2009, Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology.

Abstract: There is no consensus on what social capital is because there is no widely accepted theory of values. Capital is a resource that helps individuals achieve some goal, so one needs to know what humans seek to achieve before one can define what capital is (social or otherwise). Evolutionary psychology is a strong contender for a general theory of values. From this perspective, social capital is any resource that inheres in relationships between individuals that help them attain reproductive success. An evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital can solve some empirical puzzles: Why women have more kin in their personal networks than men do; why black women are more likely to have children out of wedlock; why social capital often has opposite effects on status attainment of men and women; and why social capital appears to be declining in the US. An evolutionary psychological perspective can tell us what exactly social capital is, why humans are social and social capital is important to them, when and where humans maintain social relationships, and how to measure social capital precisely.

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