Lion of the Blogosphere

HBD stupidity in the NY Times

Here’s another NY Times article that draws completely moronic conclusions for failure to understand cause and effect and basic HBD.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)

Libraries matter even more than money; in the United States, with the size of libraries being equal, students coming from the top 10 percent of wealthiest families performed at just one extra grade level over students from the poorest 10 percent.

The implications are clear: Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically. It helps, of course, if parents are reading to their children and reading themselves, not simply buying books by the yard as décor.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Reading comprehension is more highly correlated with g than any other academic discipline. The number of books in a child’s home is also highly correlated with the parents’ intelligence, which they pass on by their genes to their children, which then causes their children to be better readers.

And yes, the number of books in the home is more important than family wealth, because as I’ve written many times before, family wealth isn’t as highly correlated with intelligence as some people in the HBD-sphere think it is. The number of books in the house are a much better indication of parents’ IQ than the size of their bank account.

The only way to see if the number of books in the household makes a difference is to give IQ tests to the parents, and THEN see if number of books have any independent predictive power after parental IQ is accounted for. I would guess that it wouldn’t.

Incidentally, by giving IQ tests to parents, we would also no doubt discover that family wealth has no impact at all on childrens’ test scores.

Here’s another NY Times article that draws completely moronic conclusions for failure to understand cause and effect and basic HBD.

* * *

This topic made me think about the Farook terrorist guy who had very bad written English based on his online dating profile which was published. My immediately conclusion is that we are not dealing with a genius but rather someone barely smart enough to graduate from college. He probably has an IQ between 100 to 110.

People with very high IQs normally are not religions. This is true among non-Muslim Americans and it’s highly likely to be true among Muslims as well. (But occasionally there’s the rare person who is very smart but also take Christianity very seriously, like Ted Cruz.)

ISIS supporters are likely to be people with IQs like Farook’s. They have to be smart enough to be attracted to abstract ideologies (which the least intelligent never are), but stupid enough to take religious superstition as literal truth. This probably explains why there haven’t been any significantly successful terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11. People smart enough to pull a 9/11 don’t become self-radicalized, at least not in the environment of the United States.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

December 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Posted in Biology, Books

53 Responses

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  1. For years in California, they’ve been running these ads about how talking to your children will stop them from being drug addicts and drop outs


    December 5, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    • I’ve never read any sports page let alone the one that he’s looking at but I’m pretty sure he’s not actually reading the paper but just giving a simplified version of the play by play announcement he imagines accompanied the game.

      Lloyd Llewellyn

      December 5, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      • Man! The best prole paper in the world was ‘Soviet Sport’! 8 pages packed with info about every single sport every single day! I used to read it cover to cover back in the USSR. It was like the Wall Street Journal of the Russian proles. My mother kept bemoaning my horrible taste. But what an exquisite pleasure it was! Come home from boxing practice, read my paper, and read a good book till late at night. It was the only paper I’d ever read back then. Why they had to destroy my paper? That paper really inspired you to exercise and love athletics, which is very important for a kid, or at least this is what I think.


        December 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    • Before the era of the Internet I used to have my nose in a newspaper all the time. I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago in which I show a video of my infant son looking hard at a newspaper, trying to figure out what the fuss is about. The video is about 90 seconds long, so you can decide whether it’s worth your time or not.


      December 7, 2015 at 12:05 am

  2. Just about any non-edible item that proles hoard eventually becomes useless junk. In terms of books, they generally do not gather scholarly titles.


    December 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm

  3. What is self-radicalized?

    Do people who believe that “Stalin was not guilty of mass first-degree murder from 1934 to 1941” such as myself, are not self-radicalized in some sense? The environment of the US makes it hard for someone to come to such a conclusion.

    Furthermore, you seem to overestimate the influence of g. Perhaps there are some non-g factors that can make individuals jihadi. But there is probably a lower bound of g in order to embrace it, especially in an environment where it is not constantly emphasizes.


    December 5, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    • Fine if you think the Ukraine famine was unintentional and Stalin’s regime shouldn’t face any particular blame. But I don’t know how much you can defend Stalin personally against the purges unless it’s a quibble over “first-degree murder”.

      And I’m broadly pro-Soviet Union. The more liberal SU post-Stalin did very well for a long time so it’s hard to think having an iron first to keep everyone in line was absolutely required to hold it together as a communist state.


      December 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      • That is the thesis of Robert Thurston’s Life and Terror in Stalin’s Russia (which was published by Yale University Press). I didn’t read it, but I read Grover Furr’s Blood Lies.

        Here’s a summary of Thurston’s book.

        The Purges were not an intentionalist plot by Stalin, and it was mostly Yezhov that was behind its horrible excesses.


        December 5, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      • You people totally amaze me. Lenin, Stalin and the Communist Party of Soviet Union were the worst oppressors and enslavers of the working class that the country had ever known. Will you wrap your heads around the facts?


        December 5, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    • The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

      Thomas Jefferson

      Stalin should’ve been shot like a dog, no trial is necessary. Long life liberty!


      December 5, 2015 at 9:43 pm

  4. In a world of electronic books, how can one present the child with a library? I ask, because the books not being physically present and visible for serendipitous discovery will reduce the opportunities for more reading.


    December 5, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    • More reasons to not have an e-reader!


      December 5, 2015 at 5:19 pm

  5. The possible non-HBD casual factor could be that growing up with books around causes children to begin casually reading at an early age, giving them a big head start. I think this is probably a significant factor, though hereditary IQ is also major.


    December 5, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    • Dunno. 4 kids, 2,000 books, 2 read, 2 read NOTHING! Grandkids show the same pattern.

      My daughter visited just now with her husband and kids. I have truly unique books on the table. Nobody even a glances at them. Genes are very tricky.


      December 6, 2015 at 12:08 am

      • Agree with Yakov here. Books are damn near everywhere these days. If you are going to catch the bug it’ll happen one way or another.

        Jokah Macpherson

        December 6, 2015 at 12:18 am

  6. In the future will they ask how many books you have on your Kindle in these surveys? Even kids use Kindles now. My 8-year-old grand daughter has a Kindle.


    December 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm

  7. It took me some time into adulthood to realize that many family homes weren’t cluttered with books not because the woman of the house was anti-clutter but because they didn’t purchase them in the first place. I simply assumed our comparatively book cluttered home was the consequence of my mother’s hoarding impulses.


    December 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm

  8. They could also put a bunch of books in randomly assigned homes with small children to test this theory. Unlike a lot of medical hypotheses, there are absolutely no ethical issues with performing a true experiment with random group assignment.

    Even if you believe the book thing actually has an effect, you could just draw subjects from homes that had few or no books to begin with.

    Jokah Macpherson

    December 5, 2015 at 6:06 pm

  9. This is similar to the 1990s obsession with the “Mozart Effect”. Babies who listened to Mozart grew up smarter. Parents rushed out to by Mozart to boost their babies’ IQ.

    Of course there is no “Mozart Effect.” The relation is correlative not causative. The sort of people who play Mozart at home tend to be wealthier and smarter. They pass on their wealth and IQ to their children.


    December 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm

  10. No question that encouraging reading and cuddly quality time doing so with parents is good for any child, but the NYT as usual exaggerates it into a government program cure-all.

    I used to read the NYT to my cat. She was pretty smart and it was good for us, but she never went Ivy League.


    December 5, 2015 at 6:12 pm

  11. One of my uncles is the biggest exception I know to the correlation of home library size with intelligence. He has a huge library but is middle-of-the-road smart. The big tell is that all of his books are popular sci-fi and fantasy novels rather than popular non-fiction, “literature”, or something even more technical. Nonetheless, I still much prefer the company of someone who reads a lot of fantasy novels to someone who doesn’t read at all.

    Jokah Macpherson

    December 5, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    • He has an IQ of at least 115 if his hobby is reading sci-fi novels. Did he go to college?

      Lion of the Blogosphere

      December 5, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      • Seems like a very bold claim. What would be the minimum IQ for someone whose hobby is reading literary novels? Philosophy?


        December 5, 2015 at 9:22 pm

      • 130

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 5, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      • Yes, 115 is about exactly where I’d peg it. Sorry, I meant “middle-of-the-road…among college-level people with whom I associate on a regular basis.” He went to college and was an RN, but going strictly by number of books you’d project him in the 150 range.

        Jokah Macpherson

        December 5, 2015 at 11:57 pm

      • Surely more than 1% of people enjoy reading literary novels regularly.


        December 6, 2015 at 12:02 am

      • “Surely more than 1% of people enjoy reading literary novels regularly.”

        That is correct. 2.28% of people do.

        Jokah Macpherson

        December 6, 2015 at 12:13 am

      • That’s me, but I think my IQ is less than 130. I know that I’m not too smart. So I don’t think it’s true. How can I take an IQ test, Lion? There is no way that I’m 130, but I’d spent the whole Shabbat reading philosophy. Can I be a lower IQ mutant that likes philosophy and literature. I also like studying math, so maybe I’m better than I think I’m. I wanna take the test. Lion, help me out.


        December 6, 2015 at 12:27 am

      • I think you’re IQ is at least 130.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 6, 2015 at 9:07 am

      • “What would be the minimum IQ for someone whose hobby is reading literary novels? Philosophy?”


        Hmm. I’m not so sure. I read literary fiction (and history, biographies, politics etc., FWIW) as my hobby and my IQ is somewhere in the 110-115 range.

        As flattering as it is to read, say, Murray asserting that someone is already super smart if they’re reading the kind of books he writes (Real Education and The Bell Curve especially, although Coming Apart toned it down considerably), sometimes the rhetoric on the topic can turn into a bit of a circle jerk.


        December 6, 2015 at 12:50 am

      • What did you get on the SAT?

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 6, 2015 at 9:09 am

      • “Surely more than 1% of people enjoy reading literary novels regularly.”

        I’d be surprised if it was that high. Very, very few people are well read.


        December 6, 2015 at 1:03 am

    • “What did you get on the SAT?”

      I didn’t take the SAT/ACT (long story), and ended up taking another country’s entrance exams, so it’s hard to make comparisons. However, I scored about the 98th percentile in English for that year. I think I’m somewhere between the 45th and 60th percentile when it comes to numeric issues.

      My quibble with you is that I’d read 120+ books a year, mostly literary fiction, biographies, history, politics etc., and my IQ is nowhere near 130. There are probably IQ floors for enjoying various pursuits but, short of research, it’s more shooting in the dark.


      December 6, 2015 at 11:41 am

      • 98th percentile in a college entrance exam is 130+ verbal IQ, like I said.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        December 6, 2015 at 11:44 am

      • “98th percentile in a college entrance exam is 130+ verbal IQ, like I said.”

        Not quite. You said that the minimum *IQ* would be 130, not the verbal portion of this:

        “What would be the minimum IQ for someone whose hobby is reading literary novels? Philosophy?”


        It seems more like our wires crossing but it matters.


        December 6, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      • Anyone who reads 120 books a year has way too much time on their hands.


        December 6, 2015 at 6:13 pm

  12. When I was about six years old, I used to read through a 30-year old set of worn encyclopedias that were stuffed in a bookcase in the basement. When I turned 14, my Mom got me a subscription to Money Magazine, and continued to renew it every year over the subsequent 31 years until she passed.

    E. Rekshun

    December 5, 2015 at 6:33 pm

  13. The old saying goes, ” If you go back to someone’s home and there aren’t any books, don’t fuck them.

    This is a heuristic I believe in.

    I’m willing to forgive almost any fault in a person who loves reading.


    December 5, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    • You go to a young lady’s apartment and all she has is chick lit. Does that change your formula?


      December 6, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      • Excellent question. It depends on the person. I can think of two people off hand. One is a Russian Jewish girl who works by my butcher. All she reads is romantic stuff. Always with a book. When I ask her what’s she’s reading, she goes: ‘What can a woman be reading?’. I think she is very nice and smart, but then I don’t care if a woman doesn’t read at all. Her thing is to have a kind heart and be a mother, the rest is secondary.

        The other is a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Very smart and beautiful. She goes: ‘OH, I read all the time. I hardly watch TV.’ It turned out that what she reads is porn. In this case, I dunno. She is definitely exceptionally bright and the most beautiful 50 something that I’ve ever met. She is a real estate agent and we’ve met professionally, but had really interesting conversations. But how is it that such a smart and beautiful woman reads and watches porn all the time? This is confusing and on Sunday she goes to a Catholic Church? New York is an interesting place. She is so amazing, that I would kill anybody for her. I wish she was Jewish or maybe better not.


        December 6, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      • “It turned out that what she reads is porn.”

        From my experience, women spend most of their time reading quasi-porn (bodice rippers and Cosmo) or thumbing through catalogs of things they’d like to buy. Women used to read novels about women drawn into disrepute by love (Sister Carrie, Jeannie Gerhardt, Madam Bovary, Anna Karenina) but I don’t think they read that much of that stuff anymore.


        December 6, 2015 at 9:09 pm

  14. A lot of funny things happen to you when you are a book worm. For example, my parents had a book ‘The Myths of Ancient Greece’. I was reading it before I started the first grade and even though it was called the ‘myths’, I actually believed those things were real. Also, it was full of naked athletic bodies, which formed my esthetic tastes and concepts of what constitutes human beauty. This is pretty funny and I still have the book. At that time my aunt asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up? ‘An ancient Greek’, was my answer.

    My friend, a total book worm with an MA in literature found a copy of Kama Sutra in her parents bedroom and read it. Now this really could mess you up as a kid. I didn’t go too deeply into this discussion with her, but I’m pretty sure it did. She is very nice, though.

    This Is funny. I’m reading a perfect Soviet propaganda story in a magazine and it describes an American soldier in Vietnam lying in bed with a prostitute and talking about his life. So I go:
    – ‘Ma, what’s a prostitute?’
    My mother’s turns pale, then blushes and goes:
    – ‘A bad woman that smokes, drinks and doesn’t love her husband’.

    I’m not sure what you can answer a second grader, maybe just ‘a bad woman’? But then, is every prostitute a bad woman? So I’m not sure.

    At 13 I was reading’ Godfather’ in English. My dad was around so I didn’t have to use a dictionary so I go:
    ‘Dad what’s a pimp? ‘. He had the good sense to explain it to me. Today, it’s hard to imagine a 13 year old not knowing what is a pimp.

    I’ve not known anyone who’d read’ The Communist Manifesto ‘ and’ The State and The Revolution’ by his barmitzva. I understood the Manifesto and enough of the other book to know that this isn’t the system that I like. I remember reading about abolishion of the family in the Manifesto and that was the end of communism for me. I wasn’t going to share my woman with anyone. Only a crazy would do this.


    December 5, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    • I remember asking what a prostitute was when I was 17 or 18. This was in the early 70’s.


      December 6, 2015 at 2:09 am

      • This is strange, how come? You didn’t like reading? Also, weren’t prostitutes walking all over the streets in those days? How did you miss them? Where did you live? This is quite amazing to me. There is a famous Russian novel about prostitution ‘Yama’ written by Kuprin, I think by 17 most serious readers would have read it. Also, are you female or a male?



        December 6, 2015 at 9:51 am

      • I’m a female. I read plenty but not Russian novels, or any other books involving prostitutes. No, there were not prostitutes on the streets that I ever saw. In fact back then you never saw homeless people. The mentally ill were kept in hospitals. This was in Vancouver. I lived in West Vancouver.


        December 6, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      • Looks I you grew up in a semi-paradise. Nice. How is Vancouver now?


        December 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      • Reminds me of my sister piping up in the middle of Lady Sings the Blues at the drive in when we were supposed to be asleep exclaiming ‘where’s the horse house?’


        December 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

  15. I remember back in the 90s driving through central California and listening to the as usual emotionally manipulative NPR wailing about how Salinas, CA was too broke and was closing it’s free public libraries. Irony of Ironies, as I happened to be driving through that town and could see the Blockbuster Video stores just off the 101. All the subsidies that go for culture and education when people are all too willing to pay for crap video films and games. You bet that they have the platinum premium cable pay tv packages too…

    Reminds me of a picture accompanying a feature article in a northeast German newspaper about a stupid fat local tramp with 6 kids by 5 different fathers. She was a single mother complaining that the her benefits were inadequate. Of course in the background of the photograph of her and her brood of miserable offspring were bookcases filled with tens of thousands of euros worth of DVDs. Of course no books to be found. A little reminder to JS and others that proles aren’t exactly unique to meriprolistan.

    Isn’t it time we consider the question of the basic income again?

    It looks like the Finns might actually be doing it!

    Thin-Skinned Masta-Beta

    December 5, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    • The article doesn’t define ‘everyone’. Say, a family of four, does everyone get 800 euro, just the adults, or how? 800 euro with the loss of all existing state benefits, if we are to believe this article, isn’t a wholr lot. But 1,600 with working off the books is OK. Now, these societies will implode and collapse. A man needs to be struggling, fighting and making a living for his mental health and vitality. Sitting in the sauna and collecting 800 euros is death. Africans must love the idea, though.


      December 6, 2015 at 10:20 am

  16. No way in hell Farook has an IQ of 110. Did you see his driver’s license pic? Those eyes…

    His Dad was a no-account, on-again, off-again long-haul truck-driver. I’m calling it 100 tops with a generous he-graduated-college bonus, and I’m thinking more like 95-98.

    What college did he attend? Community college or 3rd tier California is like a high school degree 40 years ago. It doesn’t take much. The average white person (IQ 100) can handle it with barely more effort than just showing up.


    December 5, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    • Yes Farook’s eyes look very strange… what the hell was the matter with him? Reminds me of the picture of Mohammed Atta. Very creepy.


      December 6, 2015 at 2:14 am

  17. Not trying to argue much with you guys, but you probably understand that it isn’t simple. Obviously, non exposure to something at early age robs of success later in life – purely because of the limits to when the brain can learn stuff. You will not be able to see or hear much if not exposed to images or sounds early in your life. So, it does matter, but will be like a threshold with the following diminishing returns. So, I would strongly recommend to give one book to your child if you get that far.


    December 9, 2015 at 2:16 am

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