Category: Book Review

Wealth, Poverty and Politics: A must read for understanding group differences

Thomas Sowell’s book, Wealth, Poverty and Politics, provides a thorough explanation as to why nations and groups of peoples developed at different rates, how and why they rise or fall as a group or empire. There are only a few sections which I do not find convincing, such as his arguments on group differences in IQ and his complete rejection of the genetic hypothesis.

To summarize the ideas of the book, Sowell shows that 1) population differences emerged because geography has never been egalitarian, 2) cultural and geographical isolations are great impediments to development, 3) equal opportunity will not create equal outcomes between groups, 4) education is not human capital and has sometimes caused negative outcomes, 5) exploitation of the poor through either slavery or imperialism does not explain prosperity status, 6) poverty and inequality are so ill-defined to the point that comparisons are meaningless, 7) the government has a duty to please the masses through dubious tactics at the expense of economic performance.

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How Autism Drives Human Invention: But Is It Just Autism?

In The Pattern Seekers: How Autism Drives Human Invention (2020), Baron-Cohen proposes the Systemizing Mechanism as an explanation for human progress through invention, from the first tools to the digital revolution. Autistic people tend to be hyper-systemizers, due to their repetitive behavior and obsessive interest. With their talent at spotting novel patterns which produce a potentially groundbreaking result, they have potential to be inventors. They are those who can’t help focusing on precision and detail and figure out how a system works, how to improve a system.

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The Bell Curve, 20 years after

Or nearly so. I was planning to publish that blog article for the 31th December 2014. As you can see, I failed in this task, and didn’t finish in the right time. Anyway, I wrote this article, mainly because I am bothered that when people cite The Bell Curve the typical opponent responds with a link toward Wikipedia, specifically the part related to the “controversy” of The Bell Curve. It goes without saying that these persons did not read the books written in response to The Bell Curve. In fact, they have certainly read none of them. It is ridiculous to cite a book you didn’t read, but apparently, it does not bother many people, as I see.

For the 20 years of the book, I found appropriate to write a defense of the book. Or more precisely, a critical comment on the critics. I have decided to read carefully one of these books I can have access, and for what I have read here and there, it is probably the best book ever written against The Bell Curve. I know that Richard Lynn (1999) has already written a review before. But I wanted to go into the details. The title of the book I’m reviewing is :

Devlin, B. (1997). Intelligence, Genes and Success: Scientists Respond to the Bell Curve. Springer.

In fact, I have read that book some time ago, but didn’t find the need to read everything in detail. And I was unwilling to write a lengthy review. But I have changed my mind because of some nasty cowards.
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MH’s book review of Deafness, Deprivation, and IQ (Braden 1994)

Jeffery P. Braden. (1994). Deafness, deprivation, and IQ. Springer.

See also. The study of deaf people since Braden (1994). Human Varieties.

The book is a compilation of studies on deaf people, which concludes that cultural deprivation due to deafness lowers verbal IQ but not nonverbal IQ. Braden sought to prove Arthur Jensen wrong about his conclusions on the genetic component in racial differences in IQ. At the end, his research culminated in a trauma well known to scientific history, namely, his perfectly good theory was ruined by his data. Being born deaf does not affect g. And genetic theories are the most powerful arguments to account for the pattern of the data.
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