Lowell Robinson RIP. A sad email from a friend this morning reported the passing last night of Lowell Robinson, one of the giants of our community. Lowell was the founder of what today we know as Robinson Enterprises, a multi-faceted business that has served Nevada County for decades. He also put his money where his mouth was as a prominent supporter of uncounted philanthropies, local educational programs, and political causes. We will miss his good humor, wisdom, and generosity.
IQ scores have been rising for decades. So we learn from the work of James Flynn, a social scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Since IQ is a relative or a ‘normed measure’ of intelligence represented by the bell curve in which 100 is set so as to indicate the average or mean IQ, and every ten point difference from 100 is one standard deviation, your 80 or 120 IQ respectively says that about 2.5% of the population scores lower than you, or the same percentage scores higher. But Dr Flynn reports that IQ tests have had to be made tougher over the course of the last century in order to keep the mean at 100.
IQ scores shot up in the 1920s after WW1, then plateaued, and then shot up again after WW2. Scores plateaued again in the 1970s (coincident with when Great Society education started kicking in). After picking up for a quarter century, the recent rise has again slowed down. One of the several theories to account for this ‘Flynn Effect’ is that childhoods have become longer as countries became richer during the last hundred years or so.
Several people are beginning to notice Jonathan Rauch’s (Political Realism, 2015) development of what he has labeled “transactional politics”. The left-leaning political commentator sounds almost like a conservative when he defends ‘political machines’ as the grease that keeps the wheels of government turning, and not grinding to a halt as seems to be the current propensity of Washington. He observes that “American government may be less corrupt. But it also has more difficulty getting anything done.” One of his nostrums includes reinstatement of ‘earmarks’ as the currency which allowed (motivated?) politicians to wheel and deal and then compromise in getting major legislation through Congress. I’ll have more to say about Rauch’s thoughts in a future post on our government’s sclerotic corruption, a dysfunction that is now beyond the tipping point as also analyzed by Charles Murray (By the People, 2015).