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franchise by examination
education and intelligence

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franchise by examination, education and intelligence is one in a series of documents examining how to improve public behaviour in society.
abelard proposes that adult franchise (voting) be subject to the passing of suitable examinations. Further human social advance may be dependant upon such radical change.
lozenge introduction to franchise discussion documents lozenge citizenship curriculum lozenge the logic of ethics
lozenge franchise by examination, education and intelligence lozenge power, ownership and freedom lozenge citizen’s wage
lozenge herds and the individual - sociology, the ephemeral nature of groups lozenge Socialism and education - theory and reality
With reviews by Utopianist authors Heinlein, Wells, Morris
marker the Magna Carta, 1215 – a new English translation by abelard.org

Curious Republic of Gondour by Mark Twain
from Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Kantsaywhere by Francis Galton

from In the Wet by Neville Shute
utopianists : Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells, William Morris
historic UK vote allocation
lozenge how to teach a child to read using phonics
marker for related short briefing documents examining the world’s growing crisis, start at replacing fossil fuels, the scale of the problem                      click for more headlines


For the past 60 or 70 years, there have been wide ranging disputes concerning to what degree IQ is determined by genetics and to what extent by environment. These discussions are, to a great extent, flawed because the dichotomy is false and therefore, most of the ‘reasoning’ is then falsely founded. For much more detail on the logical problems with ‘IQ’ ‘arguments’, see ‘intelligence’: misuse and abuse of statistics.

If we had an entirely uniform environment, it is clear that all differences in IQ would be attributable to the genes. As we have no such bland similarity of influences, any proportion of differences that are found, which are not accounted for by genetic influences, are in reality a general measure of environmental differences. If there are differences, those differences may be seen as, at the least, a partial measure of the inadequacies and inefficiencies of our educational system. They are not sensibly to be seen as an interesting measure of some fixed proportion of the environmental contributions, relative to the genetic factors, that amount to ‘intelligence’ in some supposed natural condition.

Current estimates of the variation of environmental effects through twin studies put genetic factors pertaining to ‘intelligence’ at somewhere above 50%, with wide variations according to the details under study.return to index


twin studies
what is the present state of knowledge?
the genetic contribution
the environmental contribution
stages of consciousness
sentients and ownership

New translation, the Magna Carta

twin studies

Essentially twin studies use two methods:

1) ‘Identical’ twins reared apart, and

2) The differences between ‘identical’ twins reared together and fraternal twins reared together.

Twins come in two basic types:

Identical’ (synonymous with monozygotic, short form: MZ)

1) This is a misnomer, for each individual is a different real world object with necessarily different real world experiences. Of course, the actual DNA in the individuals is also constructed of different atoms and molecules.

2) ‘Identical’ refers to twins formed from a single fertilised egg (zygote), which has later split and formed two individuals. The individuals thus have the ‘same’ DNA coding (hence they are of course both of the ‘same’ sex).

Fraternal (synonymous with dizygotic, short form: DZ)
These are twins that have formed from two separate fertilised eggs; they are therefore genetically equivalent to normal siblings (brother/sister, sister/sister, or brother/brother)
Another method, not using twins, is to compare unrelated children reared together.

Twins are born to humans at an approximate ratio of one set per 80 births in Europe and America (excluding the use of fertility drugs). Approximately 1 in 2.5 of those twin births involves ‘identical’ twins. Triplets are approximately 1 in 80 squared (1:6,400 births), quadruplets 1 in 80 cubed, and so on. The ratios vary in different populations from about 1 in 70 to 1 in 145 births; however, source records from many areas are unreliable.

DZ twinning: multiple births are most common in the African geographic area; less common in Europe and least common in Asia. DZ twinning is most common in older mothers and tends to recur in families having a history of multiple births, indicating that hereditary factors are involved.

MZ twinning, on the other hand, occurs randomly in all areas and follows no discernible genetic pattern; it also tends to occur more frequently in older mothers. Such could be seen as a mechanistic failure or as a compensation for attenuating fertility.

return to indexFor much greater detail see Plomin.

 It is useful to note that most children, rich and poor, are raised with considerable under lying conformity in particular for the first few years. They tend to wear a similar range of clothes, learn a similar language, eat with generally standard utensils, ride in similar vehicles, sit on similar furniture and so on, not withstanding the various accents or quality of fabrics that they may encounter. The educational standards vary little in their abysmal paucity of imagination and competence.

Serious differences in educational effectiveness that do appear are because of a very few exceptional parents. If there is to be any useful fundamental advance in human education at large, it is important to look closely at these exceptions and to notice the vast differences in effect that such tutors do manage. These differences are aggravated by the normally late entry into any formal or organised education experienced by the average child, for much the greatest effect is related to the earliest experiences. If the basic and earliest experiences are poor, attempting to compensate for the mess in later years is mostly a forlorn hope. Such attempts require vastly greater efforts than does laying down positive input from the earliest point of development. To fill the heads of the young with the idiocy of talking animals and hobgoblins is a sure recipe for confusion and low confidence.

Outside the generally wide uniformity, there is much evidence that IQ (or if you prefer, performance) can be substantially enhanced. Cases such as Ruth Lawrence, the Polgar sisters, J.S. Mill and so on, make this abundantly clear, as does growing data with young children. Currently, the major factors impacting on effective education are home environment, and the intelligence of the individual and their inherent motivation (which may well also have genetic elements). Our inadequate schools and teachers are mostly a secondary effect. The school system is usually struggling with, and often aggravating, the original problems. It is also well to keep in mind the considerable effects of peer pressure.

To make progress, intervention is going to have to attend far more to children’s earliest experiences; and the training of teachers and future parents will have to be placed on a far more serious basis. For this to be effective, education must be opened to the wider society, including parents.

Although the book, The Bell Curve, met with an avalanche of bigotry from ‘leftists’, it is a fairly reasonable (over 800 pages!) review article that could as easily have been written 20 or more years ago. The details set out are not seriously controversial. The authors are very careful not to step over the line but it is hard, in the present circumstances, to regard it as a completely innocent effort.[1a] Some of the authors’ sources have been challenged but I think that such picky questioning is largely irrelevant in the overall picture. However at the end of the day, the differences between groups winds up in ‘so what?’

While it is uncontroversial that the average intelligence of blacks is lower than whites in current circumstances, the general ‘equation’ black ‘equals’ thick is so ridiculous as to not merit wasting time and effort. Such commentary is a function of bigotry and lack of an education in even the simplest understanding of statistics. It is quite clear to anyone who cares to study this, that there are many blacks with intelligence levels well above those of the majority of whites. There is also positive correlation between height and intelligence; I am inclined to wonder why that is not a ‘controversy’. Considerable error is perpetrated in social sciences by attempting to apply statistical effects to individual cases. Such incautious generalisations (collectivist ‘thinking’) are always illegitimate.

Reading The Bell Curve without care could easily lead to serious misunderstanding. I recommend thatGarber’s book on the Milwaukee Project would provide a useful balance. Both books should be standard curriculum for any aspiring teacher.return to index

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Correlation is an arithmetical comparison between two sets of data (figures) that shows the degree of arithmetical relatedness between the two data sets.

Correlation does not imply causation. See also Hume on cause.

Correlation measurements always apply to the given circumstances in space and time. That is, as an example, a correlation coefficient derived from American data from 1926 cannot be safely compared with an apparently similar return to indexstudy in 1980 Africa.

Gaining knowledge may be regarded as a scientific process. What we do with our knowledge is what concerns, and that is a ‘moral’, ethical or political matter, not a scientific affair.

Consider the efficiency of reaching an objective. First, assume that we define a certain objective as 'good', for example, making people happy by being supposedly kindly to them by offering them cups of tea or cash. Next, we may train or teach by differing methods, various people, including children, to act thus. Then, we may work out a manner of measuring which method has produced the most effectively ‘kindly’ people. Thus can we apply a scientific approach to testing which methods work to produce what we have previously decided to call moral or ethical behaviour. We may also ask the recipient questions about whether the acts, in their view, did make them ‘happy’.

what is the present state of knowledge?
the genetic contribution

1) There are people born without forebrain or with Down’s syndrome.

2) Un-like twins born into the same family can learn at very different rates (it would require mental gymnastics of a high order to attribute this to environmental differences.)

3) These differences can be measured after a fashion, with reasonable return to indexconsistency, under certain conditions, by various assemblies of trick ‘questions’ vaguely referred to as IQ tests.

the environmental contribution

1) Best teaching practices would, from my experience, have approximately 90% of 16 year olds through 4 ‘A’ grade GCSEs at 16 years of age (currently this standard is achieved by 13.2% of 16 year olds). Best teaching practices would also probably enable at least 15% of students through a first-class science degree at 21 (at present only 5% achieve any manner of science degree). I do not include present psychology and sociology courses as science. I do include engineering.

There is, of course, no need or reason to stop learning at these arbitrary ages. These figures may well prove to be underestimates as we learn more. Society would look entirely different if such practice were widespread.

2) Most twin tests (see Twin Studies box) of IQ seem to show 50–80% genetic contribution (heritability). I am quite dubious of these ‘results’. When the ‘statistics’ are taken apart, you find individual cases (pairs) where there are approximately 20-point IQ differences, when identical twins reared apart have been brought up in very different cultural backgrounds. Therefore the correlations are, at least in part, a statistical factor rather than necessarily useful evidence. Such real differences that are relevant evidence often tend to be buried in the averaging.

3) Children brought up without decent conditions and with minimal interaction or stimulus, for example in orphanages in communist states, show severe retardation. They did not arrive at the orphanages because of retardation, but by virtue of poverty or abandonment and so on.

4) The ‘skills’ tested by I.Q. ‘tests’ can, by and large, be taught. As far as I am concerned this means ‘I.Q.’ can be taught just like physics or reading. That is not of course, the ‘same’ as saying, that "you may make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear" but perhaps genetic science may change even that.

5) Chess is graded reliably throughout the world, in my view much more reliably than are I.Q. tests. Chess requires considerable mental skills, presently the two strongest female players in the world are sisters and the third sister has reached number 4. It would take a considerable act of faith to argue this result was due to a chess gene. That something is possible does not equate to it being desirable. I am far from convinced that treating humans in this manner is optimal, but then neither do I like people being born without brains. From what I’ve seen of the sisters, they are no worse than the rest of dismal western ‘culture’ and the data remains pertinent.

There are great differences in the ability of humans to learn. It is also clear that
a great deal may be achieved by efficient child rearing and education.

I think efforts to achieve the changes implied above would be far more useful than ideologically-based blather concerning race or conventional idiotic assertions of human ‘equality’.

Drilling and rote learning are for parrots. A very great deal of what passes for education would be better described as conditioning. The system does not teach people to think, but instead drills responses (see draft curriculum on this site)

The brain is alive and grows; it is not a static ‘machine’.

I am not interested in running up and down convincing people of what I regard as obvious and overwhelming evidence. I am only concerned to turn education into a science that can be reliably taught and thus to make a better world. It is up to society, which means you, to decide how and whether to imbibe and, if you so do, how to use the information I here set out. I have, of course, views on the subject that will be apparent throughout this summary. I am more concerned to develop the hammers and other tools, than I am to apply them. ‘You’, or ‘scientists’ who follow me, are more than welcome to bang in the nails – do the five minute tests or the statistical sums and have ‘controversial’ discussions.

I will take the view facetiously expressed by Tom Lehrer, "once the rockets go up who cares where they come down, that’s not my department says Wernher Von Braun".

In order to complete this section, I mention that there are various factors such as adequate diet and general health that can effect ‘intelligence’. It is not my intention to return to indexdiscuss these matters here.

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Much is said and written about ‘consciousness’ with little attendance to the meaning of that word. Consciousness I will contend is not some on/off phenomenon, but a series of stages of increasing complexity inherent in the nature of matter.

I shall sketch out a rough series of increasing levels of consciousness and make rough suggestions of potential legal implications of those levels.

The concept of ‘levels’ is technically rather difficult, for it requires a digital assumption. That assumption is open to empiric criticism. Therefore note that categories are by their reality, their nature, pragmatic procedures, rather than being somehow inherent ‘facts of nature’. It follows that the number of such potential categories is purely arbitrary, categories are therefore a matter for pragmatic political judgements. A common expression is ‘the map is not the territory’, or return to indexbetter put: the model is not the reality.

Consciousness part 1: stages of consciousness

1) Reflex reaction: as exhibited by a computer and expressed by Newton's equal and opposite reaction.

2) I don't wish to be gobbled. For example, frogs dive from predators, and plants produce poison and thorns to discourage others from turning them into dinner. Feedback mechanisms also respond by closing down, or opening up, on signals to the environment.

At present such entities are generally regarded to be under property law. However, growing concepts of a living planet, suggest other mindsets for thinking more inclusively about the world. These concepts are reflected in the worldview of some primitive societies such as the Australian aborigines, Lovelock’s Gaia model, Heraclitus’s insight that one may not step in the same river twice and the concept/description known as pan-consciousness or panpsychism (to which I tend to subscribe).

3) Pain: a bit farther up the ladder of consciousness...

houn' dog howling, so forlorn.
laziest dog that ever was born.
he's howlin' cause he's settin' on a thorn.
just too tired to move over.

I am happy enough to take the pragmatic position that such behavioural evidence indicates ‘pain’. At this level, I suggest that a right to no-torture could be established in, for example, the farming industry and so on, and for babies under approximately 21 months.

4) Self-awareness: e.g. ability to recognise one’s self in a mirror. This ability appears in young human children,  dependent upon ‘intelligence’ level, at about 21 months and is also present in anthropoid apes. At this level, I suggest that a ‘right to life’ might be established.

5) Impulse override, which occurs by degrees, by personality and training; when, say, a being/entity, shows serious pre-consideration of actions. I would attribute this level to an average intelligent seven year-old human. The church of Rome goes for ‘the age of reason’at about that age. Another description would be the ability to think things through without acting, a bit like Piaget’s ‘concrete operations’ classification. At this level, maybe a right to outside arbitration could be established in law.

6) I would then go onto a sixth stage, full franchise by examination and, or else, by economic surplus production, what some (not me) might call independence. Many societies would have put such a stage at around 13 years old, examples being bar mitzvah, confirmation and various primitive ‘rights of passage’.

As our societies become more complex, I suggest then that we should be considering an examination-based franchise at about that level of understanding.

7) An additional level, which I would like to be considered, is the extension of the franchise to direct ‘democracy’ through use of the Internet. In such a context, I would suggest that the franchise could be still further restricted. Perhaps such a level would be merely advisory, or exerted by mediation through a representation level, as with current ‘democratic’ process. Such a level might also be used as a qualification for standing as return to index a representative.

Thus, on the basis of these suggested ‘stages’ of sentience, I suggest it would be feasible to ‘develop rights’ upon a rational basis instead of using arbitrary ages and species differences.

See Consciousness part 2

By relating franchise to examination, I suggest that the franchise will be taken more seriously and better valued. In its crude form such a process may require some modification. It is probable that a means of franchise qualification by proof of ability to keep oneself without charitable donations, over a period of time, should be treated as an alternate route.

I suggest that such a franchise exam must be available for as many retakes as wished by any individual, rather in the manner of current driving tests. For such a system to find general acceptance it would have to be linked to absolute rights of access to appropriate and effective educational resources. It would also be essential that such a system could only be phased in with full preparation, over a substantial period of time. One method may be to start by giving an extra vote to those qualifying, rather than omitting current franchise.

I am asserting that franchise qualification by age is irrational and that it leads to chronic injustice and oppression, particularly in the handling of ‘children’, and those incompetent to run their own affairs in a modern complex culture.

Age ‘norms’ assume a biological developmental link for franchise, which I regard as ultimately incompatible with growing freedom in an advancing society.

I think therefore that levels of responsibility must be sentience based.

As society changes, ‘work’, will cease to be recognised as some ‘good’. As that progresses, it will be necessary to institute a citizen’s wage. The mechanisms should already be in place and a nominal level set. Comments upon franchise qualification above must be read in this context. The notion of franchise by examination is becoming an imperative, not primarily because of economic change. It is also necessary in order to improve the social environment by the return to index selective limiting of the rights of those incapable of living in a modern complex society, without widely intruding upon the effective mature adults in that society.

sentients and ownership

I have often asked the question, "who owns the ‘child’ "? This question is normally met by a mixture of confusion and outrage.

There is much hang-up in the concept of ownership relative to humans (sentients) there is also much confusion between ‘economics’ and ‘politics’.

Life comprises essentially of time. The thief who steals my chips essentially steals the time I expended to achieve the where with all to attain my food, that is, the thief steals a proportion of my life as surely as a murderer steals all of ones remaining years.

‘Economics’ is the manner in which we mediate alienated relationships. If you come to my brothel, you are permitted to purchase reasonable use of my fair body for a pre-negotiated/contracted time at a mutually agreed price. The same is true if you visit a hairdresser or a medic.

A baby or a table are incapable of making such ‘bargains’ for they are not in any position to negotiate.

We may attribute indirect rights to those objects that are unable to negotiate their ‘own’ rights, e.g., we call the table, ‘abelard’s table’, and may the bastard that scratches it be woebegone.

Likewise we deal with babies. This last causes much anxiety in human society. However, if we are to be consistent in attributing greater rights to young babies, we must, in my view, attribute similar rights to frogs and cows. This is still more pertinent for the anthropoid apes, unless we are to base our ethics upon mere ‘I want’. Ethics founded in ‘I want’, however convoluted or hypocritical the sales pitch, is hardly deserving of the term human ethics, but better called human self-interest.

The movement from ownership status to franchised adult is a long weaning process, mediated by education. It is central that the process of education is formally linked to franchise. Currently there is no such return to indexsystematic link. For any effective progress I am convinced that this link must be achieved.


This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws, not god’s laws, and if you cut them down, and you are just the man to do it, d’you think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
R. Bolt, 1960, attributed to Thomas More.

Laws or principles or rules or dogma are all of a similar structure. They are attempts to substitute lazy general codification for thought and negotiation (or feedback). They may be necessary or useful as a means to save effort and time, or as a means to modify the venality of the uncultured and uneducated. They are not an adequate replacement for thought and the need to examine every situation in a world in flux.

Laws are inevitably established to serve the sectional interests of the powerful, whether the powerful be an aristocracy, a majority or the representative of a majority.

Politics is the means by which we arrange, in our limited wisdom, to enact decisions. Law is much of the manner in which we promote those decisions. Those laws are then backed by force.

Much of nature, and of our own history, is a story of the strong taking from the weak and the weak fighting for the scraps. As education and wealth advances an increasing portion of society is catered for.

Laws attempt, albeit imperfectly, and with perhaps some guidance from past experience, to restrict the actions and judgements of a superior over an inferior. However in our present primitive state much of the law amounts to substituting the judgement of a superior for the squabbles of others. In an educated society, much more can revert to individual negotiation.

Laws are a substitute for judgement.

All laws are arbitrary and therefore fundamentally open to interpretation by humans. The substitution for judgement is therefore an illusion. For any given law, in reality, substitutes the judgement of one person for that of another.

Imperfect as is a system of laws as a base for a humane society, progress beyond such an unsatisfactory state is presently severely restricted by the poor state of education and intelligence of the mass. Of course, a small proportion of any population is de facto beyond the reach of law by virtue of money, position, contacts and brains.

While the fiction of equality before the law remains a shibboleth, so long will the petty and the angry make use of access to the law as a means of venting spite upon their enemies and betters. The recent attempted coup (disguised as a ‘sex scandal’) in the USA, under the cover of pseudo legality, is a fine example. Only by fundamental extension of rational social training, and by a restriction of ‘rights’ among the inadequate, can we move to a society without these sleazy and depressing realities.

It is clear that no arbitrary restriction of ‘rights’ can be established legitimately upon such non-sense as inheritance of position or ‘money’ or arbitrary age.

In past governance, restrictions of franchise have always and predictably led to widespread abuse, which abuse over time has often been much mitigated by law.

Just because law has led to such desirable gains, does not mean we need cling terrified to our current franchise laws, with no thought of further progress. return to index

There is a direct link between the general level of education and the advance of freedom.

graph showing a direct link between the advance of freedoms and education


So to the educational implications.

Current educational practice is in a state similar to that of medicine a few hundred years ago: it is pre-scientific. Our methods are by guess and by god. It takes upwards of seven years to train a medical ‘doctor’. It is difficult to get into medical school and yet for the more complex skills of education, entry is rather easy, often a simple tack on year at the end of a mediocre degree course is deemed acceptable.

Parenting skills in society are in general next to non-existent; what we do have is, in the main, an expression of animal instincts with a leavening of copying from the usually clumsy attempts of the previous lot.

As Anthony Newley puts it:

teach the children of the world
teach them now before it gets too late
teach them how to be the parents of tomorrow...
or they will become the parents of today
and pass on all our hate and madness
to a whole new generation
the children of the world are doomed before they reach a school
by families who are unprepared and careless
as long as procreation is a paradise for fools
the world will be the victim of its parents

or as Larkin puts it:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Somewhere this has to stop if we are to contemplate progress.

I would like to see an examination for the franchise set at a level of the GCSE. The current percentage of British people gaining one GCSE (a* to c grade) at the age of sixteen is 71.4%. Now any suggestion that the franchise should be reduced to 71.4% of the population would likely be regarded with some dissent but, given a decent educational process, which is currently far from national grasp or even current aspiration, most of the population would be able to gain franchise with reasonable ease. An inclination to value citizenship and education would likewise be encouraged. As we are presently nowhere near that desirable state yet, it is obvious, that if we are to move in the direction promoted in this document, return to indexsteps on the journey must be analysed and planned carefully if we are to move from here to there.

Meanwhile, it is quite ridiculous to allow people with a mental development at a level below that of the average 13-year-old to vote, to have and to raise children. Yet about 12% of the population we call adult is below this level of sophistication. If people started promoting child bearing and raising among 12-year-olds, I doubt that it would be widely welcomed. Yet such is the effect of the romanticism and emotionalism constantly promoted by soaps and magazine media to supposed adults.

Returning to the above summary of the nature of law. It is clear that the more trained in decision-taking the individual becomes, the less necessary are arbitrary laws and the bureaucracies and associated bullies needed to police and enforce them.

According to Bertrand Russell, the only thing that differentiates the civilised person from the savage is foresight [20]. He could also have added ‘broad-sight’. A law is a restriction of freedom imposed arbitrarily from above. Sensibly as the human grows, any need for such restrictions may be expected to attenuate. Hence rights are added at each stage of development by any sane educational regime. Any rational ‘parent’ encourages growing ‘independence’ of action, soon the young are given power in decisions involving dress or food, likewise those more developed chose where they may travel or when to sleep or rise. Yet still many of our schools impose petty dress and behaviour codes upon those who would be regarded as adults in most historic communities.

As our society becomes more complex, so a minority becomes quite incapable of conducting themselves at a level where they may earn any reasonable living, or can be reasonably expected to keep from stepping on the feet of the mental adults. Having no adult place, they will wander bored, around the society, stealing and poking their fingers into the legitimate business of adults. They will breed, yet be unable to raise their rather dull children, putting much cost and disruption upon the wider society.

We are faced with three or four basic options. We can, as at present, allow the socially inadequate to wander around annoying their superiors and then lock them away when they inevitably cause nuisance. Or we may decide to put them in a reservation someplace and let them survive or not according to their ability or lack of ability like any other wild animal. We may forlornly, ostrich wise, hope to civilise them by investing vast resources to maintain our illusions. Or we may decide to manage and control them with kindness as we do with our domestic pets. My preference is for this last option, but this requires the putting aside of widely held cherished illusions.

The prime illusion that must by abandoned is the fantasy of ‘equality’. All persons are most definitely not ‘created’ equal and any hope of unambiguous ‘equality before the law’ is not only a pipe dream but is empiric non-sense. ‘The law’ is merely individual humans trying to apply a rulebook to complexity; it is not some esoteric abstract. The attempt to present law as some impenetrable mystic process may impress the credulous, but merely invites contempt from any half civilised mass, with very unhelpful results. Much better that the nature of law is taught in an open and honest manner to any person expected to attain meaningful adult citizenship.

As long as we attempt/pretend to give ‘equality’ to the inadequate, we are constrained to live with a legal system that caters to the most inadequate in society. The cost is a mass of irksome restrictions upon the able. And a class called ‘judges’ to sort out the squabbles of the overgrown children complete with the flummery of wigs and gowns and authoritarian pomposity, with all the attendant expense and resource waste of a considerable bureaucracy. Such a structure further provides the excuses and the means for those in positions of power to abuse their positions without serious hindrance.

Those who are able, end up living in ghettos under some degree of siege. This is nuts: the able and civilised lock themselves up in order to give freedoms to those who abuse them, while a growing ‘middle class’ look with envy upon those that can afford to escape the depredations of the predators and parasites. Further there are ghettos and no-go areas with jungle law, where people are trapped primarily because they have the mischance to be born into poverty.

A society can only function at a civilised level in proportion to the general level of education within that society. Thus, with only a small proportion of able people in a society, that society is bound to gravitate towards a dictatorship. As the general level increases, so we move to various degrees of democracy. Further down the road, a society may function well with very little in the manner of formal rules, with individuals sorting out conflicts of interest with skill and common sense. Thus a truly civilised society moves to anarchism.

Which brings me to education for socialisation.

My experience leads me to a suspicion that to try to teach a human of low average intelligence to behave reasonably on the basis of common sense is not certainly practical. Dogmatic rule-based religion and law has had much success in civilising the mass, in particular, those of low intellectual ability. Alternatively, attempts to educate the inadequate in terms of rational self-interest can result in rather unpleasant individuals who put a very short-term interpretation on self-interest and grab and trample as far as they may manage.

An effective educational programme cannot be founded on desiccated, academic, compartmentalised specialities. At the base of any educational curriculum that is going to produce successful and happy humans must be an understanding of how to treat one another and how to get on with other people. That training was until recently bound up in the superstitious beliefs and customs that developed in pragmatic experiences, which we now often call ‘religion’. It is quite clear that no modern widely educated person will continue to subscribe or give adherence to such arbitrary and often nonsensical strictures.

It has become essential that a core curriculum of psychological and civics skills be put at the very centre of any learning process that is expected to be successful or effective. A child cannot learn in a jungle of bullying and intrusion, any more than could an adult function if their own places of work were so ill-managed. Remember that, to a large extent, learning is the child’s domain -of work.

It is imagined that education is primarily about getting a person to repeat a series of so-called facts with the least deviation from the input. Nothing could be further from sane education. There is little possibility of teaching a person facts, even less enabling them to learn to think, if that person is not socially adept. Therefore it is essential that organised civics return to index‘should’ be part of the core curriculum of any serious professional education system. A draft outline for civics is available on this site.



Science and politics of racial research by WH TuckerA great deal of writing on this subject is tainted with personal political agendas. It is of great importance, if you are to study the subject in a meaningful manner, that you develop a sophisticated understanding of this issue. An important, if lopsided, review of the history of the intrusion of politics into these studies may be found in
Tucker, William H., The Science and Politics of Racial Research, (1994, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-06560-3)

Inequality by design by CS FischerA treatment of the social determinants of ‘intelligence’ is available in C. S. Fischer et al., Inequality by Design, 1996, Princeton University Press, 0-691-02898-2. This book attempts to debunk The Bell Curve, but ends up being quite as lopsided, and more careless. It does, however, contain much information and methods on thinking about this subject that is not covered adequately (or at least in such high profile) in The Bell Curve. Just as the Bell Curve tends to over-emphasise the genetic contribution, this book tends to over-emphasise the sociological contribution.

1 Behavioural genetics by R Plomin R. Plomin et al., Behavioural Genetics (1997, 3rd ed, New York, W. H. Freeman, ISBN 0716728249)
This book is by far the best I know of on this subject. It is both accurate and contains considerable information. Unfortunately, it is not extremely well organised or elegantly written, but it is adequate in these departments. Similar information in a different style may be found at reference 6.

Ruth Lawrence was tutored by her father at home and entered Oxford University at the age of 12 to study mathematics.

3 The three Polgar sisters from Hungary have been intensely tutored in chess at home by their parents.

John Stuart Mill (1773-1836), the eldest son of the British historian, economist, and philosopher James Mill. John Stuart Mill was educated exclusively by his father, a strict disciplinarian. By his eighth year, he had read in the original Greek Aesop's Fables, Xenophon's Anabasis and the whole of the historian Herodotus. He was acquainted with the satirist Lucian, the historian of philosophy Diogenes Laërtius, the Athenian writer and educational theorist Isocrates, and six dialogues of Plato. He had also read a great deal of history in English. At the age of eight he started Latin, the geometry of Euclid, and algebra and began to teach the younger children of the family. His main reading was still history, but he went through all the Latin and Greek authors commonly read in the schools and universities and, by the age of 10, could read Plato and the Athenian statesman Demosthenes with ease. About the age of 12, he began a thorough study of Scholastic logic, at the same time reading Aristotle's logical treatises in the original. In the following year he was introduced to political economy and studied the work of the Scottish political economist and philosopher Adam Smith and that of the English economist David Ricardo.

Most important was the close association it fostered with the strenuous character and vigorous intellect of his father. From his earliest days he spent much time in his father's study and habitually accompanied him on his walks. He thus inevitably acquired many of his father's speculative opinions and his father's way of defending them. But he did not receive the impress passively and mechanically. The duty of collecting and weighing evidence for himself was at every turn impressed upon the boy.
Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica CD 97, (Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.,1997).

5 H L Garber, The Milwaukee Project (1988, American Association on Mental Retardation, ISBN 0940898160)
For methodology see in particular pp. 49-74.
(Also see Begag, M., Garber, H.L & Haywood, H.L., Psychosocial Influences in Retarded Performance, 1981, Baltimore: University Park Press 0839116349)
Further trails may be opened up under the following keywords: Abacadarian, Ramey, Perry
6 The bell curve by Herrnstein and MurrayR J Herrnstein and C. Murray, The Bell Curve (1994, New York: The Free Press, ISBN 0029146739)
This is a useful review of much in the field of IQ studies. For a balanced view it is important also to read Garber.
This reference also has useful sections on statistical elements, for those wishing more detail see also Plomin.

Hume (1711-1776) and cause
Although people gain much information from their impressions, most matters of fact depend upon reasoning about causes and effects, even though people do not directly experience causal relations. What, then, are causal relations? According to Hume they have three components: contiguity of time and place, temporal priority of the cause, and constant conjunction.

In order for x to be the cause of y, x and y must exist adjacent to each other in space and time, x must precede y, and x and y must invariably exist together. People do not experience and do not know of any power, energy, or secret force that causes ‘possess’. Judgements about causes and their effects are based upon experience.

To cite examples from An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748). There is nothing in the experience of seeing a fire close by which logically requires that one will feel heat. There is nothing in the experience of seeing one rolling billiard ball contact another that logically requires the second one to begin moving, why does one expect heat to be felt and the second ball to roll?

The explanation is custom (habit). In previous experiences, the feeling of heat has regularly accompanied the sight of fire, and the motion of one billiard ball has accompanied the motion of another. Thus the mind becomes accustomed to certain expectations. "All inferences from experience, therefore, are effects of custom, not of reasoning." Thus it is that custom (experience and memory), not reason, is the great guide of life. In short, the idea of cause and effect is neither a relation of ideas nor a matter of fact. Although it is not a perception and not rationally justified, it is crucial to human survival and a central aspect of human cognition.
Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica CD 97, (Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.,1997).

8 ‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ is neither sound logic nor sound science.
9 Standard UK examinations designed to be taken at the age of 16.
10 Data from UK Department of Education and Science, Statistical Section, 1999.

That was the year that was v=by Tom LehrerTom Lehrer, ‘Wernher von Braun’ on That was the Year That Was
1966, re-issued as CD in 1990; Wea/Warner Brothers; ASIN:B000002KO7
$10.99 [amazon.com]/ £9.98 [amazon.co.uk]

Wernher von Braun was a rocket scientist who worked in Nazi Germany. He then transferred to the American rocket programme that eventually ‘spent 20 billion dollars to put some clown on the moon’ (this description is also from Tom Lehrer).

12 Pan consciousness, also called panpsychism: Either the model that all parts of matter involve consciousness, or the more holistic view that the whole world ‘is but the veil of an infinite realm of mental life’ (Lotze). The world, or nature, produces living creatures and accordingly may be thought of as itself an alive and animated organism, describable as possessing reason, emotion, and a ‘world-soul’. The view that man is a microcosm, or small version of the cosmos, which cosmos can therefore be ‘understood’ in anthropomorphic terms, is a staple theme in Greek philosophy. It passed into the medieval period via Neoplatonism, and became shared by Leibniz, Oxford dictionary of philosophySchopenhauer, Schelling, and many others. Its most widely known modern version is perhaps the view that for environmental reasons we do well to think as if the world is a complex organism (sometimes rather preciously called Gaia), whose unity is not lightly to be taken for granted.
Definition adapted from  S. Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (OUP, 1994, ISBN 0192116940)

Tex Williams: Smoke! smoke! smoke!Carson Robinson, From Life gits te-jus don’t it.

A version, performed by Tex Williams, is available on CD.


Good natured by Franz De WaalDe Waal….for instance see p.229 note 32
De Waal, Good Natured: the Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals (1996, 0-674-35661-6)

Piaget and concrete operations
The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1896-1980) took the intellectual functioning of adults as the central phenomenon to be explained. He wanted to know how an adult acquired the ability to think logically and to draw valid conclusions about the world from evidence. Piaget’s theory rests on the fundamental notion that the child develops through stages until he arrives at a stage of thinking that resembles that of an adult. Piaget tends to treat his ‘stages’ as if they are inherent in the child. I regard this as very dubious assumption, I think that a better case can be made that these stages of development are culturally impressed. (See also Why Aristotelian logic does not work.)

The four stages given by Piaget are (1) the sensorimotor stage from birth to 2 years, (2) the pre-operational stage from 2 to 7 years, (3) the concrete-operational stage from 7 to 12 years, and (4) the stage of formal operations that characterises the adolescent and the adult.

One of Piaget's fundamental assumptions is that early intellectual growth arises primarily out of the child's interactions with objects in the environment. For example, Piaget believed that as a two-year-old child repeatedly builds and knocks down a tower of blocks, he is learning that the arrangement of objects in the world can be reversed. According to Piaget, children organise and adapt their experiences with objects into increasingly sophisticated cognitive models. These then enable them to deal with future situations in more effective ways. The older child, for instance, who has learned the concept of reversibility, will be able to execute an intelligent and logical search for a missing object, retracing their steps, for example, in order to determine where they may have dropped a set of keys.

As children pass through successive stages of cognitive development, their knowledge of the world assumes different forms, with each stage building on the models and concepts acquired in the preceding stage. Adolescents in the final developmental stage, that of formal operations, are able to think in a rational and systematic manner about hypothetical problems that are not necessarily in accord with their experience.

Concrete-operational stage (7 to 12 years). The beginnings of logic appear in the form of classifications of ideas and an understanding of time and number. An important structure in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development is the operation, which is a cognitive structure that the child uses to transform, or “operate on”, information. Children learn to use operations that are flexible and fully reversible in thought; the ability to plan a series of moves in a game of checkers and then mentally retrace one's steps to the beginning of that sequence is one such example of an operation.
Adapted and modified from Encyclopedia Britannica CD 97 (Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.,1997).

16 A man for all seasons by Robert BoltA Man for all Seasons, R Bolt, 1st ed. 1960
1990, Vintage Books, 0679728228
$8.10 [amazon.com] / 7.00 [amazon.co.uk] Link to full quotation.
This play, firsy performed in 1954, is a ‘must read’. It has been made into two films. The better (and very good it is) is the original 1966 version, which won 6 Oscars.
17 Economics is primarily about counting and measuring. It is helpful and sane to avoid confusing economics with politics.
18 From the track, Teach the children of the world,
Listed with others as written and composed by Anthony Newley
United Artists, 1978, vinyl 12” disc: UAS 30162 (UALA 718)
19 collected poems by Philip LarkinPhillip Larkin, ‘This Be The Verse’, from Collected Poems (1988, Faber and Faber, 0571153860)


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History of Westren philosphy by Bertrand Russell
Russell, Bertrand, The History of Western Philosophy, 1996 reprint (2nd ed), 0415078547 (pbk) [Originally published in 1961 by Routeledge] p.35: “The civilizedman is distinguished from the savage mainly by prudence, or, to use a slightly wider term, forethought.”

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