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on nurtureshock (bronson and merryman) One GoldenYak (tm) award

I’ve seen badly written books in psychology, but amongst those that are useful this one takes the Palme d’Or.

NurtureShock is a summary of some of the more recent work on child behaviour. It is riddled with political correctness, clumsy expression, lack of precision and detail. I’d have thrown it in the bin, only the authors have done a fairly good job of hunting through recent literature.

Most of the content reflects basic common sense increasingly being confirmed by experimental analysis.

Like so many in the social sciences, the authors’ grasp of statistics is insecure. The ability to confuse averages with individuals undermines the value of so many studies.

This book is only recommended to those with the fortitude to struggle on through the mush and twee-dom, to save the grind of ploughing through the journals. I’ll give Nurtureshock one GoldenYak out of charity.

But as a person who abhors and hates wasting time, I did read this book - be it on your own head!

Nurture shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children
by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

$16.49 [amazon.com] {advert}

Twelve, 03/09/2009
ISBN-10: 0446504122
ISBN-13: 978-0446504126


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the lords of finance, liaquat ahamed

This book is very unusual when compared against the overwhelming output of non-fiction, in that The Lords of Finance is extremely well-organised and well-written.

The Lords of Finance is the most useful book on general finance and macro-economics that I have read since Keynes lost the use of his writing arm. While this book reads very well, it is not the sort of book from which a beginner could use everything it offers.

For a person eager to understand money, or interested in financial history of the inter-war period [1918 - 1939], its 500 pages (plus notes, bibliography, index) are detailed, and contain many fascinating insights and amusing anecdotes.

For a person who has a good grasp and understanding of the basic mechanisms of money, currencies and banking, I would regard this book as essential reading, and well worth the time and effort it takes to read.

It is rather a strange book, and is better read as general background for those interested in history, but it is absolutely riveting for those with a solid grasp of the mechanics of money. In a way, it is similar to a concert of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony that one person can enjoy, while a serious musician might be reading the score at the same time, hearing and appreciating the concert on a different level.

As a rule of thumb, I have found that it takes ten years solid study and practice to become expert at a subject. It is ten years since Ahamed first thought of this book, and it has taken him five years to complete the writing, and it shows.

Five GoldenYak recommendation, without reservations. Five GoldenYak (tm) award

how to cause a bank run - the end of boom and bust:
extracts from The Lords of Finance

From p.363
“To some degree he was caught in a dilemma that all political leaders face when they pronounce upon the economic situation. What they have to say about the economy affects its outcome—an analogue to Heisenberg's principle. As a consequence, they have little choice but to restrict themselves to making fatuously positive statements which should never be taken seriously as forecasts.”

“Eventually when the facts refused to obey Hoover's forecasts, he started to make them up.”

Marker at abelard.org

From p.404, summary
The first world war begun with a minor event - the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Similarly, the economic breakdown began with a bank collapse.

Marker at abelard.org

From p.405
“Credit Anstalt had been further "persuaded" by the authority [the Austrian National Bank, Austria’s central government bank, equivalent to the Bank of England] to take over Bodencreditanstalt, [...] whose losses turned out to be gigantic. To compensate Credit Anstalt for saving the Austrian banking system [...], the Austrian central bank had been funneling money secretly to it secretly through the London banks, a fact of which the Bank of England was well aware.”

(Credit Anstalt went bust.)

From p.504
“More than anything else, therefore, the Great Depression [breakdown] was caused by a failure of intellectual will and a lack of understanding about how the economy operated.”

Now consider Brown the Clown’s recent “no more boom or bust”, and actions with various UK high street banks.

related material
the mechanics of inflation: The great government swindle and how it works
the sum of a geometric sequence: or the arithmetic of fractional banking

on money - northern crock
bubbles, debt, borrowing and inflation in the uk

Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahamed

Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression - and the Bankers Who Broke the World
by Liaquat Ahamed

15.49 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}
[amazon.com] {advert}

William Heinemann Ltd ,2009
ISBN-10: 0434015415
ISBN-13: 978-0434015412


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loose cannon hannan - the plan

Young and inexperienced, Daniel Hannan seems to be losing judgement as he gains fame. Is the attention going to his head?

I have just been reading his new book, The Plan (jointly written with Douglas Carswell).

The Plan is an excellent basic primer, though it could do with more numbers such as comparative health costs across nations added to his crude percentage GNP graph. The age adjusted survival (for what?) is another (unlabelled) crude graph.

“75,000 children finish formal education each year having failed to achieve five GCSEs at any grade, and one in ten 16-year-olds leaves school without a single qualification. Fewer than half of those sitting GCSEs in English and maths gained grades higher than 'D'.”

So, how many leave each year? Fewer than half? How many is that? Are they part of the half who do not get 5 “at any grade”?

The statistics are both crude and sloppily presented, and there is no index, no collected bibliography.

Nevertheless, I would recommend The Plan despite the sloppiness. It is close to essential reading for political wonks.

The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain by Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan

The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain by Douglas Carswell and Dan Hannan

£9.50 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}
[amazon.com] {advert}

Douglas Carswell, 2008
ISBN-10: 0955979900
ISBN-13: 978-0955979903


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on united in hate - the left’s romance with tyranny and terror

In my view, this is a very important book. Not because it is original, for any highly informed person knows much of this stuff. Not because the book is perfectly constructed, because it is not - it has many peripheral errors of logic.

This book is important because it collects together so much of the history of the mental confusion, or even derangements, known as socialism. United in hate also does something very difficult, it tries to penetrate the ‘mind’ of socialism. It attempts to understand just why socialists are so irrational and out of touch with the real world.

Now, reading minds is not a possibility for human beings. The best you have is the confused communication from human to human. This objective is bad enough in normal circumstances with approximately sane people. Trying to do that with people as confused as socialists must inevitably be a heroic task, a task that traces back to the work of Freud and others.

Glazov repeatedly makes the case that guilt and inadequacy are major psychological drivers in these murderous and suicidal death cults. In these cults, the adherents sublimate their self-destructiveness in a cause that seeks, not only destruction of others, but also expresses their own death wish.

In fact, I think Jamie Glazov misses a central issue of people involved in cults such as socialism and jihadi islam: the desperate need to be ‘important’, the need to be ‘taken seriously’, to belong. One of Glasov’s main examples is Chomsky - a typical example of a failed would-be scientist seeking fame by any means possible because he cannot adjust to his own ‘ordinariness’.

Here are some examples:

p. 177
“As outlined earlier, the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989-91 robbed the Western Left of its central source of hope and object of veneration. Then came 9/11. Believers, who longed to worship a tyrannical enemy of their native society, looked upon this appalling catastrophe as a gift. Just as the progressives had found new totalitarian models to worship throughout the twentieth century, from Stalin's Russia to Mao's China to the Sandanistas' Nicaragua, so they now discovered a new death cult through which they could express their destructive urges.”

p. 179
“This is a long tradition of the Left: progressives have always assumed that they understand the world much better than the people for whom they purport to speak. In terms of the terror war, there exists an obvious and profound racism in the believer's disposition, since the implication is that Muslims and Arabs are not bright enough to understand their own circumstances, and therefore their explanations of their own actions cannot be taken seriously.

“So while the likes of bin Laden and Moussaoui may insist that the holy jihad is motivated by the desire to spread sharia throughout the world, to erase individual freedom, and to kill, convert, or subjugate infidels, the Western leftist is constrained to rationalize that they are saying such things only because they have been hurt by capitalism and American imperialism....”

p. 180
“ ....Contrary to the believer's vision, militant Islam finds its breeding ground in economic prosperity and Westernisation - just as the socialist Left itself has never drawn its strength from actual poor people, but rather from intellectuals and other members of the privileged class that benefits most from capitalism and freedom...”

“...This is why so many leftist feminists, like Dworkin herself, de-feminize and de-beautify themselves as a social statement. Thus, the concept of women having their femininity submerged and forcibly covered under an adversarial despotic regime is utopian. By contrast, the reality of women enjoying their own physical beauty and feeling and being empowered by it is anathema - at least as bad as anything the Taliban might do. Journalist Jill Nelson personifies this mentality. Writing about the Islamic riots that followed the Miss World pageant in Nigeria, she commented on MSNBC's Web site: "It's equally disrespectful and abusive to have women prancing around a stage in bathing suits for cash or walking the streets shrouded in burqas in order to survive." Hymowitz reflects on this world view: "The utopian is less interested in freeing women to make their own choices than in engineering and imposing her own elite vision of a perfect society.”

The book is highly recommended and an excellent basic source.

end note

  1. Calling the Left ‘progressives’ is a misnomer, even calling them ‘intellectuals’ is a somewhat confused.

United in hate by Jamie Glazov

United in hate - the left’s romance with tyranny and terror
by Jamie Glazov

WND Books, 2009, hbk
ISBN-10: 1935071602
ISBN-13: 978-1935071600


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on the damaging effects on the poor of ‘welfare’ programmes Five GoldenYak (tm) award

Why welfare increases dysfunctional behaviour. This is one of the seminal books of the twentieth century. The central message is that welfare causes poverty and social dysfunction.

Murray is among the most acute and well-informed of modern sociologists. Unusually, he even writes well. This book was written over thirty years ago and still socialist governments repeat the same errors.

“Law 1
The law of imperfect solutions

Any objective rule that defines eligibility for a social transfer program will irrationally exclude some persons.

Law 2
The law of unintended rewards

Any social transfer increases the net value of being in the condition that promoted the transfer.

“Law 3
The law of net harm

The less likely it is that the unwanted behaviour will change voluntarily, the more likely it is that a program to induce change will cause net harm.”
[Quoted from pp. 211-216]

Marker at abelard.org

“More generally, social policy after the mid-1960s demanded an extraordinary range of transfers from the most capable poor to the least capable, from the most law-abiding to the least law-abiding, and from the most responsible to the least responsible. In return, we gave little to these most deserving persons except for easier access to welfare for themselves - the one thing they found hardest to put to ‘good use’.”
[Quoted from p. 201]

Keep in mind that negative transfers to the deserving poor include elements like more crime in their areas, as well as motivating those trying to get by to give up and instead go on welfare.

“ ...they will inherently tend to have enough of an inducement to produce bad behaviour and not enough of a solution to stimulate good behaviour; and the more difficult the problem, the more likely it is that this relationship will prevail.”
[Quoted from p. 218]

Marker at abelard.org

“...the almost complete immunity of the elite from the price they demanded of the poor.”
[Quoted from p. 222]

[All quotes from 1984 edition.]

And still the Clown’s ‘New’ Labour doesn’t get it, or doesn’t care.

Losing Ground - American social policy 1950-1980
by Charles Murray

Losing ground by Charles Murray



Comfortably Numb: How Psychiatry Is Medicating a Nation by Charles Barber

Basic Books, anniversary edition, 1994, pbk

ISBN-10: 0465042333
ISBN-13: 978-0465042333

£16.14 [amazon.co.uk] {advert}
$23.28 [amazon.com] {advert}


Basic Books, 1986
ISBN-10: 0465042325
ISBN-13: 978-0465042326

Kindle edition
Basic Books, 1983
5294 KB
$18.58 [amazon.com] {advert}

related material
In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State by Charles Murray
The Bell Curve by Charles Murray


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