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« Economic Outlook: Interview of November 2008 | Main | Latest Federal Stimulus Program Will NOT Help Housing Market »

November 19, 2008



hi bill.. I gotta start praising your site, and the businomics book, I really like both. I read your blog frequently and find it quite down-to-earth and balanced.

I'm actually half-way thru Gladwell's book, and I did read his previous books... you will be surprised with how good the book is. Sure, one fundamental ideal is included in the excerpt, but the stories on IQ, the details of specifics months on hockey, and soccer, and the part on new york lawyers are worth reading.

Thanks for providing yet-another-useful link, and let us know your opinion when (and if) you read the full book. It was about time somebody debunked that heroic myth of IQ.

Ben R

In terms of East Asian math/science performance, Seligman notes they tend to perform above average on the non-verbal component of psychometric tests which is consistent with the math/science performance:

"Severely compressed, his explanation goes about like this: Some sixty thousand years ago, when the lee Age descended on the Northern Hemisphere, the Mongoloid populations faced uniquely hostile "selection pressure" for greater intelligence. Northeast Asia during the Ice Age was the coldest part of the world inhabited by man. Survival required major advances in hunting skills. Lynn's 1987 paper refers to "the ability to isolate slight variations in visual stimulation from a relatively featureless landscape, such as the movement of a white Arctic hare against a background of snow and ice; to recall visual landmarks on long hunting expeditions away from home and to develop a good spatial map of an extensive terrain." These, Lynn believes, were the pressures that ultimately produced the world's best visuospatial abilities."

Martin Walsh

Gladwell proved his case in "Outliers" relating to the effect of early age selection on academic and athletic success. He doesn't suggest how to implement improvements, but short of splitting up all school classes by seasons, I think one way would be to get the median age of children in a cohort, then, assuming they are rated on a point system, subtract something like one-tenth of a point for each day a child's age exceeds the median and add the same for each day a child doesn't reach the median. This would equalize things and eliminate the completely unjustified discrimination against kids born in the year's last two quarter.

I'm not a mathematician or statistician or a race or golf handicapper, so maybe they could make better suggestions, but that doesn't matter as long as someone does. My brothers and I were all born in December. We've done all right, but not as well as if we'd arrived in January.

option tips

Not sure of anyone else out there but Schelling's prose is eminently readable--and one of the reasons the man is so famous. I recommend the "Strategy of Conflict" for the author as a nice introduction to this Nobel Prize winner's work.

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