Monday, December 27, 2010

Perfect example of bad research about racism in an otherwise good article

As readers of my blog know I research a lot, reading a ton of information on many different subjects. Recently I came across a paper that I thought was pretty good at the start. The paper was written in 2008 by a UofM (Dearborn) grad who actually made the honors roll named Jennifer A Huff. The article is actually good, although not as accurate as I would have liked. You can read the article at :

This researcher wrote in one of her paragraphs “...the Supreme Court, the Court issued its most famous ruling regarding public education. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) overturned the doctrine of separate-but-equal schooling that had prevailed in the South for decades.”

This is total crap.

Brown v Board of Education overturned several previous rulings. Typically Liberal “Pro-North/Anti-South” researchers cite Plessy v Ferguson which is an 1896 Louisiana case. This ain't reality.

Back in 1849 the case of Roberts v Boston set the legal precedence that Plessy v Ferguson was built on.

Way too many Liberal researchers unfairly attack the south and make it sound as if the north had far less to do with segregation. Those of us who actually remember the sound of tanks driving down 8 Mile during 1967 have a far different perspective.

To her credit Ms Huff does point out that the north pretty much ignored DE-segregation while the south was moving towards an integrated society. In 1970 George Wallace, the guy MLK fought against during the Selma march, won the Democratic primary in Michigan.

The propagandistic myth of an integrated north vs a segregated south is as destructive to society as the myth of the Democratic party supporting civil rights.

We can learn from our mistakes when we realize that we made them and we change what we are doing. When we pretend the mistakes don't exist by making statements like “...had prevailed in the South” we display an unwillingness to accept responsibility for our mistakes.

In reality blacks have been as or more persecuted in the north than they have been in the south. Malcolm X's father was lynched right here in Michigan. Roberts v Boston (you know, Boston Mass, in the north) set the stage for “separate but equal” across the entire country, not just the south.

Back during the Civil War the Democrats in New York tried to succeed from the Union. When that failed the Democrats in New York City tried to succeed from New York State. The famous New York newspaper publisher, Horace Greeley, wrote many editorials against the Democrats and their support of slavery in New York. There were riots during the Civil War which have been renamed “draft riots” where blacks were lynched from lamp posts and black babies were thrown from the upper floors of multi-story buildings. Illiterate blacks were not told that they had been freed and were forced to work in New York city in slave like conditions long after the Civil War. Even today New York deals with immigrant slavery.

Edusnobbery and prejudice create conditions that force academic candidates for advanced degrees to continue publishing obvious falsehoods such as this garbage about segregation in the south. This may be the case where Ms Huff is concerned, or maybe her research is just sloppy and repeating the same tired anti-southern propaganda that has been popular in the North for the last hundred and fifty years.

Detroit was and really is a festering cauldron of racism based on primarily voluntary segregation. Make no mistake segregation is segregation and it creates a racial and cultural divide that is and will always be difficult to overcome while tired and ridiculous propaganda like blaming segregation on the south exists.

Ms Huff's article is worth reading, but, like a lot of the crap written about racism in the United States you have to be careful and double check the facts. Don't get caught in propaganda.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Multiple Intelligence and Life in general

My wife sent me a couple of links on something called “Multiple Intelligences” or MI which is a multi-modal methodology for the classification of intelligence.

Essentially the idea is that using a single classification for intelligence “IQ” does not capture an entire person so the doctor involved subjectively developed various groups of “intelligences” and designed a series of tests to assess an individuals placement within these classifications.

This is actually a pretty good idea, however, like most things in psychology (including IQ) it suffers from subjective assessment and the internal filters of the people involved in the development of the program and the assessment of the intelligences.

Multi-modalities exist in nature. If you take a salt shaker and dump it out on a table you get a pile of salt. If you take a cross section of that salt pile you will get a “curve” that looks a lot like the grading curve your teachers may have used when you were in school. This is called “normal” distribution.

Here is the thing most people do not understand. The entire curve, even at the far edges is “normal”. Most people tend to think of the center section of the curve as “normal” and the edges as “abnormal”. That couldn't be farther from the truth. “abnormal” is something that does not appear on the curve.

Suppose we jerk the salt shaker slightly sideways as we are pouring it out. We now have what looks like two intersecting piles of salt. If we take a cross sectional curve we still have a “normal” distribution, but, we call this distribution “multi-modal” because it has two “humps”.

There are many multi-modal distributions in nature and in manufacturing. One of the biggest mistakes people make in understanding multi-modal distributions is tossing out “flyers”. Flyers are typically some strange result the researcher collected, didn't understand and then pitched. The problem is that those little grains of salt farthest from the center of the pile tell us more about the limits of the distribution than all the grains of salt in the center pile.

I won't get into the math behind that. It is kind of like averaging or being on a curve. Maybe one of the kids in your class at school did so much better that everyone else became angry because it made it harder to get a “C”. Some people “drop” those “flyers” just because they “skew” the curve”. This is how cultures are destroyed, the lowest common denominator. The “stronger” mutation the group tries to destroy to prevent the evolution and development of the group. The kid, or any other flyer, that skews the curve.

The idea of multiple intelligences has an emotional draw to people. It is a way for them to assure themselves that they are not stupid and help them develop a better self image.

The problem is the subjective analysis. Teachers and psychologists (and sometimes engineers) typically grade subjectively based on their experience. This will skew the results of the analysis based on the personal prejudices of the reviewer. The teacher who gave you crap grades because you didn't get along with them. We have all had one of those.

Intelligence tests are typically not very intelligent. They require language comprehension skills that are a learned skill and so people who have strong language comprehension skills do well on tests regardless of their actual intelligence. The same is true of these MI tests.

Multi-modal distributions occur naturally. In this situation it appears that some researchers have subjectively determined multi-modal groups and then created tests which skew respondents into specific categories based on a subjective assessment of what the researcher believes they mean. For example, “I enjoy categorizing things by common traits” and “I easily pick up on patterns” are essentially the same thing and yet these questions are in different intelligence groups. In the logic section I found the phrase, “Structure is a good thing”. Understanding different structures can be difficult. For example understanding the structure of interpersonal relationships in the management of a large organization can appear chaotic to some. Some might not see the structure at all. Rembrandt vs Picasso. To me, this structure phrase means nothing. I would need to understand the structure and it's intended purpose to subjectively determine if the structure is a “good” thing, or likely to produce the intended results. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is an excellent example of a structure many thought was good, well, before they built it they thought it was good. After it collapsed not so much.

So how do I answer “Structure is a good thing”? I would select a “middle” answer and the results would skew me away from being a logical person.


The world wide web does offer a wonderful opportunity at really understanding the multi-modal development of personality (intelligence is a stupid term, and I have an IQ of 157 so you should believe me).

Different websites will have more visitors than others. By just capturing the visits to different websites and subjectively analyzing the “content” we (people in general) can develop a better understanding of the real, not the subjective, categorization of these multi-modal groupings.

Multiple Intelligences is a good idea, in the current development of subjective analysis it has it will probably die away for some other “pretty butterfly” that captures the imagination of researchers unless real objective analytical development is accomplished.

Here is a paper on MI:

Here is an overview:

Here is an interesting paper on MI and culture: