Sunday, September 27, 2009

More on the Spanking Debate

Did you know that in 1998 Murray Straus also published a study perporting to show that kids that were spanked had lower IQ's? That one was based on work done in 1986 and 1990.

So what's the deal, has he done another completely new study? Or did he recycle old data?

Whichever, I want to see the answer to the following - 1986 was 25 (gasp, choke) years ago (REALLY). So let's see the follow up! Track down those kids from 1986 and see if the IQ disparity still remains, and more importantly, lets see what criminal status, academic achievement, net worth etc. are like. In other words, lets see how they turned out as adults.

Because there is something you should know. Murray Straus claims spanking is related to IQs a full 2.8 points lower than non-spanked children. And that, is sufficient evidence to ban spanking.


(there's always a but, isn't there)

You know something else that will result in a 2 point IQ delta? Having more than one kid.

That's right. Your first born will be nice and smart, but every sibling you create will be 2 points dumber.

How cruel can parents be.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To spank, or not to spank

It's an ongoing question, and constantly generates much heated discussion.

And I have no doubt, much more "heated discussion" (flame wars, really) will follow the latest round of news articles about a study by noted anti-spanker Murray Straus, such as this one from Yahoo! Children Who Get Spanked Have Lower IQs.

The title is the first obvious flaw. The study of course, shows nothing of the sort. The study is a typical correlative study that PROVES NOTHING. Dr. Eades has done tremendous work educating the public about the danger of mining "facts" from observational studies. Interestingly enough, in this article the journalist and the study author himself, readily admit the limitations of this type of study.

But while the results only show an association between spanking and intelligence, Straus says his methodology and the fact that he took into account other factors that could be at play (such as parents' socioeconomic status) make a good case for a causal link.

Still, it didn't keep statements of assumption and fact from headlining the story.

The study, involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed the more a child was spanked the lower his or her IQ compared with others.

What the study actually showed was a correlation between spanking and relative IQ.

The researchers tested the kids' IQs initially and then four years later.
Both groups of kids got smarter after four years. But the 2- to 4-year-olds who were spanked scored 5 points lower on the IQ test than those not spanked. For children ages 5 to 9, the spanked ones scored on average 2.8 points lower than their unspanked counterparts.

Note that is just a relative difference, it says nothing about comparison to baseline intelligence levels.

As Dr. Eades put it "It all seems so reasonable and so scientific, but the truth is that these studies don’t mean squat."

To most reasoning people, that is.

Whether or not spanking equates with dumber kids is not known, and may never be known. That's because the only way to truly show cause and effect would be to follow over time two groups of kids, one randomly assigned to get spanked and another who would not get spanked. Barring that method, which is unfeasible, Straus considers his study the next best thing, as he looked back at a nationally representative set of kids who were followed over time.

The author of the study knows it doesn't mean squat, but is bound and determined to sell his study and push his agenda (yes, Murray Strauss has an agenda)

Next best thing? Sorry, that is not how science works. If you can't do a scientific study, then you do not have any scientific evidence, no matter how much correlation you have done. Period.

According to Dr. Eades, studies like this do have the value of generating hypothesis.

The observational study demonstrates a correlation. In our example above, the correlation is that higher vitamin C levels correlate (in this particular study) with lower rates of colds. So, from this data, we could hypothesize that vitamin C prevents the common cold. But at this stage that would be just an hypothesis – not a fact.

Once we have the hypothesis, we can then do a randomize, placebo-controlled trial.

Except, when it comes to behavior, they can't. That's not to say there are never any "gold standard" behavioral studies, there have been some, mostly on animals, and mostly on benign stuff like pigeons pecking at a bar. But studying discipline, in a "gold standard" way? Very difficult to do ethically.

So while a lot of people with degrees after their names spend a lot of time telling you how to raise your kids, just look for the real science behind their ideas.

That's what a smart kid would do.

At it again.

Dallas News reports:

Federal authorities arrested a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen whom they said placed an inactive car bomb today at Fountain Place, a 60-story skyscraper in downtown Dallas.

Wow, that is terrible. Terrorists are still alive and well in this country, and dangerously close to successfully killing great swathes of us.


Federal agents posed as members of an al-Qa’ida sleeper cell. Smadi, who was in the U.S. illegally, allegedly told them that he came to the country specifically to commit “Jihad for the sake of God.”

Wait, the al Quaida cell was made up of Federal agent (provocateurs)?

The affidavit also says that undercover agents attempted to persuade Smadi that the Jihad obligations of a Muslim can be satisfied in different ways. Smadi allegedly responded each time that he planned to commit “significant, conspicuous violence.”

Oh, so the feds weren't being provocateurs. They were trying to minister to the troubled teen. Of course. You should have guessed that, comrade!

Federal authorities arrested a 19-year-old Jordanian citizen whom they said placed an inactive car bomb today at Fountain Place, a 60-story skyscraper in downtown Dallas.

An inactive car bomb. Was he just a bad designer?

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said city officials were notified of the impending arrest beforehand.

“We were clearly communicated to that there was not going to be a danger to anybody,” Leppert said.

So either the feds knew in advance that their troubled teen was a bad designer, or, they gave him the "inactive car bomb".

Well, if they couldn't get him into heaven, at least they didn't give him a Ryder truck full of ammonium nitrate and fuel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Purple Passion Power

Gun Owners of America (a great organization, if you're not already a member), sent this email alert to my inbox:

Radical 'Regulatory Czar' Could Pose Problems for Gun Owners

Friday, September 11, 2009

Yesterday, another radical extremist joined the ranks of the Obama administration.

Cass Sunstein, who is an old friend of Barack Obama, is now our new Regulatory Czar.
As the Regulatory Czar, Sunstein will provide the final touches on new federal regulations. No firearm or ammunition needs to be banned outright -- that would be too transparent. As the coauthor of Nudge (2008), Sunstein has already laid out how "choice architects" should carefully guide (or nudge) Americans into making better choices.

So with a little regulation here... a little regulation there... Sunstein can strengthen the iron fist of the federal gun police (otherwise known as the BATFE). Or, he can implement additional federal requirements which will result in firearm and ammunition manufacturers paying more for their merchandise.

Of course, these costs will be passed on to the consumer as new "taxes" that will "nudge" Americans away from purchasing firearms or engaging in the shooting sports.

People are starting to wake up about the malignancy of Cass Sunsteins' ideals in this role of Regulation Czar. David Kramer blogged about it on,but since he has been confirmed, it may be too little too late.

It still dumbfounds me that one can learn exactly what Cass is in mere minutes of searching his prolific writings on the internet, and still hold the position that he is a mere bean counter and regulations mean nothing in this over-regulated world.

Perhaps the term I'm looking for is cognitive dissonance.

It's the Constitution that isn't worth a hill of beans anymore.