Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Bell Curve: LKY biggest mistake

I have wanted to write about this for a long time. Today I got an golden opportunity because of this picture.

I want to adopt a practical perspective here and by that LKY had made the biggest mistake of running Singapore with this one. So many of our problems today is the result of that attitude and the policies which came from it.

You cannot prove the Bell Curve is right or wrong. The scientists after so many years are divided among themselves. More important, work life is not doing IQ tests. Even what is IQ is up for vigorous and inconclusive debate. We also know the highest IQs have not produced another Einstein for decades. What do you want? Creative genius or high IQs? May be EQ is preferable. All the sorting we have put our children through in IQ-related tests, aren't we barking up the wrong tree?

If we were discussing theories from a hard science, say Physics we could until the 20th century get to the bottom of things - today the Higgs boson can only be confirmed with an incredibly high degree of probability.

It seems that in our time, we have become less cocksure, so let's just get on with being agnostic and practical. Intelligence is not like running long distance races which the black Africans clearly have an edge. What with each word in this debate is debated this is worse than Economics.

LKY never consider that his stance on IQ will eventually lead to the demise of the PAP in government? This is one issue he truly thought and acted totally with prejudice. He has laden his successors with the burden of undoing the damage and dealing with the liability of his legacy.

Here is a good BBC program on race and intelligence the family watched sometime back.

And this is a new clip I hope to find time for. I read the Bell Curve by Charles Murray long ago. Unimpressed, I had also lost my copy of the book. Without rock solid evidence, I chose to stick with my religious and moral convictions. Twenty years later, there is actually more light but still there is far more heat.

And a very good and short one on race and intelligence hosted by Morgan Freeman. How appropriately it began with dogs. I still remember LKY comparing people to sheep dogs. LKY had analyzed the issue in a way any scientist would squirm. He is a good lawyer but a hopeless scientist.

Perhaps I should also add a clip on the Flynn effect for good measure and balance. Well when I find one that I like. But this is already included in the first clip by the BBC.

Update: 2:30pm

And now from the good Dr. James Flynn, which I have his book but not yet the time to devour.  For practical people and not the scientists and politicians with prejudiced agendas, the Flynn effect makes the Bell Curve academic and for practical purpose stupid isn't it? Why would I care about the damn Curve if IQs are rapidly raised across the generations. I have a new worry! How to make sure the old can keep up with the young! The issues have completely changed. So LKY one of the smartest fellows around was in this case stupid and completely stubborn as a mule. We must be guided by faith and use that as our light to keep pursuing the path especially when the temporary truth war against our sense of morality. LKY should have stayed agnostic for life on a subject like intelligence.


  1. I won't completely dismiss out of hand LKY's viewpoint. On the contrary, he's a supremely practical person and his observation about the bell curve / sheep dogs is not a personal obsession per se, but just practical hard truths he observed and take to heart and make it work to his advantage.

    He urged the young to marry someone smarter than himself. Why? Good genes + good genes = Smart kids. Any truth in this? Maybe not always. But can't be dismissed out of hand either. So the practical side of him says -- do it.

    He observed that if the Hispanics were to increase in proportion in USA vs the whites, it will be negative for USA. The genes are not so good. Any truth in this? I think there's something to it too.

    He observed that within the Jews, the Sepharin (can't remember if I got the term right) Jews (ie. those descended from rabbis) had disproportionate representation in terms of Jews who're successful. And he realised that its the equivalent of breeding good horses or dogs, and is the equivalent in generational outcome on humans.

    Unfortunately for us, he not only took this observation to heart on his and his family's personal life, but also our country's. He's always bemoaned that Singapore chinese are merely the sons of peasants from Southern China (bad genes), while China is governed by a thick layer of talent primarily from the North. In the olden days, the Imperial scholars went to Suzhou to retire and have concubines. Good genes begat good genes. And that is one unspoken reason why he opened the doors to China immigrants here. He wanted to make up for our genetic pool shortfall. He treated Singapore like a company, a factory, minimised the task of integration. Its not just about making the numbers, or compensating for low birth rate. Its more than that. Its about genes.

    Unfortunately to us too, his son was sloppy in the implementation of this good genes theory. He went with getting boatloads of Chinese immigrants here, primarily from the North. Alas, he also went with getting boatloads of Filipinos here. Filipinos are to LKY, the equivalent of Hispanics to USA. I know its not the politically correct thing to say, but he's said it before and I totally agree.

    In other words, he messed with something he should never have messed with in the first place, in terms of public policy. Nobody cares what you think privately and how you adopt or disregard it, in your personal life. But to use this principle as an important govt policy implementation consideration -- we ended up playing with fire.

    1. I like your last para.

      I think you were looking for Askhenazi Jews as opposed to the Sephardic Jews. Askhenazis won the most Nobels, great business builders but also have an unusual number with Asperger's Syndrome.