Monday, February 09, 2009

British teenagers have lower IQs than their counterparts did 30 years ago

As usual, Jim Flynn gets it partly right. The best evidence would seem to indicate that the IQ rise previously reported by Flynn and others was due to increased test sophistication, produced by increased years of education. Only about two thirds of IQ score is genetically determined. Personal environment accounts for the rest and education is a very important part of the intellectual environment. Anybody who knows how severely dumbed-down British education has been in recent years should not be surprised by the results below. They simply show that dumbed down education gives kids fewer clues about how to do IQ tests

Teenagers in Britain have lower IQ scores than their counterparts did a generation ago, according to a study by a leading expert. Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period.

Among those in the upper half of the intelligence scale, a group that is typically dominated by children from middle class families, performance was even worse, with an average IQ score six points below what it was 28 years ago. The trend marks an abrupt reversal of the so-called "Flynn effect" which has seen IQ scores rise year on year, among all age groups, in most industrialised countries throughout the past century.

Professor James Flynn, of the University of Otago in New Zealand, the discoverer of the Flynn effect and the author of the latest study, believes the abnormal drop in British teenage IQ could be due to youth culture having "stagnated" or even dumbed down. He used data gathered in IQ tests on UK children to examine how the country's cognitive skills have changed over time. He found that while children aged between five and 10 saw their IQs increase by up to half a point a year over the three decades, teenagers performed less well. "It looks like there is something screwy among British teenagers," said Professor Flynn. "While we have enriched the cognitive environment of children before their teenage years, the cognitive environment of the teenagers has not been enriched. "Other studies have shown how pervasive teenage youth culture is, and what we see is parents' influence on IQ slowly diminishing with age.

"Up until the age of nine and ten, the home has a really powerful influence, so we can assume parents have been providing their children with a more cognitive challenging environment in the past 30 years. "After that age the children become more autonomous and they gravitate to peer groups that set the cognitive environment. "What we know is that youth culture is more visually orientated around computer games than they are in terms of reading and holding conversations." He added that previous studies have shown that IQ increases as teenagers move into adulthood, entering university or starting work.

Professor Flynn also believes that the larger drop in IQ among the upper half of the ability range could be due to effects of social class. He said: "IQ gains are typically correlated by class, but the results in this case are very mixed. Maybe the rebellious peer culture of the lower half of British society has invaded the peer culture of the upper half. "It could be the classes in the upper half were insulated from this rebellious peer culture for a time, but now it is universal."

His research, which is presented in a paper published online by the journal Economics and Human Biology, also refutes the commonly held belief that increases in IQ over time are a result of improving nutrition.

Previous research has suggested that using text messages and email causes concentration to drop, temporarily reducing IQ by 10 points, while smoking marijuana has been associated with a four-point drop in IQ. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is normally expressed as a single numerical score, with 100 being the average.

Professor Flynn's study was conducted using a respected IQ test known as Raven's Progressive Matrices. Questions involve matching a series of patterns and sequences, so that even people with no education can take the test. Dr John Raven, the Edinburgh-based psychologist who invented the test, said he was surprised by the fall in teenage IQ. He said: "IQ is influenced by multiple factors that can be dependent upon culture, but the norms tend to be very similar across cultures even in societies that have no access to computers and television. "What we do see is that IQ changes dramatically over time."

He cautioned that since the study did not record the social class of participants, "it is very difficult to make inferences about how changes within social classes can impact on these changes in IQ".

Richard House, a senior lecturer in therapeutic education at Roehampton University and a researcher into the effects of television on children, said: "Taking these findings at face value, it appears that there is something happening to teenagers. "Computer games and computer culture has led to a decrease in reading books. The tendency for teachers to now 'teach to the test' has also led to a decrease in the capacity to think in lateral ways."


Equipment shortage at major NHS children's hospital killed baby

The parents of the five-week-old baby who died from a suspected hospital blunder believe her death may have been caused by a lack of equipment at London's world-famous Great Ormond Street Hospital. Poppy Davies was admitted for a minor operation on Friday, January 9, but was left brain-damaged and paralysed after a junior nurse administered an overdose of glucose. She died last Sunday after her parents had her life-support machine switched off.

Poppy's father, David Daly, 21, has now told The Mail on Sunday: 'Staff told us someone was using the wrong piece of equipment because the right one wasn't available.'

An inquest was opened and adjourned last Thursday, and Mr Daly and his partner, Carly Davies, 22, must wait until May to find out exactly how their daughter died. Carly, from Grays, Essex, said: ' It's Great Ormond Street and knowing they've helped so many other children makes it difficult to be too angry. Mistakes can be made but you can't afford to make mistakes in circumstances like this.'

Poppy was born prematurely at Basildon Hospital, Essex, but moved to Great Ormond Street for surgery to close a blood vessel in her heart. The operation went well but the next day she was allegedly given up to 75 times the recommended dose of glucose solution.

Her father, a fireplace fitter, said: 'We want to find out what happened but nothing's going to bring her back.' Last night a spokesman for Great Ormond Street said: 'We're investigating a number of possibilities as to what went wrong.'


Snow-phobic Britain: The health and safety rules that closed many schools

And with all that marvellous bureaucratic Leftist "planning" they could not even provide as much gritting salt as they needed

The stringent health and safety rules which forced thousands of schools to close following heavy snowfalls can be revealed for the first time. Diktats issued to head teachers specify in precise detail the width of paths that must be cleared and the amount of grit to be laid. They are even asked to consider the weight of the shovel provided to caretakers in order to prevent overexertion.

Travellers faced another day of difficult conditions yesterday , when plunging overnight temperatures created treacherous conditions on many roads as melted snow turned into sheet ice. Forecasters warned that more bad weather is on its way, with more snow expected to fall in the North and Scotland today and tomorrow , with rain and sleet across southern England.

More than 2.5 million children at over 8,000 schools across the country were forced to stay at home for parts of last week, keeping millions of parents off work and costing the economy billions of pounds in lost business. But a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found that it was often not the snow that paralysed schools, but health and safety guidelines which demand that heads eliminate almost all risk.
* In Kent, the county council told head teachers that they have no power to direct staff to turn up if a teacher decides that the weather conditions are dangerous. The head must also make allowances for nervous or new drivers and even take account of the kind of car they drive. "Take in to consideration disability, nervous or new drivers, four-wheel drive and other things that affect ease of journey," its guidance says.

* Gloucestershire County Council, where more than 90 schools were closed, said head teachers needed to take account of the effect of the snow on caretakers whose job it was to clear the snow. The advice says heads must even "consider the size of shovel provided" to ensure it does not place extra strain "on the stomach, back and abdominal muscles and helps prevent overexertion". Heads are also told that they are responsible for ensuring "frequent breaks are taken when snow clearing" and that those clearing snow "go inside and warm up".

* In Hertfordshire, the health and safety policy specifies that a "one metre wide path" must be cleared from the site entrance to the school. Heads were also asked to carry out "moving and handling" assessments to determine whether wheelbarrows are needed to move grit.

* The Isle of Wight told its staff that precisely "6mm of rock salt and grit sand mix" must be used on surfaces that are prone to get icy.

* In Leicester, teachers were sent a missive entitled "A gritty issue" which warned them that "the general use of salt is not an automatic defence to a claim if someone is injured by a slip or a fall".

* Walsall Council told its staff: "The safety of pupils on their journey to and from school and the nature of that journey will need to be considered. The safety of pupils once they reach home will also need to be considered."

Chris Hassall, the head teacher of Taylor Road primary school in Leicester, which remained open while other schools in the city were shut all week, said: "Heads are damned if they do and damned if they don't. "The local authority is warning you might get sued and parents are risk averse. Heads are thinking 'What's in it for me if I break ranks and open? Absolutely nothing.'"

Motoring organisations yesterday warned of dangerous road conditions as councils struggled to cope with shortages of grit. Police forces across the West Country advised motorists to only make journeys if they were essential as many roads were covered in black ice. Roads across Wiltshire were particularly badly affected, with several closures on Friday night and Saturday morning. Local authorities in some areas gave up trying to clear minor roads after running out of gritting salt and are concentrating only on main routes.


British foster parent who has looked after 80 children struck off...because a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian

Horrible Left-indoctrinated British social workers in action again. It takes publicity and/or legal action to squeeze decency out of them

A foster mother has been struck off by a council after a teenage Muslim girl in her care became a Christian. The carer, who has ten years' experience and has looked after more than 80 children, said she was `devastated' by the decision. `This is my life,' she revealed. `It is not just a job for me. It is a vocation. I love what I do. It is also my entire income. I am a single carer, so that is all I have to live on.'

The foster mother said she had recently bought a larger car and had been renting a farmhouse, with a pony in a field, so that she could provide more disadvantaged children with a new life. `That was always my dream and then suddenly, bang, it was gone. I am now in a one-bedroom flat,' she added.

The girl is understood to be back with members of her family, who have not been told of her conversion. A second girl the woman was fostering has been moved to another carer. The woman insisted that, although she was a Christian, she had put no pressure on the Muslim girl, who was 16 at the time, to be baptised. But council officials allegedly accused her of failing to `respect and preserve' the child's faith and tried to persuade the girl to reconsider her decision.

The carer, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now preparing to take legal action against the council with the support of the girl, now 17, who also cannot be named. Her case follows the controversy over Caroline Petrie, 45, the Christian nurse in Somerset suspended without pay in December for offering to pray for an elderly woman patient. She was reinstated this week.

Yesterday, Christians expressed outrage over the foster carer's treatment, saying that it was a basic right for people to be able to change their religion and the woman should be praised, not punished. Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, a pressure group which is funding her case, said: `I cannot imagine that an atheist foster carer would be struck off if a Christian child in her care stopped believing in God. `This is the sort of double standard which Christians are facing in modern Britain. In recent months, we have seen grandparents, a nurse, adoption agencies, firemen, registrars, elderly care homes and now a foster carer being punished because of the Christian beliefs they hold. It has got to stop.'

The carer, a mother-of-two in her 50s, has worked with young children for much of her life and became a foster parent for the local authority in the North of England in 1999. In 2007, she was asked to look after the girl, who had been assaulted by a family member. She told council officials that she was very happy to support the girl in her religion and culture. `We had a multicultural household and I had no problems helping the young person maintain her faith of birth,' she said. `I have always prided myself in being very professional in what I do. If something works for a young person, whether I agree with it or not, I am happy to support them in that.'

But the girl, whom the foster mother describes as caring and intelligent, defied expectations by choosing not to wear overtly Muslim clothes or to eat Halal food. The girl, whose interest in Christianity had begun at school some time before her foster placement, also made it clear that she wanted to go to church. The carer, an Anglican who attends a local evangelical church, said: `I did initially try to discourage her. `I offered her alternatives. I offered to find places for her to practise her own religion. I offered to take her to friends or family. But she said to me from the word go, "I am interested and I want to come." She sort of burst in.'

The carer said that the girl's social workers were fully aware that she was going to church and had not raised any objections. The girl had told her auxiliary social worker of her plans to convert before she was baptised in January last year, and the social worker had appeared to give her consent. `At that point the brakes were off,' the carer said. `I couldn't have stopped her if I had wanted to. She saw the baptism as a washing away of the horrible things she had been through and a symbol of a new start.'

Three months later, however, senior officials complained that they had not been fully informed of the girl's intentions to become a Christian. They said that she should have undergone counselling to ensure that she understood the implications, especially as such conversions are dealt with harshly in some Muslim countries.

The foster carer said, however, that the girl had thought about her decision very carefully and was aware that members of her family might react strongly, so she was adamant that they should not be told. The carer said that as the auxiliary social worker knew about the baptism, she had not thought it necessary to tell the fostering team as well. But she received a phone call from the fostering manager who was `incandescent with rage' that the baptism had gone ahead. The carer said: `Up to that point, we had had a good relationship, so I was quite taken aback. I was very shocked.'

In April, council officials told the girl that she should not attend any church activity for six months, so that she could reconsider the wisdom of becoming a Christian. The carer was also instructed to discourage the girl from participating in any Christian activities, even social events. The council then told the carer there had been a breakdown of trust and in November removed her from the register.

`It never occurred to me that they would go that far,' she said. `I was concerned that the council seemed to view Christianity in such a negative light. I wonder whether if it had gone the other way - if one of my Christian young people had decided to embrace another faith - there would have been this level of fuss.' She added that the girl has been devastated by the experience.

The carer's solicitor Nigel Priestley said: `There is no doubt that the event that provoked the council was the decision by the girl to be baptised. This girl was 16 and has the right to make this choice, so for the council to react in this way is totally disproportionate. Even at this late hour, we hope that the council will resolve the issue.' A council spokesman said: `From the details provided, we believe that this information relates to a child who is the subject of a final care order in favour of the council. In those circumstances, we are unable to pass any comment. `We would never be able to comment on sensitive issues surrounding a child in care. `To do so would be irresponsible and in this particular case may put the child at risk of harm.' [They are hiding behind legalisms, in other words]


British "Men only" party incorrect

The invitation, which reads "men only", suggests a night of pleasure for the City's leading investment bankers. It shows nine scantily dressed models stuffing themselves with grapes as they paw both men and each other. A memento from the City's testosterone-fuelled past? No, it has been sent out by 3i, Britain's oldest and biggest private equity house which stands accused of sexism over the party to be held by Agent Provocateur, the lingerie firm, in London's West End this week.

Bankers from several City institutions - including Rothschild and Lazard - are on the guest list. The invitation reads: "3i and Agent Provocateur request the pleasure of your company at a special instore preValentine's men-only evening. Drinks and canap‚s will be served during a short lingerie presentation with sexy Agent Provocateur models." Critics say it is a throwback to the boom years when young City dealers had a culture of Porsches, easy money and strip clubs. Banks have tried to clean up their act after being hit by a number of high-profile compensation demands from women claiming sex discrimination. Female bankers said they were asked to leave dinners so their male colleagues could go on to lap-dancing clubs. 3i says it is holding the party at the request of its advisers to help support Agent Provocateur, in which it has invested, and to boost its sales.

"I could see people seeing this as exciting, but we are supporting business," said a spokeswoman. "We held three similar female-only events before Christmas." She said the lingerie would be modelled on mannequins. A spokeswoman for Agent Provocateur said: "It will be very intimate and quite personal. We are giving them what we call our mini trunk show." An insider at Agent Provocateur said: "We are expecting about 30 men, all of them bankers. There are going to be some models showcasing lingerie and some of the girls will be serving drinks and wandering around with canapes."

The irony is that 3i's chairwoman is the formidable Baroness Hogg, a former financial journalist who was head of John Major's policy unit when he was prime minister. Hogg answered the telephone at her London home but, when she was asked to comment, her husband Douglas Hogg, the former Tory minister, came on the line and said she was unavailable. She has already been embarrassed by internal problems at 3i. Last month it ousted Philip Yea, its chief executive, with a 773,000 dollar pay-off after a poor run. In his four-year reign its share price plummeted from 601p to 210p during trading last month. The new chief executive is Michael Queen, a former nonexecutive director of Northern Rock.

Some of the bankers invited have balked at attending. One said: "How it ever seemed a good idea to put forward a sexist, outdated marketing idea is beyond me, but given 3i's current state it seems particularly ill-conceived." It is potentially embarrassing for those who do attend. Rothschild has faced claims of sex discrimination by women staff in London in recent years, while William Cohan, a former Lazard banker, wrote a book two years ago exposing some of the nonbanking activities at its offices in New York's Rockefeller Center. One banker was found having sex in his office, forcing his boss to yell: "Why don't you go to a hotel room like the rest of my partners?" Another former partner, Edouard Stern, who was famed for eating 70 pieces of sushi at a single sitting, was shot dead by his girlfriend in his Geneva apartment clad in a skin-coloured latex body suit linked to sadomasochistic sex.


British Christian care home victorious in homosexual dispute

A Christian care home has won a victory against a council that cut its funding because it refused to ask elderly residents about their sexual orientation every three months

Brighton and Hove council agreed to restore the funding after Pilgrim Homes launched a legal action for religious discrimination. The council had cut the 13,000 dollar funds after accusing the home - which has former missionaries and a minister among its residents - of "institutional homophobia". Officials had told Pilgrim Homes to ask the pensioners about their sexual orientation four times a year under its "fair access and diversity" policies developed from New Labour's equality laws. It also wanted the home, which has 39 single Christian residents aged over 80, to use elderly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in its leaflets.

The home, run by a 200-year-old charity that cares for older Christians, has now agreed to withdraw its legal action after the council said it would restore the funds, which paid for a warden, retract the homophobia accusation, and drop the request for details of residents' sexual orientation. Andrew Jessop, chief executive of the charity which has 10 Christian homes across the UK, said he was "delighted" and "relieved" that the council had backed down. "We are a Christian organisation for older Christians, and our chief concern has always been to protect their best interests," he said. "When they come into residential care or even sheltered housing they deserve the peace, comfort and security of an organisation that supports their dearly-held religious beliefs. "We do not think our Brighton home - and others like it - should be denied access to public funding just because of those beliefs."

Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute which supported the home's battle with the council, said: "Elderly Christians shouldn't be penalised just because of their religious beliefs. Christians pay their taxes too and they should have equal access to public grants without being required to drop their Christian ethos. I hope other councils take note. "There have been a number of recent cases where Christians are being treated less favourably than others. "Nurses, grandparents, firemen, registrars, adoption agencies, care homes are all finding themselves in the firing line for nothing more than holding the same harmless beliefs that Christians have had for 2,000 years." Mr Judge said Christians were "beginning to find their voice and discovering that a lot of people - Christian or otherwise - are agreeing with them."

Tom Ellis of Aughton Ainsworth, solicitors for Pilgrim Homes, said the council had shown "a total disregard and lack of respect for orthodox Christian beliefs and values" when it decided to cut the funding. "Pilgrim Homes has a right to provide its services within the context of its doctrinal belief without interference from the council."

Mr Jessop added: "We are willing to ask potential residents about their sexual orientation when they apply for a place at our home, on the understanding that they have the right to refuse, and that we will not be required to act in a way which goes against our doctrinal beliefs," he said.

The row began last year when the council sent a questionnaire to the Pilgrim Home in Brighton. It was part of a move to make organisations it supported financially "comply" with the Equality Act 2006 and the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. Care home officials were told to ask residents if they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual or "unsure". But the residents described the council's orders as "intrusive" and "inappropriate" and refused to fill in the forms. The council criticised the home's "negative response" and said that its Christian ethos might deter gay people from applying.

The council stopped the grant because there had been only "limited progress" in making the home "open to the gay and lesbian community". It said residents could choose whether to answer questions about their sexuality. The home replied that had given places to gay Christians and accused the council of being "institutionally discriminatory".


Leaky Jonathan, chief science distorter for "The Times", defends Warmism amid Britain's unusually cold winter

He even calls on the nutty "Gaia" Lovelock, who predicts that only Antarctica and Siberia will be livable in the near future. See full dissections of a couple of Leaky's earlier deceptions here and here

It seems a bizarre contrast: as James Lovelock issues his latest warnings on soaring global temperatures, snow has been blanketing much of Britain. How can the world be warming yet still produce weather like this? Met Office scientists see no contradiction. For them, the real issue is not whether we have a cold snap but how many compared with the past. Britain can now expect a winter like this only every 20 years, but records show they occurred every five years before the industrial revolution. ["Before the industrial revolution" is a long time ago. Are we referring to the Medieval Warm period?] Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: "This winter seems so bad precisely because it is now so unusual but the deep freezes of 1946-47 and 1962-63 were much colder and longer. "In fact winters in central England nowadays are on average 1.2C warmer than they would have been without man-made climate change." ["Would have been"? How does she know?]

In England the lowest temperature ever recorded was -26.1C at Newport in Shropshire on January 10, 1982, while the highest was 38.5C at Brogdale in Kent on August 10, 2003. The range between temperatures shows how much natural variation there is in our weather. The impacts of climate change do, however, stand out over longer periods.

Rowan Sutton, professor of climate science at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, said: "If you look at the whole Earth over several decades the impacts of climate change are clear in the form of rising temperatures, rising sea level and so on. Average global temperatures are now 0.75C warmer than they were 100 years ago, and since the mid1970s temperatures have increased at a rate of more than 0.15C per decade." [Note that "0.75C". Less than one degree of warming over the entire 20th century, a fluctuation so small as to be well within the margin of error]

Lovelock himself pointed out: "Most of the extra heat caused by greenhouse gases is stored in the surface waters of the ocean. If you want to know what is happening, don't bother with the air or surface temperature, look at how much the sea level has risen. The ocean expands as it warms and is the true thermometer for global heating. It is rising faster than the International Panel on Climate Change predicted." [Odd that there has been no sea-level rise over the last 2 years, then]

So why is it so cold at the moment? Adam Scaife at the Met Office said the powerful winds that usually keep Britain warm have changed direction. "There was a major warming in the stratosphere at the end of January and the winds reversed from their usual westerly at this time of year to easterly, leading to cold weather coming in from the Continent," he said. [But what caused that?]


Leaky Jonathan again!

"Polar ice caps melting faster". True -- but only if you ignore recent data. Summary of what Leaky omits: Global sea-level rise is not accelerating and has levelled off recently; ice caps are not melting faster; the Antarctic is not warming; global climate is cooling. But it's true that it's a little warmer now than 100 years ago when the climate started recovering from the Little Ice Age. And Leaky definitely does NOT mention what Cazenave said just two years ago: "ice sheets currently contribute little to sea-level rise"

The ice caps are melting so fast that the world's oceans are rising more than twice as fast as they were in the 1970s, scientists have found. They have used satellites to track how the oceans are responding as billions of gallons of water reach them from melting ice sheets and glaciers. The effect is compounded by thermal expansion, in which water expands as it warms, according to the study by Anny Cazenave of the National Centre for Space Studies in France.

These findings come at the same time as a warning from an American academic whose research suggests Labour's policies to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050 are doomed.

Cazenave's data show that in the past 15 years sea levels have been rising at 3.4mm a year, much faster than the average 1.7mm recorded by tidal gauges over the past 50 years. Cazenave said: "This rate, observed since the early 1990s, could reflect an acceleration linked to global warming." Met Office figures suggest sea levels in the Thames could rise 8in-35in by 2100 and possibly by as much as 6ft 6in. Cazenave's work, just published, will be presented at this week's American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago.

Its release will coincide with a lecture in Britain by Professor Roger Pielke, of the University of Colorado, in which he implies that the UK's emission target is unachievable for population and economic reasons.


MMR doctor Andrew Wakefield fixed data on autism

The doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found. Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients’ data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

The research was published in February 1998 in an article in The Lancet medical journal. It claimed that the families of eight out of 12 children attending a routine clinic at the hospital had blamed MMR for their autism, and said that problems came on within days of the jab. The team also claimed to have discovered a new inflammatory bowel disease underlying the children’s conditions.

However, our investigation, confirmed by evidence presented to the General Medical Council (GMC), reveals that: In most of the 12 cases, the children’s ailments as described in The Lancet were different from their hospital and GP records. Although the research paper claimed that problems came on within days of the jab, in only one case did medical records suggest this was true, and in many of the cases medical concerns had been raised before the children were vaccinated. Hospital pathologists, looking for inflammatory bowel disease, reported in the majority of cases that the gut was normal. This was then reviewed and the Lancet paper showed them as abnormal.

Despite involving just a dozen children, the 1998 paper’s impact was extraordinary. After its publication, rates of inoculation fell from 92% to below 80%. Populations acquire “herd immunity” from measles when more than 95% of people have been vaccinated. Last week official figures showed that 1,348 confirmed cases of measles in England and Wales were reported last year, compared with 56 in 1998. Two children have died of the disease.

With two professors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, Wakefield is defending himself against allegations of serious professional misconduct brought by the GMC. The charges relate to ethical aspects of the project, not its findings. All three men deny any misconduct. Through his lawyers, Wakefield this weekend denied the issues raised by our investigation, but declined to comment further.


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