Monthly Archives: June 2007

IQ and birth order

An interesting story on IQ and birth order appeared in the New York Times recently. It makes sense, and jibes with my experience. Money grafs:

The average difference in I.Q. was slight — three points higher in the eldest child than in the closest sibling — but significant, the researchers said. And they said the results made it clear that it was due to family dynamics, not to biological factors like prenatal environment.

“Like Darwin’s finches, they are eking out alternative ways of deriving the maximum benefit out of the environment, and not directly competing for the same resources as the eldest,” Dr. Sulloway said. “They are developing diverse interests and expertise that the I.Q. tests do not measure.”

This kind of experimentation might explain evidence that younger siblings often live more adventurous lives than their older brother or sister. They are more likely to participate in dangerous sports than eldest children, and more likely to travel to exotic places, studies find. They tend to be less conventional than firstborns, and some of the most provocative and influential figures in science spent their childhoods in the shadow of an older brother or sister (or two or three or four).

Interesting stuff. The older sibling is the best situated to take advantage of the existing structure, so they take advantage of that, and the younger sibling is shielded from the consequences of risk taking, so they consume more of it.

An interview with Charles Koch

A blogger was kind enough to post his transcription of this interview with Charles Koch of Koch Industries (the biggest company you’ve never heard of). Of particular liking to me

Studying business in school is way overrated. There seems to be absolutely no evidence suggesting that people with a business degree excel more than those without one. As you go to college, you don’t want specifics on how to run a business; you will learn this as you go along in real life. You need to have fundamental tools, such as reading, writing, doing math and science, understanding reality, and having good values that enable you to work with people and create real value.

That has always been my gripe with the MBA’s I’ve met. They’re certainly more confident (which is important) but of the three main tasks of a business (moving it, making it, and selling it) they’re not any more capable than they they would be without the MBA.

Much thanks to C.S. Hayden for posting the interview.

Saturday night reading

Videotaping police

Radley Balco, in a column on has an interesting and scary article video taping police at work. Basically there have been a string of incidents recently where people videotaping police at work (in uniform, in public, performing their duties) have been charged with crimes.

It’s ridiculous. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy for a private citizen in public view, which is why traffic cameras and the legion of private security cameras are legal (recording audio is considered different by the law). Why on earth would public servants (who are supposed to work for us mind you) be immune from this?

All this would change if we made all government agencies were funded from the public treasury and weren’t self-supporting, but that’s a topic for another time I suppose.

Bashing the education system

Reading the AJC’s education articles are always a source of malicious fun for me. The articles can be tedious, but the forums are always fun. For some reason people like to pretend that if only we could crack down on some group (the parents, the taxpayer, the students) the problem would solve itself. Grammar and spelling tend to leave quickly as well. This one was my favorite

I’m a career educator with more graduate degrees that the detractors of public education.

Let’s put it in a sports analogy so the neo-luddites can understand, break the legs of the starting offense of the GA Bulldogs and complain about why thy can’t win a championship.

He starts off with a misspelling, and then misuses “Luddite”. Luddite is a proper name, and has no sports meaning.

When one thinks about it, it’s amazing public education works as well as it does. When you have a system where the producer, the consumer and the financier are all different people, why should it work at all?

One other thing that annoys me is the pejorative refrain of “teaching to the test”. Of course, teachers should teach to the test the same way drivers should “drive to the road” and cops should “enforce to the law”. That’s their job after all.

As I’m in rant mode, I suppose I’ll share the other annoying shibboleth of the teaching establishment, which is saying someone is a good student “but doesn’t test well” which is like saying someone is very tall, “but doesn’t measure well”.