Monday, 25 May 2015

“Gone with the Wind” keeps blowing

It is said that every political candidate ends up convinced that they are going to win the election, so long as big crowds turn out to hear them speak where ever they go. The delusion of popularity is hard to avoid: can all those adoring crowds be wrong? Adoration is not given to many of us, so the effects are as powerful on politicians as they are on pop stars. Turning out to see a politician takes some effort on the part of the electorate, but often denotes no more than curiosity. Celebrity attracts attention. Actual voting is another matter. For those reasons, plus the distorting effects constantly reassuring staff, flattering hangers-on and compliant advisors looking to keep up the candidate’s spirits to the very end, most candidates end up deluded, which is good for confidence, but makes for a rude awakening the morning after the count.

So, it is highly likely that I am now under the delusion that people in general are beginning to get used to the findings that many of their behaviours and attitudes have a substantial heritable component. The reason for my strongly held delusion is that for the two and a half years of writing this blog I have developed a keen sense of the importance of page views. They are to me what adoring crowds are to pop stars: a measure of success. As part of my delusional state, I assumed that my loyal readers would be interested in the papers arising from the London Conference on Intelligence, and they were.  AJ Figueredo’s paper on the diminishing use of altruistic words has gained 330 readers so far. The argument is subtle, the implications important, the reader response contained and modest, as you would expect from my distinguished readers. Ed Dutton, using the clever strategem of showing striking photo of a muscle-bound hairy warrior on his paper about androgens, drew 518 readers, many of whom, like me, probably resolved to spend more time lifting heavy weights. Dalibor Jurasek’s paper on Roma intelligence had even more chance of drawing attention: frighteningly low intelligence figures for those who maintained marriages within the Roma, and higher scores for those who became assimilated, either through flight or inter-marriage with locals, drew 782 avid readers.

However, as the screen grab today shows, like its namesake before it, the twin-studies meta-analysis has blown all before it. Readers of this blog will understand the issue of metrics: if a blog post does spectacularly well in 4 days, should the comparison be with other posts in a week, or a month, or all time? The first is easily defended as the most appropriate, the second (as used in my comments above) puts the achievement into contemporary context, the last denotes its overall significance in my small universe.




I know that Steve Sailer gave it a good write up, and he is the miglior fabbro of seditious empiricism, with stadia of followers. Nonetheless, he has noted several of my posts, such that I can compute the “Sailer effect” on my little blog, and large as that effect always is, this particular effect is larger. So now I am ensnared by another delusion: perhaps more people are interested in, ready to read about, and minded to acknowledge the power of ancestry. Stepping outside my cocoon, Danielle Posthuma tells me that the paper received 23k requests on the Match website by 19 May, so it seems my delusion is not “Folie à deux” but “folie a 23,000”.

Perhaps times are changing and we have got somewhere beyond talking to ourselves.


  1. Perhaps also Steve Sailer's audience is growing.

    Not just trying to be a downer here, merely adhering to the local mores of statistical reasoning and wariness of type 1 errors.

    1. Crossed my mind I should have checked on his readership so as to avoid that confounder. However, people would only be reading him in greater numbers if they were willing to entertain hereditarian notions. Could all be a local delusion, like a political rally that only attracts believers.

  2. To be frank, I would suspect the popularity is due to extra linkage. It is indeed the "f%#* off" sample of the century, and your blog is accessible to many readers.