A friend of the blog passed along this piece from the Washington Post. Its title:
New brain science shows poor kids have smaller brains than affluent kids
I shouldn’t have to explain why this represents a troubling departure from that publication’s typically scrupulous agitprop. What socially constructed variable might “poor” and “affluent” be obvious proxies for? That’s a question we certainly don’t want readers asking. And that is why one does not blithely present the hoi polloi with facts from which they may draw infelicitous conclusions. Rather, our obligation as journalists is to present first the proper conclusion. That supported by a peppering of truths, opinions, and innuendo. For example, the title above is completely inappropriate for public consumption. I realize people are idiots, but even a dog can pick up a stick if you drop it in front of its snout. Instead the proper title is:
New brain science reveals desperate need for more immigrants
Do you see why that is far more effective? Now we simply populate the text with fragments from the study, followed by a MSNBC contributor’s assertions of why this makes more immigration imperative. A conscientious writer doesn’t simply leave facts lying around unattended–that can be dangerous. Always remember: Narrative safety first.
So with that gentle rebuke dispensed, let’s examine what sounds like a fascinating article by highlighting key points and excerpts.
Poor children have smaller brains than affluent children
Neuroscientists found that the surface area of the cerebral cortex was linked to family income.
That’s breakthrough science. So the size of a person’s brain, and subsequent cognitive capacity, are definitively linked to family income. Which leads me to conclude that we should consider a mass wealth transfer from “affluent” to “poor” people, so as to inflate American ghettos with erudition. I wonder if this is the conclusion the authors intended? I also wonder if they tested for other correlations with brain size. Such as the strongly negative one related to the faculty for dunking basketballs. In fact without even deploying the whole of its modest surface area, my own brain can hypothesize several variables just as likely to be correlated as family income. Though of course I am consumed with Hate and so not inclined to the sort of forthright scholarship that we will continue to discuss.
The research comes at a time when a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families and the academic achievement gap between poor and more-affluent children is growing. Policymakers are increasingly concerned about ways to reduce the gap, which is apparent as early as kindergarten.
Let’s go ahead and solve this conundrum for our befuddled policymakers. The Gap can be most quickly reduced by inhibiting the cognitive development of “affluent” children. Deny them nutrition, apply systematic head strikes, or simply process them through common core propaganda mills. The point is that if the Gap is a matter of critical importance–and we are well advised it is–then lowering the intellectual potency of one group is far lighter lifting than raising that of the proxy poor. I wonder how many Ivy League liberals would be willing to wager their children on the bet.
The thing that really stands out is how powerful the economic influences are on something as fundamental as brain structure,” Gabrieli said. “It’s just very striking.”
Shaquille O’ Neal’s five children must be very bright indeed. Though the thing that really stands out to me is how powerful the influences are to never publicly observe the less contrived correlations to intelligence. It’s just very striking.
The new research does not explain possible reasons for the brain differences.
The answers lie beyond the liberal event horizon.
Noble and Sowell have two theories about why poor children have smaller brains. One is that poor families lack access to material goods that aid healthy development, such as good nutrition and higher-quality health care. The other is that poor families tend to live more chaotic lives, and that stress could inhibit healthy brain development.
Right. It has to be one of those two. Maybe if we tried some exotic solutions such as “EBT cards” and “Medicaid” poor children would grow larger brains.
I vaguely wonder if intelligent liberals feel sheepish about offering such transparent flimflam. It would seem so hollow to take pride in your work, and the intelligence required to perform it, only to trot out such frayed bromides under compulsion. No matter the study’s results, their conclusions were never in doubt.
But James Thompson, a psychologist at University College London, has a third theory.
My bigot klaxon is sounding.
“People who have less ability and marry people with less ability have children who, on balance, on average, have less ability,” he said. Thompson noted that there is a genetic component to intelligence that Noble and Sowell failed to consider.
Who is this Spaceboy? Look, these are sober Ivy League neuroscientists. You can’t seriously expect them to pursue every flaky avant-garde theory and cosmic supposition. Really, a genetic component to intelligence? I don’t know whether he mined that from Dr. Who or Birth of a Nation.
“It makes my jaw drop that we’ve known for years intelligence is inheritable and scientists are beginning to track down exactly how it happens,” Thompson said. “The well-known genetic hypothesis has not even had a chance to enter the door in this discussion.”
Mike Feinberg, a co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a network of 162 charter schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia that educates 59,000 students, 85 percent of whom have low family income, said all children are capable of learning regardless of their backgrounds or economic situation.
Thanks Mike, Exxon thinks oil is important too. Though boll weevils are also capable of learning regardless of background or economic situation. But learning what is the question. And when I want a candid response to that, I won’t ask a guy who has millions of dollars invested in one answer.
The Obama administration has increasingly promoted the idea that the country should provide early childhood education for low-income 3- and 4-year-olds to give them a boost before they get to kindergarten. Last week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said if he had one more federal dollar to spend on education, he would funnel it to early childhood.
If I had one more federal dollar I’d funnel it into test-firing Arne Duncan out of a rail gun. Though this is why there are such things as science skeptics and climate change deniers. The only scientific aspect of these researchers is their methodical evasion of obvious conclusions. They do not penetrate the veil. They drape themselves in it. They wrap a white coat around the iron PC fist…or they become unemployed for lack of effort.
Either way if you want a pleasantly unvarnished perspective on brain surfaces, your research starts here.