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« January hurricanes | Main | Money without accountability »
Friday
Jan152016

Name them!

Toby Young has a must-read article in the Spectator about the retribution handed out to researchers whose findings challenges the articles of faith of the political left. It focuses on the work of Dr Adam Perkins, who published a book which claimed that, in Young's words,  "individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies...were over-represented among the ranks of the unemployed:

A senior editor of Nature, one of the leading academic journals, refused to consider it for review because she regards scientific research into the personalities of the long-term unemployed as ‘unethical’, and a sociology professor whom the publishers had asked to peer-review the book refused to do so on the grounds that any book linking benefit dependency to personality must be nonsense because personality is a ‘capitalist construct’.

Colleagues with whom Perkins had collaborated in the past warned him off publication, worried about being associated with such a heretic; and a powerful American professor was so enraged by his conclusions that he lobbied for him to be banned from the conference circuit.

What irritates me is that these people are still able to hide behind a wall of anonymity. They should be named.

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Reader Comments (125)

Yet psychology papers that paint climate skeptics in a poor light are widely published, no matter how patently flawed and rubbish they are........

Jan 15, 2016 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

JustAnotherPoster, think of it as a compliment - we're not the underdog so we can be insulted at will.

Jan 15, 2016 at 3:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies...were over-represented among the ranks of the unemployed"

Hmm, yeah, but unemployment can do that to a person.

"A senior editor of Nature, one of the leading academic journals, refused to consider it for review because she regards scientific research into the personalities of the long-term unemployed as ‘unethical’,"

As should research into the 'personalities' of the climate change denier be considered 'unethical', as many of us have been arguing for a long time.

Researchers have no business mind-probing as a means of social engineering the political order they would prefer.

Jan 15, 2016 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

"individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies...were over-represented among the ranks of the unemployed"

While its true that unemployment could do that to a person but its equally true that such traits make a person unemployable. I have personally interviewed people who swore at and threatened me when I mentioned that they were late.

Jan 15, 2016 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterKeith Willshaw

Ben,

Unless I course that person was already...ahem..unemployable???

Mailman

Jan 15, 2016 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Curious illogic in the Spectator article.

It runs counter to the anti-capitalist narrative that portrays the ever-expanding underclass as ‘victims’ whose only sin is to be born on the wrong side of the tracks.

"Ever expanding" that means the circumstances that lead to the long-term unemployed are expanding.

If those circumstances are "individuals with aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies" then those people must be growing in number.
That would be understandable if they are more fertile and it's a genetic disposition... but he objects to the "born on the wrong side of the tracks" explanation.

Crime as whole is going down so the idea that the personality traits associated with crime are rising in the general population, before being unemployed, seems dubious.

It seems likely that the researcher has discovered that the weakness of unemployment causes "aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies". Yet the Spectator misses that possibility.

It makes one wonder what else they missed about this researcher's troubles in getting published.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:03 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Keith -- I have personally interviewed people who swore at and threatened me when I mentioned that they were late. --

No doubt such categories of people exist, who we can say throw away their opportunities. I've met them too.

I'd be happier with a study which looked at how a policy of welfarism (including the Thatcher govt, in case I get misunderstood here) and 'rights', encourages such a sense of entitlement that ends up with you being sworn at and threatened. That's not to let those people off the hook at all, but it surely takes such a sense of entitlement, which doesn't form in a vacuum, to speak to others in that way.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

M Courtney -- It makes one wonder what else they missed about this researcher's troubles in getting published.

Quite right. There is another class of people who have always concerned themselves with the 'ever growing underclass', which is certainly far more engorged than its "clients". We might have to say that if the client class didn't exist, the other class might have to invent them... Except it is possible that they already did to no small extent.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

I'm not sure how one would encompass a modern definition of "anti-social tendencies" in the age of twitter and texting.

I'm probably damned either way.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I love the idea that personality is a capitalist concept. At last they have found something that CO2 does not do.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

There is another aspect to this type of study. It has been found that the same "aggressiveness" type when possessed by someone brought up in a middle/upper class home leads to higher income. In such an environment, kids learn to channel it into sports, jobs, pranks, and study. If you don't learn to control it, you become a soccer hooligan. But the aggressiveness itself is a useful male trait. Being passive/compliant does not get you ahead in life.
The problem pointed out by the post is that people reject studies with unpleasant implications. The criterion should be how well done it is. I never liked the studies showing that women live longer, but it is what it is.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterCraig Loehle

It helps to read the book - the author postulates that over-generous benefits lead to increased fecundity in the recipients of state benefits compared to the population norm (1% for every 3% increase). I've only got to the end of chapter one so bear with me. I suspect he might also have answered some of your other questions later on. It is clearly written - there is no attempt to hide behind gobbledegook, apparently a sign of poor science. It is also quite expensive at £17+ for a thin paperback so it's not also aimed at the unemployed either.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

I have to say unemployment has been the best thing that ever happened to me.
I do not claim direct benefit as one must then owe some sort of loyality to the bank / state.

If I work at all it is for cash.
One must live like a Franciscan but it is a much better life then that of a corporate wage slave where you trade your life forces time tokens for luxuries.

Much if not most of modern "work" in western countries has no meaning.
People only engage to access purchasing power.
It's a sick game.
Better to pay everyone a national dividend and they can freely return to their communities.
We can then finally begin the process of decentralisation.
Of local work, local meaning.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

While I agree with Ben Pile and M Courtney that the solidity of Perkins' argument is not as clear as Toby Young and His Grace seem to believe, the reason given for not publishing it in Nature – that it was “unethical” - is surely wrong.

I've never argued, as Ben does above, that “research into the 'personalities' of the climate change denier should be considered 'unethical'”, but only that it should be done competently. There's nothing wrong with Lewandowsky analysing our criticisms of his research. But he shouldn't get it done by an incompetent buffoon like John Cook and then lie about the results. Similarly, Perkins' research should be published somewhere where we can all see it and judge whether Ben's criticisms are valid.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:24 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The liberal left perceives doubt as a large obstacle to efforts to improve the overall human condition. If the general feeling is that the poor are, to some extent, responsible for their own troubles, or that criminals have an inherent criminal behaviour, or any such thing, then efforts to bring the poor out of poverty or rehabilitate the criminally convicted or other things which may have inherent causes, will be - reasonably - limited in resources, effort and time.

These PC denunciations are about trying to create the Utopian society. They are no different from the Climate Change suppressions, misinformation and lies. They stem from a desire to remove doubt or uncertainty from social action.

The man who is uncertain pulls his punch. The left don't want any uncertainty. Unfortunately, a perceived lack of uncertainty leads to Lysenkoism, The Great Leap Forward and invading mid-East countries (to install American democracy).

Thanks for this article. It clarified the issue for me. The left is so connected to its social causes, I now see, that observation is not critical to action. Regardless of actual cause-effect, a 100% effort will bring a maximum return, it is believed, and it is the maximum return that is the ONLY acceptable outcome. Think of COP21 - that is an example of Obama's 'maximum effort'. A legacy reflects 'maximum effort'. Scott died in the Antarctic, but we venerate him because he gave his all. If he had turned around like a reasonable man, he would have been an also-ran.

Maximum effort, regardless of outcome, is the gold medal winner for the ideologically left. Recycling bottles and newspapers is a maximum effort of the urban Calgarian (where I live). The fact that much of the recycled has no economic use and is bundled and buried in a landfill is not material - bringing up this inconvenient fact only shows the teller (me) to be insensitive and right-wing. A social jerk.

"Hide the decline" is an example of Maximum Effort in the climate change narrative. Remove all doubt so the ship can race forward and save the day. If you say, "Damn the torpedoes!" you are a grand fellow.

All this is about society saying people are grand fellows working for humanity's best.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Procttor

The late John Moriarty .
A man ahead of his time or perhaps before our twisted sense of time.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CmB-G-16qNQ

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

As a small business owner who hires mostly hourly workers I'd say this doesn't look controversial, it looks too obvious. When you hire people you alway ask why they left their last job and you follow up with calls to references. Most employers develop lines of questioning that reveal how candidates get along with coworkers and supervisors without directly asking that particular question. A candidate that has a history of not getting along with either coworkers or supervisors will rarely get hired. It just causes too much disruption. And by the way, these people often lose jobs because of behavior like this. I know all too well, I recently had to let a very productive worker go because of difficulties with coworkers and supervisors.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterSean

I prefer the truth however inconvenient. The only way to determine (or rather work towards) the truth is to publish, rebut, debate, discuss. Those who attempt to derail this discourse are trying to hide the truth and prevent any determination of it.

I'm thinking of 'The Bell Curve'. I have read this controversial book. It contains uncomfortable claims (although not the claims it's detractors say it makes) but it was rebutted properly, counter-rebutted and so on. If it was published new today, if it could get published, I can only think the authors would have got the same non-platforming treatment, the same shunning, as the post describes.

There is never any justification for hiding the truth. We do not need protecting from it.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Geoff Chambers -- There's nothing wrong with Lewandowsky analysing our criticisms of his research. --

Well there is, surely, if the object of the 'analysys' is not the criticisms but the critics.

Ditto, political decisions were made that increased unemployment was a price society could bear. *Then* came political moralising about the long term unemployed -- a phenomenon which, as far as I undestand it was far more rare than it had been, and which peers and relatives would have more to say about than the state.

The state, it should be noted, is as rude, entitled, lazy and agressive as any work-shy delinquent.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

"As a small business owner who hires mostly hourly workers..."

Y'see, maybe people were just more polite, and got on with their colleagues and bosses when they were more sure that they had better prospects.

Jan 15, 2016 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

Believe it or not but in real life I am a pussy cat.

I was certainly not aggressive., followed all the rules and outwardly at least was always appalled at anti social behaviour.
Other then being a recluse for long stretches of time I seemed employable.
A regular Irish working class version of Alf Tupper.
I kept my nose down for 15 years working in the lowest ranks of a American corporate.

But something was not right with the world.
Something was missing (perhaps in my head)
This feeling of disgust with the apparatus began ticking in my little head.
Growing slowly throughout the 1990s.
But only in the last 10 years or so have I arrived at that eureka moment.
Of putting those little pieces together.

It's not a pretty picture.
The total emptiness of modern life has unfolded.

It's a dark and empty canvass.
Urban intellectual tossers such as Toby Young are now perhaps desperate to redirect whatever remaining surplus into their greasy little soft hands.

By labeling people who wish to vacate the company store as misfits.

Jan 15, 2016 at 5:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

"The total emptiness of modern life has unfolded."

Hardly. You're just a drama queen.

Andrew

Jan 15, 2016 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

> Y'see, maybe people were just more polite, and got on with their colleagues and bosses when they were more sure that they had better prospects.

What golden age of employment was this?

Jan 15, 2016 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

TerryS -- "What golden age of employment was this?"

Who said anything about a 'golden age'? From one perspective, better the agressive, lazy delinquent than a strike every five minutes. From another: be careful what you wish for.

The point being that there's more to the relationship between employees and employers than merely the attitude of the wage-earner.

Jan 15, 2016 at 5:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

@Bad Andrew
Firms must bring in let's say American management practices to somehow recover costs.
This may seem to work for a period in a "successful" firm but in the end all companies no matter how good their product - will fail.
You see they cannot recover their costs through sales as a result of the current monetary and physical structure of the economy.

They typically burn through the lowest ranks of the workforce and then subsequently all the way up.
I have seen this up close and personnel.
Let's say they run out of Irish , then its the Poles , finally its the sophisticated Czechs.

All equity in society is extracted.
You begin to witness collapse as in the 1914 ~ endgame era of globalization and today.

If you cannot somehow observe the emptying of society then I just do not know what to say to you.

May I ask what generation are you come from?
I mean I have lived in a cave for some time so as to divorce myself from the nothingness but where have you been ?

Jan 15, 2016 at 5:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

"May I ask what generation are you come from?"

What difference could it possibly make? You're a drama queen, to matter how old I am.

If you think life is defined by corporate managerial practices, you should go back to your cave and not waste anymore of anyone else's time.

Andrew

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

The Dork of Cork? Unemployable? Who'da thunk it?

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterShindig.

"Hardly. You're just a drama queen."

"We developed and tested a novel scale to measure Need for Drama (NFD), a compound maladaptive personality trait in which people impulsively manipulate others from a position of perceived victimhood."

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886915006327

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

Corporate managerial practices define work today.
In the current system work is required to access the token system.
Without tokens life is very much affected.
You must become acorporate drone to thrive. (At least in a narrow materialistic sense)

Toby Young is a classic corporate drone.
If journalists expressed or more accurately were capable of expressing the true nature of society they would become unemployed and therefore divorced from the ticket system of control.

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

@Shindig
I spent the last week clearing out the flooding mess in Midleton
I have my albeit limited uses.


As was the case with John Moriarty I choose not to engage in the rat race
It requires huge sacrifice but so far it remains worth it.

There is also a big difference between a job and work.
Never so much as in todays world.

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Nothing comes much worse than a man with soft hands complaining about the unemployed.

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

The Dork of Cork - the man who make Tim Berners-Lee wish he'd never bothered.

Jan 15, 2016 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterShindig.

Shindig, but he doesn't count beause he probably had soft hands. It's not like people who work with their brains have even done anything worthwhile in the Dork's fanatasy land.

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

"Nothing comes much worse than a man with soft hands complaining about the unemployed...."

I dunno. There's visiting this fantastic website and finding the comments section, once a bastion of clear debate and knowledgeable discourse, being plagued by some complete weirdo, obsessed with a single issue, but so inept In his communication skills that he is utterly unable to communicate it to his poor, long-suffering and accidental readers. His misuse of the very basics of the English language would be entertaining in a Mrs Malaprop style if they weren't part of the latest nonsense-laden dirge about peat and tokens and capitalism and diesel and blah blah blah....

That's a hell of a lot worse.

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterShindig.

Shindig, 7:15 pm;

10/10

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:30 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

@Piper.
I do not perceive myself as a victim.
I see this Dork as free in his own albeit limited world. (A consequence of a difficult balancing act given current constraints on humanity inside the company store)

I am one of those people who walks backwards through life.
I observe that you are walking forwards but to nowhere while on a thread mill.
You subsequently are offended for some reason and want to put me into a little box , perhaps to justify your present existence.
I am only making a observation.
A correct one in my opinion.

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

I received a book of quotations for Christmas. One was: "The Irish people do not gladly suffer common sense".
No offence intended to the Dork, who clearly sees the world a little differently to most of us, but he is quite hard to fathom sometimes. Maybe I just need more Guinness...

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:43 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"...while on a thread mill..."

Priceless.

Jan 15, 2016 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterShindig

[snip- ad hom]


Jan 15, 2016 at 7:58 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Thanks esmiff

From Perkins' article at the Conversation:
https://theconversation.com/state-benefits-negatively-affect-personality-heres-how-49789

“... epidemiological studies have shown that each generation living under the protection of the welfare state had lower work motivation than the previous one. Viewed as a whole, this data suggests that willingness to violate norms concerning work and social responsibility is increasing, generation by generation. It’s as if the welfare state is gradually warping the personality profile of the population so that more people in each generation are resistant to employment.”
Of course, the period of the welfare state is also the period in which governments have dropped full employment as their main economic concern, and investment earnings have doubled in relation to wages. But you wouldn't expect a Lecturer in the Neurobiology of Personality to bother about things like that.

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:17 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Maybe we should burn our managers at the stake ?


The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy And Leadership

The hallmarks of the psychopathic personality involve egocentric, grandiose behavior, completely lacking empathy and conscience. Additionally, psychopaths may be charismatic, charming, and adept at manipulating one-on-one interactions. In a corporation, one’s ability to advance is determined in large measure by a person’s ability to favorably impress his or her direct manager. Unfortunately, certain of these psychopathic qualities – in particular charm, charisma, grandiosity (which can be mistaken for vision or confidence) and the ability to “perform” convincingly in one-on-one settings – are also qualities that can help one get ahead in the business world.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/25/the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership/#2715e4857a0b22838702740e

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:17 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

geoffchambers

Yes, the full employment agenda disappeared for ever in 1979.

You cannot have neoliberal, boom/bust economic policies without a welfare state. It was the Thatcher government that very deliberately parked the long term unemployed on sickness benefit. Not just to massage the figures, but also to prevent true horror and tragedy ( bad publicity for the government).

Anyone who advocates this stuff is basically a disturbed, adolescent minded fantasist.

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:26 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I also thorough enjoyed Dork's claim that he had "seen this up close and personnel".

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterShindig

Libertarians attracted by Perkins' thesis might like to ponder this quote from his Conversation piece:


The Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman has carried out research showing that intensive preschool tutoring before age five – not done by the parent – significantly improves the life outcomes of disadvantaged children. Heckman and colleagues showed that intensive preschool tutoring achieved its beneficial effects by altering the personality development of the children: disadvantaged children who received tutoring developed personality profiles that were significantly less aggressive, rule-breaking and antisocial than those of the untutored children.

Jesuits claimed to do that with children of seven. Nobel prize winning economists need longer. So much for progress.

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:33 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

"“... epidemiological studies have shown that each generation living under the protection of the welfare state had lower work motivation than the previous one. "

This is where I find it disturbing. Yes, the welfare state prevents people from extreme distress and lowers their desperation to work to prevent starvation. Women who aren't battered by their husbands are less likely to be terrified of them and seek to fulfill their every whim (in case they are beaten senseless).

Jan 15, 2016 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Strange. This blog rightly questions our understanding of the complex system of climate. Personality is just as complex and, I strongly suspect, much less well understood. What proxies do you think he has used to measure these "aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies"? No doubt it's all very robust. Right-thinking vs. right wing might decide whether Nature will accept it, but tripe is still tripe.

Have particularly enjoyed Shindig's comments. I do wish "threadmill" was intentional as it is a perfect word for the Dork's own postings. Well spotted.

Jan 15, 2016 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

Dork. I also didn't say that the internet wasn't a great tool for the plebs to get heard but that doesn't change the fact that it is the result of pure consumerism. As an owner of an Acorn Atom, A Sinclair QL an Atari 510(?) and a series of PCs and Laptops, I like to think I did my bit promoting the IT industry. My latest purchase, which I like to call The Beast, allows me to create the bucolic fantasy landscape that you dream about. Unlike the original 1650 version, it has no downsides other than a slight motion sickness if I turn round too quick. A fully stocked 21st century kitchen and central heating make it perfect. I won't swap grim reality for my virtual, capitalist delusion. I could even drive a tank over if I wanted to but I don't.

Jan 15, 2016 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

> What irritates me is that these people are still able to hide behind a wall of anonymity

And the previous article on this site was about Universities becoming exempt from FOIA

That should well ensure "a wall of anonymity"

Jan 15, 2016 at 9:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterianl8888

@ Bish: ATTP gets zapped, the dork does not. Please explain because as far as I can see D o C's comments on this thread have been the most blatant de-railing I've ever seen on this site?

Jan 15, 2016 at 9:37 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

""Personality is just as complex and, I strongly suspect, much less well understood. What proxies do you think he has used to measure these "aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies"? No doubt it's all very robust. Right-thinking vs. right wing might decide whether Nature will accept it, but tripe is still tripe."Robert Swan


The question is not whether it's tripe but whether his theories will be heard at all. Since the psychological fields are dominated by the left wing, it's no surprise they haven't solved many problems yet. Brains are made up of left and right thinking. Studying them needs views from both sides. "aggressive, rule-breaking and anti-social tendencies". We all have a level of behaviour that would fit that description, the argument would be where it starts.

Jan 15, 2016 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

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