Category Archive 'Victorian England'

13 Dec 2015

The Victorians Were Probably Smarter Than People Today

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benjamin-jowett
Benjamin Jowett 1817-1893


My name is Benjamin Jowett.

I am Master of Balliol College.

What there is to know, I know it,

And what I don’t know isn’t knowledge.

Nobody would write a poem like that about Yale’s current president Peter Salovey.

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A recent paper in the journal Intelligence is titled:

Were the Victorians cleverer than us? The decline in general intelligence estimated from a meta-analysis of the slowing of simple reaction time


Highlights

• Simple reaction time has slowed since 1889.

• Psychometric meta-analysis reveals a decline in g of − 1.16 points per decade.

• The decline between 1889 and 2004 is − 13.35 points.

• The decline between 1889 and 2004 is − 12.45 points.

• This is the first direct measurement of a probable dysgenic trend in IQ.

Abstract:

The Victorian era was marked by an explosion of innovation and genius, per capita rates of which appear to have declined subsequently. The presence of dysgenic fertility for IQ amongst Western nations, starting in the 19th century, suggests that these trends might be related to declining IQ. This is because high-IQ people are more productive and more creative. We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations, using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study. Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence (g) and are considered elementary measures of cognition. In this study we used the data on the secular slowing of simple reaction time described in a meta-analysis of 14 age-matched studies from Western countries conducted between 1889 and 2004 to estimate the decline in g that may have resulted from the presence of dysgenic fertility. Using psychometric meta-analysis we computed the true correlation between simple reaction time and g, yielding a decline of − 1.16 IQ points per decade or − 13.35 IQ points since Victorian times. These findings strongly indicate that with respect to g the Victorians were substantially cleverer than modern Western populations.

09 May 2011

Mark Steyn Explains Why the Pakis Aren’t Scared of Us

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Lord Kitchener

Mark Steyn compares then and now, observing that Kitchener would not only have released the photographs of the dead Osama.

In the fall of 2001, discussing the collapse of the Taliban, Thomas Friedman, the in-house thinker at The New York Times, offered this bit of cartoon analysis:

“For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones – and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it.”

But they didn’t, did they? The Flintstones retreated to their caves, bided their time, and a decade later the Jetsons are desperate to negotiate their way out.

When it comes to instructive analogies, I prefer Khartoum to cartoons. If it took America a decade to avenge the dead of 9/11, it took Britain 13 years to avenge their defeat in Sudan in 1884. But, after Kitchener slaughtered the jihadists of the day at the Battle of Omdurman in 1897, he made a point of digging up their leader the Mahdi, chopping off his head and keeping it as a souvenir. The Sudanese got the message. The British had nary a peep out of the joint until they gave it independence six decades later – and, indeed, the locals fought for King and (distant imperial) country as brave British troops during World War Two. Even more amazingly, generations of English schoolchildren were taught about the Mahdi’s skull winding up as Lord Kitchener’s novelty paperweight as an inspiring tale of national greatness.

Not a lot of that today. It’s hard to imagine Osama’s noggin as an attractive centerpiece at next year’s White House Community Organizer of the Year banquet, and entirely impossible to imagine America’s “educators” teaching the tale approvingly. So instead, even as we explain that our difficulties with this bin Laden fellow are nothing to do with Islam, no sir, perish the thought, we simultaneously rush to assure the Muslim world that, not to worry, we accorded him a 45-minute Islamic funeral as befits an observant Muslim.

That’s why Pakistani big shots harbored America’s mortal enemy and knew they could do so with impunity.

John Henrik Clarke, in Mohammed Ahmed, (The Mahdi) Messiah of the Sudan, says otherwise:

In avenging what he thought was England’s honor, Lord Kitchener showed no mercy and considered nothing to be sacred while he was accomplishing his mission. He more than earned the name, “The Butcher of Omdurman”. He bombarded the tomb of the Mahdi and took his bones and threw them into the Nile. It was said that the Mahdi’s head was packed in a kerosene tin and later used by Kitchener as a tobacco container.

26 May 2009

An Evening’s Entertainment in Victorian England

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Terrierman has an eminently politically incorrect posting discreetly lamenting humanitarian reform and the abolition of the Rat Pit.

Just look at those four obviously extremely naughty girls, one smoking a cigarette (in public no less), another casually lifting her skirts just clear of the fracas below. The young ladies’ enthusiasm for blood sport and obvious ease in masculine surroundings almost makes one want to classify them as consoeurs of Pierce Egan‘s Corinthian Kate in Life in London (1821), representatives of the Pooter-free epoch predating Victoria, the epoch of the Mohawk, the Corinthian, and the Buck. But, just look at their dresses!

The young ladies are obviously representatives of the gas-light era of Sherlock Holmes, not of the Regency. Moreover, there is that cigarette. The cigarette did not become commonplace until after James Bonsack’s invention of a machine for their manufacture in 1881.

The Rat Pit may have been outlawed in England in 1835, but there they are, enjoying a bout of ratting considerably after the date of the ban. My own surmise would be that these ladies have every intention of concluding their evening at yet another completely illegal establishment of entertainment, too.

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Again, hat tip to Karen L. Myers.


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