December 11, 2013

New twin study by Plomin, Shakeshaft et al

From PLOS one, a big new British study of school test scores of 5,474 pairs of twins. (This is not a study of twins raised apart, however.)
Strong Genetic Influence on a UK Nationwide Test of Educational Achievement at the End of Compulsory Education at Age 16 
Nicholas G. Shakeshaft, Maciej Trzaskowski, Andrew McMillan, Kaili Rimfeld, Eva Krapohl, Claire M. A. Haworth, Philip S. Dale, Robert Plomin 
Published: December 11, 2013
Abstract 
We have previously shown that individual differences in educational achievement are highly heritable in the early and middle school years in the UK. The objective of the present study was to investigate whether similarly high heritability is found at the end of compulsory education (age 16) for the UK-wide examination, called the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). In a national twin sample of 11,117 16-year-olds, heritability was substantial for overall GCSE performance for compulsory core subjects (58%) as well as for each of them individually: English (52%), mathematics (55%) and science (58%). In contrast, the overall effects of shared environment, which includes all family and school influences shared by members of twin pairs growing up in the same family and attending the same school, accounts for about 36% of the variance of mean GCSE scores. The significance of these findings is that individual differences in educational achievement at the end of compulsory education are not primarily an index of the quality of teachers or schools: much more of the variance of GCSE scores can be attributed to genetics than to school or family environment. We suggest a model of education that recognizes the important role of genetics. Rather than a passive model of schooling as instruction (instruere, ‘to build in’), we propose an active model of education (educare, ‘to bring out’) in which children create their own educational experiences in part on the basis of their genetic propensities, which supports the trend towards personalized learning.

Here's the impressive sample:
Twins in the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) were recruited from birth records of twins born in England and Wales between 1994 and 1996 [13]. Their recruitment and representativeness have been described previously [14]. Children with severe medical problems or whose mothers had severe medical problems during pregnancy were excluded from the analyses. We also excluded children with uncertain or unknown zygosity, and those whose first language was not English. Zygosity was assessed through a parent questionnaire of physical similarity, which has been shown to be over 95% accurate when compared to DNA testing [15]. For cases where zygosity was unclear from this questionnaire, DNA testing was conducted. After exclusions, the total number of individuals for whom GCSE data were obtained at age 16 was 11,117, including 5,474 pairs with data for both co-twins: 2,008 pairs of monozygotic (MZ) twins, 1,730 pairs of same-sex dizygotic (DZ) twins, and 1,736 pairs of opposite-sex DZ twins.

Along these lines, my wife's identical twin nephews recently participated in a sizable twin study in Chicago. The experiments they underwent sounded much like the twin research in Robert Heinlein's novel Time for the Stars, except it didn't turn out that they could communicate telepathically at faster-than-light speeds, which would be a useful skill for interstellar colonization.

GCSE are high stakes tests:
The UK nationwide examination for educational achievement at the end of compulsory education is called the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). English, mathematics and science (the latter comprising physics, chemistry and biology, and taught either as a single- or double-weighted course, or as separate courses for each science) are compulsory. Many schools also require English literature and one or more modern foreign languages, among other subjects. GCSEs are typically available in a diverse range of other subjects, including history, geography, information and communications technology (ICT), music, and physical education (PE). Courses usually begin at age 14 (with some slight variations by school and subject), with exams typically being taken at age 16. There is no mandatory number of GCSEs, but students commonly take between 8–10 subjects, and receiving five or more at grades A*–C is typically a requirement for going on to further education. 
Shortly after the completion of their GCSEs, each TEDS family was sent results forms by mail, (followed as necessary by telephone reminders). The forms were completed by the twins' parents, and also included results for qualifications other than GCSEs (e.g., ‘Entry Level Certificates’, designed to fall just below GCSE level), which were not analysed in the present study. In order to permit comparable numerical coding across different qualification types, GCSE results were coded from 11 (A*, the highest grade) to 4 (G, the lowest grade). For all analyses, outliers beyond three standard deviations from the mean were removed.

Results include:
Table 2 includes rough estimates of heritability based on doubling the differences between the MZ and DZ correlations. The average heritability estimate is 53% across the GCSE scores and composites, similar to the mean GCSE score heritability estimate of 52%. Shared environmental influence, estimated as the difference between the MZ correlation and heritability, is 29% on average across the GCSE scores and 36% for the mean GCSE score. A remarkable finding is that the estimates of heritability and shared environmental influence do not differ substantially across diverse subjects. The humanities subjects have the lowest estimate (40%), and science subjects the highest (60%).

The twin correlations are suggestive of sex differences. Looking at the intraclass correlations for the five sex and zygosity twin groups, quantitative sex differences are apparent across most subjects, in that heritabilities are somewhat greater for boys than for girls and shared environmental influences are greater for girls than for boys ... 57% vs. 47%, respectively, for the overall mean GCSE grade ...
Our results indicate that individual differences in educational achievement are just as strong at the end of compulsory education at age 16 as they are in the earlier school years. Heritability is substantial not only for the core subjects of English (52%), mathematics (55%) and science (58%), but also for the (usually optional) humanities subjects in our dataset (42%). We discuss below the implications of finding that GCSE scores are highly heritable.

Also important is the finding that shared environment accounts for much less variance than does genetics. On average, genetics accounts for almost twice as much of the variance of GCSE scores (53%) as does shared environment (30%), even though shared environmental influences include all family, neighbourhood, and school influences that are shared by members of twin pairs growing up together and attending the same school. In addition, estimates of shared environment are also similar across subjects: English (31%), mathematics (26%), science (24%), and the humanities (32%).

Quantitative sex differences emerged for most subjects, with heritability generally greater for boys and shared environmental influence greater for girls (see Table S4 in File S1). Despite the small effect sizes, it is interesting to speculate about how such a pattern of results could occur; for example, girls might be more susceptible to the shared environmental influences of schools or peers. However, we prefer merely to note these significant sex differences in our sample and to defer speculation about their origins until these results are replicated, for reasons discussed later. ...
Limitations of the present study include general limitations of the twin method, most notably the equal environments assumption – that environmentally-caused similarity is equal for MZ and DZ twins – and the assumption that results for twins generalize to non-twin populations [16]. The equal environments assumption has survived several tests of its validity, but the most persuasive evidence is that similar results are found using two other methods with different assumptions: the adoption method and a quantitative genetic method based on DNA alone [28],[29]. In terms of the generalization from twin to non-twin samples, GCSE scores for twins and non-twin siblings have been shown to be very similar in means and variances [12]. 

Has anybody ever done a study of how much being identical twins raised together makes you more dissimilar? For example, in one pair of male identical twins I know, both have catalogued the minutest differences between themselves and each therefore designs quite different hobbies and ambitions for himself to avoid coming out in second place. In other words,  due to their competitiveness these two may be more different because they were raised together than if they were raised apart. I suspect some twins may be the opposite, with both conforming to the other. There may be a sex difference, with boy identical twins slightly more inclined toward sibling rivalry v. girl identical twins leaning toward sibling revelry.

A reader suggest the Winkelvoss twins of Facebook and Bitcoin fame (both played by Armie Hammer in The Social Network) as leaning toward sibling revelry (even though they are extremely competitive against the rest of the world in rowing, business, and litigation). Shelby Steele and Claude Steele might be examples of ideological sibling rivalry.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

For example, in one pair of male identical twins I know, both analyze the tiniest differences between themselves and each therefore designs quite different ambitions. In other words, these two may be more different because they were raised together than if they were raised apart, due to their competitiveness. I suspect some twins may be the opposite, with both conforming to the other.

This is a good point and an interesting subject. I've known twins like you've known who are competitive with each other and try to distinguish themselves from each other. I've also known twins who sort of operate like a team or combo as it were and do everything together, work together, vacation together, dress alike, even move and travel around together, always go to the same social functions together, etc. Sort of like the Winklevoss twins.

Ernie Banks said...

Manic again, Steve? Keep posting.

Anonymous said...

There been many many identical twin studies. Why is this study better than those? Are the conclusions noticeably different?
Robert Hume

Steve Sailer said...

"Are the conclusions noticeably different?"

Of course not, although the huge sample size opens up new possibilities such as the small sex difference in heritability they noticed.

But to do a giant study on the current most important educational question in Britain is definitely news.

691 said...

iSteve bait: James Carville on the resurgence of New Orleans. Could it be that after Katrina, some people moved away and other people moved in?

JayMan said...

Interesting.

The results are about what one would expect, consistent with the broad behavioral genetic literature.

The shared environment term that they found isn't much to be excited about. Though the confidence interval indicates that it is significantly above zero, shared environment effects are often found in children/teenagers. They disappear in adults.

As well, the shared environment is confounded with assortative mating in MZT-DZT studies.

Anonymous said...

Libs will prefer to stick with 'ficts', or fiction officially accepted as fact.

Anonymous said...

They can't fix the problem but they can ficts it.

Steve Sailer said...

It's time to celebrate the holiday of Ficstivus.

Anonymous said...

Oh to be manic!

Dahlia said...

Oh to be a stalker!

Steve Sailer said...

Nicholas Shakeshaft ... great name!

Another one of Plomin's colleagues has been Rosalind Arden, which is about Shakespearean-sounding as you can get.

Cranford said...

This is a bit OT, but what to make of the recent honors student snuffed by a cop in Texas unloading his clip at him? Of course, the dashcam mysteriously wasn't working at the time. Reminds me of the high school honor student that was snuffed out by a cop for suspicion of drug activity that you mentioned in several columns.

FF said...

It is interesting to be almost sixty and still encounter British surnames I have never heard before. I wonder if it is the result of their early outbreeding project?

Alice said...

I have seen at least one study showing personalities as measured by Big 5 of twins raised apart are more similar than tens raised together. Sorry I don't have a citation .

Anecdotally the twins I know get less hated environment than the non twin sibs I know. The twins are purposely put in separate classrooms, separate sports teams , separate musical instruments in order to stop by he direct rivalry,

DYork said...

New twin study by Plomin, Shakeshaft et al

I'll bet one of them is evil. One of the twins.

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/BkPwBr81Odw

Future of the West.

jody said...

"Nicholas Shakeshaft"

sounds like a classy porn name.

those bad teeth, that uncircumcised penis, that british accent...

first there was 007. now, meet 0011.

jody said...

my dad's sister has identical twin boys and they diverged significantly after high school. one of them is a PHD in spanish and portuguese - i've posted about him before. the other never finished his undergraduate degree (he was aiming to be a gym teacher, dead serious - he could not even get that done) and now works in a factory driving a forklift, a job his dad got him.

their personalities are also somewhat different. the aspiring spanish professor is intellectual and almost aloof at times, already has a wife and a daughter, takes trips to countries in south america and speaks only spanish for months at a time. he is becoming politically aware.

the other twin is a bro, likes to drink beer, got fat from drinking too much beer (lost the weight eventually), is easy going and doesn't try very hard at anything. has a girlfriend sometimes, doesn't seem to take them all that seriously, like anything else in his life.

10 years ago they were suburban high school soccer players and hard to tell apart either by personality or especially by looks - they REALLY looked alike and i had to fake it many times at family functions because i couldn't tell which one i was talking to. now they're totally different people. they even look different. they even sound different. it's obvious who is who.

stuff like that gives me pause about cloning or genetic replication of geniuses. those now seem more like 1 in a million shots. right person, right place, right time. it's clear that just making a couple duplicates will NOT be sufficient to repeat high human performance levels. i now would bet that you could make 100 clones and there would clearly be 4 or 5 who were by far the strongest and smartest, with a dozen weak clones at the bottom of the pack, looking exactly the same but performing orders of magnitude below.

jody said...

interesting question: how many all-time greats in their fields were twins? the occurrence rate of that seems WAY below the twinning rate.

rarely discussed fact: twins have lower IQs by 1 point. competition in the womb for nutrients may account for this. wonder if triplets have even further reduced IQ.

twins and triplets may be weaker humans overall in general.

Steve Sailer said...

We see identical twins performing at similarly high levels in sports, mostly in basketball where highly heritable height is so important, occasionally in other sports (the Hamm twins in gymnastics, a European pair with Vancouver in the NHL).

What is hard to count up are identical twins who are divergent in accomplishment.

For example, for a couple of years in the late 1980s, the top American golfer was Curtis Strange, who has an identical twin brother who went into business instead of golf. The identical twin is a scratch golfer playing only customer golf. But then Curtis Strange didn't strike observers as an all time great natural talent. He was a really intense guy who got to the top in an in-between era in American golf, but could only stay at the top briefly because of how much effort it took him.

But it's hard to tell how many divergent identical twin pairs there are like that. I have my eye out for other examples like the Stranges, but haven't come across many.

Steve Sailer said...

I don't recall any of Charles Murray's 4,002 eminent individuals in Human Accomplishment being twins, but I don't recall Murray saying none of them were either.

Anonymous said...

JayMan said:

The shared environment term that they found isn't much to be excited about. Though the confidence interval indicates that it is significantly above zero, shared environment effects are often found in children/teenagers. They disappear in adults.

I disagree. This study is a big win for nurturists. 36% is a lot of shared environmental variance for any trait at age 16. It means that by equalizing environments, it would, in principle, be possible to eliminate 36% of the individual differences in GCSE results.

The fact that shared environmental variance tends to fade with age is irrelevant with respect to this study, because the GCSEs are high-stakes tests that determine the future educational career of the students. If you support meritocracy, eliminating the shared environmental variance in GCSE results is of great significance.

These results are also quite at variance with recent discussions in the UK where it has been claimed that the shared environment makes little difference to academic achievement. It seems that differences between schools may be a major influence on the GCSEs.

Robert Hume asked:

There been many many identical twin studies. Why is this study better than those? Are the conclusions noticeably different?

The sample size in this study is probably larger than that of the other studies combined. Moreover, the sample is representative of the national population, something which cannot be said of many other studies.

Steve Sailer said...

With that large of a sample of twins, they may have some who have spent considerable amounts of time apart. I wonder if they can identify identical twins raised partly apart? They're the most prized data source in social science. There have only been a few hundred pairs in history that have been researched. And a lot of those weren't really separated at birth.

I recall about a decade ago it was discovered that one adoption agency had split up five identical twins pairs off of some theory the head of agency had.

Reg C├Žsar said...

That sperm cell on the Heinlein cover is swimming away from the big green egg. Not a strategy for success.

Steve Sailer said...

Probably not unintentional.

Anonymous said...

One of the findings with respect to SES and intellectual ability, is that SES explains very little of the total variance...

BUT the is because at his SES (where a substantial quantity of the variance lives), variance is nearly all genetic, and this is not the case nearly as much at low SES, where outcomes are more random and uncorrelated with parental ability.

So SES is unimportant for total variance, but important for some people.

Be interesting whether Plomin has included a model testing along these lines.

Also, btw, Steve in terms of "missing fractions" in the PISA, you should ask Greg Cochran about how boosted a truncated normal distribution that picked say the top 75% would be in terms of mean.

If you run the maths, I think it would come out to no more than 1/5 - 1/4 of an SD. And that's assuming perfect truncation of the less able (which is unlikely to hold in reality).

Steve Sailer said...

The spaceship in "2001" has a similarly metaphorical look: seeding the universe and all that.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_One

Steve Sailer said...

Costa Rica only tested a sample that projects out to 50% of its 15 year olds. If they perfectly dropped the bottom 50% of their bell curve, then the remainder are at the 75th percentile of the country. That would be about a 110 IQ if the national average was 100.

Mexico only tested 61%, so if they missed people with perfect accuracy, that would make their tested average equal to about the nation's 70th percentile or about 108.

Argentina missed 20% -- 60th percentile or 104

USA missed 11% -- 55th percentile or 102

http://www.iqcomparisonsite.com/iqtable.aspx

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Winner#Political_views

"Winner was an outspoken character.[20] He was a member of the Conservative Party and supporter of prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Despite this, Winner was also praised for having progressive views on gay rights, in particular during an episode of Richard Littlejohn Live and Uncut, where he attacked the presenter (who had been in the midst of an attack on two lesbian guests) for his stance on same-gender marriage and parenting, going so far as to say to him "[they] have come across with considerable dignity and you have come across as an arsehole."[21] After Winner's death, this moment was brought up many times in eulogies to him.[22][23][24]"


gay, gay, gay.

I guess it makes some sense. It's neo-elitists lording over the unwashed mobs and arses without proper manners.

Anonymous said...

http://espn.go.com/college-sports/story/_/id/10068823/ex-north-carolina-tar-heels-professor-charged-no-show-class

Anonymous said...

I love the Sailer manic phase posts. What was the trigger? Was it the frickin' Guardian coming out with "Genetics accounts for more than half..."? Because that certainly does it for me. About the only thing that could top that would be "Milliband: Labor to propose air-drop deportation scheme with optional parachute sales cost-recovery program."

Anonymous said...

"You don’t need Austrian Economics, only people who could actually pass for “Austrian” to save civilization."

Killer line of the year.

http://stuffblackpeopledontlike.blogspot.com/2013/12/white-people-importing-civilization-to.html

Anonymous said...

We see identical twins performing at similarly high levels in sports, mostly in basketball where highly heritable height is so important

I've been following the identical Harrison twins at Kentucky this season. Andrew is the point guard. Aaron is a two-guard. It's early yet, but Aaron looks more skilled, better shooter, less foul trouble, etc. Andrew gives off this grouchy old man vibe when things don't go his way on the court and he seems to get into frequent foul trouble. It will be interesting to see where these guys end up in the NBA draft relative to one another.

Anonymous said...

Steve, re my previous comment, as per -

http://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/against-biology/#comment-11355, by H Harpending

In Python

from scipy.stats import truncnorm

truncnorm.mean(-0.8,inf)
Out: 0.36756142494764793

from scipy.stats import norm

norm.sf(-0.8)
Out: 0.78814460141660336

truncnorm.mean(-1.25,inf)
Out: 0.2042254588986768

norm.sf(-1.25)
Out: 0.89435022633314465

So to shift the standard deviation up 0.367 of a standard deviation (5.46), the bottom 22% (1-0.788) of a normal distribution would be removed.

Or to shift the standard deviation up 0.204 of a standard deviation (3.06), the bottom 10% (1-0.894) of a normal distribution must be removed.

These shifts would need to be considered relative to scores in other nations. So Shanghai, for instance, might be advantaged by about 0.1 - 0.2 of an SD relative to where it would be relative to the USA, and about twice that relative to the Netherlands.

(The example by H H I've linked shows how larger selective differentials would be needed for an equally larger heritable difference, due to less than perfect heritability, but this is not an issue for PISA "missing fractions" where the selected fraction are themselves being tested, not their kids).

5371 said...

Very unlikely that any country really failed to test its weaker performers with any consistency. Otherwise there would be some sort of correlation between bureaucratic effectiveness and success on the tests, whereas the real situation is closer to being opposite to this. I conjecture that the results of full samples would have been little different from those of partial ones.

Power Child said...

I'm a mirror twin (monozygotic but with mirror symmetry). My twin and I, raised together until age 18 when I split for the other side of the country, indeed have spent our whole lives analyzing and mentally cataloging our differences, which extend to physical minutia, dexterity, choice patterns, beliefs, behavioral tendencies, psychology, etc.

While we diverged at a certain point in our ambitions, we never thought of it as a way to avoid stepping on each other's toes in a competitive sense, though that may have been a subconscious influence.

Instead, one big motivator to me was probably to finally get my own social group. High school was the last time anyone got me confused for my twin; most of the people I've known since then have never met him. Many don't know he exists.

candid_observer said...

"The fact that shared environmental variance tends to fade with age is irrelevant with respect to this study, because the GCSEs are high-stakes tests that determine the future educational career of the students. If you support meritocracy, eliminating the shared environmental variance in GCSE results is of great significance.

These results are also quite at variance with recent discussions in the UK where it has been claimed that the shared environment makes little difference to academic achievement. It seems that differences between schools may be a major influence on the GCSEs."

The problem with this argument is that there's no reason to believe that there is any non-oppressive way for society to "equalize" the shared environments.

Remember the obvious components of such shared environments that go beyond schools per se: parents who communicate certain values, who teach by example and perhaps instruction various cognitive skills, peer groups who are generally oriented or not toward education, and all the perks of affluence.

How do we "equalize" those environments, short of taking students away from their parents and raising them all alike, or busing students to homogenous schools, or taking money from affluent parents so that their children don't enjoy any special environment?

It's a major mistake, I believe, to think that a significant portion of shared environment is effectively and justly manipulable by society.

Of course, it may be in principle that it is largely, say, the teachers and the method of education that makes up the shared environment component here. But we have no reason at all to believe that--or at least certainly not based on this study.

Anonymous said...

OT A SWPL write up of a Paul Walker Memorial in Echo Park. http://www.theawl.com/2013/12/the-paul-walker-memorial-in-echo-park

DPG said...

5371: "Otherwise there would be some sort of correlation between bureaucratic effectiveness and success on the tests."

I don't know how they administer PISA, but it could very well be that the failure to report scores is indicative of bureaucratic ineffectiveness at the local/proctor level, which would support that idea that low scores are more likely to be omitted.

pat said...

I had an unusual family background. My parent had just the one child but I was not an 'only child'. I was much less an 'only child' than most.

My mother was an identical twin who grew up with her twin and went to work with her at the same time and for the same company. They each married and each immediately gave birth to a baby boy and quickly divorced. They moved back into the same house and raised their sons - Willie and me - together. When Willie and I grew up and moved out, they lived together for the rest of their lives.

So they had the same genes and - as much as possible - the same environment. They were in a sense 'super twins'. They had always lived in the same county, and for most of their lives in the same house.

Willie and I were genetically half brothers and grew up in the same household. That's why I'm hardly an 'only child'. My sibling was only three months older than me. We went to the same schools and had mostly the same friends.

Our mothers were really some kind of Sci-Fi creature. One organism in two bodies. When one would begin a sentence the other would begin to speak a half second later in unison. It was a little eerie. When one would say something there was always an echo a few milliseconds later.

When I read Heinlein's 'Time for the Stars' it seemed quite reasonable to me. I was well acquainted with the 'shared mind' phenomenon.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Looks like girls and women might wind up in a different social group than boys or men. A bride sold or stolen from her group would need to learn to conform.

Anonymous said...

OT, but interesting:

High Court in Australia overturns gay marriage: "The ACT legislation had allowed gay couples to marry inside the ACT, which includes the Australian capital, Canberra - regardless of which state they live in.

Federal law, however, specified in 2004 that marriage was between a man and a woman."



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25344219

Anonymous said...

So, if the twins study prove intelligence is mostly heritable, since physical racial differences are heritable, means intelligence is racially heritable, since the brain is a physical element?

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" Said:

"I love the Sailer manic phase posts. What was the trigger? Was it the frickin' Guardian coming out with "Genetics accounts for more than half..."?"

I love your manic posts, because every time Steve posts something that bothers you, you start repeating yourself in the comments section like a qualified mental patient, with the idea that people will read what you have to say... again.

You couldn't do that with your own blogsite, because people would write you off as a mental patient, and wander off to somebody else.

So in a deep-and yes, perverse dependent-psychological way, Steve completes you.

That's what I love. But then I guess I'm odd because I love watching the weak-minded roll around in their own rot. So you complete me in a way!

Power Child said...

@Albertosaurus:

I don't get why otherwise reasonable people suddenly believe in magic when they come across twins.

If you shared the exact same DNA and upbringing as another person you'd complete a lot of his sentences too. Many of your word associations, mental images, and so forth would be the same. Your brain-to-tongue coordination and reflexes would work very similarly. You'd have spent many of your formative years learning and experiencing things side by side with that other person, reinforcing the habit of helping each other complete sentences, or racing to see who could complete the thought first, or immediately sharing a completed thought for instant approval. Being a twin is almost like a drug in that way.

But it's not supernatural.

Anonymous said...

Heads up Steve:

"‘Imagine America Without Los Angeles’: Expert Warns Southern California Isn’t Ready For Major Quake"

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/12/11/imagine-america-without-los-angeles-expert-warns-southern-california-isnt-ready-for-major-quake/

"According to a USGS study called the “Shakeout Report,” when a high-magnitude earthquake rocks the San Andreas fault, the damage will go far beyond the collapsed buildings and freeways seen in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

For example, LA-area supermarkets now depend on Internet systems for warehousing and shipping food to stores, and the food is stored on the other side of the San Andreas fault.

“With the development of the Internet and the new just-in-time economy, none of them store food on the Los Angeles side of the San Andreas anymore,” Jones said.

“So this is one more place where the development of the complexity of our modern society is creating new vulnerabilities as we face the big earthquakes.”

Fiber-optics could also be cut off when a disastrous earthquake hits the San Andreas fault.

“Two-thirds of the connectivity from Los Angeles to the rest of the world go through fiber-optic cables crossing the San Andreas fault,” Jones explained. “So we expect at the time of the earthquake when the fault moves, we will break these fiber-optic cables and two-thirds of the data capacity between LA and everyone else will disappear,” she said.

Natural gas pipelines also cross the San Andreas fault, so gas for cooking and heating would be in short supply.

And the area’s aging water pipes, which seem to break with great regularity even without a temblor, are not expected to stand up well when the big earthquake hits.

“The water pipes — remember the first thing you put in in a city is the water pipes. That means our water pipes are some of the oldest parts of our infrastructure,” Jones said.

“Seventy percent of the water pipes in Southern California are AC pipes and many of them will be breaking when this earthquake happens.”

Much of the high-tech damage could hinder the recovery effort in the weeks and months after the earthquake, according to Dr. Jones, so getting Southern California back on its feet could be a wrenching process.

“The World Wide Web wasn’t in existence at the time of the Northridge earthquake,” she said. “Right now think of how much both your personal life, but also our economic system, depends on having cell phone communications and internet connectivity (sic).”

The “Shakeout Report” from the USGS estimates it could take six months for the broken water pipes to be replaced across Southern California after the earthquake.

And they say while the Northridge quake directly affected about a half a million people, a maximum credible earthquake on the San Andreas fault could affect 10 million Californians."

Cail Corishev said...

The problem with this argument is that there's no reason to believe that there is any non-oppressive way for society to "equalize" the shared environments.

The other problem is: what if we've already equalized the environments? With the highest funding going to NAM-majority school districts, minority-only scholarships, and aids like ESL, what if we've already done most of what can be done about the environment? That would mean that we've already gained that 36% in education, so if we ever end all the minority preferences and boosting, the gap will get even wider.

PatrickH said...

Plomin needs to brush up on his Latin. "Education" does come from the verb "educare", but that does not mean "to draw out". That would be the compound verb "e-ducere", from which we get our verb "educt" as in the process of drawing out a wire.

"Educare", from which we get our word "education", rather like "instruere" from which we get the word "instruction", means "to nourish, to feed", which has precisely the meaning of putting something in, not pulling something out. In other words, educare and instruere mean almost the same thing.

Anonymous said...

"Even When Test Scores Go Up, Some Cognitive Abilities Don't", Science News, Dec. 11, 2013.

"MIT neuroscientists find even high-performing schools don't influence their students' abstract reasoning.


...schools whose students have the highest gains on test scores do not produce similar gains in... the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically...

...schools had almost no effect on students' performance on tests of fluid intelligence skills, such as working memory capacity, speed of information processing, and ability to solve abstract problems."


No surprise of course, but still.

Anonymous said...

"‘Imagine America Without Los Angeles’: Expert Warns Southern California Isn’t Ready For Major Quake"

The next time someone asks, "why would anyone need to own an automatic weapon?" You just show them that article.

Anonymous said...

"MIT neuroscientists find even high-performing schools don't influence their students' abstract reasoning.


...schools whose students have the highest gains on test scores do not produce similar gains in... the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically...

...schools had almost no effect on students' performance on tests of fluid intelligence skills, such as working memory capacity, speed of information processing, and ability to solve abstract problems."


Of course, the recent paper showing the Flynn Effect to be strongest in rule based abstract tests and giving a theory why this is so, makes it obvious this is not because abstract reasoning is a "real" genetically determined thing that is without environmental influence.

But schools don't give a sh*t about teaching it. Why? Because it's not on the test. Crystallized skills are.

Anonymous said...

I love your manic posts, because every time Steve posts something that bothers you, you start repeating yourself in the comments section like a qualified mental patient, with the idea that people will read what you have to say... again.

Hey, I only commented once before in this thread. I don't know who the other anonymous was, but he made a valid observation IMO. When Steve's on a roll, he's on a roll. So what if he has his ups and downs, so do a lot of geniuses. (And if a genius has the ability to concentrate for only a limited period of time and be at the very top of his game - doesn't there have to be a refractory period, one might almost call a "depression" afterwards, kind of by definition? Is it really (hypo)mania, or is it just a reflection of this phenomenon?) Anyway, when it's one of these times, the writing is better than Steve's average, I find. YMMV.

I made the comment about the trigger because often there is one, and I would not be surprised if the Guardian article was it. I was on a high after reading that too. In much the same way that I was on a high after it was revealed who the Boston bombers were - and if you remember that was also a trigger for our host to have a particularly prolific and awesome bout of posting.

Anonymous said...

http://bobrehak.com/wordpress/portfolio-2/documentary/

Pinker's sort of right. There was a barbarization of society from late 60s to late 70s.

Anonymous said...

Very unlikely that any country really failed to test its weaker performers with any consistency. Otherwise there would be some sort of correlation between bureaucratic effectiveness and success on the tests, whereas the real situation is closer to being opposite to this. I conjecture that the results of full samples would have been little different from those of partial ones.

Good point. More likely in countries with effective bureaucracies (China?) than ones with ineffective bureaucracies (Vietnam?) but still not very likely there, and judging by the relative size of the missing fractions, not of large effect even if it was done perfectly, which it wouldn't have been.