Wednesday, March 01, 2017

In which Donners settles the nature v. nuture debate for all time. Finis!

The pond is always dazzled when dashing Donners arrives on the scene to sort something out in a definitive way.

Now doing a Greg Hunt on the nature versus nature debate here produces the odd southern walri and a few hints of uncertainty ...

The view that humans acquire all or almost all their behavioral traits from "nurture" was termed tabula rasa ("blank slate") by John Locke in 1690. A "blank slate view" in human developmental psychology assuming that human behavioral traits develop almost exclusively from environmental influences, was widely held during much of the 20th century (sometimes termed "blank-slatism"). The debate between "blank-slate" denial of the influence of heritability, and the view admitting both environmental and heritable traits, has often been cast in terms of nature versus nurture. These two conflicting approaches to human development were at the core of an ideological dispute over research agendas throughout the second half of the 20th century. As both "nature" and "nurture" factors were found to contribute substantially, often in an extricable manner, such views were seen as naive or outdated by most scholars of human development by the 2000s.
In their 2014 survey of scientists, many respondents wrote that the dichotomy of nature versus nurture had outlived its usefulness, and should be retired. The reason is that in many fields of research, close feedback loops have been found in which "nature" and "nurture" influence one another constantly, as seen in self-domestication. As in ecology and behavioral genetics, researchers think nurture has an essential influence on nature. Similarly in other fields, the dividing line between an inherited and an acquired trait becomes unclear, as in epigenetics or fetal development. (follow the link for footnotes)

But when dashing Donners plays a hand, he goes all in and bets the house ...

Now the pond is inordinately pleased that there is no connection between socio-economic status and educational achievement, and no doubt poor people around the world will be cheering with joy ... though it does make the pond wonder why rich people send their kids off to private schools and spend a lot of money on education.

Heck, some even pay money to get them into the toffier sections of the Catholic education system ... seemingly unaware that it's all a waste of money, that the clever kids will rise to the surface whatever the odds, and the dropkick losers will drown in the deep end of the pool ...

This is the sort of stunning insight the ACU offers ... it seems your natural learner and improver has no need whatsoever to resort to dashing Donners for enlightenment and understanding. Just give them a subscription to Scientific American and a dozen other magazines and soon they'll be top dog ...

Yes, some children are born smarter and some are born dumb, and the ones with lead in the head from living in cheap housing were always going to be losers and dropkicks anyway.

And now, with all that sorted, and with the pond under siege, and having to cover the night shift for the Daily with Randy Stone - so many members of the commentariat at the moment, so little time to cover them all - it's also late final extra for a glorious Devine, right on top of the Academy Awards and all they imply ...

The pond swears by all that's ancient and sacred, the silly chook is getting sillier by the day, the hour, the nanosecond ...

The pond's almost inclined to take out a lottery ticket, but instead it's probably better to send them a note that they advertise on a notorious hate speak site ...

... though it'd probably be fairer to say it's a mad chook site, caught in the noon-day sun like Englishman and Adelaideans ...

How anyone could leap from a simple misguided envelope to  paranoid diversity panic is one of the greater marvels of modern reptile commentariat scribbling ...

Not an actual whiff of a response to the actual movies. Just a bigoted splash of bile in the Devine way.

So much hate in the world, and yet, how did she end up with such an unfair share of it?

Of course it's just a chance to recycle a lot of publicity snaps from the films, a kind of visual padding to distract from the rant ...

Why doesn't she just don a KKK outfit? It would be seemly, and give her a kind of D. W. Griffiths credibility ...the pond is pitching it as Miranda Devine's The Birth of the Nation of Hate ...

So much intolerance, paranoia, fear and loathing in the world. How did she end up with such an abundant supply of it?

Now don't get the pond wrong. Hidden Figures did much better at the box office, but then Moonlight was always going to be an art house item.

The reality is, that the Devine's rant about diversity might just as easily be applied to that film as to Moonlight.

What bemuses the pond is the way that the Devine gets from there to here, or more particularly from a discussion of diversity in Hollywood movies to the Anglo-Australian Christian culture of war mongering ... and doesn't even mention Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge along the way...

Actually reading the Devine is going to kill the pond, and pretty quick too, if death by laughter turns out to be a lethal medical condition ...

Diversity is the weaponisation of political correctness?

What the whole world, in its rather remarkable diversity, has been weaponised by diversity? And not by nukes?

Well between banning diversity and banning the nukes, the pond would settle for a nuke ban tomorrow.

Such a stupid woman, and sillier by the day, or even by the nanosecond ...but congratulations diverse world.

Homogenise like two dollar supermarket milk or die ... or perhaps just accept you've been slimed by a whiff of Devine vitriole ...

And so to a couple of cartoons the pond rather enjoyed, both Fairfax, both cartoonists stabled here, even the recalcitrant and vaxxer weird Leunig, who seems to have caught exactly the right tone for the Devine madness ...


  1. Hi Dorothy,

    According to Herodotus, the seventh century B.C. King of Egypt, Psamtik 1 believed like most Egyptians that they were the most ancient race on Earth. In order to prove this point he came up with the self evident hypothesis that if newly born children were brought up in an environment where they had no opportunity to learn a language from older people around them, they would then just speak the primordial language of humanity. This natural inborn language would of course be the language of its most ancient people, which Psamtik expected would be Egyptian.

    Psamtik obtained two infants and turned them over to a shepherd in a remote area with instructions that they were to be properly fed and cared for but were never to hear another human being speak.

    Psamtik’s aim “was to know, after the indistinct babbling of infancy were over, what word they would first articulate.”

    At the age of two years old the children ran up to the herdsman and cried out the ‘word’ "βεκὸς" (bekòs). When Psamtik was informed he was disappointed to learn that bekòs was the Phrygian word for bread and that ipso facto the Phrygians were the most ancient race of humanity.

    Sadly some have cast doubt on this superb experiment and have suggested that the word bekòs is likely to be an onomatopoeic result of goat or sheep vocalisations.

    I’m surprised Donnelly even thinks educating children is even necessary considering their intelligence is evidently so innate.


    1. Very well put indeed, DW. Though I have to say that I always thought English was the world's oldest language - how else would it have had time to accumulate a vocabulary as large as several other 'major' languages added together.

      Of course if it's all 'nature' then the only valid study of humans is "evolutionary psyachology" - which is generally just a collection of unvalidated "just so" stories. But that would be it: we are just the sum of our genes. The thought that just perhaps 'traits' could be genetic but details all learned is way too complex for the "naturally mindless" Donners of the world.

      I also like the way he keeps telling us our performance on his beloved "tests" is falling when all he does is compare us to peoples who have shown they are into gaming the tests. The idea that, perhaps, to know whether we are falling we might just have to compare ourselves to ourselves over time which is really the only way we'll ever know.

      We might be 'falling' in competitiveness, but not in actual performance. But I guess his genes never gave him any insight into such complex thoughts.

  2. Donnelly is wrong to say that additional billions have been spent on education over the past two decades. The fact is that the increase in spending is not large at all. Donnelly merely parrots Coalition propaganda. So he has nothing to compare with what might be achieved if Gonski were to be implemented.

    Questions can be asked about his claim that Catholic and independent schools have outscored government schools. Which Catholic and independent schools and which government schools?

    While Donnelly dismisses the social status argument about what determines education success, he goes on the list a number of possible influences, including natural ability, as you note. And one of those extra influences is parents and their involvement. Money clearly plays a part in that, determining which schools they might choose (a choice not available to all)and the hiring of tutors to insure their investment. So we get enclaves of like-minded people who embrace what they call private schools but which are government-subsidised schools - some of which are also supported by high fees, investments and endowments.

    So the drift to these schools, is that not working in the TIMMS and PISA testing?

  3. And just another point: Donnelly claims that if a student does well in Yr they should do well in Yr 12. Well, maybe. What if they do not do well in Yr 2? Has he ever considered the aims of Gonski?

    Donnelly loves testing. As someone said of that obsession, weighing the pig does not fatten the pig.

    One of Donnelly's ideas was that at about puberty students should be divided up according to tests so the course of their lives is pretty well determined.

    That was the way of things for my cohort some 60 years ago: General course, Commercial course and Trades courses. Students could leave school at 14 years and find a job.

    Donnelly is surprised that things have changed over the past 60 years and yearns for the "Golden Age" of education which never existed except in his imagination.

    1. Ah yeah, back in the days of 'Central Schools' and the Merit Certificate and work apprenticeships at age 14 (eg my father).

      Then later, as 'High' schools started to come into vogue, the 'Proficiency' (later Sub-Intermediate) and Intermediate Certificates and off to work, as the song put it:

      Girls in our town they leave school at fifteen
      Work at the counter or behind the machine

      And the guys too (those who had taken the 'Commercial' option) though some might have become indentured tradies.

      Aaah, the good ol' daze !

  4. "...if a student does well in Yr 9...

  5. Poor fucking helicopters everywhere.


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