Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another straw man sent packing

Maori 'not retarded borderline psychotics' -- but nobody said they were. Compare the emotional tirade reported below with the carefully reasoned and fully referenced scientific paper that is being criticized. Note that the original research was principally concerned with tobacco and alcohol use, that the group with the highest frequency of the genetic feature of interest are the Chinese and that the Chinese are legendary smokers. The higher incidence of crime among Maori probably has most to do with their lower average IQ -- which is well attested in the relevant scientific literature. See Lynn's book, for instance

A CONTROVERSIAL claim that New Zealand Maori have a "warrior gene" that makes them violent has been debunked by science. Three years ago two Kiwi researchers revealed at a Brisbane conference their radical belief that Maori were genetically wired to commit acts of brutality.

They claimed that indigenous New Zealanders carried a gene called monoamine oxidase, dubbed the "warrior gene", explaining why they were over-represented in jails and the crime statistics.

The pair faced a barrage of criticism and have now had their theory disproved in a new review which found no such gene exists. Researcher Gary Hook found "there is no evidence to indicate that the behavioural characteristics of Maori as a people are in anyway unusual". [Rubbish! The guy himself admits below that "conviction rates for domestic violence of Maori exceed those of any other group" and there is no doubting their higher incidence of violent crime generally. He seems to be having a dollar each way. He is saying on the one hand that the problem does not exist and on the other that it is wrongly explained] "Maori are not borderline psychotics, retarded, hyper-aggressive, depressive, antisocial, impulsive, suicidal risk takers and to suggest otherwise is irresponsible and not supported by the facts," Dr Hook wrote.

He said there was evidence the two researchers had made several serious flaws in their scientific reasoning. And not only was the science criticised but the ethics of claiming a "genetic explanation for negative social and health statistics" had been questioned, he said.

"While conviction rates for domestic violence of Maori exceed those of any other group there is no indication that the (monoamine oxidase gene) system carried by Maori functions any differently from that of any other ethnic group and certainly no evidence to indicate that it was anything to do with violent behaviour in Maori." Racial stereotyping, particularly by scientists, was "unethical and scandalous", he said.

One of New Zealand's leading Maori politicians, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia, applauded the latest findings and said the original researchers had let down indigenous people.

"I'm disappointed that two reputed scientists have done a disservice to a vulnerable part of our society and science by claiming they have come up with a breakthrough when all they have really done is make our job of finding solutions even harder," she said.


Health gap between rich and poor as big as it was in 1900

What the research below has shown is that the undesirable areas of yesteryear are still undesirable today and that the poor still live in such areas. And the fact that the poor are less healthy has been shown innumerable times. Any time poverty is factored into a study it is found to be related to morbidity and mortality. There are a variety of possible reasons for that but various unwise decisions regarding drug use and the like are almost certainly involved. Gin was much deplored as the drug of abuse among the poor in the 18th and 19th centuries

The link between poverty and mortality is as strong now as it was in the Victorian age despite the enormous medical and social advances in the 20th Century, according to new research. If you live in a deprived area of modern Britain you are almost twice as likely to suffer an early death than a more affluent counterpart. In the 1900s this risk was just over double.

Social scientist Dr Ian Gregory said despite the dramatic health improvements over the last hundred years the relationship between mortality and poverty across England and Wales 'remains as strong today as it was a century ago.' And the worst regions to live have not changed either, said Dr Gregory whose findings are published online in the British Medical Journal. He said: 'Mortality rates are 1.4 times higher today in places that were the most deprived areas in the 1900s, compared with the least deprived.'

Dr Gregory, of the University of Lancaster, said only the causes of death have changed from mainly respiratory, infectious and parasitic diseases then to cancers, heart diseases and strokes now.

The experience of poverty changed too, from not having the bare necessities for existence, to a century later comparing an individual's income or deprivation with those experienced by society as a whole.

Dr Gregory said: 'In the early 1900s of course, being poor meant a real possibility of starving to death whereas that is no longer the case now thanks to things like social security. 'But narrowing the health gap between rich and poor is not a case of simply throwing money at the problem and hoping it goes away because mortality and deprivation are deeply entrenched and patterns from the Edwardian era are strong predictors of ill health today.'

Dr Gregory maintains modern diseases 'have a possible long-term link to unhealthy living conditions in the distant past.' He said: 'The strong association between modern deaths from lung cancer and 1900s mortality suggests that this might in part be a cultural effect caused by the long term prevalence of smoking in poorer areas.'

The study, the first of its kind to directly compare modern deprivation and mortality with conditions a century ago, compared deprivation and death rates in Edwardian England and Wales to premature death and poverty in 2001 by using census mortality data from 634 districts.

Dr Gregory said: 'The twentieth century saw huge improvements in mortality rates in England and Wales. People are living 30 years longer. 'In the 1900s, a third of deaths occurred in the under fives and only 13 per cent occurred over the age of 75. 'A hundred years later deaths aged under five are less than one per cent and two-thirds of deaths now occur in those over 75. Life expectancy has risen from 46 for males to 77 and 50 for females to 81.'

But despite all the improvements patterns of poverty and mortality and the relations between them remain the same, he said. Dr Gregory added: 'Despite the fact that inequalities in mortality have narrowed, the relation between poverty and mortality across the whole of England and Wales seems as strong today as it was at the start of the 20th century. 'Mortality and deprivation patterns of 100 years ago are strong predictors of these patterns today; in particular, areas with high rates of mortality or deprivation in the past still tend to have high rates of mortality today.

'Even when the effects of modern deprivation are taken into account, mortality patterns from the 1900s still have a significant relation with mortality today and this affects most major modern causes of death.'


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