Statistics : still the hardest part of math.

Thursday, 12 February, Year 7 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Parenting and Personality Disorders sounds banal enough, but it strives not to be. Supposedly some colorful graphs in there provide support for stuff like

The authors made a (startling) discovery: there are types of parenting behaviors which predispose your kid to growing up personality disordered.

[...]

You'll notice that antisocial PD is essentially zero at baseline, and is dramatically sensitive to bad parenting.

What you'll see in the top figure is that being an aversive parent is a great way of making someone borderline or passive-aggressive, not to mention paranoid. But it doesn't make them antisocial. Hmm.

[...]

Some covariate caveats: even when parental psychaitric disorders and offspring behavioral problems at age 6 were controlled, bad parenting was still associatd with increased risk of their kids' PD.

Furthermore, the usual association of parental psychiatric disorder leading to child PD could be explained, in fact, 95% due to the bad parenting. Another way of saying this is that 95% of the effect that a parental psychiatric disorder has on causing their kids' personality disorder can be obviated by better parenting. In a similar vein, 35% of the effect of childhood behavioral problems leading to later PD can be similarly reduced by better parenting. In other words, even if you or your kids have a "biological" psychiatric disorder, better parenting skills can darmiatically affect the outcome.

[...]

The nature vs. nurture debate in psychiatry is all but dead. The longer we delude ourselves that biology controls behavior, and not the other way around, the longer we'll have to live with the same behaviors.

Let's create a counter model for this. Suppose I collect a bunch of seeds of fruit trees. For simplicity : apple, pear, plum, peach and nut. That's all.

Suppose I interview newlyweds by the magical power invested in me for this experiment, and further I have a means to obtain absolutely truthful answers to whatever questions I might wish to ask. I give a peach seed to every couple where the woman's a wanton slut. I give a nut seed to every couple where the man's an addictive type. I give an apple seed to every couple where the woman's a total nag. I give a pear seed to every couple where the man's aggressive and violent. I give a plum seed to everyone else. And I have these people plant the seed in the front yard.

Fifteen years later, I come by to do my study, and find : that wanton sluts that parented "a seed" in their wanton slutty ways seem to have something kinda like a peach on their hands, whereas nagheads that parented "a seed" in their naggy ways seem to have apples on their hands. Meanwhile families led by degenerate gamblers seem to mostly "have transformed" their seed into nuts, and regular domestic beatings clearly promote the pearization of "the seed". What seed ? The "plum seed" that everyone got.

Then another fifteen years later I come by and find that the peachiness of the peach aggravated just as the hussy progressed to full blown nymphomaniac, whereas what seemed to go towards a nut tree is now definitely nutty and so on and so forth. And upon their lives I read outloud from Voltaire, saying that

It is demonstrable that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings. Stones were made to be hewn and to construct castles, therefore My Lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Swine were intended to be eaten, therefore we eat pork all the year round: and they, who assert that everything is right, do not express themselves correctly; they should say that everything is best.

The error with this "experiment" is that it presumes biology is fully given at birth. This is manifestly untrue, of course : even though infants have no pubic hair, it is an incontrovertible fact that by the age of about fifteen they will have some, and this irrespective of any parenting. Similarly their blue eyes and blond manes will go away, and their deciduous teeth fall out before they finish junior high and irrespective of diet. Some of them will develop schizophrenia, which declares itself in the thirties or forties - there exists no such thing as infantile schizophrenia but this does not necessarily rule out a biological cause.

In short : in arbitrarily allocating all the phenomena perceptible after birth to "nurture", the study proceeds to gleefully beg the question. It inquires with itself, "hey study, provided that all effects we perceive are due to cause B rather than cause A, is it true that cause B rather than A is the true cause of all effects we perceive ?" and it doesn't delay in answering (itself) "fancy you should ask me that, study, but it turns out it's exactly correct within the paradigm we're using!"

This is not science. The longer we delude ourselves that this is science, the longer we'll have to live with the same behaviour.

(As you can probably tell, I'm doing a Ballas full read. It seems a worthier use of time than say the Yarvin full read I once attempted, with its dismal results.)

Comments feed : RSS 2.0. Leave your own comment below, or send a trackback.

3 Responses

  1. [...] « Statistics : still the hardest part of math. [...]

  2. [...] Statistics : still the hardest part of math. Fetlife, the meat market [...]

  3. [...] at the present time, and in the process learn a little of that most difficult of mental exercises, statistics [...]

Add your cents! »
    If this is your first comment, it will wait to be approved. This usually takes a few hours. Subsequent comments are not delayed.