Tuesday, August 18, 2009

British students lying about family backgrounds to win university places, figures reveal

Sixth formers are lying about their family backgrounds to meet university "social engineering" admissions criteria

Up to 15 per cent of candidates who claimed on their application forms they had been in care later admitted they had "made a mistake", according to figures provided by universities. The revelation comes as universities are under increasing pressure to take into account candidates' social circumstances when offering him places. Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, is drawing up a framework which will lead to students from disadvantaged families being given lower grade offers than middle-class students.

Application forms include sections where sixth formers can declare that they were brought up in a care home, that their parents did not go into higher education, or that they attended summer school classes. But it can be revealed that the vast majority of UK universities have no systems in place to check the information being entered by students on their Universities and Colleges Admission Service (Ucas) form.

A small number of universities, including three from the Russell group of top institutions, said they later found out that up to one in seven candidates who declared they had been in care on their forms later admitted that they been filled the box "in error".

Critics said that universities were being forced to "socially engineer" their intakes on the basis of potentially false information. Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment research at Buckingham University, said: "Universities are taking this information at face value but given the huge competition to get in, it is not surprising that people are doing what they can to maximise their chances. "It is possible that the ticks in the boxes are genuine mistakes or they could be an attempt to try something out and then claim it is a mistake if they are found out.

"These attempts to make admissions fairer are actually making them less fair. The best way to get the best candidates is a national examination that distinguishes between students and is externally validated evidence of achievement."

Geoff Lucas, the secretary of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference, representing leading public schools, said: "The Government is creating a many-headed monster with this. "The more we go down this road of using information about a candidate's background in deciding who gets places, the less chance there is of verifying it because of the practicalities."

Of the 62 universities which responded to a Freedom of Information request, almost all failed to carry out checks on any of the family background or "contextual" information provided in the Ucas form. Six indicated that they have a follow-up system where those who have been in care are contacted before the start of term to give them additional support. Of those, four discovered that a number of students had provided false information.

Liverpool University said 15 candidates had filled in the indicator "in error" from the 103 that ticked the box, while Newcastle said four applicants were found to have "incorrectly indicated that they had been in care." At Liverpool Hope University, of the 40 care leavers followed-up by the institution, four admitted to having not been in care. Edinburgh University said that of the 18 students contacted to confirm their status, two said that they had mistakenly identified themselves as having been in care. A number of universities have explicitly stated that being in care or being the first in the family to attend university will be looked on favourably in admissions.

A spokesman for Liverpool University said that while being in care did not trigger extra points, the university does "ensure that care leavers are considered carefully so that an appropriate offer is made". At Oxford University, candidates who are predicted three A grades but who also tick three out of five contextual indicator boxes, including time spent in care, are guaranteed an interview. The university said it only checked the information on care leavers at the stage that applicants have received an offer but it was not aware that any candidate had supplied incorrect information.

At Edinburgh University, humanities and social science and geography departments give "additional credit" to students who have parents who have not previously attended university. However, the admissions office does not check if the information provided on parental education levels in the Ucas form is correct.

Nottingham University has no system to check if background information provided in the Ucas form is correct. Yet the university's admission policy says an applicant's examination grades may be "valued more highly" if they have been in care or their parent have not attended university.

Evidence collected by Ucas suggests that some sixth formers do lie in their application forms. Plagiarism software used to vet students personal statements for the first time last year found as many as 400 would-be doctors had lifted 60 per cent of their statements from websites.

Ucas said that the proportion of applicants who indicated they had been in care was less than 1 per cent and had dropped this year compared to last. A spokesman said: "Where such information is used, it does not result in either an automatic offer of a place or a lower grade offer to a candidate."


British schools inspectorate report criticises vocational diploma over poor English and maths teaching

Almost half of teenagers studying for the new Diploma are not receiving satisfactory English and maths teaching, Ofsted will say today in its first inspector’s report on the qualification. The diploma, which the Government hopes will replace A levels, is intended to bridge the gap between academic and vocational qualifications.

Among many of the first cohort of 14 to 19-year-old students taking the diploma there was “little firm evidence of their achievement in functional skills”, including maths, English and IT, inspectors said.

There are currently five diplomas on offer: construction and the built environment; media; engineering; IT; and society, health and development. Inspectors found that pupils chose subjects along traditional gender lines — despite hopes that they would appeal to all young people regardless of their sex.

The diploma is split into two parts — principal learning, in which students are taught about the employment sector and work-related skills — and functional skills, to help them to develop their English, maths and IT skills. “Work in functional skills lacked co-ordination in just under half the consortia visited and, as a result, the quality of teaching and learning varied considerably,” inspectors said.

Chris Keates, the chief executive of the NASUWT teaching union, said: “The fault lies with the way that functional skills are designed, not the quality of teaching and learning.”

Ofsted inspectors were also concerned about the lack of formal assessment of the qualification. “There was little evidence of frequent marking or checking of students’ knowledge and understanding in relation to work they had completed,” the report said.

Schools offering the diploma work together because of the specialist facilities that some courses require. But timetabling clashes lead to some students missing lessons in their own school and having to catch up later, “putting considerable extra pressure on those involved”, inspectors said.

Only 12,000 pupils have taken up the courses so far — less than half the number estimated — and the proportion of children registered as “gifted and talented” who were taking the diploma was low, inspectors said.

Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, wants the diploma to become the qualification of choice and replace A levels as the gold standard. Vernon Coaker, the Schools Minister, said: “While we are pleased with the progress made so far, we acknowledge that more needs to be done to improve the teaching of diplomas, which is why we are increasing our support for schools and colleges.”


A pathetic Brit relies on lies and innuendo to defame U.S. healthcare

He says that U.S. healthcare "throws out" sickly babies. The truth is absolutely the reverse. It is because U.S. doctors pull out all stops in an attempt to save premature babies that the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate. Some of those heroic efforts necessarily fail and that is recorded as an infant death. In other countries it would be counted as stillborn or not recorded at all. And he says that he did not go to the top U.S. surgeon because he thought an "apprentice" might operate on him. Did he not think that he could arrange whether or not that would happen? It could not happen without his permission. And in the end he found that the treatment still cost him a bundle on the NHS. His insurer would most likely have given it to him free in the U.S. The guy is just trying to justify his own bad decisions

One of the killer statistics bandied about in the present dogfight over “Obamacare” is that under the UK’s “socialised” medicine, 57 per cent of men with prostate cancer survive to die of something else. In the US, under “free-world” medicine, that figure is 90 per cent. Which means, presumably, that if Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi had been incarcerated in a US jail he’d be eating prison chow for years to come, instead of being released on compassionate grounds. Put another way, the NHS kills.

September will be yet another Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. And, as before, awareness about the second leading cause of death among ageing men will remain abysmal. Those pink ribbons for breast cancer win out every time.

The truth is that the only thing that makes a fellow really “aware” is when he hears the ominous words: “I’m sorry to tell you, the biopsy reveals that you have prostate cancer.” I had that message by phone, at 4.25pm on February 17, 2009.

As Dr Johnson said, death sentences concentrate the mind wonderfully. But, of course, it’s not a death sentence. Go to any of the websites for prostate cancer survivors and the first thing you learn is that only one out of six who have this particular carcinoma die of it, even if it’s left untreated. It’s Russian roulette. With the barrel pointed at your testicles. “Do you feel lucky punk? Well do you?” as the man said.

My situation forced me to engage, in a very practical way, with the current arguments over the NHS and American healthcare. I taught for three months in California last winter. While there I had top-notch health coverage. Under enlightened US law, my employer was obliged to continue that coverage, for minimal co-payment, for 18 months after my leaving their employ. No exclusions. I could, therefore, have state-of-the-art treatment at somewhere such as Cedars Sinai. It would cost me not a cent.

But I’m also covered by the NHS, have been since 1948, and by Bupa: but it covers only half the cost of the surgery. What would you choose with killer cells multiplying like homicidal lice in your groin? I decided on surgery. But which nation’s healing scalpel?

One thing that strikes you, after you’ve done some research, is why is the best treatment for prostate cancer always pioneered in America? Nowadays you can pick from radium seeds (what Rudy Giuliani chose); nerve-sparing da Vinci robotic surgery (what John Kerry chose) or Hifu (high-intensity focused ultrasound). What do they have in common? IiA — Invented in America. What else do they have in common? They are hard to come by on the NHS. Not impossible (except for Hifu, which is not approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), but hard.

Why has America led the way against this horrible scourge of elderly men? Follow the money. Males in the red zone for prostate cancer (roughly 50 to 80-year-olds) are the most lucratively insured sector of the US population. American medicine is not a “service” it’s an “industry”, driven by the bottom line. The spin-off? Research and development goes where the dollars are. Old guys strike lucky.

Now cross the Atlantic. You’re holding the NHS pursestrings, and have the following dilemma:

1. A one-month-old baby with a hole in the heart. Cost to cure, £x;

2. A 30-year-old woman with breast cancer. Cost to cure, £x;

3. A 70-year-old man with prostate cancer. Cost to cure, £x;

but you only have £2x to hand out. Whom do you throw overboard? The iron law of triage in the UK tilts the board against the luckless prostate. America throws the (often unremunerative) babies overboard, which is why (as Michael Moore crows) it has higher infant mortality than Cuba. And old guys strike out.

So, being an elderly man, I should have gone American: particularly as I had resolved on robotic prostatectomy. But I didn’t. Why not? The reason is everywhere on websites, where the consensus is: “Go for the very best surgeon. And be sure to choose one who’s done more than a thousand procedures.”

I could have chosen a leading da Vinci specialist in Los Angeles. But so big is the robotic business in the US that those star surgeons have troops of young surgeons in training with them. Well disposed as I am to teaching hospitals, I did not want to be some starlet’s apprentice work.

If I wanted robotic surgery in the UK the best person, I was told, was Professor Roger Kirby. Kirby is forever raising charity money for prostate cancer treatment but — so expensive and in such short supply is the robotic machinery he uses — that he charges. In point of fact, the charge is modest: less than the cost of every second car that passes you in the fast lane on the motorway.

In a few years time I suspect the NHS will be where the US now is on prostate cancer treatment. At the moment, if you want US standards of treatment in the UK you will probably have to pay, out of your pocket or through medical insurance.

There were some painful incisions on my wallet. But the histopathology revealed that the cancer had been expertly scooped out by Professor Kirby and his pal Leonardo. I felt lucky. And very grateful.


Scrap swine flu phone checks says father of British tonsillitis sufferer who died after misdiagnosis

Another death from Britain's careless swine flu procedures

The distraught father of a teenage girl who died after her tonsillitis was deemed to be swine flu is calling for over-the-phone diagnosis to be scrapped. Karl Hartey accused the Government of having 'blood on its hands' after his 16-year-old daughter Charlotte died from complications arising from tonsillitis. The case will further increase concerns that illnesses, some of them serious, are increasingly being misdiagnosed as swine flu.

Following revelations that 16-year-olds are being employed at a swine flu call centre, there are also fears that many of those doling out advice and the anti-viral drug Tamilfu are not qualified to do so. Last week the parents of a girl of two told how their daughter died of meningitis after she was misdiagnosed.

In the latest case Charlotte Hartey was told she had swine flu over the phone by a local GP. She was prescribed Tamiflu but her condition deteriorated and she was admitted to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on July 29 where she died two days later after her lungs collapsed when bacteria overwhelmed her immune system. A post-mortem found Charlotte, from Oswestry, Shropshire, died from natural causes.

Her father Karl attacked Ministers over the introduction of call centres, manned by teenagers to diagnose potential swine flu cases. Mr Hartey, 42, said: 'The Government has blood on its hands. 'This was tonsillitis. Every child in the country is likely to get it. We have to change the Government policy on this. 'We have got to go back to old-fashioned doctoring.'

Mr Hartey has begun a campaign to end the telephone diagnoses of swine flu, using Charlotte's memorial page on Facebook to gather pledges of support which will be presented to Downing Street. Six-hundred visitors to the site have so far promised their support since it went live last Thursday.

Mr Hartey, an investment adviser, said: 'We have to ban call centres giving medical diagnosis. We want this to go as high as it possibly can, to the Prime Minister. 'I want him to accept that Charlotte was misdiagnosed. I want him to look me in the eye and say sorry for our loss. 'It won't bring Charlotte back, but it will stop other children being misdiagnosed. 'Charlotte had such a life ahead. Her future was enormous and has been snatched away.

'Charlotte is not the first person to have died because of misdiagnosis. We are fighting a war against call centre advice. 'I am not putting blame on the doctors because they follow instructions from the Government, which says not to see swine flu victims. 'This is a breach of our human rights. The Government is restricting us from going to the doctor.'

Two-year-old Georgia Keeling died from meningitis after being misdiagnosed over the phone and by a paramedic. Her parents were repeatedly told she didn't need to go to hospital and she was given Tamiflu and paracetamol. Salesman Paul Sewell, 21, and his wife Tasha, 22, from Norwich, claimed medics had diagnosed her before they looked at her.

Mother-of-three Jasvir Gill, 48, of Leicester, also died this month days after being misdiagnosed with swine flu. She began suffering from a sore throat and vomiting and was told to take Tamiflu in a telephone diagnosis. Around 12 hours later she had a heart attack and died from blood poisoning caused by meningitis.


Britain to ease up on Muslim fanatics and concentrate on whites instead

LABOUR slammed the brakes on its war against violent extremism yesterday - amid fears it had upset Muslim voters. Millions spent preventing Asian kids becoming terrorists will now be used to tackle right-wing racists in WHITE areas.

Community cohesion minister Shahid Malik admitted he was softening his stance because Muslims felt stigmatised. But a former Labour aide called the move a "dangerous dilution" of the Government's counter-terrorism strategy. Tories branded it a shameless bid to win back Muslim voters who deserted Labour over Iraq and Afghanistan.

More than £45 million a year has been spent on measures to prevent Al-Qaeda recruiting young Muslims in the UK. It included action to break up Islamic ghettos and stop university hate preachers. But Mr Malik, the first British-born Muslim MP, yesterday unveiled plans to broaden the scope of the campaign.

He announced: "We shall be putting a renewed focus on resisting right-wing racist extremism. We cannot dismiss or underestimate the threat." Mr Malik told Sky News: "You speak to any Muslim in this country and they are as opposed as you and I are to extremism and terrorism. "The frustration is they are constantly linked with terrorism as a community as a whole."

His action contrasts with the tough stance of ex-minister Hazel Blears. She broke links with Muslim groups that failed to denounce extremists. Her adviser Paul Richards said: "The good work by Hazel is being undone in the name of political correctness."

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said: "This has been watered down for purely political reasons. Labour has always seen Muslim voters as its own property."


In Britain today you approach others’ children at your peril

There’s just one element of the stories of my childhood that fascinates my own children. It’s not the absence of mobile phones, or the idea of a world before the internet. It’s the fact that so many of my small crises ended in the same way: with my being rescued by the kind intervention of an unknown man. Whether I was a nine-year-old being kicked to the ground by a gang of girls in the park, a 14-year-old lost in the Welsh hills on a walking holiday or a 12-year-old who had taken a bad fall from a horse and couldn’t ride home, it was adult men who stepped in without hesitation to stop the fighting or give me a lift or bandage my grazed arms.

I might as well be telling my children about life with the Cherokee Indians. This isn’t a world they know, where children expect to explore by themselves and where passing men and women are the people you turn to when things go wrong. Their generation have been taught from the time they start school that all strangers may be dangerous and all men are threats. So children have become frightened of adults, and adults – terrified that any interaction of theirs might be misinterpreted – have become equally frightened of them.

When my offspring and their friends have been mugged on buses, or attacked on the street by teenagers, no one has helped. Every passing adult has looked the other way. The idea that it’s the responsibility of grown-ups to look out for one another’s young is disappearing fast. That isn’t making our children safer. It’s making their lives more fearful, more dangerous and more constrained.

Last week the charity Living Streets reported that half of all five to 10-year-olds have never played in their own streets. Almost nine in 10 of their grandparents had played out and so had many of their parents, but now children were kept inside, imprisoned by the twin fears of traffic and paedophiles. As the Play England organisation has found, parents keep them in because they believe that if they aren’t watching over their child, no other adult will do it for them. Older children, too, are affected. Two years ago research by the Children’s Society showed that 43% of parents thought children shouldn’t be allowed out on their own until they were 14.

What began 25 years or so ago as an understandable desire to raise awareness of child abuse is turning into something extremely destructive – an instinctive suspicion of any encounter between grown-ups and unrelated children. It has happened without any political debate or rational discussion. It’s starting to poison our society. And with every passing month it’s getting worse.

Last month in Bedfordshire, 270 children from four primary schools had their annual sports day without the normal audience of proud parents watching them compete. All adults except teachers were banned. The reason? The organisers could not guarantee that an unsupervised adult might not molest a child. They preferred the certainty of ruining the pleasure of hundreds, and the instilling of general paranoia, to the phenomenally slight possibility of a sexual attack.

This is part of an insidious new orthodoxy that’s taking hold: that only authorised adults have any business engaging with children. It is no longer just about sexual abuse. In Twickenham last month the mother of a five– year-old who was being bullied decided to talk to the offender. She knelt by his chair and asked him politely to stop. The next day she was banned from the classroom for doing something that would have been regarded as rational and responsible behaviour at any other time in the past century.

Much worse was to happen a few days later to Anisa Borsberry, from Tyne and Wear, whose 11-year-old was being bullied by agroup of girls. She, too, asked the bullies to stop. In retaliation, and knowing what a powerful weapon this was to use against an adult, the girls claimed Borsberry had assaulted them. Within hours they admitted lying. Nevertheless, the accusation of assault against a child is regarded as so serious that Borsberry was handcuffed in her home and held in police cells for five hours before hearing that no further action was being taken.

Or there is the case of Carol Hill, the Essex dinner lady threatened with dismissal for telling a mother she was sorry her daughter had been tied up and whipped in the playground. Normal, empathetic human behaviour, you might think. That wasn’t the school’s reaction. Hill was suspended for breaching “pupil confidentiality”.

In every one of these cases a woman has been punished for daring to do what adults have always done in every society: uphold norms of behaviour by talking about them. But it has blown up in their faces because new unwritten rules about engaging with children are apparently being invented every day. The extent of society’s neurosis means the consequences of approaching children are becoming alarmingly unpredictable.

That’s as true for professionals as for anyone else. Traditionally, teachers have been thought of as potential mentors for children or confidants for those in distress. Increasingly they are being warned away from that role and told to keep their distance by schools. Nowhere is that made clearer than in a draft advice guide for teachers issued this spring by the Purcell school for young musicians.

The guide begins by telling staff: “Some adolescents experience periods of profound emotional disturbance and turmoil when they may be unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. They may even be temporarily insane. They can thus present a danger to even the most careful of teachers.” This is child as wild animal; one that may bite at any moment. Teachers are told not to talk to pupils after coaching sessions, but to “usher them out of the room in a brisk no-nonsense manner”. They are told never to text pupils from their private mobiles, but to buy a second one for school use. This “should only be used for arranging appointments; chit chat should be avoided”. Nor can a teacher ever be alone with a pupil in a car, except in case of medical emergency, when the child must be seated in the back, a written record made of time, date and place and a telephone call made to the pupil’s parents to justify it.

The guide concludes that these procedures must become second nature, as any child may accuse a teacher and “your accuser could be of unsound mind”. It finishes with this chilling sentence: “It is helpful to think of current pupils as clients, rather than friends, as a doctor does.”

That these norms are taking hold is a sign of a sick society. What we are creating here is mass mutual distrust. First, children were warned about adults; now adults are being warned about children. It is bad for all of us; bad for our humanity, our happiness and our sense of belonging to anything but a narrow, trusted group. It is also disastrous for any hope of improving social mobility or social cohesion. The effects of this coldness and detachment will be worst for those who need adult guidance and contact most: those children who are growing up without strong social networks around them.

The Labour government appears to understand none of these dangers. Obsessed with physical safety, it is bringing in a screening authority this autumn, one that will cover perhaps one in four adults. It won’t acknowledge the psychological and social disaster that’s unfolding now, nor the pointlessness of much of the exercise. Most abuse is, after all, carried out in the home, and determined abusers will always evade the rules. David Cameron has made some of the right noises by saying children’s behaviour should be a matter for all adults. It will take extraordinary determination to dismantle the walls of suspicion that we have begun to build.


IQ a bigger contributor to socioeconomic influence on risk of CV death than conventional risk factors

To translate that heading into plain English: Poor people get more heart attacks not because they are fatter and smoke more (etc.) but because they are dumber. That reinforces the idea that IQ is a marker of general biological fitness as well as being a marker of mental ability. Another indication of that is that high IQ people live longer. I imagine that some readers think I overdo it in attributing so many epidemiological correlations to IQ and social class (which are themselves correlated) but the paper below shows just how important those factors are

A couple of footnote-type comments: 1). It is odd that alcohol consumption was not mentioned in the study. Perhaps they were afraid that they might find that boozers live longer. 2). There is a constant tendency for people to counter generalizations that they don't like with contrary examples, quite ignoring that you can prove anything by examples. So when confronted by the idea that IQ is a marker of general biological fitness, some people say: "What about Stephen Hawking? He's very bright but he's none too healthy". One might reply however that to have lived into his 60s with his severe disability his basic health must be exceptionally robust!

Intelligence appears to play a greater role than traditional cardiovascular risk factors in the relationship of socioeconomic disadvantage with cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, according to a new and unusual study.

This is the first research to properly examine this issue, say Dr G David Batty (University of Glasgow, Scotland) and colleagues in their paper published online July 14, 2009 in the European Heart Journal. "Our findings suggest that measured IQ does not completely account for observed inequalities in health, but probably— through a variety of mechanisms— may quite strongly contribute to them." The findings indicate the need to further explore how the links between low socioeconomic status, low IQ, and poor health might be broken, they observe.

In an accompanying editorial, Drs Michael Marmot and Mika Kivimäki (University College London, UK) say research such as this "is challenging . . . [but it] makes clear that what happens in the mind, whether the influence came from the material world or the social, has to be taken into account if we are to understand how the socioeconomic circumstances in which people live influence health and well-being." [It must have been hard for The Marmot to admit that. He is associated with the dubious WCRF and some equally dubious dietary claims]

Adding IQ to statistical models strengthens their power [But it is SO "incorrect"]

Batty and colleagues explain that controlling for preventable behavioral and physiological risk factors attenuates but fails to eliminate socioeconomic gradients in health, particularly CVD, which raises the possibility that as-yet-unmeasured psychological factors need to be considered, and one such factor is cognitive function (also referred to as intelligence or IQ).

They studied a cohort of 4289 US male former military personnel, from the Vietnam Experience Study, which they say had a number of strengths that enabled them to explore the role of IQ. It provides extensive data on IQ (early adulthood and middle age) and four widely used markers of socioeconomic position: early-adulthood and current income; occupational prestige and education; a range of nine established CVD risk factors; and cause-specific mortality.

They used the relative index of inequality (RII) to quantify the relation between each index of socioeconomic position and mortality. Over 15 years, there were 237 deaths (62 from CVD and 175 from other causes). In age-adjusted analyses, each of the four indices of socioeconomic position was inversely associated with total, CVD, and "other" causes of mortality, such that, as would be expected from previous findings, elevated rates were evident in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged men.

When IQ in middle age was introduced to the age-adjusted model, there was marked attenuation in the RII across the socioeconomic predictors for total mortality (average 50% attenuation in RII), CVD mortality (55%), and "other" causes of death (49%). When the nine traditional risk factors were added to the age-adjusted model, the comparable reduction in RII was less marked: all causes (40%), CVD (40%) and "other" mortality (43%).

And adding IQ to the model adjusted for age and CVD risk resulted in further explanatory power for all outcomes, they say.

Consider IQ when planning health promotion and in consultations

In their editorial, Marmot and Kivimäki say there is probably not a direct IQ effect but rather cognitive function more likely "explains" the link between socioeconomic position and mortality, insofar as intelligence is a determinant of social and economic success in life. Further research will help clarify this issue, they note. [The Marmot is trying to waffle his way out of it. I am not even sure what he means there]

Batty et al say their results suggest that individual cognition levels should be considered more carefully when health promotion campaigns are being prepared and in health-professional-client interactions.


Journal abstract follows:

Does IQ explain socio-economic differentials in total and cardiovascular disease mortality? Comparison with the explanatory power of traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors in the Vietnam Experience Study

By G. David Batty et al.

Aims: The aim of this study was to examine the explanatory power of intelligence (IQ) compared with traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in the relationship of socio-economic disadvantage with total and CVD mortality, that is the extent to which IQ may account for the variance in this well-documented association.

Methods and results: Cohort study of 4289 US male former military personnel with data on four widely used markers of socio-economic position (early adulthood and current income, occupational prestige, and education), IQ test scores (early adulthood and middle-age), a range of nine established CVD risk factors (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total blood cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, body mass index, smoking, blood glucose, resting heart rate, and forced expiratory volume in 1 s), and later mortality.

We used the relative index of inequality (RII) to quantify the relation between each index of socio-economic position and mortality. Fifteen years of mortality surveillance gave rise to 237 deaths (62 from CVD and 175 from ‘other’ causes).

In age-adjusted analyses, as expected, each of the four indices of socio-economic position was inversely associated with total, CVD, and ‘other’ causes of mortality, such that elevated rates were evident in the most socio-economically disadvantaged men.

When IQ in middle-age was introduced to the age-adjusted model, there was marked attenuation in the RII across the socio-economic predictors for total mortality (average 50% attenuation in RII), CVD (55%), and ‘other’ causes of death (49%). When the nine traditional risk factors were added to the age-adjusted model, the comparable reduction in RII was less marked than that seen after IQ adjustment: all-causes (40%), CVD (40%), and ‘other’ mortality (43%).

Adding IQ to the latter model resulted in marked, additional explanatory power for all outcomes in comparison to the age-adjusted analyses: all-causes (63%), CVD (63%), and ‘other’ mortality (65%). When we utilized IQ in early adulthood rather than middle-age as an explanatory variable, the attenuating effect on the socio-economic gradient was less pronounced although the same pattern was still present.

Conclusion: In the present analyses of socio-economic gradients in total and CVD mortality, IQ appeared to offer greater explanatory power than that apparent for traditional CVD risk factors.

European Heart Journal 2009 30(15):1903-1909

"Act on CO2" advertisements on the BBC

The BBC does not of course run advertisements so it is described as a "filler" and is presumably funded by the BBC itself. It is very scary cinematography and completely unbalanced and extreme Warmist propaganda. There is no scintilla of truth in the warnings it gives. It was broadcast in the 9:00 to 9:30 timeslot on August 15 and appears to be aimed at frightening children.

You can see it here. The script is here.

"Blacklisting" now a bad word in Britain

We read:
"The Citizens Advice service has banned staff from using the term ' blacklisting' over fears that it is offensive and 'fosters stereotypes'. The taxpayer- funded quango, which advises members of the public on consumer, legal and money issues, has instead replaced it with 'blocklisting' to avoid appearing 'prejudicial'.

The two terms are both used in IT to mean the same thing. They refer to what are effectively lists of computers or computer networks which have been identified as sending spam and enable mail servers to ban or flag up mail sent from them.

Emails to members of staff at the service say the move has been made to keep 'in line with aims and principles of the Citizens Advice service'. Critics branded it 'daft' and 'political correctness going over the top', but the Citizens Advice has refused to back down, even though critics say it renders everyday communications unintelligible...

The ban on blacklisting applies across the whole of Citizens Advice. A former volunteer said banning blacklisting was 'the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen' and has stopped helping at his local branch because of it. John Midgley, co-founder of the campaign against political correctness, said: 'This is just daft and another example of political correctness going over the top.'


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