Thursday 15 July 2010

Comments enabled, tentatively

I have tentatively enabled moderated comments, as an experiment.

However, I will only allow comments that I judge suitable for general public consumption.

Otherwise readers with something to say are welcome to e-mail me at the address provided.


dearieme said...

18% vs 7%: and perhaps effectively more than 18% if you consider applicants to science or language courses at university, where (I gather) the private schools teach a high proportion of the A level candidates.

Bruce Charlton said...


I entirely agree: 18 percent is the lower limit of the relevant statistic for admissions to the most selective universities and professions.

The real figure is probably well into the twenties percent of appropriately qualified potential applicants to selective universities/ professions: i.e. three- or four-fold higher than the usual seven percent figure.

I have played around with some plausible guess-timates of the degree of average extra selectivity of private school sixth forms (based on average A-level results); and it would only require a small amount of selectivity - maybe one third of a standard deviation higher ability in the private schools - to account for the observed approx. 50:50 pattern of private: state school acceptance to Oxbridge.

The public at large have no conception of the enormous difference that selectivity makes to educational outcomes.

Indeed, it is (probably) hard to show any effect of private versus state schools on academic outcomes, if natural ability (IQ and personality) was properly used as a control (even though private schools are - on average - better than state schools).

I wrote about this recently:

Bill said...

Thank you for doing this. I was idly considering taking up blogging, just so that I would have somewhere to comment on your ideas.

Anonymous said...

Would you offer an explanation for your sudden increased output here? It's very good material, too.

dearieme said...

Thanks for the link to Med Hyp - I'd binned that site from my Favourites after you unambiguously said that you'd finished with it.

As you are probably well aware, much of what you talk about was written up readably about 40 years ago by Hans Eysenck in his Pelican paperbacks. So for 40 years I've kept my eyes open for any evidence that might refute it, without much success. The arguments against seem, at best, to be little more than wishful thinking.

Bruce Charlton said...


The explanation is simple:

P.S. please sign your comments with some kind of identifying pseudonym in future - I won't be publishing pure 'Anonymous' comments, because other people can't respond to them properly.

Bill said...

On the Byzantine post, I am somewhat surprised at Runcible's claim that this idea of the temporal order as an imitation of and preparation for the heavenly order was not taken up in the West.

It seems to me that the standard defense of Monarchy and in particular Christian Monarchy by the Church in the West was exactly that Heaven is a Monarchy and that we should imitate it here on Earth. As far as I know, this was the position of the Church up until the Second Vatican Council. The Anglicans had a similar belief as well. Of course, popular belief in this teaching fell apart during the calamities of the 18th C.

Does he explain why he thinks that belief in divine monarchy is a characteristically Byzantine one?

Bruce Charlton said...


I agree that divinely-sanctioned Monarchy is common in many societies.

However, influenced by Augustine of Hippo (who is a Roman Catholic Saint, but not an Orthodox saint) - Western Christendom regarded the City of God as the Church; while Eastern Christians regarded the City of God as being the State/ Church together - especially the city of Constantinople.

So, for the West the Pope was head of the Church and the Monarch was head of the state - a dual system; while in the East the Monarch was head of both Church and State - a unified system.

In the East, the Church and State hierarchies were intertwined, and there was no real division between secular and sacred life - everyday life was permeated with religious ritual, ceremony, discourse.

The Byzantine's special strength was (politically) that they mostly avoided the Western power struggles between Monarch and Pope, and (spiritually) resisted the consequent Western division of human life into secular and sacred compartments.