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    This is not about baseball, but about blogging, but times are hard for some columnists, so I needed to get your attention. Steve Sailer has put up his March statistics (More records for iSteve, April 3) showing that last month his posts generated 19,707 comments containing a total of 1,485,295 words. By any standards, this...
  • Steve has been blogging for a long time. During his early years in somewhat obscurity perhaps, but building up a core following. The internet tends to give the impression everything happens very quickly but reputations are still mostly built up over lifetimes or even generations. Compare your numbers against his after he had only been blogging for three or four years. (Apologies for the brevity. It’s an already existing habit made even worse by Twitter.)

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  • Fundamentally solve the “intelligence problem,” and all other problems become trivial. The problem is that this problem is a very hard one, and our native wit is unlikely to suffice. Moreover, because problems tend to get harder, not easier, as you advance up the technological ladder (Karlin, 2015), in a “business as usual” scenario with...
  • Excellent overview of issues, though I’d adjust percentages considerably. e.g. Biotech revolution began 1990′s (in part utilizing earlier computer revolution), biosingularity 30 pct 2040-2060 AD. Computers are adjuncts facilitating organisms evolved to do politics (though mismatch between tribal environment of evolutionary adaptation and modern environments.) So useful to think in terms of ~political singularity~. (Democracy is an info-proc ~political~ system.) nGram for political singularity, curiously and by the way, shows a sort of nice 60 year cycle. https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=political+singularity&year_start=1800&year_end=2010&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=&direct_url=t1%3B%2Cpolitical%20singularity%3B%2Cc0 ..

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  • I am thinking of writing a big article to put into perspective the trends leading up to the famously unexpected political reversals of fortune in 2016. Some are economic, some are political, but I suspect others are cultural/political: ever more spectacular hate hoaxes like Rolling Stone's, BLM anti-cop terrorism, World War T, the rise of...
  • Hillary’s deplorables comment was the turning point. Having a record in government, and Trump not having one, she was positioned to run against his character instead. She and her proxies ran a relentlessly extremely negative campaign. It was almost working until she blundered by running against his voters instead of Trump himself. Given the context it was a much worse blunder than Romney’s 47 percent comment. It alienating undecided voters against her.

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  • Recently I posted some findings about sex differences in the public understanding of science. I criticized the Pew quiz for having items which were far too easy, and proposed a few harder items, on vaccinations and the expanding universe. Before I could refine questions on those two subjects, a reader reminded me of a delightful...
  • A person either knows or doesn't. But I am ever amazed at just how much people forget. I recall waiting to see the principal after a fight in the 7th grade and overhearing all the adults in the nearby room trying to find one among them who could remember how do to simple fractions. No one could.

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  • I don't follow cycling closely, but I once praised Lance Armstrong, who I had read about in the media, to a friend who had been a journeymen professional in the sport in the late 1990s. My friend expressed some irritation, shrugged, and told me that everyone in the sport knew that Armstrong doped. He didn't...
  • Further thoughts – Regarding gene doping see gene therapy and Bioviva CEO Elizabeth Parrish’s telomerase experiment. The technology is already here. By the way, a major limitation on a lot of drug development is getting the drug to (or inside) the right cell at the right time for optimal effect. By hitch-hiking on the already evolved machinery for gene expression, gene therapy as it becomes better developed will most likely become more and more able to get around a lot of limitations of drug development.

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  • (Just trying to make sense of some things.) Form follows function. Interests select and shape function over time in feedback with environments. What is the function of the Olympics? To attract the attention of viewers and sell them sports equipment. In the absence of decentralized decision-making the wishes and social norms of the viewers are hacked and instead of having some direct influence on the shaping of function they are instead lulled by viewing various forms of dream fantasies. (In this sense the Olympics is not ‘democratic’.) Is there a lot of subtle cheating? The interests of the individual athletes conflict with the interests of those who finance the Olympics, but both are aligned in wishing to not be involved in breaking the fantasy that anyone who trains hard can win. (A strange fantasy indeed, ignoring genetics, cultural-accumulation of training methods i.e. access to the best coaches, and so on.) So I for one would expect a lot of subtle cheating. One possible way forward is to use a structured semi-transparency to align interests of the non-doping athletes against the rest. Here what comes to mind is the highly successful Richard Feynman associated program for the Federal Aviation Administration’s program for the anonymity of pilot-error reporting. (If done badly however it can turn into the worst sort of ‘informer system’ destroying reputations based on lies. So details matter.) Or, in an opposite direction – consider gene doping. In effect allowing transsexuals to compete in their self-identified gender category is allowing what might be called gene doping. What the Olympic organizers have done is pushed the limit on the willful blindness of viewers toward genetics at a time when there is an accelerating increase in knowledge and acceptance of genetics throughout the general population of viewers. A cognitive dissonance is being set up between allowing the biology of gene-doping in the form of gender self-identification and disallowing the biology of drug-doping (which in many cases might involve up-regulating or down-regulating gene expressions.) So the way forward in this wholly other direction is for the Olympic organizers is to allow a change in the ~form~ of the fantasy sold to viewers to align more with the scientific reality of the influence of the biology of genes and gene expression on sports performance — to allow the use of gender self-identification gene doping to eventually undermine and perhaps eliminate entirely the restrictions against drug doping.

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  • Been busy with work. Lots of data coming in. Will be good to turn around some science. But I'm eating OK. Location matters.... Here's a FB post from a researcher on Eran Elhaik's weird results which regularly make press. I've started ignoring Elhaik's stuff because it's also so crazy. I'll try to monitor the open...
  • Looks delicious! Also reminds me I need to monogram some cutlery to carry around.

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  • Behold, Summer Institute in Social Science Genomics: The future is not the future anymore.
  • It’s at the Rutgers University Inn and Conference Center. Robert Trivers, one of the main founders of sociobiology, is at Rutgers University. John Alcock wrote his book The Triumph of Sociobiology in 2001, but sometimes the growth and spread of ideas in science seems to take far longer than expected.

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  • With Puerto Rico in the news for threatening to go broke, Paul Krugman is worried that hedge funds want to "destroy the island’s education system in the name of fiscal responsibility." But it turns out that Puerto Rican school administrators have largely done that already. Although Puerto Rico spends more per public school student than...
  • Great comments by Anatoly Karlin. The national past time of the Athenian citizens was debate. There’s intelligence, and then there’s skill in using what intelligence you have. Debate develops that skill. (Writing a blog post on that – expect in about another week.) Another issue – too much attention is paid to averages. More interesting are standard deviations and smart fractions. Migrations, trade, and refugees probably meant higher SDs peaked then. Get enough people with high enough intelligence and skill in using that intelligence in control of setting the social norms and cultural trends .. etc.

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  • It takes heroic amounts of practice to boost digit span, mostly by using chunking procedures (which themselves have to be learned) so as to improve the encoding of random number strings. There are better things to do in life. Digit span forwards is a measure of the length of acoustic memory trace that can be...
  • Encrypting passwords — writing them in a personalized shorthand system works. Modified shorthand systems and encryption have some history together.

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  • Interesting, and I am convinced with everything here as it applies to the general population. Still there is the odd thing where I had been doing Gregg Shorthand everyday for a number of years for university lectures and had a discussion about 'word span' in a shorthand forum. My sense and that of several others was that the regular use of shorthand over time increased word span — when you are struggling to keep up with a fast-talking speaker and they pause and you write down the last twenty or sixty words. Given that shorthand has rapidly fallen out of use since the 1960's I would imagine people's word spans have been getting shorter and shorter, though the effect at the overall population level is almost certainly insignificant. I do not think of this as dysgenic, just lack of daily practice. (By the way – The movie In Cold Blood has Truman Capote boasting on several occasions of his ability to remember long conversations with a "95%" degree of accuracy. It might be entirely fictional or perhaps he also regularly practiced shorthand?) About the same time that tape recorders became inexpensive and common, adding machines and pocket calculators did as well and yet presumably math scores have not suffered since then. Of course all this relates to popular media reports on how Google is ruining our brains so I am highly skeptical as it applies to the general population. But still there seem to be some interesting puzzles involving special cases. Perhaps it comes down to the first sentence of your blog today, and that using shorthand daily amounts to ".. heroic amounts of practice.." and chunking procedures.

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    • Replies: @James Thompson
    Can't call the ref to mind, but a few people tried boosting digit recall over many months of practice, and eventually became able to code large strings of digits, but the skill did not transfer to other materials or memory tasks. A trick, not an expanded capacity. Still, like the idea of shorthand still being alive and well. My father had shorthand, but was defeated by "counter sunk hexagonal nuts".
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  • Historians differ between those who study specific instances and those who detect general patterns. The former immerse themselves in a defined period, the latter take a broader sweep. Arnold Joseph Toynbee was a good example of that latter, grander genre of comparative history, his best known work being “A study of History” in 12 volumes....
  • By the way there is a two volume abridgment of Toynbee generally considered quite good. I read it back in the early 1990s and agree. His lifelong area of expertise was the Ottoman Empire — that part is excellent.

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  • How does yoghurt differ from Los Angeles? Yoghurt has more culture. HBD Chick asks me Where does culture come from? How does it arise? Where are its roots? Two human abilities are required for human culture: imitation and memory. Imitation requires close observation, as one human (who could do something else) finds a reason to...
  • A different question, the one that jumped to my mind when reading HBD Chick .. If there were no genes would culture exist? But leaving that aside, along with nuances about necessary and sufficient conditions.. 'social learning' is a topic in animal behavior. Humans are freakishly good at it compared to other animals. (Search: social learning in animals.) (There's even a Wikipedia entry for it.)

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  • Would you like to ask some researchers questions about intelligence? The sorts of topics could be: Spearman's Hypothesis examined for primate cognitive comparisons; Why don’t Northeast Asians win Nobel prizes?; The Roma: a Balkan underclass; Science and its discontents; The evolution of racial differences in intelligence, in psychopathic personality and sporting abilities; Sex differences in...
  • Everyone talks about regression to the mean. What about the inverse? Suppose there are a thousand of IQ 140 for every one of IQ 165. Is it the case that sliding the IQ of the one thousand persons up and down and similarly for the one at 165, is there a point at which the person at the higher IQ is at a fifty-percent probability of being just as likely to be the offspring of two parents in the pool of the many as an offspring of two parents of the few? (In my jottings by the way, I refer to this opposition to the regression to the mean as 'progression to the extreme'.) I have a vague recollection of reading a comment by an intelligence researcher many decades ago that he had been puzzled for a long time that about half of the eminent minds he had studied, Nobel Prize winners and the like, had fairly ordinary parents. His moment of epiphany was when he realized that for every pair of extremely bright parents there are thousands or tens of thousands who are not. Genes do shuffle around quite a bit even in a single generation after all, and complex traits tend to draw on many genes as part of their expression.

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    • Replies: @James Thompson
    Very good question. I did a quick version of this calculation on the specific but relevant topic of university entrance by social class. That will give you the first step in the answer. I did not look past 2 sigma, but I could extend it to 3 sigma. At 2 sigma the differences are such that professional classes provide 5 times more bright people than manual labouring classes. I do not think that the differences between 2 and 3 sigma are a thousand fold. These two posts provide the beginnings of an answer, but I will have to think about it further.
    http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/social-class-and-university-entrance_28.html
    http://drjamesthompson.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/the-7-tribes-of-intellect.html
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  • In a previous post, I tried to encourage geneticists to simplify their language. They talk about the genetic code in their own linguistic code, with all the baggage of the past. For example, they say “loci” when the usual word would be “location”. Each dollop of jargon halves the audience. Now I have a further...
  • Niche creation, a personal example: In 7th grade I moved the boxes around in the unheated storage area of our apartment in Alaska to create a small reading space (a niche) away from the noise, commotion, and constant television. I discovered that several of the boxes held a never-used set of the 52 volumes of The Great Books. I began reading at Homer.. (Note however that the volumes ~were~ there, even if never-used.)

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    • Replies: @James Thompson
    So your parents were driven by a sense of duty, or perhaps your early behavior to lay in stocks for your later development. Good. Unless, of course, Homer messed up your life. Long winded, though with a fine turn of phrase.
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  • Greg Cochran brings up a topic that seems like it has disappeared over the last generation: reading speed. In the old days, the immense velocity at which Democratic Presidents like JFK and Jimmy Carter could read was part of political lore. Skeptics like Woody Allen joked that he had speed-read War and Peace: "It was...
  • At the start you mention JFK's reading speed. From what I recall of the biographies, when his father was ambassador to England JFK fell in love with the debating over there. The title of his first book was a word-play on Churchill's book (While England Slept..?) but decades have passed and my memory is imperfect.

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  • Parliamentary culture stretches back to the importation and democratization of Persian courts' debating salons into ancient Greek culture, modified by the framing of the early Olympics. Britain has been much slower to move away from classical education than the US. (Such education, although stretching back through the Renaissance, enjoyed another boom in the 1800s.) Parliamentary debates, and training for them by the upper classes, sets the tone for the rest of the society. (Well, that is my current thinking anyway.)

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  • Mickey Kaus writes at the Daily Caller:This is an interesting point: that the kind of "holistic" college admissions that the Supreme Court endorsed in its 2003 pro-affirmative action ruling in Grutter claims to evaluate everybody in some overall "holistic" sense that, in eff
  • I have often suspected chess rankings served as a kind of honest signal for expertise potential in the Soviet Empire. My experience in following the careers of researchers is that chess masters always turn into very productive scientists. There isn't much on the internet about it but Bankers Trust of New York seemed to have picked up on that in hiring currency traders in the 1990s. (e.g. There's a minor mention about this in…, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Dlugy )I wonder, do the Olympics and sports in general show something a similar pattern?

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