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Bloggingheads 02-06-2010 03:03 AM

Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 

claymisher 02-06-2010 03:09 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
I see everybody's favorite amateur racist pseudoscientist is back. Yay!

Wonderment 02-06-2010 05:13 AM

Smart political leaders?
 
I wouldn't worry much about whether political leaders are too "lawyer-like" and not sufficiently trained in science. There are plenty of scientific experts to consult with and rely upon.

The bigger -- and perennial -- problem is how disingenuous a leader may be, how self-interested, how ideologically driven, how Machiavellian.

In a word, character.

Personal ethics matter and so do personality traits like self-esteem (or lack thereof).

Example: It's not so much whether or not Al Gore understands global warming better than Bush. What matters more is how much political expediency figures into Gore's (or anyone's) calculations. Gore might well have been willing to dump a sound environmental plan in order to get re-elected, to win one key state's electoral vote, to enhance or impede a rival's prospects.

Did it take someone smart and scientific to see through GW Bush's lies about Iraq? (I'd expect lawyers to be better at assessing truthfulness than scientists, actually). Or was it that 9/11 hysteria infected even good minds?

Did Hillary Clinton vote for the Iraq war on principle, on brains, on her "gut" or on her ambition? Did lawyer John Edwards support it because he trusted the CIA intelligence (no pun intended), because he couldn't resist the bullying temperament of a Dick Cheney, or because he was distracted by family problems?

Or take an issue like same-sex marriage: A smart constitutional law professor like Obama may be capable of reasoning that opposition to gay marriage is mainly based on superstition and fundamentalist religious beliefs. But he may also continue to oppose gay and lesbian rights for a variety of reasons: cowardice, influence of others, the idea that his health care reform agenda is too important to jeopardize by supporting an unpopular civil rights issue.

Baltimoron 02-06-2010 07:23 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
I'm sure Sir Charles is freaking over his brand image, not whether he's authentic. What the average person - duped into believing s/he needs a trademark, because s/he wants to wake up with Jessica Alba - thinks is probably going to be much more interesting.

Anyone who can juggle multiple-digit-and-character terms in their head deserves respect, and I know it won't be me. I guess that relegates me to the pool of morons stuck describing women with primary colors.

My question is: what is it about humans and human evolution, that we fixate on these secondary characteristics?

JonIrenicus 02-06-2010 07:27 AM

Charles vs Snoop video
 
This important documentary footage was missing from the links, so here it is.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T59G76NE6KY

consider 02-06-2010 07:56 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Really interesting this week with a good mix of topics.

Oh, Stephen King did win a Hugo Award a few years ago.

JonIrenicus 02-06-2010 09:00 AM

Complexity of intelligence across large numbers of genes not a problem
 
This came up in the log and deserves a focus. Eli had it exactly right.


http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/258...5:18&out=35:58



One of the objections to any hope of improving peoples/childrens aptitude is the notion that there is no easy on/off switch, or an easy handful of genes that can be selected for or against.




That is only an issue, as Eli said, if you are going for a specific combination. You can still take a decent set of samples, score them, and pick the best of the bunch.


With time, and increasing gene sequences and data analysis, you should be able to glean statistical correlations based of different gene combinations. Once you have that, you can select for something more optimal.


It is still true that a smarter couple going through the process will have a "higher yield" of kids over a certain aptitude threshold once the screening takes place compared to say a couple who were both mentally retarded. But the process still allows an upwards selection pressure for more desirable traits in an absolute sense, if not in a relative sense across the entire human population.



Now for those paying attention, they may wonder if there is no relative improvement compared to other individuals or other groups then what is the point?

The point is that it is not all about iq and aptitude. That once you are above certain flexible thresholds it becomes far more about what you put into something than innate capacities. Exactly where a more just universe would place things.



I think there is a far greater societal benefit from having an iq bump of say 90 to 120 than from 140 to 170.


That is the point. An absolute shift of aptitude would be a net gain to us all, even if there was no relative aptitude gain.

student 02-06-2010 09:49 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Razib Khan... Why the hell is this fool even on here? The guy is an amateur (make that professional) racialist.

"The race science proves the breakdown of humans into the races, and those who don't fit this outdated 18th century biological model (90% of humans) should be described as a mixture of the races!!"

He's a complete joke.

PS - I loved the expression of Eliezer throughout this section.

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 11:10 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
This was a delightful conversation to listen to, loaded though the topics obviously are. Very deftly handled by both, I thought, and I would love to hear more from this pairing.

BornAgainDemocrat 02-06-2010 11:11 AM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Razib Kahn is no fool and doesn't tolerate racists on his website, GeneExpression. He is interested in human cultural and biological diversity and the ways they interact, both historically and in the contemporary world. Granted, that is a cultural minefield, but he explores it with unusual care, learning, and intelligence.

His Bangaldeshi background is a disinhibiting factor, no doubt. It allows him to walk sure-footedly where others fear to tread. Personally I find that refreshing.

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 11:17 AM

Re: Smart political leaders?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 149928)
I wouldn't worry much about whether political leaders are too "lawyer-like" and not sufficiently trained in science. There are plenty of scientific experts to consult with and rely upon.

I don't completely disagree with you, especially as you expand upon this in the part of your comment I didn't quote, but I would say that there is at least something to this worry. One can imagine a political leader so insufficiently familiar with science and scientific thinking that he or she is overly swayed by emotional, rhetorical, religious, etc. appeals on topics that ought to be much more rationally considered.

Also, one has to have some basic appreciation for a given field even to be able to decide in the first place who should be picked as advisors, who should be trusted as experts, etc. See, for example, Stalin and Lysenko.

I hasten to add that I have no wish to be ruled by scientists. The arrogance of physicists ("because I am smart about this, I can derive everything from first prinicples") is quite familiar to me. I am just saying that I think there is something very real and quite serious to worry about when a political class is innumerate.

tickknob 02-06-2010 12:43 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
UN demographers project a peak of world population in about 40 years followed by long term decline. In 250 years we could have a population of 2 billion, the majority of whom will be over 65 and a significant percentage over 100. That anybody concerned about the future of the species doesn't find that interesting is very strange.

Starwatcher162536 02-06-2010 12:47 PM

Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 149938)
That is the point. An absolute shift of aptitude would be a net gain to us all, even if there was no relative aptitude gain.

I have noticed that the view that we would be better off with a more intelligent population is usually stated as a given, but I am not so sure the evidence points that way.

One reason I am hesitant to agree with you is that in many situations trying to make a mental framework describing the dynamics of the relevant system is so complex that a sort of "utility saturation" occurs, i.e.; A strong diminishing returns exists with regards to utility gained per increase in intelligence. If what is previously stated is true, then it follows that intelligence isn't very important for many jobs whose role it is to somehow predict the aggregate response of a multi-faceted system to arbitrary stimuli (Stock market/economy at large is what I am thinking of here). At the end of the day, someone with an IQ of 300 won't be much better then someone with an IQ of 100, both are merely guessing*.

Another reason I am hesitant to agree with you is that I have noticed that the highly intelligent seem to have trouble in fulfilling the obligations required to keep a repetitive job. They have trouble maintaining focus, so they tend to accrue many careless errors. I have had both repetitive where little actual thought is required and somewhat intellectually demanding jobs, the people who were smarter then me tended perform lower then me in the former, and higher then me in the latter. Most jobs in this economy are probably nothing but the memorization of many simplistic algorithms.

*I hate it when I agree with social conservatives. lol.

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 12:54 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by tickknob (Post 149950)
UN demographers project a peak of world population in about 40 years followed by long term decline. In 250 years we could have a population of 2 billion, the majority of whom will be over 65 and a significant percentage over 100. That anybody concerned about the future of the species doesn't find that interesting is very strange.

I don't think you've characterized Eliezer's views quite correctly. Remember, he believes The Singularity will happen long before 250 years or whenever from now -- i.e., before population problems become severe, so basically, his attitude is, there's no point in fretting about overpopulation at some point beyond The Singularity, because we simply have no way of knowing what fundamental changes will happen before, nor do we know how the effects of these changes will ripple outward. Recall that in the diavlog, he said (paraphrasing): "If something is predicted to be a big problem in ten years, then I care. If it's a hundred years, I don't."

Now, you of course may not share his views about the coming Singularity, whether how soon or how profound. But if you accept his views for the sake of argument, then his view that there's no point in worrying about something to happen centuries from now is quite reasonable.

Just for the record: I think we already have an overpopulation problem, though I do not care to launch that particular debate again.

claymisher 02-06-2010 12:57 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by BornAgainDemocrat (Post 149944)
Razib Kahn is no fool and doesn't tolerate racists on his website, GeneExpression. He is interested in human cultural and biological diversity and the ways they interact, both historically and in the contemporary world. Granted, that is a cultural minefield, but he explores it with unusual care, learning, and intelligence.

His Bangaldeshi background is a disinhibiting factor, no doubt. It allows him to walk sure-footedly where others fear to tread. Personally I find that refreshing.

Razib Kahn tolerates just as much racism on his site as he can get away with.

Yeah, white people love Bangladeshis who think blacks are mentally inferior. Makes them feel less racist about their racism. It's amazing that in 2010 the elite class has gone back to thinking black people are genetically inferior.

claymisher 02-06-2010 12:58 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149943)
This was a delightful conversation to listen to, loaded though the topics obviously are. Very deftly handled by both, I thought, and I would love to hear more from this pairing.

Jesus Keefe, I'd have never thought you'd give a bigot like Razib Khan a pass.

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 01:03 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Shorter Starwatcher:

Quote:

"I'm really awfully glad I'm a Beta ..."
.

(?)

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 01:06 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149956)
Jesus Keefe, I'd have never thought you'd give a bigot like Razib Khan a pass.

I only know Razib from his appearances on Bh.tv. Judging from them, I haven't heard anything to suggest that he's a bigot.

IIRC, you know more about his work elsewhere. If you would like to point me somewhere, I'd be happy to have a look.

Uhurusasa 02-06-2010 01:08 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
hmmm, side-stepping the question of who should be the arbiter, this conversation reminds me of two things my grandfather told me:

1. i am a fool if i try to reason with one.

2. there is no fool like an educated fool.

and i think Eli did a bad job of telling one of my favorite jokes! yeah, yeah, yeah, hopefully i am crazy, not stupid!!!!

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 01:21 PM

Re: Charles vs Snoop video
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 149931)
This important documentary footage was missing from the links, so here it is.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T59G76NE6KY

ROFL! That was just wonderful -- thanks for digging it up. Two of my favorite personalities.

I really liked the observation Kenny the Jet made at the end, too.

claymisher 02-06-2010 01:35 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bjkeefe (Post 149958)
I only know Razib from his appearances on Bh.tv. Judging from them, I haven't heard anything to suggest that he's a bigot.

IIRC, you know more about his work elsewhere. If you would like to point me somewhere, I'd be happy to have a look.

The whole gnxp deal is dedicated to the premise that blacks are teh dumb, jews are AWESOME!! and everybody else is above average. They use cute code words like "human biodiversity" and "race realist" but it's completely obvious what their score is. Just look at the blogroll: Steve Sailer and Charles Murray.

I bet Bob Wright is another "race realist" but is too chicken to say so. Why else would he keep bringing racists like Razib on?

If Razib thinks that black folks have the same innate mental capabilities as everybody else all he has to do is say so. Don't hold your breath.

Starwatcher162536 02-06-2010 01:36 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Huh?

Starwatcher162536 02-06-2010 01:38 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Race is overblown. Anyone who has looked at the issue realizes that it is truly lefties that are the superior breed.

:D

wreaver 02-06-2010 01:44 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
You're going to get this quoted by people...

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/258...8:59&out=49:12

"The standard scientific training does not appear to me to produce much in the way of sanity. Computer programmers seem to, or at least good computer programmers seem to me to be saner than scientists, possibly even saner than good scientists." -- Eliezer Yudkowsky

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 01:48 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 149963)
Huh?

Did you click all links in my previous post?

Starwatcher162536 02-06-2010 01:51 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
I have never read Brave New World

wreaver 02-06-2010 02:05 PM

Re: Complexity of intelligence across large numbers of genes not a problem
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 149938)
I think there is a far greater societal benefit from having an iq bump of say 90 to 120 than from 140 to 170.

What is and what isn't to societies benefit depends on what goals you have chosen for society. I.e., it's subjective.

Also, I don't think people are (in general) motivated, with this, to make decisions to societies benefit.

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 02:05 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149962)
The whole gnxp deal is dedicated to the premise that blacks are teh dumb, jews are AWESOME!! and everybody else is above average.

Obviously, I don't endorse that view. Everyone knows Jews are teh suxx.

Whoa! NOT what I meant to say!

But seriously, of course that is a highly offensive point of view, not to mention mathematically implausible. I am going to guess, however, that "the whole gnxp deal" is a little more nuanced than that, as much as I respect your take on things in general.

Quote:

They use cute code words like "human biodiversity" and "race realist" but it's completely obvious what their score is. Just look at the blogroll: Steve Sailer and Charles Murray.
That seems troubling on the face of it, I agree. On the other hand, not everyone endorses all views of everyone he or she blogrolls.

Quote:

I bet Bob Wright is another "race realist" but is too chicken to say so. Why else would he keep bringing racists like Razib on?
Perhaps because he doesn't share your take, or perhaps, even if he somewhat shares your assessment of Razib's views on race, he thinks that Razib is not all bad? I have no reason whatsoever to think that Bob is a "race realist" or any other kind of cryptoracist.

Quote:

If Razib thinks that black folks have the same innate mental capabilities as everybody else all he has to do is say so. Don't hold your breath.
I won't. But, as I say, from what I know of him from Bh.tv, I have so far found him well worth listening to. If he's got some blind spots, or flaws, or objectionable views, well, that is sad, but it's not a deal-breaker for me.

It also occurs to me that somewhere in this diavlog, he said some things that could be combined to produce that statement. IIRC, there was something about there being very few genes involved in confidently predicting skin color, while it's becoming ever more likely that intelligence, however one wants to measure it, is not even close to being determined by just a few genes. I also think I remember him saying something about intelligence not being completely genetically determined, no matter how many genes are involved.

So, maybe he does not say what you would like him to say explicitly because he thinks it's ludicrous to have to say that?

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 02:08 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 149970)
I have never read Brave New World

Far be it from me to adopt an imperious tone, but ... you should.

Peter Twieg 02-06-2010 02:10 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149962)
If Razib thinks that black folks have the same innate mental capabilities as everybody else all he has to do is say so. Don't hold your breath.

It's somewhat alarming that you seem to care more about Razib possibly having un-PC beliefs than having false beliefs. If he were actually correct in his assertions, would you still be attacking him? If not, why not just attack the assertions rather than just attempting to label his beliefs as being innately contemptible?

claymisher 02-06-2010 02:13 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Twieg (Post 149975)
It's somewhat alarming that you seem to care more about Razib possibly having un-PC beliefs than having false beliefs. If he were actually correct in his assertions, would you still be attacking him? If not, why not just attack the assertions rather than just attempting to label his beliefs as being innately contemptible?

And the racists come out.

Ocean 02-06-2010 02:16 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Just a technicality, but Down syndrome is a trisomy, total or partial of (most commonly) chromosome 21. It is a defect in meiosis (the division of chromosomes/ DNA that produces reproductive cells with half of the genetic material).

Peter Twieg 02-06-2010 02:17 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149976)
And the racists come out.

How was anything I wrote remotely racist?

wreaver 02-06-2010 02:19 PM

Re: Does intelligence really matter as much as we think it does?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Starwatcher162536 (Post 149951)
I have noticed that the view that we would be better off with a more intelligent population is usually stated as a given, but I am not so sure the evidence points that way.

It would depend on the environment and what your goals are. But, you're right in that, in general, increased intelligence is not necessarily better. It could be. But it might not be.

For example, if your goal is (genetic) fitness, then in a "nut shell", it's all about having kids (and your kids having kids, etc). In some (but not all) environments, higher intelligence decreases your (genetic) fitness.

claymisher 02-06-2010 02:28 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Razib Khan is Steve Sailer light, and that ain't great.

If Razib is too chicken to say where he stands either way than fuck him. Either he's going to piss off his racist pals or he's going to get booted from decent society.

claymisher 02-06-2010 02:29 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Twieg (Post 149978)
How was anything I wrote remotely racist?

You didn't. You played the "have the courage to admit blacks are inferior!" card, which is total fucking bullshit.

JonIrenicus 02-06-2010 02:33 PM

Re: Complexity of intelligence across large numbers of genes not a problem
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by wreaver (Post 149972)
What is and what isn't to societies benefit depends on what goals you have chosen for society. I.e., it's subjective.

Also, I don't think people are (in general) motivated, with this, to make decisions to societies benefit.

Agreed, but I think the individual benefit would be greater as well.


To pick up on a doubt about a higher iq population being better for people/groups with lower average aptitude, it is.

I think this is so because in the society we have today there is such a thing as diminishing returns on raw iq and aptitude. The benefits and gains are not distributed continuously.


Just a guess though, pure speculation.

rcocean 02-06-2010 02:38 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Twieg (Post 149978)
How was anything I wrote remotely racist?

Peter = unconsciously racist

Clay = just unconscious

bjkeefe 02-06-2010 02:39 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149980)
Razib Khan is Steve Sailer light, and that ain't great.

If Razib is too chicken to say where he stands either way than fuck him. Either he's going to piss off his racist pals or he's going to get booted from decent society.

I don't think it's fair to call him "chicken" when an equally likely explanation, at least as far as I can tell from how he presents himself here, is that he finds the accusation/challenge absurd and feels it would be beneath him to respond to it.

That said, you may be right in your assessment. As I said, I don't know anything about what he's said or written elsewhere. All I can go by for now is how he has come across to me on Bh.tv.

I do agree with you that one sad reality of someone who is interested in topics that edge up to these uncomfortable places is that such a person tends to attract a large number of clearly distasteful admirers. Razib's anecdote in the diavlog about how many white supremacists were overjoyed by his blog post on the Ashkenazi Jews was illustrative.

Peter Twieg 02-06-2010 02:41 PM

Re: Science Saturday: Gulping Down the Potion of Health
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by claymisher (Post 149981)
You didn't. You played the "have the courage to admit blacks are inferior!" card, which is total fucking bullshit.

No, I didn't.

I was just pointing out that you seem more intent on labeling people as racist than proving that they're wrong. So of course there's more than a hint of irony in labeling someone as racist for mentioning this.

Do I need to explain why this is a terrible (albeit often effective) rhetoric practice?


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