Simfish/InquilineKea's Thoughts

okay new blog
November 21, 2010, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized is my new dump of random thoughts (it will have many insights but it will also be a mess to navigate). My best posts will stay here.


21 November, 2010 13:28
November 21, 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s possible that academic achievement is highly heritable for factors totally unrelated to intelligence. And executive function is *far* easier to improve than intelligence.

And holy crap – I’ve just realized – a lot of measurement tests (that might be used for IQ tests) measure executive function (or maybe just indirectly measure them – does anyone know if ADD negatively affects IQ for reasons unrelated to intelligence?). It’s entirely possible that much of the correlation between IQ and genetics could be attributed to the heritability of executive function. This could be somewhat good news for those who don’t want their intelligence to be imprisoned by their genes (as executive function is easier to "correct" than intelligence).

Posted by: Simfish InquilineKea (simfish) | May 16, 2008 4:28 AM

List of my more intelligent/insightful threads
November 20, 2010, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Most of these threads are about educational systems. Bear in mind that some of my old posts are intensely embarrassing. Anyways, you don’t have to agree with these posts – as long as they stimulate discussion and thought – it’s okay.

directories, simfish You are subscribed to this thread List of Interactive Programs/Software/Applets

Some of the best threads:
Cheap college programs (like the Humanities) subsidize expensive ones (like medicine)
If the education bubble collapses, will it be the end of “blue skies research”?
Abolish the SAT – article explains that SAT I measures nothing SAT IIs can measure
Homeschooling + Polyphasic sleep (or modafinil) – Very crazy idea, and I wouldn’t advocate it anymore. But it still has some points (you can actually do a lot by using the extreme case to motivate the development of a less extreme case)
Poor men are finding it increasingly difficult to date (income disparity)
The future sustainability of AoKH/HG (me posting as Pauken)

Old Academy Forum Posts (many, many interesting ideas)

List of intelligent/insightful threads I’ve commented on:

MIT Admissions Have Become A Complete Joke (*huge* thread started by a troll – best discussion is in the middle).
Is college becoming harder or easier as the decades pass?
My take on why you don’t really have to be a genius to get a PhD in physics

Heavengames threads (must register to view): Few things are more embarrassing than checking my old threads in the KoRT archive.
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Interesting threads:
Caltech class sizes and the “Rule of 150

Threads with potential (but didn’t get good discussion):
have you noticed that improvements in writing skills often seem to saturate?
Is understanding one branch of math conducive to understanding another?
Time Perception – YES, IT IS SUBJECTIVE
Some others:

Crazy ideas:
Why do people sleep on beds?

Meh threads:

InquilineKea’s Guide to Self-Studying a Course
Basin of Attraction Theory
Master List of EPGY/Multivariable-Related Links
Alternatives to Coursework as Means of Demonstrating Knowledge
People should be able to earn credit toward college degrees by taking standard tests
Have you seen obvious discrepancies between a person’s ambitions and…
How quickly do you get emotionally attached to someone?
Teacher attitudes towards skipping courses
Systemizing/Empathy/Autism Quotient Tests
Why do people play the same maps over and over again? (AoKH)
Scientists with low IQs
Is object oriented programming unnecessary for scientific applications?
Which fields have the longest solutions to problems?

Random surveys on interesting subjects:
Do you have friends with anyone in the bottom half of your class?
Poll: What math sequence were you in for school?

Thoughts on IQ (I should expand this)
November 18, 2010, 3:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Note: I *do* believe that IQ scores measure something. The fact is that you can’t deny their high heritability of 0.8 with parental IQ, so SOMETHING must have been inherited. The real question is how well IQ scores actually explain performance in the real world, and whether they explain performance better for some groups than other groups (in particular, I would expect that IQ scores are less predictive of performance in areas of high environmental variability *and* among non-neurotypicals [especially those with autism, ADHD, or

Okay, some facts about IQ that need to bear mentioning:

– Just because you have an IQ of 130 doesn’t mean that your IQ is actually 130. The fact is, if everyone retook the test 2-3 times (and many people DO take the test multiple times and the institution will usually take the best score they got), then a person with IQ scores of 120, 123, and 130 could say that his IQ is 130, and a person with IQ scores of 129,129, and 129 can only say that his IQ is 129. If 2.6% of the population got an IQ of over 130 on a particular IQ test, then MORE THAN 2.6% of the population can claim to have an IQ of over 130 simply because some people will score higher than 130 on some tests but not others. I’m not sure how high people’s test scores usually vary though (my impression is that it isn’t very high, except possibly among certain severe ADHD sufferers). If you took their *average* score, it would probably be a better metric, but it would then discount the people whose IQs have improved after studying (and yes, there are some people who can improve their IQ scores after studying – in fact – I have not seen anything saying that none of the subskills are not improvable – other than perhaps reaction time). And just because you’ve improved after 4 months of studying doesn’t mean that your IQ is lower than other people with the same IQ score as you (since they may have started out doing things that tend to improve IQ scores. Vocabulary, in particular, is prominent on the verbal component of IQ tests, and is extremely improvable, even though many people don’t improve their vocabulary even after months of studying)

Furthermore, some people are naturally more prone to stupid mistakes than others, and some people may not even have the motivation to do their best on IQ tests.

I’m not saying that these degrade the validity of IQ tests. Personally, I think these factors don’t affect IQ distributions by much in THIS environment, but if IQ tests were used instead of SAT tests for college admissions, then it may create a systematic bias in favor of certain groups that study harder. In PARTICULAR, what puzzles me the MOST is why many people DON’T score higher on the Verbal SAT after retakes EVEN THOUGH the Verbal SAT was 50% vocabulary before its last revision (and vocabulary is DEFINITELY improvable). Also, this creates a systematic bias in favor of people who easily memorize definitions.

– According to CTY, people must be at least in the 99.5th percentile to get into its programs (since students have to qualify through a proxy for IQ first, and then score in a certain percentile on the SAT). That corresponds to an IQ of ~140. Having met many people who have gone to CTY programs, I’ll definitely say that they’re much smarter than average, but not necessarily at the level of 140 (or the 99.5th percentile). Furthermore, people’s IQs will saturate at a certain age, so some people’s IQ might saturate at age 13 whereas other IQs might saturate at age 16. The MOST extreme example of this: 6 month olds chimpanzees are actually SMARTER than 6 month old humans (simply because chimps mature faster). I’m quite sure that 6 month old crows are even SMARTER (because they mature even faster). The amount of material 6 month old crows learn and process would EASILY put 6 month old humans to shame.

– Fluid IQ increases to the age of around 16, after which it starts to gradually decline. ALSO, since females mature earlier than males, there is some evidence that their IQs also peak earlier than males. Furthermore, the correlation between parental IQ and child IQ increases monotonically with age to around 0.8 in adulthood. This means that childhood IQ scores (and many have last taken it in childhood) cannot be taken as authoritative.

– Since environmental factors contribute MORE to IQ in childhood than adulthood, we may actually estimate that CTY students (most of whom probably have been exposed to far more enriching behavior than average) will probably regress towards the mean once they become adults.

– Furthermore, IQ at a certain age is compared to ALL people of a certain age. The problem is that people’s IQs all decline at different rates (the brain definitely starts shrinking in one’s 20s), and this decline is often highly dependent on environmental factors such as nutrition (basically, diabetes and high blood glucose means higher decline) and cardiovascular health (more efficient hearts will pump more blood to the brain and slow the decline in IQ). Plus, decline is also dependent on genetic factors. So, an athletic person with consistently low blood glucose levels could EASILY have an age-16 IQ of 120 and an age-50 IQ of 150, simply because his IQ didn’t decline as fast as most people his age.

– Also, IQ scores fail to predict academic performance among Aspies. More of my thoughts here:

Sometimes, the most successful people come from unexpected places
November 13, 2010, 3:13 pm
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I wouldn’t say that this happens most of the time. But it certainly *does* happen. Here are some signs of it:

Also, more evidence from Dean Simonton’s (and Feist’s) books on scientific creativity

13 November, 2010 14:34
November 13, 2010, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Note: this post is high on philosophical jargon. There are nice wikipedia (and stanford encyclopedia of philosophy) entries on b-theory, deep ecology, total utility, and utilitarianism.

Hypothesis: Assume b-theory of time *and* assume deep ecology *and* assume utilitarianism (as applied to deep ecology)

If you subscribe to the b-theory of time (which most philosophers of science see to do), then the “deep ecology” conception of environmentalism is flawed.

The reason being that life will inevitably be extinguished. But despite that, the Earth has still enjoyed several billion years of life (life without human intervention). Sure, many habitats are currently being destroyed. But the environment will only be destroyed for a very small portion of time compared to the total amount of time that life has enjoyed without human intervention (and according to the b-theory of time, the present is no more “significant” than the past). In fact, this will be true even if life continues on earth for 1 more billion years (and fact is, life as we know it cannot continue for more than ~1 billion years, because by then, the Sun’s luminosity will be sufficiently high enough to boil away the earth’s oceans). By then, human technology will be the only way to ensure that life will continue.

Okay sure, a deep ecologist might want to maximize the total utility of the biosphere (and argue that reducing human activity will reduce it, even though the total impact of human activity will still only be limited to a very small fraction of the total utility of the biosphere integrated over time dating back to 4.6 billion years ago). After all, f(t) = U(t)*(4*10^9 + 1000) is still bigger than f(t) = U(t)*4*10^9. So conclusion: if you subscribe to all three theories, your total impact will be very small (unless you can find a way to migrate Earth’s biosphere into another stellar system before the Sun goes red giant). In any case, if the hypothesis (heat death of the universe) holds [and the evidence for that outcome seems to be rather high], then the impact of any person will be very limited.

Of course, his judgment of total utility is subjective [it depends on how much you weigh factors such as biomass, the well-being of “sentient” creatures, and other factors].

Also, this does in no way argue against environmentalism if you’re an environmentalist due to human concerns. There are many valid reasons for that. It also doesn’t argue against deep ecology *without* the b-theory of time. Most people do not view the present as less significant to the past. It’s antithetical to human survival, after all. The philosophically unsophisticated may, for example, weigh the well-being of charismatic creatures higher than that of uncharismatic creatures. They may also weigh certain intervals of time with higher importance than other intervals of time. Many implications of utilitarianism, in any case, go against people’s moral intuitions.


The b-theory of time also brings up interesting new ways to analyze utilitarianism. Since again, the present is no more “significant” than the past. In any case, assuming b-theory of time, you can then analyze total utility by integrating the total sum of “utility” (experienced by all sentient beings) over time (you can then divide it by the total number of individuals [each weighted by their level of sentience] if you wish).

1 November, 2010 18:53
November 1, 2010, 6:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

there are consequences of granting someone (P1) increased authority to do X.

you may favor "do X" over "no action". but when you grant P1 increased authority to do X, you also risk having P1 do action X2.

and your preference ranking might be along the lines of X > no action > X2. In which case you may decide not to grant P1 increased authority.

This is sort of like what Evan Bayh said when he said that he would not support granting Bush the authority to do something to Iran. He said that he would probably vote for the proposal in other cases, but not when Bush was in office (because "we cannot trust this administration")