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Interesting article by The Economist on general intelligence and evolutionary psychology here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/06/quick-study-satoshi-kanazawa-intelligence?fb_ref=activity
Satoshi Kanazawa argues that
- Evolution already sufficiently equipped humans to deal with most problems.
- General intelligence is only useful for dealing with “evolutionarily novel” problems, which evolution is unable to prepare humans for.
- General intelligence is not useful for evolutionary matters (survival/finding a mate)
- In fact, it might be a disadvantage.
In addition, he argues that more intelligent people are more likely to have “evolutionarily novel” preferences as well, in ten different ways. I’m just going to copy and paste since i’m too lazy to summarise and paraphrase:
- Left wing liberals: “More intelligent people are more likely to be left-wing liberals because our ancestors were “conservative” by the contemporary American definition—they only cared about the well-being of their friends and family.”
- Atheists: “They are more likely to be atheist because the preferred theory in evolutionary psychology is that humans are designed to believe in God.”
- Nocturnal: “Intelligent people are more likely to be nocturnal because humans are designed to wake up when the sun comes up and go to sleep when the sun goes down.”
- Homosexual: “They are more likely to be homosexual, because humans are evolutionarily designed to reproduce heterosexually.”
- Mozart/Slash fan: “They are more likely to enjoy instrumental music because music in its evolutionary origin was vocal”
- Drinker/Smoker/Druggie: “they are more likely to consume alcohol, cigarettes and drugs because all of these substances are evolutionarily novel.”
- Keeper boys but skanky girls: “More intelligent boys (but not more intelligent girls) are more likely to grow up to value sexual exclusivity.”
- Grass-eater: “intelligent people are more likely to be vegetarians, because humans are evolutionarily designed to be omnivorous.”
- Law-abiders: “Criminals on average have lower intelligence than law-abiding citizens.”- because crimes are the natural means of competition and the checks on crime are evolutionarily novel
- Lousy mothers: ”Intelligent women make the worst kind of parents, simply because they are less likely to become parents in the first place.”
I find evolutionary psychology to be very interesting but nonetheless speculative. It could no doubt come up with explanations which make sense. But it cannot be proven. And in fact, it is easy to come up with another speculation/theory explaining a certain behaviour.
Kanazawa’s logic is basically to turn everything on its head (which admittedly sounds like something I would do) – if it is evolutionarily different/bad for you, more intelligent people will do it.
First, this depends on his definition of ‘general intelligence’ – it doesn’t actually make sense for a supposedly ‘intelligent’ person to do unintelligent things like binge drink, or have unhealthy sleep hours. It could be inferred that his definition of ‘general intelligence’ is one’s ability to function under certain new institutions, like tests and schools. Perhaps one explanation which supports his view is that a more intelligent person is more able to overcome evolutionary drives (i.e. to listen to your body/have a harem of beautiful women to mate with)
Second, his argument is as such: general intelligence adds nothing to evolutionary matters and only deals with things which are evolutionarily novel, hence it will more often than not gravitate towards the evolutionarily novel. There’s a leap of logic here. While I’m not saying it’s impossible, Kanazawa hasn’t shown why being more able to deal with X equals having a preference for X – and to the point that it could override evolutionary instincts.
In other words, he hasn’t shown why general intelligence, just because it can deal with evolutionarily novel issues, is at odds with basic evolutionary psychology – at least in the above article.
Nonetheless, it is a very interesting read. Now scroll back to the list of ten traits and see how high you score – apart from the Lousy Mothers one, that one is a bit early to tell. So out of the nine remaining traits, give yourself 2 points for having the trait for sure, 0 points for not having that trait, and 1 point if it’s a maybe. 18 is the highest score you can get, and 0 the lowest. And no, I’m not saying my score.
And I’m still quite amused at how by this theory more intelligent guys are loyal, but more intelligent girls are, in polite terms, “sexually less exclusive” – which is smart guys end up married to dumb women (if at all), and smart women end up getting boned by dumb jock after dumb jock ceteris paribus. It’s sexist, it’s stereotypical, but hey, Kanazawa also wrote about why black women are less attractive.
Skit (skit) – n. 1. A shitty play.
The past month has been swamped mainly by rehearsal after rehearsal – most of which were at least 4h, some of which went beyond 6h. Even SYF does not train as hard. I actually went for all of the rehearsals, apart from the time I went for someone’s 18th birthday party where everyone around was 18 or younger. Whether I was present for the entire duration is a different matter.
The original post I wrote on this topic was supposed to detail four key lessons I learnt about myself, with reference to other similar events (yes, events is a good euphemism) i.e. a change of command ceremony, a swimming event, em-ceeing. However, as three of the key lessons tread slightly into the realm of work. I have decided to just save the post, leave it unpublished, and post this truncated version.
What I can say is the fourth lesson, which is: Singing, acting, dancing (which I thankfully did not have to do) among other stage acts really aren’t my thing. I have considered one or two of the above (definitely not three) either previously in secondary school and/or for college. It could be fun at times, no doubt. But 1) it takes a lot of effort, practice and initial failure. I don’t have the patience for the initial tough part, let alone the repeated repeated honing with the hope of perfection in mind.
2) this one is personal: it’s just less fulfilling. There just isn’t that sense of satisfaction at going through the usual motion (after the repeated repeated honing). You’re just doing what you’ve been conditioned/trained to do for the past month. As a whole, drama in its entirety creates something organic. But from the individual perspective, you’re merely a small part of that. The individual recitation of lines is a routine rather than an art. The audience could appreciate it, but the player, if he thinks about it, doesn’t really. I am however grateful that I didn’t have any lines to memorise. There was only one short line on my script – and the rest was all improv like a Hong Kong movie.
Fine, there might be some satisfaction when it’s over. I got a damn good high rush when it was. But that’s like the kind of relief you get after you ‘recover’ from 15 minutes of being in push-up position.
Putting the two together, I personally don’t find that the result justifies the effort and/or time. But there’ll always be these people who really love drama and performing. I mean my ex is still having a drama production sometime next month (or was it next week?
I’m sick on that day either way ). I suppose that pure passion is the one thing which could justify an insane amount of effort.
Just to offer some perspective: how’s this different from debate? Here are six severely biased points. Note: I say different, not better or worse.
1) Debate is far less time consuming. Yes, you have to research to prep case, but no you won’t have one month to do so – unless you have four fucking motions, with both sides, in that detestable competition I don’t want to talk about. Those two are exceptions (and I just HAD TO get the exceptions last year). The equivalent will be to compare to having FOUR plays, rather than one. Once again, fuckyou prometheus.
2) Debate is less rehearsed and more organic. The only person who rehearses his speech is first prop. Everything else is improv. In fact, you can never foresee how things will go. In addition, the so called debate coach is usually far less intrusive than a drama director – in my experience at least. At least I don’t think a debate ‘coach’ will say “at the three minute mark, I want you to gesture like this.” You don’t want the rhetoric to belong to your scriptwriter, you want it to belong it to you.
3) Debate involves less people. The more people there are, the more time wasted. At any drama rehearsal, there will be people lazing around at the back of the audi, because it just isn’t their part and there’s not much for them to do.
4) Preparing for debate is more enriching than rehearsing for drama. Rehearsals only contribute to your performance in the play. General reading up and researching, on the other hand, broadens your knowledge. You gain more from it.
5) In drama, you actually have to give a damn about the audience. In debate, you only need to care about the other side and the adjudicator. Yes, it could be entertaining and spiced up either by pure rhetoric, or pure irreverence (Edward style) – but entertainment is secondary to whether or not you win the argument.
6) As a result of the previous point: in debate, you show how stupid the others are. In drama, you show the others how stupid you are.
Does this mean I will definitely continue debate in college? No (you don’t get your hopes up). But that one’s another discussion altogether. The bottom line at the moment is no, no singing, no acting, no stage performances – not because of the six reasons above, because time is precious. In the mean time, let me savour my first whiff of freedom with what little time I have left.
Here’s just a list of movies I’ve watched over the past week:
1. Inglourious basterds – Tarantino is a crazy director. Damn gory movie which was enough to make me cringe.
2. Moon – from the director of Source Code. About a man who discovers a clone of himself on the moon. I preferred Source Code a lot more though (and really loved it)
3. Pulp Fiction – Again, Tarantino is a crazy director. I liked it a lot more than Inglorious. It’s a work of art – and it’s funny seeing all these big actors in their younger days. The film is filled with big-name actors, The Lie To Me guy is in it (and he counts as a small fry). The number of epic moments with memorable quotes is insane.
“I want you to go in that bag and find my wallet”
“Which one is it?”
“It’s the one that says Bad Motherfucker.”
4. Dark Knit Roses – I mean, it’s Batman. “Dark Knit Roses” sounds like some dark romance movie with backstabbing and stuff.
5. Scott Pilgrim – Nonsense graphics about a guy having to fight seven evil ex-es. I really prefer the comic book instead.
6. In Bruges – Vulgar Brit Film with Colin Farrell being more Irish than ever. Two years ago, someone asked me to watch this. I procrastinated and procrastinated. About a hitman who killed a boy and is on a holiday in bruges. I actually quite liked this film compared to the rest, and I especially liked the angsty cynical Colin Farrell character.
“Because at least in prison and at least in death, you know, I wouldn’t be in fuckin’ Bruges. But then, like a flash, it came to me. And I realized, fuck man, maybe that’s what hell is: the entire rest of eternity spent in fuckin’ Bruges.”
(Read the above in Irish accent.) He really hates Bruges.
7. Catch me if you can – Di Crapio film, when he was younger.
8. Se7en – Brad Pitt film with a psycho killer that commits murders modeled after the seven vices. Anti-climatic.
Apparently, I watched two movies on one of the days…
Initially this was because I thought I ought to maximise my large com screen before leaving it behind. But what the heck, increasingly I think that I’m quite indifferent to screen size.
Go count the amount of time I spent on this: 2h+ per movie. The time is probably better spent going through my books – since I plan to bring only three books with me (for now at least). I still have no idea which three to bring with me.
It is not everyday that the lloyd feels satisfied. Even when my lazier half is dominant/active instead of the more driven half, there is this lingering dissatisfaction.
But I’m quite pleased right now in a rather ineffable and inexplicable way. I have no idea why I feel like this. Maybe its something in the food (it’s always the food, isn’t it) or maybe I’m just plain tired, and it’s time to sleep.
A former student of Dr Becker’s told me that he found many of his classmates to be remarkably amoral, a fact he took as a sign that they interpreted Dr Becker’s descriptive model of crime as prescriptive. They perceived any failure to commit a high-benefit crime with a low expected cost as a failure to act rationally, almost a proof of stupidity.
- Luigi Zingales, Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?
Raj Rajaratnam, Anil Kumar and Rajat Gupta – what’s the commonality? Apart from the glaringly obvious one that came to your mind instinctively, they are all business school graduates.
In his article “Do Business Schools Incubate Criminals?”, Zingales makes two arguments. First, there is a problem of business schools, or rather the teaching of Economics that makes people less ethical. Second, the solution to this problem is to teach ethics in business schools, or rather to elevate the status of an ethics class. From the way I’ve summed up and framed his article, some may already see where I’m going.
On his first point, I find it very interesting that students will increasingly accept a descriptive worldview as a prescriptive one – to weigh the benefits of crime against the costs of punishment. That’s only rational. It’s probably valid since there is empirical evidence showing that teaching economics affects behaviour.
But there are two possible alternative explanations:
a) Students aren’t learning from the descriptive model. They’re merely part of it. The model which describes people to weigh the benefits of crime against the chance and cost of getting caught applies to students who are rational players as well. I mean even thugs who have never been to school do that.
b) Students who go to business schools are predisposed to being ambitious, risk-taking and greedy – because that’s where the money is.
But regardless of A and B being present (they probably are), an Economics class probably further emphasizes such calculations and makes them even more aware of such a decision making process.
The more problematic part would be his second argument – that the solution is then to teach ethics in business schools.
First of all, ethics isn’t clear cut. I might be wrong about this – but an ethics class isn’t just going to be about issuing a fixed code of conduct as per the ten commandments. It’s about thinking through the issues, and perhaps even questioning what is ethical and unethical. A student may at the end of his contemplation reach the conclusion that there is arguably nothing wrong with catering to customer’s addictions (read: demand from advertising) or getting a government deal at the expense of consumers. The writer assumes that such acts are unethical, but even these examples are in a grey area.
Even if an ethics class is strictly prescriptive, it doesn’t necessarily translate into ethical behaviour. I once spent quite a long time preparing a presentation on why eating meat is unethical, but proceeded to happily eat roast pork noodles right after the presentation. My social studies class didn’t make me any more patriotic…THAN I ALREADY AM.
It is precisely because ethics are so fluid and hard to pin down that they are easily discarded of. More importantly, I doubt that an ethics class is enough to outweigh the potential benefits projected from a crime. With the exception of viscerally unconscionable acts such as murder/torture/rape, people avoid committing crimes not because it is unethical, but because there are legal repercussions. This is especially so when there is so much money at stake, and you can’t directly see the negative impact on another person.
What then is the alternative?
1. Religion: Human beings need to be policed. And when a system is unable to sufficiently police them, get a supernatural being to monitor them. Or at least the thought of a supernatural being. But there are two flaws to this: First, atonement/confession etc etc – they might still go ahead with their wrongdoing. Second, the mismanagement of funds isn’t reallyyy a sin right? Or at least members of churches don’t seem to be thinking so lately.
2. Some way to make them more conscious of the risk i.e. highlight the fact that there is a lot to be lost. Instead of attempting to circumvent their economic way of making decisions, it might be better to work within such an existing framework. If teaching economics makes students more conscious about weighing the risk of crime against its potential benefits, could there be the same influence by teaching a seemingly descriptive model which is risk averse?
What is the problem with this alternative: 1. It might end up with more risk averse business students as a whole, which from a business point of view, probably isn’t a good thing. 2. It might not even be possible in the first place – in the face of students who are greedy to begin with and the risk-taking which I presume (but might be wrong about) that a business school is meant to encourage.
Third and most puzzling. I again presume that prospect theory or something about risk is already taught. Doesn’t it make sense to keep the millions you already have – than to risk all that you have – not only in terms of money, but the more intangible elements of way of life and social stigma, just for a bit more money? Evidently, something is missing from the equation.
So maybe business schools do incubate criminals, maybe they even attract them. But the way to counter it isn’t through an ethics class. Businessmen don’t need a class in ethics: they need a strong reminder that a criminal act is a risk not worth taking. In the face of greed and human nature, it still wouldn’t be easy. But I think it’s better than a class in ethics.
Over the past two days, I managed to cover more than four books – all while having the time to meet quite a number of people outside. I’m not too sure how I did it, but part of it can be traced to not turning on my computer at all ^^
But anyway, here are some of the books that I’ve read in the two days:
1. Superman Red Son: a comic book where Superman was born/found in the Soviet Union instead of the USA. Superman tries to create world peace by becoming leader of the Soviet Union, with USA being the last strongholds of capitalism (Chile too, but who gives a damn about them in a comic book). Features a Russian Batman also. Has a mind-blowing conclusion.
P.S. Can someone seriously tell me how ‘son’ and ‘sun’ are pronounced differently? When my friend told me abt Red Son, I kept thinking it was Red Sun (Red Alert + Tiberian Sun, or something). Good pun though.
2. Zero Degrees of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen: Written by a psychology professor who happens to be cousin of Borat. Argues that at the root of evil, cruelty and various personality disorders is a lack of empathy.
3. The Tell-Tale Brain by V.S. Ramachandran: Uses a lot of brain parts terminology (think dentromedial prefrontal, anterior cingulate cortex), but fascinating. Plain fascinating – especially all the narratives of patients and their funny ailments from seeing colours in numbers to being able to recognise the face of one’s mother, yet think she’s an imposter. The book’s scope is quite big, trying to cover topics like language and art as well – but underlying it is one theme: “Is man an ape or angel?”
4. On Desire by William B. Irvine. – a book I read while still in BMT, but after two years plus, it’s worth re-reading. Covers multiple aspects of desire, from the biological element to how different groups of religions and philosophies deal with it. Found parts about the Amish way of life and the chapter on Eccentrics most interesting.
I would include the super thick commentary on the Gospel of John – but it’s a bit depressing to plow through such a thick book slowly with an end which feels so far away.
Philosophy, psychology and comic books – it almost sounds as if I’m preparing for college already.
Okay, I was joking. Maybe not the philosophy part.
Will I ever do book reviews? Unlikely, I’ll probably present snippets (if im ever too free in future). Because summarising an idea or copy and pasting is so much easier. Hate coming up with reviews.
Waking up in the morning with a sore throat, i couldn’t help but to wonder if it was mono. Mononucleosis is a saliva transmitted throat infection. In other words, it is a kissing disease much like meningitis, just less severe. Mono is also the latest scare in HC debate.
(If you tilt your head to the side, you will see a Red Monkey.)
(If you tilt your head to the other side, the monkey has tilted its head to the other side.)
I try to think back if I’ve had contact with the known Mono vector. Nope. Only stole him for the night to talk about the brain. Heh.
But I had contact with other people, and what if what if they all have mono already :O we probably are capable of passing it on even before exhibiting symptoms. After all, such things probably spread quite fast in hc debate (My theory: guy to guy to guy to each of their
beards girlfriends etc etc)
It turns out that most of us who were at the tea party the other day all have some form of sore throat now. But with the exception of the church-going goodchristiangirls whom the good Lord hath protected from the pestilence and plague!! His hand of protection resteth over them all like over the Israelites in Exodus who smeared blood on their doorpost!! None of that for the rest of you godless heathens -_- You too may be creations of god, made equal and in his image too, but your unbelief – your unbelief alone shall be sufficient to condemn your throat to itchy infection for all eternity!!!!!
But I digress. Its probably more convenient for me to attribute the sore throat to something else: like eating a whole mango the size of a papaya by myself (very heaty), or singing a heck lot the day before, or the whiskey on rocks I had. Quite possible. All quite possible.
The host that night told me to appreciate his mixes because the only thing I’ll get in college will be like having to drink whiskey straight.
My response was ehhh I don’t get it? – and didn’t bother with any of the mixes still.
This is my latest purchase for the next four years:
Expecting a wee bit of initial buyer’s regret when I actually collect them.
Might take a bit to reassure my roommate to avoid funny probing questions, without looking overly defensive…
Maybe I should paste a poster of scantily clad women on the wall beside me.
The place should be quite accepting right..