Maybe you’re one of the tiny minority of programmers that, like me, already enjoys writing documentation and works hard at doing it right. If so,the rest of this essay is not for you and you can skip it. Otherwise, you might want to re-read (or at least re-skim) Ground-Truth Documents before continuing. Because ground-truth documents… Continue reading Documentation as knowledge capture
One of the loonier and more wonderful conspiracy theories floating around the Internet is it many of the world’s elite are shapeshifting lizardoid extraterrestrials. This explainer seems to sum it up pretty well. When I first encountered this idea I was gobsmacked. How could anyone actually believe such a thing? And yet, apparently, many people… Continue reading The reality of the lizard people
The paper From Terman to Today: A Century of Findings on Intellectual Precocity does a lot of mythbusting. The recently popular notion that IQ > 120 has little incremental utility is dead false. Even small differences in IQ predict significant differences in creative output and odds of having a top-tier income. Gifted children (and adults)… Continue reading A Century of Findings on Intellectual Precocity: some highlights
I spent 20 minutes under general anesthesia this morning, and had an odd memory afterwards. It was nothing serious – my first screening colonoscopy, things looked OK, come back in five years – but I hadn’t been under general anesthesia in 40 years (since having molars removed as a teen) and I was self-monitoring carefully.… Continue reading Survival mode
This is an expanded version of a comment I left on Megan McArdle’s post Listen to the ‘Bad Feminists’ in which she muses on the “Grace”-vs.-Aziz-Ansari scandalette and wonders why younger women report feeling so powerless and used. It’s not complicated, Megan. You actually got most of it already, but I don’t think you quite… Continue reading Sorry, Ansari: a praxeologist looks at the latest scandalette
Over at Slate Star Codex, I learned that Eliezer Yudkowsky is writing a book on, as Scott puts it, “low-hanging fruit vs. the argument from humility”. He’s examining the question of when we are, or can be, justified in believing we have spotted something important that the experts have missed. I read Eliezer’s first chapter,… Continue reading Against modesty, and for the Fischer set
A lot of people, especially younger people who haven’t quite figured out what they’re good at yet, want to be famous and have lots of admiring fans. Me, I’ve been famous, and I still have a lot of admiring fans. I’m here today to talk about why a thoughtful person might want to avoid this,… Continue reading The heaviness of fame and fans
There’s been a lot of public talk about “identity” lately, stimulated by high-profile cases of transsexuality (notably the athlete now named Caitlyn Jenner) and transracialism (Rachel Dolezal). It needs to be said: most of the talk, on all sides of these disputes, has been obvious nonsense – utter drivel that should not have survived five… Continue reading Your identity is not your choice
This blog post is brought to you by a recent bad experience I had watching a 5-minute clip from Big Bang Theory on the recommendation of a friend who thought I might find it amusing. Bleagh. This is supposed to be a show about geniuses? It’s not. It’s a show about a dimwit’s idea of… Continue reading How to act like you’re bright
This morning I stumbled over a comment from last September that I somehow missed replying to at the time. I suspect it’s something more than one of my readers has wondered about, so here goes… Edward Cree wrote: If I’m really smart enough to impress esr, I feel like I ought to be doing more… Continue reading How to change the world in Zen easy lessons
There’s a link between autism and genius says a popular-press summary of recent research. If you follow this sort of thing (and I do) most of what follows doesn’t come as much of a surprise. We get the usual thumbnail case studies about autistic savants. There’s an interesting thread about how child prodigies who are… Continue reading Autism, genius, and the power of obliviousness
I just read a very well-intentioned, heartwarming talk about girls who code that, sadly, I think, is missing the biological forest for the cultural trees. It’s this: Teach girls bravery, not perfection. Read it, It’s short I like the woman who voiced those thoughts in that way. Well, except for the part about growing up… Continue reading Bravery and biology
I’ve been getting deeper into timekeeping and calendar-related software the last few years. Besides my work on GPSD, I’m now the tech lead of NTPsec. Accordingly, I have learned a great deal about time mensuration and the many odd problems that beset calendricists. I could tell you more about the flakiness of timezones, leap seconds,… Continue reading In defense of calendrical irregularity
There’s an idea circulating that two people who want to be in romantic love can get there by performing a simple procedure that steps them through asking and answring 35 questions and ends with staring into each others’ eyes for 4 minutes. I don’t know if these reports are true or not. But I’m writing… Continue reading Love is the simplest thing
I spent parts of the the last couple of days reading the archives of the very thought-provoking blog Slate Star Codex. Two posts on it, Untitled and Why No Science Of Nerds? have reawakened my interest in the question of what exactly we mean when we describe someone as a “nerd” or a “geek”. I’ve… Continue reading How do we explain the nonstandard nerd?
Here’s an interesting article with a stupid and misleading title on the role of what the author calls “cognitive disinhibition” – a fancy term for “allowing oneself to notice what others miss” – in enabling creative genius. While in many ways I could be a poster child for Simonton’s thesis (and I’ll get to those)… Continue reading Cognitive disinhibition: not the whole story of genius
A few months back I had to do a two-hour road trip with A&D regular Susan Sons, aka HedgeMage, who is an interesting and estimable person in almost all ways except that she actually … likes … country music. I tried to be stoic when stupid syrupy goo began pouring out of the car radio,… Continue reading Country-music hell and fake accents
Storm Pax hit my area today as we were just recovering, still a bit dazed and reeling, from Storm Nika. This brought me 14 inches of snow, and it brings you a tale of progress in small things and how odd the brain’s information-retrieval process can be.
Here is a curious fact. My wife Cathy is using Duolingo to learn German; she wants to be able to read sources on Iron Age and Viking costume in the original. Duolingo takes her through a lot of pronunciation drills. I’ve learned something by listening to her – which is that somehow, somewhere, I have… Continue reading How…does this even work?
In a response to my previous post, on Acausality and the Scientific Mind, a commenter said: “The computationalist position necessarily entails that subjectivity does not really exist, and what looks like subjectivity is a mere illusion without causal force.” There are, I’m sure, many vulgar and stupid versions of computationalism that have this as a… Continue reading Tackling subjectivity head on