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Comment: Re:Average I.Q. (Score 1) 219

by TsuruchiBrian (#48033507) Attached to: Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

Intelligence is the only thing separating theists and atheists

I find that offensive - and I'm an atheist. In the past we've had people claim that whites are smarter than blacks, men are smarter than women, democrats are smarter than republicans and vice versa.

I don't find it offensive. I think it's just wrong, which has nothing to do with whether something is offensive.

I suspect that the people making such claims are the stupid ones. Not in the sense of IQ, but in the sense of being dumb-asses looking to affirm their "I'm better than someone else" beliefs, same as some religious people have internalized a "holier-than-thou" attitude and look down on other religions and the "unwashed heathen".

I think there is probably a high correlation between being wrong and being stupid. I wouldn't say that I expect religious people to be that much dumber than non-religious people. I just think they are simply wrong about 1 more thing on average.

Comment: Re:Average I.Q. (Score 1) 219

by TsuruchiBrian (#48032717) Attached to: Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

So what happens when a believer converts to atheism? Did their IQ suddenly go up? The opposite argument can be made. If, as a believer, they were smart enough to drop their religious beliefs, seems that IQ and religious belief are not tightly correlated.

Nothing has to happen.

You can have a world with stupidity highly correlated with religion even with people converting to/from religion/atheism and without anyone changing their IQ.

If, as a believer, they were smart enough to drop their religious beliefs, seems that IQ and religious belief are not tightly correlated.

Only if religion caused stupidity. If it is just correlated, then there is no problem.

Comment: I take issue with the premise (Score 4, Insightful) 219

by TsuruchiBrian (#48032501) Attached to: Are the World's Religions Ready For ET?

At the current rate of discovery, astronomers will have identified more than a million exoplanets by the year 2045. That means, if life is at all common in the Milky Way, astronomers could soon detect it.

Being able to detect planets and being able to detect life on those planets are 2 different things.

Comment: Re:something to remember next time you vote (Score 1) 101

I would say that by voting for democrats or republicans, you are implicitly supporting a system that allows your vote to legitimize things you don't believe in.

If you vote for Obama, because he supports gay rights more than Mitt Romney, it doesn't mean you support killing people with drones, but it does support the 2 party system that uses your vote for gay rights into a vote for war.

Comment: Re:If government wants to get involved... (Score 1) 450

by TsuruchiBrian (#48031709) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
I never said green energy was "unfairly" subsidized. I also never claimed "dirty" energy was not subsidized. I am saying that subsidizing energy production in general is bad, and in the case of green energy it makes more sense to subsidize research, if our goal is to make green technology efficient and viable.

Comment: Re:If government wants to get involved... (Score 1) 450

by TsuruchiBrian (#48027807) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power
Even if we consider electricity as a basic human right, it is still important to conserve it where possible. If poor people can not afford electricity, then a better solution (although maybe not the best), would be to just send them a government check for the difference in price. For example if a monthly electric bill for a family jumped from $100 to $1000, then send every family a monthly check for $900, and raise the price to $1000. I'll bet this will encourage people to start being more frugal with electricity, while still allowing them the freedom to use all the electricity they were using before, if they still want to.

Comment: Re:If government wants to get involved... (Score 1) 450

by TsuruchiBrian (#48027735) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

They should instead allow the true cost of solar and other power sources be reflected in the price, by only taxing and subsidizing to account for positive and negative externalities.

That's what I said. The price of fossil fuels should reflect their true cost, and the government should tax them because they cause the negative externalities of pollution and climate change. If the price of gasoline represented it's true cost, I suspect many more people would be driving fuel efficient vehicles and using public transportation. The money from these taxes should be used for pollution and climate change mitigation.

Comment: If government wants to get involved... (Score 2) 450

by TsuruchiBrian (#48024127) Attached to: Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Perverting the market through solar panel adoption subsidies is not a good solution. They should instead allow the true cost of solar and other power sources be reflected in the price, by only taxing and subsidizing to account for positive and negative externalities. If the government wants to promote solar, it should be pumping money into green energy research to help make solar power (and other green technologies) cheaper faster. It should not be subsidizing the purchase of current expensive and inefficient technologies. It should be facilitating the development of future technologies that are actually cheap and efficient (without subsidies).

In fact, if the government owned the patents for these new technologies, it would have the power to lease them royalty free, further spreading their use. We want these technologies to be cheap, and we want people all over the world using them and improving them. Funneling profits to certain private corporations through subsidies is not the best way to achieve this goal.

Comment: Re:Is that really the point? (Score 1) 178

by TsuruchiBrian (#48023909) Attached to: New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

Ever since John Locke laid the groundwork for the Enlightenment by proposing that we are born as tabula rasa—blank slates—the idea that we are created equal has been the central tenet of the “modern” worldview. Enshrined as it is in the Declaration of Independence as a “self-evident truth,” this idea has special significance for Americans. Indeed, it is the cornerstone of the American dream—the belief that anyone can become anything they want with enough determination.

I think this quote from the article captures the view that I think is telling.

We are clearly not blank slates. Does that mean we cannot become anything we want given enough determination? I think this is the wrong question. I think the right question is "Where does our determination come from?" Even if we were "blank slates", and some of us succeeded (e.g. due to extra determination, etc), that would simply mean that those with more determination are more fortunate than those with less, and surely everyone would prefer to have more determination if it were possible to simply cause this through force of will (assuming willpower was fairly distributed among everyone).

So I guess what I am saying, is that whatever the real ultimate cause of success (whether genes, determination, parental support, luck, or all of the above), the one thing we can be sure it isn't is the person him/herself, if the word "cause" is to have any reasonable meaning at all.

Comment: Re:Is that really the point? (Score 1) 178

by TsuruchiBrian (#48023513) Attached to: New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

The more competent people are in a skill, the less confident they are.

That is not exactly what I gathered from reading the wikipedia article. The article seemed to suggest that competent people are more likely to underestimate their skill and incompetent people are more likely to overestimate their skill. This doesn't necessarily imply that incompetent people have more confidence than competent people.

What is described in the article seems to indicate that a A 2 might think they are a 3 and an 8 might think they are a 7.

If you then take the incompetent people and make them more competent, they'll actually LOSE confidence in their skill level, not gain it.

This doesn't really make sense. This would mean that a brain surgeon with years of experience would have less confidence to perform brain surgery than when he/she was first entering medical school.

What makes more sense is if a medical student overestimates his/her (currently very low) abilities, and an experienced surgeon underestimates his/her (currently very high) abilities. This does not mean that you lose confidence as you gain competence. It means the *rate* at which you gain confidence decreases as you gain competence.

Comment: Re:Is that really the point? (Score 1) 178

by TsuruchiBrian (#48023445) Attached to: New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

I've actually turned a couple of things that I absolutely loathed and avoided as a young adult into things that I'm passionate about now, solely because I decided to spend enough effort to get competent at it, and then it ballooned from there.

Just out of curiosity, what might an example of this be?

I can see how becoming competent at something might lead you to like it rather than hate it. But I think after a certain point, it is quite possible to really enjoy an activity even if you are mediocre.

If we take A: being good at something and B: being passionate about something, I don't think A causes B or that B causes A. I suspect there is a positive feedback mechanism, and in that way you may be able to cause an increase in B by forcing A.

But lets say for instance that to be really great, you need both A and B. One might be tempted to say these 2 attributes are equal even in the case where they feed off eachother. But what if B were much more common (e.g. 10% of the population) than A(e.g. 1% of the population). If this were the case, then only 0.1% of the population will be great (from having both A and B), but one could argue that A is "the deciding factor".

Comment: Is that really the point? (Score 1) 178

by TsuruchiBrian (#48023175) Attached to: New Research Casts Doubt On the "10,000 Hour Rule" of Expertise

I haven't read Gladwell's book, but I've heard more than a few different radio programs on this subject (e.g. radiolab, freakanomics, etc), that interviewed Gladwell (although not exclusively).

One could argue that the point from Gladwell's side is that hard work and determination are more important than genetics, and I don't think this is an unfair characterization. Gladwell seems to phrase it slightly differently. That it is the love that certain people have for certain pursuits that gives them the motivation to *easily* put in the 10,000 hours of work to become an expert. Sure maybe some people require 22x as much *deliberate* practice to become a master. Maybe the person who only spent 728 deliberate hours of practicing spends 24 hours a day thinking and dreaming about chess (i.e. a lot of non-deliberate hours). Maybe the person who required 16000 hours of deliberate practice, actually hated chess and only did it to please his chessmaster father, etc.

Even if Gladwell's view turns out to be true, it simply raises deeper questions. What causes some people to love certain pursuits and not others. In the same way that genes can cause exceptional predisposition to skill of a particular type, isn't it just as likely for genetics to be able to cause exceptional love of a particular thing like chess, music, etc.

This deeper point that born with the love of chess *may* be a more important attribute than being born with a predisposition to be good at chess, for me, is not so much an empirical question as a philosophical question, if only for the reason that I think these sorts of questions are very difficult to answer empirically.

But if it is true that the passion for something like chess or music can be genetic (and I don't see any reason why this wouldn't be the case), then this is simply an alternative path for genetics to play a role in becoming an expert, rather than an alternative *to* a genetic path.

Everyone can be taught to sculpt: Michelangelo would have had to be taught how not to. So it is with the great programmers.

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