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Comment Confusing review and some specious arguments (Score 1) 357

This book makes a fascinating case that genius is a function of time and not giftedness, validating both Edison's famous saw about 98% perspiration and Feynman's claim that there is no such thing as intelligence, only interest.

First off, the Edison quote is "1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." This is not to say that inspiration (presumed here to be a product of giftedness) is somehow dispensible. Both are required, so you can't really say that the 1% component is somehow irrelevant.

The difference is shown to result from an astonishing lack of charisma and a sense of what others are thinking in Langen, and an extreme personability in Oppenheimer, which is said to show that success is not a function of hard work or even genius but more of likability and the ability to empathize.

Sounds like Langen may have had Asperger's Syndrome, or another similar disorder. It also sounds like Gladwell is cherry-picking his anecdotes to amplify his point.

The fact that Asian languages in many cases use shorter and more logical words for numbers confers a strong early advantage[...]

Shorter, I can buy. More logical is a subjective assessment based on criteria we're not privy to. As this is being debated in other threads, I can only conclude that I'm not the only person who finds this claim suspect. While some are attempting to play the role of apologist for this viewpoint, it's not clear to me which of their arguments is the one that Gladwell is using to justify this statement. Furthermore, the comparison with metric units vs. English units isn't very illuminating -- lots of people I know would prefer doing engineering calculations in English units rather than metric, and in truth, the ease of unit conversion in the metric system isn't such a huge advantage in the real world when doing such calculations. The problems always seem to come in when conversions are happening between systems of units (e.g., going from English to metric).

It is bound to bear out in the minds of many Prof. Richard Feynman's assertion, which we may modify to say that giftedness and IQ are not inherent but conferred by accidents or benefits of culture, or at least via mechanisms that are not obvious.

Which also completely ignores many studies that show that there is a genetic component to IQ. While IQ is variable, with environment playing a substantial role, it's well established that environment is not the sole factor in intellectual development. According to some studies, the contribution of genetics to IQ is as much as 75% (i.e., 75% of all IQ variances can be attributed to genetic differences). I think the reviewer here may be conflating "success" (what the book is about) with "intelligence" (i.e., giftedness and IQ, which seem to be prerequisites for success but which the book argues are not the dominant factors).

It has also been said many times, here on Slashdot and elsewhere, that IQ is the best single predictor of future success -- this seems to be derived from The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray. This claim has been attacked numerous times, so I'll leave it to the statistics folks to argue that one. But you can't just ignore the study altogether.

On a closing note, the review could stand a few extra commas in strategic locations, and maybe some thoughtful reordering of a few sentences to make them clearer.


Submission + - Norwegian Government Goes Open Format

titten writes: "The Norwegian government has decided that everybody should have equal access to official documents. All information on official websites must be HTML, ODF or PDF from 2009, with a transistion period running until the end of 2013. No English information so far, here's an article describing the new legislation in Norwegian. The Norwegian UNIX User Group just gave a press release on the subject. It's so fresh, they've yet to publish it in any other way than by email."

Submission + - 10 Year Anniversary of Forbidden Pokemon Episode (

caffiend666 writes: "It's now been just past 10 years (December 16th, 1997) since the now forbidden Pokemon episode caused seizures in hundreds of Japanese children and a few adults. How far as anime come in the last 10 years? How much change has this bizarre and horrific incident really caused? Now is probably a good time for an introspective review of the significance behind mass culture."

Submission + - Apple Censors iMac Complaints (

arakis writes: Tomshardware is running a story [] about Apple censoring an ongoing complaints thread about the new iMacs having faded screens. The complaints appear to have attracted attention: "From August 7 to November 18, a 95 day period, the thread chalked up an impressive 15,000+ hits, an average of about 158 hits per day. However, in the time since then, November 19 to December 10, a period of only 21 days, the thread gained an additional 9000 hits, an average of about 429 hits per day." Apple is responding to the issue by replacing posts with error messages and not acknowledging the issue.
The Military

Submission + - Air Force Will Be Coal-Powered by 2011 (

claybodie writes: "Not everyone has the same definition for the term 'renewable-fuel'. The United States Air Force is well on their way to becoming coal-powered. On Monday, the USAF carried out a transcontinental test flight using a 50-50 blend of standard jet fuel and coal-based 'synfuel'. "The Air Force is taking a leadership role in testing and certifying the use of synthetic fuel in aircraft," Secretary Wynne said. "We're working very closely with our Army and Navy colleagues to ensure that this fuel is capable of operating in all of our aircraft. This is especially important because JP-8 military jet fuel is commonly used in the battlefield by the Army and Marines tactical vehicles and generators, as well as our respective aircraft.""
The Media

Submission + - Vladimir Putin TIMES "Person of the Year" ( 1

Russell2566 writes: "TIME Magazine has named Russia's Vladimir Putin with person of the year. While TIME has always stated that "Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest"; It's still an odd choice considering that he is responsible for helping to steer Russia back to its cold war era and has been accused of state influence assassinations and executions of news reporters and public officials who dare speak against the regime."

Submission + - Nanosolar delivers high-efficiency thin film cells

Rei writes: "Thin film photovoltaic systems have been heralded as a way to make solar cells cheap enough for widespread adoption, but have also been criticized for their low efficiency. A number of companies have been working to fix this equation. Now, one of them — Nanosolar, a privately held company with funding from Google's Sergey Brin and Larry Page — has finally shipped their first cells produced in a mass-production environment. Nanosolar's cells boast being the world's first printed thin-film solar cell in a commercial panel product, the world's lowest-cost solar panel (they plan to sell at $0.99/Watt, compared to the current minimum of $4.83/Watt), and the world's highest-current thin-film solar panel (5x the next closest on the market), among other things. Their Panel #2, made available as a collectors item on Ebay with the profits going to charity, has already racked up bids of over $10,000."
The Internet

Submission + - Bell Canada DSL service throttles P2P arbitrarily

Dembonez writes: The fine folks over at have compiled some great details on a very dirty deed. That is, Bell Canada as a DSL ISP is following the lead of Comcast in the US and Rogers up in Canada by throttling P2P traffic. Beyond what the other two are doing, Bell are imposing bandwidth caps for 'unlimited' service subsribers, stating that they've gone over the allotted bandwidth restriction for the month. Of course, nowhere in their terms of service do they outline what that restriction is for unlimited users. It gets better, though! Bell being an ILEC have 3rd party reseller ISPs. If you were to leave Bell after being identified as a heavy user, they'll deny any of their 3rd party resellers from signing you up! Bell being as big as they are, they have 3 of the 5 seats on the committee for fair competition in Canada. This means that it's highly unlikely that any complaint about unfair business practices or false advertising would be quashed. If you're in Canada and using Bell, send them a message... and go elsewhere. Want to know more? TFA:

Submission + - File sharing, stealing and Levi jeans (

newtley writes: "Using Levi jeans as his example, pro musician and RIAA devotee 'Sam I Am' attempts to explain how file sharing equals stealing. Downloading doesn't "actually share anything at all", he asserts. In fact, "Not only does the original file remain in full possession of the original possessor, but an infinite number of copies — perfect, indistinguishable replicas of the original, are created and distributed at no payment to anyone. This isn't sharing, in fact it's a crime." And more ....."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Submission + - Duke Nukem Forever? (

bigattichouse writes: "Not to get anyone excited, or the flurry of end-of-the-world or vaporware rants. But 3DR has released a teaser screenshot (mirrored at Kotaku) of the Duke Nukem trailer (no link available at this time)

From TFA: "After seeing the teaser we thought it was something we should share with all of you and while it's just a teaser, rest assured more is coming.""


Submission + - The Immune System can Deliver Cancer-Killing Virus (

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes: "Mayo Clinic researchers have designed a technique that uses the body's own cells and a virus to destroy cancer cells that spread from primary tumors to other parts of the body through the lymphatic system. This procedure triggered an immune response to cancer cells, which means that it could be used as a cancer vaccine to prevent recurrence. They combined infection-fighting T-cells with the vesicular stomatitis virus that targets and destroys cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. To deliver the virus, researchers removed T-cells from a healthy mouse, loaded them with the virus and injected the T-cells back into the mouse. Researchers found that once the T-cells returned to the lymph nodes and spleen, the virus detached itself from the T-cells, found the tumor cells, selectively replicated within them and extracted tumor cells from those areas."
The Internet

Submission + - Data Center Startup Re-ignites AC vs. DC Debate (

1sockchuck writes: "The data center industry has been actively discussing whether using DC power distribution would improve the energy efficiency of mission-critical facilities. The AC versus DC debate is likely to intensify with the launch of Validus DC Power, a Connecticut startup that came out of stealth mode yesterday with $10 million in VC funding. Validus uses -575V DC for power distribution and uses a converter to provide -48V DC to servers. Most newer data centers use AC for power distribution, but The Green Grid is among those suggesting DC distribution can reduce power loss from AC-to-DC conversions within the data center. Other industry players, including APC-MGE, say DC only offers improvements when compared to older AC equipment, and that recent improvements in UPS efficiency allow AC distribution to match DC for energy efficiency. With the recent focus on power and cooling chalenges in data centers, the debate (which dates back to Edison and Tesla) will likely get louder in coming months."

Submission + - CMS tracking detector installed at CERN

Gearoid_Murphy writes: physorg has a peice about the latest development at CERN. Installation of the world's largest silicon tracking detector was today successfully completed at CERN. In the early hours of Thursday 13 December the CMS Silicon Strip Tracking Detector began its journey from the main CERN site to the CMS experimental facility. Later that day it was lowered 90 metres into the CMS cavern. Installation began on Saturday 15 December and was concluded this morning. Such a system would be able to provide proof for some of the more exotic and testable(!) physics theories out there.

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