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Comment Re: Meaningless (Score 1) 249

That's all interesting speculation, but it's way beyond the mainstream understanding of the contribution of biology to intelligence, which is to say, not much.

Also, IQ tests intentionally discriminate between ability and academic achievement. Speed of arithmetic computation can reduce performance, but it can never increase it. Have you ever taken an IQ test? Reducing this to absurdity, you can train a parrot on multiplication tables, but it will never score above chance on an IQ test.

I can't say it's impossible that intelligence can be improved or reduced with motivation or environment. Clearly environment has some role, and as I said before, individual IQ scores can be adversely affected by poor preparation or imperfect tests. Children may pick up test-taking skills at different rates, but by adulthood those skills become more difficult to pick up quickly. It is telling, then, that a recent study found parent to young child IQ heritability to be 50%, while parent to adult child heritability was closer to 80%. Telling, because parents have more opportunity to tip the scales for young children's performance.

Your hypothesis fails to explain the results of twin studies. If all humans have the same capacity for intellectual performance, but their development is completely moderated by environmental factors, then separated twins would have no correlation. While there is informed disagreement about how heritable intelligence is, there is no reasonable argument that it is not heritable at all.

Comment Re:Meaningless (Score 3, Interesting) 249

IQ is correlated with education for several valid reasons. IQ is predictive of income, heritable, and correlated with smaller family size. So you might find that the educational opportunities parents are able to provide correlates with the IQ of their children. Especially so when you consider local control and funding of education and the regional disparities in IQ. Also IQ is predictive of educational attainment. Starting in elementary school students are sorted by academic ability and achievement. Those with IQ deficiencies tend to be held back and/or receive remedial instruction. Those with high and exceptional IQ are given accelerated coursework, advanced placement, and they stay in school for more years. None of this means that education improves IQ, though I agree some children score lower because of poor preparation and imperfect tests.

Comment Re:yet, the far right will ignore and far left wil (Score 1) 618

Yes, nuclear, because it is required for any realistic carbon-free economy. Sure, wind and solar have a role as well, but those are not sufficient on their own to displace coal and natural gas.

If climate change was as dire in reality as the activists have claimed, they would be protesting the construction of natural gas power plants and cheering for the nuclear ones. But obviously the reverse is true. Why do you think that is?

Nuclear power is expensive because of excessive regulation. NIMBY, LNT, and frivolous lawsuits are the reason for that, as opposed to any real risk or history of safety problems. All of that comes from the environmental activists. Ironic that if Dr. Hanson is correct, the people at fault for runaway AGW are the environmentalists themselves.

Comment Interstellar debris? (Score 3, Interesting) 339

How is it that Plait says no excess infrared means it isn't dust clouds and unlikely comets, but then he turns around and suggests Dyson sphere? One of the defining characteristics of Dyson spheres is excess infrared.

Here is a hypothesis that fits the data gathered so far: interstellar debris. It can be oddly shaped. It can block the star's light without generating excess infrared. A cloud of it passing between Earth and KIC 8462852 would produce non-periodic luminosity variations. If the debris was a light year away from Earth, the largest chunk would have a diameter of around 500 km. There would be no constraints due to orbital velocity, and no aliens.

Comment Hand of history (Score 1) 78

It’s fair to ask, if NASA is getting 50% of the world’s funding and the rest of the world is going to the Moon, why is it unreasonable to expect that we would go as well? There are two possible answers. Perhaps the rest of the world has an unrealistic impression of the complexity of the problem and their own capabilities. Or, perhaps our own space agency has turned into a bureaucratic morass that is incapable of finishing large projects without spending ridiculous sums of money. For sure the former is a factor, but there is plenty of evidence that the latter dominates.

I think we are victims of the unstoppable hand of history in this case. NASA built the pyramids. They drove the golden spike. They defined the nation for all future generations. But once they were done, we could not throw the heroes out on the street, and we certainly could not let them keep the checkbook. So everything that has happened in human spaceflight since about 1970 has been one big retirement party and career transition program. It’s a colossal waste of time and money to pretend otherwise.

But hope is not lost. There are many bright and hungry people out there who can make the next giant leap given the right support structure and incentives.

Comment Are they going to fix the bugs? (Score 5, Interesting) 126

That's great that Google is going to enable device encryption by default. But are they going to fix the usability and security problems for Android L?

If you enable device encryption on Android, you can no longer back up and restore your data over USB or through third party tools. You can create encrypted backups over USB, but you can't restore them because of bugs in the ADB tools. The only way to back up and restore is by uploading your data to Google's cloud servers, where your data is much more likely to be purloined than if you had just left your device unencrypted in the first place.

When you enable encryption, you set a password. The encryption password becomes your lock screen PIN and there is no way to change it. So, which are you going to choose? A secure encryption password that you'll spend 15 seconds entering on the tiny keyboard every time you want to unlock your phone? Or a useable PIN that is trivial to crack if an attacker gets your encrypted data?

It's clear someone added device encryption to Android to check it off the list and didn't intend for anyone to use it. I hope their product team realizes this before they bring it to a wider audience.

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