Nostalgia

I was just looking at some baseball statistics, starting from Alfonso Soriano, prompted by my receiving mail from another of the same surname. I remember I was a keen baseball fan in grade school, and would watch almost every single game. I didn’t like studying at all, and I was even the kid who didn’t do his homework. In third grade, there was this animal project, where we had to write some report on some Australian animal, and I was the only kid who didn’t complete it by the deadline (in fact, I barely did anything). I got a low grade on it at the end for finishing like two weeks after, and I was super embarrassed about that. Surely, my parents weren’t very happy with me. Amazing how even to this day I still know the names of many of the best players from back in that day. Ichiro, Barry Bonds (steroids), Mark McGuire, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, etc.

I think my having been rather problematic in grade school was a major cause of my low self-esteem as a kid, which persisted for quite a while. Another that I remember vividly was how in junior high, there was this kid who was in all honors classes and also high up in band who had a rather domineering personality. In 8th grade honors English/history, which I almost certainly ended up with a B in, that kid was considered one of the best students in that class. I was in two years accelerated math in 8th grade, and I remember that kid would almost always get better test scores and grades than I did, except it was bullshit core math with graphing calculators and “showing your work.” That teacher gave me a really hard time (because I was pretty fucking ADHD), and I got in trouble multiple times. Once in history class, that aforementioned kid, when sitting next to me, went presumptuously: “I’m probably the smartest person in this school.” Surely, that didn’t make me feel good at all.

What surprised me was that that kid began struggling in math in high school. Right after the AP calculus AB test (which I didn’t even take, since I had learned the BC material on my own essentially), he was like: “it felt like death!” In senior year, when we were doing convergence and divergence of series, where we had to determine and justify, that guy was complaining: “this is like hit or miss!” By then, I had realized that there were more or less systematic ways of proceeding about that. I could sense that he was super bitter about his struggle, as he had always expressed a strong desire to pursue a career in engineering (as if that actually uses much math), though he tried to pretend like he didn’t care or that math is pointless. Predictably, now he is a product manager.

In contrast, now I am basically doing PhD level math, and not even finding it that difficult, and I would not be surprised if I manage to do some legit math research. I’ve sure changed a ton, and I never would’ve expected that, especially based on what I had been like in grade school.

Sorry if I sound like an arrogant, narcissistic douchebag. I was just nostalgic, after all.

Understanding Human History

I had the pleasure to read parts of Understanding Human History: An Analysis Including the Effects of Geography and Differential Evolution by Michael H. Hart. He has astrophysics PhD from Princeton, which implies that he is a serious intellectual, though it doesn’t seem like he was quite so brilliant that he could do good research in theoretical physics, though an unofficial source says he worked at NASA and was a physics professor at Trinity University who picked up a law degree along the way. I would estimate that intellectually, he is Steve Hsu level, perhaps a little below, though surely in the high verbal popularization aspect, he is more prolific, as evidenced by that book, among many others, such as one on the 100 most influential historical figures. He is active in white separatist causes (heh) and appears to have had ties with the infamous and now deceased Rushton.

Lately, with pardon for possible hindsight bias from reading, I have been more inclined to look at the world from a long term historical perspective. I have always had some inclination to believe that to judge an intellectual fully in terms of impact take decades and often generations, especially political ones. As a derivative to this, I feel I am, relative to most, less susceptible than most to fads and trends and care less about short term recognition and credentialism. The ideal is to let history be the judge, which it will be eventually and inevitably.

In this post, I’ll give a summary of what I would regard as some of the most prominent points in that book. Keep in mind though that I won’t strictly refer to the book and will instead draw from various sources online, with the book as more of an inspiration. To start, I recall reading as a kid that the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq, Syria, Turkey) are cradles of civilization. On that, Hart was somewhat elaborate on the development of agriculture that took place there at least as early 11,000 BC. This was not soon after the last glacial period which many speculate vastly enhanced the intelligence of peoples in the more northern latitudes, particularly in Northeast Asian and in Europe, through brutal elimination of those unable to survive under the harsh demands brought forth to them in the cold winters. The earliest well-accepted evidence of writing appears to be again in Mesopotamia around 3100 BC. Around the same time, independent writing systems also arose in Egypt, but with that, historians and archaeologists cannot be sure whether it was truly independent, as the geographic proximity between Egypt and Mesopotamia was not large.

An independent civilization arose in China too, which was geographically isolated from the larger part of world. On its east (and to a less extent, south) is the Pacific Ocean, on its West are some of the world’s highest mountain ranges, and on its north are relatively barren lands. Respectively, agriculture and writing emerged in China not long after in Mesopotamia. The body of inscriptions on oracle bones from the late Shang dynasty gives the earliest evidence for what consensus would regard as genuine writing, which was around 1200 BC. There has been, though, an excavation dating back to as early as 6600 BC, of some form of proto-writing of the Peiligang culture. One ought to keep in mind that here we are talking about confirmed upper bounds in time, which will hopefully become tighter and tighter with time as more archaeological discoveries emerge and emerge. While we cannot definitely rule out that Mesopotamia influenced the development of writing in China, it is extremely unlikely that such was the case, due to the great geographic barriers.

I have had the pleasure of skimming through parts of the most classic of Chinese classics, including the I Ching, which are difficult to understand as one would expect. Those are the Chinese biblical equivalents. Unfortunately for history, the first emperor of China who unified all of China in 221 BC, preserving such unity by enforcing uniform weights and measures, ordered an infamous burning of books and scholars, which means that many priceless artifacts of Chinese civilization were forever lost, but of course, many books were able to escape his decree.

The Chinese did not develop an alphabet, as we all know. This was obviously disadvantageous in many ways, but it also enabled China to remain as one culturally, as languages with alphabets can more easily evolve. In China, there are mutually unintelligible dialects (such as Mandarin and Cantonese, which are still very similar in their oral form), but they all employ the same writing system unalterable. One can observe that the legacy of this persists deeply today with China unified and Europe very fragmented culturally and politically with the EU somewhat of a farce as a political organization according to many.

Hart shies away not from emphasizing the deep and revolutionary contributions to human civilization of the ancient Greeks totally merited. By far the most prominent and eternal of these was the development of the rigorous scientific method in its deductive form. The magnum opus of this is Euclid’s Elements, which was a compilation of propositions rigorously proven by his predecessor Greek mathematicians such as Thales and Pythagoras, who were pioneers of this great intellectual tradition that Western civilization and to a lesser extent Islamic civilization later on created and successfully preserved. Additionally, most certainly influenced by the Pythagorean mathematical tradition, the Greeks achieved substantially in geodesy and astronomy, with Erathosthenes calculating with an error of 2% to 15% the circumference of the earth using the differing angles the shadows from the sun made as the basis of his trigonometric calculations. From this, one can infer that by then, the Greeks already had well-established the sphericity of the earth. We even have evidence from The Sand Reckoner of Archimedes that Aristarchus of Samos (c. 270 BC) had proposed a heliocentric model in a work Archimedes had access to but has now been unfortunately lost. The English translation of that is as follows:

You are now aware [‘you’ being King Gelon] that the “universe” is the name given by most astronomers to the sphere the centre of which is the centre of the earth, while its radius is equal to the straight line between the centre of the sun and the centre of the earth. This is the common account (τά γραφόμενα) as you have heard from astronomers. But Aristarchus has brought out a book consisting of certain hypotheses, wherein it appears, as a consequence of the assumptions made, that the universe is many times greater than the “universe” just mentioned. His hypotheses are that the fixed stars and the sun remain unmoved, that the earth revolves about the sun on the circumference of a circle, the sun lying in the middle of the orbit, and that the sphere of the fixed stars, situated about the same centre as the sun, is so great that the circle in which he supposes the earth to revolve bears such a proportion to the distance of the fixed stars as the centre of the sphere bears to its surface.

The Greek were too rich and too farsighted in their scientific thinking and achievements, and I shall give no more concrete examples here for the sake of time.

This is in stark contrast to the Chinese civilization that Hart claims is the only one that can overall rival Western European civilization. Whatever scientific schools of thought, such as that of Mo Tzu, that existed were not well-preserved and eventually lost prominence to Confucianism, which did not emphasize rigorous scientific thinking, instead with an overemphasis on social relations of a more conformist nature that came with it an imperial examination system focused on literary topics for selecting people to govern the country. The ancient Chinese did not display much curiosity in the logical and natural world. Hart notes how even in 1600 AD, the Chinese knew far less than the Greeks in mathematics, and there is still as far as I am aware not of any evidence of widespread recognition of the round earth among Chinese scholars.

There is reason for a geographic explanation to this. Hart brings up the advantageous geographic position of Greece for its development of civilization. It was, on the Mediterranean, a maritime culture. It was, being further east than Italy, and thus in much closer cultural contact with the Mesopotamians, the cradle of civilization on the larger, non-Chinese part of the world. Additionally, it was close with Egypt. On the other hand, Chinese civilization was basically all to itself, contributing very crudely to somewhat of a less adventurous spirit, less curiosity about the outside world, and by extension, less curiosity about the natural world. Of course, what appears to be the lack of emphasis on theoretical matters of the ancient Chinese also has deep and far from well understood, owing to lack of complete picture due to loss of artifacts, roots. The location of the Greeks is not alone though. Hart also believes that the Greeks, being in a colder climate, had a higher IQ (or biological intelligence), which was what enabled them to surpass both the Mesopotamians and the Egyptians.

The Chinese brought to the world two major inventions that radically altered the course of history, which were uniquely and definitely Chinese. They were paper making and gunpowder. The papermaking process was invented by court eunuch Cai Lun in 105 AD. It was the first inexpensive medium for writing, as opposed to papyrus and bamboo, that enabled for China a great leap forward culturally. In 751 AD, some Chinese paper makers were captured by Arabs after Tang troops were defeated in the Battle of Talas River, and from that, the techniques of papermaking then spread to the West gradually, reading Europe in the 12th century. This is so impactful and impressive, because Western civilization was not able to uncover this critical process for over a millennia when they finally learned of it from outsiders. For this very reason, Hart put Cai Lun as number 7, right ahead of Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press in the 15th century in German. To justify that, he claims that Gutenberg would not have invented the printing press if not for paper, and that this invention being purely one of Chinese civilization that was transmitted to the West over a millennia later in addition to its history altering impact was not one that was inevitable in the sense of being a product of the historical epoch in which it came about. The Chinese also invented printing, with woodblock printing in the 8th century Tang dynasty and movable type (one for each character) by Bi Sheng in the 11th century. However, because of the thousands of Chinese characters as opposed to the tens of letters of the alphabet, movable type did not have anywhere as near of an impact. There is little if any evidence that Gutenberg was influenced in his invention by the one from China.

The importance and again pure Chineseness in invention of gunpowder is also without question. It revolutionized combat and was what enabled Europeans, with their improved guns, to later conquer the New World. Gunpowder was invented by Chinese alchemists in the 9th century likely by accident in their search for an elixir of life. The first military applications of gunpowder were developed around 1000 CE, and in the following centuries various gunpowder weapons such as bombs, fire lances, and the gun appeared in China. Gunpowder was likely transmitted to the Western world gradually via the Mongol invasions, which extended as far as Hungary.

The final of the so called Four Great Inventions of China not yet mentioned is the compass, which facilitated the voyages to Africa of Zheng He in the early 15th century. For that though, while very possible, there seems far from any conclusive that it spread to the Islamic World and Europe as opposed to be having been reinvented there.

Transitioning from China to the medium between China and the West, the Islamic world, we must delve into the Islamic Golden Age, traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century, during which many important scientific discoveries were made. Though my knowledge of Islamic cultures is scant, I do know of Alhazen, Omar Khayyam, and Al-Khwārizmī. In particular, his seven-volume treatise on optics Kitab al-Manazir, while perhaps questionable on his theories of light, was notable for its emphasis on empirical evidence that combined inductive reasoning, which was relatively neglected by the Greeks, with the rigorous deductive reasoning that the Greeks championed to the extremes. We do know with certainty that this magnum opus was translated to Latin, greatly influencing later European scientists and thinkers as important as Leonardo Da VinciGalileo GalileiChristiaan HuygensRené Descartes, and Johannes Kepler. Moreover, Al-Khwārizmī’s work on arithmetic was responsible for introducing the Arabic numerals, based on the Hindu–Arabic numeral system developed in Indian mathematics, to the Western world. There is evidence of solid knowledge of trigonometry, with for instance the law of sines pervasive in the scientific literature from Islamic scholars of that time. With reference to Hindu, I shall note that Indian mathematics and astronomy were quite impressive, certainly more so than Chinese mathematics, which though calculating pi to 7 digits as early as the 5th century, which held a 900+ year record, among many other applied and computational achievements, was severely lacking in its theoretical foundations, was, with AryabhataBrahmaguptaBhāskara I, among others who did work close or on par with those of Islamic scholars mathematically but much earlier, between the 5th and 7th centuries. Because many foreign words are contained within their texts, we can be relatively sure that there was Greek and Mesopotamian influence. Relating to that, Hart does not see Indian or Islamic mathematics as terribly original and more as derivative of Greek works, with significance more in the nature of preservation, though with Western European civilization having been the dominant, and often entirely so, for so long, one ought to be careful of Eurocentric bias. The achievements of Indians and Arabs to math and science ought to be more thoroughly investigated and fairly acknowledgment, in particular how they may have influenced later developments in the West. On that note, I shall say that I was super impressed that in the 14th century, the school of Madhava of Sangamagrama managed to discover infinite series for trigonometric functions of sine, cosine, tangent and arctangent. As a special case of arctangent, we have that

{\frac {\pi }{4}}=1-{\frac {1}{3}}+{\frac {1}{5}}-{\frac {1}{7}}+\cdots +{\frac {(-1)^{n}}{2n+1}}+\cdots,

which was later rediscovered by Leibniz. This of course hints or indicates that Madhava already knew at that time some form of proto-calculus, with as a concrete example Rolle’s theorem, which his predecessor from the 12th century Bhāskara_II had already stated. It’s possible that knowledge of these results were transmitted to Europe, but online sources stay that no evidence for that has been found. This probably influenced Hart’s verdict that Indian/Hindu civilization, while superior to China’s in theoretical science, was far less influential, with of course, India’s having received some knowledge of the Greeks, whereas the Chinese developed independently, with Euclid’s Elements only translated to Chinese in the early 17th century, where it, unfortunately for China, did not have the impact it should have had.

We all know that the West created the modern world, with the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, and the industrial revolution, and discovering, conquering, and colonizing more and more of it with their superior ships and guns, white Europeans virtually ruled the entire world by the late 19th century, ushering in unprecedented growth revolutionary in its quality and exponential in its quantity. It has continued to the point of air travel and internet communications that has drastically reduced the distance between cultures and peoples, with racial intermixing and immigration ever more common and accepted, though of course, the majority still live and mix with their own, in their ancestral homeland.

So, despite being non-white, I shall out of my respect for reason and reality publicize my well-justified view that white supremacy is, or at least was, too manifest not to be believed in. Not too long ago, white European civilization has essentially been in a completely different league from the rest, miles ahead in its content enough to give an appearance of white man’s being a higher species than the rest, with the rest of the world more or less compelled to learn the ways of the West. Of course, being ahead in terms of accumulation of culture, knowledge, and technology does not imply biological superiority, of which IQ is the best proxy. On that, it is well established within the scientific community on the matter that East Asians have a slightly higher IQ than white Europeans, with the advantage largely being in math and visuo-spatial. This is solidly evidenced by the success of Japan and later China, and to a lesser extent South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The Japanese of the late 19th century were uncertain with regard to whether they could do modern science and compete with Westerners, but not long after, they came to the realization that they were not bad, with their decisive defeat of the Russians in 1905 referenced in Hart’s book. By WWII, Japan was basically an advanced country and had also produced some truly groundbreaking work in pure science at home with Takagi and Yukawa as their pioneers for mathematics and physics respectively. The Chinese students who studied in the West in some mass after China’s defeat in the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 also did quite well, though China internally was only able to modernize rapidly after the establishment of the PRC ended the instability and destruction of war at home that had plagued China for over a century, which it did very rapidly and successfully. By the 1940s, there were already quite a handful of Chinese doing revolutionary or at least first-rate work in science, particularly in mathematics, exemplified by Hua Luogeng and Shing-Shen Chern. By 1970, in spite of starting from near ground zero a few decades ago, China already had thermonuclear weapons and a satellite in orbit, notwithstanding little trade with the West following the Korean War and a later break with the Soviet Union. Now, not even 50 years after that, many people in the West are quite scared of what appears to be China’s supplanting the US as the world’s number one and thereby bringing legitimacy to a civilization with cultural values and political systems very different that evolved independently of the rest of civilization, and this is in fact what the infamous race realist scholars like Rushton and Lynn have predicted would happen largely on the basis of the higher IQ of East Asians that they to some extent popularized. Of course, this is far from absolute, with for example that the Jews (who are basically white, Western) have measured an IQ higher than East Asians of a greater magnitude than the difference between East Asians and (non-Jewish) whites. Hart, being Jewish himself, shies away not either from citing the plethora of world-changing Jewish contributions to science and culture in Europe, the United States, and Russia/Soviet Union from the 19th century on. We can see that the two superpowers, the US and the USSR both depended tremendously on the Jews for solving their hardest technical problems. For instance, the nuclear weapons programs of both countries, especially in theory, were filled with Jews, with Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Yakov Zel’dovich, and Vitaly Ginzburg as examples. It is even fair to say that to some extent the 20th century was the Jewish century.

For the 21st century, Hart also predicts that the breakthroughs will be achieved mostly by white Europeans (that includes Jews) and East Asians, and we already see that happening. I do not recall his stating that the East Asian civilization represented mostly by China and Japan have been on rapid rise lately, and I shall surely point that out, out of what I regard as both its reality and significance (as opposed to any ethnic chauvinism on my part). It is the formerly weak but now strong and still rapidly strengthening other side of human civilization that is less fairly acknowledged, though with its rise, that will gradually change, just as the rise and later sheer dominance of the West enabled it to easily impose its standards and culture on others regardless. With mathematics again as the representative for the pinnacle of human civilization, we can see how very recently Yitang Zhang stunned the world by proving infinite bounded gaps between primes and Shinichi Mochizuki is receiving ever more press for the inter-universal Teichmüller theory that claims to solve the abc-conjecture, one of the most important problems in number theory, the queen of mathematics (according to Gauss), that could possibly becoming one of the most important new mathematical theories of the 21st century. On that, my friend once remarked: “Mochizuki could be the 21st century Grothendieck!” It is quite remarkable and also surprising that the culture and civilization for which theoretical science had been a glaring weakness historically is now verging on its apex, though the surprising part is less so when one takes IQ into account, with now the cultural factors more controlled for owing to the near universal access to information provided by the Internet. Additionally, China is excelling at and amazing, with some effect of unease, the world at what it has traditionally been strong at, namely large-scale engineering projects, but this time, of a nature guided by the modern science of the West. As examples, we see the world’s fastest trains in a nation-wide network, the world’s largest genome sequencing factory, and a great wall of sand dredged on the South China Sea. They are modern Chinese parallels of the Great Canal, the Great Wall, and the mega ships of Admiral Zheng He an order of magnitude larger than those of Columbus. Comes unity comes strength, or so the saying goes. It is one that persists in Chinese civilization today that is enabling more in China what the West cannot do, in practice.

There are scholars and advocates who lament that Western civilization, threatened by dysgenic immigration among other things, is in decline, and that its culture and civilization, which includes a certain purity of its people, ought to be preserved, which includes Hart himself. Given the overwhelming contribution of the West to human civilization, with Greek and Latin roots, has contributed to human civilization, one cannot not identify somewhat with this point of view. On this note, Rushton has even hypothesized that the Black Death precipitated the Great Divergence by suddenly and drastically enhancing the gene pool through killing off a quarter and as much as a half in some places of the European population via more or less a freak accident, one that has been regressing ever since to its natural level. It is somewhat unfortunate in some sense that the horrific legacy of Nazism, which was such that many Western peoples began to outwardly oppose ideas of racial superiority, has developed up to today towards a form of irrational racial egalitarianism and SJW culture that denies any honest, scientifically objective discourse on race differences, which are patently there, which we have the ability now to examine vastly more closely, powerfully, and scientifically than in Hitler’s time that is so politically obstructed for the aforementioned reason. Having referred to dysgenics, I shall also note that the technology and globalization we have today we are rather evolutionarily maladjusted to. Foremost of all, with reference to modern medicine, evolution does not let the weak live or spread its seed, and moreover, evolution is not terribly suited for vastly multi-ethnic societies either. The world now exhibits so much more mercy than before, often at the expense of the advancement of civilization. Yes, we know and have much more than our ancestors, but are we biologically superior to them? Perhaps we are at the far far tail, which increasingly breeds assortatively, but overall, I would say almost certainly not.

As for the 21st century, how it will pan out, only time will tell. However, if I were to bet, I would say that its winner and its legacy, viewed from the long term historical perspective, say a millennia from now, will be whoever musters the courage to control our own evolution to take us beyond the confines of Homo sapiens, so extraordinary and yet so limited in its might, and also at times also so foolish in its wisdom.

To conclude, my message to my generation and the future of humanity, inspired partly by Bertrand Russell:

Be rational! Be tolerant, but not of mindless PC! Dare to create new heights! Dare to improve the human race!

谁是世界最聪明的人

我是一个极其痴迷于天才怪才奇才和智商的人。我多次写过将人类的智力和所有能力提高应当是非常紧要的,因为只有这样才能使得人类文明有大的提升,才能使人类科技文艺创新大大加速,才能使得更加文明的社会和政治体制和秩序得以实现。不同智商分布的人口必然会创造不同的文化,不同的生活方式,不同的人类文明。

前几天,我看了徐道辉(Steve Hsu)与美国极右派Stefan Molyneux的讨论,有了深刻的感受。可以回想到徐提到在首尔或北京,一个女人可以在半夜到街上而对安全无所担忧,在美国的大城市这是无可想象的。虽未直言,可我们都知道是因为智商与罪犯行为的反相关关系应用在智商分布稍高的东亚国家之特例。徐也说道我们都有一点尼安德特人的血统,可是其占我们整个基因组很小一部分。智人所能创造的好多是尼安德特人无能的,故逐渐后者被前者覆盖而代替。他说我们可以想象他们创造物理学家或诗人的几率会比我们小很多。徐又漏出了他直截了当,对政治正确毫无在意的幽默,说:“我觉得我不会愿我的女儿嫁给一个尼安德特人。”

对于优生胚胎筛选及基因工程的可能,他说:有人会说,我们不会出一个比爱因斯坦或比高斯还聪明的人,我觉得这都是荒谬的扯淡。他说:任何一个明智的政府都会对此科研方向给以同,如一个粒子加速器,那么多的经济投入,他的回报会远远大于投入。我想会有一天可能所有治疗维持昂贵的疾病会在胚胎阶段就被过滤掉,也可能低于80的智商会被法律禁止。

徐道辉是一个科学革命者,也是一个敢于抵抗任何反动势力的斗争者,我对他的气贯长虹和对抗精神钦佩不已,望他继续前进创造人类新的巅峰,将他的名字牢牢地载入史册!不过,昨天我的一位与我同年龄的朋友却对徐道辉表示某某反感,将他的最近的表现(他反对大学种族配额制度有包)形容为高语言智商(略低数学智商)之公共(伪)知识分子的行为。对此,我立即给以回应,说徐道辉已经得到了理论物理的终身教职,并且创办了两个成功的硅谷网络安全企业,现已五十余岁,做点政治扯淡和宣传也没什么不得了的,而很可能在此,他会产生比做单一研究远远更大的影响,他可是将社会指引到更正确,更有效的方向。

徐道辉对东亚国家所做的成功的地方显然已有认识。谈到这儿,我想起我的那位俄罗斯朋友曾经还开玩笑将他叫做“你的(东)亚裔优越主义朋友”。当然,徐也提到普遍被认为的东亚的过于顺从的文化不利于出做出革命性科学贡献的孤胆怪才,甚至东亚人天生就天才性格少出的可能性。毕竟人类文明最跨越性的时代显明是西方白种人创造的,是西方人创造了文艺复兴,科学革命,工业革命,周游并且占领殖民了几乎整个寰球,而在十九世纪中旬,西方白种人与其他人几乎是人夷之别。十九世纪末期,日本人和中国人都要想西洋人学习,尤其是学习他们的先进科学和技术。在那个时候,东方人都怀疑自己脑子本质上就是不如西洋人的,此在西洋遥遥领先横扫全球的情况是所预料的自然心理反应。不过,日本以飞快的速度吸收了大多西洋科技,成了第一个非西方现代化国家,此由1905年俄日战争之胜利所标志。中国人现代化的比日本晚的多,二十世纪上半中国所处于的内忧外患以及军阀内战对此有大大阻碍,可是中国派出去的留学生在理工科学的很好,逐渐把这些更先进的知识带回了他们的祖国。中国人和日本人打进近代科学的绝对一流的成果也都是从数学然后理论物理开始的,日本是第一世界大战时的高木贞治(Teiji Takagi)然后三十年代时的汤川秀树(Hideki Yukawa),中国是二战时期左右的华罗庚和陈省身,然后五十年代的杨振宁和李政道,这些都是在最需要智商的学科,表示了东亚民族极端的科学聪明才智。之后,中国人和日本人出的这样的人越来越多,现在已到频繁,不过在最顶级比西方还是要差一点或一些,尤其是中国。所以或许还是西方人最能出最天才的种子。

我总是觉得最最聪明的人大多还是犹太人,可以说二十世纪是没有一个,至少得以广泛认可的,与John von Neumann齐智的人了。同样,即使在科学深度和眼光也是犹太人处于巅峰。但是,这一点不是完全没有异议的。我的一位非犹裔国际数学奥赛金牌白人朋友却觉得东亚人比犹太人聪明,令我吃惊。不过,或许今天在年青一代还真的是这样,以中国学生为主的东亚学生常是精英数学竞赛的佼佼者,甚至占其主部为据,加上今年也有越来越多东亚数学家做出的精彩结果,以张益唐的孪生素为代表。徐道辉也跟我说,东亚人和犹太人是两个很不同的分布,前者多广泛,后者少儿精。对此,我想到了类似的比喻,那就是犹太人如斯坦福或哈佛,而东亚人如伯克利。此人口分布之差依然会给以最精犹多之结果,在这一点,我记得一位华裔国际数学奥赛金牌曾跟我说,犹太人虽然平均更聪明,但是东亚裔可以由数量弥补,照样可以出陶哲轩或张益唐这样的人。当然,智力难以作绝对的比较,因为每个人都有他自己的风格和特点,有长有短,而我感觉东亚人与犹太人,作为集体,表现出他们才华也是各有各的“民族特色”,是上千上万年分开进化所导致的基因和文化差异的必然结果。

诸多西方右派学者会谈到当代西方劣生的趋势。在此,已逝世的加拿大心理学家Philippe Rushton曾提到黑死病大大提升欧洲人智商而促使西方和人类文明大爆发的设想,并且猜测从此,白种人一直在逐渐退化到他们所有的“自然水平”,将此事件划为一个彻底改变人类走向的大偶然,并且对东方社会,尤其是中国,具有在西方主流极少有的乐观,并早在2006年就大胆说“他们足有脑力与我们同步或比我们更高。”现在看来,他是一位极其有远见的敢于纯粹真实的挑战主流错误观点的孤胆西方心理学家。他的研究发表曾经引起过轩然大波,不过我相信历史会证明他为类似于伽利略的科学烈士。Rushton的研究既科学又透彻,将智商和性格,在种族之间,与大脑和整个身体结构提出了整体的带有生理发育和进化缘故的描述与结论。Rushton的一位同派对偶学者Richard Lynn甚至觉得东方人会是西方文明的继承人,认为中国有更先进的,更高智商性质的,可以做出更有效决定及决策的”专制“制度可促进超越似的腾飞。

这一点和徐道辉所提的“明智的政府”有交叉。美国有世界上最聪明的人做出伟大的科技贡献,但是美国也有太多愚蠢的有地位和权利的人和整体智商低带来的彻底否认基因因素自由主义白左文化占有一定政治分量,而相反,中国政府的人都是相当聪明的理性的经受过理工科教育的人。在过去,几百年,欧洲西方文明一直站在主流领导地位,从而中国人的不自信和感受到的压力对外是根深蒂固的,不过中国还一直在改革开放同时坚持走自己独特的,前所未有的发展道路和政治经济制度。如果中国能够大胆进行基因的探索和优化,很可能会开创伟大的新的历史潮流。在当前所讲的讨论里,徐道辉也说如果有任何大国竞争,能够生出(并且培养出)各行各业的最好的人的必然会是赢者。

还有一点被徐道辉阐述,那就是某一个上世纪初左右的调查发现在十二岁智商是最能预测长寿的变量,比二十多岁的BMI对其所占的差还要大。更高的智商说明一个人一般会做出更好的身体治理选择,比如不吸毒和日常锻炼,同样也具备更佳的身体基因,得到的与基因相连的病总体而言会少一些,轻一些。Rushton也提到了智商与长寿的联系,在他的书里把东亚人定位最长寿的。虽然粗略,但有一定道理,在于我们能看到东亚人老化比其他民族晚一些,而且日本作为最发达的东亚国家具有世界最长的预期寿命之一,也具有被记载验证的在世超级人瑞(高于110岁的人)的相当大的比例。Rushton也写到东亚人有稍长一点的孕期和稍晚一点的发育期起头,这些是百分之百客观的事实,是分开进化多年导致的结果,也对从某种角度而言东亚人更进化有所隐式。这只能说明智商是人的最中心变量,最有预测力量的变量,连与智商肤浅而观毫无联系的人的特征与人生结果都有一定的,相当一致的统计相关。

我们还能看到智商与价值观和政治观点的密切联系,聪明的人的趣味经常相和,而反过来也有沆瀣一气的说法。我们能看到高智商的人少有宗教教条,比较唯物主义,即使是虔诚的信教者,也是比较理性对待大多问题,经常把教当做一种欣赏的文化遗产,其过时不道之点明知而适当忽略。相反,低智商的人有问题的几率远远更高,经常过这悲惨的生活,无奈感受到住在半瘫痪悟觉里的痛苦,所有人,即使聪明人,都有幼小软弱无能的经过,可以对此感受有所理解,只不过孩子因为是孩子会有成人照顾,而成人承担一定的责任是社会的要求,则一个低智商或缺乏克制力的脑子没有完善发育的人走向社会带来的必然会带来一定的悲剧。从这一点出发,只有提高人的基因才能解决人类面临的诸多问题。我们现在所做的很多是在给病人吃止痛剂,而不是把疾病的根源消灭掉。

虽然困难障碍很多,但我还是保持一定的乐观。我相信在我有生之年我们会至少走向脱胎换骨跨越智人能力限制的初步,解除世界遗患,给我们的后代创造更美好的未来,让他们享受到我们无法的更清醒的意识感受!

Innate mathematical ability

This morning I had the great pleasure of reading an article on LessWrong on innate ability by Jonah Sinick. Jonah has been one of my greatest influences and inspirations, having interacted with him substantially. He is unusual in one of the best ways possible. I would not be surprised if he goes on to do something extraordinary.

When I catch up with Jonah, I like to talk with him about math, mathematicians, and IQ, which happens to be what that article of his on LessWrong is about. 😉 That article resonates with me deeply because I myself had similar experiences as he did. It is hypothesized by me that I was also twice exceptional, albeit in different ways, with its effects compounded by my unusual background, all of which mediocrities within the American public school system are not good at dealing with in an effectual way.

This writing of Jonah has brought forth reflections in my own mind with regard to mathematical ability, development, and style. I’ll say that as a little kid under 6, I was very good at arithmetic and even engaged in it obsessively. However, by age 8, after two years of adjusting to life in America starting off not knowing a word of English, I had forgotten most of that. I was known to be good at math among the normal normal students; of course, that doesn’t mean much. In grade school, I was not terribly interested in math or anything academic; I was more interested in playing and watching sports, particularly basketball and baseball.

I didn’t have any mathematical enrichment outside of school other than this silly after school math olympiad program. Nonetheless, I managed to test into two year accelerated math once I reached junior high, not that it means anything. In junior high, we were doing this stupid “core math” with graphing calculators and “experiments.” I didn’t realize that I was actually a joke at math until I failed miserably at the state mathcounts contest, having not prepared for it, unlike all those other tiger mommed Asian kids, who to me seemed way beyond me at that time. It only occurred to me that I might have some real talent for math when I made the AIME in 10th grade, taking the AMCs for the first time, being one of four in my high school of about 2000 to do so. I thought it was fun solving some of those math contest problems, which were more g-loaded, with an emphasis on the pattern recognition side.

It was after that I started to read up on the history of mathematics and mathematicians. I taught myself some calculus and was fascinated by it, not that I understood it very well. But I could easily sense that this was much more significant than many of those contrived contest problems, and soon, I began to lose interest in the contest stuff. It was also after that that I learned about proving things, which the American public school math doesn’t teach. I finally realized what mathematics is really about.

Like Jonah, I had some difficulties with careless errors and mental organization. I don’t think my raw intellectual horsepower was very high back in high school, but fortunately, it has improved substantially since then that it is for the most part no longer the major impediment.

I took calculus officially in 11th grade, and it was a breeze for me. I could easily compute the areas and volumes and such but the entire time, I felt quite dissatisfied, because I could not actually understand that stuff at a rigorous, theoretical level as I poured through our textbook that went up to vector calculus during lecture, which was rather inane, expected if one considers the mismatch between cognitive threshold relative to the distribution of ability of the students. I knew from reading online the rich world of math far beyond what we were covering, most of which I was not intellectually mature enough to access at that time. However, I vividly remember during summer after 11th grade, while attending a math summer program, I was able to comfortably write out the delta epsilon definition of limit with understanding of why it was reasonably defined that way. Still, I would say I was still quite weak in terms of both my mathematical maturity and overall intellectual ability. There were too many things I wasn’t aware of, including the g factor, that I easily would have been had I been higher in verbal ability, which would have enabled me to read, absorb, and internalize information much more rapidly and broadly. In contrast, Jonah had discovered independently, or so he says, the lack of free will at the age of 7!

I made some incremental advances in my math knowledge from reading and thinking outside of school the next year. As for contest math, I almost made the USAMO. Though I had improved, I was still not terribly quick and careful with solving contest style problems and doing computations. I think close to graduation, I also solved some Putnam problems.

Only in undergrad did I learn real math more seriously, but even there, nothing too advanced. US undergrad is a joke, and I also was one, just to a lesser extent than most of my “peers.” Almost certainly, Jonah, based on he’s told me, had gained much deeper and broader knowledge at the same stage, from the reading works of giants like Euler and Riemann.

I’ve noticed how there are a lot of Chinese-(American) kids really into those high school math contests, and they now also dominate USAMO and Putnam (though careful, as in the latter, there you’ve got some of Chinese internationals drawn from the elite from China). I will say that at the lower levels, many of those kids have some pretty low taste and an inability to think outside the system that would enable them to discover the existence of real math, as opposed to this artificial math game that they enjoy playing or are pressured to doing so for college. Though those contests have a high pattern recognition component to them, there is not really much depth or substantial math knowledge. It is also my belief, with reference to Jonah’s article, that math contests are mostly M loaded while real math is more V loaded. So this behavior is consistent with the lopsidedness in favor of M and perhaps also short term working memory of Chinese students. It has also been Jonah’s belief that controlling for g, these contests select for low taste and value judgement, and I surely identify with that perspective. So maybe college admissions are somewhat fair to assess an Asian penalty?

Of the thesis of Jonah’s article, a representative figure is Terry Tao. There, Jonah also pointed out that Tao’s research in math is more concrete and problem solving oriented by pure math standards, in line with what appears to be the same lopsided (modulo the absolute level, as Terry is a far far outlier) cognitive profile of his based on testing at age 9 and 10. Again, people enjoy what they are best at, and though, Terry Tao is almost certainly at least +4 sigma at verbal, he is far more rare, at least +5 sigma, a real übermensch, in the (in some sense dual) pattern recognition component, which means he leans towards the areas of math more loaded on the latter. I have heard the saying that even other Fields medalists are intimidated by Terry Tao. The breadth and volume and technical power of his work is almost unrivaled and otherworldly. The media makes it seem like Terry is a league above even the other Fields medalists. However, Jonah seems to believe that the deepest and most leading of mathematicians are the ones who are more theory builders, who create through leaps of insight and synthesis new fields and directions that keep mathematicians busy for decades, and even centuries. That would be say Grothendieck or SS Chern, and an ability that is more loaded on verbal ability, crudely speaking. Again, I have felt the same. This might explain why the advantage of Chinese students is not anywhere near as pronounced in math research as in contests, and why some people say that generally speaking, the Chinese mathematicians are more problem solving and technical than theoretical, more analysis than algebra. Likewise, we can predict the opposite for Jews who are skewed in favor of verbal. A corollary of this would be that the Jews produce the deepest thinkers, adjusted somewhat for population, which is almost certainly the case, if you look at the giants of mathematics and theoretical physics.

I’ll conclude with the following remark. I used to revere somewhat those who placed very highly on those contests, until I realized that many of them are actually somewhat weak in terms of deep understanding and thinking at a more theoretical level. Yes, I have met MOSPers who got destroyed by real math and who are not very intellectually versatile, with glaring weaknesses; I was quite surprised initially that even I seemed to be smarter if not a lot than some of them. Once upon a time, I couldn’t understand those who appeared very strong at real math (and often also science and/or engineering and/or humanities) who struggled with more concrete math and/or contest-style problem solving, like Jonah, who has written on LessWrong of his difficulties with accuracy on the trivial math SAT. I’ve met this other guy, who I thought was an idiot for being unable to perform simple computations, who is leagues beyond me in the most abstract of math, who writes prolifically about partially V-loaded areas of math like model theory. Now, the more metacognitive me has awakened to the reality that I may never by deficit of my neurobiology be able to fathom and experience what they’re capable of. After all, there are plenty I am almost certain are and are essentially doomed to be very delusional by nature relative to me, and since I’m at the far tail but not quite so much, there are bound to be people who view me the same. I can only hope that I can become more like them through some combination of exposure and organic neurobiological growth, but I as a realist will not deem that very likely.

Various thoughts, here and there

Another exhausting week of work is past, and I am presented with another chance to wind down. Last night, through various casual reading, I was reminded of the concept of “effeminacy.” In many contexts, if you’re a man, the worst you can be seen as is “effeminate.” And of course, American culture stereotypes Asian men (specifically East Asian men) as effeminate. On this, there is this and this, among many other similar articles, especially the notorious this, which I stumbled on several years ago. I’ll say that there is as far as I can tell some truth to this from an objective biological point of view, in the likes of higher and softer voices and lower testosterone levels in East Asian men relative to white men, and also in white men relative to black men. On this note, I was also reminded of some comment of Michael O Church on reddit (which I cannot easily find anymore) that used “high IQ androgyny” as a factor to illustrate how super smart people (like +3.5 even +4 sigma g) get smashed in the corporate world, politically. It brought me to wonder if far tail g men really are more effeminate, which is likely to be the case, as there has got to be some biological tradeoff for the substantially larger brain that is the material source of such extreme cognitive ability. The light, nasal (or whatever you call it, for lack of better word I can think of) of voices of various mathematicians echoed back to me one after another, in contrast to the deeper and superficially more assertive and aggressive (and masculine) voices of those dumber business guys (mostly WASPs) in positions of power in the corporate world. Speaking of WASP, I could see also how Jews are perhaps more effeminate as well; I’d seen and heard enough that I feel I could intuitively recognize a Jewish voice as well, with of course there being the style of language in combination with the vocal mannerisms that sounds it more distinctively Jewish. I’ve long noticed that though East Asians reared in US mostly speak without an accent, it is still often easy to tell that it is an East Asian voice; such just goes to show how real race is, how rearing in an alien land and culture changes not the deeply engrained racial characteristics which go beyond physical appearance. It is quite a marvel indeed and a beautiful product of human evolution, a panorama of human biodiversity, that of course varies significantly more among individuals of groups than among the group averages. East Asians may be effeminate in the sense aforementioned, but interestingly, there is this “mad Asian guy” on Steve Hsu’s blog who in comments has written of the East Asian cognitive profile relative to the white one as akin to the male one vis-a-vis the female one, which is the undebatable truth born out by the result of testing that has across generations revealed East Asians to be higher by about if not at least two-thirds standard deviation in math and visual spatial, thereby making white people more effeminate in another sense.

Human (biological) development is quite fascinating, especially those of outliers, of which I am one to quite a degree, though probably not enough to make me genuinely distinguished (as in 1 in 100,000 or even 1,000,000 in terms of rarity of ability and accomplishment) in any way ever. We all know that top athletes in legit sports like Shaq are physical freaks of nature who deviate dramatically from the norm in their physical development but in one still constrained by the bell curve, physically speaking, but more consequentially, there are geniuses of mind the brains of which are extremely unusual in such a way that concrete output, in terms of quality and profundity, and to a lesser extent quantity is exponentially increasing as one goes further along the tail in our artificially created bell curve. These people, by virtue of their unusual brain structure, are able to perceive the world, engage in a form of consciousness, far beyond, and more objectively correct than, what the normal human experiences. One can only put oneself in another mind rationally; it is impossible to do so for real. As an example to illustrate, it is impossible to feel the way a mentally sick person does when one is healthy and that does not change for one who has recovered from a depressive episode with respect to oneself. Saying this brings to my mind the following quote of Huxley:

Perhaps men of genius are the only true men. In all the history of the race there have been only a few thousand real men. And the rest of us–what are we? Teachable animals. Without the help of the real man, we should have found out almost nothing at all. Almost all the ideas with which we are familiar could never have occurred to minds like ours.

This quote obviously has eugenicist overtones. It hints at a need of measure to protect against degeneration of a human species that for all its wonder and power, relative to real animals, is still mostly degenerate. It also evokes fear, especially in this day and age when genomic prediction and selection is imminent, that some elite will use it to rule an ignorant, subservient masses. We are and already have been in such a world for ages, with the heritability of ability coupled with transmission of money and power in a feudalistic manner, just now in disguise, with additional channels for mobility now for those of ability from lower background. The elite still rules and exploits the masses, just in a way more benign than ages ago with slavery and priestly spiritual opium abound. There is all the evidence that the best we can create as a society is to provide for everyone an environment and position and work appropriate for his ability and temperament taking into account of course the needs of society. There is also the observation that in general, those of higher ability have higher expectations in terms of what they do and also in terms of their material life, just as kids expect less than adults, in terms of their lifestyle. While there are significant differences in ability, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to make people a bit smarter, I would not say there is anything terribly particular one should be, and that everyone should try to find and bring out what is suitable for one’s ability and one’s circumstances, and hopefully something that is never seen before. I’ve lived long enough to be aware that every stage there is a unique personal challenge, and that one’s position relative to others does not necessarily affect one’s happiness much.

History has witnessed clashes, often in the form of war, between races, cultures, beliefs, systems. Groups have, in contempt or hatred of another, sought the other’s destruction, the other’s subjugation, the other’s cultural conversion, particularly in the religious sphere. It is human nature and also human weakness. There is a human inability to respect another far different from oneself for what the other is and a tendency in such cases to be imposing, with this’s being particularly prominent in certain religious cultures. I have had such myself, but they are as far as I can tell largely cleansed away, upon my realization of the differences in humans inherent and not permanently malleable, as evidence by significant changed in people once removed from parental pressure, once they are more free to do as they choose. In this regard, I take a more liberal attitude and come to cherish the diversity in culture, the diversity in styles of thinking, the diversity in talents across the world and across professions. I’ve come to realize over time that to feel contempt for another for his beliefs and tastes is futile, a waste of energy, and in such cases, parting ways, and viewing the difference as a mere reality, one observed and chuckled at, is the best way to go. Moreover, contempt can even metamorphize into some form of appreciation for the richness of our world in the variety it offers, in which one is but one constituent.