More on negative Chinese stereotypes

I talk with a guy who knows British race and intelligence researcher Richard Lynn, who prophesized back in 2001 in a book on eugenics that China will, with a combination of high IQ, size (both in land mass and population), and authoritarian government, eventually rule the world. I asked him what he thinks about that. His response was:

Chinese deeply incompetent and bad personality for innovation. But maybe if Western keeps importing blacks and Muslims…
It’s a good question and important

For more context on Lynn, I’ll copy directly from his book.

The nations of East Asia are likely to develop their economic, scientific, technological, and military strength during the twenty-first century by virtue of the high intelligence levels of their populations and the absence of any serious dysgenic processes. These countries have not allowed the growth of an underclass with high dysgenic fertility, and they have not permitted dysgenic immigration. China will continue its rapid economic development and will emerge as a new superpower in the early middle decades of the twentyfirst century. Chinese economic, scientific, and military strength is likely to be increased by the further development of the eugenic programs introduced in the 1980s and 1990s and particularly by the introduction of the new eugenics of embryo selection and the cloning of elites. As the power of the United States declines, China and Europe will emerge as the two superpowers. A global conflict will develop between them in which Europe will become progressively weakened by dysgenic forces and China progressively strengthened by eugenic programs. This conflict will eventually be won by China, which will use its power to assume control of the world and to establish a world state. This event will become known as “the end of history.” Once China has established a world state, it can be expected to administer this on the same lines as former colonial empires by appointing Chinese governors and senior military and administrative support staff in charge of the provinces of its world empire or by allowing nationals of its subject peoples to administer the provinces under Chinese supervision. The establishment of a Chinese world state will inevitably not be welcomed by the peoples of the rest of the world, who will become colonized populations governed by an oligarchy based in Beijing. There will be no democracy, and a number of freedoms will be curtailed, including freedom to publish seditious material and to have unlimited numbers of children. There will, however, be certain compensating benefits. There will be no more wars between independent nation states with the attendant dangers of the use of nuclear weapons and biological warfare. It will be possible to deal with the problems of dysgenic fertility, global warming, deforestation, the population explosion in the developing world, the AIDS epidemic, and similar global problems that cannot be tackled effectively in a world of independent nation states. Among the world state’s first objectives will be the reversal of dysgenic processes and the introduction of eugenic programs throughout the world. Over the longer term the world state will set up research and development programs for the use of genetic engineering to improve the human genome and to produce a new human species able to solve hitherto unsolvable problems and to colonize new planets. This will be the ultimate achievement of Galton’s vision of using eugenics to replace natural selection with consciously designed human selection.

This scenario for the twenty-first century, in which China assumes world domination and establishes a world eugenic state, may well be considered an unattractive future. But this is not really the point. Rather, it should be regarded as the inevitable result of Francis Galton’s (1909) prediction made in the first decade of the twentieth century, that “the nation which first subjects itself to a rational eugenical discipline is bound to inherit the earth” (p. 34).

And also an excerpt with reference to the perceived lack of personality conducive to innovation on the part of Chinese:

Once China has established the world state, it will be concerned with raising the prosperity of its subject populations, just as other colonial powers have been. One of its first measures to promote this objective will be to introduce worldwide eugenic programs. These will include programs of both positive and negative eugenics. With regard to negative eugenics, one of its first objectives will be to reverse the dysgenic fertility that appeared in Europe, the United States, and the rest of the economically developed world in the middle and later decades of the nineteenth century and persisted into the twentieth century and that developed later in most of the remainder of the world. It can be expected that in its European and North American provinces, the Chinese will introduce the same eugenic measures that had been pioneered in China, consisting of both the classical eugenics of parental licensing and the new eugenics of the mandatory use of embryo selection for conception. The Chinese may well also introduce the cloning of the elites of the European peoples. The Chinese will be aware that while they and other Oriental peoples have a higher average intelligence, the European peoples have a greater capacity for creative achievement, probably arising from a higher level of psychopathic personality, enabling them more easily to challenge existing ways of thinking and to produce creative innovations. This will be part of human genetic diversity that the Chinese will be keen to preserve and foster. They will regard the European peoples rather in the same way as the Romans regarded the Greeks after they had incorporated them into the Roman empire. Although the Romans had conquered the Greeks by their military superiority, they respected the Greeks for having developed a higher level of civilization than they themselves had been able to achieve. The Chinese will view their European subject peoples in a similar manner.

I do increasingly believe, as I’ve already written numerous times on this blog, that lack of creative potential of Chinese is way overstated. In the 20th century, they achieved a fair bit in terms of creativity at the highest levels, especially in STEM, in spite of very disadvantaged environmental circumstances. The Chinese did not develop modern science; I think though this has more to do with their having started later, civilization-wise, than the rest of the world due to limited scope and geographic obstacles than with their innate ability/personality. Agriculture and writing were independently developed in China substantially later than it was in Mesopotamia. I see an analogy here. Chinese often like to use the fact that Japan did not develop its own writing system to show contempt for this comparatively little country that Chinese themselves suffered so much from in modern times. This is clearly not because Japanese are less naturally talented (their IQ is about the same); they were basically too small to do so before Chinese characters were transmitted to them. There are actually quite a few Chinese who achieved at the highest levels of STEM (and even more Japanese), they are lesser known though due to their foreignness. As for names, there are quite a few, and one can easily find them online. I’ll go as far as Chen-Ning Yang in theoretical physics and Shing-Shen Chern in pure math.

Again, Chinese culture still lacks presence in the outside world, and China itself is still a developing country, though of course significant parts of China are basically at developed levels GDP wise. So even if Chinese are extremely good and creative, they have a harder time getting recognized and realizing their potential. This also has much to do with a relative lack of truly leading edge science culture and tradition in China, which will take some time. Transmission of knowledge from cultures and lands so far apart is by no means trivial.

We all know that it’s often not enough to be actually good. You also have to win politically. China is increasingly doing that. Its political system far apart from the norm set by the West is becoming increasingly credible to the dismay of many Western elites as China rises in economically, technologically, and militarily. The more powerful China becomes, the more easily Chinese will be able to advocate for themselves on the international stage and get recognized for their achievements. This reminds me of how many say Soviet scientists had to do better work than Western scientists to win the same big prizes, most of all the Nobel, because the West had the political sway to bias the committees to its favor somewhat. There is also, I guess, that the West can be very biased in who it promotes in the media. Like, the Nobel Peace Prize is a basically a complete joke, but there are people politically influential enough to make a big deal out of it.

What I believe is grossly under-recognized is how much creativity and daring it has taken for the Chinese to create their own, unique political system and maintain sufficient faith in it up to this day. In many ways, in this respect, the 90s, right after the Soviet collapse, when there was all this Francis Fukuyama end of history nonsense, was a nadir for China. But we’re now past that, and time seems to be on the side of the Chinese. I guess they will still need more people like me to advocate for these alternative perspectives to the extent that they becomes the new normal, in the international setting.

为什么中国核心科技依然薄弱

我与一位清华电子工程毕业但博士之后转至软件开发的人午饭聊天,他说若Facebook消失,人很可能变得更加有效,而相反,若Intel消失,科技及我们的现代生活会几乎停顿。此理明显,而甚少所提。在本人眼中,将网络公司英文述为”tech”,其实是对技术的一种严重歪曲,对理工真才实学的人是一种笑话,也是对他们的一种贬值,因为这种虚伪的词语宣传只不过是起一种误导公众及反知识反科学的不良效应。当然,在市场经济,真正的天分和能力经常是不太受重视并经济价值不高,价值高的反而是会做买卖会搞关系会吹的人和技术含量不高但助做买卖的工作,典型为网络公司的码农。一般来讲,高级的理工人才非常的专或者如果做理论的东西未有直接的经济价值,选择(若留在他们的专长里)极少,所以很少能拿到特别高的工资。这也是为什么中国(美国也差不多)愿意投资或投入核心科技产品,以芯片为典型例子,的人极少,即使非常聪明天性善于真正科技的人也经常随着社会及经济压力和诱惑离开他们当前的热爱,这是很可怜的趋势。一般人的视野是极其肤浅的,没办法,只能通过优生加上教育提高一个社会的整体素质,可惜的是,在市场经济下,连教育都会成为给学生提供的产品,尤其在现在的制度文化放纵的美国。不过美国由于他之前某些划时代性创新,如半导体的发明,所积累的领先地位,无论如何,都会有精英追求真正的工作,当然现在比以前也少的多了。中国不然,还很落后,必须依靠明智的计划制度弥补多年的空白。

中国人基础科学做的牛的与国外相比的确比较少,而且大多在国外,这没有什么争议。中国的精英科学文化的确还远远差于西方,缺乏适当的传统,这只能慢慢建立,在这一点可以像很成功的日本学习一下。我感觉从某种角度而言,中国人还是非常缺乏日本人所有的那种为民族奉献的精神,这一点,老一辈是有,但是从改革开放上大学那一辈开始就基本消失了,受美国人的精神污染了。共和国头30年被迫隔离于美国大大推迟了,从某种角度,中国的经济发展,但是迫使了中国建立一种科技上自力更生的传统。随着改革开放,中国融入美国为主的体系,这种精神有了大大的涣散,但是也有遗留。比如我跟我的美国朋友说中国计算机上还未出过真正有国际影响的尖端产品,他却回答中国阻止美国网络公司而建立自己的网络企业是明智的选择不然早就被外国给吞下去了。中国封闭Google和Facebook的确很丢人,可是为了自己的经济实力和国家战略角度而言,此代价不用说是远远直得的。我也想到过,如果中国政府如五六十年代那样限制精英的个人自由绝对不允许出国留学的”彻底叛变”但是给他们远远更好地培养和工作安排,中国今天的科技水平会远远更高研制出远远更多的尖端技术产品,拥有独立的包括芯片及其生态系统(是包括操作系统和兼容的以后所有重要的应用软件)。

有人说中国快要超过美国了,我问在什么方面?他回“在所有方面。”我说在经济上凭中国的量加上整体水平相当高会很可怕的,但是以科技代表的质量还有很漫长的路要走,中国的尖端科技水平还是太落后了,有很漫长的路要走。中国人必须在学习先进国家的同时,发展出自己独特的科技研发的体系和风格,敢于采取在适当的情况下极端的措施为实现目的,不要太在乎别人的看法,尤其美国的看法,因为中国现在已经有足够的实力和好的趋势支撑全心全意的追求自己的道路。

有一位从中国过来的在计算机行业工作的人有一次跟我说“ABC最惨,既不能当美国人又失去了当中国人的机会。”他觉得在美国的华人作为被动的少数民族是非常可怜的。在看到哈弗大学对华裔学生的系统其实被证实的情况下,我自己也会说,凭自己的经验,天分高的华人与他们能力复合的培养和发展机会是相对难的,导致华人的水平和地位低于他们的天分,与白人相比。美国的体制把好多先天很好的中国孩子搞坏,不光在事业上,同时也给他们一些自我认同问题。这些人如果留在中国,在得到足够政府支持的情况下,能为中国作出伟大的贡献而非在美国被荒废掉。不光是他们,还有他们的子孙。由于移民制度对高智商的筛选(大略,移民率是智商的单挑函数),在美国的华人的智商分布会有很粗的右尾巴,但是美国种族配额和歧视能容纳的给华人的高智商发展机会是有限的,很多华人必然怀才不遇,大材小用。

我小学一年级来美国,但慢慢的发觉美国文化有很多非常骗人的地方,所以要防止洗脑啊。在了解美国文化和体质和学习美国好的东西的同时,阅读中文,学习俄文,接触欣赏苏联和中国的红色基因给了我对世界更多元化的认识。虽然前苏联已经大败解体了,未能全面,即使在科技的范围内,追上美国,它依然做出好多精彩的结果,以严峻危机所促进的革命性的新制度实现了奇迹,震惊了世界,给了当时贫穷落后受列国欺凌的中国适当的启发和榜样,也提供了决定性的科技知识和援助,让中国千年的古文明在近代战火的背景下浴火重生,直到今天,面临着超级大国的地位。苏联创造的新制度,新文化给世界留下了宝贵的财富,在科学上,在艺术上,在政治思想和体质上。我觉得苏联的那套远远的更符合中国的国情,尤其与美国相比,中国应当把苏联的东西适当的与自己的文化和情况相结合,把社会主义带到前所未有的高峰。当然,中国若要真正成为前苏联那样的超级大国,必须先成为科技强国,做一些颠覆性带领潮流的首先,像苏联的航天那样,而非仅在别人的核心工作基础之上做出一些实用性科技。这需要自信而系统的发挥自己文化和体质的强点和独特之处,大胆的投入长期的核心科技研发和基础探索,促成更多的不同尖端领域的独特文化和群体。中国精英知识分子要多发扬先辈所继承的革命精神,非崇洋媚外,敢于挑战权威,创造新的奇迹载入史册。

On manipulating perceptions

My thoughts on the importance of perception management, in addition to actually being good, by way of a chat log.

dude I think the jewish domination of liberal media is just IQ
if white americans are 100 SD 15, ashkenazim are 115 SD 15
Then if you look at 130+
In the US you have a 30:1 ratio but among 130+ you would expect like
2:1
dude like 1/3 of the 130+ whites in the US are jews
jewish verbal is probably even > 115 since spatial is lower
also they are coastal and liberal
 
lol you idiot it has much to do with personality socioeconomics culture too
 
which leads to more representation
yeah i’m saying that
coastal and liberal
already on the 2:1
updating more
 
Lol also if Jewish verbal is so high why are Asians beating them at PSAT/SAT
 
stats?
 
English/culture
 
Read Myth of American Meritocracy by Unz
 
link me the stats
 
I read it
 
He has stats there
 
have you read Janet Mertz takedown
 
Yes I’ve skimmed through that
 
Unz overestimates harvard % jewish
and underestimates other things
 
Sure he probably does a little
 
math olympiad % jewish
wait like half the white people at mop are jewish
like half
Since it can be hard to tell by surname
dude I think chinese americans have a massive
verbal IQ
way higher than of mainland china
maybe even higher than ashkenazim
But they haven’t been here long enough
like Jews in the 50s
also a lot of them are not interested
in verbal professions
 
how trainable is verbal SAT?
 
I agree the trainability of the SAT is overstated by people but cramming vocab is totally a thing, no
I dont trust unz statistics at all lol
 
Lol because Chinese-Americans know that verbal careers like law are rigged against them
So many strong ones are hesitant to enter
There’s a cultural affinity aspect to that as well
 
chinese prefer medicine or law
I think a lot of it also is that a society with a functional legal system is alien to most chinese people 😛
once I asked zuming whether china had a legal system
his response: No
 
Haha he’s both right and wrong
 
but yeah law is jewish
but I mean jews are not pulling the strings or anything
like
they are smart verbally
And they tend to be coastal and liberal
The tribe is not jews, it’s coastal liberals
130+ secular coastal liberals are like half jewish
but they dont think of themselves as jewish but as secular coastal liberals
like NYT columnists are half jewish
because 130+ secular costal liberals in the US are half jewish
 
Lol lol
 
if you add the adjective new york
secular new york coastal liberals
it’s a majority easily
 
NYT columnists
 
like manhattan is 20% jewish
 
NYT is full of garbage
 
?
its pretty reliable
Sometimes they call Rouhani a “moderate” and I wince – he’s certainly better than ahmadenijad, but he’s no moderate … “pragmatist” is the right word
 
You really need to broaden your horizons lol
 
hmm?
 
See politically, the Anglo world is setting the standards right now
 
yes, I very much enjoy not living in a society with sesame credit
 
sesame credit?
 
yes
 
I don’t even know what that is
 
china could become an orwellian state
 
Oh that
 
isn’t that great
 
Orwellian state what does that even mean
 
 
It’s just this phrase for evil regime coined by the Anglo media based on the works of an Anglo writer, that’s all.
I’ve read 1984 and Animal Farm
They’re pretty good
Very hyperbolic of course, as is much media
I actually exchanged briefly with Unz
 
ok
 
Maybe I should ask him about what he thinks of Jews being subsumed into the white category in these racial classifications
What do you think of these IQ tests as actual measures of real, biological intelligence
They are very noisy for sure
Especially verbal, because exposure to language varies widely
 
on an individual level
noisy
on a group level good
they are measuring something important
Whether it’s 100% genetic I dont know
I doubt it
 
Lol when most Chinese kids’ parents don’t know English all that well
Heck I’m even unfamiliar with some of the more colloquial English language
People viewed me as funny for it in school
 
sure
what do you think about steven pinker
he’s one of my favorite people
 
No opinion of him
Also those tests are noisy predictors of actual ability on real things as well from my observation
The discrimination against Asians in admissions right now is likely partially premised on the perception that their test scores inflate their actual ability due to prep.
There is still the perception that Asians do well in school but don’t go on to do great things
Again it’s only a perception
Being good and being perceived as good are far from perfectly correlated.
 
I think there is discrimnation against asians
for being recent
for being perceived as grade grubbers
 
Yeah they’re also not rich or well-connected.
 
this perception is not wholly unjustified ofc
yeah also that
i am strongly opposed to ivy asian quotas
 
There is resistance towards Asians becoming successful in America
It’s a white country after all
 
eh
 
Anyhow, I think in a matter of time, the best young people in China will come here for grad school less and less.
America will become a place for China to send its second-rates.
I’ve written that China needs to get better at marketing
 
china gives 0 shits about academics
it’s way too right wing to care about academics
 
too right wing?
And I’ve read on Zhihu that in recent years, the Chinese who studied math in France have turned out better than the ones who came to US for grad school.
 
that’s about france vs US
not china vs US
 
Lol math I think the best young people will still study abroad for a while.
There’s also engineering
Plenty of that China does well now.
I think in actual STEM ability/competence, China/Chinese still have much room for improvement, but now, they’re not bad, and the potential is there, with trends in favor of them.
It’s the whole game of manipulating perceptions that will take longer
Due to cultural difference and inertia
In that regard, it’s already been massively successful in just the last five years if you think about it
The media portrayal in the West has already drastically changed.
For instance, dismissiveness of Chinese tech companies is metamorphizing into fear.
I’m not gonna argue whether or not it’s gone to the other extreme
People can have different opinions on that
In any case, I don’t think China has transitioned to foundational innovator, that’ll take a while, but the increasing level of sophistication combined with the scale is certainly very formidable.
China still relies on US companies for its semiconductors/chips. She has not created a viable ecosystem for its homegrown ones yet. But that could well happen in a decade.
Then US will have even less bargaining chip.
Now, China can easily get away with what it’s doing to Taiwan largely because it is so much stronger economically, technologically, and militarily.
 
jack ma is a smart guy
but I mean
 
Nobody wants to piss off the powerful, because there’s much to lose.
 
china’s system doesnt make too much room for jack ma and yitang zhang
The lack of political freedom is a big obstacle here
 
Lol Jack Ma isn’t smart IQ wise
Struggled to get into a college
He has other qualities
 
The lack of political freedom is a big problem for innovation
 
Hahaha
Elaborate on that one 
 
Name a totalitarian society that was innovative
Germany under the Kaiser wasn’t really totalitarian
 
Uh, USSR?
 
all their jewish scientists moved to america and israel
ussr had good academics, certainly
Because they prevented them from leaving
They didn’t have much in the way of tech
 
Uh, Sputnik?
 
low tech
very low tech
your cell phone is better
there won’t be a chinese steve jobs
 
Sure computer technology they were behind, because semi-conductors and integrated circuits were invented in America
Lol Steve Jobs is mostly marketing 
 
shockley
eugenics
chinese bill gates
 
And what you say about Sputnik is ridiculous
First satellite in orbit
That was back in 1957 silly
You don’t think Ren Zhengfei is as impressive as Steve Jobs?
Huawei
So much of the global telecommunications infrastructure
Now their phones, which US is banning.
 
So
Lol what if China once it has the resources starts a huge propaganda/PR war
You bitch about totalitarianism
China has a ton of young people with nothing to do.
Have them troll the YouTube comments, drown out all the anti-communist Chinese.
Numbers do matter
The Chinese government could also incentivize more people in the West to start blogs supportive of Chinese ideology.
Try to buy out US media outlets
You don’t think China once it is advantaged in resources can start playing the game of manufacturing consent as well

A revisit of the drama behind the Poincaré

I recall back in 2008, when I first cared enough to learn about mathematicians, I read a fair bit of the media articles on the proof of the Poincaré conjecture. At that time, I was clueless about math, and these mathematicians seemed to me like these otherworldly geniuses. I do remember thinking once to myself that maybe it would be kind of cool to part of that world. Except at that time, I was way too dumb, and maybe I still am. However, now I actually have some idea of what math research is about, unlike back then, when my conception of math and mathematicians was more of a naive popular one.

Naturally, from that I learned about Shing-Tung Yau. I probably read that Manifold Destiny article by Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber that Yau was furious with, in response to which he hired a lawyer and had a PR site created for him to counter the libel (as perceived by him). That was pretty entertaining to read about.

The more I learned about math, about mathematicians, about how the world works, about the Chinese math establishment, and about Chinese language (which I’m pretty fluent with by now), the more accurately and deeply I could understand and thus appreciate all this. In particular, now that I know a little about Riemann surfaces, I feel closer to that rarefied world. I also read a fair bit in Chinese about that feud between Yau and Tian, which was also quite entertaining. If some of that stuff is actually true, then academia, even in its supposedly purest, hardest, and more meritocratic subject, is kind of fucked up.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking with a Harvard math undergrad who is also an IMO gold medalist. And we both mentioned Yau. 😉

What can I say about all the politics and fight for credit over whole Poincaré conjecture? Surely, it was kind of nasty. It’s fair to say that Yau was pissed (or at least disappointed) that his school (of Chinese mathematicians) lost to this lone Russian Jew. Maybe in some years time, I’ll be able to judge for myself, but for now, it seems like Perelman’s proof was correct from the start and that what Cao and Zhu, along with the other two teams of two did were merely verification and exposition of Perelman’s result. Of course, attributing a proof entirely to an individual is somewhat misleading, because anyone who knows how math works knows that any proof of a big theorem employs sophisticated machinery and theory developed by predecessors. I’ve studied enough math now to recognize to some degree the actual substance, that is, what is genuinely original, versus what is merely derivative. In the case of Perelman, they say he was using the Ricci flow developed by Hamilton. I’ve encountered many times that in learning, it is much harder to learn about a topic I have little exposure to vastly different from anything I’ve seen before than to learn what is structurally similar (albeit different in its presentation and perhaps also level of generality) to something I had thought about deeply myself already, or at least seen.

Aside from the Poincaré, the focus of that New Yorker article, the authors of it also made it seem as if Lian, Liu, and Yau stole Givental’s proof of mirror symmetry as well about a decade earlier. After all, Givental published first. I suspected that might have been the case. The narrative even made it seem somewhat like Givental was this super genius whose arguments were somewhat beyond the comprehension of Lian, Liu, and Yau, who struggled to replicate his work. Maybe because I still see, or at least saw, Jews as deeper and more original than Chinese are. Again, I still know too little, but it does seem like Jews have contributed much more to math at the high end even in recent years, say, the past three decades.

Well, I found a writing on that doctoryau website by Bong Lian and Kefeng Liu documenting the flaws and deficiencies in Givental’s paper. It looked pretty thorough and detailed, with many objections. The most memorable one was

p18: Proposition 7.1. There was just one sentence in the proof. “It can be obtained by a straightforward calculation quite analogous to that in ‘[2]’.” Here ‘[2]’ was a 228-page long paper of Dubrovin.

And I checked that that was indeed true in Givental’s paper. This certainly discredited Givental much in my eyes. It’s like: how the fuck do you prove a proposition by saying it’s a straightforward calculation analogous to one in… a 228-page paper!!!!!!!!

Not just that. There is also

p27: Proposition 9.6. In the middle of its proof, a sentence read “It is a half of the geometrical argument mentioned above.” It’s not clear what this was referring to (above where? which half?)

and

p30: Proposition 9.9. This was about certain uniqueness property of the recursion relations. The proof was half a sentence “Now it is easy to check” But, again since we couldn’t check, it’s hard to tell if it was easy or not

So basically at least three times Givental proves with “it’s trivial,” once based on analogy with a 228-page paper.

There are far from all. There are many more instances of Givental’s arguing what Lian-Liu-Yau could not follow, according to that document, the list in which is also, according to its authors, who advise strongly the reader to “examine Givental’s paper make an informed judgment for himself”, “not meant to be exhaustive.” So they’ve listed 11 gaps in that paper, one of which is glaringly obvious of a rather ridiculous nature even to one who knows not the slightest about mathematics! And they suggest there is more that, to my guess, may be much more minor that they omitted in that document so as to avoid dilution.

I’ve noticed it’s often the Chinese scientists who have a bad reputation for plagiarism, made more believable by the dearth of first-rate science out of Chinese scientists in China, though that seems to be changing lately. On the latter, many Chinese are quite embarrassed about their not having won a homegrown Nobel Prize (until Tu Youyou in 2015 for what seemed to be more of a trial-and-error, as opposed to creative, discovery) or Fields Medal. On the other hand, I’ve also heard some suspicions that it’s the Jews who are nepotistic with regard to tenure decisions and prize lobbying in science, and what Givental did in that paper surely does not reflect well. I used to think that math and theoretical physics, unlike the easier and more collaborative fields in STEM (with many working in a lab or on an engineering project), revere almost exclusively individual genius and brilliance, but it turns out that to succeed nowadays typically involves recommendations from some super famous person, at Connes attests to here (on page 32), not surprising once one considers the sheer scarcity of positions. Now I can better understand why Grothendieck was so turned off by the mathematical community, where according to him, the ethics have “declined to the point that outright theft among colleagues (especially at the expenses of those who are in no position to defend themselves) has nearly become a general rule.” More reason why I still hesitate to go all out on a career in mathematics. It can get pretty nasty for a career with low pay and probability of job security, and I could with my talents make much more impact elsewhere. One could even say that unequivocally, one who can drastically increase the number of quality math research positions (not ridden with too many hours of consuming duties not related to the research) would do more to progress mathematics than any individual genius.

I’ll conclude with some thoughts of mine on this Olympiad math that I’ve lost interest in that many mathematicians express low opinion of, though it clearly has value as a method of talent encouragement and selection at the early stage, with many Fields Medalists having been IMO medalists, usually gold. I recall Yau had criticized the system of Olympiad math in China, where making its version of MOSP gives one a free ticket to Beida and Qinghua, as a consequence of which many parents force or at least pressure their kids into Olympiad math prep courses as early as elementary school. Even there, several of the IMO gold medalists have become distinguished mathematicians. I have in mind Zhiwei Yun, Xinyi Yuan, and Xuhua He, all speakers at this year’s ICM. So the predictive power of IMO holds for the Chinese just as well as for the non-Chinese. I personally believe that Olympiad math is beneficial for technical training, though surely, the actual mathematical content in it is not that inspiring or even ugly to one who knows some real math, though for many gifted high schoolers, it’s probably the most exciting stuff they’ve seen. I do think though that one seriously interested in mathematics would have nothing to lose from ignoring that stuff if one goes about the actual math the right way.

It’s kind of funny. A few days ago when I brought up on a chat group full of MOSP/IMO alumni that now, almost half of the top 100 on the Putnam (HM and higher) are Chinese, one math PhD quite critical of math contests was like: “ST Yau would weep.” Well, I don’t think ST Yau actually regards Olympiad math as a bad thing (half tongue-in-cheek, I even remarked on that chat that doing math contests (as a high schooler) is much better than doing drugs). Many of the Olympiad/Putnam high scorers do quite well, and in some cases spectacularly so, in math research. One point I shall make about them is that they are, unlike research, a 100% fair contest. Moreover, the Putnam, which I placed a modest top 500 on, solving three problems, has problems which do not require specialized technical training as do the inequalities and synthetic geometry problems in Olympiad math that have elegant solutions. On that, I have wondered based on their current dominance of those contests: could it be that at the far tail, the Chinese (who did not actually create the scientific tradition themselves) are actually smarter than the others, including the Jews? Could it be that the Chinese are actually somewhat disadvantaged job placement and recognition wise in math academia out of a relative lack of connections and also cultural bias? What I saw in that sound and unobjectionable rebuttal of Givental’s paper, in contrast to what was presented in the media, only makes this hypothesis more plausible. I am not denying that Givental did not make a critical contribution to the proof of mirror symmetry. That he did, along with some other predecessors, seems to be well acknowledged in the series of papers by Lian-Liu-Yau later that actually gave the first rigorous, complete proof of mirror symmetry. Idea wise, I read that Lian-Liu-Yau did something significant with so called Euler data, and though not qualified to judge myself, I have every reason to believe that to be the case for now.

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!

On questioning authority

A couple years ago, my friend who won high honors at the Intel Science Talent Search told me that he was talking this guy who created some app that allows you to schedule a Uber ride for later, who was also at/near the top of the same science competition, who is extraordinarily versatile and prolific. I watched a little of a video of a TED talk he gave, wherein he explained what one can learn from ancient Hebraic texts. Overall, I wasn’t terribly terribly impressed by it, though it was quite eloquently delivered. Mostly because with those types of things, one is too free to interpret and thus, the lessons/messages given were overly generic so as to make them almost meaningless, one of which was how the Bible teaches the importance of questioning authority, with reference to the refusal to bow to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as an exemplary.

Here, Joshua like many from the same cultural root portrays questioning authority as a pillar of the Jewish moral and intellectual spirit. I would say that this has already gotten to the point of cliche. There is also, again, that people have different ideas of what it means to question authority.

First of all, what is an authority? An authority can manifest itself in many forms. It can be a political authority. It can be a government, especially a “dictatorship,” as much as I hate the usage of that word. It can be a boss at work. It can be a distinguished professor. It can be an adult when you’re a child. It can be an official or not moral, religious, or political code/ideology, or commonly accepted versions of history and its verdicts, by which I mean judgments of history as opposed to hard facts more or less incontrovertible, such as what exactly happened on X day with documentation abound. It can be the tradition we are all taught to abide by growing up with little question of their rationale and relevance, especially as times pass and change.

A corollary of my last paragraph is that to talk about questioning authority alone is almost utterly meaningless. You absolutely need some context, and Joshua did provide some. In the specific example of his I regurgitated, it is standing up against a dictator, and I’ll elaborate my thoughts on that.

Growing up in America, in my social studies classes and in the media, the mantra of dictatorship vs democracy with the latter morally superior and in many cases with its defense by virtually any means justified was heard again and again that it has itself become an authority taboo to challenge by our political norms. First of all, I want to clarify that here by democracy I am referring to a political system where elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body. There is another form of more general democracy where the government does what is, or is at least perceived as, in the best interest of the entire nation or populace. What American political culture fails to discuss sufficiently is the vital matter of to what extent the former democracy implies the latter one, with the latter’s being, hopefully, the end goal.

In contrast, dictatorships are portrayed as one lone, usually brutal dictator having absolute power, being able to order virtually anything, and thus, leading often to genocidal regimes with mass murderers such as Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc. This image may be tempting to many but it is in reality rather ridiculous. Yes, a dictator has enormous power and stays at the top often for decades, in contrast to the four year term system in America, which is very frowned upon in our culture, but surely, a dictator is not politically omnipotent. He has plenty of people underneath that he needs to satisfy, and though he may have a cult of personality within the propaganda, people are basically free to ignore him and go about their own business. He is also a human too, just like you, with very human interests, though sure, he may be a psychopath of some sort. There is also a vital point that almost always for a dictator to come to power, he must have a high degree of support from a large number of people, and thus, dictators in practice have little incentive to work against people’s interests, with getting people to like him being largely in his interest. Ironically, dictatorships can be very good at motivating people to achieve great things and providing certain continuity and long-term perspective difficult within a system where the people can easily choose to elect a new leader. In fact, if I have someone pressuring or forcing me when I don’t want to to do what is good for me (like waking up early on a weekend) and good for the society at large (like not being a parasite), I consider that to be a very positive thing. On this note, talking with someone in China recently, that guy was like: China now has 10 year terms for leaders, and maybe it should be gotten rid of, because it’s too little time for a leader to do anything serious, as he would have to pass the torch before he can be finished. Maybe Xi Jinping should try to extend his presidency past his 10 year term. Even in America, during WWII, Roosevelt was president for 16 years.

I personally love reading and watching controversial and sensitive material that most people dare not to. I’ve read plenty of material in Chinese banned in the mainland (but of course, still easily obtainable there if one really wants), most memorable of which was the very well-written, of high literary quality, autobiography by 巫宁坤 (Wu Ningkun). I’ve watched an anti-Semitic Nazi movie and also a North Korean movie out of sheer curiosity of certain places so smeared by our media. I also think that Soviet music is some of the most beautiful music out there. I have also, not surprisingly, watched some PRC (propaganda) movies from the 50s and 60s, which I felt were very well-made. The scariest and most grotesque movie I watched was one on the WWII Japanese human experimentation camp, Unit 731. A few weeks ago, I also had the pleasure of watching Saving Private Ryan, which I also much enjoyed, though surely it’s, as a Hollywood movie, more or less well-accepted here on our soil, unlike some of the previous ones, for which many would think I’m crazy, which I’m obviously not, for watching. I would say that this is out of a combination of my political intellectual curiosity and a distaste for certain oppressive, intolerant mainstream views and norms in America. Shaped by these explorations, I am of the belief that people should be more tolerant of differences and more politically and culturally open-minded. Be emotionally insensitive and let others be who they are. Also, be reasonable, precise, and stick to the facts. This is a concrete and substantive characterization of how throughout my life, I have challenged and questioned authority in the political intellectual domain.

Joshua is obviously promoting his own Jewish culture in that TED talk. On this, I’ve come to note that Jews in America are for the most part entirely unashamed, if not eager, to display and extol their culture. This is in contrast to Chinese who grow up here, many of whom try to distance themselves from their roots. Well, I guess there are self-hating Jews (like Bobby Fischer, who I feel I can understand much more now, with where he’s coming from) as well, but overall, they seem far less conspicuous. I believe the latter is out of a combination of their lack of self-confidence, the gross bastardization of Chinese culture in America, and the difficulty of learning the Chinese language in an American environment even when parents speak it at home, especially the written aspect.

There is the cliche saying that Chinese people in general, due to certain elements deep-rooted in Chinese culture, are very deferential to authority, which stifles creativity and innovation. I’ve surely thought about this and my views have evolved over time the more I’ve learned and seen. It is obviously too simplistic a notion presented by those of meager and often incorrect understanding. I do believe that Confucianism had and still has a strong element of the phenomenon described, but so did Christianity, just of a very different character.

Personally, I have to say that the more I learn, the more impressed I am with the fearless and pure spirit Chinese people have displayed in questioning and challenging authority, especially in the 20th century. I have written here before that I believe China has the richest revolutionary history of the 20th century of any nation or culture, with that of course much owing to the circumstances. China in the 20th century, being in deep trouble, had a dire need for revolutionaries, martyrs, and heroes. With this, the Chinese led by the communists essentially created a new Chinese culture on top of the traditional Chinese culture that had Confucianism as the guiding ideology. There is now a rich tradition and culture of Chinese communism, especially in military and social science, that has become holy in some sense, as is Jerusalem, which became so also out of certain formational historical events, that is very revolutionary in its essential spirit. However, the Chinese being materialists view all this as a force of nature rather than a force of God, a key contrast to holiness in the Abrahamic religions.

Another essential difference is that while Jews have more or less based themselves upon the Western system, having taken great advantage for themselves of the Western imperialism that came out of the discovery of modern science in the West, which they are also in service to politically, with reliance on it, the Chinese have more or less created an independent system from the West without kowtowing to pressures to conform, which has proven to be a correct decision, one that took much political courage and belief in oneself. The foundation for modern China was built largely in the 50s and 60s with little direct exchange with the West, if one excludes the Soviet Union from that, and in certain cases direct confrontation, with the freeze in relations owing to that in the Korean War, the Chinese challenged the Western authority successfully in a military setting in a way unimaginably shocking. It is only now very much in hindsight that while that inability to trade with the West for a few decades very much delayed China’s economic growth in certain respects, it brought about the creation of a very distinctive political culture and system deeply embedded that remains distanced from the mainstream in spite of reform and opening up, of a nature that may well be an advantage for China in the long term if not already. In this respect, Chinese culture has produced a feat and tradition of questioning authority that will forever live in our historical memory.

Another that I have noticed is the upright dedication to truth exhibited at large by Chinese scholars in the often corrupt and political social sciences that become authoritative, relative to those in the West. It is a reflection of good judgment of the Chinese people on who to promote in that arena. It does have much to do that China has in modern times been humbled by and learned so much from the West, the source of the most unprecedentedly radical and explosive growth in human history, but I also dare say that it is an indicator of very high moral character of Chinese civilization. In Chinese intellectual and media circles, bullshitting and falsifying history for political motives seems much more frowned upon. I believe that in this respect, history will eventually look at what the West led by America, that is heavily influenced by Jews in the social sciences, has done with utter disgrace, with various facades unlikely to continue indefinitely.

Speaking of truth, in terms of scientific truth, Chinese civilization has, however, contributed very little in comparison, though surely, Chinese produced a good number of revolutionary scientific breakthroughs in the 20th century, especially later in it. I find it somewhat odd how it is seldom said directly in the West that modern science is a product almost entirely of Western civilization with Greek roots and later Islamic preservation and expansion. Because scientific achievement requires so much in the way of the quality that is the subject matter of this article, surely the Confucianism based Chinese civilization has experienced a dearth of it of a nature that was only learned from the West later on. Now, Chinese are indeed quite relieved and also proud that in STEM, they have been increasingly successful and are now on the verge of reaching a world leading position, with much more to contribute to the world.

I’ll conclude with the following message. If Jews value questioning authority so much, they should let their authorities in media in America be freely and openly challenged. They should let their majority representation among Ivy League presidents and senior administrators be questioned too. In anything that is not terribly meritocratic and more connections and reputation based, their gross overrepresentation often well over 30%, so long as is objectively there, ought to be seriously questioned.

 

 

My awesome roommate

I recently met this cool guy because we live in the same place. Though he’s not that nerdy (by that, I mean super mathy), we still share many common interests. For instance, he expressed interest when I told him a bit about 艾思奇(Ai Siqi). Additionally, he told me about his appreciation for André Weil and Simone Weil, particularly her mysticism, which I found quite pleasing as I was reading about them not long ago. He also told me about this guy who is trying to understand Mochizuki’s “proof” of the abc conjecture despite being not long out of undergrad, who has plenty of other quirks and eccentric behaviors. Like, that guy joined some Marxist collective, and goes on drunken rants at 3 am, and is in general “aspie af,” something that he described me as too when messaging that guy himself. There is also: “he would literally kill himself if he had to do a tech job.” (laughter) That guy’s dad happens to be a (tenured) math professor from mainland China, more evidence that madness runs in families.

The guy that is the topic of this post himself did up to high school, as far as I know, in Hong Kong, so we have some more in common than usual culturally I guess. He was just telling me about how he had read 矛盾论, which I haven’t even read, at least not in detail, myself. He was saying, on the putative connection between scientific talent and Marxism, perhaps how dialectical materialism is inherently a very scientific way of thinking. I myself know basically nothing about dialectical materialism and even think it’s kind of high verbal low math bullshit, but I can tell that the materialist side of it is very scientific in its very nature, and similarly, dialectics is a very analogies/relationships way of thinking, which is something that high IQ people are by definition good at. Surely, there is much more I can learn from this guy, especially about Chinese language and culture and politics.

On this, I am reminded of another amateur (but professional, or better, level for sure) Marxist scholar, who is genuinely encyclopedic in his historical and cultural knowledge, in particularly a perceptive quote of him that made a deep impression on me:

Europe has always been in rebellion against itself, and continues to be so.  There was nothing but futility in the attempt by superficially Westernised Chinese to be authentically Westernised Chinese by being imitative and reverential of the current embodiment of those values.  You could only be an authentically Westernised Chinese by being a rebel against the current embodiments of Western values, at least in as far as they hampered China or seemed to be irrelevant.  And that’s why Mao was China’s best Westerniser to date, despite his very limited experience of the mundanities of Western life.

As I’ll detail in a future article, visitors to the Chinese Communist bases at Bao’an and later Yen’an noticed that these were the only Chinese in China who behaved more or less as Westerners would have behaved in a similar situation.  Other Chinese might speak good English, wear Western suits and sometimes show considerable knowledge of Western culture: but it was all imitation and the inner core was different and ineffective.  Western-trained engineers and geologists who returned to China kept their distance from hands-on practical work, because anything resembling manual labour would have lost them status in the eyes of Chinese intellectuals.  They were imprisoned by a tradition stretching back to Confucius and beyond.  Only a few broke these ancient taboos, mostly the Communists and some scattered left-wingers in the weak middle ground.  And it was the modernised Chinese in the Communist Party who chose to raise up Mao as the prime teacher of this new understanding.

I remember when my obsessively talented Russian friend once said to me that sometimes he feels like he’s another Pavel Korchagin, I thought he was ridiculous. Well, I’ll be equally ridiculous and say that I feel like I very much exhibit what Gwydion described in Mao that is “authentically Westernized Chinese,” which is very much the antithesis of what I see in most ABCs, despite being half an ABC myself.

If only more people could be like me…

艾思奇与中庸之道

昨天,我对艾思奇这个人有所探索,稍读了读他的哲学著作,其中有《中庸之道的分析》和《意志自由问题》。先想想艾思奇这个人我是如何得知的。好像是通过读谷超豪的中文维基百科页,其提到谷超豪中学时就组织读马列主义的学生读书会,而艾思奇就是他们所读的作者之一。我可能是稍微搜了搜关于艾思奇的资料,可未对其有任意甚查。谷超豪这种天才级别科学家曾有过对马列主义发生兴趣我想绝对不是偶然的,因为据我所知,马列主义是吸引过太多科学家,数学家,此对马列主义为更先进的社会科学有所隐式。Ron Maimon甚至对我说过科学与马克思主义文化上是本质上不可脱离的,甚至是唇齿相依的。我可以想到一位出了三位大数学教授的兄弟之家庭,父亲竟然是美国共产党在30年至45年的主席,厄尔·白劳德,还可以想到Steve SmaleNeal Koblitz,而这些都是美国人,中国人就更不用说了。

如果将鲁迅为中国革命最代表性文人,那同样可以将艾思奇为中国革命最代表性哲人,他的思想深深影响了一代革命家并且进入了实践,将革命引导以正确的方向。尽管目前自己对思奇同志了解还不多,但至少可以对我已阅过的他所写的《中庸之道的分析》某些内容表达一些我的看法。先说我最中庸之道只有很粗略的了解,对源之之孔子之作也未读过,即使读过它也早已从记忆而消失。我在我博客上早一篇谈到我对儒家没有太正面的看法,觉的他过于保守,扼杀了中华民族的创造力,使得在近代科学已在西方文明萌芽以及突飞猛进时,中国还埋没在落后无知的封建社会,无法脱离跨越儒家对中国社会诸多的恶性制约,直到中国被西方欺负蹂躏到山穷水尽的地步,形势才有所转变。以希腊哲学为基础的西方哲学具有非常之深的理论科学基础所在,而以孔孟之道为基础的东方哲学毫无科学眼光或精神,竞谈一些作人治国这种在我们做高智商的学科的人眼里没有什么实质的话题,可以说它从某种角度而言类似于美国商业文化的那套扯淡,只不过以完全不同的形势和观点。中国人这么聪明选了孔孟之道为社会的指导方针可以说是一种遗憾,幸好对此对过时的地方近代的中国是有所摆脱,已打碎了它大多的绊脚石。我最后想说我觉不是对儒家全盘否定,他有他好的一面,这我就不在这儿谈了。

在此文章,艾思奇主张中庸之道是绝对不利于革命的,是反动的。这一点我觉得毫无解释,中庸温和是无法创造任何奇迹,无法使得中国脱离当时的悲惨处境,也无法让中国在极其落后在内对外形势非常不利的情况下得以最紧要的现代化,其实做出任何不得了的颠覆性的事情都需要特别极端的作为,有这种基因潜力的华人其实不少,但是传统中国文化无法充分的激发它,甚至对它有束缚,某些观念是对跨越式的作为强烈反对的。艾思奇在其文章将甘地的消极抵抗主义化为一种中庸之道式的无效之表,这一点绝对没错。我的极有才华的就读超弦论博士的印度朋友曾经跟我说过他希望印度是有了中国式的暴力革命,而非以非暴力,相对和平的方式使得英国人懒得坚持而离开而解殖谋取(名义上的)独立,原因是这种获取独立的方式未能消除印度诸多好多与殖民直接相连的根深蒂固的痼疾,所以之后虽然印度外表独立可是实质非其也,殖民心态依然保持为坚。西方列强之所有能够跨越大海,掠夺奴役殖民,明显由于他们所发展出的枪炮,这跟毛主席所说的”枪杆里出政权“是一致的,从而不承认强军为胜者都是在犯严重的道德主义谬误。

崇洋媚外也可以被视为一种中庸之道的行为。西方国家和白种人具有的综合性的先进以及先驱地位使得他们的一切被看我默认的权威,这包括他们的政治制度,甚至他们的宗教信仰,而挑战疑问权威本质上就是一种反中庸之道的作为。中庸之道之者不敢做的太离经叛道,或表太不符合广泛被接受而非政治正确之言,难以从自己所在的环境以及教育所潜移默化对此施加的”正确观点“之樊篱得以思想心灵解放。中庸之道之患者难以超越时代超越权威。西方媒体经常说中国缺乏创造性,而中国所开创并坚持的独特的不受过多西方主流影响的经济及政治制度在它一直保持成功蓬勃发展甚至超越的情况下客观上就是伟大的颠覆性的创新,这一点表示在中国共产党领导下的中国已经相当成功的混合了中国传统文化和其所发展积累的新文化,抛弃了中庸之道将不利产生弊病及故障的许多,这是不得了的成就!

还想到近几年,在美国开始生成组织强烈反抗美国名校对亚裔学生的歧视,及不透明的,偏向富贵子弟的而忽略贫困孩子的组织,其显著之一就是赵宇空所领导的美国亚裔教育联盟。此之外,赵宇空不仅是非常成功的大公司经理及领导,还是一位作家,撰写了《华人成功的秘诀》这本书,在此讲说儒家文化传统的优点以及其对华人所带来的好处,有立志,勤学,节俭,顾家,择友为列。没有想到鉴于中庸之道为儒家文化要点之一,在我前段所表示的观点的背景下,却得到矛盾了!(当然,这绝对不是数理逻辑严谨标准的矛盾,体现到哲学是多么主观,多么复杂,多么多元化。)

总而言之,读艾思奇的《中庸之道的分析》给了我丰富的反思从而引发了我又一篇具有(我希望)正确引导思想的文章。盼望有机会多读艾思奇的著作,从而激起更多有深意价值的新思想,新启发!

Censorship in America

I’ve had the pleasure of reading the comments on Disqus of Bob Sykes, a baby boomer who, according to himself, has been an engineering professor for 37 years, at OSU if I remember correctly. He comments mostly on military technology, China, North Korea, race relations in America, and other political issues both internal and external to America. You can tell easily that he has some rather “radical” views. Like, he believes in segregation, to the extent that he thinks we should have segregated colleges. Now is he actually serious or is he employing the humor of hyperbole. He will also say:

Face the facts: the Anthem, Pledge, Flag, Declaration and Constitution are WASP male symbols. Blacks, Jews, Asians and Mexicans are not and cannot be Americans. America is and always will be WASP country.

I for the most part agree with what he says, when taken less literally and with some de-magnifications perhaps. He’s also pretty fucking funny. (If not, I wouldn’t be reading him ;))

I did see this morning this comment of his:

For almost a generation, Chinese students have dominated enrollments in our major STEM departments. They are an absolute majority of the students enrolled in most STEM programs today, especially mathematics and computers, engineering, physics and chemistry. And that is true even of our most elite STEM schools like MIT.

This has been a nearly zero-cost endeavor for the Chinese. At any decent STEM program all (as in ALL) of the graduate students are supported by the research programs they work for. That includes tuition, fees and a comfortable stipend. Support for graduate students is what distinguishes good graduate program from a mediocre one. The good ones have ample externally funded research programs; the mediocre ones don’t.

This investment shows up in many areas. China can put men into space; we can’t. China has many more super computers than we do, and they have the fastest supercomputers. Those machines are entirely home grown, from the chips to the operating systems. China also has the largest and most diverse manufacturing sector in the world and the largest infrastructure sector. Its nearest rival in terms of manufacturing diversity (but not size) is Russia. If China does succeed in integrating Eurasia into one economy, they will be the de facto world hegemon, and we will be a region power.

And I drafted and submitted a response:

You seem to overestimate China and Chinese in STEM a bit, though surely, the American mainstream tends to downgrade it. I know and talk with a guy, a very talented MIT student, who thinks rather lowly of China. Pollution, human rights, very few top mathematicians and scientists, yada yada yada. It is surely the case that even now most of the very elite STEM people of Chinese descent are in America, working in American universities or benefiting the American economy massively in American companies. It also does appear that at the highest levels, Chinese are still very underrepresented in many fields.

America is still quite a ways ahead in terms of sophistication of technology. You say China’s supercomputers are homegrown entirely, including the chips, but China’s best chip, the Loongson, is still far from the level that Intel has. Also, China has been struggling to manufacture high quality jet engines, which it has to buy from Russia, and in that, America, with Pratt and Whitney, is a generation ahead. These are examples of the most difficult technologies where China is still quite behind.

In a field I’m more familiar with, computer science, there’s no way China is anywhere close overall. See http://dubfuture.blogspot.c…. Almost all the important and foundational software systems, from the widely used programming languages, to Linux, to distributed systems, to git, have been developed in the West, and China is merely using them. I don’t see many Chinese, including those in America, creating complex, widely used open source tools yet.

China also is nowhere near competitive in the global automobile market.

So, too many glaring weaknesses. In China, people see themselves as scientifically and technologically behind, though that’s been changing. They even believe to a non-negligible extent that the Chinese education and system is ill for creativity, which seems to me way overblown, which the American mainstream promulgates, as did the professor who wrote the essay linked above.

I’ve gone through all my schooling in America, and I read Chinese online regularly, so I know a bit about China including its education and STEM, and this gives me an unusual double lens. I honestly think that American STEM education up to the undergrad level is a complete joke, and I realized this on a gradual basis. I eventually realized, starting from high school, that I had to learn on my own, as the school system by itself produces people who are not at all competitive. The American high school and college admissions system and even college is full of inane, time-wasting artificial nonsense. It has much to do with that the fact that students are simply too dumb nowadays, without selection at the high school level, which is done in most other advanced countries, including China, including Germany. There is also a ton of ideological BS within the American system, one that prides itself in vacuous democracy and freedom of speech; I’ve gone through American English and history classes to know the nightmare.

I do think though that in America, there is a sizable contingent who manage to really excel in spite of this morass, through independent learning and research, and by the graduate level, the American system is for the most part top notch. At the very top, the non-Chinese still have an edge, and that arguably extends to the younger generation as well.

By the way, how much discrimination do you see against Chinese in hard STEM fields (that does not include biology, in which it most certainly does exist). A friend of mine, a pure American, suspects that there is some pro-Jewish bias in academia right now in America, and that even in something like math, those mainland Chinese have to be better than those Jews to obtain equivalent positions. It’s hard to say. It does seem that Jews produce the most revolutionary thinkers and scientists if you look at the giants of math and theoretical physics. On the other hand, within the younger generation, Chinese are dominating the contests and Olympiads, which are 100% objective, fair contests. One ought to remember that in the older generation, China was quite poor and the Chinese came as immigrants with no money in a very foreign culture, a stark contrast to what the Jews, who are basically white European, have experienced. I’ve seen many very intelligent Jews say complete nonsense about China, more or less echoing the braindead mainstream American media, and I’ll go as far as to say that the Chinese cognitive elite does appear to be far less “full of shit.” It could be that the older generation of Chinese, to the extent that it underperformed, did so mostly out of discrimination and/or lack of resources and opportunity, or it could be that there is a relative dearth of Chinese talent wise at the very highest (say +4, +5 sigma) levels. We’ll see.

And Disqus marked it as spam!

Was it the Disqus system itself or was it some moderator of whatever forum this was, who decided that my writing was too un-PC to be publicized?

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.