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 disease, 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!



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



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

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

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





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…


Oleg is one of my ubermensch Soviet (and also part Jewish) friends. He has placed at (or at least near) the top on the most elite of math contests. He is now a math PhD student with an advisor even crazier than he is, who he says sometimes makes him feel bad, because he has done too little math research wise. However, this persona alone is not that rare. Oleg’s sheer impressiveness largely stems from that on top of this, he is a terrific athlete, extremely buff and coordinated, enough that he can do handstand pushups, to the extent that he regards such as routine. Yes, it is routine for a guy contending for a spot on a legit gymnastics team, but you wouldn’t expect this from a math nerd huh?

Today, I was talking to him and some others about gym. In particular, I was saying how I could at one point do 10 pullups but dropped down to 2 after a long hiatus. The conversation went as follows:

Me: Oleg I’m back to 5 pull-ups now
Oleg: that’s good although make sure you’re doing them for real
i still don’t believe you could do 10 but then dropped down to 2
Me: Oh I’m very sure they’re full pullups
Okay maybe it was 8
Oleg: i’d like to see evidence
Me: Alright I’ll have someone videotape me do pullups today in gym

And so I did.

Later, Oleg suggested something pretty funny:

i still think you should get tattoos and gain 25 lb of muscle, that would be hilarious
then walk up to girls and ask about their SAT scores
and say “oh, that’s too low, i don’t want to breed babies with you”
followed by a cackle
i’d watch that show

Not surprisingly, Oleg, as buff as he is, has had some success with girls, though he regards himself as shy and struggling in that regard. I keep telling him that he needs to marry a girl who’s both super smart and attractive like he is, so that he can optimize his chance of making superhuman babies. His only disadvantage now is that he’s a poor math PhD student, but he can easily change that by, say, joining DE Shaw, from what I’ve read is full of uber nerdy macho Eastern European men. He’s not very interested in money though, and expresses content with his graduate student stipend, which I find laughable.

I find it regrettable that most ubermensch men smart enough for legit doctoral programs in math and physics are unable to find a mate who is commensurate with them, ability wise, even with some adjustments, even when they’re well-rounded like Oleg is. Why is this? Excessive Aspergers? On that, I know someone who will say along the lines of

in an actual long-term relationship you have to share most of your life with the person, and if they don’t understand the way you look at the world then it creates friction
sure, the girl doesn’t need to understand high energy physics, I have other friends for that

Maybe some females could give us some advice, other than the cliche “hit the gym” that you’ll often hear from males. Such would be much appreciated! 😉


昨天在网上碰到了一个有趣的视频,标题为“My Life, My China – I am a Communist Party member 被打上标签的人”。此内容我就不在这里谈了,读者可以自己看此十分钟以下的视频。里面人所表达的想法和个人经历给我留下了深刻的感受,也在我心目中启发了一定的反思。











共产主义何能实现(how to realize communism)

我突然想起在DNA Dreams (中文粗翻译为《DNA梦想》),徐道辉(Stephen Hsu),大概为:if we could shift the mean IQ of a society in one direction, we could bring forth one that would be very qualitatively different in a way that would be unrealistic in the society prior to the shift.

This reminds of communism, communism as in from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. I’ll first say that even capitalist societies are already very much like that. People generally go into professions that they’re talented in. If one has multiple things one can do, one has to make a pick in favor of one, as one has only 24 hours in a day. There are economic incentives now for this, say for one to pick say computer science over physics, which has no jobs and pays below what a schoolteacher or police officer is paid. Another example would be choosing NFL/NBA (where the big bucks are) over track and field.

I have always perceived money as very artificial. I don’t think my life would change that much if I become super rich. How you feel is more determined by what you know and how your brain is wired, and what you actually do, than how much money you have. I also have doubts on the use of money to motivate people to do better work, especially on the creative end. It works and it doesn’t. In fact, I would say in that in an ideal society people, or at least the ones with the ability and spirit, should be able to do creative work without having to worry too much about money, which is far from the case nowadays. Our society is being so money obsessed (or compelled) due to the so called Satanic Trinity (education, health care, housing). People are scared of falling behind on that game that the system forces people to play.

In my silly K-12 social studies class, we were told that communism doesn’t work because people don’t have an incentive. X could be doing all this work and Y could be doing nothing and at the end they’d get the same. This is such a gross oversimplification of a very complex matter, looking at human nature in a binary way essentially. People edit Wikipedia for free. People volunteer for the homeless and disadvantaged, for free. People go into science for almost nothing. In companies, you’ll find that the stars contribute like 10 times or more, or in some cases, infinity times more by solving a problem nobody else can than the median. Those people are generally higher ranked too on the ladder, but their salary is not matched by difference in magnitude of their contribution. The people who do make 10x more, or even 100x, are largely people planted in positions of parasitism by having the right social connections, playing the politics right, etc. That’s just how broken the current system is, and we all have to live with it, or not.

Again, in those social studies classes, we debated why America is the most innovative and the most successful country in the world. People will say freedom. Freedom to do your own thing, to start your own company, to be a non-conformist. While there is an element of that, it’s rather overblown in my opinion. There are other, more influential factors omitted here: such as the exploitation of labor (remember that America is a nation founded on dispossession and slavery), vast natural resources per capita (and also a geographic position that immunes America from war, barring civil war), and import of foreign talent. With such advantages, it’s almost impossible for America not to be number one. Especially, after WWII, when so many of the best and brightest from Europe came to America. Many of the top Manhattan Project scientists were foreigners, many of them Jewish. Many of the top scientists and engineers (like von Braun) of the space program were captured Nazis. In the 90s, America got a huge chunk of the best and brightest of the former USSR and its satellite states. From the 80s on, many of the smartest young people from mainland China came to the US as well. Those people could hypothetically be making China or the USSR/Russia better instead of making America better.

I remember Nassim Taleb has a high opinion of the America system’s tolerance and encouragement of ad hoc tinkering and experimentation. He cites these Europeans who criticize Americans for being uncultured or lacking knowledge or whatever, and it’s like: you guys writing this silly criticism in Microsoft Word, while looking up stuff on Google, on your iPhone, and all of that was created in America! He does have a very good point. Why do Europeans not create and use their own? Is it because their system is too egalitarian and discourages entrepreneurship? I’m not the most qualified to answer this, but I’ll say that Europe is more or less subordinate to America. There’s NATO and the EU and all that. Also, those technologies listed are very marketing, business driven products. For instance, Microsoft won in the reasonable judgment of many mostly due to its business and legal tactics. Also, Taleb has done some cherrypicking. Linux, an arguably better from a technical point of view operating system, was created by a Finnish genius in his early 20s. American cars lost to Japanese cars and they’re nowhere near able to compete with German cars, because they were objectively worse. I know almost nothing about cars, but I know Japanese cars are more fuel efficient and last longer. America as far as I see it is a society very into marketing and superficial things. It does not revere and respect people who do hard science and technology, real things, enough.

I’ll also say that America is very much a nation of taking advantage of and breeding the ignorant, for the benefit of people with capital. If people were smarter, it would be harder for banks to get people to not pay their credit cards or take on shitty deals. It would be harder for universities for fool people into paying so much for such a shitty education that gets most people nowhere. America also de-emphasizes discipline and self-control. Hey, even Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Also, isn’t discipline and self-control counter to creativity, to the freedom that makes America so successful? This might seem the case intuitively to a naive one, but creative people will tell you that’s so not the case. With everything, there’s a right, systematic way of doing things that is required to be creative. I’m somewhat of an iconoclast I suppose, but I have a high opinion of discipline and self-control. In any case, these words are so vague, mean so little, that it’s rather pointless to use them. You need to be more specific.

I have asked a friend of mine in his 30s, who’s seen much more of the world than I have, if we’ll ever reach the point where education and health care are more or less free, where people don’t have to worry about money much. He, very optimistically in my view, said probably in 30 years or so. I sure hope so, because the current system is very obsolete with respect to the level of technology and production we have available. Self driving cars, AI, will only put more people out of job, and we need to find a place for them.

I recall that in the 50s and 60s, it was widely believed, especially in the socialist camp, that there would be a world revolution and that we would eventually attain communism. This had arguably reached its height in the mid 50s. In the early 50s, America was in a rather passive position ideologically, especially when it was not successful in the Korean War. McCarthyism did not happen for no reason. As a law of nature, any entity whose survival at risk will go to extremes. The denunciation of Stalin by Khrushchev in fact weakened the prestige of the Soviet Union tremendously. Many pro-left people in the West lost hope from that. There was a great ideological rift between the USSR and China following that. The Chinese believed that the Soviets were being revisionists and that their party leadership was being gradually infected by ones who secretly wanted to restore capitalism, or whatever you call it. It was widely believed, according to the writings of Chinese party leaders, that the transition from capitalism to socialism to communism was to be this great social transformation that would span decades or even centuries, with importance, scale, and qualitative difference equal to that of the transformation from feudalism to capitalism in Europe, and that the process would need much consolidation over a long period of time. To them, without that, there could easily be a relapse, and there was, as evidenced by the disastrous (you can look up the increased death rates in Russia that was coupled with prolonged economic depression) disintegration of the USSR and to a lesser extent by the Chinese economic reform. On the opposite view, such was viewed by liberals in the West as the “end of history,” as termed by Fukuyama.

This end of history theory is becoming increasingly discredited more with China’s success and rise. In the 90s, however, it was quite mainstream. In this talk, Kong Qingdong characterized himself as having become political out of what he perceived as the need for him to do so, referring to how in the 90s, the atmosphere in China was so dangerously liberal and pro-West, which is not surprising as the failure of the USSR made everyone suspicious of the whole system and ideology that it had promulgated. If not that, he said he, as a very well-behaved kid, would have become purely a scholar, an academic in a more or less apolitical way. He spoke of how in the 90s, writings in China which criticized America or imperialism had difficulty being published, and in addition to that, he mentioned the laying off of millions of workers from the privatization of many state owned enterprises that enriched many with party connections. The 90s was in some sense a low point, akin to China from the 1927 through the 30s or the Bolsheviks following the failed 1905 Russian Revolution.

It seems though now that China may well surpass America, with its only being a matter of time, a proposition that would have been beyond the pale in the 90s. Back then, people had serious doubts on China’s ability to innovate with its system, coupled with aspects of traditional Chinese culture viewed as not conducive to non-derivative R&D. People cited how the successful countries were all democracies, and the Chinese dissident Fang Lizhi, who produced some first rate work in astrophysics, had openly said that in order for China to become developed, it would need to adopt the parliamentary democratic system. The financial crisis in 2008-9 ruined America’s credibility enormously, especially given that China in many ways appeared virtually unscathed by it. Since then, China has made enormous progress technologically as well. Representative examples are its high speed trains as well as the development of its passenger aircraft. China has also developed an indigenous CPU, Loongson, which is already proliferating across government and military organizations in China. It is their goal to create a whole software ecosystem around their hardware, as has been done for Intel’s. Of course, there is all this military technology too, the details of which are highly classified. A guy from China once said to me that the system there, with its network of state owned enterprises, can complete projects with little delay. Some might say that none of that is very creative, as it is all large scale engineering. As for that, there is basic science, and while China is quite a ways away there, they seem to be improving rapidly. In that respect, Chinese have done exceedingly well in America. Now with more money, many of the best scientists abroad can be lured back and a higher percentage of the best of the younger generation will stay in China to conduct their research. The career prospects in America for scientists are quite dismal, and China I would say has a chance of competing there. As a consequence, a much higher percentage of people in China will be able to enjoy the luxury of doing basic science research. Rather beside the point, but I’d like to note that Fields Medallist Alain Connes has written that the European system is better for breeding truly original thinkers in math who open up new fields, with its having less pressure for grants and for results produced on a shorter time frame than the American tenure system. He expressed his belief that the Soviet mathematicians would have done better had they stayed in the old Soviet system, where the job was just to talk about science. We can see how Perelman solved the Poincare back in Steklov Institute in Russia after America offered him no tenured position and how Yitang Zhang was failed by the American system, where you need to play it safe to secure your next position.

There is even a camp of scholars who believe with confidence that the future will be China’s, that of the IQ proponents, representative figures of which include Philippe Rushton and Richard Lynn. Richard Lynn has written here that China will win after discovering the genes for IQ. It is definitely not impossible, and Steve Hsu has already worked with BGI on that. This goes back to Steve Hsu’s remark on that hypothetical society that can function in a way that the current one cannot because its constituents, its ones in positions of power especially, are too unintelligent. On this, I see a parallel between two highly politically sensitive words in America, which are communism and IQ. I’ll say, judging from their writings, that many of the leaders and scholars of and associated with the Chinese Communist Party in the 20s were highly intelligent, as were Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, all of whom were philosophers very profound and one could say, attaching a somewhat subjective judgment, visionary in their thinking. Mao wrote some of the most beautiful and high quality Chinese poetry, from a literary point of view. It seems that the Chinese with extraordinary literary or verbal gifts are more Maoist leaning, with on the other hand, Deng Xiaoping’s, dubbed by many on the left in China as the father of its corruption, for having promoted short-sighted people like Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang who contributed to negative outcomes of the Tiananmen Square protests, being noted for having a dumb mouth and a dumb pen. Examples include Kong Qingdong, Li Ao, and Lang Xianping. I see the possibility of what many would perceive as too far-fetched: China’s becoming more communist as it closes in on the mystery of human intelligence.

When I was a kid, I thought over-simplistically, not having the intellectual capacity to reason rationally and rigorously. I could not imagine all those people who did crazy things, from geniuses to suicide bombers. I believed that what was easy/difficult for me would be the same for others and that people who struggled were not working hard enough. As I grew cognitively, I became increasingly aware that free will was bunk, that people are not in control of the way they are in a strict sense of the word. The way they are wired biologically correlates with what they become in a statistically predictable way. Science and the American Dream are in opposition to each other. We have in theory the resources for the most part to provide people with what is appropriate for them. This does not happen though in many places due to special interest groups, the hoarding of wealth, and deficiencies in resources affordably accessible to the public at large, based on needs of individuals. America, as unequal as it is, has an irrationally egalitarian education system that comes with stuff like No Child Left Behind. In America, the school one attends is based finely on where one lives, a proxy for parental socioeconomic status, or one of those fancy shmancy prep schools for kids whose parents can afford it, whereas in many other countries, like Germany, it is determined by what is most suitable for the kid given his performance and ability. In America, many employers now require a bachelors for jobs with nothing to do with academic learning, and colleges see this as a way to inflate their tuition, further oppressing the majority of people. There is also the medical system, which I will not go into. America will only further discredit itself by doing this; its facade cannot go on forever.

Let’s see what happens in the 21st century. Humanity may well undergo arguably its most revolutionary transformation ever yet, the ability to predict and control the types of people being born and from doing so realize a resemblance of the ideal society envisioned by Marx.

Some speculation on the possible detailed linkage of brain structure to cognitive function

I recall seeing, probably first on Steve Hsu’s blog, that brain structure is highly heritable, as high as g is, surprise surprise. In fact, g, currently measured non-physically through cognitive tests, is, to my intuition, unguided by detailed relevant knowledge of the area, in its scientific essence a function of brain structure that could be computed through data obtained from a direct neurobiological measurement (through MRI and what not).

On this, I have hypothesized a future where we will be able to predict with reasonable accuracy, to a fine grain of detail, behavioral traits as complex as one’s personality or one’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses (like what subjects one will find more intuitive), which have a high heritable component, and not only that, the course of their development across age. A clone of me who lived in that world could be told at age n or so you will become like X, feel subjectively like Y, be at X \pm \sigma across age group at Z, etc, at age n+k, k > 0, k \in \mathbb{N}. Of course, if say n = 6, I would only respond with a sense of awe and incredulity, but across time, I would attain ever deeper and more realistic understanding of what was going on, as can be said for virtually every subject matter for virtually every human that has ever lived on this planet. Perhaps this is pushing it a bit too far. Learning to this degree of precision may be too much; there would not be enough data, even if we sequence every human on the planet and run on a computer cluster orders of magnitude larger and more powerful than, say, Google’s jobs which continuously improve the models. However, I do believe we will get somewhere. We will reach the point where we can deliver with reasonable level of confidence personalized medicine and education and such for every individual in a way that based on rigorous biostatistical data as opposed to on blind human intuition, which of course still works well, most of the time, as is done now. What other comes to mind is, as you can probably guess, the possibility of evolving a population vastly different from our own, perhaps one with ability far beyond that of homo sapiens (say, a population wherein everyone is smarter than John von Neumann (which I highly doubt, as that would be rather non conducive to the well functioning of the world)). As for that, as for what should be done, I have little to say other than that we’ll have to decide for ourselves. I do think it would be not a bad thing to use this newly found knowledge to eliminate severe dysfunction and suffering on this planet, which could be done through the likes of preventing the birth of, say, those prone towards severe depression or towards becoming serial killers.

We’ll have to see what happens. Maybe I will be able to see something exciting, possibly even to the level just described, in my lifetime. I am still young, after all.