A (completely unvetted) idea that was just suggested to me by someone:
There’s some folk wisdom that first born children are born later, and spend more time in the womb on average. If this is true, perhaps it mediates the intelligence boosting effect? (I have no strong reason to suspect that it does, but it seems good to note possible hypotheses here.)
Does anyone know if the folk wisdom is true? Does being first born correlate with a longer natal incubation time?
As was written in this seminal post:
In Artificial Intelligence, and particularly in the domain of nonmonotonic reasoning, there’s a standard problem: “All Quakers are pacifists. All Republicans are not pacifists. Nixon is a Quaker and a Republican. Is Nixon a pacifist?”
What on Earth was the point of choosing this as an example? To rouse the political emotions of the readers and distract them from the main question? To make Republicans feel unwelcome in courses on Artificial Intelligence and discourage them from entering the field? (And no, before anyone asks, I am not a Republican. Or a Democrat.)
Why would anyone pick such a distracting example to illustrate nonmonotonic reasoning? Probably because the author just couldn’t resist getting in a good, solid dig at those hated Greens. It feels so good to get in a hearty punch, y’know, it’s like trying to resist a chocolate cookie.
As with chocolate cookies, not everything that feels pleasurable is good for you. And it certainly isn’t good for our hapless readers who have to read through all the angry comments your blog post inspired.
It’s not quite the same problem, but it has some of the same consequences.
I think circling has the strongest argument going for it
Really? Over and above meditation practices that are about training metacognition?
A single 150-page book required the skins of 12 sheep to make the parchment. That much parchment wasn’t cheap — the parchment on which a book was written cost far more than the actual writing. With that much cost sunk in the materials, it’s no wonder that book-buyers wanted beautiful, handwritten script — it added relatively little to the cost.
It was paper which changed all that. European paper production didn’t get properly underway until the 1300’s. Once it did, book prices plummeted, writing became the primary expense of book production, and printing presses with movable type followed a century later.
Do you know what changed that caused paper production to be viable?
How far back can we follow the chain?
Actually, it might be cool to make a GIF of “how the printing press happened” with graphs like this, if anyone likes doing that sort of thing.
Unsolicited editorial note: I think this might be clearer if you had extra versions of the graphs that are labeled with the relevant technologies instead of labeled abstractly. Walking through the printing press example, with a graph for each time-step for instance.
(In practice I did this myself, but it would be easier if you held my hand, with pictures that I can look at.)
I’m reminded of this TED talk [7 minutes, well worth watching] about what factors matter the most for startup success.
The conclusion: timing matters more than anything else.
Good teams can implement the same idea. But a little too early, and the technology isn’t viable yet. A little too late, and the niche is already filled. It seems there’s a sweet spot for the timing of effective deployment of a good idea.
This sort of model of how to work with your own psychology seems to have taken off in the rationality community. I certainly rely on it. But I don’t actually have strong evidence one way or the other about if this is the best way to do things.
I’m curious, does anyone have either 1) the history of the uptake of these IFS-style models or 2) specific evidence about the effectiveness of this model over others (such as CBT-style “train better more effective TAPs”)?
Ok. Some things that I should try:
Watching a horror movie? (Though I resonate with this recent xkcd.)
Reading the first chapter of books that don’t seem interesting, and seeing what I learn anyway?
Going on a formal “old fashioned” date.
Processing my emotions via reframing and similar instead of via Focusing (on reflection, I think I would benefit from trying a bunch of ways to process stress.)
Reframing and self-influence moves.
CBT and TAPs.
Focusing and IDC.
Doing a very different kind of work than I’m used to?
Doing the accounting.
Doing something that’s very outward facing: lots of interviews or schmoozing something.
Writing marketing copy.
Try and teach a CFAR unit with Val’s style.
One thing that I notice is that I feel disinclined to try new things in places where I don’t just have a thing that works, I have implicit or simple theory about why it works.
I try in general to avoid sending my brain signals which tell it that I am high-status, just in case that causes my brain to decide it is no longer necessary. In fact I try to avoid sending my brain signals which tell it that I have achieved acceptance in my tribe. When my brain begins thinking something that generates a sense of high status within the tribe, I stop thinking that thought.
This is shocking, insofar as many people, as far as I understand, actively do the opposite. I’m surprised I haven’t seen you mention this anywhere before.
I’ve explicitly trained myself to be aware of status feelings, so that I can take them as object, but I hadn’t thought to explicitly push against them. (I think this is a big deal for me, one way or the other.)
I’m interested in teasing apart “high achievement” from “high achievement in a STEM field”.
I’d be interested in analysis of fortune 500 CEOs, for instance.
Thanks for doing this!
I feel more validated in having spent the time doing data-collection for the mathematician data set after seeing that it prompted someone else to investigate in this area. It’s pretty encouraging to know that if I write up something of interest on LessWrong, other people might build on it.
level 4 makes each of the other levels into partially-grounded keynesian beauty contests—a thing from economics that was intended to model the stock market—which I think is where a lot of “status signaling” stuff comes from. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a real beauty contest underneath.
I wrote a low-edit post about how individual interactions give rise to consistent status hierarchies, a few month ago. (That blog is only for quick low-edit writing of mine. Those are called Tumbler posts?)
Briefly, people help people who can help them. A person who has many people who want to help them can be more helpful, so more people want to help them.
Yes. Strong upvote. I’m very excited to see hypothesized models that preport to give rise to high level phenomena, and models that are on their way to be executable are even better.
I’m intrigued by the explicit unrolling in contrast to circling. I wonder how much circling is an instance of developing overpowered tools on weird partly-orthogonal dimensions (like embodiment) because you haven’t yet discovered the basic simple structure of the domain.
Like, a person might have a bunch of cobbled together hacks and heuristics (including things about narrative, and chunking next actions, and discipline) for maintaining their productivity. But a crisp understanding of the relevant psychology makes “maintaining productivity” a simple and mostly effortless thing to do.
Or a person who spends years doing complicated math without paper. They will discover all kinds of tricks for doing mental computation, and they might get really good at these tricks, and building that skill might even have benefits in other domains. But at the end of the day, all of that training is blown out of the water as soon as they have paper. Paper makes the thing they were training hard to do easy.
To what extent is Circling working hard to train capacities that are being used as workarounds for limited working memory and insufficient theoretical understanding the structure of human interaction?
(This is a real question. My guess is, “some, but less than 30%”.)
A lot of my strategies for dealing with situations of this sort are circling-y, and I feel like a lot of that is superfluous. If I had a better theoretical understanding, I could do the thing with much more efficiency.
For instance, I exert a lot of effort to be attuned to the other person in general and to be picking up subtle signs from them, and tracking where they’re at. If had a more correct theoretical understanding, a better ontology, I would only need to be tracking the few things that it turns out are actually relevant.
Since humans don’t know what those factors are, now, people are skilled at this sort of interaction insofar as they can track everything that’s happening with the other person, and as a result, also capture the few things that are relevant to the underlying structure.
I suspect that others disagree strongly with me here.
(Crossposted from here)
Not a premise, but a plausible hypothesis, I think.
If you select very strongly for intelligence, you’re going to tend to select for first borns, since those correlate.
But my guess is that isn’t all that’s happening, because the effect size is smaller for the Mathematicians than for LessWrongers. Rationalists are pretty smart, but these are some of the most brilliant people who have ever lived.
It seems like there might be an additional trend, amongst rationalists, towards being first born, even after accounting for high intelligence.
I strongly agree.
I read that paragraph and noticed that I was confused. Because I was going through this post to acquire a more-than-cursory technical intuition, I was making a point to followup on and resolve any points of confusion.
There’s enough technical detail to carefully parse, without adding extra pieces that don’t make sense on first reading. I’d prefer to be able to spend my carful thinking on the math.
If we know that there’s a burglar, then we think that either an alarm or a recession caused it; and if we’re told that there’s an alarm, we’d conclude it was less likely that there was a recession, since the recession had been explained away.
Is this to say that a given node/observation/fact can only have one cause?
More concretely, lets say we have nodes x, y, and z, with causation arrows from x to z and from y to z.
If z is just an “and” logic gate, that outputs a “True” value only when x is True and y is True, then it seems like it must be caused by both x and y.
Am I mixing up my abstractions here? Is there some reason why logic gate-like rules are disallowed by causal models?
Historically those involved in the sciences mainly had to be independently wealthy
There have been professorships of mathematics in Europe since at least the 1500′s, and most of the mathematicians on this list were employed by universities. Funding doesn’t seem to have been a constraint, at least for mathematicians of this caliber.
Education, however does seem relevant. Going through the data, I frequently noticed the biographical pattern “X-person’s exceptional mathematical talent was noticed in [early schooling], and he was sent to [some university].” I don’t know how common it was for children to attend the equivalent of elementary school before the 1900s.
From my very cursory look at the biographical details of these mathematicians I can say that...
At least a few came from very poor families, but nevertheless received early schooling of some kind. (I don’t know how rare this was, maybe only one out of 50 poor families send their kids to school.)
Siblings were often mentioned to have also received an education at the same institution. This leads me to guess that schooling was not a privilege awarded to only some of the (male, at least) children of a family.
Again, if anyone knows more about these things than I do, feel free to chip in.
Possibly a data set which would have more bearing on the question of birth order effects in modern times would be Fields medal, Abel prize, Turing award, Nobel prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics in the last 30 years or so
Yep. I think that would be useful.