linkfest – 05/13/12

China: The world’s cleverest country?“China’s results in international education tests – which have never been published – are ‘remarkable’, says Andreas Schleicher, responsible for the highly-influential Pisa tests.”

Dumb and Dumber – yeah, that was pretty dumb alright. steve sailer explained all the ways why.

Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much“Talking about ourselves—whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter—triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported Monday.”

Infant testosterone predicts toddler behavior – from the inductivist.

Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure“The study showed that psychopaths, who are characterized by a lack of empathy, had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples’ emotions.”

Religious conservatives in the U.S. more liberal than the Muslim masses are – from the audacious one.

Neighboring chimp communities have their own nut-cracking styles

Dopamine Distribution Causes Slackers And Go-Getters? – from parapundit.

bonus: Falling birth rates mean Japan ‘won’t have any children under 15 by 3011’ – sounds more impending when they put it that way, doesn’t it? =/

bonus bonus: The Mysterious Case of the Vanishing Genius – about margie profet.

bonus bonus bonus: Is Einstein’s Greatest Work All Wrong—Because He Didn’t Go Far Enough?

(note: comments do not require an email. hi there!)

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24 Comments

  1. @HBD Chick:

    Great stuff, though gotta love this on the slacker/go-getter article:

    “My guess is there’s genetic differences play a large role in differences in brain dopamine activity. Once it becomes possible to choose offspring genetic variants will people opt make babies who will be more motivated than their parents? My guess is yes, genetically engineered future generations of humans will be more motivated by design.”

    Yeah, we’re a long way off from that ever happening. Way to make a leap there, I’d say.

    Though this part is not so much fun though:

    “Imagine a country where employers are allowed to require a PET scan as a condition of employment. If PET scan costs were cheap enough some employers would use them.”

    Also not going to happen any time soon. But it will one day, and when it does it will (as with many other things involving neurophysical/genetic links to behavior) present an interest set of legal/ethical issues.

    Reply

  2. aaaah, wicherts, not wechsler :) I was mistaken in the last discussion with JayMan. If the names would end in -ski they would be easier to remember.

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  3. re: Is Einstein’s greatest work all wrong?

    Whenever I come across some spectacular claim like this I generally check it with Lubs Motl, whom I feel confident knows his physics as few others do and has the credentials to prove it (Harvard Fellow, etc.) In this case in my search window I typed in “Julian Barbour site:http://motls.blogspot.com/” and came up with this. Yep, Julian Barbour is full of it.

    Reply

  4. China: The world’s cleverest country? I read somewhere recently that Chinese test scores over-predict their future performance. This was in connection to SAT’s and subsequent academic achievement at highest levels in U.S. Can’t remember where I saw it though. Should I look it up?

    Reply

  5. Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much – “Talking about ourselves—whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter—triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported Monday.”

    God I hate people that can’t shut up, the only thing worse are the people that can’t shut up about themselves.

    Generally, acts of self disclosure were accompanied by spurts of heightened activity in brain regions belonging to the meso-limbic dopamine system, which is associated with the sense of reward and satisfaction from food, money or sex.

    Talking about self = mental masturbation …… egad.

    Reply

  6. @jayman – “‘Imagine a country where employers are allowed to require a PET scan as a condition of employment. If PET scan costs were cheap enough some employers would use them.'”

    i would never land a job in teh future! (~_^)

    Reply

  7. @luke – “Yep, Julian Barbour is full of it.”

    i really need to clone myself so i can keep up with physics, too. i barely — barely! — manage to keep up with biology.

    come to think of it, i’d have to clone myself PLUS do a little genetic engineering on my clone so my other self would be smart enough to understand physics. (~_^) (thankfully, in another universe, i am smart enough!)

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  8. @rjp – “God I hate people that can’t shut up, the only thing worse are the people that can’t shut up about themselves.”

    from one of my favorite books:

    “One of the things Ford Prefect had always found hardest to understand about humans was their habit of continually stating and repeating the very very obvious, as in It’s a nice day, or You’re very tall, or Oh dear you seem to have fallen down a thirty-foot well, are you all right? At first Ford had formed a theory to account for this strange behavior. If human beings don’t keep exercising their lips, he thought, their mouths probably seize up.

    “After a few months’ consideration and observation he abandoned this theory in favor of a new one. If they don’t keep on exercising their lips, he thought, their brains start working.”

    (~_^)

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  9. re: Chinese test scores over-predict their future performance:

    search “Sineruse” in the comments of this post at Steve Sailer’s.

    Reply

  10. Luke Lea–
    I read somewhere recently that Chinese test scores over-predict their future performance.

    A commenter at my blog just linked me to this piece by Steven Farron, which talks about just this topic. Farron also references several studies on the issue for further reading.

    Reply

  11. On the Chinese test scores over-predicting issue, I just happen to be on a China kick for unrelated reasons. For the last thousand years at least (since Song Dynasty) to get ahead in China you had to score high on civil service examinations. It was bureaucratic despotism administered by 10,000 or so scholar-officials and because corruption was deeply embedded in the culture (then as now!) passing the exams was a financial bonanza not just for the individual and his family but for his whole clan (for several generations!). So important was it that clans would pool all their resources to train promising sons to score high — it literally took decades of hard work (and there was lots of cheating!) to prepare, and only a tiny percentage were successful at the highest level (1/1000 or less).

    Anyway, my point is that family pressure and ambition to score high on gateway tests is a deeply embedded feature of Confucian/Chinese culture. Probably has a genetic component even since rich families had many wives and lots of kids. I think this might have something to do with what we are seeing. ;)

    Reply

  12. @Luke Lea:

    “Anyway, my point is that family pressure and ambition to score high on gateway tests is a deeply embedded feature of Confucian/Chinese culture. Probably has a genetic component even since rich families had many wives and lots of kids. I think this might have something to do with what we are seeing.”

    I have a blog post coming up on that, where I look at that very subject in detail. ;)

    Reply

  13. @luke – “…passing the exams was a financial bonanza not just for the individual and his family but for his whole clan (for several generations!).”

    a parallel to how being elected to office in egypt benefits the whole clan. from a future post that’s still only floating around in my head and hasn’t found it’s way to the innerwebs yet [pg. 154]:

    “In Ahmed’s case service in the National Assembly has indeed provided peasants with what may be termed a ‘politics of largesse’ (Hyden 1980: 90). While his powers at the national level are quite circumscribed, at the local level Ahmed has become an effective ‘gatekeeper’ over the flow of national resources into his district. He has, for example, played an important role in determining the location of certain social services in the area: schools, warehouses and consumer cooperatives. Through this process Ahmed has been able to reward his followers through the creation of new jobs, new titles, and perhaps most importantly, new means of graft. In El-Diblah, as well as other rural areas, easy access to government warehouses and cooperatives provides villagers with the chance to purchase (or pilfer) those government-subsidized products (for example, wood, iron, meat) that can be sold for a handsome profit on the black market.”

    most of the peasants benefitting from ahmed’s stint in the national assembly are members of his clan. some are not, and he had to buy their votes with “vote money.” he doesn’t have to buy his clan members’ votes.

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  14. @luke – “Probably has a genetic component even since rich families had many wives and lots of kids.”

    so you get a lot of smart people who can pass tough tests, but maybe not independent thinkers ’cause in an imperial bureaucracy the last thing you want is for people to rock the boat?

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  15. It was very much a literary elite based on mastery of the Confucian classics, not math or anything practical. The eight-legged essay was a particular challenge. On the plus side it resulted in an extraordinarily cultivated elite. Rule by the literati so to speak. You get a good taste of it in The Dream of the Red Chamber, which I highly recommend. Also Jonathan Spence’s biographical essay (he’s a stylist himself so it is a two-fer), Return to Dragon Mountain. Of course there was little correlation between literary accomplishment and administrative ability — though with a little practice everyone learned how to take a bribe.

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  16. Believe it or not the above source is available in its entirety on line for free. I wish all professors were like that. It’s over 800 page pdf so takes a minute to download.

    Reply

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