Why IQ is BS

 

 

As I hinted at a while ago in my “How to develop intellectual success” post, I think that IQ is a pretty horrid way to describe intelligence in general. Plenty of people have already discussed the invalidity of the current IQ test and scale before (here’s probably the best one), so what I instead wanted to do was describe why I think that an IQ test/scale could never work in the first place.

I’ll start with the obvious but true argument that there are many different types of intelligence. The original idea behind general intelligence was that it was supposed to be a good measure of how fast you could learn things in general. There’s, of course, a big problem with that; we don’t learn everything by a given set of speed. Say, if we had really high acuity for maths and social skills, then we learn maths and social skills faster. But, if by chance we also have a low acuity for creative tasks like reading and writing, then we would learn these lower. The combination of all these elements is sort of a hodge-podge that could quite possibly go one way or the other on the scale but is typically going to land straight in the average. And, unlike examining the skills separately, this average really doesn’t teach us much.

In addition to this, I don’t think that there is a good way to measure these as opposed to, say, just general skills. Of course, if you are bad at reading and writing, or maths, or social skills, you can just go out to improve them. And, sure, you might not be able to improve it as much as someone with a natural disposition for the skill, you can still definitely get it to a point where it’s greater than you started. This conflicts with IQ’s main theory that the IQ that you’re born with stays the same. You can certainly improve your speed of learning by finding the right combination of methods for you, and you can certainly improve any of the different intelligences by just well-developed practice. Hell, I didn’t even catch some of the patterns in a standard IQ test the first time I took it; after I had found them, my score increased significantly.

IQ, however, is still good for some things. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the ability to diagnose mental defects like Down Syndrome and the like. That being said, there are likely better ways to turn this into a test specifically for detecting syndromes and other such things rather than just taking an IQ test.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

How One Joke Can Ruin Your Life

 

 

I had originally put the topic of this blog post down as “In defense of all jokes”. This was actually a topic I had kept on the doc since the older days of Astuka’s Blog (and so, in a way, this serves as a throwback to last week’s article). Of course, as we’ve already addressed, my opinions have changed a lot since that time… and so, do I still believe it’s reasonable to defend all jokes?

I’ll start off with my original thesis for the article. It is true that there are offensive jokes, and it is true that there are jokes that can sometimes be mistimed (i.e. “too soon”) or otherwise poorly conceived. However, my idea was that we should be judging exclusively the quality of that joke rather than extrapolating it to judge the character of the person telling it or their intentions. If a joke is bad, leave it as a joke is bad, rather than trying to dig up more out of it. Take in mind this thesis came out at a time where the “big comedy scare” was occuring; comedians seemed to be getting banned from college campuses en-masse, and many prominent comedians (most famously Ricky Gervais) were speaking out against this.

A few weeks from now I intend to write an article in full about what I call “The Shame Economy”, and I think this whole comedy scare plays a lot into that. When someone makes a bad joke, it’s very easy to change the narrative and harvest shame off of them, exiling them back to some dark corner of the internet. This was the main idea of the TED Talk by Jon Ronson, where all of our key elements seem to be in place: we have an individual who makes and offensive + poorly conceived joke, who is then set on by a group of irrational actors who extrapolate the joke to the character, and then harvest shame, and then cause a groupthink incident to occur where the woman gets much more punishment than any of us really think she ought to deserve, including a full dox as well as a constant bombardment of realistic death threats.

To me there’s two key aspects that play a role here: the audience of the joke and the actions of the individual pre- and post-joke. Starting with the first, it’s much harder to send out an offensive joke of social media, where a variety of irrational actors are scouring the feeds looking to gain a share of the Shame Economy. So, if one really did want to take a joke like this, it makes more sense to due it in a deep friend circle or otherwise with people you could trust would take the joke well. This is similar to what I do personally, telling different “tiers” of jokes based on my knowledge and relationship with the person. Secondly, I think the way the person is perceived by others before the joke makes a big difference. I think Ricky Gervais is in a much more advantaged position to make an offensively bad joke than Justine Sacco, as Gervais’ whole schtick is making jokes like these whereas Sacco was a relative no-name who hadn’t particularly done anything like this before. Similarly, I think content in post means a lot as well. Silence is probably the worst scenario in such a case, as prevailing silence from the person allows one to continue to develop false assumptions. Apologizing does work, but has a fairly low success record (that is, specifically on social media; it does have a fairly high success rate in normal conversation), and another option I like to call “Calling it out” where you make it very clear that the irrational actors are acting irrationally and that “it’s just a joke” (this is similar to something Ricky Gervais would use) actually does work fairly well in social media environments but still doesn’t have a perfect success rate (Of course, Sacco specifically wasn’t given too much of an option since the groupthink incident regarding her literally happened overnight as she slept).

So, going back to the main point of the article, I do think in the wide majority of cases jokes can still be defended, although I think individuals making these jokes should still keep in mind those two key aspects. There are certainly fringe cases where offensive jokes are the tells of more malicious behavior (e.g. a joke about jews told by a white supremacist) but not only are these cases much rarer but I also think it’s much easier to tell malicious intent in an open scenario (one could also take in mind here previous actions before the joke was told).

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Confronting My Old “Alt-Right” Posts

Around 2014 there was a big kerfuffle in the gaming industry. As was revealed, a cabal of journalists were getting together to promote certain games while ignoring or outright blaming others. This lead to a massive outcry within the gaming community that the media within their sector was actively working against them. Not only that, but they were working towards a sinister agenda; a “politically correct” culture where things deemed too risque were outright ostracized and banned. As this problem began to expand outside of gaming, a few well known, pro-free speech figures at the time allied itself with this fledgling game community in order to expand their own voice. This movement became known as the “Alt-Right”.

Of course, the alt-right ended up taking on quite a few more political positions rather than simply “free speech”; however, when I wrote about it back in 2014, it seemed like the so-called “SJW Agenda” was a real, genuine threat. And so, to my high-school sophomore 2smart4you mind, this all seemed to make a lot of sense.

Now that both the world and I have changed a lot, I wanted to go back to some of the points I made in these old pieces to see if I do still believe in what I said.

 

The first article I made on this was on August 20th, 2014; right around where this movement all began… ironically, coming out of a simple piece of internet drama. Before it was the Alt-Right, it was Gamergate; and before it was Gamergate, it was the “Quinnspiracy”, centering around a very specific case of a game developer by the name of Zoe Quinn who released a (truthfully) awful game by the name of Depression Quest, only to have an ex-boyfriend reveal on launch day that she had been cheating on him with several men, some of whom were in the games journalism industry (quite the launch day, I’d say).

I’d actually say the writing on this article is quite rational and objective. At this point in the story I didn’t really have any bias either way, and so I pretty much just dumped a shit-load of evidence (which unfortunately most of is now deadlinked) that seemed to point out that Quinn was in fact having multiple relationships and was in fact using her contacts to censor any discussion on the topic. To this day I don’t believe anyone involved in this catalyst event really disagrees with the fact that Zoe Quinn was in fact utilizing her power to discredit people who were speaking negatively of her.

And then we get to Part II written about a month later on September 19th. By this point the Quinnspiracy has graduated formally into GamerGate, and things have gotten a bit… involved. Firstly, in the article I praise Milo Yiannopoulos and Breitbart for “brilliant journalism”, which I wouldn’t be caught dead doing today. From there, we get more (mostly deadlinked) evidence… though this time around things feel a lot more fickle. While to this day I find the images from GameJournoPros to be pretty fishy, most of the bad apples here were people no one really liked in the first place, and the majority of the content appeared to just be general discussion of the game journalism industry. The 4chan infographic I post in the article also isn’t quite the most stellar proof of anything suspicious going on.

When it comes down to the argument that Gamergate was inherently misogynistic, I really don’t believe that to be true; especially in the early days. Perhaps after the movement got co-opted by Breitbart and Co. things could have spiraled downhill, but I know that I personally (as well as many others who were involved in the movement around this time) didn’t have any hate against women or other minorities within gaming and simply believed that a wider censorship was going on (which had already been proven with the Quinnspiracy).

 

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I also wrote this call to action, which I might have gotten a little *too* into

 

This point comes to a head in my Part III, where I end up recognizing that the movement has spiraled out of control, and thus I excuse myself from talking about it further. In the article I describe how the movement became a catfight (it really was), which was probably how it was able to be co-opted into the wider Alt-Right movement. Of course, while this was my last article for Gamergate, it was not my last article that delved upon Gamergate’s critical touchpoints. Five months after I wrote the final Gamergate article, I wrote “On Equality” Part 1 and Part 2, which stray away from censorship this time to instead face the wider issue of social justice.

In “On Equality”, I’m mostly complaining about the shoving of diversity into entertainment as well as a little bit of affirmative action put in for good measure. This is a bit of a tricky subject, cause there’s nothing really wrong with what the article says; in fact, it really doesn’t say that much at all. It’s very diplomatically written, but at the same time I don’t think there’s been any sophisticated evidence that affirmative action or diversity in entertainment have a negative effect or is otherwise creating more social conflict.

 

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Yeah I… don’t know what I meant by this.

 

I also mention the term “Radical Feminism” for the first time (a word I use to diplomatically address SJWs), which I bring back in my next social-justice-related piece called Opposing Fronts. This is probably the worst piece of the bunch. First of all, it’s written in a very condescending tone, yet the point it’s getting across is very basic: “there are communication issues among what counts as feminism”. To be honest, I don’t even think I knew what feminism was at this point. Second of all, the article is very clearly an “attack on the SJWs” and rather just throws in the Men’s Rights section at the very end to keep things balanced. The simple fact is that this article is disingenuous and really didn’t need to be made. Yes, there are crazies out there in the world, but as I write in the article, they’re a very small minority. Did this even need to be written?

At this point, I don’t write about these subjects for another year, until the Hollywood Reporter Ghostbusters remake article comes out. To be fair, this HWR article was real fuckin’ dumb, and I don’t think anyone really disagreed with me on this point. This article by myself was much of an improvement from Opposing Fronts; here, I called out the argument directly, and didn’t shy away from my opinion with some other diplomatic garbage (although some of the article lacked evidence to the points it was trying to make). It’s also worth noting that by this point in time, the Gamergate movement was fully absorbed into the Alt-Right; so I do take some time in this article to address this and bash their new anti-minority slants (which were now truly defined and obvious).

My last article taking the side of the “intellectual dark web” was actually written only two years ago, back when I was still doing Monday Chats. The article was in response to Google’s Ideological Echo, the big pastebin that caused all this to become quite a stir yet again (ironic that I called the example of the diversity problem in my On Equality series “The Google Dilemma”). I’m not really sure why I felt the need to make a response to all these things, but I suppose I did it anyway. I’m surprised this is the most recent one of the bunch, since this is actually the one I least agree with. While my writing here is god, I go way easier on Damore than I would have now. While there are obviously biological differences between the sexes, all the ones that Damore brings up a pure pseudo-science. And while certainly there is issues with subverting honest debate (as we’ve mentioned before), the overall pastebin seems to be more orientated towards purposely starting drama and giving some fire for the Alt-Right.

So, in conclusion, I can still back up most of what I said about censorship and debate but not much about the post-gamergate alt-right ideologies. A lot of these posts were very much wishy-washy as well, which is another thing I would rather avoid in newer posts.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Why Neighborhoods Turn Bad — and Stay That Way

 

 

What we think of when we see a bad neighborhood usually sticks in the present. We just see the gangs, the dilapidated housing, the food stamps, and be done with it — saying “This needs to change” without putting too much thought in how it started in the first place.

 

But in order to truly stop something, you have to prevent it. And preventing something involves looking at it from the very beginning. When we look at neighborhoods that become dilapidated, they usually become this way due to poor economic conditions — either companies begin to leave, or the economy gets bad, or some sort of major event occurs that causes a particular region or people to go under.

 

From here, people begin to develop certain habits. They begin to save less and spend more. They begin to commit crime to survive — small at first, but gradually increasing over time. These acts cause them to further fall into the pit. While in some instances, the growth of these actions on a community scale is small, other times they increase exponentially, and it is with these exponential increases that you get to the creation of long-term ghettos. What causes this exponential increase is something that needs further investigation, but is outside the scope of this article.

 

Once this behavior spreads far enough, it becomes commonplace. Once it becomes commonplace, it is taught — either formally or informally — to future generations. This is what causes these areas to linger for such a long time — not because of current conditions, but rather because past conditions have shaped the future.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high-quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

English vs. Mandarin: Which Will Dominate the World?

 

 

While I don’t believe we’ll have a universal language any time soon, it seems like the two obvious answers for one would be either English or Mandarin. This seems like a bit of a fight between east vs west, and I’ve heard good arguments from both sides, but I wanted to see if I could throw my own thoughts about this into the ring.

First, I find it ironic that the two most likely candidates for lingua franca are the two languages that are possibly the most complicated. English, with its various nuances and outdated rules, can certainly be hard to understand. However, I believe that the sheer size of the Mandarin language causes it to be much harder to grasp fully than english. While having a large alphabet combined with a large vocabulary may help in describing details, most international communication would be fine in just getting the general point across; and so I think more would be willing to describe less in order to spend less time learning a new language for business.

There’s also the fact that, due to eurocentricity, English has already had a grasp on global communications for quite some years now. With China not opening up broadly until roughly the 1960s, combined with the fact of the relatively isolationist nature of Asian cultures in general, Mandarin has had much less time to fester internationally. And while China’s population may have exploded in the meantime, this doesn’t necessarily translate to exponential cultural exporting. As English has expanded, more English-speaking generations have passed, and more people globally are prone to picking up English as their preferred second language.

Finally, to summarize this, I do think it’s certainly possible to have a lingua franca. In an age where the majority of people on Earth have endless knowledge at their fingertips, it becomes quite a bit more easy to learn a new language. And, with globalization becoming a key force due to such technology, more and more people need a common tongue to speak in.

 

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

The Lazy Man’s Guide to More Efficient Research

 

 

I’ve recently been tinkering around with my research method. In the past, I’ve always dreaded doing research and always avoided it in any way I could. Seeing that research has become more and more an essential feature of my everyday work routine, I figured something had to be done to stop the research scourge.

Fortunately, I developed a research method that’s worked well for me — so well, in fact, that I’ve felt the need to share it to see if it works for you. It goes something like this:

Develop a list of keywords

The first thing you’ll want to do is develop a list of search terms that relate to what it is your researching. For example, if I wanted to write an article on good research methods to use, my keyword list would look something like: “research methods”, “best research methods”, “proven research methods”, “note-taking skills”, and “how to research”. There will be some overlap between these terms, but the goal is to create a large number of keywords that are diverse enough to get you all the relevant info you might need.

 

Find a list of sources using the keywords you’ve developed

Once you have your search terms, you’ll want to go about collecting sources from each of them. You’ll still need to vet for relevancy and legitimacy; however, this step will be greatly simplified by the fact that you’ll have a lot of sources to sift through thanks to your keywords. Rather than continuously having to look up something and check sources only to find that nothing fits, you can get your keywords to give you 10x the amount of sources, and quickly sift through them to find the best ones.

 

Write notes for each of the sources

Now that you have a good amount of high-quality sources, you can do a new passthrough of actually reading the content. Keep in mind the info that you need, and this step won’t be near as time-consuming. When writing notes, remember to keep it connected to the source that you’re getting it from — this will allow the citation process to be much, much smoother.

Incorporate notes into writing

Finally, you’ll want to simplify your writing process by directly incorporating your notes. By this, I mean you’ll want to first outline your writing, and then place each individual note to the part of the outline it bests corresponds to. This not only provides a better structure for what you want to say, but also allows you to make quick and easy citations.

 
Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high-quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

Sexual Frustration and Trying to Find Love in the Age of the Internet

 

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Photo by Timo Stern on Unsplash

 

Pick up artists. The red pill. Incels. These are topics that have interested me for a long time, mostly because they are all extreme solutions to a single problem; sexual frustration.

Really, all guys (and some girls, as we’ll get to later) understand the pain of not getting any. Whether you’re starting out in high school or there’s been a long hiatus since the last one, it can be kind of a drag to just jerk off and not feel any sexual comfort from someone else. This is a pretty essential and biological part of being a person, and so it’s a conflict we all have. The difference is in how we combat it.

Most just take the pain and head on through it. PUA and incels, however, represent two very extreme methods of conflict resolution. You might see incels on one end; people who have all about given up on receiving any pussy, and instead wallow in the fact that they are doomed to live a life of celibacy solely due to their genetics or what-have-you. This tends to be the start for individuals who fall into this specific sexual frustration path – individuals who tend to be loners out of high school, who have never really been too close to others, have certainly never been in a relationship, and feel left out in comparison to all the others. Their answer is that they are simply inferior; that they’ll never find anyone “good” (despite “good” meaning almost impossible to obtain standards) and instead should mope around and attack the “Chads” of the world, figureheads who represent perfect standards and are “getting the sex all of the time”.

Inceldom is pretty much the lowest it gets. From here, people tend to get “promoted” to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, picked off by those who call themselves Pick Up Artists, or PUAs for short.  These PUAs dispense “The Red Pill” to incels (note: this is a different “Red Pill” from those that the Trump fans and Alt-Right use – rather than being about the Left, it’s about women). This Red Pill philosophy states exactly what the incels wish to hear; that, no, it’s not about you, its about your strategy. As it turns out, women are not meant to be romanced, but rather to be conquered, because when we were Neanderthals we did such-and-such, and if you read the research by so-and-so, you’ll find that women actually love being demeaned and otherwise sexist behavior, and that’s how you graduate to being one of the Chads. PUAs tend to identify with the “Chad” lifestyle, however unlike the Chads hold a lot of sympathy for incels (probably because this is the main demographic they sell their books and courses to). While some incels are wary of the PUAs, others see them as some sort of ubermensch.

The stages here are pretty clear: we start with depression and hopelessness and then “graduate” into anger and retaliation. Both of these are obviously not the way to go about things, and people still fall into it. This is all because the PUAs did get one thing right; that part of this is biological; that we need the comfort of someone else or things get difficult. And I think in a way this is a problem that both males and females can relate to; that despite women tending to care more about romantic elements rather than sexual elements, they can still feel this hurt sometimes. While there is no equivalent of PUAs for women, there are a small group who call themselves femcels – quite literally female incels – who, ironically, despise incels, saying that their overly high standards pertain to their sexism, and that if they would “lower their standards” enough, they would find someone.

I don’t, however, think “standards” for beauty or personality are the problem here. Certainly the massive incel checklist of having to be a perfect Asian housewife who has never even considered a sexual thought previously is a bit of a stretch (and truthfully a bit sexist on top of that), I think that finding a suitable partner really has to do a lot with looking in the right places. Remember what I said earlier; incels tend to be social outcasts. They aren’t going out, seeing other people, or are even on sites like Tinder or Bumble. And while there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong with being a social outcast, it tends to feed a lot into the issue of frustration that causes them to be incels in the first place. If there was an outlet for these individuals beyond incels.is or the Andrew Tate fanboard, perhaps they would be able to get out of this aforementioned sex rut.

Take in mind, however, that another big part of this is the path of least resistance, a negative effect that all people experience and that I’ve mentioned quite a few times before on blogposts. Why do people wallow on incel boards in the first place? Because it’s easier than taking action. When people are not motivated by outside factors, they fall inward. And, for the most part, no one is going to encourage you to go an have a sexual partner; especially if you’re a social loner. You also won’t be motivated to engage in activities like self-care or self-improvement, which are probably the more realistic measures to get to this so called “Chad” status than just constantly throwing out cheesy lines and asking girls numbers on the beach.

This all said, the most interesting thing about both these groups, I believe, is how weirdly relatable they are. Certainly, none of us would ever want to be caught dead associated with incels and PUAs, and yet… in a strange way… we feel them. We understand them. In many ways we can empathize with them.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. As an added bonus, you’ll also receive the Top 10 Tools I Use on a Daily Basis to help better manage your workload and do high quality work in a shorter amount of time. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.