The Planning Morons

Sometimes I think that reading the news is what I do instead of exercise.  I mean, the whole purpose is to increase your heart rate, right?

Yesterday, Instapundit had a link to the Chinese creating super-genius-babies.  I thought “Okay.  This sounds like everything is going according to my predictions.*)

Of course, I found it a bit disquieting, because this is China, which ruthlessly puts to death toddler girls, rather than allowing their parents to raise them.  When someone who values human life so little starts messing with the genome, it’s disquieting.  Besides… besides, I didn’t think the science was quite there yet.

This is when I made my mistake.  I went to the site.

It wasn’t even the article.  That is stupid enough. It’s also the comments which raise the stupidity to the Nth degree plus one.  But let’s leave the comments for now and concentrate on the stupid  what China reports to be doing.  (Children, when totalitarians with full control of the press say anything, don’t trust AND verify.  Apply that wherever suitable.)

So… This article says that China is trying to improve the IQ of its population.  This was the first thing that made me go “oy” because, well, why is it that communists, supposed to be government by the people, always end up – one way or another – trying to create a new people?

Then we get to the definition of “intelligence.”  If I got the gist of the article right, they’re not looking for raw IQ as such, but for what I would call credentials “Where have you published?”  and “What college did you graduate from?”

At this point my head was hovering towards the desk, and I had to exert effort not to hit head on desk repeatedly because… Who in H*LL confuses credentials with IQ?  I mean, other than our media and the Chinese?  Take my children (please.  I give you a good price.)  The younger one has some testing issues, but the older on has always taken his tests with flying colors, had great grades and graduated from IB which most colleges respect.  So… why did he end up in a state school and not an ivy?  Mostly?  Because we didn’t have the contacts, we weren’t willing to hire a coach to see us through the application process, and we didn’t know where to go and what to do – in other words, the boys were handicapped by having parents who are out of the loop for these things.  I know for a fact some of the kids in their class who went to the ivy league schools are not only not as smart but not as proficient (and no, this is not a mother talking.  It’s damning my kids with faint praise.)

So… anyway, they’re picking these highly credentialed people from Europe and Asia (where of course, connections family, privilege have nothing to do with credentials.  Excuse me, I have some sarcasm stuck in my throat.)  And they’re examining the DNA to determine which sequence is common to all these people.  (Here, the older boy informs me that we have yet to be able to sequence the DNA of ova or sperm WITHOUT destroying them.  So, while they can determine that some sequence is present, by that time the reproductive material will be gone.  Never mind.)

Then, they plan to inseminate ova with this sequence with sperm with this sequence, sit back and wait for their geniuses to appear.

[Hits head against desk, to distract from greater pain of enduring the stupidity of central planners.]

Smart kids – smart people in general – are something I have a great deal of experience with.  And I find that nothing – nothing, except maybe the creation of great art – is imbued with more symbolic meaning by every day people.  And few myths of humanity, including the entire pantheon of Greece and Rome are more out of touch with reality than the myths that surround genius.

Someone in the comments brought up the existence of multiple forms of intelligence and got promptly pounded down.  To an extent that’s right, because “multiple forms of intelligence” has become code for “everyone is special.”  Which is bull hockey.  On the other hand, particularly when you approach triple niners, they will be very high across the board, but usually only one form will manifest.  They will SURELY not manifest all at once, anyway.  In fact, extremely smart kids often develop slower than other kids, at least for  a while. This is something that alarmed us with both of our kids, and  which led us to learn the phrase “Saltational development.”  This means that gifted (really gifted, not the schools idea of this) kids tend to develop in jumps.  Instead of say developing their drawing skill slowly and along a slope, they’ll be doing stick figures while the other kids in sixth grade are doing perspective drawings.  And then one day – you never see it coming – they pick up pencil and draw like DaVinci.  (This is not common, because there’s such thing as finger memory, but younger son pulled this on us.  I think it was a matter of not showing us the attempts, but the psychologist says I’m wrong and it was a matter of things clicking.)  And it’s that way with everything.  And because – particularly the very smart – will ONLY learn what they’re really interested in, this means none of them will be a genius across the board, and often can approach slow in some things.

There is something we in this house call “inverse genius” most often seen in older son, but often exhibited by all three males.  It is something so stupid only a genius could think of it to do it.  (Yeah, I put my finger in the blender while forgetting to unplug it.  But it can’t be inverse genius.  I’m not a genius.)

What I’m trying to get across is that even for people who have experience of dealing with people smarter than them genius, like pornography, is often a “I know it when I see it.”

There are also cultural variations. The reason China is looking for geniuses by credential is that this is the way genius is established in their culture.  Another component, as I understand it, is that Chinese education (and thus what’s considered “very smart”) is mostly based on memorization.  (It’s the same in Portugal, actually.  I was so so at it, so I made do with wild improvisation.  It served.  But my brother, who had an eidetic memory did much better than I)

This means that though the myth is that “genius” is genius, what China is looking for under that name would not be a genius in America.

Then comes the OTHER myth (in the comments, too) where the idea is that the Chinese are doing this to further their position in international commerce.

Children, we count several geniuses and a number of Mensa members among our acquaintance.  I don’t think a single one of them is a millionaire.  (Maybe one.)  And most of them aren’t even middle management.  Hell, if you’re looking for the Mensans in a business building, you’re more likely to find them in the janitorial service than in the boardroom.  (Dilbert got that absolutely right.)

There are several reasons for this (which make raising geniuses such a challenge) including the fact that they’re likely to try to do five or six things at once (older son: art, comics, writing, graphic design for family and friends, pre-med, fencing club.  And the least said about younger son the better when it comes to how he can find a thousand different things to do) which means less concentrated effort than the mildly intelligent person who pursues only one thing.  But also, and more importantly, geniuses tend to be Odds, which means they range from not fitting into any given human group to making other people run screaming.  Reading other people is NOT usually an ability of the highly gifted, either, which means in anything involving others they’re likely to be kept out in the cold.

However, even if we grant China the idea that they’re selecting for the right “genius” – i.e. that the article is not very faithful to their idea – there are other technical difficulties.  While they might be solved mid-century, they certainly aren’t now.  To put it bluntly, and risking offending people in the commenter pool: High IQ correlates, almost always with highly undesirable characteristics of an intellectual and physical nature (which, supposing it gives geniuses any advantage over other people – debatable – still explains why genius IQ hasn’t propagated through the population like wild fire.)  Autism, in some degree, seems to be almost inescapable above a certain IQ – and when it’s not there, you get the sensory stuff younger son has.  Or you get severe auto-immune disorders.  There might also be epigenetics involved, and I’m told that the gene sequence for genius is PROBABLY the same as for utter moron.  It depends on which geniuses get flipped in gestation or after birth.

So… If they’re really trying to do this, it’s one of those crazy totalitarian eugenics things that should make all sane people shudder.

Only it doesn’t.  The educated morons in the comments were going on about how this just means China is going to dominate everything and is leaving us in the dust.

Of course, these same educated morons also believe that Chinese economy is doing great… based on reports coming from within a totalitarian regime with a controlled press.

Which proves that perhaps we DO need IQ improvement.  But NOT the way the Chinese are doing it. For one I should hope we have more respect for the infinite variety of human beings than to create them to order.

*[From Hoyt’s Future History – the background to Darkship Thieves and The Earth Revolution — middle of the twenty first century, it’s discovered that Russia has been creating the first form of “mules” – babies gestated by large animals and created from sperm/ova left over from infertility treatments.  This is a way of increasing young population, in order to have enough laborers to care for the increasingly older natural population.  The children are often mentally handicapped, due to a mistiming of enzimes.]

UPDATE: I forgot to say, there is a writing post over at Mad Genius Club.

587 thoughts on “The Planning Morons

  1. You said ” Who in H*LL confuses credentials with IQ? I mean, other than our media and the Chinese? ” I will answer, HR personell. Liberal arts majors, University faculty and administrators, Any one in the teaching industry. The typical progressive…the list goes on and on. Most of these people are also the ones with some political skill and ones who are attracted to power. It might include anyone who isn’t an odd

    1. HR is capable of advertising for a programmer with five years’ experience with a program that was released last month. (Usually, I grant you, with release 5.0 of a program where you could have five years’ experience with 4.0, 3.0, etc. But still silly.)

      1. HR rarely writes the job specs for technical positions, and most hiring manglers couldn’t write an accurate job spec to save their company.

      2. Heh. I seem to remember reading of a job, posted in 2001, with a requirement of 5 years’ experience with Windows 2000.

        1. Many years ago when I was at the University of Iowa, the School of Music was looking for a new voice prof. They normally had one in each of the voice ranges, soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor and bass. They needed a new tenor. HR couldn’t understand why they didn’t get any female applicants.

            1. When I asked a grocery clerk if they had any skim milk, I was met with a blank stare. When I repeated my request and substituted the phrase fat-free the light dawned.

              You’d be amazed at how many things you or I think are obvious, that leave other people clueless.

              1. Gotta be fair– I can TOTALLY see someone thinking up some new indignity to inflict on milk and marketing it as skim, now that the various water-milks are accepted.

            1. Well, I was trained to sing tenor in highschool. I am most definitely female I also have no business singing in public, at all (unless as a weapon, I suppose :-).)

              On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 10:29 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > Cyn Bagley commented: “GEEZ– if it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny–” >

              1. In church choirs I was always an alto (Mother wanted an alto so she got an alto– long story). Anyway when I finally took a few voice lessons, I learned that I was really a soprano. I didn’t continue with the lessons (another long story to do with money), but I coulda been an opera singer. 😉

          1. L OL. In our church choir more than half the tenors are women (i.e., two out of three).


            Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.*

            On Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 7:50 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > ** > librarygryffon commented: “Many years ago when I was at the University > of Iowa, the School of Music was looking for a new voice prof. They > normally had one in each of the voice ranges, soprano, mezzo, alto, tenor > and bass. They needed a new tenor. HR couldn’t understand why they” >

    2. Any one in the teaching industry.

      There is some mitigation of this misconception when you are in the STEM departments. That is because there are such things as correct procedures for keeping labs safe. When it comes to what happens when you mix chemical A with chemical B and slowly raise the temperature by factor of X there is not likely to be much room for debate. How you feel about H2SO4 will not make it cuddle up politely or smell nicer.

    3. The people you mention are usually good at “networking” and they relate to others of their ilk. Which doesn’t mean that any of them would have the sense to see if a non-functioning toaster was plugged in before throwing it in the trash and buying a new one.

      People with Asperger’s syndrome, OTOH, are usually genius class at one or a few things, and relatively normal at most other things – EXCEPT they can’t “read” the body language and facial expressions of other people… which means they are not plugged in to the social world around them, so they make bad networkers, so do not rise in a hierarchy of corporate or political drones. ie Aspies are odds.

      1. well… I test genius at language, but nothing else. I was severely brain damaged at birth. If that’s what whacked the other readings, THANK G-d for small favors. My family needs an interpreter. And I’m serious on that.

        1. I’m of average intelligence and have the IQ to prove it. Two master’s degrees and a cushy job (ok I admit it) later, people think I’m smart. I’m not. I just worked and understood enough economics to understand what ROI means.

          It’s SOOOOOOO much easier to breed superpeople than it is to actually get out of the way and let a prosperous society build itself.

    4. Wizard of Oz to the Scarecrow: Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have. But they have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma

    5. Let’s just abbreviate that list as “people who derive some advantage, whether material or merely psychological, from pretending to be smart, when all they actually are is extensively credentialed”. 🙂

    6. It’s not just IQ, there’s a bad tendency to confuse credentials with ABILITY.
      Example: Dad used be a LE officer, and the last ten years or so did a lot of the background checking on applicants for the academy. Like most agencies, quite a while back they went to the ‘must have a degree’ requirement, so everybody had at least a bachelor’s degree in something. The problem: being smart and having a degree doesn’t mean you’ll make a good cop. Dad has a tremendous respect for education(real education), but more than once he’s said he’d trade several of these people with degrees for a good ol’ boy with a high school diploma and a good dose of common sense; among other things, they don’t automatically think they’re a friggin’ genius, and they generally know how to talk to a wide range of people without being condescending or snotty.

      1. It’s not just IQ, there’s a bad tendency to confuse credentials with ABILITY.

        Navy is doing it, too.

        Getting to where the budget cuts involve kicking out the folks who actually do the work because their paper-credentials aren’t as good.

        1. It is an attribute of CYA paper pushers everywhere. The question they most fear is “Why did you hire/promote that cretin?”

          Being able to say “He had great credentials” is their silver cross, warding off responsibility.

          Because having to exercise judgement is the last thing they want (are qualified) to do. Accumulation of such people (on both sides of the equation) is evidence of bureauschlerosis which, untreated, is generally fatal to the host organism.

          Opinions differ on whether the relation is causal or, as with loss of limbs in diabetics and lepers, symptomatic of greater systemic issues.

          It is probably one factor why the Founders disliked a permanent military, because the guys who succeed in climbing the ranks in peace are not generally developing the skill set required to succeed at war. (Col. Kratman is invited to dispute this; I recognize his greater familiarity with the problem.) I long ago read a quote from a WWII general, called out of retirement, to the effect that “when the going gets tough, that’s when they call in the S.O.B.s.” It has been forty plus years since I read it and I have never been able to track it down for attribution, so discount it as you like.

  2. I love my kids, I think they are smart, even brilliant at moments. I don’t have any geniuses among them, for which I am grateful, because as Highly as I value intelligence, I am related to geniuses and I have seen how difficult they sometimes find relations with the world. I certainly would not, given the ability to actually create them from some kind of a design, chosen to make them geniuses. That said, I am not a scholar of it, but I don’t believe it is yet possible to manipulate the genes to that kind of level (even if the Chinese knew what they really wanted, which it sounds like they do not). They already have a population problem. Where are they going to find the women to bear these children? We’re nowhere near an artificial womb. Are they going to try what you wrote into your books? Is that even possible?

    1. Well, individual Chinese families are hiring women from Laos and Vietnam and other places to come work, and the women discover after they arrive and have their documents taken that they are actually wives. So that could be a (theoretical) source for maternal “volunteers.”

      As for the technology, no, unless the Chinese have far exceeded what is currently possible in the West, they cannot tweak genes enough to create hyper-intelligent individuals. (As of what I last read, back in August 2012). There are far too many cross-linked genes as well, and they might just discover the hard way that male hyper-intelligence is directly connected to perception difficulties, or early neurological collapse (see “Flowers for Algernon”), or inability to socialize. Sort of like how house cat colors are linked to domesticability, and how fat in pigs is related to temperament. (Hint: if you want leaner pigs, you are going to also get meaner pigs).

      1. that last is what Robert thinks. He’s also noted — as have I — that female high IQ seems to be related to reproductive issues, which explains in a just so way why ancients thought educating women made them sterile. (Arabs still do.) If so, a race of supermen could be doomed, anyway.

      2. I’m not convinced anyone knows what genetic sequences correlate to high intelligence, but if it is known, then Heinlein outlined the way to do it eugenically in Beyond This Horizon: While it is not currently possible to read the DNA sequence of a sperm or egg without destroying it, it is possible to read the overall DNA of a person, then one can watch the gametogenesis process and choose one of the pair to read. If the one chosen does NOT have the required genes, then the other one does, and they can be mixed together. This, of course, may have a moderate chance of success with eggs and the corresponding polar bodies, but I believe that right now, fertilization with a single sperm is iffy at best.

  3. Part of the geniuses’ problem is their difficulty communicating with ordinary people. It’s something like a 30-point IQ gap makes it very difficult. But more geniuses would help wrassle that one down.

    1. And part of the reason why so many people are confused about genius is because they don’t know any real geniuses, so they think the Hollywood depiction (sesquipedalian loquaciousness and all) is accurate.

      I have a friend (and this is not one of those stories where “I have a friend” means “I want to talk about myself without admitting it”) who’s the smartest guy I know. I forget the precise term, but he’s in the literally one-in-a-million category: the 99.9999th percentile of intelligence. But if you talk to him, he’s usually slow to form sentences, because he’s struggling to find words that will communicate the ideas he wants to get across. Which can make him seem “slow” until you realize that he’s struggling with words not because he’s having trouble with the words themselves, but because the topics he’s trying to talk about are way off in the borderlands of ideas, where words start to shift like quicksand and the maps are completely blank. (With occasional areas marked “Here Be Dragonnes” or “Ia! Ia! Epistemology fhtagn!”)

      I don’t think I should share his name without permission, but it just occurred to me that he might enjoy talking about this subject with all of you. I think I’ll point him to this post and see if he feels like introducing himself and saying hello.

      1. Triple niner — aka #2 son — yep. We thought he was mentally slow until we had him tested. Also, he often gets the wrong word, because his mind is several sentences ahead. (His father had same issue when he was young. Also, if you see Dan in a panel, he’s often refuting an argument no one made, because he is three steps ahead, and countering what to him is logical someone would say [half the time no one has thought of it, or would think of it] It makes him sound Martian.)

      2. Sometime back, in the dim mists of memory, I recall reading a study that found people who speak slowly, inserting, say err, uhm, uh … often do so because they are “smarter” than average. In this case, smarter than average boils down to “has a large vocabulary and is sensitive to fine nuances and distinctions between words and phrasing.

        In some cases the speaker may be reviewing, considering and selecting between multiple words, phrases and idioms — all of which takes time. Add in the not infrequent articulation difficulties Beloved Spouse & I saw with the Daughtorial Unit (and which Sarah notes about son #2) and you often have a brain working at cable modem speed trying to push output through a dial-up connection.

        Thus there is probably academic research supporting your conclusion about friend’s slowness of speech.

        1. My poor wife still struggles with my speech issues. My brain has a tendency to get too far ahead of my mouth, and I’ll just stop talking while my thoughts keep dashing along. A minute or so later, she’s waving a hand in front of my face, unless she’s already figured out what I was thinking and gone ahead with that. This is part of why I prefer email consultation with clients rather than phone – they can’t read my mind like she can. 🙂

          1. I’ve started doing this recently, but it’s actually ADD from doing three things at once. The guys laugh their heads off when I say something like “Well, what we should do–” And three minutes later finish the sentence. … or don’t remember it.

          2. You have nailed the reason I am reluctant to interact with any of this lot in actual life. Online I have the opportunity to formulate a variety of responses, run a sort of them according to the probability of any given response making a person spew liquid through the nose against the risk of being stared at aghast anybody lacked the mental filters to prevent their saying such a thing, calculate the optimum phrasing for making the point desired, type and post the comment.

            In person that process tends to render me mute, the conversation having moved somewhat beyond the point where my comment would have made sense.

            On the internet, nobody can see you think. Or edit.

            1. Yep– I have it bad because I used to stutter. My parents told me what was going on– my brain was faster than my mouth– so I learned to keep the mouth shut unless I could practice saying things before a mirror. If I didn’t I could get caught up in a loop. 😉

            2. Exactly, RES. I’m so much wittier and more charming online, and yet… I want very much to be in the same room with you lot some time soon. As much as I defend the legitimacy of online interactions to Luddites and reactionaries, they aren’t the same as meeting people in person.

              1. Ditto.

                Of course, the famous/infamous “water cooler” (or playgroup) conversation is a lot less rewarding than this, too.

                In my dreams, a group kinda like the Navy geek group would be a freaking blast!

            3. Ah, but this is why beer was invented. Very regrettable beverage, beer. It can be blamed for anything; merely holding an opened but untouched can in one’s hand allows all sorts of blame to be cast upon it. (harder with bottles or cups; often they have to be half-emptied or they resist attachment of blame, and then people think I drank a lot, because “I always saw her with half a bottle.”)

              1. A peculiar attribute of beer that I observed while working in the Hospitality Industry is that the cans become heavier as they become emptier. That is why so many empty ones can be found abandoned in odd locations.

                1. Honestly, though, fear not the intricacies and oddities of real-time interaction in the same physical location. Most Odd sorts are very forgiving of the oddities of others (especially when similar to themselves.) I am particularly amused when I find myself in a group that clearly learned most of their vocabulary from reading: sci fi cons are one of the few places where someone can interrupt a speaker with the correct pronunciation of a word and be thanked for it.

                  1. Unless it’s me. I’ll say “yes, I know. My mouth doesn’t bend that way.” 😉 Or, if you’re my kid, I’ll say “Bucko, say it again, in Portuguese” 😉

                  2. This made me smile, and reflect how many words I’ve learned from reading. It’s a real pleasure to listen to the speech of a well-educated person who’s really confident of the pronunciation. I stumble on words like “hegemony.”

            4. You should try Liberty con., our type of folks. We all speak the same language. OK there are some mundanes that attend, some of them are even Baen authors, the majority though are family, OUR family

              1. I’m trying to visualize a sense in which a Baen author could _possibly_ be classed as a mundane. And failing. Badly.

              2. I do believe that there is a growing conspiracy to try and get The Spouse to agree to go to Liberty Con. 😉

                He does enjoy the Baen Bar Suite at Stellar, but comes home exhausted having done most of what he considers a year’s worth of socializing all in one weekend.

              3. I’ve been thinking about LibertyCon, but I have a paying interpreting job in late June into early July. Maybe next year.

              4. We need a Libertycon that’s closer to TX! CO would be much cheaper to get to than TN.

                  1. Liberty con, as I understand it, was started by a group of friends who are now practically family.

                    Feel free to start one. Maybe Pat should start one in KS. Or maybe you should start one in TX.

                    I do go to TX, btw, every year in September and try to hit Fencon who, by and large, don’t know what to do with me.

                    1. We love having you at Fencon Sarah! And John Ringo is going to be there this year!!

                      Don’t force the boys to price their stories at 2.99. I’m much more likely to buy an unknown author at .99 than at $2.99.

                    2. PRICE IT AT $2.99

                      Put the first 20% up free; if they aren’t at that point willing to pay $2.99 for the remainder, it wasn’t worth 0.99 to them either.

                    3. I don’t go over $0.99 unless I’m familiar with the author or can view at least a page to see if it’s howler first.

                    4. Sarah, my own personal rule is that I will not pay more for an electronic book where there are minimum reproduction costs than I will for dead tree. Practically the entire price (2/3 plus, anyway) should be going to the author.

                    1. Oddly enough the road distance to Chattnooga is less than half that 783 miles. The mental distance crossing the Mississippi is enormously vaster for people going in either direction, unless they are well traveled. such people as couriers and truckers don’t usually have the same mental distances

                    2. I live near the center on NC on I-40. If I start early I can day trip to the Atlantic Ocean and back. I can drive to and cross the Mississippi in a day. When I drove The Daughter and myself to Albuquerque (with a few side trips along the way) I took a bit over three days to cross Arkansas, Oklahoma, the panhandle of Texas and half of New Mexico. In my mind once you reach the great plains those miles just seem to go on forever.

                      I have drove home from Chattanooga in a day, taking a scenic route with a stop at a Red Clay State Historic Park, enjoying the Cherohala Skyway and taking a bit of time in Cherokee along the way. To drive it all on interstate highway, which would be about 396 miles, would have been quicker, but not anywhere near so enjoyable.

                      You know, I really like traveling with The Daughter. 😉 Now if only I could figure a way to make it pay for itself.

                    3. I love traveling with Robert (with Dan too, but it’s different) there’s the endless supply of bad jokes. Last time we drove to Denver in the wee hours of the morning, the running joke became from Robert “I’m going to kill Denver road planners. And if they’re dead I’m going to resurrect them, then kill them slowly.” (I think it was the six? foot long merge lane on the highway that started it.)

                    4. Do your road planners employ the same fercockta trick North Carolina’s use? Employing the same lane for an entrance and exit ramp, so that incoming cars and outgoing ones have to fight their way through each other … and a semi in the exit ramp blocks anybody coming on? Unsuccessful merges send you up the off ramp and back where you came from.

                    5. RES,
                      We call them collector-depositors, I don’t see them here, but they are fairly common in the Seattle area. Only used on the busiest exits of course.

                    6. Re: stupid interstate merge lanes, a friend of mine who used to live in St. Louis told me one that beats all of these. I can almost forgive the planners who put it in, because it was the very early days of the interstate system and they hadn’t yet figured out what an interstate would require; it’s the ones who left it there for decades that boggle the mind. What am I talking about? Well, see, at this one merge ramp that my friend used to take all the time on his commute, there was, at the top of the ramp… a stop sign.

                      A stop sign. On an interstate entrance ramp.

                      Ponder that one for a while.

                    7. Don’t worry Robin, down by Estacada, OR there are onramps with STOPLIGHTS on them. I remember when they were put in about fifteen years ago, the onramps didn’t used to have them, but since they were two-lane onramps that merged to one lane about a hundred feet before they merged onto the interstate and during rush hour the onramp would get congested where the lanes merged, so they put a stoplight up to help the merging, the light lets 2 or 3 cars go in one lane, then turns red and lets 2 or 3 cars go in the other lane. Effectively bringing everybody to a stop about 100 feet from where they merge onto I-205

                    8. All of ours in the Seattle/Tacoma blob have them. In defense, they’re not turned on unless the traffic on the freeway is already screwed up, so you don’t usually need as much speed to manage to merge….

                1. Sorry, dear; Chattanooga is much closer (Emily61=Mrs snelson134). But even Chattanooga is roughly a 10 hour drive. That means 1 day each way, or 2 plane tickets and a rental car.

            5. Typing also gives you time to consider the various things the other person might’ve meant, and go back to double-check how it matches with what they said before, and you can go double-check your facts– I live in mortal fear of telling folks something in person that is mistaken because most of the folks I’m willing to talk to know that I’m “smart,” so they believe what I tell them. (Also leads to massive frustration when folks utterly ignore my carefully considered and researched information because “you hedged it so much, you must not be sure, so I’ll go with what I wanted to do anyways.”)

              1. I learned the value of “Sometimes wrong, never in doubt.” early on. Especially when dealing with khaki. Of course, you have to keep in mind how things could go pear-shaped and how to fix it, otherwise nobody trusts you.

                1. Rule of thumb: khaki is always wrong until proven otherwise, then it is a lucky fluke 😉

                  1. It’s not so much that they’re wrong, as they’re worried about unimportant things like paperwork while I’m trying to get the goram pump running again.

                    I was pretty lucky with my DivO’s, they would follow orders like “You didn’t see anything.”

                    1. At least one place I used to work the standing joke was to use the phrase, “I need to do some paperwork.” Whenever one needed to go to the bathroom.

                    2. That was another advantage of working in intelligence. If you couldn’t blind ’em with brilliance, you could usually baffle ’em with bull****. Of course, it’s easy to get their attention when you tell them “The Russians are going to blow you to bits unless… ” Even an E-5 can get a general’s attention when he says something like that, especially if he can back it up with facts and fancy photos.

                2. Intellectually, I know it would probably help me deal with people better.

                  Same way that I know I’d get along with folks better if I became a sex obsessed liberal who gets drunk and can’t shut up about how many folks she’s screwing would’ve helped my social life.

                  Couldn’t bring myself to believe the cost was worth the reward… (Thank goodness I didn’t make a career of the Navy!)

                  1. I found that it generally made people stop talking to me, which is a coin of no little worth.

                    1. Never really had trouble getting folks to stop talking to me, other than times where I don’t want to make them stop by being rude…..

                    2. One of my mentors found that smoking a really, really bad cigar while doing his tech manual upgrades kept people from bothering him. Yes, he was a crew chief on first-generation C-130s, among other things. I’m not certain how applicable his advice is in today’s Air Force or Navy.

                    3. No smoking except in designated areas, which are usually outside and ill-equipped for paperwork.

      3. Pat yourself on the back! You made me look up a term! ;-D

        The definition that I found most amusing was this one: “Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness is a fanfiction author that has written 2 stories for Dragon Age.”

        Another reason highly intelligent people sometimes speak slowly is they are trying to convey information or an idea that they recognize is far above the level of the person they’re speaking to (which is most people for these folks)… ie they are trying to find a way to say what they want to convey and actually have it understood. (Usually a forlorn hope – but we humans live on hope.)

        1. OK, so I’m looking for the forlorn hope speach from Sharpe’s company. Try a number of various searches including ‘Youtube, Sharpe’s Company, the charge of the forlorn hope’ and ‘Sharpe’s Company, the charge of the forlorn hope, Youtube’, keep getting the following reference to !:

          Nerves | According To Hoyt

          Sep 27, 2012… waiting to see who the new people in charge were, and whether we’d swerved to … in Portugal are left/left/lefter until recently and recently might be a forlorn hope. ….. property of the train company that operated the Hooterville Cannonball. …. A recurring theme in Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpes* series is the …

          But no link to the video of the speech. Sigh.

                    1. Horrifying, tentacle porn may be (unless that’s your [generic you] thing, in which case, more power to ya), but horror it ain’t. Also, while it may degrade one emotionally, it just doesn’t have the sanity-snapping effect of reading from that particular Book of the Dead. I’m talking mind-melting, here. Things the Twilight Zone only roughly hinted at. True Fridge/Body Horror stuff. Probably even Nightmare Fuel. 4chan is a collection of poseurs when it comes to the truly psyche shattering.

            1. No, that’s A Very Scary Solstice. Check out the other ones in that playlist, too.

              (If you want to buy the CD, Google it — I don’t want to put two links in the comment, lest it end up moderated.)

      4. Heh – I’m not a genius and I still do that. I think it comes with the whole Odd package.

    2. The problem with that, Mary, is that in this country, in these times, a budding genius is more likely to be pruned or hammered into a round hole he’s/she’s not fit for. Today’s society is so geared to social conformity that anyone that sticks out, at either end of the spectrum, is suspect and most frequently ostracized. Talk about a self-inflicted wound!

      1. Yeah, I think our schools are designed to take the brightest kids and turn them into tuned out under-achieving slackers.

        1. No. If they were designed to do that, they wouldn’t do it nearly as effectively as they actually do.

          1. By requiring kids to process through school at a given rate, in step with their age cohort we are ensuring that the bright will coast, the brighter will never learn how to study, ensuring that in time they will find themselves over their heads with no idea how to manage, and the very brightest will get bored, lose interest and, oh, something or other.

            From what I have read this was not so much a problem with the old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse, even though the teachers in those lacked advanced training in optimum pedagogical theory.

            1. I’ve been reading about schools as they worked a century ago, and there were all ages in a grade, and all grades in a room, sometimes, if the school was small enough. Kids worked at their own pace and passed to the next grade when they passed the end-of-grade exams, which also meant that if you could pass the exams, you didn’t have to take the school year.

  4. China might like to have half a dozen genuises they could lock up in a lab somewhere (better make that a couple dozen so they have spares when the get frustrated and shoot some) but I don’t think even China is stupid enough to want a population of geniuses. First genuises tend to not do well with authority, and this anethema to a totalitarian regime. Second, they don’t really want to create a population smarter than them, they’ve already got an inferiority complex, they aren’t going to make it worse. Thirdly, if that were so and the article is correct about how they are judging genius, well they would be educating their population correctly to take advantage of the existing ‘geniuses’ instead of putting a boot on their neck and keeping them illiterate peasants.

    No, they might attempt to make a ruling class of geniuses (which is bound to fail) but not an actual general population of geniuses.

    1. If what the Chinese want is a population of people who can obtain high certification, they are seeking people who are willing to put up and conform to the bureaucratic nonsense that often entails. (The Spouse is wont to say that what certification usually means is that you have mastered the present line of thought.) It sounds to me just their cup of tea.

      1. If what the Chinese want is a population of people who can obtain high certification, they are seeking people who are willing to put up and conform to the bureaucratic nonsense that often entails.

        Mandarins. They’re looking for MANDARINS, not American style geniuses… folks who can work the system like nothing… that makes sense!

          1. Not very long ago, and I’ve got relatives that would say it still is. (I don’t know first hand, myself.)

            It would make sense that their meaning of “Genus” would be something like “can work the system like a one-man band” rather than ours that’s more like “comes up with stuff like it’s nothing” or “can figure stuff out really, really fast with less information.”

            Kind of like how all the stories about a “unicorn cave” from Korea were about a kirin’s cave. (Think more like a dragon-horse than the white horse goat.)

              1. Yep!

                Husband and I had a lot of good chats about that, in part because there was so much mixing of concepts– Elf’s usual response is to pull out a can of Kirin beer and say “look, this thing? That’s their ‘unicorn’. Sometimes it was a lot more…dragon-ish.”

                I love how the Japanese anime guys are as shameless about yoinking concepts as the English language is with shiny new words!

                1. In this case, it’s “novelists”, not “anime guys”. Twelve Kingdoms was originally a YA novel series, which was later adapted to anime. It’s never been officially translated into English (fully — some earlier books were, but they didn’t finish before the rights reverted), but there are apparently some fan translations available for the rest of the books. I can’t vouch for their quality because I haven’t read them. See, the books were officially translated into French, and I grew up speaking French as a near-native language. So I now own all of them in French, and have read half of them so far. (And they’re currently out on loan to another Twelve Kingdoms fan who speaks French… and I will be getting them back.)

                  1. Did they describe the Kirin in the novels the way they showed up in the show?

                    If the books made it good in France, it makes sense that they’d do the illustrations the way they did….

                    1. The novels were quite pleasant, and I enjoyed the first three. It has been a while since I read them, but I recall the descriptions as being similar.

                      I was deeply grieved when Tokyopop failed. They were publishing the English translations of Fuyumi Ono’s novel series at the rate of one a year. The last one they published, just as they went under, was Skies of Dawn, the fourth of the seven. I have been told that the hardback may be missing a chapter – 😦 . I have yet to be able to bring myself to read it.

                      Meanwhile the anime was suspended and remains uncompleted in Japan, due to an illness of the director. Sigh.

    2. “First genuises tend to not do well with authority, and this anethema to a totalitarian regime. ”

      I’d have to see some proof of that. Unless you’re using an odd definition of Genius, the Soviet Union, N. Korea and Iran all seem to develop them in the sorts of numbers you’d expect from their population groups (Early childhood nutrition is critical to intellectual development. This is one reason that intelligence is age normed. Children have been getting smarter generation over generation since we’ve been testing it. I suspect it’ll top out with the current generation and may even sag a bit because of all the low fat milk, but that’s another argument).

      I’ve yet to see any linkage between intelligence and integrity, humanity, or willingness to get shot disobeying orders.

      1. Um… it’s not been growing. Sorry. It’s not. The upper middle grew till about the fifties (better nutrition) but since then there’s been… test dumbing down. Yes, even for IQ. Yes, I know whence I speak.

      2. From what I heard, the geniuses who survived in the Soviet Union were the ones who learned to fly under the radar and appear to be following orders, all while doing whatever they damn well pleased under the eyes of the progs who were watching them, but not understanding what they were seeing. Whenever they were caught doing some of these things, they were generally sent to labor camps.

        The result being that, under a certain age, genius tended to show up in about the same percentages, but as they got older, they got thinned down.

    3. So given the political environment of these efforts, should we assume their definition of “highly intelligent” equates to “smart enough to do as they’re told yet can remember to dress themselves each day and get the clothes on correctly”?

  5. While it may well be true that MENSA members tend to be janitors not CEOs, I don’t think it is totally true that geniuses fail to succeed financially.

    My experience of billionaires and multi-millionaires is limited (1 B, maybe a dozen M*) however all are definitely in the top end of the intellectual spectrum – not maybe the top 1% but definitely all in the top say 2-5%

    I suspect the difference between them and the failed geniuses is that someone somehow taught them to discipline their genius. Edision may have had the proportions wrong in that quip about inspiration and perspiration but I’m pretty sure you don’t get to be wildly successful without a good deal of perspiration to go with the inspiration. It has been my observation that many gifted people simply lack the discipline to take the bright idea and turn it in to the working product. They get to the proof of concept and then get bored because everything afterwards is boring fiddly bits.

    [And yes I will note that personaly I suffer from the gets bored with fiddly bits syndrome too]

    *all bar one having got their start in Silicon Valley or similar

    1. “My experience of billionaires and multi-millionaires is limited (1 B, maybe a dozen M*) however all are definitely in the top end of the intellectual spectrum – not maybe the top 1% but definitely all in the top say 2-5% ”

      Interesting, I have never known a billionaire (at least to my knowledge) but the vast majority of the millionaires I have known have very much been middle of the road intellegencewise, but have generally been the nose to the grindstone workaholic types, and financially savvy (as in don’t blow their money as soon as they make it). There are the Bill Gates types obviously, but the vast majority of genius level people I have known have fallen into a few categories. Quite a few were penniless or nearly so druggies and/or alcoholics, some were content to focus all their genius on one aspect of their lives, usually to the detriment of other aspects that they simply didn’t care about or even notice, and the last more well rounded bunch fell into a couple of categories, either they spread themselves and their genius over so many different things that they never concentrated on one long enough to accomplish more than a normally intellegent person, and/or they worked at a job (either as an employee or self-employed) that provided them with a comfortable living, oftentimes spending less time at it than a normal person due to their genius, and spent the rest of their time doing whatever interested them, without worrying about monetary compensation.

      1. Depends how they came up. I’d actually say the difference is how much social stuff they have to deal with or if they can lone-wolf it. And yes, there are a few rich smart people, but the majority of smart people are — Squirrel!

      2. “… the vast majority of the millionaires I have known have very much been middle of the road intellegencewise, but have generally been the nose to the grindstone workaholic types, and financially savvy (as in don’t blow their money as soon as they make it). There are the Bill Gates types obviously, but the vast majority of genius level people I have known have fallen into a few categories.Quite a few were penniless or nearly so druggies and/or alcoholics, some were content to focus all their genius on one aspect of their lives, usually to the detriment of other aspects that they simply didn’t care about or even notice, and the last more well rounded bunch fell into a couple of categories, either they spread themselves and their genius over so many different things …”

        I think it is the Silicon Valley milieu that makes the difference (and SV is somewhat of a shorthand for “computers/internet stuff” rather than a geographic location). I do actually know some of the workaholic kinds of millionaire too now that I think of it – and a few of the inherited it going to spend it all on wine women and drugs sort too – but like I said, with one exception the really really rich people I’ve had non-trivial interaction with are all clearly very very smart. Many of them do indeed focus on one or two areas but the difference seems to be that they realize that basic people skills is a worthwile investment in time and that they don’t get distracted by SQUIRREL

        The great thing about computers and the internet is that you can leverage them to grow an idea to a category killing product without needing enormous interpersonal skills because they allow for such huge gains in productivity that even if you are inarticulate what you offer is so beneficial that ore articulate people buy it and then sell it to their friends. This isn’t something that is generally possible in other fields these days.

        1. Are they truly exceptionally intelligent, or are they people who have studied one subject in great depth, therefore having an extensive knowledge of that single field, and have learned enough about business and human interaction to market themselves? A lot of people with an extensive education can sound very smart, due to rote memorization of vocabulary and a wide variety of standard responses, but they don’t have true reasoning skills.

          Not saying you’re wrong, just asking if you have considered the possibility.

          1. Given that in various ways the people I’m thinking of invented/developed/radically improved the stuff we use to have this discussion I’m not going to bet on rote memorization.

            1. I know it sounds like I’m quibbling, but are they also the ones who truly run their company, or is it possible they actually have someone else who does that, possibly behind the scenes?

              Incidentally, on a different note, I’m not one who thinks Bill Gates is particularly bright. A ruthless businessman, yes, but to my knowledge he didn’t create anything himself.

              1. Bill Gates wrote significant chunks of the the initial MS Basic. Also the traffic light program that microsoft (or rather pre-microsoft) did first.

                Yes he then assimilated QDOS into MSDOS but, again, AIUI he personally still had significant development impact in MSDOS 2 and 3

                Back to the people I know. Generalization is hard but at least two of them (including the billionaire) have run fairly large companies, having set them up from scratch, as well as also having been employees of others at different times. I’d guess quite a few have hired CEOs and other managers to do the nasty bit of growing the company from 10-1000 people but most have done at least some of that bit as well as the development part.

    2. Time and again, in my role as a member of the board of an organization to promote educational opportunities for the gifted, the highly gifted and the very highly gifted, I had to explain the difference that the last little bit extra meant. When you have a child in that top group it is very hard to find a program that is challenging enough to require the child to develop scholastic disciplines.

      One factor, which our hostess mentioned, is that many of these brains seem to operate on a critical mass, i.e., until they have gathered a critical mass of information and have had a chance to collate it in their thought processes they often give the impression of having learned nothing at all. As they can take in massive amounts of information and make connections we are unaccustomed to hearing when they do speak of it can be hard to understand where they came up with the idea. This does not make it easy to fit in … in the classroom or the boardroom.

      1. CACS – have you ever watched “Pinky & the Brain”? You just described Pinky. Such people live in their own minds, and sometimes have little to no need for outside approval – and when they say things it often makes absolutely NO sense to others because they are just verbalizing their inner monolog. (My family calls such utterances “Pinky moments.”

        1. Em?

          “What are we going to do tonight?”

          “Same thing we do every night, we’re going to take over the world!”

                1. I’m not a figment! The cats noticed my presence and demanded my scritching abilities!

                  …what, are you going to tell me you question the sanity or the veracity of cats?

                2. Well, I know you’re NOT all figments of MY imagination. I refuse to take that kind of responsibility. 😛

                  1. If you’re all figments of *my* imagination, then I’m crazier than I thought. [Very Big Crazy Grin]

                    1. Ah, well, and there you have it. I know that you are not figments of my imagination, and therefore I, too, am inclinded to exercise caution when considering meeting you’all in a public setting.

        2. The question has long been: which one is the genius, and which one is insane?

          The answer is not as obvious as it seems.

          1. Actually it’s easy. Brain has the Napoleon complex, unachievable ambition, over-estimates of his own capabilities in the face of repeated evidence to the contrary, etc. Pinky’s just along for the ride. While when Brain challenges Pinky to come up with a plan to take over the world, Pinky always does so and his plans always work – no matter how crazy they sound. (After taking over the world, Pinky always gives it back because, of course, who wants to be in charge of all that? Classic high order intelligence.)

            1. Similar to Dexter, Boy Genius (not the serial killer), where Dee Dee always manages to break everything Dexter creates. I have this theory that Dexter is actually an experiment created by Dee Dee in order to let him do all the experimenting while she goes out and has all the fun.

                1. I don’t know, living with Dee Dee through your early years could have a deleterious effect on one’s regard for the rest of the human race.

    3. Ha! I’m a precog! I KNEW that MENSA would come up in this discussion! ;-D

      No offense intended to any Mensaites, but I question the intelligence of people who exert sometimes great effort to take and pass a test that only measures ONE kind of thinking, and then they go around bragging about belonging to an organization that collects similar folks who’s main occupation seems to be solving puzzles and bragging about how smart they are. (My long term experience with individual Mensaites is deliberately limited… )

      Read an article once about a person who’s IQ was literally off the scale. This guy worked in a burger barn and lived in a fixed up garage behind his mother’s house. When asked why he worked in a burger barn he said, “I work enough to buy parts for my inventions.” (There were shelves of inventions that corporations had offered him millions for and that actually worked – and he enjoyed demonstrating them to the reporter.) He went on to say, “Why do I need more money? I make enough to do what I want to do.”

      Now THAT’s genius!

      1. He went on to say, “Why do I need more money? I make enough to do what I want to do.”

        But, but, but, He’s not contributing to society! Or is it serving the needs of the state?!? (Or whatever the phrase du jour at the moment is…)

        You know, there are a lot of people who really do not believe in real liberty.

      2. Yes, but there are a lot of those in Mensa too. I have friends in Mensa. Yes, some are the test taking smart, but others are both and–
        And their main activity actually seems to be drinking and punning, except in Columbia, NC, 23 years ago where their main activity was selling real estate. (I wish I were joking.)

        1. IIRC the only requirements for belonging to MENSA is being really good at pure linear thinking (intuitive is not tested), and be able to pay the dues. Yes? No? So an android with a quantum computer for a brain would never be allowed to join. Did I tell you about inventing a new way to do division in 5th grade? ;-D

          1. Yes, but weirdly a lot of Mensans have stories like that too — and a lot of them are Odds. Not all, I grant you. BUT a lot of them. And they take a variety of tests, not just the standard ones, now.

          2. I should clarify — the set “very smart” intersects with “mensa” to an amazing degree, considering the limitations of the set. That is probably over 50% of Mensans are very smart and have all the stigmata including being butfugnuts by “normal” standards. Yes, there is also a large set in mensa of what I call “school gifted” i.e. the kids who test well, interact well and whom the teachers LOVE to class as “gifted”.
            OTOH I’d say only a small portion of “Very smart” and even fewer “genius” intersects with Mensa. Mostly because a lot of geniuses test really badly for at least some time in their life. (Took us till he was in sixth grade to explain to the younger son that yes, he needed to answer questions in tests. He thought it was stupid and the teachers should know he knew the stuff. Yeah.) Also, of course, any number of geniuses have no interest in joining Mensa. (Though weirdly it helps college applications, so we should have had younger son join, over his objections.)

            I come not to praise Mensa, nor to bury it. As a social club and dating pool it serves its function. To demand more of it is cruel and unusual. It is only a social (human) institution.

            1. For me the test served one function very well, it confirmed that I am actually, for real, different in some way from most of the people I know. That had been something which had been driving me nuts for decades, this feeling that I was different in some way from most, but no way to prove it. Especially since the mantra during most of those decades seemed to be ‘you’re not that different from anybody else’. When I was a teen everybody kept telling me I’d get over that feeling, that’s just what every teen thinks. And I never did. Getting proof was such a relief. Hey, I may be nuts in one way, but it’s something that shows in a test, there’s an explanation for this feeling, it’s not just me _wanting_ to be different and because of that unwilling to acknowledge that I’m just like everybody else (having airs, in other words, although now of course I get accused of that if I mention that test).

              Never joined the organization, though.

              1. By the way, I think that’s one reason for people to say that they belong to Mensa, or could. Not so much bragging, rather relief for having an explanation about their feelings of not belonging, and perhaps trying to explain to other people why they may seem kind of weird, or have trouble understanding them.

                1. Yes. Exactly. And one thing to remember about how people mis-perceive genius is that’s not quantitative, it’s qualitative. Above a certain IQ people are different in ways you can’t explain, unless you’re them — and they don’t, because to them it’s normal. Like… saltational learning.

                  1. Back when I was trying my hand at advocacy for G&T programs I employed the metaphor of the then new Pentium chip: it isn’t merely faster than a 486, it processes in a whole different manner.

                    Given that most people’s eyes glazed over at any discussion involving Pentium 486 or 386 processors, this was a notably unsuccessful paradigm.

                    Most people think 2-dimensionally (that’s the box few get outside of) and some can race down the line faster than others. Geniuses think 3-dimensionally and cut corners others didn’t know existed. Super-genii think in 4 dimensions and often arrive at the conclusion before they start.

                    1. Or as Robert put it “Crosswise to the world” — progressing for instance can be done backwards and upside down, so when a genius tells you “I’m making progress” it could be… incomprehensible.

                    2. Yes – thus my assertion: “Super-genii think in 4 dimensions and often arrive at the conclusion before they start.” [emphasis added]

                  1. I’ve always been “different” which didn’t bother me much – but it made a HUGE difference to the rest of the kids. Think hexagon in a star-shaped hole with equal maximum vacant/solid areas. I was the hexagon.

                    1. Recently an sf editor had his kid diagnosed as autistic. There might be more to it than he posted, but what he posted sickened me, because it applied to me, to my brother, to my father, to my kids — and none of us ARE autistic. (I mean, there’s sensory/developmental stuff that takes time to catch up — and creates some of it, like being able to color inside the lines. Something NO ONE in my family — but Robert — develops before ten. After that we’re normal. Why the problem before/ Don’t know.) It was things like coloring outside the lines. Being unable to jump rope. Being unable to ride a bike. BUT the number one thing was “the other kids hate him without his doing anything.” Other people pointed out this had happened to them, but they were certainly not autistic, and editor started screaming at them for doubting the “diagnosis.” I do wonder if it is a real diagnosis or one of those doctors who thinks everyone odd is “autistic.” This habit of shoving people into boxes is destroying us.

                    2. Sarah, we are now a diagnosis driven society. There is a diagnosis for all our faults – so that they are no longer our fault.

                  2. There is a lot to be said for being a paper carrier (and we’ll just skip over the simile to disease carrier to get to the more interesting but less amusing point.)

                    For one thing, interactions with mundanes are generally limited and occur according to fairly simple yet rigorous social protocols (such as avoiding phrases like “simple yet rigorous social protocols”) thus reducing irritation.

                    It also provides significant free access to a variety of news material that others pay to gain. Back when I worked night shift at a hotel I always made sure to have a fresh hot pot of coffee for the carrier who provided our “prestige” papers, e.g., the Wall Street Journal and NY Times. Partly as a result I enjoyed reading those papers free for many years. Nowadays, of course, that is too much to pay for the Times, but I enjoyed it back then.

                    1. Since it’s done between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. here, I usually manage to see maybe two or three customers per year. So not much stress with that. Suits me just fine.

                    2. I think he was implying that the paper is the disease (due to the contents). This notion is not without merit, if one considers pernicious political correctness a disease (though of course, I can’t speak for the paper you deliver).

              2. People usually do get over that feeling when they get out of high school…although in the case of really smart people, it’s less because they fit in better among mundanes, as because they’re no longer required by law to spend the overwhelming majority of their waking hours surrounded entirely by people they don’t understand and who don’t understand them.

                  1. I was hugely blessed– my family moved when I became a teen, and we got internet and a computer.

                    I met folks that I could have normal interactions with. Did crud for my IRL social life, but being me would’ve done that– this meant that I DID have some folks to talk to, and in a safe way, to the point that I’ll respond to my nom d’cyber.

                1. That, and the eventual realization that the people who made one uncomfortable were simply stupid a**holes who shouldn’t have been given the time of day, let alone having their opinions given any weight.

                    1. I figured it out in the second half of my senior year in High School. I’ve kicked myself ever since.

            2. The only requirement for qualifying for Mensa is to score 98th percentile or above on any one of a number of approved IQ tests. Once through that hoop one need only pay yearly dues to remain a member. I am aware of some folks who have taken literally dozens of tests before finding the one where they click and qualify.
              As a force for change it’s a decent social club. In fact the bylaws specifically prohibit the organization from taking any political stance other than to foster and encourage support for the highly intelligent, ie gifted children programs and such.
              A large number of those who qualify join for a year then drop out. Their goal was simply to qualify, bragging rights, resume datum, impress the friends and family, etc. Those that remain members do so primarily for the social interaction. The trite yet true cliche most often given in response to the question “why do you stay in?” is “I like to hang out with people who get my jokes without having to explain them.” It’s also quite handy for those who travel regularly as they have an automatic social network just about anywhere they may be. Local groups, especially those in college towns, tend to hold weekly get togethers, usually fairly informal, but always open to any member.
              I can also state from experience that a fair number of Mensans can not reliably pour urine from a boot with the directions printed on the heel. The “squirrel” syndrome is quite common. It’s also been documented that there is a higher percentage than normal of Mensans in prison, the “I’m too smart to get caught” philosophy.

  6. re: ” Autism, in some degree, seems to be almost inescapable above a certain IQ – and when it’s not there, you get the sensory stuff younger son has. ”
    True. We have an autistic family member reside with us. IQ of brilliant. When very small, he informed me, “I wike my pwivacy”. Auditory filtering difficulty, touch issues, food issues, impatience issues, cannot “imagine” how other people think and this impedes friendship formations, adding loneliness to life’s sorrows. Parents “on call” 24/7 for “don’t give up, don’t ever give up” speeches. Sigh.

    1. I’m glad all we got is auditory/visual/tactile filtering issues. He’s actually more empathetic than his brother and is very independent. He DOES like his privacy.

        1. In 6th grade I learned mine was over 145, (overheard conversation with oblique reference – as in “someone with an IQ over 145…” but they wouldn’t tell me what it was. They gave me the “what does the word mean” verbal tests – and the examiner went through three sets of words, got up and went and got another 3 sets, and then just stopped. ;-D I presume I’ve become much dumber since then. Most days I just feel plain old dumb.

          When we home schooled our kids we taught them phonics, then Latin roots. Our youngest entered college at 15, and got his HS GED the same year. The really funny part of that was his sisters were also going to the same school, and he was rather tall for 15. They got a HUGE charge out of girls who came up to them asking if they were his girlfriends, and when they said no, asking if he was seeing anyone. The sisters would then laugh and chant “Jail bait! Jail bait!” ;-D

          1. Robert at SF cons, at 13 — he was six one and needed a shave — I taught him to tell the ladies and gentlemen who handed him keys “I’m thirteen and my mother is Sarah Hoyt.”
            His reporting of a result of one such encounter with a gentleman who knew me quite well and who, according to Robert “turned paler than human beings should be able to” at the warning made Dave Drake, who was standing beside me (we’d been talking) choke on his sandwich laughing.

            1. No one’s ever handed me a key at a con… I think one woman was really thinking about it in Kansas City one year, until I started talking about my wife (aka wonder woman!) and what a fantastic person shed is. Can’t understand why she got up and went away. 😦

                  1. Dear lady — while my husband is quite strong, he LOOKS like the average mathematician. For some reason “he’ll do calculations at you” fails to scare people. Who knew?

                    1. He needs to work on a glare– I have my own patented one and the hubby just looks mean (a Sardinian Roman mercenary look maybe?). Get him in front of the mirror and work on it. lol

                    2. People attending SF conventions ought be aware of the havoc an angry mathematician can wreak. They are nearly on a par with philosophers.

                    3. Res,

                      A joke for you:
                      “Is he a mad scientist? No merely an extremely irritated engineer.”

                    4. All I know is that a friend of John Ringo’s in Delta force, who we met when we went to Ringo’s book signing down in Fayetteville, told Ringo that The Spouse was scary.

              1. No one’s ever handed me a key at a con, full-stop. Not even during the years when I’d have happily said “yes”. 🙂

                1. Gah. People have handed me their keys. Haven’t stopped yet, even as I round fifty. The odd thing is the people who do it. All genders including “What am I today?”

                  In case you think I’m insanely attractive: I’m a pudgy fifty year old with graying hair, who would like to be a grandmother (but not yet.)

                  Why does this happens to me? No idea. But Kate Paulk wrote me as a (reformed) succubus and her d*mn universe leaks.

                  1. “reformed succubus” or “Reformed Succubus” … I’m seeing the later as a protestant church, probably a splinter of Methodists …

                    1. Reformed churches, at least the ones I visited in Iowa and Minnesota, are Dutch Calvinist. In order from least strict to most strict, they are (with some variation by congregation and location) Reformed – Christian Reformed – American Reformed – Netherlands Reformed – Dutch Reformed – Protestant Reformed. The Dutch and Netherlanders still have services in Dutch.

                  2. My mom has commented– it was in the context of the ladies at my favorite coffee shop chain– that above a base level, appearance doesn’t matter much for being sexy.
                    Being friendly, making eye contact, treating them like a Real Person that you have interest in work a lot better outside of the Pr0n demographic.

                    1. Watch old Barbara Stanwyck movies. She was not pretty, in the conventional sense (wrong nose, for one) but she was gorgeous. The obvious intelligence her characters brought to the screen and her being there for whoever she locked her gaze upon made her far more beautiful than many prettier actresses.

                      Sometimes, too, a person has to grow into their face. When we meet Angela Lansbury in such early films as Gaslight National Velvet or The Harvey Girls her features are too small in proportion to her face, which is why she often played the heroine’s antagonist. By later in her career, such as when she was in Murder She Wrote her face and features were much better matched in proportion.

                      Certain aspects are always in fashion or always out of fashion (a nose you can open a beer bottle with, for example.) Others vary over time — look at movies from the Thirties through the Fifties and you find actresses much heavier than they are allowed to be today — Marilyn Monroe would be ordered to lose twenty pounds. You will also find that male physical beauty has changed; compare Johnny Weismuller’s abs with those of contemporary actors and his Tarzan looks positively flabby. Somewhere along the line we came to expect actors to be more sculpted. For that matter – look at the number of male leads sporting pencil-thin mustaches in Thirties era movies. Nowadays that would mark them as villainous.

                    2. I don’t know that ‘sculpted’ is the correct term for the new breed of male actors. It described Stallone to a T, but most of the male leads these days are spineless pansies who look like they couldn’t lift a full coffee cup without straining.

                    3. Sculpted applies to action stars. Contrast prior action stars (“A”-level pictures; I’m not talking Steve Reeves here) who played stripped to the waist such as Victor Mature with the physiques of modern equivalents.

                      As for the other category of male leads … well, C. S. Lewis wrote about them, calling them out as men without chests.

                    4. I much prefer Sean Connery. Sasha Roiz of Grimm is attractive but he looks hollow cheeked.

  7. I know only one person I consider to be a genius. He’s made a medium-sized fortune — but I think that’s due to having a good business partner to handle the financial side. Otherwise the richest people I know got that way through a combination of relentlessness and cheapskatery.

    Genius is orthagonal to moneymaking. The qualities that make people rich aren’t linked to creative intelligence, or even knowledge. However, a genius who also possesses those traits can be a worldshaker — Steve Jobs fits the description.

    1. I IRC, Walt Disney ran more than one business to the ground, before bringing his brother in to handle the money.

      I remember seeing a clip once where he was talking about some upcoming project (I don’t remember if it was Walt Disney World, or something else), and neither his brother nor the bankers were fighting him about it, and he came to the terrifying realization that they actually thought he knew what he was doing.


      Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.*

      On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

      > ** > Pam Uphoff commented: “My dad’s a genius. Somewhere in the vicinity of > 50 patents. Can’t be trusted with the checkbook.” >

      1. Disney’s “problem” was constantly reaching for what no one had ever done coupled with a strong drive for perfection. And while he didn’t do the technical work on most of his innovations, he had the ideas, the resources, and the connections to make them happen. Synchronized sound with animation, color cartoons, multi-plane animation camera, motion capture, theme (as opposed to amusement) parks, steel-tube roller coasters, synchronized sound with mechanical devices, and if he’d had his way, EPCOT would have been closer to an arcology than Arcosanti.

  8. Oh, and the Chinese may very well be able to create (AKA, breed like livestock) their version of geniuses. Smarter than average people who do well in school. But if they are raised in a way that does not include learning to work hard–and like it–they’ll just have a group of youngsters who work hard enough to get by and not a bit further.

    1. Well from what I have seen of Chinese immigrants they do well at raising kids that work hard.

  9. “[W]hy is it that communists, supposed to be government by the people, always end up – one way or another – trying to create a new people?”

    Because their system doesn’t work with real people, so they figure they need ideal ones.

    1. Or just a different set. The British Labour party’s internal memos admitted their immigration policy was intended to make Britain “less British”.

  10. Anyone remember the Repository for Germinal Choice, the sperm bank that was looking to stock from nobel prize winners?

  11. Second comment, and sorry if this is treating this post as a catch-all:

    Psychologists speak of a “theory of other minds” and how autistics are developmentally delayed in developing theory-of-other-minds intelligence.

    I would split the concept of “theory of other minds” into a “theory of like minds” and a “theory of alien minds.” Everybody discussed here comes with a “theory of like minds” for free, but their returns are unequal. Someone normal will apply a “theory of like minds”‘, have it click with other people, and build on top of the assumption that most other people think like them. Autistic, profoundly gifted, Odds, and whomever else you may think of on the fringe come with a “theory of like minds,” but their return on investment is that of pegging a square peg into a round hole. Social success depends on the development of a “theory of alien minds,” that other people can be engaged with socially and are intelligent, but you need to meet them as a sort of alien intelligence.

    Tony Atwood, in The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, towards the end basically tries to give autism-normals a “theory of alien minds” for dealing with people with Asperger’s. It is unmistakable even if you (or he) don’t distinguish between a “theory of like minds” and a “theory of alien minds.” You need it to cross the chasm in either way.

    The ability to use “theory of like minds” in dealing with similar people, and the necessity of developing a “theory of alien minds” in dealing with other people, is essentially the same across normal people, autistic, Asperger’s, profoundly gifted, and Odds. The difficulty for everybody but the first demographic is that 90+% of the people are met with a “theory of like minds” for most people, and a much harder “theory of alien minds” for people on the fringes. The others have a “theory of alien minds” as the only game in town, which is difficult. Working with a “theory of like minds” is easier, and it has been reported that gifted children are better socially if they have one gifted friend–in other words, if they can exercise a “theory of like minds” without repeatedly slamming into a brick wall.

    1. A Pinky comment… Actually square pegs can fit very nicely into round holes, as can round pegs into square holes if both pegs and holes are properly sized. Of course, the fit will not be exact, but unless there is some reason for exact tolerance of fit, it won’t matter.

        1. Sometimes this is an advantage (they make carriage bolts for a reason) when a square peg is drove snugly into a round hole it will not rotate like a round peg will.

        2. In fact there metal devices, shaving plates, that you push pieces of wood through in order make round pegs.

          1. The things you learn on the internet. I always thought pegs were made with lathes.

            1. Depends on what sort of peg you’re looking for; if it’s important that the peg be smooth, a lathe is your best option. If the peg needs to be peg-shaped instead of smooth, the plates are a better option– the plates are also a lot faster, and I believe they’ve got less waste. (Most pronounced in those pegs that can be rounded squares.)

              I believe a lathe is also used for tapered pegs, but I’m not positive.

    2. If you spend much time with us you will discover that even our bunny trails have bunny trails.

        1. “Theory of Alien Minds” is, I think a tool often used by authors. Otherwise all our characters sound the same. In fact a lot of writing is an exploration of “How would a person like that, act in this situation.”

      1. No, no, you are contentedly hopping down a bunny trail when a fox nabs you and starts packing you down a fox trail, then a hawk swoops down and naps the fox, who drops you and you take off running to avoid the hawk, and dodge into a culvert to have overhead cover, the water running through the culvert washes you through it and you end up paddling around in the pond downstream wondering, “how did I get here?” Once you drag yourself out of the water you don’t know how to get back to where you started, and as you are wandering around lost a cute rabbit that looks similar to your ex Flopsy hops by and flips her cottontail at you, so you hop down the trail after her and… uh, yeah.

      2. *pictures a huge book titled Digressions of Digressions in Digressions*

        I probably should’ve named my blog “Digressions” or something similar, but “Head Noises” seemed much more fitting.

          1. With doodles, too, not one of the ones where it’s mostly the same thing with small variations– the ones where it’s a little bit kinda like the stuff near it, but two different ends are totally different.

          2. O r a fractal.


            Facts are stubborn things, but not nearly as stubborn as fallacies.*

            On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 8:51 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

            > ** > Michael E Picray commented: “If you’re going to name a book > “digressions of Digressions in Digressions” the cover will have to be an > Escher…” >

  12. Well, where to start:
    Your comment about geniuses working janitorial is apt. I knew of a certifiable (!) mensa card carrying genius who had a janitorial business. Made enough to live comfortably on – but I think his wife carried the business operations.
    Star Trek – the eugenics wars – anyone remember a popular fellow named Khan?
    Dr Moreau – yes, his attempts to redo genetics was so apropo.
    And words fail as I struggle to note others of the myraid examples in literature of people wanting to “improve” upon nature.
    Any wonder why lots of people mistrust GMO products? What’s the track record!?!

    1. Doug, if you mean GMO plants in the real world, the track record thus far is very good (smut-resistant wheats, golden rice, herbicide-resistant soybeans, Bt maize, frost-resistant strawberries). The modifications do not survive the human digestive tract intact so they do not cause problems, at least none that have been documented thus far in reputable sources.

      If you mean sci-fi movies and grey-goo novels, yeah, only bad things come from playing G-d. On the gripping hand, the abominations called supermarket tomatoes and apples result from plain old cross-breeding, not from insertion of flavor-removal genes in a lab.

      1. I remember reading somewhere that the “supermarket tomato” had been bred to “ripen” (i.e., turn red) early. What they didn’t realize is that the “ripen”-early genes are strongly linked to the lack-of-flavor genes. To use very non-scientific language.

        For myself, I grew up in France, where my parents bought tomatoes (and other produce) at the local farmer’s market, so my taste buds got accustomed to what real tomatoes should taste like. Then when I moved to the U.S. for college, I couldn’t find good tomatoes anywhere, until one day I decided to try the “tomatoes on the vine” variety (the most expensive variety available in my local supermarket). Suddenly my taste buds recognized tomatoes again, instead of rounded bits of reddish cardboard. Put a massive dent in my food budget, but it was worth it. So I have some experience with supermarket tomatoes.

        Also, who the heck thought up the name “Red Delicious” for that hideously mushy, not delicious at all variety of apple? It put me off eating apples for years, until as an adult I figured out that there were other varieties available.

        1. Red Delicious used to taste better. It’s like rose varieties that have lost their scent, except that in this case it’s lost a lot of its taste.

          These days, Galas are good. But every ten or fifteen years, some kind of popular apple that used to be good gets cruppy.

          1. I planted one of the really good New Zealand ones, but I am drawing a blank as to the name right now, if I am buying apples it is the kind I buy though.

          2. Galas and Fujis are pretty good. As are Wolf River apples ( In a normal year, a HUGE greenish yellow apple which stays crisp through frosts and through at least a couple of freezes.) We planted 17 new apple trees a few years ago, but with the drought they haven’t been maturing as they should have. Last summer I took the lawn mower and a wagon and hauled a couple of bushel sized tubs around, doling out 4 gallons of water per tree every other day. So the trees survived, as did our young persimmons, three of 5 grape vines (all different varieties) made it, the fig tree (experimental), the pecans, the hazelnuts, the Chinese Chestnuts, and the usual gaggle of peaches, apricots, pears, cherries, & plums. and of course the almonds are doing fine – having dropped their almonds on the ground at the first hint of a cool breeze.

            1. Fujis Yes that was the ones I was thinking of, I have one of them, yellow transparents (which I love to eat, and make good cider but are absolutely not keepers or very good cooking apples) several unknown varieties that were growing wild on various parts of my property, as well as an assortment of peaches, pears, apricots and plums I’ve planted. Most however are not old enough to produce much fruit yet. Every walnut or pecan I plant dies for some reason, and I don’t think I have any cherries left alive either.

          3. Up in the mountains of North Carolina, next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, is rather old and large apple orchard. It had been abandoned for quite a number of years. Someone purchased it and started the slow patient process of reclaiming the surviving trees, many which are varieties that have been generally forgotten. I have read about it, and, over the last decade, watched that orchard come back to life. I really do need to intentionally go and visit it during the harvest season.

        2. Also, who the heck thought up the name “Red Delicious” for that hideously mushy, not delicious at all variety of apple?

          I’ve had some of the original red delicious– they really are. (Advantage of living in BFN, Washington; some of the old trees never got thinned out.) Crisp, very… apple-ish, not especially sharp flavor or overwhelmingly sweet, very juicy and didn’t get bruised easily.

          I believe there’s some breeding issues in there, same way that “perfect examples” of ornamental breeds often have little to do with the functional versions of the same dogs.

          1. “believe there’s some breeding issues in there, same way that “perfect examples” of ornamental breeds often have little to do with the functional versions of the same dogs.”

            Yes I believe Red Delicious were bred to look perfectly ornamental on some teacher’s desk, not to be functionally edible. On a sidenote I’ve often wondered what the purpose of teachers keeping an apple on their desk was.

            1. Not sure if all boys are like my brother at that age… but a gift of food from him would be FAR higher praise than a flower.

            2. On a sidenote I’ve often wondered what the purpose of teachers keeping an apple on their desk was.

              You’re wondering that, because you don’t know the original version of the proverb. A couple of words have been expunged from the collective memory. The original version was: “An apple a day keeps the doctor of Education away.” Ever noticed how it wasn’t until the practice of keeping apples on teachers’ desks stopped, that the Education-degreed administrators started taking over and ruining the schools? Now you know why.

              Now, precisely why Ed.D.s react to apples the way vampires react to garlic, nobody has been able to explain. It’s Just One Of Those Things.

        3. The Red Delicious that actually are are easily identifiable because they aren’t actually red — they have green streaks. They taste wonderful but people go for the solid red like a bee line.

          Apparently the genes are correlated.

  13. For some reason I’m reminded of a passage from one of Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker stories. A Lord and Lady are the totalitarian rulers of a world. One of the Lady’s pet projects is a genetic research program to see if loyalty to the ruling family can be genetically engineered into the population in utero. All she has to show for the effort so far are thousands of cases of mental retardation, but it’s a worthwhile end and she’s confident they’ll get it right eventually.

    1. “One of the Lady’s pet projects is a genetic research program to see if loyalty to the ruling family can be genetically engineered into the population in utero. All she has to show for the effort so far are thousands of cases of mental retardation, but it’s a worthwhile end and she’s confident they’ll get it right eventually.”

      Fast poll – how many of you get the joke?

      1. I don’t remember the name of the story, but it appeared in the anthology “The Ultimate Enemy.” I read it high school thirty-odd years ago.

        1. A genetic research program to get royal loyalists returns only mentally defective people – which is a round-about way of saying that only mentally defective people would be loyal to the royals as a matter of course. ie she was getting exactly what she was breeding for, but didn’t recognize the truth involved in her results. The loyalty came with a genetic marker – retardation.

          1. I thought that might be what you meant…. I wouldn’t call it a joke, more of a rather nasty and pointed comment. *grin*

  14. China’s concept is not new; Galton’s Hereditary Genius was nominally interested in genius, but only from a perspective of identifying who would make better breeding stock for eugenics, and whether eugenic breeding is possible.

    Leta Hollingsworth, by contrast, concentrated on profound and other giftedness, was interested in the interests of the gifted person specifically, and focused on children on the theory that interventions are most successful at a young age, and I believe it is her influence that study of giftedness is by default assumption the study of gifted children, gifted adults being studied as an afterthought at all.

  15. Like Mal Reynolds said:
    A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that.

    The soviet new man.
    The nazi super man.
    The eugenics of the early 20th centure
    Margret Sanger.
    Victorians with better breed aristocrats (Work houses, poor houses)

    All the way back to the Spartan and earlier.

    Breeding slaves, and aristocrats like dogs and throughbreeds. (Ever looked at the congenital diseases and traits of overly breed animals?)

    Skulls of early humans carry telltale signs of inbreeding, study says

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    It doesn’t seem to work, Yet people will keep trying.

      1. I seem to remember something about research indicating that people have some sort of novelty seeking inclination that helps prevent automatic inbreeding.

    1. “I’m unemployed”

      Don’t feel bad. I’ve been unemployed for a decade… don’t know why no one wants me around. I mean EVERYONE wants an honest accountant working for them, don’t they? ;-D

      You’d probably like my novella… only 99 cents!!! Get them while they last… I mean, e-books are here today, sold out tomorrow, right?

      1. LOL. I must do a post to promote you loonies. Sorry it’s been so long. I’ve been ill, and it is a bit of pain collating everything…

        And raise the price on your d*mn novel to 2.99. DO NOT MAKE ME COME OUT THERE.

        1. You talkin’ to me, lady? Huh? YOU TALKIN’ TO ME??? It’s only a novella… a really GOOD novella, but a novella just the same. And it’s further devaluated by also being an allegory. I didn’t MEAN to do it! It just HAPPENED!!! 😦

            1. (mournfully, blues chording)

              Sometime I feel
              Like a coverless book
              Sometimes I feel
              Like a coverless book
              And sometimes I feel
              Like a coverless book
              A long…long way…from shelved

              1. Drat you to heck, RES. I’m singing “Motherless Chil’ (aka Moanin’ Dove)” for a worship service this coming week. If I catch myself singing your lyrics, I’m going to hunt you down and scratch the numbers off your slide rule.

          1. *sigh* “For shame, Michael! For Shame!” (Ok, don’t hurt me, that was just for shock value)

            88 pages, and only 99 cents? If I have been reading the recommendations here correctly, you should price that at $3.99, or even $4.99, instead of even $2.99. And you have a note on your website to buy it, but no link that I could see in a quick scan of the page. Put a link to the amazon page for the book in a VERY visible place on your site (if you can do it, put it where the note is right now, plus add one on the sidebar, too), and raise the price. I’m not published yet, but tons of people on this site have reported their improved sales by RAISING the price.

            And like Sarah said, having no cover art is easy to fix.

            1. “Put a link to the amazon page for the book in a VERY visible place on your site (if you can do it, put it where the note is right now, plus add one on the sidebar, too)”

              WordPress don’t not allow that… I checked. I posted a blog entry that has a link to the page, but I can’t link it from an Amazon thingie, which is why you see what you see.

              1. It could go on the sidebar, though. You just need to look up the appropriate widget to add. It’s entirely possible that Amazon can point you in the right direction, too.

  16. Like Mal Reynolds said:
    A year from now, ten? They’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people… better. And I do not hold to that.

    The soviet new man.
    The nazi super man.
    The eugenics of the early 20th centure
    Margret Sanger.
    Victorians with better breed aristocrats (Work houses, poor houses)

    All the way back to the Spartan and earlier.

    Breeding slaves, and aristocrats like dogs and throughbreeds. (Ever looked at the congenital diseases and traits of overly breed animals?)

    Skulls of early humans carry telltale signs of inbreeding, study says

    There is nothing new under the sun.

    It doesn’t seem to work, Yet people will keep trying.

  17. Oh hell, breeding for genius — what could go wrong?

    Has anybody seen the analyses of the personality characteristics of China’s Little Princes? Remarkably high order of narcissistic personality disorders. Narcissistic super-geniuses — could it be any better?

    I admit that in seeing this post before my eyes had started focusing consistently I misread the title as The Flaming Morons. Probably too much recent discussion of of Whole Word or Guess The Meaning reading.

    1. “Has anybody seen the analyses of the personality characteristics of China’s Little Princes? Remarkably high order of narcissistic personality disorders. Narcissistic super-geniuses — could it be any better?”

      Well, at least they haven’t made one of them chief executive, yet.

      1. see, in my future history (grin) the mules end up TAKING the executive power. (Um… I should do a post on it and explain the difference between worker mules and the ones created to be super bureaucrats.)

        1. No, better everyone should read Darkship Thieves, Darkship Renegades and A Few Good Men for themselves. I highly recommend them as they are really good reads of the Human Wave kind.

          1. And Angel In Flight in the Baen Christmas antho. I still think that one should be put up for an award. It would never win — HEROIC CHRISTIANS — but it would make heads explode. And I have an historical basis for Christians playing that role, as a lot of them, from antiquity on, tried to free/help slaves.

            1. Oh goodie. Got The Spouse to pull it off the shelf. Now which to read first, your short story or Stephanie Osborn’s Endings and Beginnings which arrived today? Oh, a wealth of riches!

            2. There’s something inherent in Christianity that says that all men are equal in the sight of God. Everyone, from the lowliest peasant to the highest emperor, is a sinner in need of God’s grace, and that vertical inequality creates a certain degree of horizontal equality. G.K. Chesterton put it well in his book Heretics:

              Carlyle said that men were mostly fools. Christianity, with a surer and more reverent realism, says that they are all fools. This doctrine is sometimes called the doctrine of original sin. It may also be described as the doctrine of the equality of men.

              This, I think, is at the root of the impulse Christians throughout history have felt to help the oppressed, in whatever form that oppression may be taking this century. Infanticide in the Roman era (and today*), slavery in the 19th century (as I understand it, slavery in the 1st century wasn’t nearly so abusive as the form practiced in 19th-century America, which helps explain why the apostle Paul writes to masters not to threaten their slaves “since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him,” but he never writes anything to suggest that the institution should be abolished), all sorts of other examples. All stemming from that basic Christian doctrine that sees everyone as equal on a fundamental level.

              * What is abortion, after all, but infanticide on an industrial scale, with modern scientific methods applied to the practice? Just as the Holocaust was genocide on an industrial scale, with modern scientific methods applied to the practice. Remember my comment in the Malice or Incompetence? mega-thread about “Oh, surely it couldn’t happen here…” It. Already. Is.

              1. It is a particular attribute of great insights that they change the way in which we view the universe. As James Burke addressed this in his The Day the Universe Changed:

                The title comes from the philosophical idea that the universe essentially only exists as you perceive it through what you know; therefore, if you change your perception of the universe with new knowledge, you have essentially changed the universe itself.

                To illustrate this concept, James Burke tells the various stories of important scientific discoveries and technological advances and how they fundamentally altered how western civilization perceives the world. The series runs in roughly chronological order, from around the beginning of the Middle Ages to the present.

                As the Beatles pointed out in their song The Fool On The Hill,

                Sees the sun going down,
                And the eyes in his head,
                See the world spinning ’round.

                our awareness of processes affects our interpretation of events.

                Accepting human civilization as starting some 20,000 years ago, rejection of slavery has been accepted for less than 1% of human history. Yet so many people now take it as a given and are appalled that anyone could ever have accepted the practice. The universe indeed changed, and it requires a great effort to imagine life before that.

                  1. Slavery is ostensibly illegal under current international law, so that 1% present day. As your comment aptly suggests, the only real difference is that present day society feels compelled to be hypocritical about it (which explains the contemporary compulsion to assert moral superiority.)

              2. A thought– perhaps Roman type slavery couldn’t be as bad, on such a wide scale, as it was just before we abolished it… I can’t find the words to put it right, but it seems to fit…. Aaargh, I hate these flashes that make sense and I can’t form properly!

                1. In general, life back then (Roman times) was sufficiently bad that being a slave wasn’t actually much worse.

                  OTOH, being a slave in the antebellum South was not much worse than being a factory worker in New Hampshire. Slaves couldn’t be “let go” for having lost a limb to the machinery, for example. Look at Oliver Twist and judge for yourself.

                  Like Abraham Lincoln, I would neither be a slave nor own one, but I can look at the institution without my knickers knotting.

                  1. And just prior to the “civil war” (aka the “War between the States”) a lot of the black slaves had it better than the Irish immigrants did. The black slaves were valuable property. The Irish were not. The canals in New Orleans were dug by the Irish as the work was very dangerous and no one wanted to risk the financial loss of exposing his slaves to that risk – but the Irish were free. If they died in a cave-in or by getting malaria, who cares? No one has money invested in them. So although the institution of slavery is repugnant, there are worse states of existence.

                    1. There were places in the Roman Empire where you worked the slaves to death. In mining for instance. They had a lot of that in the Caribbean, where they regularly imported enough slaves to replace the regular population. IIRC, every five years. Definitely less than 10.

                      In the United States, OTOH, the slave population at Emancipation was something like ten times the total number of slaves ever imported.

                    2. From Wikki:

                      The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807 (2 Stat. 426, enacted March 2, 1807) is a United States federal law that stated that no new slaves were permitted to be imported into the United States. It took effect in 1808, the earliest date permitted by the United States Constitution.
                      This act, a part of the general trend toward abolishing the slave trade (led by Great Britain), ended the legality of the U.S.-based transatlantic slave trade. However, it was not always well enforced, and slavery itself continued in the United States until the end of the Civil War and the adoption of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

              3. “as I understand it, slavery in the 1st century wasn’t nearly so abusive as the form practiced in 19th-century America”

                Except… well… the slave rebellions, and escaped slaves and contemporary representations of it as something horrible. Spartacus led the Third Servile War; while Mithradates VI of Pontus — as nasty as he was — used Roman debt-slavery as one of his rallying cries. AFAIK, there weren’t public spectacles in the South where slaves were slaughtered for entertainment.

                John Brown was hanged, taken down, and placed in his coffin with an hour. It’s 120 miles from Rome to Capua; the survivors of Spartacus’ army were on crosses one every 100 feet along the Appian Way.

                Christianity didn’t buck slavery at first because — as you said — it wasn’t really a thought yet. But it still reached out to slaves because there were so many of them, and they were a discontent lot.

                1. Slaves were often captured fighters. One would expect that, if they could band together to fight their captors, they would.

            3. Yes, I very much liked that one (which incidentally can be found in 2012 collection of free shorts at Baen’s Free Library) but it does tend to read like the precursor to a novel. Which wouldn’t be bad if you would go ahead and write the novel. Hint, hint 🙂

                1. Yes, but I actually meant the more complete story of the mules rise to power. It has been alluded to in several shorts and the novels. By the way what is the title of the short about the bioengineered with gills? It has been a while since I read it and can’t remember the title.

                  1. Neptune’s Orphans. Well — it’s part of the future history. I do have a novel planned, with the characters from Ariadne’s Skein and the guys from Castor and it is around the time the Je Reviens takes off. But mostly the history unfolds over a lot of books.

                  2. Some back stories work best as back story rather than front story. If nothing else, either the protagonist will be unpleasant, or he will end in defeat, since the mules will win.

            1. Eh, don’t worry about it. You both picked the obvious word to describe similar concepts: people who were unable to breed with normal humans, because they were too genetically different. In your story the differences were engineered, while in Asimov’s story they were random mutations, but other than that the mule analogy was perfect. In fact, your story had a better claim to the term than his did, because real-life mules are deliberately created rather than genetic mutations.

  18. Given that China has a proven history of executing criminals to harvest body parts and that their one-child policy has resulted in 336 million abortions (e.g., about 10 million a year) my inclination to take moral instruction from them stands somewhere between not-at-all and H#ll-No.

    Their idea of genius is the kind of gross stupidity only a “genius” could accept.

      1. Yea– I know that– it is the farm families. So they don’t mind having more serfs. (oh and some of the smaller ethnic minorities).

        1. Also the “foreign wives” – they hold off on getting citizenship until they’ve had as many kids as they want. Non-citizens are not subject to the one child policy. Too bad I won’t live long enough to see the long term working out of that little flaw in the system.

          1. Huh! I didn’t know about that loophole – suddenly explains a lot of things. And has some profoundly strange potential repercussions. Wonder how long it’ll be before the consequences start becoming really, really obvious? And I wonder how many families are now trying for girls, to capture just the right desperate man? (As thinking of the present as normal is… human?)

            1. Actually, I think the way it works is that the citizenship thing happens when they actually marry their Chinese husbands – so if they have the kids before marriage, it’s all good.

      2. “Twins,” and those who get special permission/pay the right fees, IIRC. There was a story a few years ago where a three year old and her “twin” newborn sister were mentioned.

  19. Definitely understand the plight of the Odds.
    I had the misfortune to be labeled a “genius” while still in Junior High School though neither I nor my parents were ever told. I was the smartest kid in my High School class and all the teachers and councilors knew it so had great and glorious plans for me. As a freshman I took all the advances placement courses I was told to and wood shop. Last day of shop class the teacher asked who would be taking metal shop the next year and I eagerly indicated in the affirmative. He took me aside and told me my teachers felt I should focus on my primary studies so I would not be allowed to take shop the next year. At that moment I stopped making any effort to succeed in High School and simply coasted through the next three years. Near graduation I expressed some interest in Engineering and was informed by a guidance councilor that I simply must take four years of liberal arts first then if I was still interested I could explore a technical field. On graduation I got a factory job and spent the next fifteen years working blue collar of one sort or another.
    At that point a girlfriend encouraged me to try college. Finished a bachelor’s in engineering in just over three years, found professional employment, and knocked out a Masters on my employer’s dime less than two years later.
    Retired last year after 24 years of service, most of it as an Operations Engineer for space vehicles and payloads.

    1. I’d like to point out a lot of odds — self included — enjoy manual labor. I like the heavy, dirty, tiring kind that STOPS the d*mn voices, but that might be a writer thing…

      1. I like to prune trees and clear brush so I can hear the voices.
        When I’m desperate I’ll dig trenches.

        1. Oh, to hear them? Ironing. My guys like to wear button downs, and I iron them. About 8 + hours a month. Husband said “we could send them out” (He has illusions of wealth. No, really.) And I said “Nooooo. That’s when I plot.” 😛

          1. I used to plot when I was driving on the interstate. (What can you hit in the middle of nowhere?) I carried a notebook and made quick notes as I drove without looking at the paper. My wife feard for the world’s safety and got me a little tape recorder – and after I listened to the idiotic ramblings that used to go on without being written down, I stopped doing either. Now if she’s along, I have her make notes when I find a plot point for a current stickybit.

            But mostly I start with a title and let the story tell itself… I mean who knows what the story wants to say better? Me or the story?

              1. I should probably add that sometimes the story forgets what it wants and goes wandering off into the bushes… and then it has to stop and get re-oriented. (Which is what my Main Reader is for… she re-directs. ;-D)

                1. When my stories wander off into the bushes, I assume they’re doing something of a biological nature. So I head off the other direction to write something else until they are completely finished.

            1. Now if she’s along, I have her make notes when I find a plot point for a current stickybit.

              Elf has me drive and he bounces stuff off of me. Also cuts down on the number of things I see and try to talk to him about on the side of the road. (Dang city people and their not noticing anything! Who cares about street names, didn’t you see that office building that CLEARLY use to be some sort of an apartment complex a century back?!? And take a left three stoplights before where that old barn use to be.)

              1. Ah, I could understand your directions perfectly. Of course the next direction is, ‘take a right just past the pine Johnny fell out of and broke his arm.’

                1. Nevermind that Johnny – Mr. Cripshard to his students – fell out of that tree when he was no more’n six, and has been the metal shop teacher over in Springfield for the last twenty years. Or that particular tree got struck by lightning a decade past and is just a blackened spot on the ground these days.

                  1. How about “Go a few miles past Shanty town and turn left on Lonesome Road. Go to where the tornado knocked down the grainbin, turn again where the oak tree used to be and turn left and you’re there.” Those were the he-actually-said-used-to-be directions from my father-in-law when I first moved down here in about 1988. Shanty town was where there was a Hooverville during the Depression – the location is now marked by a liquor store just off the highway (with a drive through driveway). Lonesome Road had no visible sign – it was lying in the weeds and had been for a few years. (“Great big sign. Can’t miss it.”) And both the tornado and the bin were long gone. Directions in the country have not improved since the yuppie engineers decided to name all of the roads. Due to cost, the signs are only readable if you pull up and stop. and thee are roads that are named one thing on one side of the highway, and are numbered on the other side.

                    And it’s still true that if you are getting directions from a rural person, it is considered acceptable to cry if they say “You can’t miss it” because once they say those magic words, you’ll never find your way out of corn-n-bean land again..

                    1. *laughs* My family lives on “three miles before where X use to be” or “at the old Y place”– when the Y family was dead before my dad was BORN.

                      We really don’t know how you city people can possibly miss the stuff we point to as “you can’t miss it.” I’m STILL having translation issues with my dear husband!

                    2. Directions in Louisiana start by listing all the routes not to take. “You know the road that heads out west o’ Ball? And the right turn takes you to Boudreaux’s patch? Yeah, don’t go that way. And how the left turn takes you ’round the bayou and back toward Alexandria? Yeah, don’t take that road….”

                      Patience. Patience and not crying. You have to keep listening, or you’ll miss the actual road to take.

                      The pizza place that burned down at least had one partial wall still standing, visible in winter. But the place the coal truck turned over, I’m fairly certain, was scavenged clean inside a week.

                    3. We always start directions with “Do you know where the Swinging Door Barbeque is?” an astounding number of people know it. If they don’t we retreat to “Well, we’re about a third of the way to Austin” and then get down to the details.

                    4. I still give directions around home as “take a right a rock throw before so-n-so’s old place” when so-n-so moved out or died when my parents were kids. Come to think of it I do the same here, and I didn’t grow up here. Directions like ‘just past Camp X, the one on the Floodwood not the one out Elk River’ are common. Yes there are at least 3 Camp X’s that I know of, and you can even see a wide flat spot down by the creek from across the canyon (not visible from the road that goes by it) where one of them used to be, the others are landmarks that haven’t been visible in years.

                      Oh and yeah I both hear and give directions that start out with, “well if you take the right to ____ you can go up over the hill and take the second left, go down the ridge tell you get to the third left, it’ll cut back hard underneath you, and if you follow it down it’ll drop you out about a mile past where you want to be, but it’s not a good road to pull a trailer on, pulling that trailer if I was you I would just stay on this road until…”

                    5. I got a great one in Georgia. “Turn left at the last light in Fayetteville. Go past the town to the second barn, turn onto the two lane. Follow the two lane past the pumpkin patch [open only in October and November. This was August] to the big church with the little cemetery. Not the little church with the big cemetery but the other one. If you get to the county line bridge you’ve gone too far. . .” And so on past the big pine that wasn’t there any more to the airport. “Look for the big pickup with the Delta and charolais plate holders.” 🙂

                    6. “Directions in the country have not improved since the yuppie engineers decided to name all of the roads.”

                      It doesn’t help that most of the roads already had names (some having multiple names) that were different than the ones the yuppies put on the signs.

                2. My parents’ farm in Oklahoma (don’t ask ..) was “the Maynard place”. I looked at the abstract of title, the last “Maynard” owned it in 1938.

                  1. I live on the road that “goes to the old Deary dump,” out at the dump itself the road has trees sixty feet tall growing in it, yeah the dump hasn’t been used in a while.

        2. Don’t need any trenches dug – but I have a LOT of trees – over 60 acres of ’em and a lot of brush… Or you could start digging the root cellar we want to build this year… free jar of Black Raspberry Jam… Maybe some apple butter… maybe some (Montmorency) cherry jam and some strawberry jam… maybe… depends on the year… ;-D

          1. Thanks, but I have my own trees and brush to hack down. I may trade your jam for apple sauce and pear jam, though – I have jars and jars and jars… I have an issue with watching windfall fruit rot on the ground and a mild canning fetish.
            “put it in the compost” they say. But its still edible, wasting is terrible!

            1. Fast comment for those who don’t know – Bob is picking up ground fall fruit and COOKING it, so that’s usually okay. But do NOT pick up ground fall fruit and just eat it raw as fruit can get e-coli from being on the ground – and you do NOT want to get e-coli… when I’m picking fresh fruit, if it hits the ground, it stays there.

              1. Hmm, never had a problem and I have eaten ground fall fruit my whole life, of course I use a modicum of sense and don’t eat apples that have landed in cowpies. But a lot of things your body builds an immunity to, just like I drink out of streams, but don’t recommend others do, because if you don’t do it regularly you are liable to get giardia.

      2. I will at least say I enjoy manual labor more than any other feasible way to make a living.

        1. Hummmm…. ever get in the vicinity of Missouri? I have a LOT of manual labor here just going begging… (Of course, it’s unpaid as I have no money.. but think of the satisfaction all that manual labor would give you!!!) ;-D

  20. ummm–
    1. I start slow with a subject.
    2. I suddenly start seeing the connections after I have been studying said subject for a few days (sometimes month).
    3. I used to read scientific papers for fun.
    4. I get bored easily.
    5. I can translate between genius and non-genius.
    6. When I am tired, my senses get scrambled.
    7. Chemo– did a biological number on my head–
    8. I was 30 before I finally was able to integrate mind and body.
    9. I have an auto-immune disease.

    Conclusion: I am a genius? Actually no, I was very smart. If there was evidence of genius, the medications really wiped that out. I do remember the days when I could think on a level that I can’t reach now. I went through a mourning process. Now I am grateful to be able to think.

    As for the Chinese? I went through a modern history course with a Chinese professor (he thought he was really intelligent in comparison with his students). He was a part of some of the diplomacy between China and the US. I was not impressed with the modern history (Mao to now) or their goals today. They really don’t want geniuses unless they can control them.

      1. LOL– my hubby thinks I am smarter than he is– His whole life has been centered around electronics. I think he is an electronic wizard. 😉

      2. If you can translate between genius and non-genius, perhaps you should be the next Asimov or Stephen Jay Gould. I realize you’re already overcommitted, but you’re also looking for diverse revenue streams. The world could use a great science explainer in the tradition of Asimov and Gould.

      3. Got a dual BSE in Industrial and Systems Engineering. That on top of fifteen years of factory work under my belt. Early on in my professional career I noticed the strange phenomenon that groups of engineers and accountants together in a meeting could spend an inordinate amount of time talking past each other. Each side knew and believed in what they were saying, but neither side had the terminology to understand the other. Somehow my background and training allowed me to follow both sides reasoning. Spent a good bit of my early career asking “dumb” questions. Mostly just repeating what I’d just heard using slightly different words more common to both groups and asking if that’s what they meant. Luckily most everyone was well intentioned and willing to spend a few moments helping the new kid to understand. Even luckier for me my boss noticed how much more effective meetings were when I was present and figured out it had something to do with me. In 24 years never did get a bad performance review.

        1. Surveyors construction staking on construction sites often have to work as translators, between the engineers that know what they want, and the construction workers who know what they can do. I worked with one engineer that used to work as a construction worker until a back injury requiring surgery forced him to find other employment, he went back to school and became an engineer. The construction people loved him, because not only did he know what he wanted, but he knew how to tell them what to do to create what he wanted. I loved him because I could just get on with my work and not spend 3/4’s of my time translating from one to the other.

      4. I once described my (then) job as “I speak geek, mechanic, and management fluently, and translate between them.” That was about the time that the IT department released a memo declaring I was the only one allowed to relay bug reports in software, and all such future reports must be made through me.

        It came naturally after years of translating many variant dialects and cultures such as midwestern geek to west coast geek, normal to Odd, army to civilian (and some inter-MOS translation as well. tankers have vastly different lingo from NBC techs), engineer to non-engineer, south american expat to American, coder to theater tech, and so on…

        Calmer Half now accepts that when he uses the rhetorically-meant statement “I just don’t understand people who…” around me, he’ll get an explanation of the motives, mindset, and worldview of “those people.”

                1. Of course it counts. CT’s are probably the smartest people on board. Fast promotion, good bonuses, and unlike the nukes they work in air conditioned spaces.

                  For the record, I was a nuke MM.

                  1. *eyeroll* Dear Husband would agree on the smartest part, although his specific flavor kinda got Papered to death and doesn’t exist any more.

              1. I was an IC-2 on the USS America for my first enlistment (Two times circumnavigated and once to the MED (during which we had the pleasure of mooning a russian bear ;-D) – with two long terms of loitering on Yankee Station. (“Fast Movers – We Deliver!”) Then went back in the reserves and was a UT-2 (Seabee). My father retired from the Seabees. And I had two kids who are OEF/OIF vets – the eldest daughter was an EM-2 on the USS Abe Lincoln, and the son was an IC-2 on the USS John Stennis. So we’re a third Gen Navy family. But that’s nothing. I know an Army Maj (son of a full bird) whose family is Army all the way back to the Kemper rebellion against the Spanish in Florida.

                1. Just a mention my Dad was an ET with a security clearance. My grandfather was a radar tech/maintenance during WWII when it was a secret weapon. 😉 My brother is in the merchant marines. I am the only one of nine that went Navy.

            1. My childhood included long and interesting conversations on the properties of depleted uranium, and warnings not to go walking in certain portions of the woods, because the last troop who did and sat on a log came back with mustard burns on his butt.

              Of course, to me, dad and his friends were perfectly normal, just like spending time in the armory helping the sergeant clean guns is a perfectly normal way to be babysat while dad’s in a meeting. As far as I’m concerned, I’m boring, normal, predictable, and altogether sane.

              Sarah, stop laughing! At least stop laughing so hard!

                1. Well, if even the cat is laughing, then FINE, I will not try to stand in the way of your amusement. Grumble.

                  Can I at least claim that compared to my husband, I’m normal and boring? …no?,,,, I think that spluttering means no…. But he’s the interesting one… I mean, I’m a perfectly normal little ol’ goth geek transplanted Alaskan pilot… there may only be one of me, but that means I’m baseline for the category!

      5. I had a science teacher in high school who was smart beyond all need for high school teaching. I often translated for him, to the class (He taught Chemistry, Physics, and Astronomy).

  21. P.S. I was wanting for a long time to be king of something. Perhaps I might as volunteer be the King of a micronation (not a religion)?

    1. Why wait? Just do it!

      My wife is an Empress! She read about the kingdom of Amarugia (Missouri history) and decided that if someone there could be a king, then surely she could be an empress! She has appointed at least one knight, and I think a couple of duchesses… and IIRC a Royal High Priestess – all complete with parchment like Royal Decrees of Appointment with Royal wax seals and ribbons. It’s great fun!

      1. Oh, that’s so cool!

        Of course, she must be subordinate to me, because I’m the Ruler Of The Known Universes, and A Few Unknown Ones. I’m a good ruler. Except for the ones I cannibalize for my writing, I let them deal with their own problems. 🙂

        1. I know a woman who declared herself Empress of the realms inside her head. The denizens rebelled, overthrew her and are now forcing her to tell their tales to the exclusion of her own.

      2. Hae you ever heard of Norton the First, by the grace of God Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico? He lived in San Francisco.

        1. And, it is said, was generally tolerated with great good humor and a bit of pride by the citizenry.

          1. I learned of him through L. Neil Smith, in a book there was an Emperor Norton University that was specializing in researching para-electronics (the study of field effects divorced from electrical fields)

            Sandman is not a comic. It is a philosophic graphic novel.

            1. At a guess I think I must have learned of Emperor Norton I from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. There was a phase in that I went through 6th / 7th grade where I devoured their paperback collections. I have no idea why — I am reasonably confident it wasn’t for the plotting — but I read a number of the Ripley’s mmpb collections.

              Sadly, fifty years later I still recall some of the “facts” met in those books. I expect it served to greatly enhance my conversational interactions with members of the opposite sex.

              1. The Ripley stuff is great for learning some of the boundaries of humanity and biology.

                One of my co-workers — despite a college education — had no idea calves could be born with two faces…

                1. One of my co-workers — despite a college education — had no idea calves could be born with two faces…

                  Sometimes the political snark just writes itself.

  22. Sarah wrote: “High IQ correlates, almost always with highly undesirable characteristics of an intellectual and physical nature…

    Any links to statistical studies on that? I’m highly skeptical. Remember, “data” is not the plural of “anecdote”.

    A quick google search of “health versus IQ” returns an overwhelming number of hits with studies that show things like “Persons with a higher IQ have generally lower adult morbidity and mortality”. This doesn’t support the hypothesis of IQ correlating with undesirable physical characteristics and in my experience IQ doesn’t correlate with undesirable intellectual characteristics either.

    My experience is that roughly the same percentage of high IQ individuals have physical and mental issues as in the rest of the lower IQ population. It’s just far more striking when problems are observed in high IQ persons.

    1. There are studies, which insty has linked over the day, but I don’t have them on hand.

      Autoimmune issues don’t affect morbidity unless they’re crazy-bad. I come from a family with both genius and autoimmune. They live very long, they just learn to accommodate the symptoms.

      Older son could explain why they correlate to mental issues. I can’t. It’s a matter of connections. And yes, they do. Again, Insty has linked a bunch of studies over the years. I just don’t have them at my fingertips.

      On the mental issues — a lot of it might have to do with sticking out when you come from a highly social species. It’s hard to tell.

      1. “it might have to do with sticking out when you come from a highly social species.”

        HA! I was going to ask “So how much of whatever is nurture and how much nature?”

        1. Well, we actually had to tell a teacher who was telling me older son had social deficits “So would you, if someone made you spend the day with people three standard deviations below you.”

          1. I used to ask people to imagine that they had to spend their days with people whose I.Q.s were an equal percentage below theirs.

        1. OK. There’s Sarah’s correlation. At least maybe. High IQ people are likely to stay up 19 minutes later than average IQ people (link was broken though so I couldn’t check for methodology, statistical significance, multivariate corrections, etc.) and “night owls” are 3 times more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression (though again, no link to the statistics). I’m not sure that going to bed 19 minutes later turns one from being a morning lark into a night owl and what the rates of depression were in the study wasn’t stated so the chain is a little weak.

          Looking again, I also realize I misread Sarah’s sentence. I thought she was claiming “high correlation”, but no, there’s no “high” in front of “correlation”. I can easily believe a slight, but statistically significant correlation of intelligence with one or more undesirable traits.

          But a low level of correlation may not much matter. To create a herd of super-geniuses with slightly higher likelihood of “undesirable characteristics” could easily be worth it to the Chinese or anybody else. It might be worth it even if the vast majority had undesirable characteristics as long as they weren’t all devastatingly damaged.

          If they could do it.

          1. I see you did try and read the first of the five, so I conclude that you really do have some interest in the subject. I suggest you Google such combinations as: ‘High I.Q., learning disabilities’, ‘High I.Q., depression’, ‘High I.Q., Bipolar’, ‘High I.Q., ADD’ and other similar combinations.

            1. High I. Q. and auto-immune. (I’m SURE I’ve seen that a couple of times at Glenn’s.)

              And though my family has both run in it, let me add that they don’t always hit the same individual or with the same severity. It just gives the feeling some genes relate. (Which new research indicates, anyway.)

              1. I did that search on both google and at instapundit and nothing jumped out at me. I’m sure you saw it, but I have to give up for now.

            2. CACS,

              So I googled “high iq learning disability” (first on your list) which popped up a bunch of ADD/ADHD stuff (fourth on your list) which leads to things like ADD has nothing to do with how smart a person is. Some individuals with ADD are super-smart on IQ tests, many score in the average range, and some are much lower. Not much in the way of statistical trends in the links.

              I am always interested in the topics of education, learning, intelligence. But I have to go do some real work so I have to give up on the searches for now.

              I’m not saying high IQ folk never have problems, I just haven’t seen much beyond anecdote that leads me to believe the problems are significantly more prevalent than with the rest of the population.

              When I was at MIT in the 1970s, it was considered, along with Cal Tech, to be a very nerdy school. And it was. But what I found was that it was the less intelligent students that were the nerdiest because they had to study 24/7 to get by and didn’t have time to even take an occasional shower to wash the stench off, much less have a social life. And I suspect they probably had to do that in high school in order to get into MIT in the first place.

              The more intelligent students there seemed quite normal. They didn’t have to study all the time and were able to achieve a much better balance of school with the rest of their lives.

              1. I have a bit of trouble expressing my reaction. You see The Daughter’s Harvard educated Pediatric Neurologist was the first person to suggest to me that there are four observable forms of ADD, the common, the hyperactive, the hypoactive and those with an extreme high I.Q.. When I did my searches I found numerous articles written by researchers along with the various chatty web-circles. I don’t post more than one link at a time, as my understanding is that this requires moderation.

                1. The 4th category (extreme high I.Q.) isn’t in the DSM. I also have trouble taking the diagnosis of ADD seriously for two reasons: (1) being male, I’m certain virtually every male is ADD, just some are able to fight it adequately to not be labelled and be in trouble and I’d guess that many girls are in the same boat; (2) “Although not even named as a distinct condition until 1968, by 1996 ADHD accounted for at least 40% of child psychiatry references.” which makes me think there are forces causing a fake disease category to be created that have nothing to do with mental health.

                  1. Those forces to which you refer are the elements of the pharmaceutical industry. I used to go to a church where there was a kid who, his dad said, was ADHD and on meds. I just pretty much ignored it. One night at church the kid walks up to me and tries to kick me in the shin. I dodged, and stuck a finger in his face and said, “Kid, you are about to bite off way more than you can chew.” and walked off. I never had a bit of trouble with him after that – whether he was off his meds or not.

                    A story that used to make the rounds had a Soviet Educator touring the schools in Omaha, NE. The group went by a room where it was pure bedlam! The Russian asked what was this? The guide explained that it was their ADHD classroom. The Russian asked “what is this ADHD?” and after the guide had explained it to him, the Russian educator said something like, “This ADHD. We would not allow it in Russian schools.”

                    1. Please, please tell me that you are not employing Soviet psychiatric diagnostics as your mental health standard.

                      Given the short time between acceptance of ADHD as a diagnosis and the collapse of the Soviet Union, you will understand if I find this story possibly a suburban legend.

                    2. Note, I’m not saying the kids shouldn’t ever be medicated. I just taught the kids to cope without it, because I’m really from the nineteenth century and don’t even take aspirin if I can do without it.

                      As for ADD — Dan when I met him, at eighteen, couldn’t look at ANYTHING for more than a few seconds, couldn’t sit still, talked faster than … something that’s very fast, and changed subjects on a dime. I thought it was adorable, but I was aware it wasn’t NORMAL.

                    3. The issue of medication — of therapy — is wholly separate from that of diagnosis. For most kids it is a developmental illness, meaning that they will grow out of it eventually, when the pertinent portion of the brain catches up with the rest.

                      There is not enough known about this condition as yet to discuss it meaningfully (a statement applicable to most questions of brain chemistry) and the @!#*s who are buying diagnoses in order to game the system are criminally harming the children for whom the diagnosis is legitimate — in part by providing fodder for ADD deniers.

                      In most instances of ADD the proper therapy is not medication so much as learning to recognize and manage situations likely to exacerbate the condition, such as unstructured playground behaviour which tends to overload the processing ability of those with ADD. It is likely that the growth in diagnoses of ADD is at least partially due to changes in pedagogical techniques such as a far more rigidly controlled school curriculum.

                  2. Yes, overdiagnosis has resulted in an abundance of people who don’t believe ADD/ADHD is a real thing. It is. Most children do NOT go to sleep upon being given a shot of espresso.

                    It comes in varying degrees. In lower-intensity cases, it can be mastered with little significant effort. In many cases, significant levels of activity will moderate the effects to some extent, but don’t make the mistake of confusing it with an excess of energy, because that’s not the cause. In some mid-intensity cases, intensive work at learning coping skills can make medication not entirely necessary, but beyond a certain level, only the exceptionally determined are able to master coping skills without recourse to medication.

                    With ADHD, you cannot stay focused. After working with something for a period of time, trying to continue to focus on it will make you jittery, shaky, unable to make any progress, and possibly can make you violent to the thing you’re trying to concentrate on.

                    OTOH, if you’ve never experienced it, and are unwilling to take someone’s word for it, then there’s no way to convince you, but with the evidence I’ve seen right in my own mind, and in my two boys, I always wind up having to try.

                    1. My kids go to sleep with shots of espresso. So does my husband.
                      … they still never got medication. They do fine. Their — squirrel! — consists of weird equations all over the side of Jane Austen’s Emma, or designs for logos for Hoytco which they plan to hold up and down the side of the grocery list. They’ll do.

                    2. Caffiene doesn’t affect me either (except causing a headache if I don’t have any) and I usually drink coffee up until I go to bed, having a cup right now as a matter of fact.

                    3. Caffeine is a vascular dilator and is a common ingredient in headache pills/powders for that reason. One symptom of “addiction” to it is withdrawal headaches.

                    4. Wayne wrote: “OTOH, if you’ve never experienced it, …

                      I’m claiming the opposite: that nearly all people, especially males, have what’s called ADD to some degree. Looking at signs and symptoms, it describes me nearly perfectly and most of my childhood peers nearly perfectly from what I remember observing.

                      Sure, there is a distribution of intensity of the symptoms, and beyond a certain threshold it will be a problem. But what I think is not that the children are abnormal, but rather what they’re forced to do is inhumane. We’re not made to sit still in a classroom hour after hour, day after day, especially as young children.

                      You can call it ADD/ADHD or you can call it stupidity on the part of educators and their supporters.

                      I call it the latter.

                    5. Bret,
                      You are doubling down on stupid.

                      While all people, especially males, may in fact have it to some degree, that does NOT mean that some portion of people won’t be at the pointy end of the Bell Curve and possess the trait to a debilitating degree.

                      Almost all people are sensitive to poison ivy; but some are so highly sensitive that exposure is a near death experience.

                      Almost all people have problems digesting cow milk, but some are highly lactose intolerant and some people are deathly allergic.

                      Almost everybody reacts to a bee’s sting; some people are so allergic they die quickly without medical intervention.

                      You have generalized invalidly and refused to accept instruction from those demonstrably more knowledgeable on the topic.

                      It is agreed that ADD is broadly over-diagnosed. It is stipulated that our schools exacerbate the condition. None of that refutes the existence of ADD.

                    6. RES,
                      I’m lost as to how we’re not in agreement.

                      I wrote, “there is a distribution of intensity of the symptoms, and beyond a certain threshold it will be a problem”.

                      You wrote, “…does NOT mean that some portion of people won’t be at the pointy end of the Bell Curve and possess the trait to a debilitating degree.”

                      Are these statements really materially different? Or do you not like my wording? Or do you not like my dislike of labels?

                      BTW, this seems like a funny forum to chide someone for not listening to his “betters” (“those demonstrably more knowledgeable”). It seems like in half the posts, Sarah is telling us NOT to listen to our “betters”.

                    7. No, you’re being dismissive of something that affects some people to a debilitating level, and making that out to be an artifact of the school system, not a systemic problem that they will face throughout life.

                      By treating it as an artifact of the school system, you’re implying that the problems lessen to the point that they are no longer a significant hindrance in these people’s lives after they leave school.

                    8. Bret, you seem to err on two points.

                      We are in disagreement on the matter of whether ADD is a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis. Your arguments have been that it is a normal state and a non-existent “illness.” My arguments have been that it is a legitimate diagnosis and, like many a psychiatric condition, can be sufficiently extreme as to constitute a serious illness.

                      Thus the crux of our disagreement on the main point. While we are in agreement that it is often misdiagnosed in order to game a system which generally exacerbates the tendencies in normal people, that agreement pales beside your denial of the condition as “normal.”

                      The second point on which you err is misunderstanding what Ms Hoyt’s point about not listening to your “betters” is actually about. Being of European origin, Ms Hoyt is familiar with the idea that some people are better than others by virtue of birth, caste or estate. That not being the basis of my argument it does not apply; I have not claimed to be “better” than you, I have claimed to have — and demonstrated possession of — greater knowledge in a specific area. The necessary rebuttal of a claim to have demonstrated more knowledge (e.g., knowing what I am talking about rather than talking through my hat) would be to provide greater knowledge or to show how the knowledge I claim does not apply in the particular matter.

                      The fact that I can see these two errors where you cannot does indicate I am better at productive, clear thinking. Which would not make me your better, merely better at a particular thing than you have proven.

                  3. Sorry you have difficulty taking the diagnosis of ADD seriously. I’ve heard that many of Copernicus’ peers had trouble taking his heliocentric theory seriously.

                    What you can take seriously is not yet a standard of scientific proof.

                    Over diagnosis* of a condition is not proof of its nonexistence. Further, few diagnoses of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder were issued prior to 1875; does the significant number of such diagnoses since them cause you to think there are forces causing fake disease categories to be created?

                    *It is not unusual for a newly diagnosed condition to be broadly interpreted as the profession comes to grips with its definition. In the 1990s many parents had discovered that a diagnosis of ADD for their kid would entitle him (or her) to special treatment and benefits in school systems, which did indeed create conditions conducive to over-diagnosis … although it strikes me as curious you used a date almost twenty years ago as your basis for challenging the condition.

                    1. Also, prior to now there were jobs that accommodated ADD without requiring kids to sit down quite as long or be as compliant as we require. Now… well…

                    2. I will state that I do believe ADD and ADHD do exist, HOWEVER, I also believe that 90+% of kids diagnosed with one or the other are perfectly normal.
                      Wayne you mention the fact that the drugs given to such kids are uppers, below a certian age (don’t remember what it is) Ridelin when taken orally will calm most kids, as they get older many of them will develop the more traditional speed response to it. If they can crush them up and snort them (much faster absortion into the blood stream)and it causes them to calm down this is a pretty good indication that they truly are suffering from ADD/ADHD.

                    3. Note Dan STILL has inverse reaction to caffeine.

                      It has occurred to me to wonder if the higher incidence of ADD in the US has to do with higher recent hunter-gatherer blood, aka Amerindian.

                    4. Amerindian influx might be a factor, as might be the natural selection of unruly Europeans. It is probably too complex to attribute to simple factors, although there may be contributing elements.

                      One explanation I had when we were learning about ADD was that the brain’s “brakes” were underdeveloped, which would explain the issues with impulse control and distractibility. Amphetamine related medication (Ritalin, Adderall, coffee) makes the “brakes” work better.

                    5. “It has occurred to me to wonder if the higher incidence of ADD in the US has to do with higher recent hunter-gatherer blood, aka Amerindian.”

                      That is an interesting theory, I have Indian blood in me and if I would have been a lot of peoples kids I probably would have been diagnosed with ADD, as is my parents are some of those people who don’t believe it exists, and thought I was a perfectly normal boy to be bouncing off the walls, just like they and their brothers were as kids. (of course ADD is hereditary, so that is a poor comparison). I will note that I know from my late teen years that I have a very high tolerance for uppers, they did affect me, but only in large doses, and not generally when taken orally.

                    6. I’ve heard that many of Copernicus’ peers had trouble taking his heliocentric theory seriously.

                      Wise of them. Although slightly simpler than the Ptolemaic system, it compensated by being less accurate. Furthermore there was no evidence in its favor, certainly not enough to overcome the obvious observations that we don’t feel like we are hurtling around space at a vast speed — and nothing else about us looks like it’s doing that either — and that if it were true, we would be vastly closer to some stars and farther from others as the year shifted, but they don’t look any different.

                      It was not until Kepler managed, as Copernicus did not, to throw epicycles out altogether (along with circles; Kepler released they were ellipses), that we got a radically simpler and accurate model. And it was not until we had much more sensitive instruments that we could detect that the stars actually did move slightly relative to each other and so there was evidence for it.

                    7. Wise to demand evidence, wrong to reject, as later events proved.

                      Of course, as all motion can be measured relative to any given point, the Sun does revolve around the Earth, for certain values of revolve.

                    8. No, they were right to reject an inferior model with evidence against it. Even if later refinements do produce a superior model.

                  4. I know some adults who have various “can’t focus” disorders– it’s not so much that the diagnosis is BS, as that a lot of the newer disorders are extreme versions of the normal range.

                    Think like… oh, what the heck is that growth disorder that accounts for folks who are giants? I have a cousin who clearly has signs of it– was adult sized before his teens– but is healthy, in spite of being something like six eight from stock that’s more like five eight; the folks that end up in the record books, though, usually have health issues.
                    On the opposite end, both my mother-in-law and myself are short, but we aren’t examples of dwarfism. A decent argument could be made that I’m not even really “short” for my ancestry.

                    A person whose judgement I trust has an autistic spectrum (Aspie? can’t remember) son, and while agreeing that the description is so broad that it can and has been applied to folks who are just normal geeks, there are folks for whom the symptoms are so extreme it does actually interfere with basic functions.

                    It’s less “this doesn’t really exist” and more like Sturgeon’s law in medicine and bad incentives. (As came up on another post a few days ago, ADD and ADHD are frequently aimed for by both schools and parents, because they either directly get money or they can be used to qualify for social security disability payments if drugs don’t make Johnny suddenly able to read. And boy do I wish I was exaggerating– I believe even has pages on how to go about it in various areas.)

              2. Further searching indicates to me that bipolar disorder rates in men (not women) do increase with very high IQ. Other than that, mental illness has either no or negative correlations with intelligence.

                I stuck to peer reviewed literature since it seems to be an emotional topic with erratic coverage in the mainstream media. Some summaries follow for those interested. Obviously just a sample, but within the quick scan I did, it looked representative to me. As a result, I remain skeptical that genius is strongly associated with undesirable characteristics.

                Is bipolar disorder more common in highly intelligent people? A cohort study of a million men

                C R Gale, G D Batty, A M McIntosh, D J Porteous, I J Deary and F Rasmussen

                …At least in men, high intelligence may indeed be a risk factor for bipolar disorder, but only in the minority of cases who have the disorder in a pure form with no psychiatric comorbidity.

                IQ and mental disorder in young men

                Mortensen, et al…

                Schizophrenia and related disorders, other psychotic disorders, adjustment, personality, alcohol and substance-use-related disorders were significantly associated with low IQ scores…

                A longitudinal study of premorbid IQ Score and risk of developing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe depression, and other nonaffective psychoses.

                CONCLUSIONS: Lower IQ score was associated with increased risk for schizophrenia, severe depression, and other nonaffective psychoses, but not bipolar disorder.

                Childhood IQ and Adult Mental Disorders: A Test of the Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis

                Results: Lower childhood IQ was associated with increased risk of developing schizophrenia spectrum disorder, adult depression, and adult anxiety. Lower childhood IQ was also associated with greater comorbidity and with persistence of depression; the association with persistence of generalized anxiety disorder was nearly significant. Higher childhood IQ predicted increased risk of adult mania.


          2. Alas, I no longer have the reference, but there are multiple studies that link extremely high IQ with creativity (aka genius in the usual sense) to mental illness and assorted other issues. At least one longitudinal study of a family which included several highly regarded statesmen uncovered a much higher incidence of mental illnesses (to the extent that at least one immediate family member of each successful member of the extended family was affected) – something that’s been backed up.

            In addition, giving psychiatrists or psychologists samples of writing (diaries, by preference) of geniuses led to clear-cut diagnoses in every case. Those diagnoses-from-writing matched the circumstances of the geniuses lives.

            My personal theory is that genius in the extreme IQ with creativity form IS mental illness. It’s just that some of us Odds are lucky enough to be able to keep it at a level where we can cope with a world that doesn’t really want us.

            1. Momma would talk about what she called functional insanity. I was never so sure about how functional the functional was, but as that branch of the family ran towards the practice of medicine people seemed to tolerate a lot.

              1. Yup. That’s about right. If you’re crazy but the neighbors aren’t trying to kill you or throw you in a nuthouse, you’re functional insane.

  23. We have one kid who is a genius, and one kid who is merely quite bright. Guess which one will have the much easier life? Spot on. Guess which one will be able to work well with people, and who is gifted at reading people, and not too shabby with languages. Spot on.
    More to the point, there’s already research in animal land on working on a single-point breeding program (breeding for one trait to the exclusion of all others.) It works great for a couple of generations. And then you get the the third generation. You have animals that are physiclaly unwell, that are unable to live because their neurotransmitters send them crazy, or that end up being really, really, wrong. Often the problems show up as neurological because that’s a system that doesn’t have much give. Or immunological, or reproductive. For a booklength treatise on some of what happens with a single-point breeding program, Temple Grandin’s “Animals in Translation” has several fine horror stories, including the psychopathic killer chickens.
    That’s not even going into the fact that the tech isn’t there. I’m not even making predictions about thirty years out – I’ve learned that when you say “fifteen years out” for anything medical or biological, what you’re really saying is, “I think we need at least two breakthroughs that could be Nobel Prize quality, and I think that they might come in this field in time to advance the tech in the next fifteen years.” But what do you know – the breakthroughs come in an entirely different area, and raise still more questions.
    I get so impatient (one of my faults) with the folks who think having more people of genius-level intelligence in specific areas will suddenly solve all our problems. Still people. Still prone to error. Still in need of grace.

    1. “psychopathic killer chickens”

      I think I saw that movie. Didn’t Mel Gibson provide one of the voices?

      On other points, agreed. Only the not actually very bright would think intelligence was something you could breed for.

        1. There is an association between profound giftedness and head trauma: some things that usually reduce intelligence are met instead with a response of hypertrophy. There is probably a genetic component to intelligence, but a high proportion of the profoundly gifted have recovered from brain trauma early in life, or birth complications. We’re overclocked.

          1. Older kid says the difference between high IQ and genius IQ is often epigenetic. Mind you, right now the kid is in love with epigenetics, so if you ask him why the cats are annoying, he’ll say “it’s epigenetic” — but it doesn’t mean it’s not right 😉

            On weird head trauma effects — concussion made me start to draw. Go figure.

            1. Heh. I have fallen on my head twice. Once from a pony when I was about twelve, no injury though (hey, protective helmets do work), didn’t even get a headache. And once, when I was very small, from a sofa. Was too young to remember the sofa incident, according to what my mother once told me I was standing on it and fell on the floor, on my face.

              1. Pft. I fell back and cracked my head on the footboard of my parents’ bed at age 2 (thank goodness it was rounded), fell about 6 feet and landed flat, hitting my head on the wooden sideboard of the trampoline I was on at about age 10, dropped a rock, which I estimate was 30 pounds or so on the back of my head at about the same age (I was trying to throw it in the creek and my hands separated when I drew back over my head to throw it), and stood up beneath the support beam of a cargo conveyor at about age 32. Did it affect me? No way! Wait – what was the question?

                1. I think the correlation between giftedness and head trauma is the same correlation between giftedness and clumsiness/bad eyesight. If I’d had better eyesight when younger, and hence better hand/eye coordination, I never would have been smacked in the eye with a baseball or fallen off my bike onto my head. And if I’d been better at predicting other people’s thoughts and actions and quicker in reactions, I never would have had my ankle under the seesaw when the other kid jumped off.

                  So… yeah, I’m doubting this one. I was smart before I got the head trauma and smart afterward. But I learned valuable lessons about not trusting the forces of physics to behave with unnatural kindness.

    2. In the breeding of cattle the rule is the same as running computer backups… “Grandfather, Father, Son.” You can use a bull for the first, second and third gen, then get a new bull that is not closely related to your existing genetic lines. Otherwise you’ll have LOTS of problems! We’ve observed that the chicken industry is beginning to have problems with genetics (based on the defects of the birds we’ve been getting.) Maybe chicken breeders aren’t as smart as cattle breeders? Perhaps the low entry costs allow lower knowledge levels? We assume too much inbreeding, and are planning to switch to Father, Son – new rooster from a different hatchery. this is a “son” year – and we noticed some genetic flaws in his generation – so we’ll be breeding him mostly to get freezer filler.

      Perhaps if the story of Noah and the Ark is true, especially the part about having only 8 people on the boat, that would explain a lot about today’s people? (There’s also the possibility that, since Noah was rich enough to build the boat, and Mrs Noah would have had a household staff and shepherds & such who were on the boat but who weren’t worth mentioning in the story as they were beneath The Family in precedence…?)

      1. My older son assures me that genetically we show signs of more than one such bottlenecks, one at least where it’s hard to tell, but it looks like there were only a dozen of so people. Same, btw, for the domestic cat. (!) I think it was the spaceship that crash landed on Earth and… (Runs.)

        1. The SF writers who display way more creepy intuition than common sense – Keith Roberts, Walter M. Miller Jr. – wrote worlds in which there were non-natural catastrophes in our past that obliterated advanced civilizations and all signs of them, past apocalyptic wars. I know that Super-Mega volcanos and asteroids were supposed to have done the bottleneck, but they just can’t match the apparent bottlenecks with real natural disasters.

        2. You are talking about the Mitochondria DNA evidence? Mitochondra have unique DNA which is only inherited only from the mother, so any changes that show up are random mutations that appear at a statistically regular rate. Any differences between isolated populations can be used to estimate, by the “standard” rate of mutation to give a good idea of how long since the populations were divided. Using this model there was a pronouncement that humans came from a very small population of around 8 or so females since using this model to estimate the mDNA could be shown to converge at a similar focal point at a single time. I was never clear if this was indication of a limited basal stock or if it was an actual population bottleneck, but I never followed it up.
          I suppose it could be argued either that the we came from a very limited initial pool, or that it has been chlorinated regularly.

          But I thought studies of European/mediterranian wild cats showed that although there was a gradual genetic transition along the whole range from N. Europe to N. Africa, but that domestic cats mostly showed similarity to N. African wild cats, with some inclusions from different areas in Europe: so that the bottleneck was only with the domesticated side, not the general population. Cheetahs, on the other hand show a severe bottleneck.
          Speaking of genetics and intellegence and cats, though, there is a definite link between the physical features of the coon cats (and the Norwegian forest cat) and high intellegince and serious attitude problem.

          1. I don’t know. My issue is I glaze halfway through son’s lectures. (Look, you would too.) He announced the other day that his new online friend is willing to listen to his loony mix of quantum physics and philosophy and I sent up heartfelt prayers of thanks, because — though he’s not aspergers, and knows he’s boring you — he’ll expound at length to get it clear in his head. I should get him a stuffed-animal with a really attentive face. Who says 21 year olds don’t need inanimate friends.

            1. I heard a noise. I thought it was the cat having a hair ball. I looked around. Then I realized that we no longer have a cat. It had come from me.

                1. When The Daughter was six she regaled me with a full two hour lecture on the nature of space and multipul universes. How am I sure it was two hours? That is how long it took to get from home to Discovery Place in Charlotte. I hate to think what it would have been had she a greater knowledge base available at the time.

        3. I loved to read Ancient Astronauts books at one time. Then daydream about finding a still functional interstellar spaceship mothballed in some cave somewhere. Wouldn’t that be something?

                1. I could just daydream about traveling somewhere where there were caves or old mines. Not many of either around here (after all the glaciations the bedrock we have is mostly very hard rocks, like granites) so I couldn’t go exploring. 🙂

                1. Yeah, welcome to the family Pohjalainen. You finally found us. 😉 Now you know why they seeded us all over the world. They were afraid we’d get together and take over 😉 (They didn’t realize we’d spend a ton more time drinking beer and making bad puns.)

                  1. Aha.

                    So if your blog mysteriously disappears at some point I should maybe get worried? (Emerging threat gets eliminated… scary music goes here)

          1. It’s very close to the pleasure we take in “Ugly Duckling” and “lost heir” stories, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ve already read and enjoyed “Courtship Rite” and “Assignment in Eternity.”

            1. Heinlein yes, but not the other. The selections available in local book stores have always been rather meager, the biggest English language science fiction and fantasy section was in one Helsinki store and it has usually been usually three or four low bookcases, shelving on both sides. There was one store specializing in science fiction and fantasy in Stockholm old town, may still exist, but since those were what I had before internet existed I missed a lot. Translations have never been made much of anything except from the really high profile and preferably bestselling stories.

        4. Clearly, those space aliens trapped some apes and, using those genes the Chinese are searching for, seeded the planet with the start of a new intelligent being. Pity most of the hair fell off.

          But what will happen when the Chinese biologists start playing with those alien genes?

              1. Odd, most of the ones I’ve seen have been for families in Mexico or near South America. Maybe it’s interview opportunities?

                  1. I figure they released their experimental apes across the Atlantic. Close enough to check on, enough water to keep them away if they turned dangerous. I’ve wondered if they didn’t try to terraform, er, Alienaform Australia. Would explain a lot of the fauna, except the Platypus, who may be the last remnants of the formerly sentient aliens.

    3. “More to the point, there’s already research in animal land on working on a single-point breeding program (breeding for one trait to the exclusion of all others.) It works great for a couple of generations. And then you get the the third generation. You have animals that are physiclaly unwell, that are unable to live because their neurotransmitters send them crazy, or that end up being really, really, wrong. Often the problems show up as neurological because that’s a system that doesn’t have much give. Or immunological, or reproductive. ”

      For a plethora of excellent examples of this look at show dogs, or other animals bred for show. The English Bulldog is the best example I can think of off hand, they have been bred for a single-point, their looks until they are a man-made breed that is physically incapable of naturally reproducing. This is why if you want a physically and mentally healthy dog you should either opt for a mongrel, or one from working strain of a working breed of dogs. While the latter may have extensive line-breeding and some inbreeding, because the offspring are used for work they need to not only be physically healthy, but mentally capable of being trained, and are generally bred for a wide variety of traits. Inbreeding and linebreeding doubles up on genes, strengthening traits both good and bad, if done scientifically it is used to strengthen the desirable traits, and those undesireable are culled from the breeding program.
      I could go on about this for days, but I’ll shut up now that most of your eyes have glazed over, for those of you still interested you should check out Leon F. Whitney’s books on breeding, both How To Breed Dogs, and The Basis Of Breeding are excellent resources, even if dated.

  24. Probably influenced by some of what I have been seeing in the British Press recently, today’s blog post infuses me with the image of Baldrick at the head of the Chinese Party informing the Politburo that he has a cunning plan.

      1. Why wouldn’t they?

        Though “Byeeeee….” is so depressing I usually switch to something else rather than watch it.

        1. They might have to study for midterms or have tax work, or something. Our house has been no fun lately. No nerf-sword dueling on the stairs, no foam disk shooting. NOTHING.

          1. Tangential to that, some knowledge to share: we discovered some years ago, completely by accident, that 3/4″ schedule 40 PVC is exactly the right internal diameter for the classic Nerf suction darts. I’ve plans to make a PVC air rifle based on that, but in the mean time a short piece of 3/4″ makes a fantastic blowgun. 🙂

          1. If not, do not watch without a large stock of tissues and a willingness to cry a lot.

            It’s still a damn good movie.

            1. In spite of how some would criticize the British High Command, they valued their own troops’ lives as casually as they did the ANZAC troops who died at that forlorn beachhead. Which, admittedly, is like saying the Nazis treated the Reform Jews no better than they treated the Orthodox.

              1. Oh yes. They weren’t particularly anti-Australian. Just hidebound desk jockeys who were most kindly described as incompetent.

                1. I recommend the book “The Donkeys” by Alan Clark about the leadership problems the British had during the early stages of WWI (1914-1915).

            2. Gallipoli leaves me feeling mournful and a bit angry. The parts work together, drawing you into a time and place that is no longer. It is a beautifully realized film.

              1. It is. It’s got to be 30 years since I last saw it and it still gives me goosebumps to think about it.

                1. If any of you find yourselves in the vicinity of Kansas city MO, a worthwhile way to spend a whole day would be the WW I Monument and Museum. Lots of interactives, life-sized dioramas, and historical stuff! My wife took me there as a surprise birthday thing last year. And I got to add to the docent crew’s general knowledge on at least one subject – the American Mark I torpedo and why it didn’t work very well. (And learned that the problem persisted clear through to the mark 6!)

      2. The BBC sells the soundtracks to the shows. WONDERFUL for driving around town, with certain obvious potential problems.

        While you miss the hilarious visual takes, that is offset by focusing attention on the superbly tight scripting and line-readings.

  25. Think of the old SF trope about interstellar travel: the first ship launched, traveling at some small fraction of c, is likely to be overtaken by a ship launched some years later travelling at a larger fraction of c. I think the most likely significance of any project to give birth to geniuses starting in 9 months or so, even if it happens to succeed on its own terms, is that it’s not very important because within 25 years other sources of intelligence (either more radical sources of engineered biointelligence, or just plain strong AI based on electronics not neurons) are likely to pull far ahead.

    However, while I doubt any create-geniuses part of BGI work will amount to much, I also doubt the project is as confused as Vice might want you to think. The project might become that confused: it’s a political project, and a politics in any big organization can become astonishingly stupid. But what gets through the media can also be astonishingly distorted, esp. on topics where the reporters overwhelmingly don’t have the technical background to understand key facts, overwhelmingly have a political agenda that motivates them to obscure other key facts, and overwhelmingly believe themselves in some key facts that are false.

    Consider: when the media report a study about e.g. how people’s incomes tend to be correlated with their parents’ incomes, how often don’t they pointedly slide past ordinary individual genetic heritability? By choosing this slide, they get to report the politically delicious conclusion that it follows logically that our society is full of subtle but significant counterproductive barriers to people’s advancement. That seems to be a hard temptation for journalists to resist.

    Now consider what’s involved in media reliably giving in to this temptation. It’s insufficient just to believe in negligible individual genetic heritability of relevant psychological characteristics like optimism, intelligence, and time preference. They also have to not think about how physical health and height are uncontroversially heritable, and that those alone could influence financial outcomes sufficiently strongly that they ought to be controlled for. (In fact, I think that’d be fascinating, and I speak for shorties everywhere!) It’s impressive that so many journalists can be so reliably incurious.

    So. Credentials and capabilities are very imperfectly correlated, yes. But a western journalist’s edited interview is weak evidence for how such a project is confused. Might there be other evidence? Steve Hsu seems to have enough of a connection to BGI that ideas he blogs almost certainly are “in the air” there. He has written posts like and . I conclude that Vice leading smart readers to confidently conclude “China is looking for geniuses by credential” likely has more to do with Western journalists’ political dysfunction than with Chinese political or cultural dysfunction.

    1. “Think of the old SF trope about interstellar travel: the first ship launched, traveling at some small fraction of c, is likely to be overtaken by a ship launched some years later travelling at a larger fraction of c.”

      I have an unpublished short titled “Outside” that uses that… but it’s not a story for the kiddies…

    2. In the book The Millionaire Next Door, which is really a study of millionaires, the conclusion was that millionairs were, by and large, first generation wealthy, their kids did not do as well, and rarely did the money stick around to the third generation. The only variation on that was Scots-descendants, who seemed to have a generational attitude about thrift. I’ll trust that statistician over the news-head who is invested in the idea that wealth is generational and gobs of education is the route to great wealth.
      Great book, by the way. very readable.

  26. So. The Chinese government determines what genes are most “desirable” and they start analyzing in vitro fetuses and implanting the best of any given lot?

    (1) This is expensive. How many, otherwise unnecessary, procedures are they going to do?
    (2) In western practice, multiple embryos are implanted, in hopes that one will take. Do they really want more multiple births? And how many of the embryos are likely to meet their criteria?
    (3) So if they implant only one embryo at a time, there’s going to be even more failures, and then more attempts . . . Really, they’d be better off following the practices of old fashioned agriculture.

    All in all, it’s more fun to explore the ramifications in fiction, than in real life. But I suspect it won’t go far. Too expensive.

    1. (1) More importantly, how many necessary (or at least desirable) procedures will they not do? Any time a surgical team spends on an unnecessary procedure is time (and operating theatre) not available for something more useful.

  27. My first thought when reading that article was “this is *so* not a threat.” I was shocked that so many people in the comments seemed to think that this would work. (I think that the only comment I made was in reply to someone who portrayed the movie GATTACA as showing that this would work and if we wanted to compete we’d better get on the ball. Must have been a different movie than the one I saw.)

    I had thought that the selection process described involved identifying the sequences and then doing in-vitro processes for a couple, getting the fertilized egg to several cell divisions and then testing them and choosing to implant the one (or few, I suppose) that had the best chance of being smart. The babies would be the children of parents, just the same as normally, only the smarter babies. (And destroy all the rejects, I suppose.) Again, I thought, good luck with that. If the idea is to improve the national IQ this seems economically unfeasible. This is a huge, expensive process just to get (according to the article) a 15 point IQ increase.

    Which leaves boutique babies for the very rich who still only get to have one. (Remember that thing where a rich man in China sued because his very pretty wife (plastic surgery) had a very ugly child?) Or a plan to normalize going to this clinic for people below a certain intelligence level and then do a cuckoo’s egg thing.

    The OTHER thing that jumped out at me was that the Chinese were soliciting Asians and Europeans and other than the shock that someone would actually give their genetic material for who knows what experiments, made me wonder at the blatant racism of it all. I’m as anti-PC as a person can be without being a genuine racist and I couldn’t quite imagine not noticing the white supremacist (or at least 2nd to best) aspects. Ick.

    1. I get the sense, from what little I can follow of Chinese cultural trends and history, that the Han are more culturist than racist, or were until after the 1970s. That is, members of the most successful cultures (Han, of course, but some Europeans and other Asians) are more desirable than members of “failed” cultures (the old non-tributary barbarians who were too dense to realize how great the Middle Kingdom truly was). Add a slug of culture=destiny=race and you get their current hierarchy. And who among proper leftists would dare question the priorities and practices of a non-European culture, especially one that had been victimized like the Chinese have?

    2. Must have been a different movie than the one I saw.

      It’s freaking terrifying how often movies I thought were obviously cautionary are brought up as things to aim for.

      1. What terrifies me is that ANYBODY over the age of 9 might think that because a thing was portrayed in a movie it might be a) possible b) a good idea.

        We could start a list of obviously impossible movie things but
        a) there are already sites dedicated to that (e.g., )
        b) we would end up with another kilocomment

        So let’s just say that special effects are special for a reason.

      2. I’ve decided recently that Mayor Bloomberg of NYC is obviously trying to emulate Dr. Cocteau from Demolition Man. He equally obviously didn’t watch the movie all the way through.

  28. Thought you might appreciate this…

    I was visiting with a friend’s son as he was searching for online schools, and he said, “You have got to hear these people,” and handed the phone to me. I picked up and heard “–best-rounded technical education online. Your students have a top-of-the-line Dell running up-to-the-minute Vista, programming with Visual Basic .NET on the back end and an Oracle server behind that. We teach Flash-based web design optimized for Internet Explorer 6, and a thorough grounding of marketing-based communication that squeezes out the full power of PowerPoint. Throw in an MCSE, and–”

    I cut in. “Excuse me, but what is your organization CALLED?”

    The recruiter seemed surprised. “The Aristocrats.”

  29. And because – particularly the very smart – will ONLY learn what they’re really interested in, this means none of them will be a genius across the board, and often can approach slow in some things.

    I think the nice way to say it is that being really smart is associated with being “willful.” The not-nice way of saying it is that if you’re smart, there’s a good chance you’re an ass until and unless you’re taught not to be.

    Note: I believe almost everyone is an ass until they’re taught not to be, and that’s why we have civilization. The only reason I say “almost everyone” is because I can’t picture a couple of cousins being impolite even as infants. It kinda makes sense that the stuff that works on folks who think this way rather than that way wouldn’t work on folks who think that way rather than this way.
    Example: I can still remember how very mad I was when I couldn’t get my mom to understand my question when I was asking her how “A” and “B” are spelled; I meant how do you spell the way you say their names– like “zee” vs “zed” in American vs Canadian English. If that happens a lot, you’re going to have a different view of folks than if almost everyone is almost always able to answer the question you mean.

  30. But also, and more importantly, geniuses tend to be Odds, which means they range from not fitting into any given human group to making other people run screaming. Reading other people is NOT usually an ability of the highly gifted, either, which means in anything involving others they’re likely to be kept out in the cold.

    Star Trek: Deep Space 9 got that pretty right with their manufactured smart folks– Bashir was the most normal and well adjusted of the group. The guy who, if he wasn’t utterly adorable, would’ve been a total outcast and was silly enough to trust Garak….

  31. Took reading a whole bunch of the comments here before a little lightbulb came up and said:
    If the folks designing this were really so smart, wouldn’t they just pair up the smartest people they could find and give them an As Many Babies As You Want, We’ll Pay card?

    Then, if it’s a genetic thing, you’ve got a roughly one in four chance of getting it– and if it’s genetics combined with womb environment, you’ve got a pretty good chance, too.
    I KNOW that IVF kids have a higher rate of “issues,” although I don’t know if anyone’s controlled for if that may be part of why their parents went to IVF in the first place….

    1. Heck with that. Why wouldn’t they just give smart people a fabulous long resort vacation with other smart people? Hold a month-long convention with lots of books and sightseeing and art stuff and movies and hanging out, pay for the weddings, and then sit back and look smug while the kiddies come along.

      Of course, they’d have to risk revolution as well as weddings and babies, but that’s where you find out if they’re really patriots who want smart Chinese more than personal glory.

      1. Not enough controlling people.

        I can accept the whole “we want to manage all the details” thing– I can’t accept letting that get in the way of the entire POINT of the thing they way the genetic manipulation does. It’s a waste that actually harms the point, never mind that I think the best results would be had by treating folks decently.

      2. I thought that’s what Silicon Valley was, to some extent. ‘Course, I suppose the Chinese wouldn’t want to leave it to companies attracting top talent and letting them socialize with each other. Too capitalistic, not controlled enough…

  32. Isn’t this what the Chinese have been doing for thousands of years with the whole traditional Chinese Determine-The-Course-Of-Your-Entire-Life-Examinations, the results of which determined how much status and power you would get in life, the highest scorers getting put on track for high level slots in the bureaucracy with all the perks and social status to their families, and the resulting advantages to their children? It’s been my understanding that each subsequent generation of those elite were expected to uphold the family honor by continuing to score well in future examinations, thus in theory incentivizing the notional selective breeding result.

    Now obviously testing isn’t intelligence, and I gather those tests ended up as massive regurgitation of memorized stuff fests rather than any kind of dynamic assessment of potential, but if there was anything to this type breed-for-trait social engineering efforts, after said thousands of years the Chinese should have an amazing pool of talented memorizationalists* (is so a word) in the descendants of the bureaucrats – at least those who managed to survive since the Emperor Mao took power.

    I know very little about animal or plant selective breeding, but the one thing I recall is the absolute requirement for ruthless culling of any nonconforming offspring. I think any family/clan centered society would vigorously resist any such culling of that families offspring out of pure family self interest. Perhaps that’s why all these clever plans never quite work out.

    * I have read the research that says modern humans have only pitiful atrophied remnants of the massive memorization skills our ancestors had to have had, just to keep stuff like all of Homer’s poems in memory, for example.

    1. * I have read the research that says modern humans have only pitiful atrophied remnants of the massive memorization skills our ancestors had to have had, just to keep stuff like all of Homer’s poems in memory, for example.

      I’d have to disagree– one, we don’t train memory like we use to, two, not everybody would remember all of the stuff, and three, how on earth would you put measure on all the things we do memorize today but don’t think about as “memorizing”? Spelling, grammar, allusions, scientific rules… and a lot of stuff that doesn’t have the same kinda flow as poetry, too. (I don’t know if I’m different than other folks, but I memorize stuff that flows in some kind of pattern a LOT more easily– rhyme, related meaning or rhythm of words, all works.

      1. My thinking as well, Foxfier. Memorizing large chinks of verse is not as hard as it seems and is largely a matter of practice. Modern civilization relies on people remembering far larger maps, for example, as well as the operating rules for a panoply of equipment. What we memorize is much more diverse, such that comparison is difficult.

        In my youth I had to take speech therapy which, in part, involved weekly memorization of poems for recitation. It is a learnable skill, one used extensively by those of our troops who love to Kipple, for example. I suspect that we all frequently find ourselves able to recall significant portions of popular songs as well as the plots and characters of many old TV series, films, novels, short stories and comic books (anybody able to keep up with Marvel continuity is demonstrating memorization skills nearly as remarkable as the object of their employment is deplorable.)

        1. My brother and I used to talk entirely in quotes at the dinner table and drive our parents up the wall. Part of this was that we’d read EXACTLY the same stuff growing up, a weird mix of Asterix comics, classical literature, Enid Blyton and pulp sf. To anyone who didn’t have the precise range of reference we had — aka, our parents, who had read more of some things, less of the others, or just differently — our conversation was not understandable.
          I’m paying for my sins. My kids talk in memes, movie references and game allusions — on purpose, just like we did — to be impenetrable.

          1. A lot of the memory stuff the ancients and medievals did was “memory palace” stuff, where you file info and quotes by using your locational memory for places, except the “place” is a landscape or building in your head. They also used weird imagery a lot. It really is less about memorization than filing the info where you can get at it (like when making an extempore speech).

            Pretty much all illustrated medieval books were apparently designed to optimize memorization/organization of info. That’s what all the illustrations and doodles were for.

            1. Interesting. Not being visual per-se, and being completely able to get lost in my own living room (I think Baen should have a lostaton for charity. Drop Dave Drake and I in the middle of a strange city and have cameras follow us as we try to find our way back. Donations increase the longer we stay lost — trust me, at ten hours they’d have to send a car for us. We’d NEVER get out by our wits alone.) I’d just get lost in my memory palace.
              One of the worst experiences from my high school days, was remembering the page the info I needed was on, including pictures, colors, number of the page — but not being able to zoom close enough to read it.

  33. If they’re measuring genius by credential, then they’re going to be scammed by a bunch of con-artists waving fancy pieces of paper around. If they’re trying to breed a better calculator (memorize, calculate, recall), I’m still convinced that we can build ’em faster than we can breed ’em.

    As for myself, I’m the pattern-matching type of smart. Be it machinery, data, people, or nature, if there’s a recurrent pattern to be found, I’ll find it. (How I exploit it depends on how nice I’m feeling.)

    Just don’t leave me alone in a room too long or I’ll start outlining things in the wood grain. When I pointed out to my mother that the kitchen cabinets depicted demons cavorting through hell, it unnerved her so much (because once she saw it, she couldn’t stop seeing it) that the cabinet doors were replaced with flat-colored ones the week after.

  34. Yeah, having tested higher the Einstein sure hasn’t helped me out any.

    Better off than perhaps the smartest guy I’ve ever met. He is also purely the craziest person I’ve met. He was a an engineer for GM and when something they released before he said it was ready didn’t work, they blamed him and he fell over the edge (I take it he was never that far from that edge anyhow). When I knew him he would go about a year doing fine (taking his meds) then he’d start to look more and more like Rasputin(he’d get tire of the side effects and stop taking them), and the owner of the bike shop I worked at would ban him, 3 to 6 months after that he’d disappear for a time and when he returned he’d look normal, come in and apologize to the boss and start buying stuff.
    He made a light system for his wheels that is the only thing I’ve ever looked at … quite closely … that I, to this day, don’t fully understand how it works. I would have had to undo too much of his work to see everything about it most likely. I now have some ideas, but I’m not positive.

  35. > I also clean like a demon and run

    I read this too quickly and saw “I like demon rum”.

    Which didn’t particularly match my stereotype of Latin women, but I was willing to admit that I haven’t know THAT many of them. 😉

      1. Or maybe Scottish– my dad loves Kraken, especially in coffee, and all the other points sound like my grandmother. (His dad was English…largely….)

        Can you drink scotch? And would you maim someone who tried to add water to it?

      2. > BTW, Kraken?

        Accept no substitute!

        …although I’ll be forced to deal with Baccardi soon because Friday Night Drinking Buddy is a whiny little b – uh – has strong preferences. 😉

  36. ‘Saltational Development’. Do you have any references on this? I’m finding Saltational Evolution, but I feel like I’m missing something here.

    Your description matches, exactly, how I learn creative things, from art to crafts to writing. (I’m not, in any way, a genius. If it isn’t artistic or language related it’s a real struggle for me to understand, especially math and the hard sciences.) I’ll work until I plateau, set it aside for anywhere from three months to a year, feel ‘ready’ to do it again, and when I pick whatever I was working on up I’ve massively improved. (Most recently from cartoonish drawing to the beginnings of photo realism.) I’ve tried to explain this to people, but no one seems to believe me. Thank you for bringing this up! You make me feel a lot less crazy to see I’m not the only person doing it.

    1. It’s in Mensa’s reference materials for parents of gifted children, or it was when I last looked — mumble, mumble, mumble 18 years ago.

      I’d like to get past the cartoonish in art myself. for now I’m in the plateau…

      1. I’m not really sure it is particularly related to being gifted (just my opinion), but probably more related to being the type of person who percolates things in the back of the mind on a running basis. Another blog hostess I read has been living in Italy for the past year or two, and had been struggling mightily in getting her Italian down so she didn’t embarrass herself, but after she took a vacation back to the States, when she went back her Italian had vastly improved.

        As for something as varied as art, besides a complete hiatus, a change in style can probably perform the same function.

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