Meanwhile, down on the Farm

The Spring 2017 issue of the Stanford Medical School magazine has a special theme: Sex, Gender, and Medicine. I recommend the article excerpted below to journalists covering the Google Manifesto / James Damore firing. After reading it, they can decide for themselves whether his memo is based on established neuroscience or bro-pseudoscience. Perhaps top Google …

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In the matter of James Damore, ex-Googler

James Damore, Harvard PhD* in Systems Biology, and (until last week) an engineer at Google, was fired for writing this memo: Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber, which dares to display the figure above. Here is Damore’s brief summary of his memo (which contains many citations to original scientific research), and the conclusion: Google’s political bias has …

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Genetic variation in Han Chinese population

Largest component of genetic variation is a N-S cline (phenotypic N-S gradient discussed here). Variance accounted for by second (E-W) PC vector is much smaller and the Han population is fairly homogeneous in genetic terms: …while we revealed East-to-West structure among the Han Chinese, the signal is relatively weak and very little structure is discernible …

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Scientific Consensus on Cognitive Ability?

From the web site of the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR): a summary of the recent debate involving Charles Murray, Sam Harris, Richard Nisbett, Eric Turkheimer, Paige Harden, Razib Khan, Bo and Ben Winegard, Brian Boutwell, Todd Shackelford, Richard Haier, and a cast of thousands! ISIR is the main scientific society for researchers of …

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Comey under oath: no obstruction of justice

Almost everything we hear from the media these days is simply motivated reasoning — i.e., partisan nonsense. Wikipedia: …When people form and cling to false beliefs despite overwhelming evidence, the phenomenon is labeled “motivated reasoning”. In other words, “rather than search rationally for information that either confirms or disconfirms a particular belief, people actually seek out information …

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Walter Pitts and Neural Nets

Pitts is one of the least studied geniuses of the early information age. See also Wikipedia, Nautil.us. Cabinet Magazine: There are no biographies of Walter Pitts, and any honest discussion of him resists conventional biography. Pitts was among the original participants in the mid-century cybernetics conferences, though he began his association with that group of …

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Will and Power

The claim that one has a fixed budget of will power or self-discipline (“ego depletion“) may be yet another non-replicating “result” of shoddy social science. Note that the ego depletion claim refers to something like a daily budget of will power that can be used up, whereas Jocko is also referring to the development of …

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Decoding Genius podcast

I’m interviewed in episode 2 of this podcast. ABOUT THE DECODING GENIUS PODCAST What exactly is a Genius? Are they born that way or can you become a genius? The world is now so interconnected that a single genius, whether a young Aussie creating mind-controlled machines or a ten year old building a high tech …

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Food Dreams

I think that food dreams might be the next big growth area for cognitive food studies. Both regular readers of the Thornapple Blog are now expecting me to launch into a tedious discussion of exactly what “cognitive food studies” could possibly mean, and I hate to disappoint them. The growing number of academic types who …

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Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko)

Genetics, Cognitive Ability, and Education (conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko) Further conversation with Cambridge PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko concerning genetics of cognitive ability, implications for education policy, etc. See also earlier conversation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVqkvHpLfuQ Dunedin paper referenced in the video (polygenic score prediction of adult success for different SES groups): http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2016/09/genomic-prediction-of-adult-life.html Tweet

SMPY in Nature

No evidence of diminishing returns in the far tail of the cognitive ability distribution. How to raise a genius: lessons from a 45-year study of super-smart children (Nature) A long-running investigation of exceptional children reveals what it takes to produce the scientists who will lead the twenty-first century. Tom Clynes 07 September 2016 On a …

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The tipping point

This is only the beginning. To serious people who read this blog, but may have been confused over the past 5+ years about things like missing heritability, genomic prediction, complex genetic architecture, gloomy prospects: isn’t it about time to consider updating your priors? Read all about it here. FT.com: Genetic scoring predicts how children do …

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EQ, IQ, and all that

This Quora answer, from a pyschology professor who works on personality psychometrics, illustrates well the difference between rigorous and non-rigorous research in this area. Some years ago a colleague and I tried to replicate Duckworth’s findings on Grit, but to no avail, although IIRC our sample size was roughly as large as hers. In our …

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Roe’s scientists: original published papers

Gwern has provided scans of the original papers published by Anne Roe on studies of 64 eminent scientists. These papers include details concerning the selection of these individuals and the psychometric testing performed on them. Roe’s scientists — selected in their 40’s and 50’s for outstanding research contributions — scored much higher on a set …

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Flipping DNA switches

The recently published SSGAC study (Nature News) found 74 genome-wide significant hits related to educational attainment, using a discovery sample of ~300k individuals. The UK Biobank sample of ~110k individuals was used as a replication check of the results. If both samples are combined as a discovery sample 162 SNPs are identified at genome-wide significance. …

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74 SNP hits from SSGAC GWAS

The SSGAC discovery of 74 SNP hits on educational attainment (EA) is finally published in Nature. Nature News article. EA was used in order to assemble as large a sample as possible (~300k individuals). Specific cognitive scores are only available for a much smaller number of individuals. But SNPs associated with EA are likely to …

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This is for PZ Myers

Scott Alexander (Slate Star Codex), Garrett Jones (Hive Mind), and Razib Khan (GNXP) alerted me (via Twitter) of this post by PZ Myers. Myers is both confused and insulting in his blog post, but I’ll refrain from ad hominem attacks, and just focus on the science. Myers seems to think that humans with much better …

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Jonathan Haidt and Tyler Cowen

Highly recommended: a great conversation (transcript) between Tyler Cowen and NYU psychology professor Johnathan Haidt. More Haidt. The transformation of the Academy and the two universities: COWEN: But is it at least possibly the case that we’re seeing the greatest threat to intellectual diversity in some of the areas which matter least, and when the …

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Can Genius Be Genetically Engineered?

See you at the 92nd Street Y tomorrow (Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 8:15 pm)! With rapid advances in genome sequencing, genetic analysis and precision gene editing, it’s becoming ever more likely that embryo selection and genetic engineering could be used to optimize the intelligence of our future children. Although the complexities of genetics, the brain …

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One funeral at a time?

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. — Max Planck I’m at the annual AAU meeting of research Vice-Presidents, and the “reproducibility crisis” (in some fields) is …

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Cognitive Genomics Interview

This is a discussion with Cambridge University PhD candidate Daphne Martschenko. Topics covered include: genetics of cognition, group differences, genetic engineering. The NYC roundtable on genius she mentions is here. Blog readers may also be interested in this event at the 92nd Street Y (Thu, Mar 10, 2016, 8:15 pm, Location: Lexington Avenue at 92nd …

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The cult of genius?

In one of his early blog posts, Terence Tao (shown above with Paul Erdos in 1985) wrote Does one have to be a genius to do maths? The answer is an emphatic NO. In order to make good and useful contributions to mathematics, one does need to work hard, learn one’s field well, learn other …

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BBC interview with Robert Plomin

I recommend this BBC interview with Robert Plomin. Robert is a consummate gentleman and scholar, working in a field that inevitably attracts controversy. (Via Dominic Cummings.) Professor Robert Plomin talks to Jim Al-Khalili about what makes some people smarter than others and why he’s fed up with the genetics of intelligence being ignored. Born and …

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Income, wealth, and IQ

I’m occasionally asked about financial returns to cognitive ability. As a rough rule of thumb, judging from the graphs below (obtained here), I would say: On average, an increase of IQ by one SD corresponds to  ~ $30k per annum of additional income. (Somewhat less than 1 SD in income; the distribution is far from …

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How Do You Feel When Something Fails To Replicate?

Short Answer: I don’t know, I don’t care. There is an ongoing discussion about the health of psychological science and the relative merits of different research practices that could improve research. This productive discussion occasionally spawns a parallel conversation about the “psychology of the replicators” or an extended mediation about their motives, emotions, and intentions. …

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The Fourth Law of Behavior Genetics?

I believe the law stated below almost follows from the observation that humans brains are complex machines: hence the DNA blueprint has many components, and variance is spread over these components  :^) However, note the evidence for discrete genetic modules of large effect in other species: Discrete genetic modules can control complex behavior (burrowing behavior in …

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