Tag Archives | Intelligence

Even If You Are an Atheist, You Worship Something …

From the late great David Foster Wallace:

Because here’s something else that’s true. In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshiping. Everybody worships.

The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of God or spiritual-type thing to worship — be it J.C. or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some in-frangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive.

If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.

Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you.

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Translation Machine To Make Human-Dolphin Conversations Possible

flipperWhat secrets of the sea have dolphins been waiting to tell us? We may soon find out (hopefully not just tuna jokes). New Scientist reports:

A diver carrying a computer that tries to recognize dolphin sounds and generate responses in real time will soon attempt to communicate with wild dolphins off the coast of Florida. If the bid is successful, it will be a big step towards two-way communication between humans and dolphins.

Since the 1960s, captive dolphins have been communicating via pictures and sounds. In the 1990s, Louis Herman of the Kewalo Basin Marine Mammal Laboratory in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that bottlenose dolphins can keep track of over 100 different words. They can also respond appropriately to commands in which the same words appear in a different order, understanding the difference between “bring the surfboard to the man” and “bring the man to the surfboard”, for example.

But communication in most of these early experiments was one-way, says Denise Herzing, founder of the Wild Dolphin Project in Jupiter, Florida.

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UK Court Bans Man With Low IQ From Having Sex

No SexMartin Beckford writes in the Telegraph:

A man with a low IQ has been banned from having sex by a High Court judge who admitted the case raised questions about “civil liberties and personal autonomy”.

The 41 year-old had been in a relationship with a man whom he lived with and told officials “it would make me feel happy” for it to continue. But his local council decided his “vigorous sex drive” was inappropriate and that with an IQ of 48 and a “moderate” learning disability, he did not understand what he was doing.

A psychiatrist involved in the case even tried to prevent the man being given sex education, on the grounds that it would leave him “confused”. Mr Justice Mostyn said the case was “legally, intellectually and morally” complex as sex is “one of the most basic human functions” and the court must “tread especially carefully” when the state tries to curtail it.

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Why Rich Parents Don’t Matter

Annie& Daddy WarbucksInteresting article from Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal:

How much do the decisions of parents matter? Most parents believe that even the most mundane acts of parenting — from their choice of day care to their policy on videogames — can profoundly influence the success of their children. Kids are like wet clay, in this view, and we are the sculptors.

Yet in tests measuring many traits, from intelligence to self-control, the power of the home environment pales in comparison to the power of genes and peer groups. We may think we’re sculptors, but the clay is mostly set.

A new paper suggests that both metaphors can be true. Which one is relevant depends, it turns out, on the economic status of families.

For a paper in Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia looked at 750 pairs of American twins who were given a test of mental ability at the age of 10 months and then again at the age of 2.

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Daniel Ellsberg: “Every Attack Now Made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange Was Made Against Me and The Release of the Pentagon Papers at the Time”

Daniel Ellsberg in 2006. Photo: Jacob Appelbaum (CC)

Daniel Ellsberg in 2006. Photo: Jacob Appelbaum (CC)

Via Daniel Ellsberg’s Website:

Ex-Intelligence Officers, Others See Plusses in WikiLeaks Disclosures

WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments.

How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that’s right, Russia’s Pravda): “What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic … After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when … government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. …”

So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth.

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Are Bacteria Far More Intelligent Than We Realize?

mmw_prokaryote_1110Bacteria can distinguish “self” from “other,” and between their relatives and strangers. They can communicate, prey in packs, and have social intelligence. Are microbes far more sentient than we give them credit for? Miller-McCune writes:

Strictly by the numbers, the vast majority — estimated by many scientists at 90 percent — of the cells in what you think of as your body are actually bacteria, not human cells. In fact, most of the life on the planet is probably composed of bacteria.

These facts by themselves may trigger existential shock: People are partly made of pond scum. But beyond that psychic trauma, a new and astonishing vista unfolds. In a series of recent findings, researchers describe bacteria that communicate in sophisticated ways, take concerted action, influence human physiology, alter human thinking and work together to bioengineer the environment. These findings may foreshadow new medical procedures that encourage bacterial participation in human health.

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Smart People Sleep Late

SleepingInteresting article from Robert Alison in the Winnipeg Free Press earlier in the year:

Sleep is a fundamental component of animal biology. New evidence confirms that, in humans, its timing reflects intelligence. People with higher IQ’s (intelligence quotients) tend to be more active nocturnally, going to bed later, whereas those with lower IQ’s usually retire to bed sooner after nightfall.

The precise function of sleep is arguable. But, accumulating evidence shows that lack of sleep in humans and animals can result in obesity, high blood pressure and reduced life spans. Drowsiness impairs mental performance. For instance, 37 per cent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by drowsy motorists, according to a University of Pennsylvania study. Even minor sleep deficiencies impact on body chemistry.

According to Juliette Faraco of Stanford University, sleep loss generates a proportionate need for “sleep rebound”. One of the most controversial and significant recent findings is the correlation in humans between the earliness/lateness of sleep preferences and intelligence.

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Collective Intelligence: Number of Women in Groups Linked to Effectiveness in Solving Difficult Problems

I must admit, I considered facetiously titling this “Women Are Collectivists, and Collectivism Works.”  From ScienceDaily:

Many social scientists have long contended that the ability of individuals to fare well on diverse cognitive tasks demonstrates the existence of a measurable level of intelligence in each person. In a study published Sept. 30, in the advance online issue of the journal Science, the researchers applied a similar principle to small teams of people. They discovered that groups featuring the right kind of internal dynamics perform well on a wide range of assignments, a finding with potential applications for businesses and other organizations.

“We set out to test the hypothesis that groups, like individuals, have a consistent ability to perform across different kinds of tasks,” says Anita Williams Woolley, the paper’s lead author and an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business. “Our hypothesis was confirmed,” continues Thomas W.

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