Is autism just too much neuroplasticity?

Before I get to part 3 of my series high range tests, I wanted to quickly share my new theory on autism (or at least I think it’s new; maybe someone had similar ideas before).

When we are babies our brain begins to form a huge number of connections between neurons to help humans adapt to any environment we might be raised in. By our teens, it’s clear what type of environment we’re in and the brain begins to prune any connections that are not needed in that environment, to preserve resources for the needed ones.

However autistic kids show considerably less pruning than their peers.

Here’s where my theory comes in: autistics are thought to lack social and practical intelligence, or common sense. But common sense comes from experience and so we should expect autistics to be more impaired in acquiring experience based skills because they lack the very pruning process that diverts resources to the neural connections that experience tells them they need.

Does that make them less intelligent? I define intelligence as your ability to adapt, so on the one hand, not having the pruning process makes them much less adapted to their environment, because pruning evolved to maximize the functioning of specifically those connections needed in your environment.

On the other hand, if the environment rapidly changes, the autistic brain will have all these extra synapses ready to exploit it. This may explain why allegedly autistic types like Bill Gates were able to dominate when technology changed so rapidly, the pruning process could not keep up with it. It also explains why autistics tend to do better on so-called fluid tests of novel problem solving than on crystallized tests of acquired knowledge and why autistics seem to have a child-like personality (children like autists, have too many synapses).

So the autistic mind, like the mind of a child, is both adaptable and unadapted: unadapted to the environment they were raised in. Adaptable when the environment changes.

Now schizophrenia is sometimes said to be the opposite of autism, and indeed, schizophrenics show the opposite pattern: too much synaptic pruning. This would result in the social common sense part of the brain becoming too strong at the expense of the ability to learn new stuff. So common sense will tell them, there must be a conspiracy, but when no evidence of a conspiracy occurs, they can’t revise their theories. By contrast autistics may never grasp the common sense theory, but will constantly come up with new ones. This also explains why schizophrenics have higher rates of dementia: too much pruning means less cognitive reserve in old age when the brain naturally shrinks.

High range power tests part 2

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As we saw in in part 1, a reader had some questions about high range power tests.

The reader asks:

What, if any, capacities might tests of the high-range “power” format disclose that standard IQ tests cannot, or, at least, do not?

As I mentioned in part 1, they probably measure the personality trait TIE (Typical Intellectual Engagement) and perhaps some cognitive abilities that conventional IQ tests miss like executive function. And as discussed in the comment section, they’re probably less sensitive to test anxiety because you can take them in a relaxed non-threatening environment.

But there’s more.

Creativity

Chris Langan stated:

Certain high-ceiling intelligence tests, generically called “power tests”, are composed of extremely
difficult items requiring higher levels of problem-solving ability than the items on ordinary IQ tests. Since these items
usually have no known algorithms, their solutions cannot be looked up in a textbook, and where subjects do not know each
other, one must rely on intrinsic problem solving ability.

From Discussions on Genius and Intelligence Mega Foundation Interview with Arthur Jensen pg 23

Arthur Jensen replied:

…Solving problems, or even thinking up problems, for which there are presently no algorithms, takes us into the
realm of the nature of creativity. There are as yet no psychometric tests for creativity in a nontrivial sense. We can’t
(yet) predict creativity or measure it as an individual trait, but can only examine its products after the fact.

From Discussions on Genius and Intelligence Mega Foundation Interview with Arthur Jensen pg 24

I find Jensen’s reply curious. He just admitted that the type of psychometric test Langan was describing involved creativity and then denied any tests measure it. Although I was extremely impressed by the questions Langan asked, he should have asked for clarification here.

The so-called distinction between creativity and intelligence is interesting. Intelligence is commonly defined as your ability to problem solve, but what is creativity if not original solutions to problems? So I guess people deny conventional IQ tests measure creativity because the solutions aren’t original enough. Why don’t conventional IQ tests require original solutions? Because such solutions would be so numerous that the test scoring manual could not include them all, or if there’s only one, in order for it to be original, too few people would discover it, making it useless for mass testing.

But because untimed power tests include many problems very few people can solve, by definition they measure original problem solving and thus creativity. One could claim that the problems must have social significance to be true measures of creativity, but what is significant is context dependent and creativity, like all traits, is relatively stable.

For example, before coronavirus became a global pandemic, creating a vaccine would have been unimportant but if someone had created one in 2018, they wouldn’t think “if I had only waited until 2020, I could have been creative, instead I’m merely extremely intelligent”. There could be a parallel universe where problems on the Mega Test have enormous real-world implications, while discovering relativity is merely a hard item on the Mega Test. Creative is something you either are or aren’t, it’s not something that changes with the social value a particular society puts on a given problem at a given time.

Autism?

Commenter “Mug of Pee” jealously goes ballistic when anyone values tests other than the ones he scored high on (SAT, GRE). In order to devalue such tests, he’s claimed, somewhat facetously, that the Mega Test measures autism. While it’s true that the Mega Test requires you to focus for very long periods of time (an autistic trait), it also requires you to be interested in a wide variety of subjects, as opposed to the narrow autistic focus. I suppose there could be some autistics whose area of obsession is just puzzle solving in general, but I know of no confirmed cases.

Without doing brain scans, autism is much harder to measure as objectively as IQ but if forced to do so, I would use one’s composite score on the following four variables:

  • income adjusted for IQ (the lower the more autistic)
  • occupational status adjusted for IQ (the lower the more autistic)
  • head size adjusted for IQ (the larger the more autistic)
  • theism adjusted for IQ (the higher, the less autistic)

In other words, autistics would tend to be those who are poorer, less respected, bigger brained and less theistic than their conventional IQs predict. Anecdotal evidence suggests people with high Mega Test scores would fit the first three criteria, but perhaps not the fourth. However I’m assuming a linear relationship between IQ and all these variables. If at the highest levels, IQ predicts “success” in a curvilinear way, we might find that the socio-economic underachievement of some Mega society members is not atypical of their IQs as measured by conventional tests (with high ceilings).

More research is needed.

High range power tests Part 1

A reader asked:

What are the real-world implications of an exceptional score (say, 170 – 190) on tests of the Mega Test type?

While conventional IQ tests are administered in a single sitting, and supervised so that you can’t rely on books or calculators to “cheat”, Mega Type tests include problems so complex, they’re solved over dozens of unsupervised hours in many sittings, with the use of reference books and other aids.

Chris Langan stated:

…by virtue of their difficulty, these problems take longer to solve… sometimes days or even weeks. Accordingly,
power tests are untimed and unsupervised. This opens the door to factors like motivation and persistence, which are not
among the factors primarily measured by standard IQ tests. On the other hand, virtually every significant intellectual
achievement of mankind has involved these factors in great measure.

From Discussions on Genius and Intelligence Mega Foundation Interview with Arthur Jensen pg 23

Arthur Jensen stated:

…Such tests would have little practical use, although they could be of scientific interest in studying the nature of high-level problem solving. But people even capable of taking such tests could be identified with some conventional tests, such as a combination of the Advanced Raven Matrices and Terman’s Concept Mastery Test. People with high scores on such tests can demonstrate their problem solving ability in their careers. What is the need for prior selection? They can make it into college and graduate school if they’ve got high IQs, and it will be their virtually unique constellation of traits (g + special abilities + motivation + character, etc.) that will determine whether they will, first of all, identify important problems, and secondly, be able to solve them or at least materially contribute to their eventual solution.

From Discussions on Genius and Intelligence Mega Foundation Interview with Arthur Jensen pg 24

So Langan and Jensen seems to feel that Mega type tests measure a combination of traits useful for high level intellectual achievement. Cognitive traits (g, special abilities) + personality variables (persistence + motivation). Jensen seems to feel that the cognitive component can be sufficiently measured by combining conventional psychometric tests (eg RAPM + CMT), but what about the non-cognitive component?

Jensen writes about a trait called Typical Intellectual Engagement (or TIE) :

Most people perform at near their maximum level while taking a cognitive test. However, even among persons who show exactly the same level of g, there is great variation in TIE, which is assessed with a fifty-nine-item self-report questionnaire. The TIE inventory assesses the degree to which the individual typically engages in g-demanding activities, vocationally and especially avocationally, and has what would ordinarily be regarded as intellectual interests (reading, learning, thinking, a wide range of interests, particularly in literature, science, and mentally challenging activities, such as chess, being absorbed by the subjects of one’s interests and delving into them in depth).

The g Factor by Arthur Jensen pg 574

Jensen continues:


TIE is much more a personality factor than an ability factor. It does not correlate at all with G f (or a third-order factor g), but has significant but small correlations (r = + .3 to +.4) with verbal IQ and Gc. (Tests for IQ and Gc involve specific knowledge content and hence reflect intellectual achievement as well as the information-processing capacity that is measured more purely by Gf.) For a given level of g, a higher level of TIE in adulthood leads to somewhat higher levels of real-world intellectual achievement. But TIE itself clearly belongs in the personality domain, as shown by its correlations of about + .60 with
two of the “ Big Five” personality factors (“ Openness” and “ Conscientiousness” ), as well as with another personality factor, “ self-directed activity,” which reflects energy level, absorption, and lack of distractibility.

The g Factor by Arthur Jensen pg 574

Given the 0.57 correlation between IQ and academic success, I’d expect someone with about + 5 sigma score on a conventional IQ test (top one in 3.48 million) to on average, have real world intellectual achievements of about +5(0.57) = + 2.85 (top one in 482). In other words, an adjunct professor who never gets tenure. That’s not to deny that some +5 sigmas achieve far more academically, perhaps even winning the Nobel Prize, but the overall average would be dragged down by all the +5 sigmas who don’t even graduate from college, either because they have more lucrative options, or because they don’t have the luxury.

I would expect, if we could get a representative (rather than self-selected) sample of people with +5 sigma Mega scores, they would be about as academically successful as their counterparts on conventional IQ tests. Because the Mega Test likely loads more on personality variables than conventional tests do (in particular TIE because you have to stay intellectually engaged with a problem for days or weeks), it likely has a lower g loading, but because TIE correlates with academic success independently of g, it’s correlation with real-world intellectual achievement is probably about the same.

I do wonder though whether personality traits like TIE are the only difference between people who perform better on Mega type tests than conventional tests. Could there be cognitive differences too? Conventional IQ tests break big problems down into digestible mini-problems but perhaps the ability to break big problems into small ones is an important cognitive ability in its own right. When faced with big problem in real life, even something as trivial as writing a blog post on a big topic, I’m sometimes overwhelmed with a sense of where do I even begin? Perhaps Mega type tests better assess this kind of big picture planning and hierarchical organizing. It would be interesting to see whether neuro-psychological tests of executive functioning predict Mega test performance independently of both conventional IQ and TIE.

When spatial IQ is much lower than overall IQ Part 3: Yeshiva

This is the third and final article in a series ordered for $3.50 USD by 150 IQ Ganzir (the market has since driven the price up to $15). Here, I focus on a 1958 paper on 64 Yeshiva men (age 16 to 31; mean age 21.43). Author Boris M. Levinson states:

Our sample finally consisted of 64 subjects, classified as follows : (a) six senior Yeshiva High School students, (b) 31 Yeshiva College students, (c) 27 graduate students. Among them were four ordained rabbis. Every graduate student was an alumnus of Yeshiva College. The writer believes that the sample secured was fairly representative of the Yeshiva population…

Below are the scores of the sample on the original Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). The 11 subtest scores are expressed on a scale where the average American scores 10 (SD = 3), and the verbal, performance, and full-scale IQs are expressed on a scale where the average American scores 100 (SD = 15). To convert scaled scores to IQ equivalents, just multiply by 5 and then add 50. Because the study, was submitted for publication in 1957 and the WAIS was standardized in 1953.5, there was a trivial Flynn effect I adjusted for.

Flynn effect adjustments were made by assuming the U.S. gains from the 1952.5 WAIS norming to the 1978 WAIS norming reported on page 240 of James Flynn’s Are We Getting Smarter? were linear over that period & thus calculating the expected gain in 1957 & subtracting it from the Yeshiva scores.

After correcting for slightly inflated norms, not a single mean score on the verbal subtests fell below the “Bright Normal range” and not a single performance subtest fell above the Average range. This complete lack of overlap shows the validity of the original verbal vs performance dichotomy that the Wechsler scales have since abandoned but which reflects the likely original reasons human intelligence evolved: To talk (verbal IQ) and to make and use tools (performance IQ).

Even Wechsler himself, who was also a Jewish New Yorker, likely showed this verbal > performance gap, as he became concerned that he could not solve his own Block Design items quickly.

The mean verbal > performance gap in this study is 21 points (22 after I adjust for norm inflation) but Levinson notes that for the graduate student sub-sample (n = 27), the mean gap was about 26 points and for rabbis (n = 4) it was about 34, which he interpreted as evidence that exposure to traditional Jewish culture was causing the gaps.

Levinson writes:

The students stated that the performance items appeared childish and unimportant. While they tried to achieve a good score whenever possible, the verbal items were more of a challenge...They said that an inferior score on a performance test was not as damaging to their self-esteem as a poor mark on the verbal tests.

I had the opposite attitude when I was tested on the Wechsler children’s scale at age 12. I thought the verbal items were mostly measuring what I learned in school and thus not knowing an answer didn’t damage my self-esteem. By contrast I saw the performance items as measuring my real intelligence.

Levinson writes:

In discussing the digit span test, quite a few of them indicated that they had visualized the digits. This is similar to the experience of some of these students who, in studying the Talmud, remember page location of a passage.

On the other hand, practice on one cognitive task seldom transfer to another unless they’re all but identical. In one study people who practiced their memory span for digits managed to increase it from seven to in some case over 100, but when faced with a memory span for letters task. They were right back down to seven. But perhaps that study was too brief to fully capture the effects of practice.

Levinson writes:

The subjects have been subjected, since their early school days, to a curriculum which greatly emphasized verbal knowledge, rote memory, verbal concept formation, abstract ideas, to the general neglect of performance arts. Examinations in the Talmud, for example, are oral and emphasize the detailed memorization and understanding of tracts. A differentiation of intellectual abilities has thus occurred. These cultural forces have also brought about different attitudes and self concepts regarding various intellectual tasks. Failure on a performance item does not carry the same ego deflating connotations as failures on a verbal task. It thus appears that the greater the premium placed on verbal ability in a subculture, the greater will be the disparity between verbal and performance WAIS scores.

There’s no doubt that cultural exposure affects verbal IQ score. Excellent research in the 1920s showed that canal boat children who lived a nomadic existence where they were virtually deprived of schooling, showed massive declines in IQ as they got older. Because IQ tests are normed for age, and because these kids were kept out of school they fell further and further behind their chronological age-mates on the type of knowledge that IQ tests measure. Young canal boat kids would have an IQ around 90, but older canal boat kids would have an IQ of 60. However when their performance IQs were tested, there was no such decline.

Perhaps the opposite is occurring with Yeshiva kids. Instead of their verbal IQs falling further and further behind as the effects of missed schooling accumulate, they grow further and further ahead, as the effects of enhanced schooling multiply.

On the other hand schooling likely has diminishing returns on verbal IQ once we get a basic amount. A study in Japan (where schooling is more intense) found older kids scored only slightly higher on verbal IQ.

When spatial IQ is much lower than overall IQ Part 2: Is Ashkenazi spatial IQ 93?

This is part two of a series of articles ordered by 150 IQ Ganzir for $3.50 (he was smart enough to order early before the free market realizes my true value :-)).

In the comment section it was claimed that Jews have a math, verbal, memory and spatial IQ of 113, 109, 96, and 93 respectively. The source for this claim was likely an article I wrote back in 2016. My source was journalist Daniel Seligman who had expressed the test score differences between Jewish & Gentile Caucasians in SD units, which I converted to IQ by assuming an SD of 15 and assuming the Gentile mean was 100.

However Seligman neglected to mention that the groups were equated for socio-economic status (SES). Richard Lynn writes:

These differences were calculated on Jews and Gentiles matched for socioeconomic status. Because Jews have a higher average socioeconomic status than Gentiles, the reported differences are not an accurate measure of the true differences, and there is no way of estimating the Jewish IQ from this study.

Although sociologists commonly control for SES as a way of equating environment, they don’t understand that controlling for SES may also indirectly control for genetic intelligence and thus minimize group differences. This mistake occurs so frequently Jensen coined the term “sociologist’s fallacy” to describe it.

When spatial IQ is much lower than overall IQ Part 1: Turner syndrome

Because altruism is positively correlated with IQ, it was predictable that 150 IQ Ganzir was generous enough to order an article for $3.50. The topic he ordered was “spatial IQ deficits (relative to overall IQ) in people of normal or higher IQ”. but rather than writing one long article on such a heterogenous topic, I thought I would do a series of relatively brief articles. In this first part we will explore Turner’s Syndrome.

Wikipedia states:

Turner syndrome (TS), also known 45,X, or 45,X0, is a genetic condition in which a female is partly or completely missing an X chromosome.[2] Signs and symptoms vary among those affected.[1] Often, a short and webbed necklow-set ears, low hairline at the back of the neck, short stature, and swollen hands and feet are seen at birth.[1] Typically, they develop menstrual periods and breasts only with hormone treatment, and are unable to have children without reproductive technology.[1]Heart defectsdiabetes, and low thyroid hormone occur more frequently.[1] Most people with TS have normal intelligence, however many have troubles with spatial visualization that may be needed for mathematics.[1] Vision and hearing problems occur more often.[5]

Arthur Jensen stated:

Provided no spatial visualization tests are included in the IQ battery, the IQs of these women (and presumably their level of g) are normally distributed and virtually indistinguishable from that of the general population. Yet their performance on all tests that are highly loaded on the spatial-visualization factor is extremely low, typically borderline retarded, even in Turner’s syndrome women with verbal IQs above 130. It is as if their level of g is almost totally unreflected in their level of performance on spatial tasks.

If the typical Turner syndrome woman’s (verbal) IQ is normal (IQ 100 in the U.S.) but her spatial IQ is borderline (IQ 75), that’s a 25 point gap. Thus one might expect Turner syndrome women with (verbal) IQs of 130+ to have spatial IQs of 105+, but apparently their spatial IQs are about 75 too. This suggests a near-zero correlation between verbal and spatial among Turner syndrome women (which make wonder if g even exists in these women) or their distribution of spatial IQ is extremely narrow. Unfortunately Jensen didn’t cite his source.

Oprah lands World’s most coveted interview

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It’s been ten years since Oprah officially retired from the highest rated talk show of all time but she remains a force to be reckoned with, landing the most anticipated interview since Monica Lewinski sat down with Barbara Walters. Oprah almost landed that interview too but Lewinski wanted money. Did someone say money? Absolutely not! was Oprah’s attitude.

In a statement released by CBS they said:

Winfrey will speak with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, in a wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a Royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure. Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family

While the couple could have been paid millions of dollars and appeared on any show in the World, they chose to sit down with Oprah for free, and for 90 minutes, with no questions off-limits.

Oprah didn’t pay a penny.

She’s so powerful, she doesn’t have to.

Cunning and smart, Oprah got herself invited to the royal wedding and shrewdly parlayed that into a friendship with the couple and Megan’s mother and from there, they moved close to Oprah in her exclusive Montecito neighborhood, and eventually granted her the interview everyone wanted.

And now the castle is in a frenzy and the British press has gone ballistic, wondering how in the World did this overweight black woman from poverty checkmate them all and end up with more power over Harry and Megan than the Queen herself.

I wonder what people thought back in May 2018 when a mysterious black woman dressed in pink showed up by herself at the Royal wedding, wearing a jumbo-sized custom-made hat to fit her supersized brain.

“Who’s that?” a British kid might have asked.

“That’s Oprah” someone might have answered, “she’s like the Queen, except of America, and by extension, the World”

WPA POOL/GETTY IMAGES

Evolution is progressive: Debunking Gould’s drunkard walk metaphor

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Maybe the long-term trend across the universe is towards orthogenesis, towards greater intelligence, towards technological singularity. Just like the long-term trend for matter and energy is the formation of stars and planets, galaxies and superclusters__Ganzir, 2021

Because all living things evolved to adapt to their environments, many people deny that evolution is progressive. For example, Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould wrote “evolution forms a conspicuously branching bush, not a unilinear progressive sequence…earth worms and crabs are not our ancestors; they are not even ‘lower’ or less complicated than humans in any meaningful sense.”

In his book A Mirror to Nature, Science journalist Peter Knudtson writes “evolutionary theory…sees every living population of organisms on the planet as a proved evolutionary success that has by its very survival shown itself itself to be exquisitely adapted to its environment.”

He quotes anthropologist Emoke J.E. Szathmary as stating “As for superiority or inferiority–any geneticist finds this notion amusing. Each is dependent on the environmental context within which the ‘superior’ or ‘inferior’ trait (not population) evolved. Change the environment, and one may change the labelling attributed to the trait.”

Many scholars might beg to differ:

  • E.O. Wilson (1975) divided life’s history into four major stages: (1) the emergence of life itself in the form of primitive prokaryotes with no nucleus. (2) the emergence of eukaryotes with nucleus and mitochondria (3) the evolution of large multicellular organisms that have complex organs like eyes and brains (4) the emergence of the human mind.
  • In 1980 Arthur Jensen stated “the higher the animal ranks in the phyletic scale, the more seriously do lesions in the cortex of the brain affect its objectively measurable behavioral capacity”.
  • Princeton biology professor John Bonner (1980) noted that there’s been an evolution from primitive bacteria billions of years ago to complex life forms today, and the newer animals have bigger brains than older animals and that it’s perfectly natural to say that older life forms are lower than newer life forms, because their fossils are literally found in lower strata. Even plants can be ranked he argued; angiosperm > slime molds.
  • Paleontologist Dale Russel (1983, 1989) noted that the mean encephalization of mammals had tripled in the last 65 million years and that the mean encephalization of dinosaurs steadily increased for over 140 million years.  Extrapolating from the latter trend, Russel argued that had dinosaurs not gone extinct 65 million years ago, they would have eventually evolved into big-brained bipeds.
  • J. Phillipe Rushton (1989) argued that among modern humans, there was a Mongoloid > Caucasoid > Negroid hierarchy because Mongoloids split off from Caucasoids long after Caucasoids split off from Africans long after our species evolved in Africa.
  • J. Baker et al (2015) found “an overwhelming tendency for rapid morphological change to lead to larger body size in 10 of the 11 largest mammal orders, suggesting that mammals have consistently evolved toward larger size, most likely as a response to selection pressure”
  • And last but not least, pumpkin person (2017) found a positive correlations between the number of splits on the evolutionary tree a taxon was descended from, and the brain size/encephalization of said taxon.
dinosaur
Had they not gone extinct 65 million years ago, Dale Russel believes they would have evolved into big brained bipeds.

However Gould was having none of it. In his 1996 book Full House, Gould argued that life becomes more complex over time, not because complexity is superior and thus favoured by nature, but because there’s a lower limit on how non-complex life can be, so it has nowhere to go but up. In a clever analogy, Gould compared evolution to a drunkard stumbling home from a bar. Even though each step she takes is in a random direction, she can’t get any closer to the bar because there’s a brick wall, so over time she will move further and further from the bar, not because she’s trying to get away from it, but because that’s the only direction in which her random steps can slowly accumulate over time.

Analogously, evolution started as single celled organisms and thus had nowhere to go but up in complexity. So it’s not that complexity was evolutionary favoured, but rather it was all evolution had to work with.

This explanation might explain why it look nearly 3 billion years to go from singled-cell organisms to multi-cellular life, but it can not explain why it took only half a billion years to go from multi-cell life to the most complex known object in the universe: the human brain. That’s like Gould’s drunkard taking 3 hours to stumble ten feet from the bar, and then and only an extra half hour to get from the bar to Neptune.

And how does Gould’s metaphor explain why an organ as precise as the eye “has evolved independently more than 50 times in species such as flies, flatworms, molluscs and vertebrates.”. If drunk women stumbling away from bars just happened to stumble into a location as precise as your bed on 50 different occasions, would any jury believe they all just randomly stumbled there? No they’d think you drove them there, so we should think natural selection is somehow driving the evolution of an eye because it’s a superior trait to have on pretty much any planet near a star bright enough to provide light. And once you have an eye you have sensory input, and once you have sensory input, and once you have input you need intelligence because in the succinct words of a friend’s brilliant mother, intelligence is the ability to “synthesize information usefully”.

Another example of a progressive evolutionary trend is increasing body size among mammals. Now the obvious reason why mammals would get bigger over evoultionary time is all else being equal, bigger is better. Duh. But Gould would have us believe it’s because there’s a lower limit on body size, thus there’s no where to go but up. Fortunately, Baker et al explicitly tested this theory and debunked it:

We use our PAD comparisons to test for the presence of a lower bound by drawing on ideas developed in the paleontological literature (12212324) while explicitly accounting for shared ancestry. If some lower boundary on size is enforced, we expect most ancestor-descendant size changes to be positive when the ancestral size is near to that limit; it is only possible to get larger. However, as the ancestral state moves away from that limit, we predict that the distribution of body size change will become increasingly centered about 0 (i.e., size decreases are equally likely as size increases) (24). Taken over all branches of the phylogeny, this pattern predicts a negative relationship between a branch’s ancestral size and the average body size change observed along that branch (1221). When ancestral size is small, changes will tend to be positive, but when ancestral size is large, size can change in either direction.

We do not find the predicted negative relationship (Fig. 3D and SI Text). Instead, we find that size change actually slightly increases in magnitude when ancestral size is larger (β = 0.020, P < 0.001; Fig. 3D). This pattern is also found in the paleontological data using FAD comparisons (12). To retain the idea that some physiological lower limit could produce these PAD changes and results from paleontological data (12), proponents would have to invoke a new physiological lower limit for each new species that comes into existence. Why or according to what processes these mysterious and dynamically shifting constraints arise imposes a steep hill for this explanation to climb.

Genetically superior: China has World’s fastest train

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Tom Friedman recently claimed on CNN that it takes 4 hours and 18 minutes to take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai but it takes 21 hours to take the train from New York to Chicago, even though both are about the same distance. If an alien came to Earth it might think the Chinese were nearly five times smarter.

Meanwhile rubiks.com reports:

The current record held for the fastest solve of the Rubik’s Cube is currently 3.47 seconds by Yusheng Du, who beat the record of Feliks Zemdegs by 0.75 seconds.

4 seconds appears to the the genetic limit for non-Asian cube solving. Just as no non-Africans can run the 100 meter in under 9.9 seconds, no non-Asian can solve the cube in under 4. Like a premature baby that is forever stunted, non-Asians appeared too early in Earth’s history, before our species was done evolving.

In his blog Evo as Fuck, Peter Frost notes that polymorphisms for the gene CASC5 increase brain size in women, are especially common in East Asians, and became prevalent in the ice age:

 Cold, seasonal environments did impose new cognitive demands on early modern humans, first by increasing their need to plan ahead over a yearly cycle and second by providing them with new tasks: garment making, needlework, weaving, leatherworking, and kiln operation. Women performed those tasks because the environment offered them few opportunities for food gathering—the usual female activity before the advent of farming. They thus moved into artisanal tasks that not only required greater cognitive ability but also offered much potential for further development. This was the “original industrial revolution” and it was led by women

I always assume the World’s smartest human is a Chinese woman, racing through the hardest WAIS-IV Block Design in under 3 seconds; her hands shaking with lightning speed as the 9 blocks fly into the air, landing in perfect place.

Frost writes:

We can better understand this sexual division of labor by studying northern hunter-gatherers of recent times. According to a cross-cultural study, if women are less involved in food gathering, they specialize in activities unrelated to food procurement, i.e., house building, leatherworking, and burden carrying (Waguespack 2005). A study of two Inuit groups found the highest degree of technological complexity in garment making and shelter building, both of which are wholly or largely women’s work (Oswalt 1976). Cold environments thus change the sexual division of labor among hunter-gatherers in a crucial way: while men continue to be food providers, women develop new technologies.
These findings may explain the recent evolution of CASC5: women were the focus of selection for cognitive ability during Ice Age times. But why was the selection stronger among ancestral East Asians than among ancestral Europeans? It looks like the climate at that time was more severe in northern Asia than in northern Europe. Europe benefited from the moderating influence of the Atlantic, which made for a milder and moister climate. Conditions were much colder and drier in northern Asia.

I wonder if Frost knows that the vast majority of European ancestry didn’t arrive in Europe until the Holocene. That might better explain it.

The Northeast Asian woman is perhaps the most perfect organism evolution has ever produced, at least here on Earth. The thin delicate physique, the jet black perfectly straight hair juxtaposed against the pure white skin. The large spherical cranium. The orthogonal face.

I recently saw a commercial where several young Asian women made their therapist look autistic. The therapist asked if they were taught about sex growing up and they laughed in her face, explaining “we’re Asian”.

Genetically superior.

Dear God Little Caesars is good

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Little Caesars makes some good pizza, at least in Canada, at least the way I order it. I once had Little Caesars in California and it was completely different, but in Canada it’s sensational. But to get the full experience you have to custom order it which they probably hate because their whole buiness model is based on fast, cheap pre-made pizzas so someone asking for extra cheese or even extra extra cheese (which confuses the hell out of the lower IQ clerks) is anathema so I get someone else to order it for me. And no, they didn’t pay me to write this, I’m just starving right now so it’s all I can think about.