Please place all off-topic comments for the week here.  They will not be posted in the main thread.

This week I will blog about the GRE and maybe sex differences in IQ (per commenter Marry) but today, like every Sunday, is open thread day.


In honor of Mother’s Day, I want to mention a BEAUTIFUL interview I heard on CBC radio with indigenous writer Terese Marie Mailhot.  You can listen to the whole thing here.  The interview opens with Mailhot reading a gut-wrenching scene (from her memoir?) where she’s having breakfast with her white boyfriend.

Mailhot wants to eat both a proper breakfast with eggs and toast and another breakfast with French toast and syrup, but the white boyfriend is having none of it.  So she orders only the proper breakfast with toast.

But the toast doesn’t come.

She complains to the waitress and the toast comes cold.

She complains again and now her breakfast is cold.

Her white boyfriend looks at her with disgust.

Mailhot also talks about her childhood.  She understands why so many indigenous girls keep going missing because growing up in an indigenous community, there were always random men offering her drives to school.  They looked perfectly normal, until you looked in their eyes….

Switching gears, I watched a talk by Yuval Noah Harari.

He makes the point that what makes humans superior is not our intelligence per se, but our ability to cooperate.  He notes than one on one, we’re no better than a chimp.  Indeed if he was placed on a deserted island with a chimp, he suspects the chimp would win.  But if you placed a hundred men against hundred chimp, then men would win because we can cooperate and they can’t.

For those of us who romanticize the idea of the superior individual, this was a hard pill to swallow.

But I think humans are superior to chimps even on the individual level, if given enough time.  The chimp might dominate the man for the first few decades, but if both individuals could live for centuries, the man would eventually figure out how to build a cage and put the chimp in it.  Perhaps collectivism and culture achieve what one individual life doesn’t have time to do.

The 21st century technology we enjoy today is the cumulative collective result of the 107 billion humans to have ever walked the Earth.

Could a single stone age man living all alone on Earth have eventually achieved 21st century technology all by himself, if he lived 107 billion times as long as the average man?  By contrast, a lone chimp living the same amount of time, would never get beyond the stone age.