Clear Language, Clear Mind

April 25, 2019

On Nazism and Jews

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 07:19

This sort of thing should not be necessary. However, due to long time mentally ill online stalker Oliver D. Smith (see here), and various people who repeat his lies and distortions, writing something like this has become necessary.

At various times, my colleagues are accused of being connected to me, “well-known neo-Nazi” (as one random blog put it). So here’s a blogpost summarizing my various statements on Nazis, Hitler and Jews.

A little personal history

My great grandfather was a somewhat famous Danish artist (Harald Engman) who got into trouble for making fun of Nazis. He had to flee to Sweden. I have posted about it publicly:

He was married to a partially Jewish women (i.e. my great grandmother, paternal side). I took a genetic test to confirm this, and it shows I have partial Jewish ancestry. Thus, the critics have a rather poor taste in calling someone a Nazi, when the person is both Jewish and has family history of anti-Nazism! Curiously, Helmuth Nyborg, who is the most famous Danish IQ researcher, family was also active in the Danish resistance. Lesson: anti-authoritarians often end up battling totalitarians, whatever uniforms these come in.

Jewish intelligence and achievement

I have written in support of Jewish achievement many times, both in published work and on Twitter. It’s somewhat of a big mystery why someone who is allegedly a Nazi would publish research showing Ashkenazi Jews to be smarter than Europeans for genetic reasons. I have published two studies that investigated Jews or mentioned them:


Nazi misbehavior

Furthermore, I have often been critical on Hitler and Nazis publicly:

Thus, by published record, I am obviously not very supportive of Nazism, and fairly pro-Jewish as far as HBDers go. My favorite scientist is Arthur Jensen (I created his memorial site), who was 25% Jewish (and 25% Danish). I have been critical of Kevin MacDonald-type group selection models publicly, for instance in this blogpost.

Jews who follow my work

I have a large number of Jewish followers on Twitter. If I was a staunch anti-Semite, this would be very strange indeed. Some examples (contact me if you don’t want to be listed here) I picked from browsing the names of prominent followers:

October 8, 2018

Data coder needed [job ad]

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 05:50

Data coder needed

Research assistant job for 15 USD/hour.

I need to estimate the percentage of English speakers per country for use in a study as a control variable. I want to use Wikitravel information. We find phrases discussing the English ability of ~230 countries/territories, such as:

  • “English is spoken by almost no one, even in the capital.”
  • “English is the most popular foreign language. [] study English in school from an early age, and it is commonly understood in []. Older people are generally unable to converse in proper English and some knowledge of Hebrew will come in handy. All street and road signs (and many others) have English names, as well as the [] and Arabic names.”
  • “Nearly all [] (including the totality of people you are likely to encounter– taxi and minibus drivers, shopkeepers, restaurant and hotel personnel, and government employees) speak serviceable English with a heavy Caribbean accent.”

Phrases need to be coded on a 1 to 5 scale of “English familiarity”.

This is based on gestalt impression given from the quoted discussion of age distribution, regional distribution, schooling, official language status, ability to get around with English, etc.: This is medium complicate task involving reading excerpts and making a judgement.

It needs to be done as soon as possible, preferably within 2 weeks.

Contact:, title as “data coder”

August 25, 2018

Against melatonin

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 20:48

So, some smart people say melatonin is useful for sleep deprivation. I submit that it doesn’t do much of anything. Take a random meta-analysis cited in favor:

Exogenous melatonin reportedly induces drowsiness and sleep, and may ameliorate sleep disturbances, including the nocturnal awakenings associated with old age. However, existing studies on the soporific efficacy of melatonin have been highly heterogeneous in regard to inclusion and exclusion criteria, measures to evaluate insomnia, doses of the medication, and routes of administration. We reviewed and analyzed (by meta-analysis) available information on effects of exogenous melatonin on sleep. A MEDLINE search (1980 to December 2003) provided English-language articles, supplemented by personal files maintained by the authors. The analysis used information derived from 17 different studies (involving 284 subjects) that satisfied inclusion criteria. Sleep onset latency, total sleep duration, and sleep efficiency were selected as the outcome measures. The study effect size was taken to be the difference between the response on placebo and the mean response on melatonin for each outcome measured. Melatonin treatment significantly reduced sleep onset latency by 4.0 min (95% CI 2.5, 5.4); increased sleep efficiency by 2.2% (95% CI 0.2, 4.2), and increased total sleep duration by 12.8 min (95% CI 2.9, 22.8). Since 15 of the 17 studies enrolled healthy subjects or people with no relevant medical condition other than insomnia, the analysis was also done including only these 15 studies. The sleep onset results were changed to 3.9 min (95% CI (2.5, 5.4)); sleep efficiency increased to 3.1% (95% CI (0.7, 5.5)); sleep duration increased to 13.7 min (95% CI (3.1, 24.3)).

So, 17 really small studies, total n = 284, so mean of 16.7 per study. They measure some obvious outcomes, and report some > .05 findings. But look at those confidence intervals, two of them are pretty close to 0, indicating a dodgy p value. Sleep onset is self-reported, so who knows about the bias in self-report. We already know science reports too many positive findings, and the strength of the positive bias in effect size estimation depends on sample size. So, we expect a lot of bias here, and we see almost no effect. Summa summarum, to a skeptical reader, the above isn’t much evidence of anything.

So, melatonin is sold over the counter. So tons of people buy it and take it in various forms. But still, medical sites tell us that:

Taking too much melatonin can disrupt your circadian rhythms (sleep-wake cycle). It may also cause other unwanted side effects. So, yes, you can technically overdose on melatonin.
However, a melatonin overdose can be hard to define since there isn’t an official standard safe dose for everyone.
Some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of melatonin. A dose that might trigger side effects in one person may have little effect on someone else.
Young children should avoid melatonin unless otherwise directed by a doctor. Doses between 1 and 5 milligrams (mg) may cause seizures or other complications for young children. In adults, doses in the 30-mg range may be harmful.
In general, it’s better to start low and move up slowly and carefully if you see encouraging results.

I looked at a bunch of sites, and none of them can point to any actual overdose effects, all of them just repeat some random doctor telling us what he thinks might happen. Sounds like bullocks. The listed symptoms of overdose are typical psychosomatic stuff: nausea, dizziness, headaches, irritability or anxiety, diarrhea, joint pain. These things can result from pretty much anything, including worrying about effects of overdose of a harmful drug.

But it gets worse. You know those over the counter things you buy? Yeah, some researchers tested 31 of them and:

Melatonin content was found to range from −83% to +478% of the labelled content. Additionally, lot-to-lot variable within a particular product varied by as much as 465%. This variability did not appear to be correlated with manufacturer or product type. Furthermore, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), a related indoleamine and controlled substance used in the treatment of several neurological disorders, was identified in eight of the supplements at levels of 1 to 75 μg.

So, let’s summarize:

  • People widely claim efficacy of some drug.
  • But evidence is really flimsy. Even Scott Alexander has to come up with a dodgy nonlinear hidden moderator model.
  • It’s sold over the counter in really varying amounts and widely bought.
  • Yet no one really knows if one can overdose on it. Would seem that one really has to try hard considering that no one seems to know of even a single serious adverse outcome. The best I could find was a case-report of “a 66-year-old man who became lethargic and disoriented after taking 24 mg melatonin to aid relaxation and sleep the evening before prostate surgery. He recovered uneventfully, and after the scheduled surgery he resumed his regular practice of taking 6 mg melatonin with prescription sedative drugs.”. A guy who’s about to have surgery (for cancer?) who had a temporary state of mental instability, hardly suggestive of adverse effect of melatonin.
  • Our prior that any given drug works well is very pessimistic.

So, yeah, I don’t think melatonin supplements do much of anything. Conceivably you might get some kind of effect if you took 1000 times the amount. So let’s try something fairly radical, in the spirit of great science.

These are claimed to contain 5mg per thing, and there’s 14 in a pack, so that’s 70mg. This would be something like 70/0.3 = 233.33 times the most effective dose big Scott recommends. The nice doctor above says 30mg might be dangerous, so this is 2.33 times as much, or 2.92 the guy from the case report. I ate all of them in a few minutes and then waited around while doing some bioinformatics. And nothing happened.

April 11, 2018

How to download ebooks from Library Genesis (libgen) for free

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 01:44

As a follow-up to my prior guide on how to use Sci-hub to download academic papers for free, here’s a simple guide to use Library Gensis aka. Libgen.

Library Genesis is another guerilla open access project, also run by people from the Russia-sphere. It’s relatively easy to use.

1. Go to the Libgen website

There’s a few URLs, but I generally use this version:


If it’s blocked, use one of the many open proxies. For instance, works for this (I used the USA exit). If the domain is taken down, find a new one via Wikipedia.

2. Search for some book you want

Enter the title (and maybe author name) of some book you want. Here we pretend we want to read Lee Jussim’s great book on social psychology:

  • Jussim, L. (2012). Social perception and social reality: Why accuracy dominates bias and self-fulfilling prophecy. OUP USA.

So, we search for it:

Click “Search”, then we get:

The two rows means that there are two different versions uploaded to the site. Usually, they will differ in some obvious and relevant way, but not always (the site operators don’t upload the content, it’s user driven). In this case, we see that one is an EPUB and another is a PDF. PDF is a paper look-a-like format, which has its upsides and downsides. Generally, for electronic use (computer, tablet, phone), you will want EPUB or similar (MOBI etc.).

The site search is a kind of meta-search engine that searches a few sites that actually hosts the books. Hence, we see a number of (download) mirrors, which may not be complete (mirror 5 is missing for the 2nd row). If we click the EPUB version (click the title), we see:

So, there’s a cover photo and a description. The (direct) download links are the ones in the red circle (drawn by me). Generally speaking, the first one ( is the most robust (i.e. usually works), but it is slow so you may not want to use it if the ebook is large. The other ones are faster but don’t always have the book you want (some of them comply with DMCA requests).

If we click the first (, we see an intermediate page:

Just click GET in the top and the download pop-up appears.

If we use the second, the intermediate page is different, but we do the same i.e. click the big “GET” link:

If we click the third, we click “OPEN DOWNLOAD” and then “GET” on the next page (not shown, similar to above).

If we click the fourth, we click “See details & download (EPUB)”:

And then “download” on the next page:


January 11, 2018

Interview with me about the recent furor about the London conference

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 19:06

I had a talk with Tara about the recent furor.

(I did not choose the title: I would have chosen something less clickbaity!)

Note to self: maybe move around less when doing interviews, lol.

August 18, 2017

Trying to force academics to apologize for reporting official employment statistics

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 20:55

This is beyond even normal levels of stupidity seen in politics and smear attacks.


Image form for easier reposting

Here’s the data from the DST report: Any journalist with even 5% of a brain could have easily verified this.

The Norwegian and Finnish data are from Skardhamar et al 2014.

June 10, 2017

LessWrong, MIRI etc. meltdown

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 17:21

What happens if you take a bunch of socially inept, above average intelligence, and mentally ill people and have them try to do stuff together? Sounds like a disaster. Well…

One comment, which I repost here because some are advocating for censorship, is very telling:

Comment author: 18239018038528017428 26 May 2017 08:43:41PM *  22 points [-]

This post is so thoroughly repulsive and disgusting that I made an account for the sole purpose of pointing out how transparently and obviously perverse this fucked-up proposal is. Naturally I don’t have any actual desire to be critical or rude; it’s just that nobody else is doing it, so because of my infinite kindness and charity (if you have any doubts, rest assured that my closest friends and colleagues will all attest to my beneficent nature), I find myself obligated to step up to the batting plate, so to speak. Ah, if only someone could release me from this great burden. If only.

The author seems to have missed the part of Ender’s Game about the protagonists being children. It’s generally not a good thing for adults to role-play as children (the reasons for which are, I hope, sufficiently obvious to not require elaboration). The dominant impression I get from this is that this resembles the antifa movement and the anti-antifa movement: it’s a bunch of immature adults LARPing but pretending that they aren’t doing so.

Note that despite the author’s insistence on the validity of his experience as a CFAR instructor, he fails to actually point to any concrete benefits that people have derived from that instruction — plausibly because those benefits, when concretely stated without embellishment, are at best underwhelming. Note also that (1) no mention of dealing with problems arising from interpersonal romance are mentioned in the post and (2) the author’s reply to the comment that does point out the probable future existence of such problems receives what can at best be termed a cursory and dismissive reply.

This suggests that, contrary to the author’s assertion of having amassed a diverse and broad range of skills, and contrary to whatever accolades his colleagues may see fit to place upon him, he hasn’t yet attained the level of social awareness of a typical American high school student. It also suggests that the author’s ability to model himself and to model others has more-or-less not yet attained the level of sophistication required to view people as more than one-dimensional. I.e., the post seems to suggest an attitude of “I, a good person, will find a bunch of good people, and we’ll make these good things happen”. I’m pretty sure I’ve met high school students with a more nuanced (and less optimistic) understanding of human nature.

Naturally, this would be excused if the Berkeley rationalist community were full of people who are actually good people and who tend to get things done. Let’s check: Qiaochu Yuan, one of the most mathematically sophisticated members, has to the best of my knowledge hit a dead end in his PhD, and is becoming a CFAR instructor in Seattle, which makes it seem as though he’s actually concretely worse off compared to the counterfactual in which the rationalist community didn’t exist; Eliezer Yudkowsky has shifted in the direction of posting practically-untrue, self-aggrandizing bullshit on Twitter and Facebook instead of doing anything productive; Arbital is best described as a failure; word is going around that Anna Salamon and Nate Soares are engaging in bizarre conspiratorial planning around some unsubstantiated belief that the world will end in ten years, leading to severe dissatisfaction among the staff of MIRI; despite the efforts of a very valiant man, people have still not realized that autogynephilic men with repressed femininity and a crossdressing fetish pretending to be women aren’t actually women; CFAR itself is trending in the direction of adding bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake; my own personal experience with people branded as “CFAR instructors” has been extremely negative, with them effectively acting arrogant out of proportion to their competence, not to mention their below-average levels of empathy; there was that bizarre scandal last year in which someone was accidentally impregnated and then decided not to abort the child, going against what had previously been agreed upon, and proceeded to shamelessly solicit donations from the rationalist community to support her child; etc., etc., etc.

In effect, there seems to be some sort of self-deception around the fact that the Berkeley rationalist community is by almost all reasonable standards severely dysfunctional, with the best people actually being on the periphery of the community. It’s almost as if the author is coming up with the “Dragon Army” in an attempt to help everyone collectively delude themselves into believing they’re much better than they are, because he can’t bear to actually look at the Berkeley rationalist community and see it for what it is: a pile of garbage. Just like how a child from a broken family might imagine that everyone’s getting along. Unfortunately(?), flinching away from the truth doesn’t actually make reality go away.

Amusingly, it actually does seem as though the author partially realizes this. Let’s review the criteria which the author hopes the members of “Dragon Army” will fulfill after a year’s worth of cult membership:

(1) Above-average physical capacity (2) Above-average introspection (3) Above-average planning & execution skill (4) Above-average communication/facilitation skill (5) Above-average calibration/debiasing/rationality knowledge (6) Above-average scientific lab skill/ability to theorize and rigorously investigate claims (7) Average problem-solving/debugging skill (8) Average public speaking skill (9) Average leadership/coordination skill (10) Average teaching and tutoring skill (11) Fundamentals of first aid & survival (12) Fundamentals of financial management (13) At least one of: fundamentals of programming, graphic design, writing, A/V/animation, or similar (employable mental skill) (14) At least one of: fundamentals of woodworking, electrical engineering, welding, plumbing, or similar (employable trade skill)

“Above-average”? “Average”? Not exactly a high bar. “At least one employable mental skill, and at least one employable trade skill”? Is the correct inference here that the typical participant is actually expected to be not employable at all (i.e., deficient in both categories)? “First aid & survival” — if there was ever any doubt that this is actually just sophisticated childish role-playing… The fact that I (in contrast with the Berkeley rationalist community) have put very little directed effort into the meta-goal of self-improvement and nevertheless plausibly already satisfy 11 of these 14 criteria, with the other 3 not seeming particularly difficult to attain, is not a good sign!

Despite the fixation on “evolving norms” or whatever, the author seems to be particularly blind to what social reality is actually like and what actually makes communities get along. Consider, e.g., the following quote:

for example, a Dragon who has been having trouble getting to sleep but has never informed the other Dragons that their actions are keeping them awake will agree that their anger and frustration, while valid internally, may not fairly be vented on those other Dragons, who were never given a chance to correct their behavior

Let me pose a question to the reader of my comment: would you rather live in a house where you have to constantly verbally ask the other residents to stop doing things that they could have reasonably foreseen would bother you, or would you rather live in a house where people actually used reasonable expectations of what other people want to guide their behavior and therefore acted in a way that preempted causing other people irritation?

There are two inferences to be made here:

  1. Members of the Berkeley rationalist community are particularly prone to using bureaucratic rule-setting as a way to compensate for their severely below-average social skills, and
  2. Members of the Berkeley rationalist community are particularly low-empathy and embody the worst of individualism, such that they don’t actually care whether or not what they’re doing might bother others until they’re told to stop.

In my personal experience, both inferences are correct. Ultimately, what this comes down to is a bunch of socially-inept losers with near-autistic social skills trying to attain the sort of basic social harmony that comes naturally to more competent people via a combination of bizarre mimicry and a mountain of bureaucracy. Naturally, and contrary to the author’s bizarre childish idealism, one can expect a hell of a lot of repressed irritation, interpersonal drama, and general unpleasantness from this experiment.

To top off the turd cake with a cherry, the author’s science fiction writing is trash:

I felt my stomach twist, felt that same odd certainty, this time wrapped in a layer of the coldest, blackest ice. “You came to kill us,” I said. There was a soft rustle as the others straightened, pressure on my shoulders as the space between us closed. “You came to kill us all.”

Anyone who can vomit that out on a page and feel proud of it isn’t fit to lead or teach anything. Period. The world would be concretely better off if the author, and anyone like him, killed themselves.


June 1, 2017

Science and politics: USA edition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 13:43

One can find quite a lot of popular articles on the topic:


with wildly diverging conclusions. So what is true? It at these times that we want to take a look at the raw data ourselves. Fortunately, The Audacious Epigone did some legwork for us:

Item Rep% Dem% Rep. Adv. %points Field
Astrology is not scientific 72.7 61.3 11.4 Astronomy
Father, not mother, determines a child’s sex 76.2 69.4 6.8 Genetics
Continental drift has and continues to occur 86.5 90.2 -3.7 Geology
The earth revolves around the sun 81.1 76.4 4.7 Astronomy
Electrons are smaller than atoms 70.7 68.7 2 Physics
Humans evolved from other animals 39.9 57.8 -17.9 Biology
Understands the need for control groups in testing 82.3 80.3 2 General
The earth’s core is very hot 95.3 93.3 2 Geology
Lasers are not made by condensing sound waves 73.2 61.1 12.1 Physics
Demonstrates a basic understanding of probability 92.5 86.1 6.4 Math
Demonstrates a modestly more advanced understanding of probability 80.6 76 4.6 Math
Not all radioactivity is man-made 87.3 77 10.3 Physics
It takes the earth one year to rotate around the sun 78 74.1 3.9 Astronomy
Antibiotics do not kill viruses 65 51.2 13.8 Medicine
Respondent does not refuse to eat genetically modified foods (2006) 72.6 61.4 11.2 Genetics
Genetics play a substantial role in determining personality (2004) 25.1 26 -0.9 Behavioral genetics
Not all radioactivity is fatal to humans (2000) 76 67.2 8.8 Physics
The greenhouse effect is caused by a hole in the earth’s atmosphere (2000) 38.7 42.7 -4 Climate science
The use of coal and oil contributes to the greenhouse effect (2000) 68.5 74.8 -6.3 Climate science
Polar ice caps have shrunk over the last 25 years (2006, 2010) 93.4 91.8 1.6 Climate science
The north pole is on a sheet of ice (2006, 2010) 57.6 67.7 -10.1 Climate science
Demonstrates a basic understanding of nanotechnology (2006, 2008, 2010) 86.5 88.4 -1.9 Nano science
Demonstrates a modestly more advanced understanding of nanotechnology (2006, 2008, 2010) 77.4 79.3 -1.9 Nano science
It is not perpetually dark at the south pole (2006, 2010) 89 86.2 2.8 Geology?
Not all artificial chemicals cause cancer (2000) 53.9 51.5 2.4 Medicine
Understands that non-GMO tomatoes still have genetic material (2010) 73.4 64.6 8.8 Genetics

The side with the most gets the boldface. He does a crude count and finds a score of 18-8. The data is based on various waves of GSS, so it should be quite good in terms of sampling.

Since my tweet with these is popular on Twitter

it seems like a good idea that I should say a few critical words on the method.

First, not all items are present in all waves, some are present in only a single wave. This means that we cannot calculate a full correlation matrix directly. We could estimate it based on the observed correlations + some assumptions (see our method in the Argentina Admixture project). Without a full correlation matrix, it’s not easy to calculate scores at the person-level across all waves. Perhaps one should just adopt a simple scoring model: give 1 point for every correct answer, then divide by the number of items. Do this for all waves, and aggregate. Slightly more sophisticated is weighing the items by their difficulty: it counts as more to get a hard item right than an easy item. Note that this is essentially what IRT does (along with other things), so we are just mimicking a proper IRT analysis.

Second, we should take into account the size of the gaps on the items (a continuous measure), not just which side has superiority (a dichotomous measure). It’s possible that one side just a lot of items right with minor advantages (e.g. 1-3%), and the other side got the remainder with a substantial advantage (>10%). It can be done on the above data simply by summing the advantages for one side, and taking the mean. Using the Republicans, the number turns out to be 2.65%points, i.e. across the items, Republicans get an average of 2.65%points more correct. Quite small. It’s not easy to estimate a confidence interval using this method, so I don’t know how certain we are about this small advantage.

Third, is that we should not assume that all items measure the construct of interest, scientific knowledge, with equal accuracy (akin to a factor loading, discrimination in IRT terms). Unfortunately, estimating the item discriminations requires a full correlation matrix.

Fourth, the item sampling is questionable; many areas of science were not covered (e.g. linguistics, sociology, musicology, chemistry). Given that there are patterns in which kinds of science are denied by each side, one can sample items in such a way to make any side/group superior. This is the same issue as with sex differences in cognitive ability, where spatial and chronometric tests are not often used, but shows advantages for men. In a perfect scenario, we would sample items at random from all possible items pertaining to scientific knowledge. In the real world, it’s not even easy to delimit what constitutes scientific knowledge, and it’s not clear how we should sample items. Do all bona fide fields count equally for the purpose of sampling? How do we decide on what is a field and what is a subfield etc.? It’s not an easy task! However, along with a few others, we are working on a new public domain scientific knowledge test with very broad sampling of items from the sciences. The plan is then to give this to a large broad sample and see what we get. Furthermore, akin to the ICAR5, we want to create briefer versions based on the full test performance. The currently popular tests tend to oversample physics and astronomy, which may have some effect on the results, especially for sex differences.

Ok, so I did a little extra:

Here’s the basic plot, sorted by Republican advantage

Then I coded the fields, and aggregated:

Note: the original version of The Audacious Epigone’s post had an error, which has now been fixed. The above results are from the fixed version. The fix relates to the scoring on the item with greenhouse gas and ozone layer.

January 30, 2017

Ending cognitive aging

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 01:45

Consider the findings from the large UK study I recently blogged (Akarlin blogs it too):

sex diff UK 1

Some of these have steep declines. It’s not just an artifact of the FLynn effect, age really has a strong negative effect on cognitive abilities. Consider the rates of dementia and age:

dementia age

So, by age ≥85 some close to 50% of persons alive have dementia (not counting those that already died of dementia!).

My impression is that most ending aging research is related to non-brain aging just because this is easier. I only follow the field at distance, but my impression is that in the next few decades we will more or less completely beat every non-brain disorder using methods such as bioprinting to replace bodyparts, immunotherapy, early cancer detection/prognosis methods based on genomics similar to NIBT, nanomedicine, and targeted genetic engineering. Problem is that these methods generally do not work well for the brain because 1) we can’t just replace the brain, 2) the blood brain barrier makes it pretty difficult to do stuff in the brain. The best solution I can come up with is a radical one: replace the blood-brain barrier with a better version, presumably based on nanotechnology. This way, we gain control of what enters the brain and what does not. But I suspect this will be a pretty difficult task because the human body’s internal communication systems are extremely complex.

I worry that there will be large gains in lifespan but little improvement in fixing cognitive aging. The result is that society will have a lot of fairly useless old people (we are moving towards that already due to subreplacement fertility). Due to progress in robotics, I think we will be able to handle this, but it’s not a too bright future and reminds me of the WALL-E scenario. If we look at the largest causes of death, we see that 2 of the top 5 for old people are brain related (dementia and strokes), and there seems to be little progress in cures for them.

From a utilitarian perspective, there is great benefit in giving priority to cognitive aging because this allows people, which includes researchers, to be more productive in aggregate by increasing their working lives. Improving cognitive ability by decreasing the age related decline will have large positive effects on other areas of life, including non-cognitive aging, because solutions to these rely on cognitive ability too. Improving cognitive ability is a positive feedback solution to pretty much all other problems.

May 28, 2016

Aarhus University’s reply to SJW letter

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Emil O. W. Kirkegaard @ 11:04

In the fallout of the OKCupid dataset release, some people wrote a complaint letter to Aarhus University. I haven’t read the letter, but Aarhus University has now replied to it: Reply to Oliver Keyes et al Basically, the letter affirms everything I’ve already said, namely:

  • University was not involved, so:
  • Their ethics rules do not apply.
  • I can put the university on my name because I’m a student there, and this does not imply that I’m claiming to be working there. (Indeed, this is normal practice for Master’s students.)

A bonus statement is:

  • “We are sure that EK has not learned his methods and ethical standards of research at our university, and he is clearly not representative of the about 38,000
    students at AU.”

The last one is funny because it can be interpreted two ways. While they presumably mean it in a negative sense, I see it as positive: I managed teach myself statistics, programming, data science and psychology, and put those skills to use to gather this dataset. The university cannot claim much credit for these accomplishments. ;) Indeed, their only deed was having a linguistics program so easy that I could pass classes by spending perhaps a few days on each class at the end of each semester. The Danish state then provides the funds for living.

For those wondering who Oliver Keyes is, basically he is such as annoying SJW that even Encyclopedia Dramatica has a page on him. One can also find info from more serious sites such as this one, or this one.

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