Give rationality some deserved respect

Mingsen told me about this friend of his the other night. This friend of his is an award winning poet, who is skeptical of rationality’s ability to understand sensualities (not too sure if i am using the right term), such as, poem, painting, humor and other sensibilities. By rationality, I mean “the quality of being consistent with or based on logic“, i also mean reason and science.

If i ever get to meet that poet i would like to remind him, that most of the things that was once thought to be outside the realm of rational analysis (ie science) are now easily explainable by todays science. I am just going to name few sensibility related science to argue my case.

Skeptics use to think that how we determine who we love is not rationally understandable, but now we understand that one of the criteria that we unconsciously use to decide who we love is smell. Science daily explains:

Smell is important when choosing a partner, not only for humans but also fish. To fight disease, the body’s Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules identify a disease as a foreign invader. Different MHC molecules fight different diseases, so it’s important to have a mix. Females use smell to identify partners with suitable MHC molecules: choosing only males with the correct mix of immune genes critical for the survival of future offspring.

Evolutionary biologist has come up with an explanation why we think symmetric facial and body structure is thought of as more attractive. It is because asymmetric features will require more energy to balance the body when moving forward, thus reproducing with a person who is asymmetric will make ones offspring less able to run away from predators. Therefore making people who are attracted to symmetric-ness more likely to survive natural selection and exist today.

Recently, Students at Tel Aviv University has come up with ways to examine facial attractiveness.

“Our software allows the computer to complete a much more complex task of esthetic judgment, which humans cannot define exactly how they do it. Esthetic judgment is linked to sentiment and more abstract considerations, but now we have made the computer do it. This constitutes a substantial advance in the development of artificial intelligence.”

To find out more about eh science of love, click here.

Through out the ages, skeptics has never hesitate to point out a list of things they think rationality is unable to understand, but as time goes by and science progress, that list skeptics use to beat rationalist over the head is getting smaller and smaller. Sooner of later, new discoveries in neuroscience, cognitive psychology and other studies will help us explain why we think certain jokes are funny and why we are moved by some poems. If that poet ever lose his job to a computer, don’t tell me you have not been warned.

Lastly, if being irrational is only harmless ignorance it would have been fine to me, but unfortunately it is not, in a collective society, one’s irrationality has cost to other members of the society. Religious zealots who drove an airplane in to the world trade building on the 11th of September in 2001 is demonstrative of such cost.

Check out Richard Dawkin’s documentary “The Enemies of Reason” for an discussion about how irrationality is undermining our civilization.

p.s. Rationality has gave our civilization, longer life, greater movement, freedom, peace and almost every improvement that you can think of. So to the Irrationals, you guys really need to give rationalist some well deserved respect, no more dissing!!


Sound advice for new graduates

Sound advice for new American graduates, from P.J. O’Rourke

1. Go out and make a bunch of money!

Here we are living in the world’s most prosperous country, surrounded by all the comforts, conveniences and security that money can provide. Yet no American political, intellectual or cultural leader ever says to young people, “Go out and make a bunch of money.” Instead, they tell you that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe, but money can rent it.

There’s nothing the matter with honest moneymaking. Wealth is not a pizza, where if I have too many slices you have to eat the Domino’s box. In a free society, with the rule of law and property rights, no one loses when someone else gets rich.

2. Don’t be an idealist!

Don’t chain yourself to a redwood tree. Instead, be a corporate lawyer and make $500,000 a year. No matter how much you cheat the IRS, you’ll still end up paying $100,000 in property, sales and excise taxes. That’s $100,000 to schools, sewers, roads, firefighters and police. You’ll be doing good for society. Does chaining yourself to a redwood tree do society $100,000 worth of good?

Read the rest.

If i have to add a comment, it would be
To the first point, yes, i agree most wealth creating activities are non-zero-sum, but some resources are zero-sum at least in the short-run. natural resources (and some other things eg power) are zero-sum, the more someone use oil/copper/water the less there is for others to use it until supply is adjusted or new technologies are implemented.

Second, i would say be an idealist if you want, but be pragmatic and realistic in your approaches, and please avoid the pit fall of moral hazards.

Picking Hillary as VP is redundancy

I don’t understand why is anyone suggesting that Obama need Hillary to be on the VP slot….

The simple reason why putting Hillary on the ticket is redundancy: The pro-choice group will fight tirelessly for Obama, because they cannot afford to let John Mccain appoint another conservative justice into the supreme court. Ie, Hillary is not needed for Obama to be solidly supported by female voters, because he is strongly pro-choice and Mccain pro-life.

Kos explains away other reasonings for Hillary to be picked as VP:

As for the vice presidency, that one should be a non-starter from the start. This isn’t a call based on bitterness or hate, but practical politics. The VP candidate needs to be a subservient figure, someone who won’t outshine or overshadow the presidential candidate. Let’s face it, Hillary is too strong a personality to play that role (not anymore), and the drama the Clinton family carries with them would be a distraction from Obama’s core message. Seeing how Bill Clinton has comported himself this primary season, no one wants to see him around the rest of the year. He’s been a disgrace.

Furthermore, at a time that the GOP is fractured, demoralized and broke, few figures can bring in the dough than the Clintons. There’s no reason to give Republicans a boost by putting Clinton on the ticket.

What about her positives? She doesn’t deliver geography (few vice presidents do, remember Edwards), she doesn’t add “experience” to the ticket, since she always overplayed her credentials on that front, she probably brings some credibility on health care, but little else. There’s the “unify the party” thing, but that’s overplayed as well. In 2000, McCain supporters claimed they wouldn’t support Bush, and they did. And in 2008, McCain’s enemies (and he has many in his party) claimed they’d never support him, and yet now they do. Few in our party want 100 years of war, the end of Roe v Wade, and the continuation of the Bush/Cheney agenda.

And then there’s demographics. Obama does far better with independents than Clinton ever did, and let’s not kid ourselves that she can deliver working class white males to the party during the general election any more effectively than John Edwards did in 2004, or than Obama can do on his own. She does have cred with Latino voters and obviously is beloved by women, especially those who lived through the women’s movement in the 60s and 70s. For them, a female president would be a culmination of everything they ever fought for. Ebony had that wonderful magazine cover with Obama and the headline, “In our lifetimes”. It’s inspiring for African Americans as Clinton’s chances were for women.

In that regard, Obama has two strong choices — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. While I said above that vice presidential candidates don’t bring geography with them, Richardson actually would deliver New Mexico since it’s probably the most evenly matched state in the union. Bush beat Kerry by less than a percentage point in 2004, or 7,000 votes. And Richardson’s strong cred in the Latino community would improve Obama’s chances in Texas, Nevada, and Colorado. In fact, I’d camp him out in those states. Furthermore, his foreign policy credibility is unparalleled in Democratic politics, bolstering one of Obama’s perceived weaknesses.

It would be tough for Sebelius to deliver Kansas, but she has a proven record of winning moderate and Republican votes without abandoning core progressive principles. She’s a former head of the Democratic Governor’s Association (as is Richardson), so has strong ties to many of the nation’s Democratic governors who will play a large role in delivering the ticket to the Democrats. She has successful executive experience, and was named by Time in 2005 as one of the nation’s five best governors for balancing the states crushing $1.1 billion budget deficit without raising taxes or cutting funding for education. She has convinced a large number of her state’s Republicans to switch parties. Her (Democratic) Lt. Gov is a former chair of the Kansas Republican Party. She is the kind of “reach out” politician that Obama wants to be, and would be a fantastic choice for him.

And don’t worry, she had a bad night during her 2008 state of the union address rebuttal. She’s a much better communicator and campaigner than that appearance would indicate.

One added bonus — I can’t think of anyone else who would be a better fit than these two, regardless of race or sex. I know some people like Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, but he’s sort of a maverick, and wouldn’t do the “subservient to the presidential nominee” thing too well. He’s a true alpha male, and will be a fantastic senator and maybe someday a top-of-the-ticket guy. I obviously like Gov. Brian Schweitzer, but he’s focused on his big plans in Montana, and is currently running for reelection. I like that he’s building up his state’s Democratic Party, and would rather he continue focusing on that for the moment (and so would him, as far as I can tell). Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine? A compelling possibility who I would slot third in line. His resume is much thiner than Richardson or Sebelius. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland? Also wouldn’t be a bad choice, but he cast his lot with Clinton, and that sort of thing matters in decisions like this one. Same with Wes Clark. I like Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, and she has been a tireless surrogate for Obama, but we’d lose a Senate seat and it would be nice to get some executive experience on the ticket. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is compelling as well (I can’t think of any negatives).

There are other compelling names, all of who I would choose before Hillary Clinton. Remember, the goal here is to win the White House and have the most effective government possible, not to salve the bruised egos of an American political dynasty.




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The probability of being with an ideal girl

Two nights ago, at a cafe i was with 2 girls who forcefully argue that it is highly improbable to be in a relationship with an ideal lover.

Lets consider,

According to the Jung Typology, I am an ENTP type person, and Keirsey’s typology says we only constitutes at most 2% of the entire population.

Lets say, if my ideal person is someone who has the same typology as myself, that would be 2%
but simply being an ENTP is not enough, there are other criteria that needs to be met in order for that ENTP to be my ideal lover. These criteria are:

Age, I can only accept anyone who is 5 year older or younger, if only 10% of the population fits that profile, than, only 10% of the total 2% of the entire population would fit my desired profile.
making it 0.2%

lets say half of that 0.2% are boys, too bad i only like girls, = 0.1% left
lets say half of that 0.1% is in an significant romantic relationship, = 0.05%
lets say i am not attracted to half of that 0.05%, = 0.025%
lets say a quater of that 0.025% dont find me attractive making it, = 0.01875
lets say, i need someone who is intelligent and speaks at least 2 languages, and lets assumes only 1 in 5 ENTPs meets that requirement, that would bring the figure down to, 0.00375%

Which means there is one person in every 26667 people that would fit my ideal lover profile and be willing to date me. Therefor on this island with the population of 230 million, there are only 863 people who fits that profile, Hence, i am single.

Take the test and find out if you are an ENTP person.

Reexamining myself

Between quiting my doctoral candidacy 2 years ago and now, there have been lots of soul searching. I need a new theme for my life. Today, I was just thinking how i am now different to my 2003 year self when i last took the Jung Typology test.

When i was 23, i was:

  • i apply rational decision making process to almost everything i do,
  • a successful masters student at the university of queensland and on my way to PhD
  • i had a clear career path,
  • highly goal orientated, i had a concrete 5 year plan, and life plan
  • and i strategically manage my career
  • i wanted to be an university professor
  • i had lots of friends,
  • very analytical, i would systematically analyze my relations with friends and girl friend.
  • i had many rigid principles that i commit my self too.
  • i dislike uncertainty
  • i try to be liked by everyone i meet
  • i was ambitious
  • using Keirsey’s typology categorizations i was clearly an ENTJ

and in my Post doctoral candidate life i am:

  • Starting a new career direction, i am going into the corporation world, joining Kyocera.
  • i am trying to broaden my career path, taking on unfamiliar things
  • I am going with flow, i have an extremely and vague 2 year plan,
  • i have only one core principle that i adhere too
  • i am exited by chaos and uncertainty
  • i care less about people who do not like me.
  • i am more willing to take risk,
  • i like to thing that anything is possible,
  • using Keirsey’s typology categorizations I am now tilting towards a ENTP

Take the test and find out what type of person you are.