Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Networks of Low-Stakes, Casual Friendships (nytimes.com)
191 points by gk1 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments



I think this is one of the biggest things that separates introverts and extroverts. Extroverts expend the energy to maintain these weaker relationships, and more willingly participate in the social cues/situations/events that keep them going. The willingness to small talk and sometimes feign interest which can actually jump start a meaningful longterm relationship -- for example let's say someone's child is doing some sport and being busy running them around comes up in small talk -- I find extroverts remember facts like these and use them to deepen or at least keep distanced but mindful relationships whereas introverts wouldn't to start with.

The word "friend" itself takes on different meanings to different groups of people -- especially after the rise of FB -- 1000s of "friends" on a social network is very different from 100s of "friends" you've only met once which is also very different from the ~5 "friends" you see on a daily basis, and much different from 0/1/2 "best" friends who you think you'd do anything for.

I also think it's weird that everyone has to learn these (and other lesson) themselves in their 20s/30s/40s/whenever -- why is there not a compendium of reasonable/decent ways to approach intrapersonal relationships and society in society today? Like a farmer's almanac for human interaction.

[EDIT] - I also think that this is the key difference between sales and engineering orgs. Not that all engineers are introverts or all sales people are extroverts but this choice of expenditure of energy feels crucial to me.


"I also think it's weird that everyone has to learn these (and other lesson) themselves in their 20s/30s/40s/whenever "

I have also wondered about this. And recently was surprised that my kid's school has a multi-year program in which things like this are covered. They call it PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education). It includes age-approriate learnings about relationships, starting in early years with friends and family relationships, what they mean, differences, feelings, etc. It gets repeated each year and expands earlier learnings. Seems very good. I guess it's a UK thing as my kid's school is an international school following the British curriculum.


In the Japanese high school where I taught English they had a class (once a week) for how to integrate into society. It taught everything from how to enter a stranger's house, how to greet people, how to bow, etc, all the way up to what is your life going to be like when you graduate (low level school, where more than 50% were going straight into jobs from high school). I begged them to let me sit in on it, but they said no :-( (Unfortunately unseemly for a teacher to be seen as not knowing this stuff already...). I really wish that schools put a higher emphasis on this kind of stuff rather than the 5Rs (err... how many Rs are there again...? :-) )

I bet there is a market for: My life is a mess - I can't seem to do anything right - Can you teach me the basics of getting along in society - Education. Well... I suppose the self-help market is a good indication of that, but I mean taking perhaps a more structured approach.


The trouble is some of those children will take that educational face value and be confused that things aren’t actually as described. Educational materials are always sugar coated, sometimes more, sometimes less. Some people who realise they’ve been lied to find this quite disturbing, others treat it as the educational lesson it is. Educators are much more motivated to look good to administrators, parents and other adults than to help children. Helping children gives them a feeling of having helped and of professional satisfaction, looking good in front of people with power can make a real difference to their likelihood of having a job next year.


It's true what you say about educators wanting to make themselves look good. But that doesn't detract from the program that I have seen. They do things like have the kids make posters about what is important to them in different relationships, and then have the kids talk about their feelings in various situations. It normalizes having conversations about those things. Sure beats anything we had when I was in school where we never discussed feelings or relationships.


This can be a good programme with broadly positive effects for a large subset of students that go through it. It cannot normalise having emotional conversations. Schools can’t even reliably enforce a norm of non-violence or of respect for learning. If school teaches one thing and society and the outside world the outside world wins every time. Children pick up on hypocrisy and adjust very quickly. Some spot pious bullshit immediately, others learn through experience and many, of course, pay no more attention than they absolutely must, in every class.


I'm going to have to disagree with this. My school when I grew up utterly failed at this. Your school may have too. I was shocked when I worked in a school that didn't fail on this front. I'm not sure it would work in a standard North American school because the main problem is that parents don't respect the teachers/education system. Teachers have to accommodate every single bizarre idea that parents have about how to raise children. But if you have a private school that isn't afraid to tell parents to go elsewhere if they don't like the education, I think it can be done. In fact, I've seen it done. The Japanese school where I taught lectured parents for failing their children more than they lectured the students for screwing up. It was incredible.


Sure, the school is not going to overpower the influence of parents and the rest of society. But the program does help normalise discussing feelings and relationships, at least in some settings, like especially amongst the kids. Which is what you want because when those kids grow up to be adults they will have better social skills when interacting with their peers.


> why is there not a compendium of reasonable/decent ways to approach intrapersonal relationships and society in society today?

Have you seen this? https://www.succeedsocially.com/

It's funny how entertaining it is to read seemingly obvious, common sense advice on things I learned "intuitively" (i.e. trial and error as an awkward adolescent) but never heard articulated out loud.


There is something creepy about that Succeed Socially site, IMO. Perhaps it's just the somewhat inevitably bland normative nature of the advice—"white bread"—as they say. But there is also quite a high ratio of "don'ts" to "dos". The author really gets going enthusiastically when describing all the ways someone's personal hygiene can fail to meet expectations. This isn't balanced by an acknowledgement of how mentally ill people, for example, struggle with personal hygiene. The bland and normative tone seems to be accompanied by an injunction to "conform or lose". The author lives in a "Leave it to Beaver" world, apparently.


It's descriptivist advice on how to fit in and explanation of ways someone might not be fitting in. Some people are in a situation that prevents them from fitting in, and they shouldn't be judged for that, but that doesn't make the advice or explanation wrong.

I don't think it's saying "conform or lose", just, "this is how to conform".

If you can't or don't want to, more power to you, tell that advice to fuck right off. There's nothing wrong with not conforming---its explanation of how you're not conforming is still right, though.


I think the nature of the conformity that he's putting forward is problematic, though. I don't agree that there is one right way to act, the one described on his site. There are many styles, but all he offers is conventionality.

In an interview he says: "When I look back on some of the most likable people I’ve met, they were using the same core social skills we all do, but just executing on everything at a more polished, consistent level."

Likableness is not about "polished, consistent" execution of some social techniques. It has to do with authenticity, a sense of humour, intellectual strengths, etc. The idea that the most likeable people are likeable because they are skilled performers sounds like a normalisation of superficial narcissistic behaviour.

It's all a bit humourless and robotic. "Pod person" territory. Social interaction as technical performance is a way of looking at it that most people would find unsettling.


What you see as authenticity and a good sense of humor, he sees as skilled performance. And I don't really disagree with him there.

Maybe it's because you buy into their "authenticity". Or maybe it's because I don't really get social behavior.


There are "naturals", who are authentic and have a good sense of humor without doing anything for it. Everybody else needs more work/practice to get there. Basically, fake "authenticity" until you are "authentic".


FWIW, my reference to narcissism relates to the ideas of the true (deep) and false (superficial) self discussed here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_self_and_false_self

There isn't a hard scientific consensus about the dynamics of narcissism. It's kind of at the intellectual stage of being a "code smell" that many very serious people have learned to detect from bitter personal experience.


In addition to there being no scientific consensus on narcissism, and it having multiple meanings, another problem with the word is that it has become a reddit/internet meme, where you have random people arbitrarily accusing people of being narcissistic. Because of this, it's starting to lose any meaning at least in general topic internet forums.


OK, I know it's a 'bad' word to use. In my innocence, I think I can use it to invoke the rich, complex psychoanalytical meanings of the word. Serious conversation is what we do here, right?

But more seriously, I don't care how diluted the word has become. It names a very recognizable phenomenon, one that we have a problem with in the current culture, but which isn't new. If you care about engaging with that phenomenon (and typically, if you do, you don't have a choice in the matter) then the professional use of the term becomes the only meaning that has significant value.


I haven't seen this interview; you could be right that he's way overselling how Correct(TM) his advice is.

But from what I've seen, I think you're reading too much into it all. You're right that all he offers is conventionality, that's the whole point, the site describes social conventions. That doesn't mean he's saying you're going to die friendless and alone if you ever dare to break the mold. The quote you cite just sounds to me like he's saying here's what people do, and for people who do it really well, it really works.


>The bland and normative tone seems to be accompanied by an injunction to "conform or lose".

presumably if one is seeking advice on how to succeed by conforming, they are already losing


If you’re willing to live with the consequences of not conforming you can not conform all you like. If you don’t want to conform you can move to a community that supports that. San Francisco puts a lot of effort into supporting people who enjoy defecating in public for example, and you see the same thing in other US West Coast cities too, though they aren’t quite as far along.


>I find extroverts remember facts like these...

I like your overall point, but disagree here. I actually find a lot of introverts (such as myself) remember MORE minutiae than extroverts because we are more prone to listen than to speak.

We just won't bring it up out of nowhere because we already know how the conversation will go or are not piqued enough by the subject matter to think it warrants a conversation.

"Oh, hows your son doing in soccer?

So great. he won/lost x/y/z games. He's such a n/m/o player and feels r/s/t about it.

Ohhh, that's great." End scene.


Exactly. I often try to hold back on mentioning details, or pretend to be surprised by them, in case it would seem weird to be so caught up on someone else's life.


Point well taken, predicting the likely impending small talk and avoiding it is definitely a thing I do a lot.


I think people are refusing to use the word that perfectly describes the wast majority of modern "friends" - they are acquaintance - people with whom one is friendly but they aren't friends.

Friends help you move.[0]

---

[0] And of course there's "real friends help you move bodies" if we want to look at the hierarchy of "friendships"


"Mawwiage is wat bwings us togedder today"

Life-long friendship-or-else, amirite?


> I also think it's weird that everyone has to learn these (and other lesson) themselves in their 20s/30s/40s/whenever -- why is there not a compendium of reasonable/decent ways to approach interpersonal relationships and society in society today? Like a farmer's almanac for human interaction.

The college I went to had a great comm course called "Sex, Relationships, and Communication" and it covered many things in this area. Really should have been a required high school course.


Was there a book used for that course? If so would you recommend it?


Book here: https://smile.amazon.com/Close-Encounters-Communication-Laur...

I didn't use it as much as lectures/notes which were very good but the reviews seem positive. I'd probably pirate it to test drive before buying given the price of academic textbooks. Different editions also tend to save a bunch of many so look for older editions too!


> The word "friend" itself takes on different meanings to different groups of people -- especially after the rise of FB -- 1000s of "friends" on a social network is very different from 100s of "friends" you've only met once which is also very different from the ~5 "friends" you see on a daily basis, and much different from 0/1/2 "best" friends who you think you'd do anything for.

Wait a minute.

Has anyone really consider their 10,100 or 1000 facebook friends as IRL friends ? Do some people really confuse both kinds ?


I think GP's point isn't that this is the same as traditional friendship, but that not everyone understands the word "friend" to mean this anymore. While you might consider "friend" to mean "IRL friend", others might not interpret it the same way. At the very least, I think you can probably accept that in certain narrow contexts, the word "friend" doesn't necessarily mean "IRL" (e.g. "I sent the Facebook event invite to all my friends"), so it shouldn't be too much of a leap to realize that other people who focus much more on social media than you might could potentially use contexts like this significantly more in their conversations.


I understand how the context changes the meaning but there's a narrative floating around that people aren't actually doing that (I take for example the "friends help you move" meme).


I have a good number of fb friends that I would absolutely recommend for a job. This has little to do with how close I am to them and a lot to do with the kinds of stuff they post/comment.


Yeah, but you aren't confusing them with `friends`, these are `facebook friends`, right ?


I think this is more tied to how much people like socializing, not their intro/extroversion.

From my understanding, intro/extroversion is how people like to process information. Introverts like to think through things. Extroverts like to talk it out. These are correlated with other behaviors, but those behaviors aren't the definition of intro/extroversion itself.

I only say this because I know plenty of introverts that do exactly what the parent comment is saying and love it.


> From my understanding, intro/extroversion is how people like to process information. Introverts like to think through things. Extroverts like to talk it out.

I have never heard that as the primary definition of intro/extroversion. The difference is really about how you "recharge". Introverts recharge by spending time alone, while extroverts recharge by spending time with others. Thus, introverts may be fine in social situations, BUT if they don't get adequate "alone time" they will get exhausted.

Thus, this really is tied to introversion/extroversion when it comes to keeping up with "weak" networks. I may like to socialize, but as an introvert, that costs me energy, so I am picky about where I "spend" it, and oftentimes I will forgo the chance to socialize with folks I don't know that well because, for me, it's not worth the energy.


> The difference is really about how you "recharge".

This is a very recent Internet cliché.

I believe that the terms were introduced by Carl Jung about one century ago, and they refer to the dominant focus of one's mental life. Introverts dominant focus is on their internal worlds, while extroverts dominant focus is on the external world.


A helpful explanation I found recently on the "Personality Hacker" podcast [1] for the Myers-Briggs types is this:

Introvert / Extrovert: Introverts consider their mind as the "real world", whereas Extroverts consider the external world as the "real world". Everything that takes place in the "not real world" has to be processed and rooted back in the "real world", which is why there is the stereotypical "Introverts need to be alone" / "Extroverts need to be in a crowd"

Intuitive / Sensing: Intuitive means you think about what is "behind the curtain", Sensing means you mainly consider what is right in front of you

Thinking / Feeling: When making decisions, Feelers take personal relationships into account. Thinkers are much more "fact based" and don't consider the social dynamics as much.

Perceiving / Judging : The way they explained this one is that people tend to want to organize either the outer world or their minds. Judgers want the external world to be organized and make sense, so that they can let their internal mind wander. Perceivers want their minds to be organized so they can play with things in the external world.

I think I got that all mostly correct. They have a series they did on Myers-Briggs that I thought was really interesting.

They also talk about one called the "Enneagram", which found to be really interesting. [2] I'm a "Self-Preservation Three" in that system.

[1] https://personalityhacker.com/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enneagram_of_Personality


Did Jung mention anything about alternating between both? Am I right in thinking this is a spectrum so it's perfectly fine/possible to be somewhere in the middle or is the argument this really is an either/or?


According to the MBTI it is not a spectrum; you have a preference for one or the other.

This doesn't mean you can't or don't behave in ways outside your preference; we all do, everyday. It just means that, all other things being equal, you will lean toward extraversion or introversion.

Also, please note that MBTI E/I does not equate to extraversion/introversion as it is known and understood by society at large.


But MBTI is bollocks and people do test equally strongly for different aspects on different days.


The author writes:

"A study from 2018 found that people formed a “casual” friendship after spending 30 hours together."

Of note, when you click on that "study", it's actually a paper on two studies. The first study's methodology relies on participants using Amazon's Mechanical Turk via survey collection, and these participants "were given $.65 for survey completion". Then, the second study's methodology relies on "a Midwest public university, [where] participants were recruited from public speaking courses. To be eligible, participants had to have enrolled in their first semester of school that fall (i.e., freshman, transfer) and have moved to the city within 2 weeks prior to the start of class." There's no mention of incentives for the second study.

I wish the NYT article talked more about the details of these studies and their possible limitations, for instance, with generalizing. Still, I think this is an interesting question. I wonder if there's meta-analysis research done in this area.


Almost the entire body of social science is based on generalizations from limited studies.


Generalizations from limited studies performed exclusively on bored university students, typically of social science.


Limited studies with small sample sizes. :-)


well said. I feel like doing an overnight trip with someone (like a camping trip or a roadtrip) generates strong bonds with people you would otherwise not know that well. But it only takes a few months to a year of little to no contact for friendships to disintegrate.


Hopefully this hasn't been pointed out already...

Often times introverted people are brimming (if not full) of empathy, and compassion. The joy they give is the joy they receive. That reward system is personal, internal, and can even be sullied by outside observance.

These people (whom you might have known, or know now) really don't need compliments. In fact, compliments border on uncomfortable. They probably give anonymously.

They put themselves in peoples shoes and embody their difficulty.

Their reward is to help because that effort returns to them in an unspoken and even unnoticed joy.

Having friends, or a social network is definitely a way to create opportunities. But for some people, that isn't necessarily worth the engagement.

A very empathetic person might not want to loosely couple themselves in a social network with anyone else if they feel like they won't be able to offer their finest. It'd be unfair.

They don't need those connections to find joy. They generate their own in compassion.


I eat dinner at the same restaurant almost every Sunday night. I know the waitstaff, the maître d', and the people at the bar. They know about my life and I know about theirs. I have a similar relationship with people at a wine bar near my house.

We don't see each other outside this context, except for the occasional serendipitous run-ins. They are nice, casual friendships that tie me closer to my community.

That kind of community feels less and less common with our AirPods in, heads in our phones, taking Lyft instead of public transit, etc.


This is exactly how I feel about the different coffee shops I frequent. I think it's also the sort of relationships that churches, social clubs, etc. provide. These all fit under the broad umbrella of Third Places [1].

Third Places are critical to the social fabric of a community, and I think they are largely overlooks and underappreciated by people.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_place


I think you'd really enjoy this podcast episode on libraries! https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/palaces-for-the-peopl...


I have heard good things about the book Bowling Alone, which apparently explores some of this territory: http://bowlingalone.com/

(I have not read it personally.)


For the longest time, Overwatch was one of those third places for me.

Now my third place is more or less at home with my siblings.


Home is the "First Place" in this framework. Work is the "Second Place".

I saw an article recently that kind of missed what "Third Place" was, in my opinion. It basically said "Third Place" was just taking time for yourself. The real point of "Third Places", in my understanding, is that they are neither home nor work. At home, connections you build are with family. At work, connections you build are with coworkers. At third places, the connections you build are with the broader community. It's where you build the disparate connections that weave together the "social fabric" of a place.


Wait, what is your first place then?


When I have my AirPods in, I'm busy forming a relationship with the podcast host or guest that I'm listening to.

This is more important to me personally than becoming friends with waitstaff at the restaurants I go to.

I'm curious what you think of this take.


These one way relationships through mass media are not social. They're parasocial. This kind of relationship is becoming universal when mass media is so accessible that everyone is bound to find a podcast/vlog/stream they personally connect with.

A good question is whether you think someone could be so charming that you would be their friend even if they never let you speak. Mass media is not new and my guess is that ever since the printing press readers would form personal connections with writers.

I don't think any of it is inherently good or bad, but it's a matter of what you want to pay attention to. Everyone around you will be less entertaining, charming, inspiring, or funny than the podcast, but they will listen to you. Which kind of relationship would you rather have?


> Everyone around you will be less entertaining, charming, inspiring, or funny than the podcast, but they will listen to you. Which kind of relationship would you rather have?

Compared to making random small-talk with the server at a restaurant?

I'd prefer the one-way relationship with the podcast host.

Compared to hanging out with a good friend/acquaintance and talking in-depth for hours about subjects we're passionate about? I'd mostly prefer the hanging out (but maybe sometimes not!).

My point is that one type of relationship isn't by default better or worse in my life.


Not OP, but I think you could make an argument about the value of face-to-face interactions, and of one-to-one over one-to-many communication.


I have the same at my local grocery, coffee shop, and gym. When you see the same people all the time it becomes awkward not to say hello.


The 1973 Strength of Weak Ties paper briefly mentioned in the article is actually the Ur-reference on this topic, and is insightful: https://www.cs.cmu.edu/~jure/pub/papers/granovetter73ties.pd...


Interesting article - all of the referenced studies are about the real world, and the benefits of those interactions I definitely agree with - and yet the author leads with an anecdote about a tweet leading to a job.

I'm less convinced that the claimed benefits of casual networks (feeling connected, for example) accrue to purely online casual relationships.


To what extent does this apply to online casual friendships? E.g. 'Friends' that one has never met in real life, on IRC, Facebook etc.


I would say that just because it's online, doesn't make it any different than someone you only talk to at the "water cooler" or friends of friends you only see at parties.

"We don't use the expression IRL. We say AFK. [...] We don't like that expression. We say AFK - Away From Keyboard. We think that the internet is for real." - Peter Sunde


Casey Neistat had an interesting take on this in one of his recent videos. He described it as completely fulfilling in all of the components of friendship and community, but without the intimacy, which I think is quite apt. I do believe wholly that casual friendships are almost indistinguishable online as they are in person; however close friendships and relationships on the other hand require an element of intimacy that cannot be fulfilled.


As a millennial I really hate this trend. For instance, most housing groups on facebook now are mostly filled with people just posting about themselves and expect others to come to them with housing options that work. Instead of actually just going through listings to find something that would work for them... It's the most bizarre entitled way to try to flip a sellers market into a buyers market...


You're witnessing long-overdue movements in the direction of the Intention Economy [1] (a riff on the Attention Economy). In fact, the base concepts are not new - it's how companies do their buying, using RFPs. Now that we have computers, why should people have to schlep over listings filled with irrelevant stuff?

But the real problem seems this tendency to use Facebook for everything, when it's really not the best option for anything. Better platforms can provide filtered options automatically, reducing the work for both parties. I really hope FB starts losing its grasp on the web.

[1] https://www.linuxjournal.com/content/intention-economy


I big reason that housing groups are filled with people posting looking for a room, rather than vice verse, is because Facebook offers a terrible search UI for actually finding suitable houses.

I can't filter by location, rent, rooms, etc. etc. I have to instead scroll through dozens of irrelevant posts, then send a message to relevant ones and hope that I'm a suitable housemate and they reply back.

Meanwhile, on websites specifically designed for finding roommates, I can usually search by location, price, rooms, gender requirement (if any), building type (e.g. apartment, house), etc. etc.


...it sounds like you're complaining about the people who are trying to make money from a relationship being the ones to put the work in. If you're renting or selling, it's up to you to put in the legwork.


Housing groups are usually for people looking to rent a property together, not owners selling/renting.

Some people view that relationship as "you need me so come to me" - in my experience, those are the worst people to live with.

I rather like that Facebook lets people act naturally. The people that reply to those lazy posts are usually poor planners desperately seeking a flatmate... so neither group engages with my ads :D


The smart thing to do is to approach it from both sides. Of course, only people's postings are visible to you. You wouldn't know if they read 100 listings and reached out to several of them.


Back in the day, we called this "networking". Back before Eternal September, so mainly via telephone. I used to spend hours at a time on the phone, seeking information. Basically cycles of cold calling people, getting referrals, and cold calling them.

I found jobs that way. Also preprints. And copies of EPA documents that were under review, or buried for political reasons. I tracked down authors, and got background.


Meanwhile some of the most replicated, reliable psychometric findings get thrown out because they’re politically inconvenient.

The social sciences are a dumpster fire.


We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19851234.


[flagged]


>> Meanwhile some of the most replicated, reliable psychometric findings get thrown out because they’re politically inconvenient.

>> The social sciences are a dumpster fire.

> Can you explain very specifically what you are talking about?

IQ is probably the single most trustworthy finding in psychology/sociology. In a field where even core studies don't tend to get replicated (this is changing slowly and grudgingly), it has survived decades of replication and attacks.

Given the political self identification of the professors in the field (over 99% progressive), it seems reasonable to assume that the political beliefs of the faculty contribute to the skepticism that the field, and academia more broadly, have of IQ.


I am not steeped in this concept, but it strikes me that IQ can be totally replicable of the same biases, year after year. Meanwhile, what are you going to do with that information? I'd be a little disappointed to see it suggested that you can reduce an individual human to a number and make decisions affecting people's lives. Have you not had life experiences where the person with the highest test scores, most amount of praise, recognition, money, earning power, etc., is actually a comparatively ill-equipped human for some task? This intuition should make us skeptical of drawing too many conclusions from such metrics.


> Have you not had life experiences where the person with the highest test scores, most amount of praise, recognition, money, earning power, etc., is actually a comparatively ill-equipped human for some task? This intuition should make us skeptical of drawing too many conclusions from such metrics.

1. I'm not saying that people should trust IQ. I'm saying that, to the extent that people trust social science, they should trust IQ more than anything else from the field.

2. There is actually research about what you are talking about[0]:

"The upshot of this research is that work sample tests (e.g., seeing if people can actually do key elements of a job -- if a secretary can type or a programmer can write code ), general mental ability (IQ and related tests), and structured interviews had the highest validity of all methods examined (Arun, thanks for the corrections). As Arun also suggests, Schmidt and Hunter point out that three combinations of methods that were the most powerful predictors of job performance were GMA plus a work sample test (in other words, hiring someone smart and seeing if they could do the work), GMA plus an integrity test, and GMA plus a structured interview (but note that unstructured interviews, the way they are usually done, are weaker)."

This is not to say that IQ is some sort of guarantee - the correlation is only about 0.5. That being said, it is one of the strongest factors; at a population level, it should not be particularly surprising that IQ would have a strong impact on economic success.

___

0. https://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2009/10/selecting-ta...


"IQ doesn't perfectly predict outcomes" is not a great critique of IQ. No one is arguing that IQ presents an infallible linear ranking of human worth / value / accomplishment.

On the other hand, it's extremely unlikely that someone with an IQ of 85 or less will be able to understand complex abstract concepts. That's about 50 million people in the USA.


"what are you going to do with that information?"

Restricting chemicals proved to lower IQ springs immediately to mind.


> "what are you going to do with that information?"

> Restricting chemicals proved to lower IQ springs immediately to mind.

Iodized salt is an example of a successful global health program that effectively did just this, but in reverse (promoted a IQ protective chemical).


That's an interesting one, because you can say that IQ is a flawed metric or misguided concept, but also agree that (random example) childhood lead exposure lowers IQ therefore let's reduce it. If the metric has any validity at all you can get good outcomes with this even if some details are wrong or imprecise.


Yes, just as you could draw conclusions about chemical exposure that increases or decreases jump-rope ability. If you use the metric in the right context it's fine.


I think the takeaway is that IQ is not comparable between individuals, but is comparable between points in time of one individual.


We've gotten complaints about this username, and I think I agree with them. Trollish usernames aren't allowed on HN, because they effectively troll every thread they post to. If you email us with a better name, we'll be happy to switch it over for you and unban the account, but I'm banning it at least for now.


It seems to me this is actually of an example of it used in aggregate, removing pollutants across whole populations, rather than on the individual. I might also sooner say the lesson is if you can unambiguously use the metric to lift people up, that's good. You still have to be very careful about what that means.


> IQ is probably the single most trustworthy finding in psychology/sociology.

The single most trustworthy finding for ... what though? I don't know what a measurement being "trustworthy" means unless you associate it as an indicator for something else. But you didn't do that.


>> IQ is probably the single most trustworthy finding in psychology/sociology.

> The single most trustworthy finding for ... what though? I don't know what a measurement being "trustworthy" means unless you associate it as an indicator for something else. But you didn't do that.

Literally the next sentence is:

>> In a field where even core studies don't tend to get replicated (this is changing slowly and grudgingly), it has survived decades of replication and attacks.

I don't know if you think the current academic scientific process is a method of discovering facts about the universe, but if you do, the process of replication and fielding criticism is the process through which scientific findings become trustworthy.


Worthy of being trusted for what?



Taleb is unreadable. I have to wipe my forehead of the vituperative spittle after every paragraph.

Cosma Shalizi has a much better critique, although it too has some flaws: http://bactra.org/weblog/523.html


If by some flaws you mean the same logic proves barometric pressure does not exist.

https://www.chrisstucchio.com/blog/2019/p_a_statistical_myth...

> Anyone following Nassim Taleb's dissembling on IQ lately has likely stumbled across an argument, originally created by Cosma Shalizi, which purports to show that the psychometric g is a statistical myth. But I realized that based on this argument, not only is psychometrics a deeply flawed science, but so is thermodynamics!


I've largely stopped following Taleb, mainly because he seems to have taken "don't be a pushover" and misconstrued it to mean "be an ass". He has some good points though.


I find him much less of an ass in interviews, at least those with Russ Roberts (of Econtalk), whom he likes.


That piece is emotional AF. That doesn't necessarily mean it's wrong, but here is a concrete sign that it is extremely biased "and salary earners in structured jobs that resemble the tests"

Ha! Haha! Is Taleb wilfully ignoring that most people work salaried (or wage) jobs?!? Most do not become hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, independent authors.


Well, after you correct for the facts that all the high numbers seem to have the same ability, different cultures are penalized differently by the tests, experience with the tests or even willingness to be tested bias the results a lot, and probably some 100 other large factors that I didn't hear about (because I never looked), it's a highly stable measurement.

I'm not sure what it measures, and I don't think anybody is. It is some real phenomenon, because success on some tasks have a high correlation to it (that disappears at high levels). It is also severely overrated by nearly everybody that talks about it.


One person taking multiple IQ tests will see markedly different scores.


[flagged]


The people who talk up IQ tend to have a high IQ score (not commenting on the validity of IQ, just who the enthusiasts are). I don't think that means they are racist or that their beliefs have anything to do with race.

Also, the US military essentially does IQ testing, so I wouldn't say it's just "crackpots". It would be pretty ridiculous to say that a high IQ score offers no useful signal at all.


> Also, the US military essentially does IQ testing, so I wouldn't say it's just "crackpots". It would be pretty ridiculous to say that a high IQ score offers no useful signal at all.

There is actually an important reason why the US Military does IQ testing: they tried using low IQ troops in Vietnam; it didn't work very well[0].

___

0. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1495805484


A short a talk by the author: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_J2VwFDV4-g


[flagged]


Whether that's true or not (it doesn't match my experience at all), it says nothing about the conjecture that people who believe IQ has merit are racist.

kortilla 43 days ago [flagged]

Or maybe a problem with men.


At least you have a chance of extinguishing it. A tire fire not so much.


[flagged]


Is this an indirect response to something in the article? Serious question.


This seems oddly insincere


Thanks, Vibranium!




Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: