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Odd because we didn't experience an increase in violent crime during the recession, in fact it continued to decrease. How many of those studies look at data after the great mid century crime wave had settled?

As for evidence that jobs and prison prevent recidivism (or crime in general), assuming they do to some degree, how much more or less effective are they than therapy?

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Here's my answer to the Fermi paradox: simulation. And not because we're in one (all respect to Nick Bostrom) but because when a civ reaches singularity, there's no point in expanding because the reality that it/they can live in from within a small efficient simulation machine is safer and cheaper than the prospect of interstellar expansion.

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This has been my favourite explanation since I read Stross' book, Accelerando. The common argument I get against it is along the lines of "humans being too curious to abandon the real universe".

Of course simulation in this case doesn't answer the problem of Von Neuman probes and the like, as its still perfectly reasonable to expect a simulated race to have some physical presence and desire to explore the universe, however since we recognize the risks of these kinds of things so long before we even have the capability of launching our own VN probes, perhaps the vanishingly unlikely scenario is an advanced civilization actually doing it themselves?

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I don't necessarily disagree. I think that there's a likelihood that Von Neuman probes are a possible thing. But are they inevitable? Perhaps they are unlikely. What if the technology required to create reliable VNPs was only in the grasp of singularity civilizations due to the (perhaps) strong AI requirements?

There's this line, I think, where a civilization would look at the divergence that would happen over interstellar distances and realize that they weren't propagating themselves, but at worst, creating more rivals and existential threats for themselves.

It's easy enough for someone to make the right decision and turn all notions of intergalactic conquest into lived-out virtual reality fever dreams.

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Yep, I would agree that it would be very unlikely that a civilization capable of launching them, WOULD launch them. We are nowhere close to being able to build these probes ourselves, but already understand the dangers of doing so. Even assuming that VN probes WERE launched by some civs, who is to say that they aren't stopped by other even more advanced civs before they can become a problem?

Overall, my feeling is that there are 2 things which cause the 'dead' universe we see.

1. The Great Filter is the evolution of intelligence. Since we are here, its easy for us to assume the evolution of sentience is normal, but the dinosaurs were around for almost 200m years and got nowhere. And if not for a string of lucky events, we wouldn't even be here, wondering these things right now.

2. Advanced civilizations prefer simulation and dont need to colonize the universe at all, I think this would be even more likely if the first point is true, since once you understand the physics of the universe, see that its a cold dead place and you are bound by its physical laws, simulation has a lot more to offer. I would love to invent my own universes, simulate them, and be able to watch and manipulate them with omnipotence.

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Makes perfect sense to me. And re: simulation—absolutely. The rest of the universe would be, in comparison, pretty boring.

Also, I have to pick up Accelerondo. Sounds like a good one.

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>as its still perfectly reasonable to expect a simulated race to have some physical presence and desire to explore the universe

Greg Egan's Diaspora is a nice sf novel exploring this theme.

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Yep, last time I made a comment about Accelerando, someone also pointed me to Diaspora. I finished it about 2 weeks ago, it was mind-blowing and I could not put it down. The reason I don't mention it though, is because its easier to relate our future to Accelerando than to the pure AI's in Diaspora.

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I tend to think that the simulation hypothesis put forward in Stross's "A Colder War" is a much greater likelihood. :-/

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It is not reasonable at all to expect any kind of interpretable psychological pattern from an alien life form.

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Oh yes, I agree, and I wasn't trying to imply that this would always be the case. I just meant that just because a civilization is simulated doesn't mean they have necessarily cut all ties with the physical universe. A civilization CAN be 100% simulated, but still be sending probes out to other stars etc.

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Someone's gonna hack it. And when they do, they've found a weapon. Then we're back to civilization's arms races and existential threats in a new theatre.

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i don't think I fully understand what you're saying, could you explain it in more detail?

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If there are 1000000 million advanced civs in our galaxy and 999999 of them decided not to expand, the 1 remaining will still colonize everything in a million years.

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There is no reason for there to definitely be that ONE 'colonize everything' type civilization.

I would assume that it would be incredibly common for a species capable to interstellar travel to have 'cured' aging before starting to colonize the universe. There is no way we can know how a being with eternity before them thinks. Perhaps they will just do it very very slowly? Perhaps immortal civilizations have very slow population growth and decreased pressures to colonize? Perhaps there is a lot of red tape in the Interstellar Colonization Bureau to go through before you can colonize planets? Perhaps the ONE civilization decides it can only colonize barren planets, in which case they have to terraform before they can settle, slowing the process of colonization down exponentially?

I really love this topic, there is so much room for imagination.

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Your assuming you can send colony probes at more than 10% of the speed of light. IMO more reasonable assumptions push colonizing the milky way out to 100+ million years.

Honestly it seems like people look at light speed the same way they look at markets and forget there are numbers below 1%. There are several ways to get a small probe up to fairly high speeds but slowing down is a lot more difficult.

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How does this compare to something like Jekyll?

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I had the same question.

The answer is awfully:

1) I don't see how it generates static websites. It generates pages on-demand: http://thisisvoid.org/article/05-perf.

2) The documentation is a tribute to it's name: null.

3) PHP (AFAIK) doesn't do nice URLs like "/articles/article-7", so my guess is that there's some additional configuration done to the web server. Ugly (compared to Jekyll's stupid-simple solution to this).

4) You seem to need to fork it in order to use it (rather than being able to install it and use it as you would any other tool).

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I think you miss the point.

You compare :

* Jekyll which is a great tool, with lots of features, but which has at least 50 files & probably 1000s of line of code. It's great but I wouldn't be able to understand 100% of how it works in 2 hours. Impossible. Moreover I cannot install gem (and probably not Jekyll) on my shared hosting. Huh...

* Void, my toy-website-creation-tool (yes, I have no problem with that: it's a toy tool): you can understand 100% of how it works by reading less than 100 lines. Nothing more. You can install it on a shared hosting, only requirement: Apache + PHP.

Yes, you need to open and hack the PHP file of Void to customize. What's the problem with that? It's done on purpose.

Is it mandatory nowadays to use many tools like Brew, Composer, Gem, Symfony, etc. to set up a simple website? (I mixed random names that are required in lots of CMS/static generators I found).

My answer is no: you can do something simple with a "hack it yourself" philosophy. And less of 100 lines of code.

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> * Jekyll which is a great tool, with lots of features, but which has at least 50 files & probably 1000s of line of code. It's great but I wouldn't be able to understand 100% of how it works in 2 hours.

Do you need to understand the internals of every tool you use? Do you know how the PHP interpreter works, the kernel, etc?

> Moreover I cannot install gem (and probably not Jekyll) on my shared hosting. Huh...

Why would you install a development tool on the server? Do you install gcc on servers too? That makes no sense at all.

> You can install it on a shared hosting, only requirement: Apache + PHP.

This pretty much reinforces my point: it does not generate static pages, and actually generates them on request-time.

> My answer is no: you can do something simple with a "hack it yourself" philosophy. And less of 100 lines of code.

Indeed, you can do that. You can also hack your own. gp's question was how this compared to Jekyll, and that's what I answered.

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> Do you need to understand the internals of every tool you use?

If possible, I like to understand. For Wordpress, I can't (too big). For simple projects, I can and I enjoy it!

> Why would you install a development tool on the server? Do you install gcc on servers too?

At the moment of my last comment, I didn't know at all how Jekyll works, and knew nothing, zero, about Ruby. Never used in my life. Thus my comment. I had a quick look, in the meantime.

> it does not generate static pages, and actually generates them on request-time.

Exactly. Like a CMS, like a blog, like a Wordpress. I never said my tool generates static HTML that should be uploaded to server after each new article. I don't want this by the way. (True that some people thought it was a static generator. My bad, because few documentation yet (currently writing it...))

> gp's question was how this compared to Jekyll, and that's what I answered.

Sure, no problem. I just don't understand why the awfully in your comment. The point of this tool is not to be a static generator. I never said that. Why is it "awful" to just drop .txt files into the server, and let the server and PHP generate content on request-time?

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You only have to install Jekyll locally, it generates plain-jain html files. Thanks for the info on the differences. Congrats on making a neat tool, I was just legitimately curious as to how they would compare. Cheers!

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Oh sure, no problem at all, of course it is legitimate and interesting!

(the polemic part of my answer was related with the other message "The answer is awfully: ..." )

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Thomas Pynchon is everything that's wrong with postmodernism. I get that he's difficult and I get that he's creating an internal system of signs but come the fuck on, already. It's literature to prove a point. It's the problem with assholes like Derrida who drone on endlessly in what is—has got to be—a massive practical joke/performance art project.

And that's, in its own way, _awesome_. The problem is that people take it seriously. People read the tea leaves of these chaotic texts and derive their own meaning (which means they're falling for the ruse). I have a deep problem with post modernism in literature and elsewhere because of the nature of the joke. It's a virulent meme that has made both art and literature indigestible and that's a shame.

Markets sort of win out and we get real art from television and popular entertainment these days. It's just sad that the legacy of postmodernism is a sort of flypaper trap for minds that would have been put to much better use elsewhere.

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I read Pynchon, because his books are fun.

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This.

Bleeding Edge is full of laugh out louds - and possibly of some minor interest to HN.

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I've only read The Crying of Lot 49 and Bleeding Edge, but I love both of those books. I didn't find either particularly difficult to get through, even though they are long and dense with syntax. The stories themselves are still really engaging and hilarious. I guess it's not everyone's cup of tea, but I've certainly read books I've found to be way more tedious.

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I will always appreciate the core of Gravity's Rainbow being "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me" by Richard Farina. That was cool, no matter how jokey and convoluted the work was.

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In a similar vein I don't get these people that lionize Salk or Newton. Isaac's physics isn't relevant. Now that we have quantum mechanics what purpose is there in studying the process, people, materials and mechanics of a bygone era? Give me my atomic bomb and penicillin but Lord! Spare me the tiresome explanations. What value could there be in that fool Einstein's physical works? Burn it with the Rossetti archives and smother the ashes with Jerry Mcgann's tears.

(excuse me, I'm off to play call of duty with people who understand games are supposed to be fun not make you think.)

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I've never had a more wonderful reading experience than "Gravity's Rainbow". Your words seem hollow and noisy by comparison.

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"All those widows and orphans"

Spare me. What are the numbers on those widows and orphans? Because the thing is, tech investment right now is driven by investors and funds—entities that by definition should be able to handle their losses. Entities that by definition are more educated about the downside risk than the tons of John Q Public idiots that were day trading Internet stocks back in 2000.

Maybe the numbers support what he's saying. If they do, I'd love to see them. shrug

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You are absolutely right. I don't know what widows and orphans he is talking about, but it is very unlikely that anyone of the people pushing hundreds of millions of dollars into start-ups today has any problem affording repairs on their cars.

He is making up a victim here.

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...

it's an expression, not a literal statement.

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Yes, it is an expression usually used to refer to relatively poor innocent people. This does not apply here, poor people are not getting into the private funding rounds of top tier start-ups. So even if you use the expression figuratively, he is still making up a victim.

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I think it's that the tunnel isn't wide enough to have an express. They already run a shitload of trains on the L track, but there's an upper limit to capacity.

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Would an express help with the ludicrous crowding at Union Square? A few months ago I was heading to Brooklyn, and I had to catch it from Union Square to the 8th avenue terminal - otherwise, there was no chance of getting on an eastbound train. (The westbound train was full; when we arrived at 8th, maybe five people got off. Everyone else was just trying to take the long route to Brooklyn, because it was the only option.)

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Express trains would help with volume. If an express traveling on another track was just hitting Manhattan stops plus Bedford, Morgan, Myrtle-Wyckoff, . . . That would take care of a lot of the volume that gets packed onto the always-local L.

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I would be surprised if humans are getting smarter. Show me the selective pressure on intelligence in the modern world, because I don't see it. You don't have to be smart to be evolutionarily fit. Not even close. I'd be very surprised if humans were changing much as far as cognitive capability is concerned, animals that become domesticated almost universally have smaller brains than their wild counterparts.

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There doesn’t need to be DNA change to make people smarter. Just having a few generations in a row with adequate diet, not breathing smoke from a wood fire every day, less damage from childhood disease, etc. could make a huge difference.

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This does seem to appear in height data

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height#History_of_human_h...

There is a fundamental mistake in assuming a "couple generation" linear trend will continue to infinity providing us with 30 foot tall men with IQs of 200+. We are probably at or around peak height and peak IQ right now for various rather obvious income inequality reasons, and we can expect both to decline in the future.

There is a coupling between womens pelvis size and newborn head size and medically assisted survival during childbirth which could provide some multigenerational effect to growth.

There have been a lot of arguments relying on generational inheritance of intelligence / IQ, however:

"As Flynn pointed out in his Ted Talk on the Flynn Effect, in 1900 only 3% of Americans performed "cognitively demanding" jobs - now the figure is 35%"

That would imply the percentage of humanity where cognition has no effect on their job, and presumably lifestyle, is at least 65% and has always historically been higher, as high as 97%, so an evolutionary argument for IQ growth seems extremely weak. It would be as if doctrine were peacock females select their mates based on tail feather size leading to large tail feathers, yet actual data shows 97% to 65% of actual living peacocks come from bald ancestors.

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On the contrary, the evolutionary argument here is that a few generations under these conditions would allow more biologically "stupider" humans to survive (since intelligence isn't being selected for) and pass on their genes, creating future generations of dumber humans.

Jared Diamond makes a similar argument in Guns, Germs, and Steel for why the people of New Guinea are smarter than their western counterparts.

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Human evolution is almost meaningless on those time scales.

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There has been shrinkage in the average brain size over the last five thousand years. Intelligence is a very complicated thing and brain size might not be the only factor—that shrinkage might not even be relevant. But that does not mean that evolutionary change cannot take place on thousand year timelines.

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Current theory is skull size was adapting based on temperature not intelligence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_size#mediaviewer/File:Bra... Also, there are likely more people alive now with larger brain volumes vs five thousand years ago and the same apples to just about any trait you can name due to the rapid population boom.

The important thing to note is the human population covers the globe. There are plenty of sifts in populations like Lactose tolerance becoming widespread over the last 7,500 years, but even that is a long way from becoming effectively universal.

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I think that was my point. You said that ten thousand years of civilization was too short for meaningful evolution. At least that was my understanding.

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10,000 years is long enough for significant beneficial traits to spread widely. It's not enough time to Change neutral traits that used to be beneficial.

That's generally a vary slow change consider most animals don't need dietary vitamin C even if there diets provide plenty of the stuff.

However, you used the term "a few generations" as in below 1,000 years and that's rediculusly fast for a species that takes as long as we do to reproduce and have so few children.

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I didn't use the term "a few generations", that was another commenter. :)

That said, you mentioned a beneficial trait becoming neutral, and that's making the assumption that greater intelligence is neutral. It could be that larger social organizations reward slightly less intelligent critters. That would do the trick rather quickly. I'm not making that claim, but am saying that discussions around evolution and traits that we have bias toward seeing as "good" are fraught.

There's also the further issue of intelligence being a very nebulous term that encompasses tons of cognitive traits, which makes any discussion of intelligence in evolutionary terms even more difficult.

It's also possible that some of what we call intelligence is epigenetic.

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I don't think we have good data on people’s intelligence 10,000 years ago. But, civilization as we think of it only impacted a fairly small chunk of humanity for a relatively small time period. So, at best 'larger social organizations' was rather localized.

Just 500 years ago lots of people in North America where living nomadic hunter gather lifestyles. Even just 100 years ago you could find tribes in many parts of the world still living hunter gather lifestyles little changed over the last 15,000+ years and probably similar to how people lived 100,000+ thousand years ago.

As to epigenetic factors, the classic hunter gather lifestyle could be very healthy as long as population numbers stayed low. Farming actually lowered many heath indicators even as it allowed for massive increases in population sizes.

PS: Anyway, evolution is only 'fast' when there are significant benefits or harms. If a single mutation or environment change increases survival chances by say +/- 1% it takes exponentially longer to spread than a +/- 10% change.

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I don't disagree with any of those points. My original post just stated that I couldn't imagine any fitness pressure that would be making humans smarter and, if anything, we were probably going in the other direction. My secondary point was that change can happen on short timelines.

I do want to mention that larger social organizations were quite widespread in the Americas, despite the existence of hunter-gatherer tribes. The new world certainly wasn't an uncivilized wasteland when Europeans arrived.

Epigenetic factors can be triggered buy group size (domestication) as well. So those hunter-gatherer tribes might share the same genetic traits but express them differently based on their environment.

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any fitness pressure that would be making humans smarter

I don’t recall the study, it was either men in the US or Britton. But, income was positively correlated with number of children. Income and intelligence are also linked so that's evidence that right now intelligence is positively correlated with number of children. This may be strongly linked with prison time but again that links with intelligence.

The important thing to note is men often have children with more than one person and can have children vary late in life.

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I gave up on cataloging the many grammatical and spelling errors in this post, but this one stood out for its unintended wit:

"Farming actually lowered many heath indicators ..."

Indeed, it's uncontroversial that farming degrades the heath.

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lol

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Deny. There's no reason dying of wood smoke or disease selects for the smart or the dumb. Removing those pressures has no obvious effect on the intelligence of the survivors.

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By that I mean, no evolutionary pressure on intelligence. Of course a healthy upbringing will increase exhibited intelligence.

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Standards going up play a big role in all of this, in my opinion. To clarify what I mean, could you consider track running or swimming? In these and other physical sports, it is evident that world records keep climbing year after year, to the now much-noted point that the best high schoolers typically are "faster" than the world best for a few decades ago. Obviously nothing has happened on an evolutionary scale in the timespan of a century, so what explains it?

It's almost like how a goldfish will grow to the size of its bowl-- new humans will grow to and exceed the standards of the last generation, it's just human nature.

It's a bit trickier to apply the principle to creative pursuits than it is to physical ones, but I think it may help explain why students could appear cleverer over time without anything changing biologically.

To give one final example that doesn't involve sports. I am a trumpet player and am pretty familiar with the phenomenon that the best of the best in trumpet playing goes up as the decades go by. Rafael Mendez, Maynard Ferguson, etc. will forever be considered as the all time great virtuosoes, but the cold hard fact is that their technical abilities were only good in light of the time-- exceeded by hundreds if not thousands of the best trumpet players today. It's all about context.

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I heard a radio show recently where the host mentioned a study in the 50's where people were asked what rabbits and dogs had in common, and the answers were usually something along the line of "they both have two ears". The same question was asked some time in the 2000's and the more common answers relied on abstraction like " they are both mammals". I'm not sure if that is reflective of a shift in "intelligence" but I do think it's a shift in thinking.

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> Show me the selective pressure on intelligence in the modern world, because I don't see it

Other humans!

You have to outsmart them and avoid being outsmarted by them, because they compete for the same resources and some of them will act in a predatory manner.

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Yeah, smarter people have more money. But smarter people have fewer kids. So, in fact, there is negative pressure on intelligence.

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Evidence for such negative pressure is inconclusive [1]. Such an effect may be more a result of socioeconomic status, not intelligence. As for a counter example of positive pressure on intelligence, I would expect the trait of humor [2], an attractive trait that is a by product of intelligence, to increase the probability of fertility.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fertility_and_intelligence 2. Kaufman, Scott Barry, et al. "The role of creativity and humor in human mate selection." Mating intelligence: Sex, relationships, and the mind’s reproductive system (2008): 227-262.

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Why are you assuming that the sheer number of first-round offspring generated is the only winning strategy for genes? It's a heck of a lot more complex than "who can pop the most babies the most quickly".

What about the multi-generational odds of survival and reproduction? What about surviving famines or predators? What about competition in sexual selection?

Idiocracy was an amusing movie, but it's underlying premise was never realistic.

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It doesn't need to be an evolutionary change, it could be that education, health, and societal pressure has created the change

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Just speculating here - I wonder if the human cortex is somehow "special" in that regard. What if evolutionary pressure in the past drove the increase of computing power in the cortex so much that now you could have new emerging properties and "features" and so on come out by simply re-wiring what's already there.

You know, like when you're Amazon and you build a huge infrastructure to serve existing business, only to realize later you could do a lot more with it by simply re-purposing and re-configuring.

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Outbreeding is one possibility. There are now more people migrating than ever before, and over long distances. In the past most people stayed very close to where they were born, which greatly increased the odds of inbreeding especially among lower classes. Today we have ubiquitous cheap transportation and more than 50% of the human population is now urban -- meaning bigger gene pools and lower odds of breeding between close relatives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterozygote_advantage

I also must point out that "hard selection" (differential survival) is not the only operating mechanism in evolution. In complex organisms that reproduce sexually, it might not even be the dominant mechanism. You've got sexual selection and genetic drift, which in a species with low infant mortality and low mortality in general (a.k.a. us) are probably the dominant mechanisms. Beyond those you have things like the Baldwin effect, which get very interesting when coupled with epigenetics. Epigenetics is unquestionably real but as yet is not well understood. There could be all kinds of interesting things going on here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baldwin_effect

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

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The first point—increased mate choice—seems to invalidate the second. At least to my understanding, a larger population makes genetic drift less likely to fix on a trait.

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My point was pretty general -- that there are multiple overlapping mechanisms at work, and some poorly understood. People often have this really simple flat "survival of the fittest" view of evolution, and that isn't accurate.

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May be that's the answer: we domesticated ourselves with school, police and other institutions and therefore we no longer need all our intelligence to survive.

We evolved to be the master hunters and nowadays our children aren't even aware meat comes from animals.

This same limited amount of intelligence we evolved with, is then free to do something else, like literature, art and music.

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Don't lie, it'll bite you in the ass. I've had friends go through rounds and rounds of interviews and get dinged on things like this. Ethics is important.

If you have to lie to negotiate a good salary then you need to improve your negotiation skills.

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The article delved into the forces and influence at work, mentioning Bismarck's genocide, Ataturk's national identity, as well as the Reich being a solid part of the colonial era (if the English can run India, why can't Germany march over Eastern Europe?)

> high monetary inflation, economic problems with a lack of jobs, a lack of self esteem combined with a "we're the best country' form of nationalism. etc.

I agree with some of your critiques of the US (mostly the propaganda stuff), however you're reaching pretty hard on these comparisons. Lack of national self esteem? Laughable if you're comparing it to post WWI Germany. Inflation? That's outright wrong, inflation has been flat ever since the financial crisis. And jobs are back.

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Hilarious! I have a forum that's been around for a similar amount of time and at the beginning it was on vBulletin. At least in the old days it was possible to have hidden forums that didn't show up on the main index, but would show if you went to a specific URL/forum id. Those became little secret forums that the users went to talk shit about other users.

It was hilarious and I'd forgotten about that.

Nowadays there might be twenty or thirty of us left. It's pretty slow but it's a nice little community.

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I was about to ask whether you and I were on the same forum, but then I realized that there's maybe five people who even bother signing into mine once a week these days :)

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