Henrik Unné

An hypothesis about intelligence

111 posts in this topic

If I committed the fallacy of drawing conclusions on scanty evidence, what about you? How much do you know about how many men I have observed over my life, and about the quantity and the quality of the thinking that I have done? You have not observed me observing, and you have not directly observed my consciousness.

But Henrik, I have made no comment about your consciousness, none, nothing even suggesting anything relating to your consciousness. My comments pertain and could only pertain to what you have written. I know people often say that a good offense is a good defense, but it isn't true, even if this were a good offense. You have got to ask yourself, why were you willing to make this accusation? Is it a jump of reasoning? Is it merely an attempt to attack someone who won't agree with you? Why?

Yes, I know, and knew, you have met many people, and they are all second-handers, and they all did not listen to you.

Actually, after reading why you conclude that you take second-handers more seriously, I do not agree with you. You are saying that you condemn people with little regard to context. That is never a winning argument within Objectivism.

Henrik, no one is questioning your intelligence or your commitment to your philosophy. All anyone has suggested is that you could benefit from thinking more about the relation between your beginning points and your conclusions.

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Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” I simply slunk out of the office!

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode’s remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.

-Richard Hamming

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Duke, that is a fantastic quote.

Where did you get it from?

That is a quote by Richard Hamming, a scientist at Bell Labs. I read it a long time ago and thought it was suitable for this thread, so I searched what I could remember and pulled it from here. The Fortune article linked on the site is very interesting, and so is the research by Ericsson. Malcolm Gladwell recently wrote a book repopularizing some of Ericsson's research.

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Actually, after reading why you conclude that you take second-handers more seriously, I do not agree with you. You are saying that you condemn people with little regard to context. That is never a winning argument within Objectivism.

But you can morally condemn certain types of people on principle, on the basis of the essence of their nature. For example, if you knew that X was a totalitarian dictator, you would not need to know the concrete details of his atrocities to know that he was, in principle, evil. You would need to know concrete details of his actions and his background, in order to know just *how* evil he was.

And I do not condemn all second-handers equally. There are degrees within the category of morally depraved. For example, I do give some credit to second-handers who have accepted decent premises, and who therefore are peaceful, productive, law-abiding citizens. And I regard Gail Wynand as being a better (less bad) second-hander than Peter Keating, and I regard Peter Keating as being a better second-hander than Ellsworth Toohey.

I am not saying that I condemn individual people in my own life, without regard to the concretes and the context. Whenever I meet a person for the first time, I regard him as "innocent until proven guilty". I assume that he is a good, moral person, until I such a time as I see evidence that he is not. My friends tell me that it is a weakness of mine that I am too innocent, that I tend to trust people too much. My view is that moral depravity is the *statistically* normal among the members of mankind, but not the *metaphysically* normal. I think that I am metaphysically normal, but not the much larger number of second-handers.

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But you can morally condemn certain types of people on principle, on the basis of the essence of their nature. For example, if you knew that X was a totalitarian dictator, you would not need to know the concrete details of his atrocities to know that he was, in principle, evil. You would need to know concrete details of his actions and his background, in order to know just *how* evil he was.

What about Pinochet?

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But you can morally condemn certain types of people on principle, on the basis of the essence of their nature. For example, if you knew that X was a totalitarian dictator, you would not need to know the concrete details of his atrocities to know that he was, in principle, evil. You would need to know concrete details of his actions and his background, in order to know just *how* evil he was.

What about Pinochet?

I would not say that Pinochet was a *totalitarian* dictator, but I would say that he was evil. Although not nearly as evil as, for example, Stalin or Mao.

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On the contrary, I'd argue that Pinochet was on the whole NOT evil (he acted to save the country from communism, which is highly commendable, and implemented free market economics, which shows he cared about running the country properly, although this is of course a simplification), and definitely quite totalitarian - Chile must have been the only free market country in the world where you'd be shipped to a concentration camp for daring to say anything vaguely left wing on any media channel. He controlled his country tightly.

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On the contrary, I'd argue that Pinochet was on the whole NOT evil (he acted to save the country from communism, which is highly commendable, and implemented free market economics, which shows he cared about running the country properly, although this is of course a simplification), and definitely quite totalitarian - Chile must have been the only free market country in the world where you'd be shipped to a concentration camp for daring to say anything vaguely left wing on any media channel. He controlled his country tightly.

Since Pinochet was a dictator, he controlled his country tightly, but not so tightly that it was totalitarian. For example, there were significant elements of economic freedom in Chile under Pinochet.

I would say that any man that institutes the use of torture and/or execution for expressing certain political views, and the like, is evil. The fact that Pinochet was opposed to socialism does not mean that what he was good. If the alleged representatives of freedom resort to the kind of methods that Pinochet did, that will harm the cause of capitalism. And I see all the time here in Sweden, that Pinochet is used by the leftists as an example of the evils of "unfettered, extereme capitalism".

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He didn't use it gratuitously, and he was nowhere near as bad as any of the Socialist dictators. Sure, he's not "good". But Chile, for a time, approached the standard of living of Western Europe. It is still lightyears ahead of its neighbours, and a very interesting economic experiment (also very embarrassing to the left).

The French and British have not yet caught on the fact that Pinochet was an "extreme" free marketeer (or rather, that his Chicago-trained economists, and Friedman in that fateful 20 minutes were). They just see any dictator as evil and right-wing, and rank him with Hitler. Although they never know what to say when I ask for examples of his terrible deeds. Because, of course, they are only repeating what they heard they were supposed to say. In that aspect I guess, you have better socialists than we do - they've actually identified their enemy!

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He didn't use it gratuitously, and he was nowhere near as bad as any of the Socialist dictators. Sure, he's not "good". But Chile, for a time, approached the standard of living of Western Europe. It is still lightyears ahead of its neighbours, and a very interesting economic experiment (also very embarrassing to the left).

The French and British have not yet caught on the fact that Pinochet was an "extreme" free marketeer (or rather, that his Chicago-trained economists, and Friedman in that fateful 20 minutes were). They just see any dictator as evil and right-wing, and rank him with Hitler. Although they never know what to say when I ask for examples of his terrible deeds. Because, of course, they are only repeating what they heard they were supposed to say. In that aspect I guess, you have better socialists than we do - they've actually identified their enemy!

Yes, Pinochet certainly was not as bad as Hitler. I would not even say that he was as bad as some Swedish politicians. I would say that Olof Palme, for example, was more evil than Pinochet, even though Palme never resorted to such overtly brutal violence as Pinochet did. Palme was a hater of the good for being the good, which Pinochet, to his credit, was not.

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