Open thread, 5/12/2013

By Razib Khan | May 12, 2013 3:25 am

The usual.

I haven’t been able to blog much because of various other responsibilities, but I definitely do feel pent up posting energy. So when I come back I assume that I’ll have a lot of stuff to say. Meanwhile I’m chortling a bit about this bizarre attack on my friend Steve Hsu. Here’s the issue that I always have with this: Steve managed to get tenure as a theoretical physicist. When you’re talking to someone who is an academic theoretical physicist it is generally optimal to not assume a priori that they’re ignorant dullards. Unless that is you want to just engage in empty signalling rhetoric.

Though despite not having concerted time to write, I am tweeting a lot since that requires only minimal lengths of attention. Mostly it’s just repeating the functionality of my Pinboard, though I do comment and what not.

Finally, I keep hearing that the Big Five personality typology is much more scientific than Myers Briggs. So I took a bunch of tests which purport to analyze the Big Five categories.

Extraverted: Very high. Consistent. I was 90-99% on all tests.
Agreeableness: Low. Consistent. Generally in the 15-0% range.
Openness: Medium. This was not very consistent. 40-60% range.
Neuroticism: Erratic. For whatever reason I varied from 20-80% here.
Conscientiousness: Medium. But there was some variation.

Oh, and here’s a list of books I’ve rated for Good Reads.

MORE ABOUT: Open Thread

Comments (20)

  1. hereticalhereditarian

    I’m begging you, please do us all a favor and also address the current inquisition of Jason Richwine. The way the mainstream press has treated this issue is downright shameful and yet another demonstration that the mainstream press is unable to talk about truly controversial issues in a serious manner. I hope you can lend us your far more nuanced analysis of Richwine’s work.

  2. salacious

    “Here’s the issue that I always have with this: Steve managed to get tenure as a theoretical physicist. When you’re talking to someone who is an academic theoretical physicist it is generally optimal to not assume a priori that they’re ignorant dullards.”

    How good is this proxy, really, at least once you get out of their area of expertise? There’s a long history of realllllly smart people–often theoretical physicists–totally losing their shit when they start talking about other topics. Brian Josephson, a nobel laureate, is the example that springs to mind.

    (Not that this says anything about Hsu or the linked article in particular–just a general observation)

    • razibkhan

      totally losing their [redacted] when they start talking about other topics

      if both are out of topic, bet on the physicist all things equal.

  3. “Only 150 of 3500 U.S. Colleges Are Worth the Investment: Former Secretary of Education”

    “Bennett assessed the “return on investment” for the 3500 colleges and
    universities in the country. He found that returns were positive for
    only 150 institutions…The problem, Bennett says, is people going to second-tier schools,
    majoring in less-marketable liberal arts fields, and taking on debt to
    do so.”

  4. Sandgroper

    That article against Steve drags out all of the tired old arguments which have already been demolished on numerous occasions, The tell-tale is they quote Gould as the authority. The attacks are getting tedious – not that I imagine Steve was not expecting some.

  5. Dmitry Pruss

    Saw it on your pinboard a few days back
    Doesn’t it look like a spurious correlation, with the language being (sometimes) a (poor) proxy for culture / religion / education / economic status? Do Finns and Hungarians *really* suffer from poor adjustment in IE-speaking countries?

  6. Razib, I was going to ask you what you thought about Jason Richwine, and here you are posting my essay. Much honored am I. The whole incident is incredibly depressing.

  7. Are there any online Big Five tests you recommend? I like MB–not to explain personality, but because it does a nice job explaining how I think (INTP).

  8. I know this is not a physics/computing blog, but what is the inside dope on the “quantum computer” thing making the rounds of the popular press:|NSNS|2013-GLOBAL|dn23519&utm_medium=NLC&utm_source=NSNS&utm_content=dn23519

  9. Riordan


    What do you think about Ta Nehisi Coate’s recent piece on Richwine?

    Would you say this is due to the ” classic “two cultures” problem.” you alluded to in your Myriad Genetics post?


    • razibkhan

      yeah. i’m writing a post now addressing some of that discussion. again, nothing original really for readers of this weblog. but people like ta-nehisi don’t know stat genetics, so perhaps it’s useful.

  10. I am looking for podcasts that are of hard science flavor and not “pop science”, if anyone has any recommendations. A blog like GNXP and this one, that I can listen to in the car when I don’t want to listen to the Economist. My fields of interest alternate between: Molecular physics, Chemistry, Genetics (of an Evolutionary rather than applied nature), Statistics.

    Basically, I’m looking for podcasts in the above areas that talk about things at a level someone with an undergraduate degree in the hard sciences would talk about them. Not “skeptic” podcasts, not look at “experiments you can do at home” podcasts, not podcasts headlined by pop figures like de Grasse Tyson. More like podcasts that occasionally use technical terms that I will have to look on Wikipedia to understand.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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