Aug 4Liked by Andrew Cutler

It seems to me that there's an oversimplification in the discussion of heritability and fitness.

The argument about the breeder's function and what that implies about historical IQ/EQ relies on two implicit assumptions: that what is being inherited is 'just' intelligence with no meaningful side effects, and that the fitness function of that is monotonically increasing.

There's no reason that either of those has to be true. At the end of the day, what is actually happening is that something in the wiring of the brain is being tweaked - a biological engineering optimization, if you will. And a key lesson from non-biological engineering is that changes almost always have side-effects, and the value of the whole package is almost never monotonically increasing out to infinity.

The clearest example of this I've seen is with racehorses. A faster racehorse is better, right? And one key way to make a horse faster is to make the legs lighter, particularly the lower leg (basic physics here - less mass is easier to accelerate). But as you do that, you end up shaving down the leg bones more and more, and at some point the incremental speed gain from a lighter leg is dramatically outweighed by the fact that a bone just snapped and it's now lying in a crumpled heap on the ground.

So what is evolution metaphorically 'shaving down' to increase g or GFP, and is there a point at which that fails catastrophically?

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"Nor is it surprising that Jesus condensed the 613 rules in the Old Testament to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” One can even think of it as a dimensionality reduction of the Old Testament. What is the one latent rule that generates all the others? Don’t kill or commit adultery are merely object-level implementations of this higher law, the Golden Rule. But importantly for Jesus, this is deeper than a commandment; it is a divine spiritual truth. Your soul was forged such that you cannot be at peace while you fail to treat others the way you would like to be treated. This is the Living Water that He offers. And it is strikingly close to Darwin’s claim that our minds must have been forged by this foundational tenant of morality."

Golden Rule/GFP is real without doubt, but its evolutionary advantage seems more likely to me to have been purely defensive, no matter what Jesus and/or Darwin thought about it. After all, in the world of humanity, "There are many enemies" (Musashi). GFP modeling allows for their early identification -- they are the residuals who aren't predicted by that model.

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Aug 8Liked by Andrew Cutler

Thinking further on this, I argue that there's a fundamental qualitative difference between IQ and GFP, such that GFP should not be described as 'intelligence'. That doesn't mean it isn't an incredibly valuable mental quality, just that it should be categorised separately.

I'm here defining intelligence as the capacity to search a solution space an optimal solution via reasoning. Take inputs of available resources, known constraints, a set of values according to which results should be judged, etc, and then output the course of action that best suits the given scenario.

GFP, then, isn't an alternative technique for searching the solution space, it's a hardwired override on the pre-existing technique: all solutions in the subsection of the solution space known as 'being a dickhead' are to be discarded (/strongly devalued) *without* analysis or consideration.

It's a short-cut. The same result can be produced via standard intelligence as well, but it takes a fairly deep education on the iterated prisoner's dilemma, the two-box problem, and other similar game-theory constructs, plus the ability to relate such abstractions back to day-to-day life.

That's outside what has been factored in to human intelligence 'properly' but it's an important (and adaptive) result, so it's been built in to our cognition in another form. Calling it 'emotional intelligence' is like calling the aversion to rotten meat 'scent intelligence' or teenagers being horny 'sex intelligence'. It's not, but the word 'intelligence' is prestigious so people who want to argue that this other thing is also valuable are mangling the definition in order to try to claim some of that prestige for the concept they think is being underrated.

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This has also made me think (again) about my views on tests of things like the Big Five. They've always seemed to me like:

a) A version of zodiac signs for scientifically-minded people;

b) A version of those mathematical parlor tricks where you ask people to think of a number, do a few mathematical operations, and then surprise them by ending with the same number they began with.

By this I mean that a "good" horoscope or zodiac sign description will make you instinctively feel like they apply to you personally and tell you something deep and personal about your condition. Traditional horoscopes achieve this by either shotgun tactics or by framing universal aspects of the human experience in personal terms. These tests achieve this by a process analogous to (b), by asking you loads of questions which correlate with personality traits and then telling you things about your personality - how did they know! oh yes, I told them. Maybe good "seers" do an intuitive version of that too!

But here you are using this to try and investigate important features of the human condition. I guess in the face of it this doesn't contradict my prior view - after all, this is still a universal feature, and implies nothing about the trick stuff. But it feels like it should make me seriously consider whether this stuff is tautological less in the way of party tricks and more in the way of pure mathematics...

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Thank you Andrew, I enjoyed reading this.

I might contribute some angles that I believe to be relevant, both with respect to IQ/EQ over time and within the nature/nuture debate, that I have not seen frequently raised.

Assume for a moment that we are all born as high performance cars, or high IQ if you will. While all of us could theoretically race at identical laps, this would not tend to happen in reality. Some would just not get fuel in them, some the wrong fuel, some use the clutch non-optimally or gas or brakes or not handle drifting etc etc. Over time it would also increase the discrepancies, as some will do more laps, pay more attention, develop more of a desire to lower their lap times. Some will not change tires or do services at proper intervals etc.

That whole analogy serves to point out the simple fact that our mental "machine" is simply used or understood at different levels both across time, across cultures and families.

This will, I believe create significant differences in performance (on the narrow ranges measured), even assuming equal potential, analogous to genetically identical twins where one exercises and the other does not. One will clearly lift more than the other over time.

What happens in practice, I believe, is the introduction or removal of bad "code" in our minds. We can hold contradictory beliefs that are mutually incompatible, and function almost optimally when we do not place much weight on these believes. Once more weight is placed, eg attention, we spend much energy basically running loops or what we might see as syntaxt errors. This reduces our ability to deliver with respect to our potential.

Any machine works best in the absence of friction, or friction that results in energy expenditure on "things" that do not directly contribute to the objective goal of the machine. (Now please do not take all my analogies as anything but serving to make a point). This is where we might engage in a debate on the central point of most religions, how cultures and parents impact their inhabitants/childrens ability to reach their potential, and if that is even desirable.

I generally think of IQ as the ability process abstractions and conclude the logical next step/former step of the system that the abstraction represents. Often this implies active "thinking" or using the brain actively. Whereas EQ is a particular subset that would align more with understanding the workings of your own mind and that of other minds (more wisdom, if you like). The discrepancy though is manifested through how "attention" is directed, with IQ it tends to be smaller/focused and EQ wider while still picking up the small clues/information that arise constantly.

Will end here in case you do not find it relevant...


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I see EQ as a particular use of IQ similar to shape rotating. Not everyone with a high IQ has high EQ but everyone with high EQ has high IQ.

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I think the complaints about sky-hooks are overrated. Like imagine you had a cheeseburger; how would you know whether the cheeseburger is real?

Well, you could try to look at it. If it is bright, then light will bounce off the cheeseburger and into your eyes, and they will send nerve signals to your brain to give you an image of it.

You could also try to smell it. Particles from the cheeseburger disperse in the air, enter your nose, and activate the olfactory system which sends nerve signals to your brain.

Or you could try to touch it. Electrons in the cheeseburger will repel electrons in your skin, which in turns will activate your nerve signals.

Even if you eat it, that leads to it going into your stomach, where nerve signals for satiating get activated, and the burger gets dissolved and various complex (hormonal?) signals get sent around.

No matter what you do, you cannot observe the cheeseburger directly. Rather, the cheeseburger is a latent variable which through chains of cause and effect eventually influences your brain, making you learn about it.

Of course I shouldn't overstate the case. The cheeseburger can be observed in much much much greater fidelity than all psychological variable. But one shouldn't *understate* the indirectness of the material world either.

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