Open Thread 199


This is the weekly visible open thread. Odd-numbered open threads will be no-politics, even-numbered threads will be politics-allowed. This one is odd-numbered, so be careful. Otherwise, post about anything else you want. Also:

1: Last month I wrote a post, Jhanas And The Dark Room Problem, about some of Andrés Gomez Emilsson’s theories. Anders has since written a post of his own giving longer commentary on some of the things I said and explaining his theories in more length. Check it out!

2: The effective altruism movement is launching EA Virtual Programs, some online courses and discussion groups and book clubs and so on. If interested, apply before November 28.

3: Still a lot of pushback on the Great Families posts (one of the most common comments on the ivermectin post was “this is so much more evidence-based than that family stuff”). I’m wondering if I’ve been blogging so long and cast such a wide net that I’ve collected readers who aren’t familiar with The Nurture Assumption (book full of evidence that parenting styles and effects of early home environment don’t matter for most outcomes later in life, within normal bounds) - anyone know of a good refresher I can link people to? But maybe some of you want to argue they matter for the top 0.01% - small enough that nobody will ever notice in a study, but enough to explain Darwins and Huxleys?

(Related: new study confirms no association between parenting and Big Five personality traits)

4: Also, several people pointed out that an ideal experiment would involve taking a really talented family, adopting away one of their kids at birth, and seeing what happened to them. I know of one case almost like this. Mathematician Paul Nemenyi was one of the Martians, a group of supersmart Hungarian Jews who revolutionized mid-20th-century physics. His legitimate son Peter Nemenyi was a prominent statistician who invented the Nemenyi test (which I have never heard of, but which is apparently the same as the Wilcoxon test, which I vaguely have). But Paul also had an affair that produced an illegitimate child, who was raised entirely by his mother without any contact with the other Nemenyis: Bobby Fischer, later world chess champion. It’s unclear if Fischer ever knew he was a Nemenyi relative, although Paul Nemenyi seemed to. I don’t know of any other good examples of this - unless the Justin Trudeau - Fidel Castro conspiracy theory turns out to be true (it isn’t).

5: Deadline for applying for an ACX Grant is end of day this Thursday.