Category Archives: human behavior

Why men grade on the curve

Curvy women are more intelligent and make smarter children.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Santa Barbara took a good look at 16,000 women and found the hourglass-figure correlated closely with intelligence.

This is why curviness is paramount when choosing a mate. Clearly, men are thinking ahead about how smart they’d like their children to be.

Let’s hear it for men. Our hard-wired wisdom is conducive to the betterment of our species.

Turning on the gay

Remember the “Gay Bomb” project? This study reported at LiveScience suggests to the inventive mind that it might have merit yet!

While several studies find homosexuality in humans and other animals is biological rather than learned, a question remains over whether it’s a hard-wired phenomenon or one that can be altered.

A new study finds drugs or genetic manipulation can turn the homosexual behavior of fruit flies on and off within a matter of hours.

Post-doctoral researcher Yael Grosjean found that all male fruit flies with a mutation in their GB gene courted other males.

“It was very dramatic,” Featherstone said. “The GB mutant males treated other males exactly the same way normal male flies would treat a female. They even attempted copulation.”

THAT is what I want to see happening in every al Qaeda tent, and I want each such event videotaped and distributed across Al Jazeera if at all possible. Let us hope that the War On Terror™ lasts long enough for us to witness the day when the technology exists to detonate megatons of Gay Bomb on our enemies at will.

World of Datecraft is here!

Thanks to this fantastic new site, single male game geeks at last have someone they can romantically pursue — each other.

Site’s mission statement:

“To provide a simple and intuitive website which assists and facilitates the building of relationships between World of Warcraft enthusiasts.”


Due to some PC security issues we’ve been having here lately, I won’t be able to participate in Datecraft (shucks), and blogging will be light for awhile. Oh yeah, it already is. Okay, blogging will be etheric.

Male brain development

When I was a tot (don’t you miss that word?) the contents of my head looked something like this:


Life was good.

Along came a second competitor for the brain’s stretched resources. By high school it was looking like this:


The Games part was compelled to cede about that much ground. It could live with the compromise as long as the newcomer didn’t intrude any further (hasn’t retreated either). What it didn’t count on was the arrival of a third competitor.

By college or perhaps earlier the contents of my head began to look like so:


This third category refers to that part of the brain which grapples with such questions as “What is the root cause of terrorism? Is it the Vietnam War or is it greenhouse gases?” and other problems of the sort that this blog used to deal with back when it was almost worth taking seriously.

Of course Games again was the one yielding this brain space, in much the same way that Nintendo was forcably made to allow Microsoft to track mud into the house after it had at last evicted Sega and learned to live with Sony.

In recent years things have even gotten this bad:


But Nintendo has had enough. Nintendo is putting its foot down and reclaming territory rightfully its.

I mention this to let you know that if blogging gets light around here, it could mean I am busy, it could mean I am not feeling well, or it could mean I am spending quality time in front of a TV set with a controller in hand.

Beauty is an average

Sara Goudarzi of LiveScience reporting on a new study:

While eyes are the vehicles for receiving visual images, the brain decides how attractive those images are. Attractiveness appears to be related to how easy you can wrap your brain around a face.

“A stimulus beomces attractive if it falls into the average of what you’ve seen and is therefore simple for your brain to process,” said study author Piotr Winkielman, of the University of California, San Diego. “In our experiments, we show that we can make an arbitrary pattern likeable just by preparing the mind to recognize it quickly.”

Neat. These guys have simultaenously discovered why on earth anybody has ever bought a minimalist art painting, why provincial homely-looking married couples really do think their spouse is the peachiest thing, and why nearly everybody listens to the very crappiest music they can find.

The Matchmaking Manifesto

Face it, most people are ugly. The result of an uneven distribution of good looks, or good personality for that matter, across the social landscape is that most people end up frustrated, lonely, miserable. They end up alienated.

Think of all the people you know who can never find their true love because all the hot dates are going to either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie. (in the year 2005, dates between either one of those two with another member of the sexually attractive elite accounted for 25% of all dates nationwide) And among those who do manage to settle down with someone, disappointment will claim the better part of these relationships; it is statistically manifest that most relationships do not last.

The free market of romantic attraction does a *horrible* job of making people happy in relationships — this is an indisputable fact. All of this will change when the revolution begins.

It was necessary for an unregulated economy of social hooking-up to precede this next phase in history which we will soon see. A centrally-planned system of matchmaking will put an end to the suffering that inevitably results from an uncontrolled market of sexual attraction. All romance will be regulated by the dating proletariat themselves, and each person assigned a romantic partner according to his needs. This may require that some of the more attractive people be assigned as partners to people they would otherwise not choose, but everyone will be happier in the end, you will see.

With the means of attraction removed from the control of the reigning bourgeoisie of good-looking gals and dudes, the class society we now live under, in which some people have an easier time finding love than others, will be abolished, and we will have entered the final phase in history. No longer will Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie be allowed to exploit the rest of us!

Oh, there is one more thing.

In order to facilitate the coming of this revolution, it may be necessary to break a few eggs. Yes, I mean that all persons now involved in a romantic relationship will have to be separated. All existing couples will have to be split. All existing marriages will have to be broken up. This will all be for the best, you will see.

edit: changed the title

Intelligence is orthogonal to belief

Something good came from watching Penn & Teller’s little presentation “The Bible is bullshit!” (I feel obliged to give the link, but please, don’t mistake it for a recommendation) Penn & Teller brought on Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society and editor of Skeptic magazine, to support various points of their humble assertion. An insight made near the end of this presentation reminded me why I’ve always liked Shermer. It’s an observation explained in detail in his book Why People Believe Weird Things, which I intend to pick up and read one of these days.

For those of us in the business of debunking bunk and explaining the unexplained, this is what I call the Hard Question: why do smart people believe weird things? My Easy Answer will seem somewhat paradoxical at first:

Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.

Those reasons can include family influences, societal pressures, educational experiences, emotional inclinations, etc. We are all baptized almost at birth with a myriad of such prejudices which are not easily thrown off. Smart people are particularly adept at defending and rationalizing the ones that they keep. They may be unaware of the cognitive biases at work in their favor.

It’s a common mistake of many atheists, skeptics, and debunkers to assume that belief in religion, superstition, or the paranormal can be attributed to lack of intelligence on the part of the believer. In fact, as Shermer has explained, intelligence is orthogonal to belief. Never assume that because somebody you know believes in something irrational that he/she must be stupid. It may be that the opposite is the case.

Reification in language (and in politics)

In gestalt psychology, reification is when form is perceived beyond the explicit information that is sensed. Wikipedia offers these helpful examples:


From the three black Pacman shapes in A we perceive a triangle. From the two ying-yangs in B we perceive a wormy thing wrapped around a pole. From the spikes in C we perceive the bloody brain-splattered ball of a ball and chain. From the curves in D we perceive the Loch Ness monster (or simply a tree branch floating in the water if we’re skeptical).

Reification can also be aural. The principle is at work all the time in verbal communication. It’s what enables us to occasionally understand the speech of drunks, old men, or President Bush. And it’s the reason listening comprehension in a foreign language can be such a bear. Sure, you may know all the grammar and vocabulary being used by the person speaking in the language you are trying to learn, but the casual hurried mumbling of such a phrase as “Wanna touch my monkey?” that is no trouble at all to discern for the native speaker who has heard the phrase a million times before, can be total Greek to the language learner. With enough experience listening and speaking in the language the gestalt becomes easier to perceive.

Haven recently gotten involved in some recreational fansubbing (of Hello! Project videos, you guessed it), this is the roadblock I continue to bump into. I can’t ask the speaker in a DVD to please slow down or to please speak more clearly when he utters words I just can’t make out, even though those words may be known to me. Ultimately what this means is that I need more experience with the language I am attempting to translate to English, in this case Japanese, or that Japanese blows.

Reification can apply to politics too. What most of us perceived when the twin towers went down was an act of terror attributable to a dedicated group of religious fanatics from a part of the world far removed from us. But if you stare at the shapes long enough there is more to behold, oh yes, much more. Many things, wondrous things! Zionist conspiracies, oil/imperialism theories, New World Order plots, the end of the free world as we know it, an Orwellian nightmare in full bloom before our very eyes! Few people have the experience necessary to make out these disturbing forms, and few of those who do even see the same ones. The esteemed intellectual Michael Moore has been squinting at those shapes for some time now and is still finding new animals in them. What hope does the average person have of seeing what is unseen, of realizing what is unreal?

America. Hell yeah!


Chart by Wellington Grey, H/T to Japan Probe

Japanese have sex the least

You already know they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world, but would it surprise you to learn that Japan, with its enormous sex industry (approximately equal to its defense budget in size), its love hotels, its porno comics in every convenient store, is according to this survey the nation where the fewest respondents report having sex weekly? Interestingly enough, the place where they screw around the most, Greece, has the exact same birth rate as the place where they screw around the least.

I had some thoughts on why this might be so but don’t really have anything hard to back up my speculation so maybe I’ll leave the cultural analysis to someone else. (If you’re thinking there might be a reverse correlation with which nations have the longest working hours, you’d be wrong; Greeks, Poles, etc work pretty hard actually)

H/T to Hey! Neat! JP