Chris: Hello Dr. Ridley!
Matt_Ridley: Hello everybody
Peterdf: Hi Micheal
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: hi guys
Chris: What do you prefer being called? Matt?
Mr. Ridley? Professor Ridley? Bob?
nostradafemme: hi Michael
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: hi Matt
Chris: Ok, excellent . Thats relatively simple.
tarav: I am Tara
Peterdf: We enjoyed your book
Chris: I am going to exit and come back under
a different name. So that I can boot if needed.
tarav: some of us have crazy monikers
Chris: Hello Jeremy
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: hi jer
Peterdf: Hi Jeremy
Which book did Peter refer to?
jeremy1952: H i Chris; Dr. Ridley, howdy
Peterdf: The Red Queen - it was discussed on
Chris: Matt - we have all just finished "The
jeremy1952: I just took another look over Red
Queen at lunch; since I've only read it 2-1/2
Chris: although several of us have read Genome
Matt_Ridley: Ok -- thanks,
I forgot temporarily which one you had been discussing.
nostradafemme: Genome was super.
jeremy1952: I've had a feeling that there was
sometning fundamentally different about "Red
Queen" , compared to other books of this
genre. And I think I hit on what it is
Chris: We have read Stpehen Pinkers "Blank
Slate" and thought your book would be a nice
Matt_Ridley: I've also
written Nature via Nurture since, which has been
a lot of fun to do. It's not out in paperback
till next June
Matt_Ridley: Go ahead
nostradafemme: Matt, will you be able to answer
a few questions about Nature via Nature.
jeremy1952: Genome, and N v N, and others, have
lots of facts and answers; Red Queen almost seems
designed to get teh reader to think about
jeremy1952: this way of looking at nature, and
Peterdf: Hi alana
jeremy1952: Its more, oh, socratic one might
alana: How are you all doing?
nostradafemme: jeremy....are you also Matt Ridley?
jeremy1952: Lol, not hardly!
nostradafemme: who just said that?
Chris: Hello Alana
Matt_Ridley: You are
right that in Red Queen I indulge very much in
the idea of a mystery, writing about an unsolved
problem -- both the origin of sex and the origin
of human mating habits. I've since made that a
big theme of my writing that science writing should
be about what we don't know as much or more as
it is about what we do know.
alana: Hi Chris
Peterdf: I thought your treatment of the reason
for sex was very effective
Matt_Ridley: Ah, but
was it right?!
Peterdf: You are still not sure?
Matt_Ridley: There is
a guy called Mark Ridley who recently wrote a
book championing the mutation theory of sex rather
than the parasite theory. Many people think he
is me, and we were friends at college but we are
different people. His argument seems to be more
popular than mine these days.
Peterdf: Is this the same as the vicar of Bray?
Chris_O_Connor: I've heard the name I believe
jeremy1952: I think there is too much
jeremy1952: "either or" in this entire
alana: Its kind of funny that a man that has
almost the same name as you is championing a theory
of sex, Mr. Ridley.
jeremy1952: Therea are some ideas that are dead
wrong; but many ideas... sexual selection and
red queen, for example... are complementary
Matt_Ridley: I guess
also I am disappointed that a really convincing
new experiment linking sex to parasites has not
appeared. But I still think it is a major motor
of sexual evolution, the need to change the locks
against disease. No, I think it's not the Vicar
of Bray theory; it's the theory championed by
Kondrashov -- that sex is necessary to repair
Peterdf: Yes - he is quite well known - nearly
as well known as Mattt Ridley
Chris_O_Connor: Welcome Michael
Matt_Ridley: Yes, sexual
selection I have no doubt is a 'right' theory,
though I guess one could argue how much it is
responsible for human traits
Chris_O_Connor: to what degree
jeremy1952: I just read a book by Schwartz, "sudden
origins,", very dissapointing; I bring it
up because I've realized that dispute with darwinian
selection is alive and well, to.
Chris_O_Connor: We will probably read another
fo your books in the future. Anything new on the
Chris_O_Connor: Hello Monty
tarav: Matt, in your book you seem to explore
the idea more than answer it--do you think that
display must be honest?
Peterdf: Jeremy might have a point - it would
be surprising if there were jsut one solution
thought human races were sexually selected. I'd
probably disagree. But I think many features of
human bodies and minds may be sexually selected
Monty_Vonn: Hello! So what did I miss?
Chris_O_Connor: Monty - people have been arriving
late...not much yet
Matt_Ridley: To chris:
nothing new on the horizon at present!
Matt_Ridley: Must display
Peterdf: Hi Monty
Monty_Vonn: Hello Peter.
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - what do you mean by that?
Chris_O_Connor: "must display be honest?"
alana: Hypatiasm...cool name.
Monty_Vonn: Females are selected for making good
hypatiasm: Thank you.
tarav: yes, you discussed that in the chapter,
The Peacock's Tale
Matt_Ridley: Must display
be honest? I think this is a great question, and
Geoffrey Miller has some fascinating ideas about
this. It's very analogous to the question must
advertising be honest? Mostly yes.
jeremy1952: Display will move toward honest over
Monty_Vonn: Females are selected for detecting
tarav: thank you, I found that chapter very interesting
tarav: especially the whole narrow waist/large
Monty_Vonn: Females who select dishonest advertising
usually have fewer offspring.
Peterdf: I agree that is a great question - it
is a very interesting area
Chris_O_Connor: I read the interview on PBS about
Genome and am intrigued by genetic engineering.
I wonder how far it will go...will be one day
control things enough where sexual selection isn't
much of a factor anymore?
tarav: i had never thought of it in that way
selection is one of those ideas that gets more
and more intriguing the more we explore it. There's
some new suggestions, for instance that the reason
birds display to their mates, while mammals fight
over their mates is to do with their sex chromosomes.
Birds have femaleXY, mammals have male XY
tarav: Monty, this part was about males selecting
alana: I would think if we artificially selected
human traits that sexual selection would be still
a factor...because we would be choosing traits
that we find attractive for our offspring.
Monty_Vonn: OK. Sorry.
Matt_Ridley: Sorry I
keep answerign the question before last!
tarav: Matt, don't worry about that
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - thats ok. We can all look
up and reference the appropriate question
tarav: we are patient
Monty_Vonn: Males selecting females is rare in
mammals, with humans being the only candidate.
Peterdf: you don't think that it is connected
with the problem birds have with the extended
period looking after their young
Monty_Vonn: I am intrigued with the fact that
female birds are the weaker species genetically,
the reverse of mammals.
jeremy1952: Interesting sidebar on the XY thing;
physiologically, the x only triggers a cascade.
The actual details of maleness are on... I think
i'ts chromosome 9 ; anyway, its the same one birds
use. So we aren't
jeremy1952: really as different as it first appears
jeremy1952: Weaker? In what sense is a female
Monty_Vonn: Peter, I think you are right. It
has something to do with shared parenting.
sometimes say they are chocked by the idea of
choosing the genes of your kids. But we've been
doing that, half consciously, by picking healthy,
good looking or successful mates for years. Sexual
selection is ancient eugenics. But it's intriguing
that when you give people the chance to pick their
babies for desired traits consciously (as IVF
already does) -- few people seem to want it. Nobel
prize winners' sperm banks have been a failure!
jeremy1952: I wonder if it's a preservation instinct
of some kind kicking in
jeremy1952: One of those currently innappropriate
mechanisms that you talk about, like the substrate
jeremy1952: which made sense when protecting
yourself from "other" was of paramont
Monty_Vonn: Matt, I believe that is because we
were not selected to choose mates in that fashion.
Chris_O_Conno: Matt - excellent answer! I guess
it comes down to the reality that anything humans
do is really a part of natural selection. We're
an element of nature...and our conscious decisions
should not be considered artificial. If that makes
Peterdf: I read an article you wrote with Bobbi
S Low that deals with selfishness - which makes
a similar point I agree with that view
Chris_O_Connor: But I bet we could royally screw
up things eventually...or maybe not.
Matt_Ridley: I'd have
agreed with Peter till recently. But I'm contemplating
the XY idea. It argues that a bunch of aggressively
sex-determinign genes get moved to the Y chromosome
(the new seauence of the hjuman Y is really interesting
by the way) and set out to make that sex the chooser.
Monty_Vonn: We instinctively and emotionally
select mates. I don't believe we intellectually
select mates. That's why Nobel Laurate sperm banks
Chris_O_Connor: Monty - not enough people value
intellect it seems
Chris_O_Connor: wb Nostradafemme
jeremy1952: I don't think we'll really understand
it at the "genetic" level until we understand
the mecahnisms of epigeneitc information better.
So much of the battle takes place at the level
Matt_Ridley: Yes, Chris,
I do think the separation between natuiral and
artificial is vaguer than we admit. Technology
is a natural evolution of the way we are. That
does not make it either good or bad
Monty_Vonn: I also believe that is why environmentalism
will also fail. We intellectually know we are
destroying the world, but keep emotionally choosing
SUV's and mansions because it attracts better
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: maybe most people with
genius genes fail?
jeremy1952: and imprinting is acomplished by
Chris_O_Connor: Dom! Welcome
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: people won't value
the environment until they need it
Peterdf: I think that if we are to understand
the role of genes in our daily life and our choices
we need to look at emotional and subjective responses
Matt_Ridley: I agree
with Monty that we value not absolute comforts
but relative ones. The guy with the fastest car
gets the girl, not the guy with the adequately
hypatiasm: My brother has a genius IQ and he
is not very successful at all.
Monty_Vonn: Thank you Matt.
alana: It seems as though people keep getting
Monty_Vonn: By the way, I really enjoyed your
booka nd had it read in 5 days!
alana: In my opinion IQ is only a small portion
of what makes someone successful.
Matt_Ridley: Do you
think really brainy people have sort of gone too
far in that direction, combining excellent brains
and getting over-excellent brains. There is a
theory like this to explain schizophrenia
Monty_Vonn: You really hit it on the nail why
sex was important, by trying to keep ahead of
Chris_O_Connor: Humans always try to attribute
the tags of "good" and "bad"
to everything, yet these terms are relative and
only a reflection of what a particular societal
group deems to be good or bad.
Peterdf: Hi dom
tarav: autistics often have genius IQ's also
Matt_Ridley: Yes to
dom: Lo again, not sure what happened Nice to
see a UK time chat
Monty_Vonn: I agree Chriss.
Chris_O_Connor: Dom - Dawkins was UK time
Matt_Ridley: It's 8pm
here in the UK
tarav: is there research into that idea, Matt?
Chris_O_Connor: Dom lol
tarav: overexcellent brains?
jeremy1952: The book that Dawkins referred to,
on that topic, is "The Redundant Male"
Matt_Ridley: Not that
I know of, beyond a few speculations. How would
you test the idea?
Chris_O_Connor: Alana - by the way...I totally
jeremy1952: the parasite idea, not the too good
Monty_Vonn: Matt, are you currently writing a
book? And if not, what was the title of your last
Chris_O_Connor: Alana - studies show that "A"
students typically work for the "B"
and "C" students. I'm not sure on how
to process this information.
Matt_Ridley: Yes there
is research into the parasite idea. the best work
is Curtis Lively's and I find it very convincing.
But it's slow work and hard toi get funded
jeremy1952: Maybe, Chris, it relates back to
our sensitivity to "different". Average
people just don't trust really smart people.
alana: It takes more to be successful that just
making the grade.
tarav: Matt, test the overexcellent brain idea?
Male has been reissued under a different title
I think. By Cherfas and Gribbin
Peterdf: I feel uncomfortable about over excelent
brains being selected - might these people not
be described as nerds - I wonder whether they
woudl be more reproductively succesful than average
the overexcellent brain idea is what I was originally
referring to. How would you?
jeremy1952: The cover of my edition is a picture
of Michaelangelo's "Adonis".... I got
some looks at work walking around with that book
I can tellyou
dom: alana, it depends on your definition of
success. Stephen Hawking isn't a millionaire,
alana: Yeah..I know what you mean.
Monty_Vonn: Matt, what are your thought on the
selection process of those who practice birth
control versus those who refuse to.
tarav: Matt, I'm not sure! I was hoping you'd
have some ideas!
Matt_Ridley: To Peterdf:
yes, that's what we are saying -- that nat selection
chooses good brains but sometime the children
of 2 people with good brains end up with 'too-good'
Peterdf: The idea that people who might be slightly
more intelligent might be more successful - if
intelligence correlates to "charm" is
a much better argument
tarav: like the silicone valley problem with
Chris_O_Connor: Yes, it really comes down to
how we define "success." Some think
of success as ones ability to make lots of money.
Others think of it as how pleasant of a home life
one has...while others think of it as how well
knwon they can become.
Matt_Ridley: Has silicon
valley an autism hot spot? That's really interesting
jeremy1952: The idea doesn't ring true to me.
The capabilities of brains have been built up,
one on the other. It seems to me that "too
much" at the "highest", most cerebral,
nostradafemme: Tarev, what is the Silicon Valley
prob. with autism?
tarav: yes, i read an article when i taught an
dom: I think a lot of intelligence is actually
based in the nurture rather than nature aspects
of development. I knew a guy at Uni who was 15,
doing the same course as me (19). Very smart,
& deeply unhappy.
Peterdf: tara that is interesting - i didn't
know about that!
tarav: they call it the geek syndrome
jeremy1952: would not cause the wide scale malfunction
of organinc mental illness
tarav: geeky autistics
Monty_Vonn: Will nature select out those more
intelligent people who practice birth control
by being swamped, displaced by those who fall
prey to cultures and religion that encourage large
families over time?
Chris_O_Connor: Monty - I hope so.
alana: I think that "geek syndrome"
may just be a pop label that the media slapped
on that phenomenon.
tarav: i wish i knew where i read it-- maybe
nostradafemme: geeky is what computer nerds are
expected to emulate.
jeremy1952: Monty is our resident Francis Galton
tarav: the child I had really resembled the profile
Monty_Vonn: Francis Galton?
jeremy1952: Said with all due respect... Galton
was a brilliant man
jeremy1952: Darwin's cousin, father of eugenics
jeremy1952: Did I get the name wrong?
Matt_Ridley: There is
certainly more schizophrenia in intelligent families.
That's why Maudsley told Galton eugenics would
Peterdf: No thats right Jeremy
Matt_Ridley: Weed out
the mad men and you weed out the genii
Chris: Matt - it sure seems that way.
jeremy1952: He's remembered almost as a villain,
but you know, his ideas were reasonable, given
what was known; and Galton was one of the firsst
to bring mathematical rigor to evolution
Matt_Ridley: Lots of
nobel prize winners have schizoid relations
jeremy1952: Hey y'all, I'm at work and have to
work for a few minutes,
Monty_Vonn: Eugenics wasn't my concern as much
as Birth Control is the new selection tool that's
been here since 1920.
Truth2Know: Perhaps my family is at a higher
rate of intelligence because I have schizophrenia
Chris: I have always wondered about why that
is true. Do super intelligent people simply ponder
the big questions so much they go insane?
jeremy1952: hopefully brb
Monty_Vonn: By the way, I had only two and am
dom: Chris - have you seen Pi?
dom: the film - not the number
Monty_Vonn: I am deeply concerned about human
Chris: Truth - I have seen it firthand in intelligent
Chris: Dom - Nope
dom: Thats about a mathematician who goes mad
from thinking about numbers too much
tarav: someone should really research this topic--HINT,
Truth2Know: well I obtained its door opening
by practiced spiritual pursuits which later gravitated
to consistantly hearing voices
dom: I think its more to do with spending your
youth learning maths instead of social skills
- makes it very hard to relate or be related to
alana: LOL at a mathematician who goes mad thinking
about number too much. I know some people like
Truth2Know: meditations and so forth
dom: We need mental grounding from interaction
with other people (sanity is just what is agreed
by the majority), so 'intellectuals' can easily
Monty_Vonn: Matt Ridley, what is your take of
the next century with 9 to 11 billion people and
degrading environment and energy shortage? What
will humans and societly look like after we pass
through the bottleneck?
Chris: There does indeed seem to be an area of
the brain that causes people to hear voices, believe
in gods and demons, and generally experience "mystical"
Matt_Ridley: I like
Simon Baron-Cohen's idea that there is a spectrum
from empathisers to systemisers and that many
males are more towards systemising, but that autistics
are right out that the end
Monty_Vonn: I hear voices. I've learned to ignor
them. They eventually weaken and go away.
Truth2Know: from what I have read its most likely
from the hippocampus in the thalamic region of
the brain that forms the voices
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: I hear my own voice,
tarav: the child i worked with was not working
at learning anything--it came naturally, yet he
had major social issues
alana: Truth, do you work in neuroscience?
tarav: it must be more nature
Matt_Ridley: I'm an
environmental optimist. We have this fantastic
piece of good fortune that population is levelling
out, probably below 10 billion by mid century.
Feeding the population from ever more concentrated
farms on smaller and smaller acreages now looks
realistically possible and that leaves more and
more of the earth's surface for wilderness etc.
Truth2Know: no but I have studied my disorder
Monty_Vonn: But, Matt, unfortunatlely the reason
we are assessing smaller numbers is because the
aids epidemic in Africa. Otherwise the figure
of 15 billion would have been reached instead.
dom: Matt - Doesn't that mean more-intensive
farming? Call me alarmist but pushing nature rarely
works out for the better.
Matt_Ridley: I guess
systemisers are people who like systems, machines,etc
Peterdf: Matt - what is your view of the debate
between people like Christopher Wills who argue
that human evolution is still happeneing and others
like Steve Jones who say that it is effectively
Monty_Vonn: I'm a systemiser.
Chris: I think one of the keys to our species
survival is the teraforming and colonization of
other worlds...such as Mars or the moons of other
Matt_Ridley: If we farmed
as we did 50 years ago, we would need twice as
much acreage to feed the world population of today.
Say goodbye to the rainforest.
tarav: i think they are naturally systemisers,
which effects their socializing
Monty_Vonn: Peter, I believe that evolution with
humans is not really happening.
nostradafemme: Mars should be our next frontier.
Chris: Matt - have there been that many changes
in the past 50 years to farming?
alana: I know people that think that human evolution
has stopped due to technology making our lives
Chris: crop rotation?
Monty_Vonn: I believe genetic diversity is rapidly
accumilating, waiting for the future bottleneck
and wean the genetic diversity down.
dom: Peter - I think we as a species can call
on the unique ability to evolve society-scale
intelligences, and so can evolve memetically whether
or not our genes are changing as fast.
Chris: I think they still do slash & burn
in some areas of the world - and these are areas
that just can't afford it
Matt_Ridley: I reackong
natural selection still happens in humans (eg,
people who are incompetent with contarceptives
are having more babies -- dawkins joke) but its
'direction' keeps changing so there are few consistent
Peterdf: dom - I meant Darwinian evolution as
opposed to cultural evolution
Matt_Ridley: The last
50 years have seen incredible changes in farming
-- mainly new high-yielding varieties plus a vast
increase in the use of fertiliser. See Vaclav
dom: I would argue that cultural evolution is
as important if not more to an intelligent lifeform
Monty_Vonn: True, the birth control selection
pressure hasn't been happening for very long.
tarav: Matt, I'm glad that you put humans in
with all life as still evolving
dom: Intensive farming = things like BSE...
Monty_Vonn: But over time voluntary birth control
Chris: Dom - I think you might be right
tarav: it scares me to put humans separate from
alana: I think there will always be people that
choose not to use birth control.
Monty_Vonn: If one understands the concept of
"Tragedy of the Commons", volunteers
Chris: Tara -agreed
Matt_Ridley: BSE -- yes,
big mistake. But organic farming has its dangers,
too -- the biggest of which is land hunger as
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: man is the only animal
that denies it's an animal
Monty_Vonn: And at some point, birth control
would need to be legislated like hunting is.
Peterdf: Matt - I agree up to a point it is incredibly
difficult to define consistent selective change
- I've called this problem - the wilderness of
mirrors - but I still think that there are some
changes we can identify
tarav: Chris- I'm glad!
alana: Monty, what makes you say that?
Monty_Vonn: Because those who have the genetic
-environmental predisposition to use birh control
will be displaced by those who do not.
Chris: Michael - we are the only animal with
the intellect to do so. But it is a big mistake
when we do I believe.
alana: Hmmm. I just thought the decision whether
or not to use birth control was more ideological
Matt_Ridley: To Peterdf:
can you give an example?
hypatiasm: Unfortunately, the more intelligent
tend to have fewer children.
Peterdf: Dom and Chris - I agree cultural evolution
is far more important in our day - to - day lives
- but i think it is important for our view of
Matt_Ridley: Brain size
has been shrinking for 15,000 years according
to Richard Wrangham!
Monty_Vonn: If 1% of the population could never
be convinced to use birth control and it is genetically
wired, and they have on average 6 kids, how many
generations would it take for this group to displace
the rest of the population?
alana: I disagree, I think there are lots of
intelligent people with large families. But if
there are statstics that prove me wrong I can
always change my mind.
Monty_Vonn: alana, initially, it is.
Monty_Vonn: But over time it becomes less so.
Chris: Matt - is he correct?
Peterdf: Matt I think that in group/out group
behaviour might have been selected against due
to losses in war - I think that trends might be
spotted during historical time
Monty_Vonn: And it is often the intelligent people
who choose to have few or no kids. What do you
think that does to our genetic pool?
Matt_Ridley: Chris --
is who correct?
Chris: Matt - Richard Wrangham - about our brain
jeremy1952: It does next to nothing, Monty. Because
intelligence, and human capability, are not simple
mendelian traits like bean color
Chris: What would cause this
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: we need forced breeding
programs for intellectuals.
alana: I'd kind of wonder why are they choosing
to have few or no kids. I think the answer is
that they want the best for their offspring and
realize that having kids is a great big responsiblity.
But I think lots of people with large families
realize that too.
Chris: Exactly Michael! lol
jeremy1952: And to have children, you still have
to find a mate. Sexual selection is as strong
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: Programs to encourage
promiscuity among the more intelligent teens
Matt_Ridley: Ok, well
it's poor data: averaged from skulls found by
archeologists, but it's pretty consistent. And
it's corrected for shrinking brain size.
nostradafemme: Chris, shrinking brain size could
be due to environmental factors.
Monty_Vonn: Jeremy, perhaps not, but over a large
population base, with birth control being so absolute,
it will have a general effect.
hypatiasm: I have three children, but they are
each separated by nine years.
alana: I don't have any children.
jeremy1952: Maybe. But within the group of "non
birth controllers", 99.9% of human variability
is stil extant
Peterdf: I think it is likely that the reason
for the Scandinavian people being so none agressive
might be because that they "exported"
"aggressive genes during the Viking period
- there are other examplesessive
jeremy1952: And the reasons for not using birth
control are not necessarily lack of intelligence.
Remember "why intelligent people believe
alana: I agree jeremy.
Monty_Vonn: Shrinking brains size is not such
a bad thing. Ask women who must give birth!
Matt_Ridley: The enviro
factors for shrinking brains size -- farming's
poorer diet -- only partly explains it. Wrangham
thinks sedentray living required us to tame each
other by killing dangerously over-m ature men
and that led to smaller brains
Matt_Ridley: Good point
Chris: Monty - true.
Monty_Vonn: Neanderanthals I believe had much
bigger brains than cro-magnons.
jeremy1952: Hmm, Monty/Matt, that gives me an
idea: I just remembered that there is a host of
negative , are a host of negative effects associated
Monty_Vonn: I thought that Neanderantals had
something like 2000cc!
jeremy1952: Perhaps what is actually happening
is non-Csection humans are being selected
Chris_O_Connor: I would rather women develop
wider hips that our species have a reduction in
for body size, I think they were smaller, but
I may be wrong.
jeremy1952: with smaller head as a coincidental
tarav: monty, it's a body to brain comparison
Monty_Vonn: But that evolution favored the modern
human because not so much for bigger brain, but
for pre-defined brains structure for language
tarav: elephants have huge brains
tarav: But in comparison to their bodies
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - do they? I heard the opposite
jeremy1952: Elephants are pretty smart too
dom: rats are smart
tarav: But not in comparison to their bodies
Chris_O_Connor: Relative to their bodies
dom: squirrels are amazingly clever
tarav: the same thing with Neanderthal man
Matt_Ridley: There is
a gene that seems to control brain size by deciding
how long to allow brain cells to multiply. The
gene's size correlates nicely with brain size.
very intriguing. I'm waiting to see the chimp
tarav: they were huge
alana: What's important I think is not the size
of the brain, but the structure. Parrots can learn
rudimentary human language. It has to do with
the structure of their brains I think.
tarav: jaws found from them are bigger than some
jeremy1952: Timing is the key to a lot of develpment,
Monty_Vonn: Neanderthal was comparatevely the
same size as humans.
Peterdf: I did'nt know about Wrangham's argument
- where can I findd out more?
has unpublished papers that I refer to in NVN
(my book). He may have published them by now
jeremy1952: I need to get a copy of NVN on paper.
I "read" it on tape, which is a great
way to read, but hard to go back for reference
Matt_Ridley: Monty --
it's certainly true they were not much different,
but they may also have had smaller frontal lobes
under those sloping foreheads?
Matt_Ridley: Yes, the
taped version was about 40% abridged
jeremy1952: Not to be confused with NIN)
jeremy1952: I try to get unabridged tapes, but
it isn't always possible
dom: Neanderthal 1500cc, Homo erectus 900(early)-1200cc,
Homo sapiens - 1400cc
Matt_Ridley: It took
3 days to read the abridged version!
jeremy1952: Did you narrate it, Matt?
dom -- I stand corrected
Matt_Ridley: yes, I
Chris_O_Connor: I like when the author does that
dom: Although to be fair, modern human varies
considerably - 1000cc - 2000cc, average 1400cc
jeremy1952: Ah. That's why I was willing to accept
the abridgment. I always think , read by the author
gives me a certain protection from too bad a trashing
jeremy1952: My brain isn't any number of cc's,
us Americans have cubic inch brains
alana: wb truth
Truth2Know: thanks Alana
jeremy1952: BTW thank you for taking the time
to record it.
tarav: dom, what about body size?
Matt_Ridley: I prefer
to measure my brain in cubic miles
Chris_O_Connor: Thats good
dom: I will never understand that - Im too young
for Imperial, the units are sheer madness!
Matt_Ridley: My son
says the same
Chris_O_Connor: I prefer not to measure mine
in pounds...cause that would take me being dead
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - is your son going to follow
in your footsteps with science?
Monty_Vonn: It would be interesting to see us
retain our intelligence and yet also have our
brains shrink. Would certainly require less calories!
tarav: chris, do you have a big head?
jeremy1952: XXXVII times XXXVII
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - HUGE!
tarav: oh no!
Matt_Ridley: There is
some evidence for a correlation between cubic
capacity of gray matter only (which can be measured
in scanners) and IQ
Monty_Vonn: versus white matter?
Matt_Ridley: My son
likes physics at present
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - what do you think about
IQ as a measurement of ones intellectual capacity?
Ok, now tell us your IQ. lol
jeremy1952: Only dead brains are gray. Living
brains are redish brown
Matt_Ridley: I think
white matter was irrelevant, they found, but I
might be wrong
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - physics...well he is in
the sciences and I suppose that is a good thing
in your eyes
Chris_O_Connor: Hello Bobbi
Matt_Ridley: My IQ?
I don't know it
Peterdf: hi bobbi
jeremy1952: Matt, a personal question feel free
to ignore... but I'm curious... do you think of
yourself as a writer who does science, or a scientist
who writes books?
Monty_Vonn: It seems like the white matter are
the neual connections between processing centers.
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - I wonder how accurately
IQ measures intellect
Chris_O_Connor: Jeremy - damn good question.
tarav: i think/hope Chris was joking when he
Monty_Vonn: Matt, are you presently writing a
Matt_Ridley: I think
IQ measures something objective, but I think it's
subjective to say it's the only measure of intelligence
jeremy1952: Monty, not to be a spoil sport, but
thats the third time someone asked
-- damn good question
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - of course. I was joking
when asking his, but not about whether or not
he views it as a decent yardstick for measuring
tarav: that's what i thought, chris
Monty_Vonn: I didn't see the answer.
jeremy1952: In James Watson';s new book, he mentions
his IQ: 122.
dom: Body/brain ratios - 4.781, Early Paleolithic
Humans: 5.352, Late Upper Paleolithic Humans:
5.406, Recent Humans: 5.288
Matt_Ridley: Monty --
no, I'm not writing one now
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: the ability to color
coordinate is the best measure of intellect. Homosexuals
jeremy1952: Sort of an anti brag. His point being,
they accomplished what they did with hard work
and perseverence, cause they really weren't all
Peterdf: dom - get your head out of that book
Monty_Vonn: What was your last book?
Matt_Ridley: I think
my answer to Jeremy is that I am a writer who
via Nurture was my last book
hypatiasm: 122 isn't shabby, Jeremy
jeremy1952: His latest book is Nature via Nurture;
its a fabulous book, and you should buy it immediately
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - do you have anything planned
for the future - new books, lectures, new recipes?
Matt_Ridley: Dom --
cool figures. where from?
tarav: thanks, dom
jeremy1952: And for the immediate reaction, "But
that question is settled", well, yes it is.
So the book isn't an argument, its an education
dom: err... those ones were quoted on a yahoo
newsgroup for archaeology, I could find a more
reputable source if you like
tarav: maybe i need to re-read some archaeology
Monty_Vonn: Sorry, my I.Q is only 115, but I've
head that places me at the top 15%.
jeremy1952: OH... and don't forget to order it
through BookTalk : )
Chris_O_Connor: Exactly. Listen to Jeremy
tarav: i took it while at university and haven't
read up on it since
alana: i don't know my iq
tarav: i probably should, since my memory obviously
has failed me!
jeremy1952: Well yea, Hypatia, I know it is n't
shabby... but it doesn't explain, in and of itself,
one of the great breakthroughs of the 20thy century
Monty_Vonn: Matt, is there anything you'd like
to share with us?
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - I am looking for inside
information...on your future plans with writing
and such. :-B
alana: Part of being successful is also a matter
of luck and being in the right place at the right
time for some things.
Monty_Vonn: What is your burning passion, your
jeremy1952: I'd guess the chemist who was also
chasing the structure of DNA was actually smarter.
Can't think of his name off hand. You know the
vitamin C guy
tarav: good question, monty
Monty_Vonn: And, oh, how many kids do you have?
tarav: monty, you are obsessed!
Monty_Vonn: Yes, alana--totally agree!
Matt_Ridley: I'm looking
for subjects for a new book, and I'm briunging
up 2 kids and doing a miscellaneous other bits
of writing, speaking etc
Chris_O_Connor: Yes, another good question. It
would be nice to get to know you on a more personal
level. What issues are you passionate about? Do
you support Bush?
Chris_O_Connor: Hello Niall
tarav: i think we all know your burning passion,
jeremy1952: And please nobody ask Dr. Ridley
to give give them a baby, it really embarrased
Chris_O_Connor: Jeremy oh wow
hypatiasm: Let's not forget the woman who came
up with the pictures of the helix, but died before
the Nobels were handed out.
Peterdf: Are you thinking of maurice wilkins
Peterdf: hi niall glad you could make it
jeremy1952: Wilkins was on their team, and he
did share the nobel
jeremy1952: Yup, thank you, Linus Pauling
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: Behind every great
woman there's a great man with a notepad
alana: Sombody asked an author guest to give
them a baby? That would embarrass me if someone
did that to me as well.
Matt_Ridley: Crick is
my candidate for the smartest scientist of the
20th century (including Einstein)
Monty_Vonn: Crick? Who is he?
jeremy1952: I've never heard his side of the
story, but Watson seems to think that by all rights,
Pauling should have beaten them... but he got
stuck up a blind alley
Peterdf: Someone asked Steven Pinker if he had
donated sperm - it was a woman by the way
tarav: it was NOT me
Chris_O_Connor: We know Tara
dom: Matt: original paper is: Ruff et al (1997)
Body mass and encephalization in Pleistocene Homo.
Nature 387 173-176.(Seealso comment by Kappelman
in Nature 387 126-127 and by Gibbons, Science
tarav: i can't remembe who it was
Crick, discovered the double helix and much of
the genetic code
alana: Oh my gosh tarav
Chris_O_Connor: Dom has the best online science
encyclopedia it seems
alana: That would have been funny to see though.
tarav: alana, i would never ask that kind of
tarav: i don't want kids!
Matt_Ridley: How can
you give a baby by email?
Peterdf: Linus Pauling was working in America
at the same time as Watson and Crick and his son
was in Cambridge - it is a fascinating story
jeremy1952: Hmm. I wonder. Now that we are discovering
more about epigenetic coding, I wonder if Crick
didn't send the whole enterprise down a, well
not "wrong" path, but
alana: I didn't think it was you...tarav
jeremy1952: a misleading direction, with "one
gene, one protein, one way"
tarav: thanks alana
dom: I would vote for Feynman
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - in jpeg format - yes
Matt_Ridley: He never
said one gene one protein -- that's a myth put
about by Barry Commoner
jeremy1952: Really Watson and Crick's great breaktrhough
was the idea of building a model.
hypatiasm: Me too, Dom.
jeremy1952: oops, sorry for propogating a negative
alana: wb nial
dom: Or Alan Turing
a model was theoir method, but finding that heredity
works by digital messages that can be copied was
their ghreat breakthrough
jeremy1952: I don't know, Matt. I think that
was already known.
Feynman, Bohr, Pauling, Watson, Einstein, Schrodinger
-- hard to choose
dom: Bah Humbug to Einstein - he was mostly wrong
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: superman was smarter
Chris_O_Connor: Most scientists are mostly wrong
most of the time.
Niall001: Being wrong is a sign of genius
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: good point chris
jeremy1952: I'd throw Dawkins in the mix. The
selfish gene was an insight of breathtaking import
alana: I think Goedel was smart, even though
he wasn't a scientist.
MichaelangeloGlossolalia: has anyone done anything
new without being wrong?
Chris_O_Connor: That is the beauty of science...it
is a process
hypatiasm: Let's not forget Gregory Pinkus.
Chris_O_Connor: A process of discovery
Matt_Ridley: It was
not already known, I reckon. Right up till that
day nobody had a clue how the structuire of the
gene would reveal its mechanism. Most people thought
it would not help
Peterdf: Except Darwin he was mostly right
Chris_O_Connor: Peter - tis true
alana: I think Darwin is the greatet scientist
to come around in the last few centuries.
tarav: incredibly and scarily mostly right, peter
jeremy1952: What did Einstein get wrong, dom?
Except the cosmological constant, which he admitted
was an error? The general theory of relativity
has been proven to greater accuracy than alomst
anything else in science
is a great writer and philosopher, but I don't
think he would claim any great discovery -- he
would credit Hamilton and Williams for the selfish
jeremy1952: Ah, yes, I forgot that.
dom: The whole bent-space, lightspeed as a constant
nonsense. Gauge theory shows how the whole thing
could have been calculated so much simpler if
only he hadnt bodged that bit in.
jeremy1952: Well, Matt, then that supports my
point: watson and crick DID think the structure
jeremy1952: Light speed is a constant and space
does bend. Unless I've slipped into some alternate
Matt_Ridley: They guessed
it would be important. Watson says he was just
excited by the idea that the gene was a molecule
-- Avery proved that
dom: Space only looks bent if you force lightspeed
to almays be the same. If you let space be flat,
then you get equations for lightspeed based on
gravity & cosmology is a whole load simpler
dom: Its about how you build your rulers relative
to each other.
Matt_Ridley: Dom seems
to be up there with the great scientists
Peterdf: He outperforms Einstein for me!!!!
dom: I wouldn't say that, but my Tutor for my
Masters degree is possibly the most intelligent
man Ive ever met (& Ive met Stephen Hawkins)
Louis: hi all
tarav: dom, you will have to explain all of that
to me in a casual chat session!
dom: Theres some posts in the roundtable on the
subject from a few months back
jeremy1952: Hmm.. Perhaps. Not my feild. Last
I heard, mainstream physics still supports constant
light speed, and if there's an easier way to do
the calculations, it doesn't make the discoverer
of relativity "wrong"
Monty_Vonn: What I find amazing is the volume
of space in the small area of a black hole!
NaddiaAoC: Hi folks
Peterdf: hi Naddia
jeremy1952: hey a Naddia!
Bobbi: Does anyone think, like I suspect, that
looking back someday, chaos theory will turn out
to have extremely important in a pragmatic way?
dom: No, but Einstein was very insistent on the
constant light thing - and that is just loopy.
Matt_Ridley: I agree
jeremy1952: I think chaos theory is important
right now, bobbi
Bobbi: in a pragmatic way???
dom: Its a bit like basing distance on a constant
speed of sound - so that space inside solids is
strangely expanded due to the 'matter' distorting
Chris_O_Connor: I have not really read anything
about Chaos Theory so cannot comment
Peterdf: I only have a very basic understanding
Louis: I don't understand the math of chaos theory
so it's hard to comment, but much like other bits
of math it will probably become very widely used
in the practical sciences
jeremy1952: You sound like a conspiracy theorist,
dom. Speed of light and speed of sound have almost
nothing to do with one another
Bobbi: It's fun to read about! all kinds of cool
fractal pictures and such...not to mention interesting
connections between seemingly disparate events
Chris_O_Connor: Hey Louis
tarav: Matt, what issues are you most passionate
Matt_Ridley: Yeh, sorry
Louis: Sorry couldn't make it earlier
dom: No - I meant it as an illustration of using
a wave propogation as the basis for setting your
concept of 'distance' - analogous to the speed
of light is constant, but space bends, only a
Monty_Vonn: What's amazing about the warp of
space around matter is that the diameter of earth
(if you physically measured it) is greater than
Monty_Vonn: calculations would suggest.
alana: Whenever I read about discoveries in physics
or math I get really excited.
alana: That stuff is really neat
Monty_Vonn: Using the circumference and dividing
tarav: Chris, what can we talk about?
tarav: i am lost
jeremy1952: Well, I suppose we should have Dr.
Ridley's son in for this conversation. In the
mean time I'm tabling my half. I've said about
all I know anyway... when i'm way over my head,
I go with mainstream received wisdom.
Monty_Vonn: In a black hole, the difference is
reason, honourable behaviour twards others, individual
self expression, and the possibility of progress
are the kinds of things that really fire me
jeremy1952: I beleive nobody about anytnhing
concering evolution, since I arrogantly think
I know somethign about it
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - I think you just sked
a great question
Bobbi: Matt, does this mean you'll vote for Dean??
Louis: anyone here read the origins of virtue?
I picked it up at the same time as the red queen
and ended up reading it instead
Matt_Ridley: On that
note, I might bow out. Thanks everybody for a
really stimulating session
Monty_Vonn: Thank you Matt!
jeremy1952: Lol, That would be illegal, bobbi
Niall001: Thanks Matt
jeremy1952: Thanks so much for your time, Dr,
Chris_O_Connor: Matt - thank you very much for
spending time with us!
tarav: Matt, I think we could all relate to those
Matt_Ridley: I don't
have a US vote and I've not yet read much about
alana: I have the origins of virtue but I havent
had the time to finish it.
jeremy1952: Now and in your writing
tarav: Chris, I stole that question from Monty!
dom: Thanks very much for your time Matt
Louis: really interesting stuff...
Niall001: Isn't chaos theory used by software
Peterdf: Thanks very miuch Matt
NaddiaAoC: Thank you, Matt.
Chris_O_Connor: OMG Cheryl
tarav: Thank you!
dom: yes - but not very well
Monty_Vonn: Howard Dean is my man!
NaddiaAoC: Hi Chris
Chris_O_Connor: I didn't even see you enter Cheryl
NaddiaAoC: I snuck in quietly.
Chris_O_Connor: So how did it go people? What
did you think? We didn't have enough people reading
the book it seems.
Bobbi: I thought all software guys did with chaos
theory was use it to draw pretty fractals and
put em in Photoshop and such?
jeremy1952: Certain ethnocetracism there, bobbi,
assuming MattR is amercian? L o l
Chris_O_Connor: Matt lives in England
Chris_O_Connor: As did Dawkins
Louis: missed most of it, but what I saw looked
interesting though only very remotely related
to the book
Bobbi: Ignorance would be a closer excuse....ever
hear of Occam's Razor?
Louis: I thought the british-ness, if you could
call it that, comes across really clearly in the
alana: Matt Ridley is and Englishman. I read
the book---even though I didn't post questions.
jeremy1952: I wish people around here had left
me alone, expecting me to work even though I'm
in an author chat
Peterdf: Really enjoyed it folks
NaddiaAoC: LOL Jeremy
Chris_O_Connor: Louis - that is because we had
low participation in the reading/discussion of
the book this time. Things have begun to pick
up on BookTalk, but they were slow there for awhile.
Chris_O_Connor: Bobbi - good point
tarav: i think that the chat went well
Louis: yeah, what with my semester starting I've
been way too busy to drop by very often
Niall001: Probably, I don't know much about it
to be honest, but I was suprised to learn from
a friend that he was learning of ways to use it
Monty_Vonn: There's alot of inteligent scientist
and science writers comming out of Great Britain!
Chris_O_Connor: Bobbi - It is the more probably
answer...that Ridley is an American
Monty_Vonn: Including Charles Darwin!
alana: Louis, what are you studying?
Niall001: I'm just sorry I missed most of it.
When will the transcript be up?
Chris_O_Connor: Niall - I will get them up soon.
jeremy1952: Yea chris, where's the damn transcript
Chris_O_Connor: I am building a new transcripts
Louis: yeah, can't wait to graduate though
Niall001: Thanks Chris
Chris_O_Connor: Jeremy lol
jeremy1952: Slow poke
Louis: cool...I'll definitely look up the transcript
when it comes online
Chris_O_Connor: that is where it will go
Bobbi: Thanks for letting me in to my very first
chat!! maybe I'll get prepared next time...oops
Monty_Vonn: Peter, still want to try out the
jeremy1952: Well i'm at work so I'm going back
to work; see y'all next time
Chris_O_Connor: Bobbi - how did you learn of
jeremy1952: welcome on back any time, bobbi
Chris_O_Connor: Bobbi - did I email you?
Chris_O_Connor: Jeremy - see ya soon.
Chris_O_Connor: Jeremy - thanks for the tapes!
Chris_O_Connor: damn him
Monty_Vonn: I forgot to come on the sunday that
I promised. Sorry.
Chris_O_Connor: he leaves so fast
Bobbi: You have me on your email list and I just
walked in the door and saw it
Peterdf: Monty yeah but i think I'll b away this
tarav: i was here all by myself that Sunday!
Chris_O_Connor: Bobbi - ahh!
Monty_Vonn: Peter, are you there?
dom: Same here
Chris_O_Connor: Tara - that is sad.
tarav: not even Peter showed!
Chris_O_Connor: oh boy
Chris_O_Connor: damnit Peter
Peterdf: Im here
tarav: I think peter showed at the wrong time
Monty_Vonn: I think we planned on 8pm Pacific
Standard on Sundays.
Louis: what time would the sunday chats be?
Peterdf: alright you guys
Monty_Vonn: What time is that for you tarav and
Chris_O_Connor: If you want me to add that time
to our new Calendar page I can
Peterdf: it is the time dealay over the atlantic
dom: Thats 1am to us here in Blighty I think
tarav: uh, i'm eastern standard
Chris_O_Connor: I won't always be able to come,
but it is nice for you guys
Louis: eastern it would be 11 pm, no?
Peterdf: don't think I can make it this Sunday
Chris_O_Connor: So Sundays at 8pm Pacific?
Louis: I could make it at that time
Monty_Vonn: Tarav was trying to find a time Peter
could come on and that is what we worked out.
Chris_O_Connor: Louis - yes, thats 11pm eastern
Monty_Vonn: 8 am pacific.
dom: Gotta go - foods ready. Thak you all for
an interesting chat
End of chat
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