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wedrifid comments on Scientific Self-Help: The State of Our Knowledge - Less Wrong

138 Post author: lukeprog 20 January 2011 08:44PM

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Comment author: wedrifid 22 January 2011 03:14:28PM 5 points [-]

Naturals are not naturals by birth. They develop and hone their respective skills at some point and get a lot of practice in it.

This is worth emphasising.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 03:22:51PM 2 points [-]

http://www.paulgraham.com/nerds.html

»The key to this mystery is to rephrase the question slightly. Why don't smart kids make themselves popular? If they're so smart, why don't they figure out how popularity works and beat the system, just as they do for standardized tests? .... The main reason nerds are unpopular is that they have other things to think about. Their attention is drawn to books or the natural world, not fashions and parties. .... Even if nerds cared as much as other kids about popularity, being popular would be more work for them. The popular kids learned to be popular, and to want to be popular, the same way the nerds learned to be smart, and to want to be smart: from their parents. While the nerds were being trained to get the right answers, the popular kids were being trained to please.«

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 04:29:24PM 2 points [-]

Why don't smart kids make themselves popular?

Anecdotal evidence: I did. Maybe nerds stay nerds because they only profess a desire to be popular and don't actually hold it; maybe group distaste for popularity if it ever was achieved ("I wouldn't want to be popular even if I could be" sour grapes style) is also a factor. Maybe not being popular is a defining part of nerd; certainly I was not considered a nerd despite being smart and interested in all the same areas.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 04:37:29PM 1 point [-]

How did you do it?

I lacked the ability to recognize the underlying structures completely and utterly failed.

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 05:04:52PM 3 points [-]

Attended six schools, mostly. Threw myself at the popular cliques and remembered how I failed, didn't fail that way at the next school.

Comment author: MartinB 22 January 2011 05:30:45PM 1 point [-]

I don't see how that works by itself. If you ever do a write up or feel like talking about it in a detailed way, you got +1 reader.

Comment author: shokwave 22 January 2011 05:43:08PM 4 points [-]

I don't think I will, sorry. The audience that could understand it are well past when they could use it and I don't believe it's general enough for popular groups past high school. It is an interesting story about idea generation (one science class about cornflour+water had me modelling cliques as a non-Newtonian fluid - you don't make a splash, you make a thud and fall off) but of course my brain would say that about itself.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 04:21:50PM 2 points [-]

Agree, but i think it's more peers than parenting, and more genetics than peers. Also I would not praise nerds so highly, the popular kids don't aim exactly to please, and the nerdy kids don't aim exactly to get the right answers.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 22 January 2011 03:34:16PM 1 point [-]

This is a nice explanation but it fails since in many cultures outside the US the popular v. nerd dichotomy doesn't exist or doesn't exist with nearly the same strength. In much of US culture and some other areas in the West there really is a stereotype that smart people are/should be unpopular.

Comment author: sark 22 January 2011 04:24:20PM 1 point [-]

This doesn't seem to depend on existing social categories. Individual proclivities and social feedback seem to be enough. The stereotypes could simply be a reflection of the macro outcome of this proclivity-feedback process. Though admittedly in a conformist culture there is less room to deviate.