Standing against the tide of years, sometimes we drown

The Economist has an obituary for Ian Smith, the leader of the fourteenth colony to declare independence from the United Kingdom. Smith’s rise a product of Britain’s fall: the bankruptcy of Her Majesty’s System Administration Force, necessitated by Britain’s disasterous entry into two disasterous World Wars. Pressured by the majority of the population below him, the Parliament above him, and anti-British Boers to his side, and his own mistakes, Smith’s Southern Rhodesia would fall. Because of his failure, Zimbabwe is now the nightmare it is today.

In a better world, that great war would not have been fought, the Core would have been able to afford a century of capital investment throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and men like Smith would have lived very different lives. But we don’t live in that better world.

At least, not yet.

So will CNN host a debate of Republican activists asking Democratic candidates questions

Anderson Cooper admits one questioner works for Clinton. While others merely publicly endorsed Democratic candidates. No wonder the debate was so fun to watch: it was a set-up.

I wonder when CNN hosts it’s next debate, with a Giuliani employee asking Clinton questions, while Huckabee, Thompson, Romney, and McCain supporters speak their minds.

(Of course the above sentence is rhetoric. CNN is a left-of-center political outlet, and has been for decades. Further, it would be very risky for Democratic candidates to walk into that sort of situation, which is why the Republican candidates only did so out of ignorance.)

Raising Smart Kids in Two Easy Steps

Slashdot links to a Scientific American article titled “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Hint: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life.” (Apparently, SciAm likes long titles.) There’s a lot of work done in the margins on positive psychology, but two of the biggest factors are pretty simple:

  1. Make sure your mate is smarter than you
  2. Make sure your kid’s friends are harder working than him

Of course, the main purpsoe of parenting isn’t the creation of a high-achieving next generation. It’s love. But high achievement doesn’t necessarily hurt.

Orientation and Decision: Two Systems for Thinking

Evans, J. St. B. T. (2008). Dual-processing accounts of reasoning, judgment, and social cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 59, doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093629.

John Boyd’s OODA Loop is a dual processing model of cognition. The very best discussion of dual processing is Jonathan St. B. T. Evans’ “Dual processing accounts of reasoning, judgment and social cognition” (55-page pdf, Annual Review‘s description) to be published in January 2008, in the Annual Review of Psychology.

The article goes over a tremendous amount of literature in excellent style. Evans synthesizes many sources I’ve mentioned such as Lieberman’s “comparison between thinking and riding a bicycle,” and recent work noting the very strong correlation between working memory and IQ . But he puts everything in a larger context, showing how field after field is adopting dual processing systems, and thus coming ever closer to Boyd’s OODA model.

If you want to know how people think, Evans’ article is the place to start.