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Saturday, March 29, 2008
Do you realize that you are stupid? -vww

"Do you realize that you are stupid?"

This question is a funny insult a friend taught me a long time ago. Replying either yes or no is essentially admitting one's stupidity. Upon further contemplation, one wonders if people really understand their level of competence.

"The Dunning-Kruger effect is the phenomenon wherein people who have little knowledge tend to think that they know more than they do, while others who have much more knowledge tend to think that they know less" -Wikipedia

The idea that incompetent people are overconfident about their abilities while competent people underestimate theirs isn't new. As the story goes, the Oracle of Delphi named Socrates the wisest man because only he knows that he does not know. But I still like the way Kruger describes the incompetent, "Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it".

The experiments that Dunning and Kruger performed covered logic, grammar and humour. I'm a little worried because I would rate myself as above 90th percentile in logical reasoning. Am I then one of those ignorant of their incompetence? Well, at least we know now that those know-it-alls are really just full of it.

Extra Reading Here

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
11:35 AM


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Sexual Cues on Decision Making -vww

I recently read about a certain research that shows that sexual cues can cause men to accept lousy deals. You can find the paper and related articles here.

Basically, the researchers set up a game that goes like this. Two men have to agree on how to split a sum of money. If they cannot come to an agreement, both guys get nothing. Usually, the split is close to 50:50. But when the participants are shown pictures of sexy women and lingerie, they are more likely to accept an unfair offer, perhaps even a 10:90 split.

Actually, this makes me wonder if there is some evolutionary advantage in this phenomenon. It could be Nature's way of making men accept a lousy partner. Men who were more rational about choosing their mate probably got kicked out by natural selection.

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Yiheng made
11:17 AM


maybe thats the reason why some businesses are agreed over alcohol and women at KTV lounges.
By Anonymous Weng Yi, at 4:48 PM  

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Sunday, March 16, 2008
They're At It Again! -vvv

If you have heard my story of how the town council built a 5m long bench perpendicularly across a pavement in my neighbourhood only to "upgrade" it during the elections by, well, tearing it down, then I am sure you will find it amusing that they are doing it again.

This time, they have erected a metal railing that resembles prison bars around a playground to separate it from the pavement and grass patch that surrounds it (must be to protect our children from the germs in the grass). Some of the railings they installed in another place the last time are still an inconvenience till this day and now they are taking another step towards turning my neighbourhood into a labyrinth of iron bars. Brilliant, simply brilliant!

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Yiheng made
5:40 PM


Pls guide me through when I go your house the next time round. These wonders the government's trying to create are a must-see.
By Anonymous Weng Yi, at 3:23 PM  

To devolve myself from this, it's the town councils which are responsible for all of this
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:07 PM  

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Sunday, March 09, 2008
Consistency -vvw

Whenever someone tells me his opinions, I have an annoying habit of responding with questions that force him to check the consistency of his beliefs. While I think that this is beneficial, as it sometimes uncovers flaws in the arguments or reveals new perspective that the person has not considered before, it is not uncommon that some people mistake it for an attack on their beliefs. This annoys people and that's why I call it an annoying habit.

Excluding the misunderstandings, I encountered varied reactions from the rest. There are those who formed their opinions after much thought and are relatively consistent in their beliefs. These people generally have no problems with me since my questions exert no pressure on them.

Others feel uncomfortable when they realize that their belief is not as consistent as they would like it to be. These people tend to become defensive, perhaps even a little angry. That's when I know it's time for me to shut up.

Surprisingly, there are also people whom, upon realizing their own inconsistencies, accept that they are inconsistent beings and have a good laugh over the silliness of it all.

I do not know whether a person needs to be completely consistent in his beliefs to be considered rational. This is best left to the philosophers and logicians. I do feel that it is good to have at least a certain degree of logical consistency in one's opinions. However, the lack of it is also not something to be ashamed of. We are only human and humans are by nature irrational.

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Yiheng made
11:41 AM


There must be a reason for this "annoying habit".

Most of the smart people will laugh this off and say that they're asking only because they're interested.

But I think there is this rather insidious inferiority complex which compels you to dissect these people's opinions, knowingly or unknowingly.

Am I right?

By Anonymous the M from S&M, at 3:10 AM  

I always thought I ask questions because it's fun and I'm doing my victims a favour. But you may be right. Perhaps this inferiority complex is so insidious I just haven't noticed it yet.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 6:54 PM  

It definitely makes a person feel more superior if he could point the flaws in logic in another's argument. I tend to take a different approach: I can recognise one's flaw in logic, then make him conclude or believe in something totally erroneous. Now THAT's more fun to do.
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 10:11 PM  

I think it's kinder to let people live in their inconsistency.
By Anonymous the M from S&M, at 7:21 PM  

But it's SO much more fun to bring them back to reality, espacially when reality bites.
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:21 PM  

reality and truth. those are very silly things to assume your superiority in. "espacially" if you think you're more superior to someone by proving his logic fallacious, you're just as guilty and self-deceived as he is in thinking that you're right.
By Anonymous M, at 9:55 AM  

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008
HARPercussion -vvz

I spent Sunday evening at the Esplanade's Recital Studio catching a concert of chamber music featuring Singaporean concert harpist Katryna Tan, joined by flautist Robert Alvarez and cellist Natasha Junyan Liu. I generally attend performances either because they are known to be good (through reviews and past shows by the same performers) or because they are something I have never seen before and might prove interesting. The Dim Sum Dollies musical that I attended the week before belonged to the former; HARPercussion belonged to the latter.

When I first saw the poster for this show, I figured that Katryna Tan must be pretty good since I have come across several articles about her before. Besides, I am not particularly familiar with music with the harp as the main instrument, so this was a great opportunity to check it out.

It turned out that this concert was in fact one in a series of concerts called Spectrum, whose aim was to introduce 20th century music. The first piece, The Crown of Ariadne, was a solo piece that saw the harpist play a variety of percussion instruments in addition to the harp. One also gets to see unusual ways of playing the harp, such as hitting the strings with drumsticks. While I have no particular preference for abstract music, this piece proved rather entertaining. Perhaps the mythological theme appealed to me. Or maybe the atonal sounds were a refreshing change from what I usually hear around me in the course of my day.

The second and third pieces were duets. The finale was a trio featuring the flute, cello and harp. I especially liked the second movement (it sounded like there were two movements), full of energy, a good selection to end the show with. Overall, I would say I got my money's worth. My friend found the music a little too "empty" at times. I guess he is still not used to modern music; It is an acquired taste. Oh well, at least he enjoyed the cello.

p.s. I think Katryna Tan has a beautiful harp.

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Yiheng made
10:03 PM


oh man! I saw the article in Life! (i think) and wanted to go. but it was left at the back of my head for some time.... is it still on going? lol
By Anonymous Wengyi, at 4:29 PM  

It's a one time performance. I didn't know you like this kind of stuff. What other shows you watch? I can call you along if I come across an interest match.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 8:50 PM  

no specific ones. it's a on-off thingy. the last time i went to such was the vienna imperial or something like that (was a quartet)
at Victoria Concert Hall many years what you said, I've never heard a harp, so thought it might be a gd idea.

By Anonymous wengyi, at 1:17 PM  

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Saturday, March 01, 2008
Fun Toy To Hurt Yourself With -vvx

This company called Wicked Lasers sell the most insane lasers pointers I have ever seen. The best part is how they market their products like they're some kind of cool toy.
"With your laser in your hand, you feel fantastically powerful. Supernaturally awesome. Maybe even a little Godlike."

I'm surprised I haven't heard about anyone who burnt a hole in his retina yet. But I bet it'll be real soon.

Here's a demonstration video that shows how far it goes.

They also sell torches that not only illuminates but also incinerates. I'm just waiting for someone to shine this at his own face while telling ghost stories.

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Yiheng made
4:14 PM


Wow is that torchlight for sale? I want one too, then I can go around burning people.
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 9:39 PM  

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Previous Posts

Swing Along 2009 -vvv

FF13 -vvx

YGBSM -vvw

Tibetan Song -vvx

Unfortunate Side Effects -vwv

Memorable News -vwv

Five Golden Flowers -vvz

Art Appreciation in Singapore -vvw

Openmindedness -vvx


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Neil Gaiman

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J. K. Rowling