But Not Without Shame

So, David Brin and I have been chatting behind the scenes; as you might expect, he disagrees with pretty much everything I had to say on the ol’ Scorched-Earth front.  It’s an important issue, one to which I’ll be returning in the near future— but because it’s an important issue, it deserves more time than I can afford to devote to it this week, especially after I lost most of Tuesday to getting my ass repeatedly blown up in a Body-Works Museum near the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. (I really regret falling for that biochip recall back in Hengsha.) So today’s listing is pure self-promotional fluff; a potpourri of newsy bits from the past few weeks that I just never got around to mentioning before.

tahttivaeltajaFirst off, I’m going to be GoH at something called “Peterburg’s Fiction Assembly” in St. Peterburg, Russia, the weekend of August 15— or at least I will be, if I ever get through the Gilliamesque application process involved in getting a tourist visa for the fucking place. The bad news is, Worldcon is the same weekend, so I won’t be seeing any of you there.  The good news is, Worldcon is the same weekend, so I can probably credit my invitation to the fact that everyone else is in London that weekend.

Another overseas accolade for Blindsight, this time under its Finnish alias Sokeanäkö: the Tähtivaeltaja award (which apparently translates as “Star Rover”), kind of a year’s-best thing.  Juried.  No monetary value. And as is usual for any translation of this book, the lion’s share of the credit has to go to the dude who translated it, J. Pekka Mäkelä. You all know how dense Blindsight is even in this language; just  imagine having to morph it into a different one.

Finally: first official review of Echopraxia, from Publisher’s Weekly. I copy it in full, because it is short, and because it glows:

Hugo-winner Watts attempts “faith-based hard SF” in this dense, fast-moving companion to 2006’s Blindsight set in a late-21st-century world of genetically resurrected vampires, weaponized zombies, and Nobel-winning monastic hive minds. Daniel Brüks, obsolete in every way—human in a posthuman world, a field biologist despite biology’s merger with technology, an atheist despite religion’s recent triumphs over science—is dragged onto a Rapture-guided ship, the Crown of Thorns, and taken on a mission to investigate possible transmissions from the lost spaceship Theseus. Brüks is soon trapped between a vampire and a physics-breaking “postbiological” organism. Watts displays his knack for meticulously researched, conventionally unsympathetic characters, and their complex manipulations give color to an environment in which it is difficult to distinguish bloody catastrophe from “plans within plans.” The novel delivers an intricately inventive and coolly deterministic lesson in the futility of trying to outthink evolution, less a critique of human transcendence than an indictment of its basic assumptions.

I especially liked “difficult to distinguish bloody catastrophe from plans-within-plans”.  Not a starred review, though, which I guess means they didn’t like it as much as behemoth. (Here’s the link: I include it not because it leads to any further information, but just to prove I’m not making this up.)

Some of you may be especially surprised at the glowiness of this review; I’m speaking, of course, of those who served as beta-readers, and who slogged through a much crappier version of the novel. I’m kind of retroactively embarrassed that I inflicted that on you (I’ve actually decided to dispense with beta-readers in future, save for one or two close confidantes), so I intend to pdfify a copy of the final copyedited version and send it to you all as a gesture of thanks and atonement.  Don’t know exactly when that’ll be, but it will be well in advance of the official release date.

It’ll be better than the ARC. I saw the ARC for the first time last weekend.  It didn’t even include the Crown of Thorns illustration. That better not be a harbinger.

 

 

 

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday June 05 2014at 06:06 am , filed under On the Road, public interface, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

47 Responses to “But Not Without Shame”

  1. “physics-breaking “postbiological” organism”, two more months! I can’t wait to read it!

    Since it seems you are done with Echopraxia, is there anything new on the horizon?

  2. A quick question on upcoming books – Amazon UK has ‘Echopraxia’ listed for hardback preorder (26 Aug 2014), but they also have ‘Firefall’ listed for kindle preorder (14 Aug 2014) – is ‘Firefall’ just an alternative title for ‘Echopraxia’, or are these different stories?

    There’s no Kindle (UK) version of ‘Echopraxia’ up for preorder yet, and no hard or softback version of ‘Firefall’. The minimal summaries for each book don’t make it easy to figure out what they are.

  3. Alex Baxter:
    A quick question on upcoming books – Amazon UK has ‘Echopraxia’ listed for hardback preorder (26 Aug 2014), but they also have ‘Firefall’ listed for kindle preorder (14 Aug 2014) – is ‘Firefall’ just an alternative title for ‘Echopraxia’, or are these different stories?

    There’s no Kindle (UK) version of ‘Echopraxia’ up for preorder yet, and no hard or softback version of ‘Firefall’.The minimal summaries for each book don’t make it easy to figure out what they are.

    Same book, different title. Peter mentioned the name change for releases in different countries a few months ago:

    http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=4666

  4. Jeremy C, thanks, I missed that one. Amazon are probably selling the US edition hardback on import.

  5. Ha ha! I was pretty pleased with myself for both not taking the chip upgrade (It smelled fishy!) and suicide bombing mr. muscles with my brand new Typhoon upgrade. Getting through videogame scenes on the first attempt is a rare pleasure.

    Are you playing the Director’s cut with the extended foray in the prison? It’s nice. The developers’ commentary is also pretty interesting.

    Translating blindsight is an interesting exercise, considering the main character is essentially a translator. A lot of his narration could be considered a meta commentary on the translator as he works on the text.

  6. Wouldn’t any organism be biological by definition. Even if it was non-organic, and extremely bizarre. I was under the impression biological just meant “pertaining to life”.

  7. Ship of Theseus,

    I should have included a question mark, tired. By the way I hope I’m not being too pedantic, merely curious as to how you would define biological?

  8. Hello Peter,

    I’m surprised you didn’t announce your story in “Reach for Infinity” that came out recently. I just finished reading the story and it left me speechless.

    I second Jeremy C: is there anything on the horizon after Echopraxia?

  9. Not much use to you unless you’re going to play through again, but Jaron Namir is shamefully easy to defeat with a borderline-exploitative dodge.

    You go leftward so the Invisible Man jumps over the wall to get you, then you go rightward next to the smug chick so the Invisible Man immediately jumps back over the wall. (Don’t remember the precise layout, been a while, YouTube ahoy if necessary.)

    Then just do a takedown on him as he delivers himself to you. He’s out with one punch.

  10. Oge:
    Hello Peter,

    I’m surprised you didn’t announce your story in “Reach for Infinity” that came out recently. I just finished reading the story and it left me speechless.

    I second Jeremy C: is there anything on the horizon after Echopraxia?

    You see, thats why I can’t sleep at night. Peter leaves vague mentionings of stories scattered throughout the ‘Crawl and I never quite know if I’ve missed something or not. The short story in “Reach for Infinity” is named “Hotshot”, and was previously mentioned as being named “Sunspots”… Look here: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=3265. And its not even in the post itself, its way down in the comments, a person named Sheila brought it up out of nowhere.

  11. Jeremy C: Since it seems you are done with Echopraxia, is there anything new on the horizon?

    Gearing up for Intelligent Design. Can’t say it’s my absolute next project, but it’s probably my next novel at least.

    Alex Baxter: A quick question on upcoming books – Amazon UK has ‘Echopraxia’ listed for hardback preorder (26 Aug 2014), but they also have ‘Firefall’ listed for kindle preorder (14 Aug 2014) – is ‘Firefall’ just an alternative title for ‘Echopraxia’, or are these different stories?

    As Jeremy points out, yes, Firefall is Echpraxia under another name — kind of. My understanding is that Head of Zeus will start by releasing both Blindsight and Echopraxia bundled together in an omnibus edition (since Blindsight never got a prior UK release). I would not be comfortable with that myself, if not for the fact that they’ll be releasing each volume separately a few months further down the road.

    Nestor: Ha ha! I was pretty pleased with myself for both not taking the chip upgrade (It smelled fishy!)

    It did. I went for it because my original biochip was glitching out intermittently,m so I thought I had independent evidence of a malfunction. If I’d just seen the recall notices but hadn’t noticed any problem myself, I would have stayed clear.

    Die and learn.

    Are you playing the Director’s cut with the extended foray in the prison?

    Nah. I’m just playing through a 2011 copy I bought used down at the corner. It’;s fun, but I gotta say a lot of the background details look awfully conventional for 2027. (We’re still using mice in 13 years? Cardboard filing boxes?) Also, coming into DE right after finishing The Last of Us, the clunkiness of dialog and the voice-acting are really apparent.

    Translating blindsight is an interesting exercise, considering the main character is essentially a translator.

    Wait a second. Does that mean you’re translating Blindsight?

  12. Re review: Fucking goosebumps. Don’t recall last time that happened.

  13. Ship of Theseus:
    Wouldn’t any organism be biological by definition. Even if it was non-organic, and extremely bizarre. I was under the impression biological just meant “pertaining to life”.

    I’m using “post-biological” to describe any form of life that was deliberately engineered by other life, as opposed to being a product of blind evolution. Could be organic or non. But maybe that’s just me; has someone else dibsed the term?

    Oge: I’m surprised you didn’t announce your story in “Reach for Infinity” that came out recently. I just finished reading the story and it left me speechless.

    Oh, right. Glad you liked it (assuming that you meant “speechless” in a good way). Everybody, “Hotshot” is out in “Reach for Infinity”. It’s from very, very early in the Sunflowers cycle (which also contains “The Island”).

    Another story in that cycle is “Giants”, which I actually like better than “Sunspots”. But you probably haven’t seen it, because it’s out in a book called “Extreme Planets” which the publisher (a game company called Chaosium) not only buried with no promotion at all, but has failed to pay the authors or the editors for.

    Being one of those unpaid authors — and given that not paying for a contracted work is a contract violation — I think I might try to resell the damn thing in a place where it might get a bit more exposure. (I wonder if Clarkesworld would buy a reprint if the original appearance was both obscure and illegal…)

    Daniel Rutter: Not much use to you unless you’re going to play through again, but Jaron Namir is shamefully easy to defeat with a borderline-exploitative dodge.

    Yeah, I read about that. Haven’t tried it yet. Haven’t been back to the game since it kicked my ass all day, because I’m too busy making up for thhat lost Tuesday I will never get back.

    Next week, probably.

  14. Peter Watts,

    Noo, bad phrasing, I mean it would be, or it must be an interesting exercise considering the narrator’s profession.

    I mean I am a translator*, so I have a tendency to sometimes automatically convert what I’m reading. So in a sense I have translated blindsight in my head. Is there a Spanish translation already? Amazon.es only has the English edition.

    * Mostly boring documents and engineering stuff, I did get to translate a 19th century booklet about the Inquisition once, that was a bit more fun.

  15. Peter,

    are you aware of the audio book version of Blindsight:

    http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Blindsight-Audiobook/B002V59TMM/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1402231499&sr=1-1

    ?

    I think the reader does a really good job.

    Do you know if there will be an audio version of Echopraxia?
    Will it feature the same reader?

  16. in brin’s response

    In ninety-nine out of a hundred cases, well-meaning folks will proclaim variants of this general approach — concealment — as the sole recourse by common folk against abuse of surveillance by corporate and government and criminal hegemons and would-be big brothers…

    …even though it cannot possibly succeed, is illogical, has no historical examples of ever having worked – even once, ever – and is not the method that gave us the appreciable (if partial) freedom and privacy we now enjoy. And in that word “offer” (above) you can find layer after layer of ronies. Who is expected to offer this anodyne?

    Brin is wrong. The Lava Bit Snowden Email fiasco with the feds is a relevant example. The provider (Lava Bit) did indeed destroy the data in question. How could Brin miss this?

  17. Fun fact:

    Ensuring successful concealment of information my employer considers “sensitive” is a vital part of my job, and the fact that so far said employer is both capable and willing to pay me clearly proves that mr. Brin is wrong (admittedly, the types of threats we are facing aren’t anywhere near the ballpark NSA tends to frolick in, however, Brin’s thesis does not specify a particular opponent type – so any would suffice to falsify it)

  18. Sir

    What is the idea behind Intelligent Design? Is this a continuation of the society you created in The Island?

    Have you considered doing a war/military book? I loved Crysis: Legion and would be very interested in what you would do if you weren’t constrained by another storyline and fixed concepts of another IP.

    Thank you

  19. Grattis. Googletrans thinks:

    Certificate of Star Wanderer
    The best in 2013 in Finland
    Published in the science-fiction book
    Peter Watts: Blind Sight
    Publisher Gummerus
    Translator J. Pekka Mäkelä
    in Helsinki, 8.15. 2014
    Helsinki Science Fiction Society

    Onko suomalainen kaveri lähettyvillä?

  20. An interesting point: many proposed solutions tend towards outwitting government, ie evolving/adapting to be better prey, not taming/forcing the predator to behave.

    This may imply two things: we have given up on the latter and we are at war.

  21. Peter Watts,

    Fuck! I liked Giants too! What is it with publishers fucking you? Who do I need to write an angry letter to?

  22. Hljóðlegur,

    Finnish person reporting in.

    Certificate of Excellence, the Star Wanderer Award.
    The best science fiction novel published in Finland in the year 2013.
    Peter Watts: Blindsight
    Translated by J. Pekka Mäkelä
    Publisher: Gummerus
    Helsinki, May 8th, 2014
    Helsinki Science Fiction Society

    Also, really looking forward to Echopraxia (my #1 literary event of the year), and I guess I should finally get started with that Deus Ex: HR Director’s Cut I picked up on Steam sale…

  23. @whoever

    I kinda think it’s not war, it’s just complex landscape and less than rational agents on it.

    Strategically, institutional solutions kind of work (institutional protections citizens of USA and Canada enjoy are faulty, but definitely good enough to ensure that said citizens fare way better than citizens of China, Russia, or some horrible conservitarded middle-eastern hellhole), but tactically (i.e., when you manage to somehow severely piss off something bigger than you) various evasion and concealment tools work way better than complicated legal contraptions.

  24. To slightly expand on that thought, if governments (and citizens) were completely rational, institutional solutions would be more reliable, and if the landscape in general (and technology specifically) was simpler, various evasion/concealment shenanigans would be less effective.

    Combination of less than rational agents and a very complex landscape kind of means that you need both types of approaches, for different situations and different contexts (and, let’s not forget that with the proliferation of easy-to-use, scalable surveillance techniques, governments and corpses aren’t the only – and perhaps aren’t even the worst – thing one should worry about)

  25. 01:
    @whoever

    I kinda think it’s not war, it’s just complex landscape and less than rational agents on it.

    …citizens of USA and Canada enjoy are faulty, but definitely good enough to ensure that said citizens fare way better than citizens of China, Russia, or some horrible conservitarded middle-eastern hellhole

    We’re better than China and Russia is not really a selling point, though, right? “Welcome to the USA: We’re Not Hitler.” It’s the disparity between the advertising and reality that are problematic. Some of Snowden’s slides show clear intent to run PSYOPs on journalists, at least by the UK. Conscious intent to fool the citizenry by fooling those who inform them.

    Yesterday, at the CIA’s conference in DC, someone was quoted as saying that the Stasi were a good intelligence service. That we have bowed completely to the multinational corporation is the point. That the government knowingly breaks the law under the auspices of a former Attorney General’s interpretation of Executive power meaning anything goes in wartime-a now permanent state-is the point. That they just switch legal justifications when caught, push through legislation after the fact is the point. That various attorney generals have been compromised via politics, business, or simple cover ups of wrongdoing by those they investigate is the point. That even one dead or imprisoned journalist is one or two too many is the point. That [REDACTED] planned to snipe leadership of a peaceful protest group and there were no charges filed and the identity of the organization involved remains a secret is the point. That the US has engaged directly and indirectly in actions including torture and murder is the point. That the Iraq invasion has largely been erased by the very people backed by the US as freedom fighters in Syria is the point.

    It’s a lot messier than it appears and surveillance is just one aspect. If we aren’t at war, it’s because we haven’t recognized the threat. This little experiment in limited democracy is over.

  26. I commented over at contrarybrin as well; I think Drs. Brin and Watts are both pulling in something like the right direction in this — not pulling exactly the same direction, and not intentionally pulling together, but what counts is the vector sum over time and the pattern of tugging at the problem. More people, more effort, budges the stuck issue.

    I asked over at contrarybrin how he thinks about transparency within the atmosphere while not attracting attention from outside the Solar System — no answer on that (not that I imagine it’s possible, but I think the problems are analogous — we want to make it difficult to get information, while we stay aware that it’s impossible to know we’ve kept anything secret. That’s the combination of approaches).

    XKCD shows us the image of the shark cruising in the dark; marine biology warns us that big-scary-predator doesn’t mean top predator: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-happened-to-great-white-shark-eaten-by-a-super-predator-2014-6

    As a last note, here’s another police stop-and-assault — police behavior sounds quite familiar, but a camera captured it, which changed the outcome:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140226/09394726354/dash-cam-revelations-nj-show-again-importance-video-as-evidence-police-abuse.shtml

  27. Also noted, following the link to Publishers Weekly, exact quote:

    “ALSO BY THIS AUTHOR

    EHEMOTH: -Max …
    EHEMOTH: Seppuku …”

    aaaieeeeee….. typocalypse …

  28. @ whoever

    Being better than Hitler is an okay selling point. Being better than Hitler, Putin, and Xi Jinping is an even better selling point.

    I guess that perhaps the difference in our reactions is due to the fact that I am not a US native and as such I don’t consider the favorable (relatively) state of affairs seen in first world countries to be some kind of natural or expected.
    I’m used to way more terrifying and hopeless social systems.

    Thus the one seen in so-called “first world”, to me, seems far from fatally broken, it’s just buggy, and has hit some fairly unpleasant bugs recently, but those are hardly fatal. USA isn’t yet Gillead, Canada has privacy conferences and not book burnings, journalists reporting on Snowden files aren’t disappearing (yet) and even Mr. Brown’s case is following a trajectory quite removed from the most tragic conceivable.

    Yes, it’s messy, and that is exactly the reason why it’s not war in any meaningful way (we’re no more at “war” with the “establishment” then we are at “war” with bacteria, and I don’t consider us to be at “war” with bacteria, despite the fact that they did at one point try to eat our kind host).

    Yes, governments and corporations do have agents we could agree are “unwholesome” (we could definitely agree that trying to “press the press” is unwholesome), and they also include agents who, while not ispo facto “unwholesome” are nonetheless working to the detriment of systems we consider favorable and worth defending (in my humble opinion, we’ve been lucky with regards to this “antagonistic” category lately – we could have been facing far more coherently driven, foresightful and coordinated opponents)

    There are also agents that, for various reasons, act in support of systems we could agree to describe as “favorable” for ourselves (ranging from whistleblowers like Snowden to politicians who are trying to defund and limit the overgrown state oppression apparatus, even if the latter are likely to be doing that out of purely egoistical “cash in on controversy” considerations).

    And it is definitely possible to leverage latter against the former.

    Of course, it’s unlikely that all the bugs in society will get fixed (it’s unlikely that all bugs in any system will ever get fixed 😉 ), but it is definitely conceivable that it will be possible to maintain a comfortable state of affairs for a very long time

    It would require active maintenance, yes. Probably it will require active maintenance forever.

    Nobody said comfortable societies are easy to keep going.

  29. @01

    Your response is of course reasonable and not wrong. I constantly find myself in the damnable position of pointing out how bad things are while at the same time juggling the “but don’t panic” and “forget what Alex Jones says” balls.

    Similarly, there’s an inclination to ignore dystopian scifi because people think our problems arose because Orwell and Huxley wrote about it. This is like saying Verne invented the submarine. Yet Star Trek is the most positive, progressive and best known scifi there is, but has seen almost no adoption into societal structure apart from the much despised United Nations. There, by the way, the man running for Pres. of the General Assembly is a Ugandan supporter of gay persecution. And yet I am confident that better days lay ahead.

    For somebody. Even climate change is not likely to wipe out the species. But maybe a significant portion. These witting and unwitting agencies are by their actions in part ensuring that number and those odds are higher. I don’t see how we can counteract that without admitting that there is a problem and forcing those who in theory control said agencies to accept responsibility for their actions.

    Recently heard Thomas Drake say that there will, of course, after all this be a new renaissance. But do we want to repeat the Dark Ages to get there? Why can’t we look at history and steer the boat around the iceberg?

    I don’t know. Suppose Sting got that one right.

  30. PS: the actions aren’t just unwholesome; they’re also backwards. Not just illegal/extra-legal, unethical, immoral, but also impractical and counter to dealing with the real problems we face. Unless we accept population reduction as the solution to climate change, peak oil, etc. In which case, societal collapse must ensue due to every baseline-for-itself. Vacuum to be filled by the multinational and regional social dominators and their authoritarian henchmen. Seems like I read some scifi books with that in the background.

  31. A brief quote from that Techdirt article, for those who skipped it:

    —- quote —–

    The plea deal offered to Jeter was five years of prison time, for resisting arrest and assaulting police officers. Those were the charges levied in the officers’ report. Those charges, as would later be determined by an active police dash-cam, were utter bullshit.

    The video, which prosecutors say they never saw before filing the initial charges, shows Jeter holding his hands above his head.

    “The next thing I know, one of them busts the [car] door and there is glass all over my face,” he told ABC News station WABC-TV about the arrest. “As soon as they opened the door, one officer reached in and punched me in my face. As he’s trying to take off my seat belt, I’m thinking, ‘Something is going to go wrong.'” Jeter says the cops continued hitting him, telling him not to resist arrest.

    Oops. As it turns out, there wasn’t any resisting of arrest and the only assault occurring was when the officers beat the hell out of Jeter….

    … Thanks to Jeter’s attorney filing a request for records, which included the footage, the charges against Jeter were dropped and charges were instead filed against the officers. Those charges include aggravated assault, conspiracy, and official misconduct.

    … respect doesn’t come without the public’s right to verify our public officials are behaving honestly and judiciously…. the public has a right to the footage of officers in action.
    ————— end quote ——

    You’d almost think police training teaches assault before questioning.

  32. @ Hank Roberts

    I missed that. Thanks.

    Here’s something even more akin to Brownshirt activity. Really, there’s no end to examples like these. Note that pretty much the entire US state and local police are now tied-in to the federal government via fusion centers. These people have been pretty much driven out of business.

    http://po.st/aUGJiU

  33. @whoever

    Wow.

    These look more Nazi than actual nazis. Do Philly cops always wear these leather coats? Or only when it’s rainy?

  34. @Y

    Don’t know. Funny how clothing and politics come back into style though.

    @Peter

    Cuz I know you’re gonna love it. “You’ll never guess Hillary Clinton’s favorite book.”

    http://gawker.com/youll-never-guess-hillary-clintons-favorite-book-1591353415


  35. Don’t know. Funny how clothing and politics come back into style though.

    It’s interesting how tripartitism, an originally fascist policy never went out of style in most of continental Europe.

    __________


    At the risk of appearing predictable, the Bible was and remains the biggest influence on my thinking.

    Heh, I wouldn’t trust a word out of her mouth. Politicians, always angling to appear more sympathetic, and always clueless that their insincerity is showing.

    It’s amazing how good commenters are on this blog. Over at PZ Myers’ blog, there are people there who claim that James Watson is ‘stupid’, having a high IQ has nothing to do with the chance of winning a science Nobel and so on.

    Interesting attitudes.

  36. Heh. And now I’ve been banned(at least, posted a reply and it went nowhere) there for nothing more than arguing the case for human diversity being more than cosmetic just on the basis of published research..

    Worst insult I used was that I asked a particularily thick one whether he’s from Oklahoma, that being the state of the US of A where they’re so dense they have problems understanding irony. Meanwhile the other side kept using words like ‘shit’, ‘bigot’ and so on..

    Atheism+. Fuck yeah.

  37. Matti,

    Kiitos!

  38. It’s amazing how good commenters are on this blog. Over at PZ Myers’ blog, there are people there who claim that James Watson is ‘stupid’, having a high IQ has nothing to do with the chance of winning a science Nobel and so on.

    James Watson is an unrepentant white supremacist, which puts him firmly in the stupid category. As to IQ tests and Nobel prizes, it is well known that tests like the IQ test have severe sociological biases in them, making them about as useful as “which Harry potter character are you” for determining anything. Further, winning any award is as much a triumph of politics as achievement (see Kissinger getting the Nobel Peace Prize). So trying to connect an unscientific test to a community selected notoriety is extremely specious.

  39. @ Y not to start a hell of a flame war, but, despite the fact that hypothesis speculating that there is a number of alleles that might affect “intelligence” (for a given definition of intelligence) and a particular group of said alleles is common for a particular ethnicity (for a given definition of ethnicity) is not ipso facto stupid, a specific formulation of said hypothesis that is espoused by Watson is, sadly, stupid.

    It is entirely possible to be a grounbreaking biochemist and hold stupid views about some other field in general and population genetics of intelligence specifically.

  40. @Daniel

    James Watson is an unrepentant white supremacist, which puts him firmly in the stupid category.

    Firstly, I’ve never heard of him expounding supremacist belief, that is proclaiming white people are supposed to dominate other races. Secondly, there’s a difference between stupid and evil.

    @01

    a specific formulation of said hypothesis that is espoused by Watson is, sadly, stupid.

    Why? We’ll probably know, in a couple of years, the genetic basis of high intelligence. Chinese have a big project aimed at finding out.

    In the newspaper interview, he said there was no reason to think that races which had grown up in separate geographical locations should have evolved identically

    I don’t think we’ll start a flamewar with that.
    Arguing otherwise seems like supporting teleology in evolution. Why does that seem to be stupid?

    And the other part of what he said, about a certain minority being denser is rather well-supported by empirical and test data, so there’s really nothing to discuss there, so let’s abstain from that here.

  41. Hey Peter – I just got my hands on the ARC yesterday and my copy DOES have an illustration of the Crown of Thorns on the opening pages (note: this is the official TOR ARC, with a relatively plain, white cover).

    Needless to say, I’m really excited and I’m powering through Blindsight again in preparation for my read of Echopraxia this weekend.

    And don’t worry, I still have the hardcover on pre-order from Amazon.

  42. @Ken

    You know, it’s not nice to brag :-(

  43. Y.,

    I sincerely doubt that we’ll have a single generally agreed upon definition for intelligence in a couple of years, let alone have defined a genetic basis.

  44. Texting app that destroys the texts after 30 seconds:

    http://cyberdust.com

    And Border Patrol IA Under Corruption Investigation

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/06/20/231045/border-agencys-watchdog-under.html

  45. I sincerely doubt that we’ll have a single generally agreed upon definition for intelligence in a couple of years, let alone have defined a genetic basis.

    The Chinese are looking at DNA of volunteers who performed extremely well in math, physics or informatics related areas. That’s where the money is. Probably they are going to find something.

    And yes, it’s hard to define, but performance generally clusters together, that’s what enables psychometrics to find the a single ‘g factor’.

  46. Y.,

    Sorry, but I couldn’t help but brag a little 😉

    Truthfully, I just got lucky with a well-timed eBay search.

  47. @ Y

    Well, for starters, the very notion of “general intelligence factor” is somewhat disputable (it’s a tacky mess), but that’s besides the point (still, when discussing psychometrics of intelligence it’s generally wise to specify which particular definition of a given metric one is using.)

    Now, back to Watson, his entire argument is oddly mis/under specified (what exactly is “intelligence” in the context of this discussion, and what exactly are “africans” he’s “gloomy” about), and implies some really peculiar views on how rather subtle statistical differences in average/median values of “intelligence metrics” would affect a country in general (say what you will about intelligence of people there, but the methods their officials invent to pocket and launder international aid are quite creative and took quite a lot of “intelligence” to come up with).

    Also, the whole “we should treat them differently” position teeters on the edge of becoming a logical fallacy (since the need for a special international intervention program for “africans” does not necessarily arise from slight racial differences in performance at psychometric tests), and generally sounds like a complaint about passing of “good ole days”, while the part about employers is cringe-worthy – if a given company hires a “less intelligent” black person it’s most certainly not due to lack of intelligence in “blacks on average”, but rather due to lack of intelligence in the HR department.

    Don’t get me wrong – he could have constructed a perfectly nice scientific argument along same lines.

    There is nothing inherently foolish or outrageous about hypothesizing that some alleles are particularly good for “intelligence”(under specific definition thereof) and some subpopulations of humans ended up with more of such alleles.

    However, Watson’s bizarre quip about intelligence of “africans” is not such a sound argument, and is quite baffling in its apparent stupidity.

    I say, old bean, it might have been his blacker genes speaking, of which he has an ample supply, natch

    P.S.:
    I preemptively ask pardon from all the British nobility and Woodhouse fans who might have been offended by my bloodcurdlingly poor attempt at imitating the speech patterns of the stereotypical British noble :)