And now the third installment of Kapitano's Klever Komments - some of the better things I posted in discussion forums in 2004, and have just rediscovered. Seeing as there's nothing exciting happening in my present life.

Today's theme...Science.

"My IQ is 156"

And you're still gullible enough to think that's meaningful?

"Brains or looks?"

Looks are for looking at. It's all they're good for.


'Complexity' is loosely quantifiable in terms of 'heterogeneity of parts'. A worm has a lot of parts - segments - but most of them are all the same. A crab may have less parts - leg, big claw, small claw, eye, stomach etc - but they're all very different.

And yes, it's perfectly true that adaptation can take place by losing complexity.

'Advancement' is not quantifiable, or indeed meaningful, for an entire organism. It is possible to say that the sense of smell of one animal is more 'advanced' than of another, in the sense of being able to detect odours from fewer molecules entering the nose. In this sense, dogs have more advanced noses than humans.

Dyslexia (Part 1)

A child falls behind in school. They're diagnosed as dyslexic. They get extra tuition. They end up reading better than their classmates who didn't get the extra tuition.

Now read that paragraph again, but omit the second sentence. What exactly has changed?

Dyslexia (Part 2) - "As a child I was great at maths and terrible at reading."

You were good at some things and bad at others. Just like everyone else on the planet.

At age 7, I was extraordinarily good at reading, and almost completely unable to do maths. At 13 I was top of the year in computing and science, but didn't get GCSE maths till I was 20.

Am I discalculate? Am I superlexic? Do I have this week's fashionable condition? No, I just enjoyed reading and had no interest at all in mathematics. I'm currently studying sound DSP algorithms, which needs a fair grasp of calculus, and lo and behold, now that I have a use for maths I can do it.

Dyslexia (Part 3) - "There are bits of my brain-and the brain of every dyslexic-that are physically different from non-dyslexics. That's a known fact."

It's a common assertion. Put it with all the other 'known facts' and 'scientifically proven truths'. Like the one about how the left-brain is logical and the right-brain emotional, or the one about how women are better at multitasking than men.

Or the currently unfashionable one about how the brains of black people have large motor cortices and small anterior cognitive sections. These have all been 'proven', until the evidence was investigated and found to be pitiful.

Once upon a time, 'Possession by Demons' was a respected diagnoses. Then it was discovered that demons don't exist. In Freud's time, women who were unhappy, eccentric, or adulterous were labeled Hysteric. Until the 1950s, homosexuality and prostitution were commonly called 'sexual disorders'.

In the 1970s, the fashion was for Multiple Personality Disorder. Tens of thousands were diagnosed, then it was discovered the number of people with actual multiple personalities was vanishingly small, and possibly zero.

In the 1980s there were two really wierd trends - Alien Abduction and Satanic Abuse. The lack of aliens or satanists took some time to be noticed. In the 1990s, children whose boisterousness annoyed parents were labeled 'hyperactive' - it's still uncertain whether there is such a thing, and whether it's triggered by food allergies or not.

In the late 1990s, drug companies desperate for a new market invented Attention Deficit Disorder - previously known as 'kids bored by school and ignoring parents'.

And in the new millennium, any form of social awkwardness or eccentric behavior is put down to Asperger's Syndrome. For which there is no real test, and no neurological or psychological cause posited. The behavioral test is laughably vague.

Dyslexia is, at best, a very vague term describing a range of symptoms. What these might be symptoms of is completely unknown. Saying a person has trouble reading because they are dyslexic is like saying morphine causes sleep because it's a soporific.

"Science is just another religion."

With prayers, a revered founder, miracles, a moral code, and an afterlife, yes?


Planets tend to be oblate spheroids.

Yes, that's right. Squashed balls.


  1. You are spot on. Medical science is constantly inventing new conditions so they can sell new and expensive medications that may or may not treat the symptoms but certainly never treat the root cause.

    As a child I used to get confused by b, d, and p, and to a lesser extent g, j, and q. Basically, I couldn’t tell my left from my right—which led to some creatively spelled words and occasionally getting my trainers on the wrong feet.

    My dad told me, “You’ll grow out of it.” And I did—kind of.

    When I finally got my university degree my dad told me the truth, that when I was born the cord was wrapped around my neck, literally strangling me. Apparently it was touch and go for about 10 minutes as the doctor tried to revive me. Shortly after that, the doctor has a very solemn conversation with my parents about oxygen deprivation and its effect on the brain.

    So now, whenever I do something stupid, I just blame it on brain damage. Oddly, whenever I tell this story to people, they just nod and remark, “That explains a lot”.

  2. I've got my own version of that. Viral meningitis at age two - which is both the probably cause of and (more usefully) an excuse for my illegible handwriting.

    The thing about getting confused as a child between p, b, d and q is...every child does it, sometimes for years, until they get practiced at not doing it. But everyone seems to think they're unusual in having had that confusion.

    If you've ever tried to learn a foreign alphabet - Biblical Hebrew? Greek? - you'll have made the same "mirroring" mistakes.

    Actually, I once tried to learn Hebrew and Greek at the same time. It was a formula for confusion.

  3. No Greek of Hebrew here but I did take French for a year. I got an "A" too...but only because when I took my oral exam I wore a short skirt, a low-cut blouse and dazzled with middle-aged instructor with my dimple. :-)

    I'm sure my handwriting is much more illegible than yours. We should post examples and compare.

  4. Never got the IQ thing; never took an IQ test, so the numbers are meaningless to me.

    I had problems with math but not science. I got chemistry and physics easy; had to work really hard to understand trigonometry and pre calculus.

    I have a problem with concepts--If I can't see it in my head, if it doesn't make sense in my head, if I can't see all the parts connecting, then I can't understand it. I am very good at application, though, putting the concepts into practice. Because I understand what's happening and why.

    Planets also fall out of fashion. Just ask Pluto!

  5. @Eroswings:

    Sounds like you're like me, as regards the way we think. I'm mainly visual and practical - work best with pictures and diagrams, not so good with words, work best solving a practical problem, not so good with juggling abstract notions.

    I got selected at age 9 to take part in a series of IQ tests. I got 130, which got me invited to a playgroup for "gifted children".

    Exactly why a playgroup designed to stretch the imagination and intellect should be so homogenised and boring I'm not sure. But it was, and I left after a few weeks.

    BTW, I think Pluto is now classified as a planetoid - a kind of halfway house between planet and "lump of rock in space".