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Right on schedule: "Two Americans and a U.S.-based Japanese scientist won the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Wednesday" ... Here.

Also, as per Daniel Burfoot's comment, the Japanese have a saying that you don't truly know how to do something until you've done it 10,000 times. The goal of that as I understand it, in martial arts or language training or any other repetitive art, is to go beyond thought, hence, beyond intelligence, to the place where you are engaging in pure action.

Is it possible to practice rationality in such a reflexive manner? Probably not. Thus the "fallback" on intelligence in rationality contests.


Cyan, you put it much better than me.


In my experience, 'isshokenmei' is a rote expression drilled in Japanese schoolkids from nursery school on. As such, it is long since drained of any "deep" meaning to your average Japanese. I'm not sure a parent exhorting a Japanese kid to do well on a test with "isshokenmei" is saying much more than "Try your best."

You are absolutely right about Japanese science not being pre-eminent in the world and why. For related reasons I am leaving the East altogether - the action is in the US (and the West in general), and looks to stay there for a long time.

And Tim Tyler, viewing Japanese culture as a shabby simulacrum of Chinese culture makes you sound like an executive at GM or Ford from the 70s talking about Toyota or Honda. Who's laughing now? Sure Japanese culture was heavily, heavily influenced in various waves by China - that is, pre 19th-century China, going back to the 6th and 7th centuries. I would say today foreign influence on Japan emanates almost exclusively from the West, particularly the US (maybe a little pop culture from Korea). If anything, these days China is copying Japan.


This from the 5th:

But if you can't do that which seems like a good idea - if you can't do what you don't imagine failing - then what can you do?

And this from today:

To do things that are very difficult or "impossible",

First you have to not run away. That takes seconds.

Then you have to work. That takes hours.

Then you have to stick at it. That takes years.

are nice little nuggets of wisdom. If I were more cynical, I might suggest they are somewhat commonsense, at least to those attracted to seemingly intractable dilemmas and difficult work of the mind, but I won't. It's good to have it summed up.

I find this rah-rah stuff very encouraging, Eliezer. Zettai daijyobu da yo and all that. Good to bear in mind in my own work. But I think it is important to remember that not only is it possible you will fail, it is in fact the most likely outcome. Another very likely outcome: you will die.

You need a memento mori.