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I'll see if I can find the books I referred earlier regarding intelligence testing for people interested in delving further into this topic.

EDIT: One interesting factoid I recall - IQ tests were originally developed to detect impaired mental function only. However, performance on these tests is now used to justify claims of superior mental function. As I recall, among experts this use of IQ testing is controversial.

Do you oppose the EPA decision to reduce mercury pollution because it lowers children's IQ on the grounds that IQ isn't a good measurement of intelligence?

The possible effect of environmental pollutants on human health (mental and/or physical) is another fascinating and extremely complex topic. I'll avoid venturing into these deep waters on this particular thread.

Over the years I've read several fascinating books on the nature of intelligence in both human and nonhuman animals; sadly, I don't have the titles at my fingertips. There is no agreement among experts on how to define intelligence, and it is widely recognized that standard IQ and aptitude tests do not encompass all aspects of the topic. It seems pointless to me to expend much effort in increasing human intelligence until the topic is better defined. I think that providing people with analytical thinking skills and the encouragement to use them is likely to deliver better outcomes for humanity.

Thanks to the efforts of organizations like MIRI, four years ago I began adapting work I performed in the value of information to AI safety. I am much indebted to these organizations for increasing public awareness of the topic. I describe this adaptation process here: http://tinyurl.com/h4ttwuo

An objectively verifiable indication that an animal has pair-bonded would be a visible indication of distress when forcibly separated from his/her mate. I'm not suggesting that this is the best way to determine whether an animal has pair-bonded. For example, an elevated level of some hormone in the blood stream (a "being in love" hormone) that reliably indicates being pair-bonded would be a superior objectively verifiable indication (in my opinion) because it doesn't involve causing distress in an animal.

I'm not a biologist - just an occasional recreational reader of popular works in biology. So, my opinion isn't worth much.

New material added to this thread uses the phrase being in a relationship rather than being in love. I found the latter phrase problematic because it involves a poorly defined mental state that has changed meaning over time. The former phrase is objectively verifiable by external observers.

I have read a book or two on the Design of Experiments over the years purely for intellectual curiosity; I've never actually defined and run a scientific experiment. So I don't have anything worthwhile to say on the general topic of the relative value of objective vs. subjective measurements in scientific studies.

A study that relies only on self-reported claims of 'being in love' might be interesting to read, but such a study would be of higher quality if there was an objective way to take a group of people and sort them into one of two groups: "in love" or "not in love." Based on my own experience and experiences reported by others, I wouldn't reject the notion that such a sorting is possible in principle, although it may be beyond our current technological capability. The pain associated with being suddenly separated from someone that you have 'fallen in love with' can rival physical pain in intensity. What type of instrumentation would we need to detect when a person is primed for such a response? I have no idea.

In its purest form, giving is intentionally impoverishing yourself in order to enrich another (the terms impoverish, enrich, and another can be as defined as narrowly or as broadly as you'd like). A person who makes some gesture for the sole purpose of self-elevation is not actually giving, no matter how generous the gesture may appear to casual observers. The most effective campaigns I've seen in the charitable giving domain emphasize positive outcomes for others rather than appealing to a donor's vanity or encouraging narcissism.

Superdonor conveys a feeling of superiority, as in better than other donors. In other words, even if you donate less, if you donate more effectively, you can still be better than other donors by donating more effectively.

My personal preference is that you promote honorable reasons for donating, while recognizing that dishonorable reasons exist. Donating so that I can feel superior to other donors who give less or give differently does not strike me as particularly honorable. I admit that I am using the term honor without ever having given much thought as to what it means.

No - just a reminder to myself that sometimes my attempt to be less wrong has the opposite effect.

This is a fascinating and complex topic. To make the question tractable, I suggest first clarifying "you". Are we discussing a graduate student selecting a research topic for his/her PhD program? Are we discussing a professor who already has tenure? Are we discussing someone performing R&D in a corporate environment? Are we discussing a 'citizen scientist'? The four individuals I've identified here face very different situations.

I'm not an economist, but my understanding is that there exists a small subset of economists who are challenging the notion that productivity maximization is the proper goal of economics, considering that already realized past economic growth may be seriously damaging this planet's capability to sustain life. This just goes to show that trying to dictate a general goal for any field of study is likely to encourage the emergence of contrarians.

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