Conversation with a Scientist

I had the privilege of having a long conversation with one of my favorite bloggers. Honestly, if you’re not reading his blog you really ought to. Heck, I’d advise going back to his first blog post ever and reading ALL of them (as well as ctrl-f on his comments in the comments section for some laughs, he has a special sort of ‘no nonsense’ approach to silliness that even I’ve been on the other end of).  I wrote the below outline of our 3 hour convo.While the conversation was initially private, I chose to ask his permission to share it, which he kindly granted.  He’s spectacularly well read and insightful, and I urged him at the end to write more, we need more ‘no bs’ scientists out there.

Any errors/lack of clarity are my own.


– Advance has to be paid back before new one, else can’t be same book again

-A lot what they said in the book came true

– Neanderthal interbreeding (Y chromosomes (mitochondrial DNA))  given as reason it was not possible against their theory, but that’s just one gene


– Used to be they had to “believe”, now they just don’t know, never been in a book they read so they’re just ignorant and slowly rediscovering things

– Default to expert fails: Anthropologist knows no genetics of any kind, they could be dumb, some are liars (Lewontin), others like Gould were stupid

– Bellesiles (Arming America), Bancroft Prize rescinded, was caught because his records were made public (quoted sources that had been burned and destroyed), misquoted sources explicitly

Niall Ferguson is a nut

– Deirdre McCloskey didn’t know ‘regression to the mean’, many economists don’t know

– People knew cousin marriage was bad (any cattle breeder knew), but not why

– Holiness spirals (Salem)


– Male Obligate Homosexuality in Sheep (~8%)

Pat Moore discovered Kaposi’s Sarcoma viral link in his wife’s lab at night basically alone

– Differential, look at samples and see what is in one and not another

– Has trouble getting funding (not sure why), later found a rarer cancer (found new virus)

– Some hardcore evolutionary types agree with plausibility of viral theory

– Some people looking at Sheep (not heritable is the conclusion), looking at amygdala, but not really viruses

– In humans, potential side effects (depression, lisp maybe)

Robert Nozick thought of it, discussed with David Haig

– To discover, he’d look at discordant twin pairs (one gay, one not) and see what’s the difference, microdissection, differences in the brain.  Narcolepsy is a good example, only 30k cells in the hypothalamus that go awry. 99% of people with narcolepsy have a specific autoimmune disorder, likely triggered by virus that causes it to zap specific part of brain responsible for keeping you awake

– Diabetes similar phenomenon, autoimmune disorder destroys insulin producing cells in Pancreas

– Cuba had 40x less, common sense quarantines, shutting down bathhouses

– Blood banks in SF in 80s wouldn’t discriminate against homosexuals, were sued into oblivion killing thousands of people with contaminated blood


– some strains of corn or horse can ‘nick’, with hybrid vigor

– (not always vigor, sometimes makes it worse)

– some weak evidence for half Japanese half white with high iq in Hawaii

– only example he knows, all others basically irrelevant, no vigor, just avg of two parental groups. But could be selection bias in Hawaii, more research needed


– diseases take different paths in races: Tuberculosis

– Higher immune response in Africans than non-Africans

– knowledge of ‘prohibited’ subjects ironically so prohibited people don’t know it’s prohibited and end up rediscovering it

– people will likely rediscover things and say they knew all along and write over the decades in which they were vociferously saying it was not so (see Indo-Europeans)


– not all countries can follow import people model per Singapore, cuz people end up not having kids there and it relies on breeding from abroad

– Solution: if we can make women want to bound their feet via cultural status, we can make kids popular again and having kids high status so smart women will want to do so


– Life extension

Parabiosis (Peter Thiel), probably works, idea showed up in the 20s, mentioned in Brave New World. Example of ‘lost knowledge’

– I asked him about Aubrey de Grey, he doesn’t know much bout him

– What can we learn about evolutionary theory of senescence (lots of ‘simple’ explanations are probably not true), Michael Rose, bred fruit flies to live 4x longer; won’t solve aging issue but gives us areas to explore

– If you don’t die of old age, youd probably die around 1200 years via accident statistically

– Steve Jobs was ‘a loon’

– his type of pancreatic cancer was type that we could cure, but he spent 9months on holistic nonsense, only then going to mainstream science; he probably had 60-70% chance if he’d not messed around with holistic stuff and gone straight to mainstream science


– we’ve made great progress on some cancers (childhood leukemia), others not so much: pancreatic cancer (probably better odds getting shot in head than that)

– All these supposed reasons ‘progress isn’t possible’, but it is with correct approach

– examples: ulcers, decades of no progress cuz incentives don’t align (existing drugs didn’t help but made lots of $), then found pathology, etc.

– everyone thinking the ‘same’ like Harvard, doesn’t help (Barry Marshall said if he’d gone to Harvard he’d have ‘known’ ulcers were caused by stress, but he was from Perth, and thus wasn’t afraid to challenge ‘known’ facts that turned out to be bs)


– Chickens are getting Fatter, experimental animals (even odder as it’s quite controlled), could be virus or something we don’t know, more research necessary


St Lawrence Seaway expansion to Panamax (80k tons?), cooperate with Canada, benefits Great Lake States, widening it, canals, locks, etc., would be particularly good for Trump Administration politically due to geographic benefit to Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, even Minnesota (my input: Also Bayonne Bridge, Charleston Harbor, etc)

NAWAPA water from Canada to Southwest US; (desalination has energy limits can only get cheaper by factor of 2 so energy is limiting factor), incredible benefits. Canadian opposition an issue (he joked, saying “they don’t have nukes, what do we care what they think” heh)

– Build “Solar Panel – Iondrive” device capable of replicating itself, takes materials from asteroid, builds more of itself , lots of tech right now make this easier (3d fabricators), can be built light on asteroids/space (no gravity) so can replicate pretty fast, start with Earth crossing asteroids, suppose each can do one thing that’s slightly useful (refine metals), we can get them to point where they eat most of asteroid belt in a exponential manner quite quickly, you can then tap most of the sun’s energy quite quickly, could terraform Venus. Could do it on Moon or Sahara, but better in space cuz can be done very LIGHT. Billions of times more controllable energy than available on Earth, we are very close to it (can you make a chip in a vacuum, can you separate rock into separate components), likely take 10-20b USD having bunch of engineers having fun going at it, ultimately bigger than Manhattan project in impact

– Terraforming Venus seems easier than Mars (low gravity is a big prob for health), zero g is bad for you, not sure bout how bad low g is; Venus you use sun shades can solve slow rotation/sun exposure problem (I suggested chucking an asteroid at it to speed up rotation, his counter was it’d take millennia to cool down from that impact.)

– Grab giant Antartcia iceberg and tow it up to ‘dry’ place like Australia for water

– Environmental movement not as strong as used to be, low interest rates allow good environment to fund this; Obama ‘stimulus’ they hired wrong people, because blue collar stuff involved white men, and Obama stimulus wanted women or service jobs (teachers, govt jobs). Trump different political  base.


– Jewish high iq probably also accidentally selected for ‘depression’ genes, anxiety, etc.

– Jews were already leftwing, Moldbug is wrong (he really doesn’t like Moldbug!), look at role in Russian empire or Europe

– Jews think of whites as their ‘ancient foe’ but don’t think that of Chinese

USS Liberty was absolutely a purposeful Israeli attack on US ship, only case he knows of repeated day-time ‘accidental’ attacks. Article in Chicago Tribune of retired army guys who saw classified info, and they said they heard transmissions from Israeli airforce being told to attack US ships. They wanted to kill everyone so there’d be no witnesses. Then later lied to say it was an ‘accident’ despite it happening over and over again. 6th Fleet was going to be scrambled, but McNamara ordered not to cuz LBJ ordered not to, because he didn’t want to piss off “the Jews”. What was the purpose of the attack on the Liberty? To pretend it was Egypt attacking and get US on Israel’s side. Likely some general didn’t realize in fog of war how easily Israel was winning and lost his nerve and ordered it, as well as good opportunity to cement American support and finish off residual “Arab” lobby in USG.

– Nixon supporting Israel in ’73 was to get Jewish support for Cold War and tie their support to Vietnam war, etc. You don’t need all the Jews, but you need ‘some of them’.

– White subordination to Jews, can change, it changed over past 100 years, it can change again. Israel will likely ‘push its luck’ and p.o. Trump, see below.


Stauffenberg was a ‘fine man’, a ‘good guy’

– Canaris’s widow had a pension from Dulles, Canaris likely a spy possibly an ‘official’ one

– German diplomat straight up told Molotov they’d invade, Molotov didn’t believe him

– Stalin made a lot of errors (shooting senior officers), keeping troops at front, he was ‘screwed up’, use of biplanes, etc. to be fair a lot of it was easier in hindsight, at time people were not sure what would work and slowly testing out new war theories, Germans were just better at it than most (combined arms, use of tanks, submarines). Sometimes it’s not a conspiracy, it’s just mistakes/stupidity

Tularemia was likely used at Stalingrad

– Chaff made sense but both sides didn’t want to ‘tip off’ other side to it; British should have used it earlier.  Germans likely should have used nerve gas when attacking Moscow.

– If US had landed in France in 42 they’d have lost, the Brits were right to not land then, even ’44 wasn’t that clearly an obvious victory beforehand. Germans were tough.

– Why Germans lost to USSR in East: Germans didn’t ‘try as hard’. 2nd shifts, maximum effort, female labor force, etc. they thought it’d be easier than it was until too late in the game. Kept domestic consumption too high early in war thinking of morale, didn’t need that, people didn’t dissent in 1944 when things were worse. He discussed Adam Tooze’s Wages of Destruction discussion of the problem with natural resources that were shut off by blockade, making it hard to convert conquests in Europe to full potential. Also, some stupidity (treatment of PoW, or Polish, or Jews). Compare pre-war industrial production of USSR to Germany in 1939 to 1942, incredible despite USSR territorial/population losses. Motivation was stronger in USSR. Logistics also an issue (rail gauge), Russian supply shape was far better. Also 1941 worst winter since…. 1812, so some bad luck. Russia also had all the oil they needed, Germans constantly worried bout it (like Japanese).

– Japanese torpedoes didn’t use compressed air, used compressed oxygen, so less bubbles, twice as far and twice the speed, US would get hit and not know where from. An ‘almost’ super weapon (like the 88 AA gun used as anti-tank gun). Germans with a torpedo like that might have significantly changed Atlantic War

– I suggested The Foresight War to him, he seemed keen


– Robert McNamara was not smart, “low” (relative to other Whiz kids) iq score

– Creighton Abrams was good, excellent commander

– Vietnam war wasn’t strange, it was America at the time that was strange

White Rajah of Sarawak as example of solid (brutal) colonial governance, would likely make short work of insurgencies if such a man were possible in today’s political environment.


– Trump is good at PR, impressive that he ran against both parties, the press and billionaires

– Money in elections is not too important , only people with vested interest in saying it does (pollsters, campaign managers, etc.) say it does

– Even though Hillary was National Merit Finalist, she didn’t make any sense. That’s the problem, people who are smart but not ‘clever’. There are different levels of ‘smart’ also.

– Thiel (and minions) highly involved in transition

– List for public appointments, he is on it a ‘potential’, someone put him on it but he has no idea who i.e. he didn’t ‘sign up’ as it were

– Trump is right now probably the most pro-Israeli president US has ever had; prediction: it won’t last. We’ll do something in the Middle East, and Israel will do something to piss us off, and Trump will not stand for it. They (Israel/Jews) go out of their way to piss off people who are their friends.


– Sardinians changed the least, mostly 90% of ancient Europeans i.e. non-IE

– most of Europe looked like that until…. IE moved in and conquered

– 1920s book The Aryans, V Gordon Childe, with little of modern tech was able to reasonably well predict Indo-European migration, etc. but everyone got very upset so he stopped talking about it. An example of ‘lost knowledge’ later reacquired with new tech (genetics)

– they wanted to rule where you could make more in taxes than where cost; Germany due to logistics and tech at time was not very economically productive. What could you extract from Germany? Not grain… maybe men, but if you can’t get stuff out of the place then you can’t get taxes so not worth it. Interior areas of Europe were not worth it. Interior Poland or Bohemia for instance. While Black Sea edges did make more sense.

– They also changed mind after losing 3 legions because general culture had shifted; before they’d had big losses but come back and still won, but something had changed from ‘never quit’ to ‘meh’.

– Much easier to transport over sea than land. De facto simpler to ship from Egypt to Rome than go 70 miles in a wagon from Rome.

– People inside lost their military qualities, they got shorter and less healthy, place more Malthusian. A lot of methods of production were not advanced too fast.   Economy changed in strange ways (100ad is the max, then shrinking especially after 180 into 3rd Century Crisis). Used to have more integrated economy with shipping, later localities more self-sufficient. Thinks it’s (story of Fall of Rome) solveable though with evidence/data available.
– Lenin was smarter than Warren Harding, but Harding was the far better leader. Smarts is not enough or even necessary sometimes.

– He’s corresponded with Steve Pinker, he knows ‘whatsup’, but plays it smart given environment.

Lee Kuan Yew, great respect for him, only world leader he criticizes for not being as logical as he could have been, becasue most other world leaders are just stupid

Vela incident was South African nuke test probably in cooperation with Israel, he knows the specific process South Africans used for building bomb, also that something funny was picked up in ionosphere from Puerto Rico’s Arecibo, and also satellite data, and submarine noise. USG basically covered it up to not have to recognize likely Israeli nukes

– Importance of logistics: during Crimean war, due to naval control Brits and French could put more troops in Crimea than Russians could

John Derbyshire Story

– Iraq War, GC tells JD dumbest thing, and JD eventually came around 2 years later and agreed. Initially 40% of National Review didn’t agree with the war, but eventually they all came around to ‘party line’

– Inverse Weathervanes (wrong on everything)

– James Fallows who works at Atlantic and is wrong on everything (Military Reform, talking about Gary Hart), then Japan economics, etc.
– Bill Kristol

– Asians on paper high IQ, but not many interesting ideas. He’s not sure why. Jokes that he has more interesting ideas than all Japan put together. “a very interesting and important question” but does not know why. They wait for Whites to invent something, then they improve it. Also, not sure about efficiency of writing system or reading as a hobby in the East versus West.

– On personal level, he was very sick in 2015, mostly better/recovered now.

– If rich/smart people want him to speak or ‘consult’, he’s open to it potentially.  (If I were a multi-millionaire or billionaire I would ABSOLUTELY jump at this)


7 thoughts on “Conversation with a Scientist

  1. Pingback: Conversation with a Scientist | Reaction Times

  2. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2017/01/29) - Social Matter

  3. Greg is one of the smartest and most original thinkers ever to grace America’s shores.

    However, as he himself has written on the topic, sometimes very smart people can hold very stupid ideas.

    Anyone who thinks the U.S.S. Liberty attack was a “purposeful Israeli attack” is just a little bit crazy:

    Every single conspiracy theory about the attack has been debunked by Cristol — there was nothing “new” revealed in the Tribune report. Cristol even got NSA transcripts of the pilots released by the courts:


  4. Can you expand on the Niall Ferguson diss?

    Did Cochran criticize any particular work or argument of his? (You linked to Pity of War for some reason.) Or does he dislike him for his contemporary political views? (e.g. Iraq War support)


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