The Journal of the Noetic Society


Number 57


January 1991




Rick Rosner/Richard Sterman

5139 Balboa Blvd. #303

Encino, CA  91316-3430
(818) 986-9177

I received only one early issue of this journal before changing my identity.  As Richard Sterman, I received the last six issues of Noesis, which I found pretty unreadable.  When I agreed to edit Noesis for a few months, Chris Cole supplied me with all the back issues.

I was surprised and intimidated to find much of the material in the older issues readable and challenging.  Chris Cole seems to have the most coherent and optimistic vision of what this organization could accomplish; he has known several Nobel Prize-winning thinkers and apparently hopes that we have similar problem-solving capability. Cole has also supplied some of the logic puzzles, especially Newcomb's Paradox, that have prompted the steadiest stream of submissions, both readable and unreadable, from members.

I'm not as optimistic as Chris.  He expects there to be few crackpots in this organization.  By any reasonable definition, I am a crank and perhaps not the only one among members.  Rather than anticipating consistently brilliant tightly-reasoned articles, I'm also looking for loose, quirky, entertaining material.  Hoping to increase submissions from subscribers and to make Noesis more interesting and less painful to read, I offer these suggestions:


1.  Length.  Make it inversely proportional to the difficulty of your material.  Replace long words, if possible, with short, simple words. If you can, avoid neologisms.  

2.  Rigorous and intricate arguments.  If possible, separate the deep stuff from the rest of the text so that the insufficiently-committed reader may skate around it and still get the gist of your article. Put the easy superficial stuff where casual readers can get to it. Assume that, in this journal, you have an interested but impatient audience.

3.  Religious subjects and unfalsifiable metaphysics (stuff that rests upon faithful, hopeful assumptions).  As popular as brussels sprouts. If you must, give us small portions, keeping them light and irreverent.  Pretend you're in a crowded bus or a noisy bar and you're trying to get your point across without everyone thinking you're a longwinded loon.

4.  Material in poor taste or on questionable subjects.  More, please, especially if it will provoke responses from other readers. 

5.  Personal anecdotes.  As many of these as you can supply, especially if having a high IQ hasn't made your life any less absurd or pathetic (i.e. my horrifying autobiography).

6a.  Bizarre obsessions, speculations, calculations.  Share 'em with us.

6b.  Rules of thumb, observations, half-baked theories, pet peeves, ranting and raving.  Everyone, no matter how dopy, has a point of view, and few people censor themselves.  Why should having a high IQ stop you from going off half-cocked?  Let us read your screaming diatribe about every little thing.  Scribble it down and whip it off  to Noesis.  Can't we get into some heated arguments about the Persian Gulf and boneheaded drivers, just like normal people?  [Now that I mention it--car phones--people who use them should have them turn into steaming turds as they hold them to their ears.  And why do people drive like maniacs through traffic, zipping from lane to lane with inches between bumpers, only to slow to a leisurely pace when they reach an open stretch of road?  And how can Victoria's Secret make a profit when they deliver a new lingerie catalog every four days?  And why, since 1987, do people say "absolutely" or "definitely" when they mean yes?  ("Is the Xerox machine plugged in?"  "Absolutely!"  "Do you have dog feces on your shoe?"  "Definitely!")  Is it a late-80's yuppie  control-freak "I'm in charge" thing?  Or does it come from having seen too many old Federal Express "Absolutely, Positively Overnight"  commercials?]

Thanks for your attention.  Don't hesitate to send (readable) stuff.


(my appalling history with IQ tests)
Rick Rosner/Richard Sterman


I was a nerdy, academically precocious little kid.  Other neighborhood moms criticised my mom for keeping me inside, working on learning drills, instead of outside, playing with other kids.  In reality, my mom was worried by my precociousness and did little to encourage it.  I stayed inside voluntarily to avoid being tormented.

One activity with which my mom helped me, since she didn't fear it would teach me anything, was drawing.  We drew choo-choo's and traffic lights.  My mom would have been upset to know that she was helping me to score high on my first IQ test.

On the last page of this test, given to everyone in my kindergarten class, was the "Draw-A-Man Test."  We got IQ points based on whether our men had eyelashes, beltloops, and the right number of fingers.  My man had all the options.  He was standing next to a traffic light.  Several weeks later, at a parent-teacher conference, Mrs. Shipper informed my mom and stepdad that I was a genius, which they weren't thrilled to hear.  It didn't bode well for an already ill-adjusted child.

As a first grader, in addition to the aptitude tests administered to each student, I was given a battery of tests to see if I should be skipped a grade.  I scored well above my grade level but wasn't accelerated, since it was observed that I was "immature in behavior and a loner on playground."

My elementary school is located across the street from a state university with a huge psychology department.  Several times a year, youngsters who performed well on tests were taken from class and used by psych students who had devised their own aptitude tests.  I remember sitting on a cafeteria bench next to Brigitte Curtis while we were waiting to be tested.  She is now a doctor.  She turned me down very nicely when I asked her to the dance where, as it turned out, she was named Homecoming Queen.

When I was in second grade, my parents went to New York for ten days on a buying trip for my stepafather's store and left me with Mrs. Clement, who was old and frightening.  I went nuts.  When my parents returned, they found me spinning clockwise (so that I wouldn't accidentally travel backwards in time) and chanting to God.  I was taken to a child psychiatrist and given more IQ tests, including parts of a Stanford-Binet.  I still have trouble turning left.

One of my happiest memories of testing is of fourth grade, when my class was about to start an Iowa Test, which had to be timed to the second.  Miss Garrett was standing in front of us counting down the last ten seconds before saying "Begin," when Becky Reynolds, the skinniest girl in fourth grade, farted tremendously and turned crimson.  Miss Garrett had to start a new countdown.


While other boys were developing athletic and social skills, I stayed in my back yard, working on a tan and taking dozens of tests from books entitled  Know Your Own IQ and Check Your Own IQ.  I was a sucker for IQ tests.

I was the third biggest spaz in my junior high class but saved myself from total geekdom by letting jocks copy off me (and by occasional bursts of violence such as bouncing a padlock off of a mean upperclassman's head).  Plus I didn't eat boogers or have turds tumble out of my gym shorts as did other class geeks.

Once, on a standardized test in eighth grade (the SRA Achievement--Green), I surprised myself when, in trouble on one section, I copied off of John Lovell, the most handsome guy in our class.  I received a 99th percentile as always and began to suspect that not all jocks were dopes.

In ninth grade, I was saved from another year of humiliation in P.E. when I got a doctor to exempt me from gym because of huge varicosities in my lower legs.  However, hopeful of eventually losing my virginity or at least kissing somebody, I started doing push-ups and pull-ups on my own.  Having a high hormone level caused in part by perpetual masturbation, I got strong fast.

My junior high offered an honors math class in which teams of two would work on special presentations.  My friend Lon and I were assigned statistics.  The stats we would analyze were the IQ's of the honors math class versus the IQ's of the entire ninth grade.  I was allowed to see the IQ's of everyone in my grade.  This did little for my mental health.

At 151, I had the highest IQ.  However, my friend Lon had an IQ of only 118, the lowest by far in the honors class.  My teacher and I decided to tell Lon that he had an IQ of 131.

As years passed, I worried about Lon.  He continued to behave as if he had a high IQ, doing well socially and academically, balancing more than a full load as an undergrad in electrical engineering with getting laid a lot.  When was his IQ bubble going to burst, forcing him to gravitate to his true, lower potential?  I confessed to Lon, telling him his true score and asking him how he could be doing so well.  He in turn confessed that he had never understood how he'd received a high score on that test, since, when the teacher said "Stop," he'd been desperately erasing answers, trying to repair his disordered computer scan sheet after accidentally omitting an answer.


I had three operations during my first three semesters of high school.  I had read Awakenings by Oliver Sacks and often stared at the TV while my mom watched Marcus Welby, M.D., and I trusted my surgeon.  I lifted weights to rehabilitate myself, and after realizing that the surgeon had done a lousy job on two of the operations, mangling my leg and leaving me with less sphincter control than I would have preferred, I worked out with newfound anger and dedication. I started wearing tight shirts and went out for varsity sports (with dismal results).

I had the highest PSAT's in my class.  I was on my way to Harvard, if only because not that many people from my part of the country applied to Harvard.  But then I realized: everyone at Harvard had the highest PSAT's in their class.  Even with my weight-trained body, I was still a nerd at my small-town high school--I'd be worse off, socially and intellectually, as part of Harvard's cosmopolitan student body.

Through junior high and high school, I thought someone would love me for my IQ, even though I was a nerd.  But I got permission to examine my school records and discovered that my IQ wasn't even that lovable.  Most of my scores were in the 140's--not high enough to justify the special destiny I imagined.  I decided to try living as a regular dumb person.


I broke into my high school, stole blank records, and created a school dossier that said I was a year behind with a B average. After graduation, I left my mom and stepdad and their conservative household and moved to another state to live with my dad's out-of-control family and relive my senior year as a big, stupid guy.

My new family was a hotbed of substance abuse and sexual intrigue, from which I was largely excluded.  Rules were more strict at my new school, the reigning cliques were smaller and tighter, and I was thought of as a minor, sleazy thug in disco clothes.  I reacted by eating raw meat in chemistry and singing the Masturbation Song in choir.  I didn't have much fun, but being stupid turned out to be familiar and comfortable.


After less than three months I dropped out of my new high school and returned to my original family.  I continued to lift weights and eventually enrolled at my hometown university where I hung out with other bewildered ex-jocks.  I lost my virginity to a woman  who, I later found out, specialized in deflowering nerds.  She blew me off for a guy who robbed 7-11's.  I mapped an escape route from the  7-11 closest to my house but decided she wasn't worth it.

Though a born-again dumb person, I was still a sucker for IQ tests, and Kevin Langdon's Adult Intelligence Test was a welcome excuse to ignore coursework.  It's a multiple choice test, and, since I couldn't decide between two answers on one verbal problem, I submitted answer sheets under two different names.  Apparently one answer sheet was lost, but the report I received gave me a score of 170, not far from the test's ceiling.

Heartened by the score, I began studying about intelligence tests.  I discovered that the relatively low scores I received in school were close to their tests' ceilings--that few group-administered aptitude tests have ceilings above 150.  I felt redeemed, except that much of what I read indicated that the relationship between intelligence and IQ is nebulous and that the history of standardized testing is riddled with abuse.

I remained a sucker for standardized tests.  I took the SAT's for other people (with styrofoam blocks in my cowboy boots to pass for a 6'2" guy whose ID I was using) and once on two hits of LSD as an exercise for a writing class.


Even with my newly-inflated IQ, being stupid remained an attractive option.  I developed a stand-up comedy character whose self-esteem is shattered when he discovers that he has an IQ of 76. (One of my classmates at the university had had a junior high IQ of 67. She seemed normal.)  My character, in college because his dad pulled a few strings, decides that his brain is worthless and concludes that his only value is as a big hunk of meat.  So he becomes a bar bouncer and a stripper.  So did I.

I learned how to catch fake ID's, how to put people in a sleeper hold, and how to do a floor show.  Naked, I struggled to maintain my genitals in a proper state of "fluffiness," neither too hard nor too soft.  A pair of ladies offered me 50 cents to see if I could get an on-stage erection (without being caught by my managers, who were wary of vice cops).  I held out for paper money.  I had been  doing a lot of thinking about physics, and sometimes the humiliation  of nude dancing in a trashy dive forced me into a transcendent state  of focused, productive thought.

In one of the bars I was bouncing, I met a tall, strong, angry and underage woman and we started dating.  I broke off another incipient relationship by giving myself a fake herpes sore with a wood burning set.  I retired from stripping and turned my G-strings over to another dancer.  My girlfriend and I had a heated relationship that grew more volatile after she, too, became a bouncer.  She was far better than me at being able to wrestle large, drunken customers to the ground.

Among the things that angered my girlfriend was any evidence that I could perform mental tasks which she could not.  She considered herself intelligent and hated that I might be considered moreso. People who remembered me as something of a child prodigy really pissed her off.  To avoid her wrath, I grew skilled at censoring my thoughts and conversation.

She also hated that people had paid to see me naked.  (They hadn't paid much.)  Eventually she dropped me and moved in with a guy who wouldn't trigger her jealousy, another bouncer whose two years of steroid addiction had made him stupid and bloated.

I missed the relationship, which had offered me the exciting possibility of being trounced at any moment.  I recovered from rejection by drowning myself in work and obnoxious behavior.  Every time I became depressed, I got another job, until I had seven or eight simultaneously, bouncing three bars, stripping in two, being a rollerskating waiter, a nude art model, and a library volunteer.  I sent full frontal shots to Playgirl, joined four gyms, and spent five weeks taking Ron Hoeflin's Mega Test.  I was probably the only person to work on the test naked and contorted in front of art students.

My little brother attended my old high school.  He didn't share my lack of coordination (or my last name, which saved him from much embarrassment) and had gone out for cross country to get in shape for JV basketball.  Picking him up one day after practice, I noticed five big boxes of papers out by the dumpsters.  They were full of school records.  I returned later and crammed them in the back of the Pinto.


For some reason, Boulder High had held on to the files of five years of problem students from the early seventies and thrown them out over ten years later.  I examined the mildewed and reeking records of hundreds of delinquent students, saving the most classic examples of administrators' pitiless pigeonholing of intractible teens.  Once a kid was labeled, he was trapped in manilla, stapled through the heart by grades and test scores, doomed.  I ended up with a thick  composite file on the ultimate problem student.

Ron Hoeflin contacted me at the Chi Omega sorority house, where I was summer caretaker, informing me that I'd tied for second among Omni's Mega Testtakers.  Already manic, I went wild trying to generate publicity.  I wrote various magazines, newspapers, and TV shows, claiming to be America's most deranged genius.  (I wrote The Weekly World News, telling them that abduction by aliens raised my IQ. Muscle and Fitness readers learned that weight training had increased my mental age.)  At P.T.'s Showclub in Denver, I was billed as America's Smartest Stripper.  My tips didn't increase, but a 240-pound woman was impressed enough to sweep me off the stage and drive me back to her hotel room in a rental car filled with junk food  wrappers.  

My mom showed me an article on Marilyn Savant from a midwestern newspaper in which she was presented as fiercely trying to be seen as an ordinary person.  The article said she liked to date.  I sent her some of my clippings, including the feature that showed me taking off my clothes by setting them on fire.  I asked her if I could join the Mega Society and if she'd like to go out.  She wrote back, turning me down for membership.  (My IQ fluctuated over and under the membership cutoff as Ron Hoeflin renormed the test.)  She didn't even mention dating.

Playboy magazine ran a pictorial called "The Women of Mensa."    Though scornful of the organization, I rushed to join, hoping that Playgirl could be persuaded to publish "The Men of Mensa."  Before anything could happen, the magazine was bought out.

I believe that Ron Hoeflin and Omni's Scot Morris were less than pleased at my lack of respectability.* (I'd asked Scot Morris, since Omni is a sister publication of Penthouse, if he knew of any nude modeling jobs.)  The CBS Morning News called to ask if I'd like to be on.  I said yes enthusiastically and asked whether I should wear my tux or my loincloth.  They called back and cancelled me and used John Sununu instead.

Still desperate for publicity, I hired a small plane to tow a physics equation on which I'd been working over Denver and Boulder. The CBS Morning News had been my best chance to become famous, and I'd blown it.  (Never waking up in time to see the morning news, I hadn't understood what CBS wanted.)  I decided to take advantage of my continuing anonymity and return to high school one last time.


Borrowing from my problem student file, I forged about 40 documents and went from being a 26-year-old undergrad to being 17-year-old Gilligan Rosner (so named after the sitcom character by a divorced and bitter--and imaginary--mother).  Typically, the school system to which I submitted the documents lost them.  Using four leftover documents, I began summer school.  (I needed to repeat a couple classes I'd missed during my imaginary junior year after a fictitious auto accident sent me into a fabricated coma.)

By day, I attended class; by night, I made a living delivering stripping telegrams and bouncing.  I got good grades in most of my courses--due to my advanced age relative to my classmates, I had a functional IQ of about 250.  I didn't try to seduce any students, though many people my age, including some teachers, had few qualms about hitting on people in their mid-teens.  I did take a nice girl to the homecoming dance, stopping on the way to deliver a stripping telegram while she sat in the car.

Each day I expected to be caught.  The stress accelerated my hair loss, and one of my classmates elected me "most bald."  Gilligan scored a 1580 on the SAT and treated his calculus class to cookies. At the end of the fall semester, I transferred to New York to be with my girlfriend, who became Gilligan's legal guardian.  Because I was taking calculus, I was placed in a science magnet school in Spanish Harlem, where I aroused widespread suspicion.  Some students called out "Five-oh!" (as in Hawaii 5-0) to indicate that I was a narc, but I had some immunity since few narcs score 1580.  Had I not been taking calculus and not had high SAT's, I might have been sent to my neighborhood school, the bloodcurdling West Side High, where someone  surely would have shot me behind the ear.  Math skills saved my life.

After graduation, I was looking for work posing naked when I was accidentally hired by the MTV game show Remote Control, where I wrote physics questions starring The Brady Bunch and Elvis.  While the show was taping in Florida, several cast and crewmembers got tattoos. Mine reads "BORN TO DO MATH."  I used my increased television savvy to get on Geraldo and, with Kevin Langdon, on Morton Downey, Jr.

My fiance and I moved to L.A.  Carole got an excellent job, and, when deals with several TV producers fell through, I returned to bouncing, nude modeling, and SAT tutoring.  The world's best plastic surgery is done in L.A., and I had some hair transplants to reinforce a hairline that was slowly recovering from high school.

Omni printed the Titan Test.  I figured that Ron and Scot Morris wouldn't be eager to give a high-IQ sleazeball any further publicity, so I borrowed my fiance's last name, and the mild-mannered Richard Sterman was born.  He got a perfect score and fittingly fell into a publicity vacuum.  The Guinness Book no longer runs IQ data, and Omni failed to respond to a small campaign to get them to publish mini-profiles of the top scorers.  Inspired by his Titan score and by a comment made by Sununu years ago on CBS, Sterman attempted the Mega Test, not surprisingly beating my score by several points.

Unmolested by media attention, I've continued to pose for art classes and have accumulated 1,180 +/- 15 acts of public nudity.  At least 15,000 people have seen me naked, not counting Geraldo viewers. I work the doors of two bars and am probably the best bouncer in American history at being able to catch underage patrons, having snagged 3,600 +/- 150 bogus ID's, nailed another 5,000 underage people sneaking in without any ID, and developed a complete statistical model of fake ID's.  Having been lightly pummeled by a frenzied bar customer earlier this month, I'm aware that my other bouncer skills could be improved.

Recently, I looked my fiance in the eye and asked if living with the possessor of one of America's highest IQ's intimidated her. She laughed and laughed.

P.O. Box 539
New York, NY  10101
Jan. 4, 1991

Dear Richard Sterman:

Enclosed is a mailing list for Noesis.  Sixteen people are full members, twenty people are non-member subscribers.  You have the option of excluding these 20 subscribers from participation if  you prefer.

Several people paid for issues 57-62.  Rather than refunding their $10, I am offering them 12 issues of my journal In-Genius, unless they specifically request a $10 refund.

You should request dues from all of the members and subscribers when you publish your January issue.  I've been charging $10 per 6 issues, but you have the option of altering this amount. You should emphasize that even those who have already paid for issues 57-62 should send you $10, since I am no longer editor.  They should write to me if they want a $10 refund rather than 12 issues of In-Genius.

George Dicks has not paid dues for the last 6 issues of Noesis, so I am only going to send him the last 4 of these issues if and when he sends me $10.  How you handle his dues payments is up to you.  Enclosed is some material I just received from him for publication in Noesis.

                                                                                                            Ron Hoeflin

P.S.    I have not included myself on the enclosed list of members and subscribers.  I'm willing to continue for the next six months if your dues request is not excessive.


Comments from the editor (Rosner):  

All 37 subscribers (and any other interested parties) are  encouraged to participate.  Ten dollars for six issues still seems  reasonable.  Obviously, everybody will receive the January issue.   To receive further issues send checks for $10 to Rick Rosner,  5139 Balboa Blvd. #303, Encino, CA  91316-3430.

George W. Dicks, Jr.
198 Sturm St.
New Haven, IN  46774
(219) 749-8511

I would like to take a moment to clarify certain issues regarding my paper which was published in Noesis 49.  Please don't take my remarks as being any more than they are intended to be, a clarification of some of the points I was attempting to make.

In this rebuttal I will show the following:


1) That contrary to the review published in Noesis 49 of my solution, defining a solution as that work which was presented for the approval of the society and not as potential work derivable from a given method, is indeed more general than the one offered in Noesis 44.


2) That, contrary to the review published in Noesis 49, my solution actually contains references to all elements of the problem, taking each of these into account in producing a general solution for this type of problem.


3) That while I do not dispute CTMU, this does not mean that I find it to be completely satisfactory which should be obvious in that I chose to write a paper of my own.


4) That it is indeed reasonable to distinguish between the predictor and the chooser, treating the predictor's ability to predict as a skill which can be measured empirically just as any other skill may be measured.  Further, this is the only way to eliminate a computational regression.


5) That, while the review focuses on the method which I gave to estimate the predictor's predictive ability, this method is actually a relatively small part of the paper and was almost omitted.  Also, that the reason I almost omitted the method was due to possible mathematical difficulties and not to philosophical considerations which in this case are almost prima facie.

Some Comments

First, I must admit that Chris Langan's paper on the subject was the first time that I had ever heard of this problem.  Also, I must admit that my knowledge of some of the finer points he was attempting to make is nowhere near the level of his.  However, allowing these caveats, I feel my paper is as good a solution as I've seen.

Second, I believe we all owe Chris a round of applause for his detailed treatment of this particular problem, not to mention his dedicated editorship these few months.  I'm sure we all agree that the society is better off because he is a member.

Third, I would like to thank Chris Cole for introducing this problem to the group.  I have been reading the past issues of the journal and I can see that this is not the only excellent problem which he has placed before the society.  Thank you Chris.

Finally, I would like to thank the membership as a whole.  The past few months I have made several new friends and have spoken with several of you on the telephone.  I would have contacted all of you except about half the members have unlisted phones and/or live in post boxes.  Because you have gone to such trouble to maintain your privacy, I have and will continue to respect your wishes.  As always you have my phone and address and I would like to hear from any of you.

Rebuttal--Point 1

(Noesis 49 solution is more complete than Noesis 44)

Please understand that I am focusing completely upon the solutions as they were actually presented.  The premise of this point of contention was, and remains, that the Noesis 44 solution omitted many of the potential solutions to the problem.

Please recall that the Noesis 44 solution focuses on the case where the Predictor either controls the behavior of the Chooser, by inserting some modification into its programming, or merely examines this programming via something analogous to a logic probe.

While these are both very correct solutions to the problem of how Predictor can have such an unusually successful record of prediction, they both assume that Predictor is the active party, actively examining Chooser's programming and altering it if such alteration would be beneficial to Predictor's cause.

There is, however, an alternative solution, namely that where Chooser alters Predictor's programming.  Another alternative solution is the case where Predictor gains some knowledge of the choice via some method other than direct observation of the programming involved. This is similar to the behaviorist interpretation of psychology where only observable behaviors are considered.

Other alternative cases include the possibility that neither player is the active influence.  Rather, some external programmer may in fact be the real active force and the two players are merely inactive puppets for his amusement.

Another alternative, the most probable one, is that some combination of these cases is at work.  In other words, the Predictor, Chooser, and every other player in the universe is attempting to ascertain and control each other's programming.

Admittedly, all of these cases have representations within Chris Langan's CTMU.  The important thing which must be realized is that to resolve to a solution one or more of the players must become dominant over the other players.  Until this occurs a chaotic exchange of move and counter-move will occur in the computational universe.

This is why I maintain that the Noesis 44 solution is incomplete as presented.  By focusing only on the cases where the Predictor is the active party and the Chooser is just along for the ride, the Noesis 44 solution ignores a vast array of interesting solutions.

I maintain that the Noesis 49 solution can successfully resolve all of these because the probability of success can be determined empirically based upon the data generated by the previous experimental runs. Contrary to the review published in Noesis 49, the Noesis 49 solution demands statistics on the conditions surrounding each experimental run as they enable finer and finer estimates of the probabilities involved to be calculated.  Empiricism works.  Anything less is just theology.

Rebuttal--Point 2

(Noesis 49 solution is complete)

In the review of my paper the editor makes several minor errors stating that my solution is in some small ways incomplete.  I will deal with each of these in turn.

1) The editor states that I have omitted one of the possible rewards offered in Newcomb's Paradox.  (Pg 9, Pa 3)  This is clearly false as can be observed by examining clause 4 of my solution to the paradox on page 8.  Here I state if 

PredictedChoice = {Box2}
OfferedRewards = {1000, 1,000,000} otherwise                
OfferedRewards = {1000, 0}


I am sorry if my notation caused anyone any difficulty. PotentialRewards includes the set of all possible values which may be used in setting the OfferedRewards.  I should probably have enclosed 0 and 1,000,000 in another set of brackets, indicating that they are a mutually exclusive set of choices.  OfferedRewards is set based upon a rule, unique for each type of game.  In Newcomb's Paradox the rule is that mentioned immediately above.  OfferedRewards is the set of all rewards to which Chooser has access.  It is a subset of all possible rewards, PotentialRewards.  ActualReward is a subset of OfferedRewards and is the set rewards actually taken. If PredictedChoice = {Box2}

ActualReward is a subset of {1,000 1,000,000} which could = 1,001,000 otherwise

ActualReward is a subset of {1000, 0}

2) The editor states that one of the cases which I list under the heading of Minimalist Choices is contradictory to the formalism (Pg 9, Pa 4).  The case in question is the last paragraph of page 3.  The contradiction is to clause 3 of the formalism presented in paragraph 2.  It is true that this does represent a contradiction but not a terribly devastating one.  The real problem lies in clause 3 which is actually too specific.  This clause actually only applies to a rather small set of problems such as Newcomb's Paradox where R1 is bracketed by R2,1 and R2,2.  If I had been more careful in proofreading I would have caught this and removed the statements about the relative values of the rewards in clause 3.  The minimalist Choices, which maybe should be called Common Sense Choices, are presented as I intended, however.

This brings up the question of why they were even included in the first place.  I was almost ashamed to include such obvious conclusions as the fact that Chooser should always avoid negative rewards, given the audience of the paper, but in the interest of completeness I went ahead and included them.  Please do not consider your intelligence insulted in any way.


Editor's comment:  This has been the first half of George Dicks's NOESIS 49 REBUTTAL.  I'll run the remainder of the article in the next issue.  The following is a letter from George Dicks that accompanied his article.

To whom it may concern,

Ron Hoeflin called me the other day asking if I would be interested in sharing the Noesis editorship with Chris Langan and himself.  I agreed and am now announcing such.  Having gotten that out of the way I also would like to describe some ideas which I have on how the journal should be handled.

First, such a journal is the community property of all members of our society.  In other words, given our large geographical dispersal this journal is the only tie binding the society into a cohesive whole.  As such, I believe it stands to reason that the society can be no more successful than its journal whose success is determined based largely upon the participation of its readership.

Second, the journal should have regular features to consistently catch the attention of the readership.  This is the way a newspaper is structured.  For instance, when my wife brings in the Sunday Journal Gazette I always begin with the editorials followed by Marilyn's column in Parade followed by Outland, Doonesbury, and Far Side.  I also read whatever catches my eye, typically scientific articles, while I'm finding these features.  In other words, they provide incentive for scanning material which otherwise I might totally ignore.

Finally, we need to expand both our scope of influence and our visibility.  As many of our members have implied, doing well on some test is a pretty pathetic excuse for an organization to exist.  On the contrary, we should provide positive role models of thinking men and women.  Furthermore, we would probably interest more prospective members if we came out of the intellectual closet and quit worrying about our teapots and whatever storms they contain.  I will reiterate that this group has mental firepower far in excess of what our meager numbers would suggest.  It therefore makes sense that we contribute to the world at large.

Now having given these concerns, let me lay out a plan for meeting them.

I suggest that the society return to the practice of rotating responsibility for producing the essays contained within the various monthly issues.  While it seems that strong, central editorship is necessary to provide a vehicle for reader feedback via an editorial page or something similar; it is also clear that central editorship can strangle reader input if not handled in the proper fashion.  I propose that each issue contain two or three major essays of 4-8 pages prepared by the members on a rotating basis.  this will encourage all of the members to contribute without making undue pressures on the time of any particular member.

Secondly, I propose that each member prepare a one page, short essay for each issue.  In this way we can get to know each other better and we just might get a more varied and interesting journal.  I envision these one-pagers evolving into columns similar to Marilyn's column in Parade or Scot Morris's column in Omni.  We could thus sample the various interests of the membership and just might learn a thing or two.  I  also see the readers giving these authors feedback about previously discussed topics.  All in all, this could be quite interesting.

In order to console the gods of logistics, I propose that the members print their various essays and forward sufficient copies to the editor that each member will receive one.  The editor would then bundle these essays, along with the letters to the editor and a table of contents, into booklet form and mail a copy of the journal to each member. While some may fear that this could lead to a riotous assemblage of type styles and print quality I feel that the benefit of increasing the scope of the journal to include input from all members while not taxing the time or financial resources of any individual member far outweighs any such concern.  The annual subscription rate would then be a mere ten dollars which would cover postage, letters to the editor, a cover, and a protective envelope for each issue.

Finally, I see us publishing a yearly anthology of the best essays submitted during a given year.  I see such an anthology selling for 5-7 dollars and being distributed through outlets such as B. Dalton. While this may seem like a rather outlandish idea, I believe it offers many advantages.  First, if the project is successful we can easily recoup any and all costs involved in production of the journal.  If it is reasonably successful we could even upgrade our yearly meeting and possibly even help our more distant members with travel expenses. Second, the project would allow us to gain name recognition and possibly attract new members.  These things alone indicate that the idea might be worth pursuing.

Here is how I believe such a work should be structured: First, we begin with an introduction to the society followed by one-page biographies of the members.  After the bios would come the 12 best long and 36 best short essays published during the previous year. These would be selected by some form of plebescite of the membership. After the essays would be an obsolete entrance exam (with answers) and the current entrance exam (without).  In this way interested parties could attempt to join the society.

Well, that's about it.  I would appreciate it if each of you would respond with your critiques on these ideas as well as further suggestions of your own.

                                                                                                Yours Truly,
                                                                                                George W. Dicks, Jr.

with addenda by your editor

For people who walked in late, here is Newcomb's Paradox as it was presented by Chris Cole in this journal's second issue, back in April, 1986.  Members have been yammering about it ever since, with increasingly stultifying resluts (typo, but I like it).

A being put one thousand dollars in box A and either zero or one million dollars in box B and presents you with two choices:

(1)  Open box B only.
(2)  Open both box A and box B.

The being put money in box B only if it predicted you will choose option (1).  The being put nothing in box B if it predicted you will do anything other than choose option (1), including choosing option (2), flipping a coin, etc.  Assuming you have never known the being to be wrong in predicting your actions, which option should you choose to maximize the amount of money you get?

Publishing this paradox was like the time on Star Trek (I hate Star Trek) when the Enterprise's computer went crazy and Spock shut it down by instructing it to compute the last digit of pi.  Or how Einstein wasted big chunks of his life fighting quantum physics.   Discussion of this and the marbles problem has constipated Noesis  intolerably.  I know how I'd choose, but I'm not telling.

I don't want to hear much more about this problem.  You guys have had almost five years to get it right.  Send me anything but the most clear, concise and self-contained analysis, and I'll edit it like crazy or tell you to wait until someone else is editor.  My brain takes enough abuse when people punch me in the face.  

For readers who prefer simpler problems, here are a couple of questions I wrote for a TV game show which were actually posed to  not-overly-bright contestants.  Good luck.





Here are a couple questions which were designed to stump our contestants.  Answers next month.


Hint: It's a 13-letter word.


Hint: Relative to Earth, Mrs. Brady is moving at 4/5 lightspeed.

Chris Cole

C. M. Langan has proposed a Computation-Theoretic Model of the Universe (CTMU, for short).  Basically, the idea is that the universe is a computer, or at least that natural processes are computations.  This idea is not new. Ed Fredkin has been proposing it for years, and readers of science fiction will recognize it from the works of Douglas Adams, among others.  Feynman was asked by Smithsonian Magazine of his assessment of Fredkin: he replied that while Ed was a personal friend, he was an "incautious thinker."

How are we to evaluate the idea that the universe is a computer?  Is this a theory or a definition?  If it is a theory, what evidence is offered? I have not seen any.  If it is a definition, then how can it solve anything?

In particular, Chris Langan uses CTMU to solve the marble problem and the Newcomb problem, both in ways that I do not agree with.  Chris' arguments are stated in very general terms, so I cannot follow them.  Perhaps Chris could solve a simpler problem using only very specific terms.  So far I am forced to repeat Quine's objection: "that is just ambiguous enough to sound plausible and to prevent further discussion."

Rick Rosner/Sterman

(This article is an example of the sloppily-reasoned stuff I wouldn't mind seeing from y'all.  Don't some of you have silly little theories like this?)

Einstein, I think, proved the square root law for random walks, that the average distance of a randomly-moving object from its point of origin is proportional to the square root of the time it's been moving.  (Whether he proved it or not, he used it in his paper on Brownian motion.)

I think that there is a similar, though more ridiculous, law for experience in a novel environment.  I've worked in more than 100 different places at a number of different sleazy, sometimes risky jobs, so, basically, I'm always starting a new job and often asking myself, "Do I really have a clue?"

I convince myself that I do have a clue both by choosing jobs that a well-trained monkey could handle and by using my square root rules of thumb for work experience.  I believe that expertise on a particular job is roughly proportional to the square root of the amount of time spent on the job--that after nine weeks on a job, a person will have three times the clues after one week.  I believe that the number of novel situations encountered while on a job is proportional to the reciprocal of the square root of the cumulative time spent on the job.

These rules, of course, are superficial and don't take into account varying degrees of competence among workers, the changing nature of jobs over time, and a zillion other things, but they're still fun to use.  Is it unreasonable to think that someone with 20 years of experience in a particular field has about twice the expertise of someone with 5 years' experience and that the 20-year person will find him/herself winging it only about half as often as the 5-year person?


Not Bart, Maggie, and Homer, but Simpson's Index, a formula for measuring the diversity of fauna in a particular ecosphere.  (I suppose it's also used in lots of other places.)  An acre of land that has 1,711 mice and two woodchucks has less diversity than an acre that has 148 mice, 6 beavers, 97 sparrows, a moose, 8 raccoons, 22 shrews, 19 prairie dogs, 4 rabbits, and 3 coyotes.  Simpson's Index lets you assign a number to that diversity, and it's a very cool formula.

All you do is take a census, square the percentages into which your population is divided, add 'em up, and take the reciprocals. Simpson's Index for the mouse/woodchuck population is slightly more than one.  For the more diverse population, it's the reciprocal of the quantity 148/308 squared plus 6/308 squared plus 97/308 squared etc. It equals about 2.95.

Simpson's Index is fun to misapply.  You could, for example, use it to evaluate the diversity of your sexual experience.  Say an acquaintance of mine has had 1000 sexual incidents, 300 with person A, 200 each with persons B and C, 50 each with D, E, and F, 15 each with 5 other people, 5 each with 10 people, and once with each of 25 other people. (This acquaintance was late to enter the safe sex era.)  The diversity of my acquaintance's experience equals the reciprocal of the sum of 90000 plus 2 x 40000 plus 3 x 2500 plus 5 x 225 plus 10 x 25 plus 25 each divided by one million.  This equals 1000000/178900 or about 5.6.

I use Simpson's Index to evaluate the diversity of my work experience within a particular (low-rent) field.  I've spent about 1,600 nights working in bars, 900 nights in bar A, 300 in B, 100 each  in C and D, 50 each in two other bars, 20 each in three other bars, the rest scattered and irrelevant in terms of the calculation.  Simpson's Index equals 2560000/(810000 + 90000 + 20000 + 5000 + 1200), about 2 3/4.



I think you can multiply the amount of time spent in a particular field by the square root of Simpson's Index to get a rough equivalent to your expertise had you spent all your time in one place. For example, my fiance has spent about 20 months in each of three jobs as a purchasing agent.  Her total time in purchasing is five years. Simpson's Index of the diversity of her experience is about three.  So I figure she knows as much after five years in three places as if she spent five times the square root of three equals eight and a half years in just one place.

Is it unreasonable to think that someone who spent three years doing similar jobs in each of four places has about the same abstract expertise as someone who's worked in the same place for 24 years? That is, if each of these people was booted from his/her present job, one after a total of 12 years in 4 places and the other after 24 years in just one place, wouldn't you expect them to have roughly equivalent expertise when starting new, similar jobs?  If not, what would be your formula, or is this just wasting your time?

Anyway, my rules of thumb for work expertise boil down to taking the square root of time spent in a job field and multiplying it by the fourth root of employment diversity as calculated by Simpson's Index.  Returning to my bar experience, 1600 nights in bars with a diversity of 2 3/4 equals an expertise level of the square root of 1600 times the fourth root of 2.75.  This equals 40 times 1.29, about 52.  I should have twice the expertise of someone with 675 nights'  experience in one place and an experise level of about 26, three times  the expertise of someone with 300 nights' experience, four times the  expertise of someone who's worked 170 nights.  I should be dealing  with novel situations about 1/52 of the time.  (Last time I worked,  a guy unzipped himself in the middle of the dance floor and peed all  over the other dancers.  That was novel.)  Someone with half the  expertise should see new stuff 4% of the time; with a third the  expertise, 6% of the time; with one-fourth the expertise, 8% of the  time.  (This means most jobs quickly become very uninteresting.)

Reasonable?  Ridiculous?  Let me know.


*Chris Cole says that Ron wasn't bugged by my obnoxiousness.