September 17, 2012

Japanese unoriginality

For most of my life, I've been hearing the Japanese claim that they are extremely unoriginal. I guess they must be right because they seem convinced about it, but sometimes I have my doubts.

From the New York Times, an article about Shinichi Mochizuki, a math professor at Kyoto U., who three weeks ago uploaded 500 pages of papers to the Internet in which he claims to not only prove a conjecture that has been around for decades, but to do it, he uses a whole bunch of new math that he made up. It may (or may not) be the biggest leap forward in math in decades. Or, it could be all wrong. Nobody can tell yet.
For other recent mathematical tours de force — the proofs of Fermat’s last theorem, by Andrew Wiles at Princeton in 1995, and the Poincaré conjecture, by Grigory Perelman, a Russian mathematician, in 2003 — other experts could not immediately tell whether the proofs were valid, but “at least in some outline version, they understood how this approach made sense,” said Nets Katz, a mathematician at Indiana University 
For Dr. Mochizuki’s abc conjecture proof, “that seems to be completely missing, and I’ve never seen that in my life,” Dr. Katz said. “It just seems a little odd that most of the people who say positive things about it cannot say what are the ingredients of the proof.” 
While they cannot yet make heads or tails of it, many are nonetheless taking it seriously, because Dr. Mochizuki already has a number of significant proofs to his credit. “He has a long track record, and he has a long track record of being original,” Dr. Ellenberg said. 
Indeed, much of the buzz is around the new techniques the mathematicians do not understand, potentially useful in unraveling similar problems and revealing deeper connections between numbers and geometry.

When I hear about breakthroughs like Wiles's or Perelman's and maybe Mochizuki's, I get this feeling of pride (granted, it's wholly unearned) that -- even though I have no idea whatsoever what they've done -- I, as a member of the human race, am distantly related to these guys.

115 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about unoriginal, but I can say that the Japanese are easily the most fearfully conformist people I've ever known. I have never seen so many people so afraid to think for themselves as I have in Japan. But maybe things are different at the very top of the heap, where tenured professors and moneyed elites can do as they please.

Anonymous said...

I think we favor loud and colorful original--like in music and computer software--than in math geek stuff which is silent originality which no one cares about. I mean if some guy in a Buddhist monastery solves a koan, who cares?

PS. If a koan is solved in a forest, has it been solved?

Anonymous said...

it's just too bad that we have no appreciation for the geniuses of our time.


even in the sailer conservasophere there are a lot of people who lament the decline of western civilization and the lack of newtons and gausses. the funny thing is that the great mathematical works of our time are *significantly* more difficult if not more immediately important. someone asked wiles if his proof could be the same as the one fermat supposedly lost or forgot to write down and he basically laughed at them because there's no way fermat could do what wiles did.


russell, godel, turing, chomsky, witten, perelman, etc. are in no way inferior to aristotle, hume, leibniz, and whomever else you want to lionize as a great Western thinker.

Anonymous said...

Japanese are original in adapting stuff, aka micro-innovation.

But when it comes to paradigm-shifting macro-originality or macro-innovation, Japanese tend to fall behind. Of course, there are some very original Japanese but they tend to be the exception.

What amazes me is that in modern literature and cinema, Japanese were very original up to around 1970. In cinema, in terms of creativity, originality, and quality, Japanese often surpassed the world--even America and France--through much of the 50s and 60s. But Japanese don't seem able to sustain that sort of thing for long. But maybe it comes in cycles.

hbd chick said...

"I guess this sense of pride that -- even though I have no idea whatsoever what they've done -- I, as a member of the human race, am distantly related to these guys."

i get increasingly concerned that -- because i have no idea whatsoever what they've done and don't have a hope in h*ll of ever understanding -- i might be a member of a different, less advanced sub-species of human than them. (~_^) (still distantly related to them, but i'm also distantly related to tomatoes....)

Tertius Lydgate said...

Similarly, Japan has, supposedly, been mired for decades in an economic depression.

While growth has been minimal, in this supposed depression, unemployment has been under 5% for most of the period from 1990-2012 while Japan continues to enjoy Western European level per capita GDP income levels.

Meanwhile, Japan's debt to GDP ratio -- over 200% -- dwarf's even Greece. Why then is it not similarly victim of bond vigilantes, and subject to impending default? Japan is a currency issuer like the US and thus has no default risk.

In fact, I would think that if Japan would only come to its senses and stop listening to worthless US economists by continuing to place its faith in garbage monetary policy, it would experience enviable growth again.

Consider: its highest marginal income tax is 50%! Imagine what only cutting that would produce.

- lydgate

Anonymous said...

"...the funny thing is that the great mathematical works of our time are *significantly* more difficult..."

It's called standing on the shoulders of giants. You start where your predecessors left off. The current incremental increases in knowledge aren't necessarily more difficult to achieve than 1700's incremental increases in knowledge were.

anony-mouse said...

As James Watson has pointed out, after about age 40 your ability to do research is greatly reduced (Mochizuki is 43).

As the median age of Japanese is already 44.6, I would not be expecting too much new research from those islands.

Anonymous said...

"i get increasingly concerned that -- because i have no idea whatsoever what they've done and don't have a hope in h*ll of ever understanding -- i might be a member of a different, less advanced sub-species of human than them. (~_^) (still distantly related to them, but i'm also distantly related to tomatoes....)"


QUESTION: Do you think genetic barriers to further progress are becoming obvious in some areas of art and science?

CHOMSKY: You could give an argument that something like this has happened in quite a few fields. It was possible in the late nineteenth century for an intelligent person of much leisure and wealth to be about as much at home as he wanted to be in the arts and sciences. But forty years later that goal had become hopeless. Much of the new work in art and science since then is meaningless to the ordinary person. Take modern music -- post-Schšnbergian music. Many artists say that if you don't understand modern music it's because you just haven't listened enough. But modern music wouldn't be accessible to me if I listened to it forever. Modern music is accessible to professionals, and maybe to people with a special bent, but it's not accessible to the ordinary person who doesn't have a particular quirk of mind that enables him to grasp modern music, let alone make him want to deal with it.

QUESTION: And you think that something similar has happened in some scientific fields?

CHOMSKY: I think it has happened in physics and mathematics, for example. There's this idea, which goes back to the French mathematicians known collectively as Bourbaki, that the development of mathematics was originally the exploration of everyday intuitions of space and number. That is probably somewhat true through the end of the nineteenth century. But I don't think it's true now. As for physics, in talking to students at MIT, I notice that many of the very brightest ones, who would have gone into physics twenty years ago, are now going into biology. I think part of the reason for this shift is that there are discoveries to be made in biology that are within the range of an intelligent human being. This may not be true in other areas.



CHOMSKY: Well, it's a different mental constitution -- something like being a chess freak or a runner who can do a three-and-one-half minute mile. It's almost a matter of logic that this change is going to occur sooner or later. Has it happened already? That's a matter of judgment. It's a matter of looking at, say, the twentieth century and seeing whether there are signs of this change. Is it the case, for example, that contemporary work in the arts and sciences is no longer part of our common aesthetic and intellectual experience? Well, there are signs. But whether the signs are realistic or whether we are just going through a sort of sea change and something will develop, who knows? Maybe a thousand years from now we'll know.




Harry Baldwin said...

For a people who supposedly aren't creative, the Japanese have spawned a surprising number of fads that have swept the West: Karaoke, expensive coffee bars, Hello Kitty, Tamagotchis, sushi, manga, outrageous game shows, anime, parasaito shinguru, Pokemon, etc. Japan has long outstripped Great Britain as a cultural influence on the US.

Anonymous said...

"The current incremental increases in knowledge aren't necessarily more difficult to achieve than 1700's incremental increases in knowledge were."


But the work is objectively more difficult. It just is. That's not the same as saying 50-51 is an incremental increase like 98-99.

Anonymous said...

Japan saved the video game market in the early 80s with Nintendo... Only a decade ago that a American company, Microsoft entered back in the video game console market with success.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Japan's debt to GDP ratio -- over 200% -- dwarf's even Greece.

Why is debt always compared to GDP? It's comparing a stock with a flow.

GDP is a measure of a 1-year flow of money in the economy (either total income flow or spending flow). While debt is a stock - an amount of a certain financial asset/liability.

Why not compare a stock with a stock i.e. the total assets in the economy (which would be many times the GDP) with the debt? Or compare a flow with a flow i.e. GDP with yearly interest payment?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting story. But sorry, not very interested in being referred for the Nth time (N very large) to NYT, even if that's where you learned about it.

Googling the professor's name presented shows Nature magazine's article in the first page of results. IMHO, they deserve the referral on this kind of story more than default-choice-NYT.

Steve, you've got to start weaning yourself off the old gray teat!

sunbeam said...

anony-mouse said:

"As James Watson has pointed out, after about age 40 your ability to do research is greatly reduced (Mochizuki is 43).

As the median age of Japanese is already 44.6, I would not be expecting too much new research from those islands."

I've heard this before, and while a noted effect there may be more than one reason for it. Some of which might not be applicable to certain individuals. Kind of a long, but not complicated topic: exercise, nutrition, stress. The fact that your society may make you "conform" (I think this effect is weak in a lot of areas now).

Why it might even make you "conform" to the idea that a 40+ year old person has no hope of doing serious mathematical work.

But there is another problem with this if an absolute rule.

You have to stand on the shoulders of a lot of giants now. It's not going to be too terribly long before you will be 44 years old when you've learned what your field is about.

irishman said...

America has had a not insignificant population of Japanese for 100 years. From my vantage point across the Atlantic they appear be little more than highly competent functionaries.

Anonymous said...

Fields medal winners:

Japan - 3 per population of 120 million

China - 2 per population of 1.2 billion

Japanese are overrepresented relative to the Chinese 15:1. It's the Chinese who lack creativity.

Anonymous said...

Math professors are usually the most autistic-like professors at universities. They're in a class of their own. Physicists can be awkward but are usually quite sociable.

Auntie Analogue said...

...six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Oh, poop. I ran out of fingers. How do you say that in Japanese?

Anonymous said...

For a people who supposedly aren't creative, the Japanese have spawned a surprising number of fads that have swept the West: Karaoke, expensive coffee bars, Hello Kitty, Tamagotchis, sushi, manga, outrageous game shows, anime, parasaito shinguru, Pokemon, etc


All of which, with the possible exception of sushi, are terrible.

Eric said...

the funny thing is that the great mathematical works of our time are *significantly* more difficult if not more immediately important. someone asked wiles if his proof could be the same as the one fermat supposedly lost or forgot to write down and he basically laughed at them because there's no way fermat could do what wiles did.

That's not a sign of progress. If Fermat actually did write the proof in the margin of a book, and it was legit, the Fermat proof was clearly far more elegant.

Eric said...

...six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Oh, poop. I ran out of fingers. How do you say that in Japanese?

It depends on whether you're counting people, cylindrical objects, disk-shaped objects...

Anonymous said...

America has had a not insignificant population of Japanese for 100 years.

There really aren't any Japanese in America. I think they're really only in Hawaii and parts of California. You'll never come across them elsewhere in the US.

Ulick McGee said...

"Harry Baldwin said...
For a people who supposedly aren't creative, the Japanese have spawned a surprising number of fads that have swept the West: Karaoke, expensive coffee bars, Hello Kitty, Tamagotchis, sushi, manga, outrageous game shows, anime, parasaito shinguru, Pokemon, etc. Japan has long outstripped Great Britain as a cultural influence on the US."

Their achievements in the field of gentlemen's alternative cinema have been astoundingly creative, spawning new English words such as Bukkake.

Seriously, though, their conformity stifles innovation but once they are given permission to innovate, they make major advances.

Then they get bogged down in micro improvements in the search of perfection (in terms of manufacturing that means efficiency - small island, no resources). They also seek social approval by not rocking the boat with big changes or causing earlier, older and respected innovators to loose face by proving them wrong.

In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese are a big disappointment. Despite their high IQs and massive numbers, they are handicapped by an inability to cooperate with each other for the common good. They also appear to have little intellectual curiosity.

The most creative Western engineers and scientists are motivated by the desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. Japanese want to do things perfectly. Chinese engineers and scientists are essentially businessmen who are solely in it for the money. They think short term and are more interested in preventing colleagues from stealing their ideas (a concrete loss) than in a future reward for innovating (a potential gain).

Across populations, these characteristics are driven by genetics which is why this is unlikely to be China's century.

Anonymous said...

As James Watson has pointed out, after about age 40 your ability to do research is greatly reduced


That's a proposition, not a fact. You can't "point it out", you can only argue for it.

Joseph D. said...

@Auntie Analogue: ...six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Oh, poop. I ran out of fingers. How do you say that in Japanese?

Is this supposed to be a reference to Malcolm Gladwell's BS theory about how wet rice cultivation and saying thirteen as "ten three" make Asian countrkies produce math geniuses? The main thing that theory proves is that Gladwell never looks for any examples beyond Japan, Korea, and China ... for example Burma, the Philippines, or Madagascar which also have rice paddies and simple numbers, but no mathematical geniuses to speak of.

Anonymous said...

But the work is objectively more difficult. It just is.


No, it's not. The amount of stuff you need to master before you can even consider trying to break new ground is much greater now than it used to be. But the new ground is not objectively more difficult to break.

691 said...

Steve, I should add that Wiles actually proved something called the Taniyama-Shimura conjecture, which itself implied Fermat's Last Theorem, and was named after two Japanese mathematicians.

"But the work is objectively more difficult. It just is"

I disagree. Mathematics is merely far more sophisticated today than a hundred years ago or more; the terminology and concepts are incredibly subtle. But they are also far more powerful, allowing you to prove far better results.

Chomsky's Shoenberg analogy with modern music is very apt although I disagree that it's simply a quirk of the mind that allows you to do it. There's a lot of "hazing" you have to go through to get to the point where you can do modern mathematics, spending several years sucking it up and learning vast amounts of knowledge. It certainly takes aptitude as well but there is a steep learning curve you have to push yourself over.

"You have to stand on the shoulders of a lot of giants now. It's not going to be too terribly long before you will be 44 years old when you've learned what your field is about."

You should be able to get to that point by 25 if you're good and committed.

Ex Submarine Officer said...

Considering that Japan is easily one of the most unique and distinctive advanced nations - you'd never for a minute think you are someplace else - it is a little bit hard to charge them with unoriginality.

It is true that this is more often expressed collectively. Most Japanese as individuals seem to live in mortal terror of what other Japanese may think of them. But as a group, they tend to not give a rat's *ss about what non-Japanese think and commonly revel in their differentness with respect to the rest of the world.

No lack of originality in Japan, it is just that the pie is sliced differently. Like just about everything in Japan, they do their originality in groups after gaining consensus.

Anonymous said...

To turn the conversation in a classier, more intellectual direction, let me point out that Japanese pornography is by far the best in the world, full of devious, wonderfully deviant tropes and gambits. Amazing stuff. Even the pixeled stuff is damned hot, much better than our offerings of tattooed cycle gals and freakishly overgrown gay guys pretending to heterosexulaity.

jody said...

it's not true that they are not creative, just less creative than the wild, out of control creativity displayed by the western europeeans.

i've posted before with lists of examples but i don't want to do that again. suffice to say the japanese come up with stuff occassionally, whereas most of the various peoples of the world don't.

as i've pointed out before, familiarity is a prerequisite for derision. we are familiar with the japanese, we see them, we see their stuff somewhat regularly, and we note they lag behind the western europeans in innovation. but we never, for example, examine the utter uselessness of the mexicans, pakistanis, or nigerians, who essentially never come up with anything, ever.

this seems to be like the "white men can't jump" thing. the japanese come up with a slow but steady trickle of new technology, art, video games, sports, and vehicles, but they sure can't match the creative output of the indonesians, egyptians, ethiopians, or filipinos, who...never come up with anything, ever.

Anonymous said...

russell, godel, turing, chomsky, witten, perelman, etc. are in no way inferior to aristotle, hume, leibniz, and whomever else you want to lionize as a great Western thinker.

What the hell is Chomsky doing on that list?

Auntie Analogue said...

---> Joseph D.: No, I was not referring to anything Malcolm Gladwell has theorized. And, I promise you, I will never stoop to refer to anything that Malcolm Gladwell bloviates.

---> Eric: I wasn't asking how to count various items in Japanese. I was asking how do you say, "I ran out of fingers" in Japanese. Which is how I feel every time I have to use chopsticks too.

---> Everyone: I was just trying to introduce a smidgen of levity. I can always count on you guys working yourselves up to such grim seriousness that between the lines you type I swear I can see smoke coming out of your ears...or a certain stream of puce which, from empirical observation, appears to be indispensable to the sort of contests which men seem unable to stop themselves from engaging in.

Who cares if the Japanese are more, or less, original than other people? What the hell- they live far, far away...all the way in Japan! They invented the best swordmaking technology. They figured out that all they needed to do to make their aerial torpedoes run at the necessary depth in the shallows of Pearl Harbor was to glom some cheap wooden fins on them. They did suicide bombing before the Moslems latched on to the idea. They gave the world Godzilla and Rodan, and Chidrah and Mothra! They figured out how to make cars that run more dependably, get better mileage, and last longer than Detroit's unionized monstrosities. And the Japanese do kabuki almost as well as our political-media-academic class does it! Arigato goziemashita!

DaveinHackensack said...

"Meanwhile, Japan's debt to GDP ratio -- over 200% -- dwarf's even Greece. Why then is it not similarly victim of bond vigilantes, and subject to impending default? Japan is a currency issuer like the US and thus has no default risk. "

That alone doesn't explain why Japan's bond yields are so low, despite its high debt-to-GDP. A lot of countries issue their own currency and get borrow at rates anywhere near as low. Even the US can't borrow as cheaply as Japan can.

Anonymous said...

"What the hell is Chomsky doing on that list?"


by far the most important living thinker. with absolutely zero competition for that spot. we should be throwing rose petals before his feet as he walks to his office.

Anonymous said...

"No, it's not. The amount of stuff you need to master before you can even consider trying to break new ground is much greater now than it used to be. But the new ground is not objectively more difficult to break."


I'm sorry, this just isn't true. Progress is not just adding to the structure brick-by-brick.


I'm glad someone came up with the Pythagorean theorem when they did (it wasn't Pythagoras). But that only illustrates my point. They prided themselves on the ability to teach the Pythagorean theorem to any Greek on a street corner. However, I couldn't grasp Perelman's proof of the Poincare conjecture if I spent the rest of my life on it. It's not just additive. Modern proofs are more complex, more difficult, more impressive.

socks said...

"As James Watson has pointed out, after about age 40 your ability to do research is greatly reduced (Mochizuki is 43)."

At 88, Freeman Dyson did the math for the new Press-Dyson strategies for the Prisoner's Dilemma.

Also, an interesting quote for this forum (from Wiki), "I am a practicing Christian but not a believing Christian." Freeman Dyson.

DaveinHackensack said...

I think the Japanese have demonstrated they're capable of originality. Sony was essentially the Apple Inc. of the '80s* -- the Walkman was the '80s equivalent of the iPod. Sony also had a great waterproof boom box for the beach.

Today there are some original Japanese labor-saving devices that we don't have here, because we prefer to import cheap labor instead (e.g., roll-in, automated bathing machines for wheel chair-bound elderly, robotic cat companions that remind the elderly to take their medicine, automated dog washers, etc.).


*Yes, I know Apple was around in the '80s, but it was Apple Computer, a niche computer maker, not today's consumer electronics giant Apple Inc.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in China, and the Chinese are spectacularly lacking in creativity. There is really nothing new going on there in any field. Pretty much all they do is copy the West. One of the problems I have had in getting fluent in Chinese is that there's just not much interesting stuff to read in Chinese that's not a translation of a Western work.

Japan's obviously got way more creativity than China. I suspect this is genetic - the Japanese are basically a mix of immigrants from the continent and the aboriginal "Jomon" people, of whom the Ainu are the last remnant. Many have maintained that the Ainu are actually a "paleo-caucasoid" people, and while this is probably not true, there definitely seems to have been some convergent evolution between the Ainu and Europeans. Many Japanese even look like they are half-White, something you don't really see in the Chinese or Koreans.

Anonymous said...

Japan has long outstripped Great Britain as a cultural influence on the US

How about - Japan has marginally outstripped Great Britain as a cultural influence on the US.

eg I note most people in the US still speak English rather than Japanese. You're assuming away a cultural baseline (a concept I just invented there)

socks said...

"Japan's obviously got way more creativity than China. I suspect this is genetic..." Anon

Just so we're on the same page, GDP(PPP) per capita in China is about $8.5k. It's hard to be creative when you're starving, and probably not a lot easier when you're staring at starving masses who'd like what you have.

Anonymous said...

Take away chinese confucianism, indian buddhism, european science and technology, american democracy and what is left of Japanese culture is pretty much second rate or even third rate. Take shintoism for example...

On the other hand you have to give them credit for recognizing the good that comes from foreign lands and adopting it, as in the above examples. Just the ideas not the people.

They also deserve credit for recognizing the pernicious consequences of allowing spanish and portuguese catholic missionaries to run wild, kicking them off their islands and closing the door to the West for centuries.

And of course in recent history, the 20th century, they did Asia a great favor by easily defeating all the colonial powers in east and south-east Asia and thus ending the myth of western invincibility.

Anonymous said...

Just so we're on the same page, GDP(PPP) per capita in China is about $8.5k. It's hard to be creative when you're starving, and probably not a lot easier when you're staring at starving masses who'd like what you have.


Not many people in China are "starving". A lot are dirt-ass poor, but a lot have a decent standard of living. Keep in mind that $8.5k is a lot more in China than it is here. Have you ever been to China?

Tscottme said...

"I guess this sense of pride that -- even though I have no idea whatsoever what they've done -- I, as a member of the human race, am distantly related to these guys."

Me too. Except change that to sense of despair, and the context is seeing people drive.

Ron Woo said...

"Take away chinese confucianism, indian buddhism, european science and technology, american democracy and what is left of Japanese culture is pretty much second rate or even third rate. Take shintoism for example..."

I think that's unfair. Their own cultural products are first rate - Akira Kurosawa and Takeshi Kitano are two film-makers for the ages .

In any case, you're also highly uninformed. The schools of Buddhism they adopted were characteristically Chinese, not Indian - Chan, Pure Land and Huayan Buddhism for example.

The short impressionistic verse form of the haiku belongs to the Japanese and the Japanese alone.

The earliest novel in the modern sense - with full depiction of psychologically choate characters, was Lady Murasaki's Tales of Genji. That has no precedent in Chinese letters.

Chinese ink painting was the dominant mode of artistic expression amongst the Tokugawa elite, but block printing by guys like Hokusai and Hiroshige was again original and devoid of foreign predecessors.

As regards your initial statement, you could just as easily say of Anglo-Saxons, or any Teutonic peoples for that matter, without Greek philosophy, Roman political culture, Italian high art or Middle Eastern religion, what have they done which is original? And it would be just as errant and fatuous a remark.

Ron Woo said...

Ulick McGee:

"In contrast to the Japanese, the Chinese are a big disappointment. Despite their high IQs and massive numbers, they are handicapped by an inability to cooperate with each other for the common good. They also appear to have little intellectual curiosity. "

Ulick, I dare say you lack the intellectual prowess or avenues of exposure to roll with the real East Asian elites, but this is total, fatuous nonsense.

Ron Woo said...


"I've lived in China, and the Chinese are spectacularly lacking in creativity. There is really nothing new going on there in any field. Pretty much all they do is copy the West. One of the problems I have had in getting fluent in Chinese is that there's just not much interesting stuff to read in Chinese that's not a translation of a Western work."

The fecund plethora of pre-Qin philosophy, the poems and essays of the Tang and Song Dynasties - two of the most prolific successive eras in the history of human literary output; the incredible flourishing of Buddhist thought and exegesis during the Chinese Middle Ages or the classical novels of the Ming and Qing era - none of these whetted your appetite or curiosity?

I suspect the issue was not a lack of Chinese creative output throughout the ages, as much gross and wanton ignorance on your own part.

Anonymous said...

"Japanese were very original up to around 1970. In cinema, in terms of creativity, originality, and quality, Japanese often surpassed the world--even America and France--through much of the 50s and 60s. But Japanese don't seem able to sustain that sort of thing for long. But maybe it comes in cycles. "

Asian film-makers have easily surpassed their Western peers in terms innovation, originality and accomplishment since the Second World War. European cinema cannot hold a meagre candle to what the directors in Japan, South Korea, China or Hong Kong have accomplished.

Anonymous said...

In any case, you're also highly uninformed. The schools of Buddhism they adopted were characteristically Chinese, not Indian - Chan, Pure Land and Huayan Buddhism for example.

The Japanese may have received buddhism via China but where do you think China received buddhism from? I am sure you know the answer to that Buddha was not chinese.

All the chinese buddhist schools can be traced back to India. Their sacred scriptures were translated from the Indian language.

For example the founding patriarch of the Chan school (Zen in Japan) was Bodhidharma an Indian monk.

Anonymous said...

you could just as easily say of Anglo-Saxons, or any Teutonic peoples for that matter, without Greek philosophy, Roman political culture, Italian high art or Middle Eastern religion, what have they done which is original? And it would be just as errant and fatuous a remark.

That is an absurd and ignorant comparison. No one can deny that northern europeans in the past few centuries have changed the world with their creativity and inventiveness, and basically created the modern age. The same cannot be said of the japanese. Or the chinese.

Anonymous said...

"All the chinese buddhist schools can be traced back to India. Their sacred scriptures were translated from the Indian language.

For example the founding patriarch of the Chan school (Zen in Japan) was Bodhidharma an Indian monk. "

The Chinese changed Mahayana Buddhism irrevocably and truly made it their own.

Bodhidharma is merely an apocryphal figurehead for the broad tendency towards Sinicization in Mahayana Buddhism during the early Tang Dynasty.

Anonymous said...

European cinema cannot hold a meagre candle to what the directors in Japan, South Korea, China or Hong Kong have accomplished.

Don't be ridiculous. Of the countries you listed, only Japan is truly world-class. The rest have produced mostly schlock, with a few overrated art-house baubles thrown in for wanker appeal.

But yes, Japanese cinema 1950-1965 may well be the best in the world, with Italian cinema during the same period coming a close second.

Anonymous said...

anonymous:"Asian film-makers have easily surpassed their Western peers in terms innovation, originality and accomplishment since the Second World War. European cinema cannot hold a meagre candle to what the directors in Japan, South Korea, China or Hong Kong have accomplished."

Rubbish.

Anonymous said...

"Asian film-makers have easily surpassed their Western peers in terms innovation, originality and accomplishment since the Second World War. European cinema cannot hold a meagre candle to what the directors in Japan, South Korea, China or Hong Kong have accomplished."

Japanese cinema was great til the late 60s. HK cinema was stylistically the most exciting in the 80s. Otherwise, I see some good stuff but not great innovation.

Big bill said...

"Bodhidharma is merely an apocryphal figurehead for the broad tendency towards Sinicization in Mahayana Buddhism during the early Tang Dynasty."

Ok. I think we have officially jumped the shark.

Anonymous said...

"European cinema cannot hold a meagre candle to what the directors in Japan, South Korea, China or Hong Kong have accomplished."

40s/50s/60s/70s Europe: Ingmar Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, Clouzot, Renoir, Tati, Visconti, Resnis, Truffaut, Resnais, Bresson, Godard, Chabrol, Marker, Takovsky, Jansco, Szabo, Wajda, Herzof, etc,etc...

What did China and Korea produce in the same period?

James B. Shearer said...

... The current incremental increases in knowledge aren't necessarily more difficult to achieve than 1700's incremental increases in knowledge were.

Actually they are. For the most part the easy gains have already been made. You work on a big problem now you are betting you can succeed where a lot of smart people have failed.

Anonymous said...

"What the hell is Chomsky doing on that list?"

"by far the most important living thinker."

For linguistic theory? Why would people care so much about linguistics? Would Chomsky be famous if not for his political views?



Anonymous said...

"What the hell is Chomsky doing on that list?"

"by far the most important living thinker."

For linguistic theory? Why would people care so much about linguistics? Would Chomsky be famous if not for his stupid political views?



Anonymous said...

"Take away chinese confucianism, indian buddhism, european science and technology, american democracy and what is left of Japanese culture is pretty much second rate or even third rate. Take shintoism for example..."

Japanese didn't just adopt but sometimes brilliantly adapt foreign stuff to Japanese, creating something boldly different.

Take the samurai sword, zen garden and other garden, kimono, noh theater, bunraku, sushi, aikido, etc.

Shinto is a form of nature reverence. Nothing wrong with that.

Japanese gave us Bubblegum Crisis besides.

Anonymous said...

"parasaito shinguru"

rotfl

David said...

>There really aren't any Japanese in America. I think they're really only in Hawaii and parts of California. You'll never come across them elsewhere in the US.<

Is that a put-on? Here in rural Tennessee, Denso has a factory and it's run by Japanese who are in America on multi-year tours. And have you never seen Japanese tourists everywhere, from Oklahoma to Nevada?

Must be a put-on.

Baloo said...

But they are masters of non-linear absurdist humor. And they make it really cute, too:
http://ex-army.blogspot.com/2012/07/even-more-japanese-cute-stuff-joshiraku.html

David said...

>They figured out how to make cars that run more dependably, get better mileage, and last longer than Detroit's unionized monstrosities.<

That's their #1 modern contribution, from where I sit. 190,000 miles, zero problems is important. Arigatou gozaimasu.

Dad said...

I was asking how do you say, "I ran out of fingers" in Japanese. Which is how I feel every time I have to use chopsticks too.


I don't know about fingers but if you run out of hands then "nekko no te mo karitai" (even want to borrow the cat's paws)

As for Japanese originality, how about all those oddly unique pitching motions?

pat said...

One reason this question is a question at all is because the theories of creativity and originality are so poor.

Everyone talks and writes about IQ. And then some pompous fellow will tediously point out that there is more to human behavior than just intelligence. Very true, but those other dimensions are not well measured.

I was very pleased while a psychology undergraduate to score the highest in my class on a so- called "creativity" test. The teacher read a series of problem questions and I got most of them right. No one else in the class got any of them. However I soon realized that this was really nothing but a test of your memory for old jokes. They were all trick questions and the right answer was to know the trick. It was never something you figured out but just something that you had heard before.

If you did recreational math or read Martin Gardiner's column you would do well on this type of test. In later life a number of my business associates have held patents but not me. If the creativity test were any good I should have had at least a half dozen - shouldn't I?

The reason that so many can claim that while the Japanese may be intelligent, they are not original or creative is because these are such nebulous and unmeasurable concepts.

Albertosaurus

Ivy League Bastard said...

Mochizuki, the academic, is actually an American export to Japan. He spent high school (Exeter), college (Princeton), graduate school (Princeton), and a postdoc (Harvard) in the United States. He speaks American English without an accent, which may indicate additional time spent in English-language environments.

The closest parallel to the current situation might be another Japanese geometer, Miyaoka, who claimed a proof of Fermat's last theorem in 1988, also featured in the NYT

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/03/29/science/fermat-s-theorem-solved-not-this-time.html

That proof didn't succeed but, like Mochizuki's work, it was reviewed seriously by experts at the time, because of correct and celebrated earlier work by the same author.

Anonymous said...

"Japan's obviously got way more creativity than China. I suspect this is genetic - the Japanese are basically a mix of immigrants from the continent and the aboriginal "Jomon" people, of whom the Ainu are the last remnant. Many have maintained that the Ainu are actually a "paleo-caucasoid" people, and while this is probably not true, there definitely seems to have been some convergent evolution between the Ainu and Europeans. Many Japanese even look like they are half-White, something you don't really see in the Chinese or Koreans."

It should also be noted that to the extent that Japanese is related to any other language in the world, the best candidate is that it's in the same family as Turkish (and Korean).

Matt said...

russell, godel, turing, chomsky, witten, perelman, etc. are in no way inferior to aristotle, hume, leibniz, and whomever else you want to lionize as a great Western thinker.

Not so sure about that. As one of those old guys pointed out, it's a lot easier to make great discoveries when standing on the shoulders of giants.

Anonymous said...

Again, please direct to the amazing Simon Singh BBC documentary on Andrew Wiles available in its entirity on youtube, if you want to replicate Steve's pride in humanity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FnXgprKgSE

Anonymous said...

Steve, my opinion is that dealing with mathematical proof solving at that level, you are talking about IQ at 150 or greater. These people are way beyond quantification with the usual simple banal adjectives like originality.

Anonymous said...

Japanese cinemetographers, directors, and writers are incredibly creative. See Kurosawa's RAN or Seven Samurai.

Severn said...

"What the hell is Chomsky doing on that list?"


by far the most important living thinker. with absolutely zero competition for that spot.


There are a lot of lefties commenting on this site. Back when I first started reading and commenting online, in the late nineties, I noticed the Chomsky Groupies for the first time. So I'm no longer shocked by them, but they remain as peculiar as ever.

They're a bit like the Randians in their belief that their cult leader is the Greatest Person Of The Age, or perhaps of all time.



"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas... "

That's Dennis Hopper's crazy photographer talking about his idol, Colonel Kurtz, in Apocalypse Now.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they come up with original ways to torture our soldiers in WW2?

Dan in DC

Anonymous said...

If Fermat actually did write the proof in the margin of a book, and it was legit, the Fermat proof was clearly far more elegant.

Most people today don't realize this, but by modern standards the work of all the early giants of mathematics -- Fermat, Laplace, Euler, and so on -- was quite sloppy and riddled with errors. By the late 19th century mathematicians had become well aware of this, and the awareness provoked a long investigation into the foundations of mathematics, one which even today hasn't been settled to everyone's satisfaction. If Fermat thought that he had found a proof, it is almost guaranteed that he was simply mistaken, as opposed to his having found a simple proof that has been missed by the legion of far more rigorous mathematicians who followed him.

unix said...

There's a Chinese horror/sex movie director, Tun Fei Mou, who is pretty original. Or at least he took the genre to new depths. His magnus opus is probably Men Behind the Sun, about Unit 731, the Japanese concentration camp set up in north China, from which few Chinese emerged alive, or wanted to.
Don't tell me the Japanese can't be creative.
Still, I actually like the Japanese. I don't mean the econo/politics and all that jazz, or even the "art films." But what can't be good (when the psychos are not in ascendancy) about a society that has cafes devoted to cats, so cat-less folks can come in and pet the critters. You see, Tokyo is so crowded that few people can have pets. I like this about the Japanese. During the tsunami, pets were found with name tags and money for their care, should they they survive. Who else would do such prescient thing?
I am also in awe of their tradition of detailed carving of the most uninviting materials.
In fact, Japanese culture, at least in the last few hundred years, seems to me MORE creative than China's, not less. But they don't idealize the lone genius, that is true, even though lone geniuses have emerged there.

Geoff Matthews said...

Regarding Asian Cinema, Infernal Affairs is a far better movie than The Departed. There was a string of ~5 movies in the 90s, starting with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, that were enthralling. After one movie (Hero?) that was basically propaganda for the Chinese government, I couldn't stomach it anymore.
I'd be careful about writing off all anime. Some of it is very good, but I agree that there is an awful lot of dross (like all art forms).

socks said...

"Just so we're on the same page, GDP(PPP) per capita in China is about $8.5k... " -socks

"Keep in mind that $8.5k is a lot more in China than it is here. Have you ever been to China?" Anon, 2:14

Are you really telling me that the PPP calculation is way off, or are you ignoring the PPP calc?

Steve Sailer said...

"Everyone talks and writes about IQ. And then some pompous fellow will tediously point out that there is more to human behavior than just intelligence. Very true, but those other dimensions are not well measured."

Right.

The more aspergery economists go nuts over Daniel Kahneman's stuff, but he's just doing experiments based on the kind of tricks used by magicians, con men, comedians, optical illusion cartoonists, and so forth.

Anonymous said...

Netsuke, natto, niwaki, jisei, nagasaki-hata -- quintessential Japanese originals.

Anonymous said...

Everyone talks and writes about IQ. And then some pompous fellow will tediously point out that there is more to human behavior than just intelligence. Very true, but those other dimensions are not well measured.


As a famously intelligent man once observed: Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts. That Einstein was one tedious and pompous guy, wasn't he?

Anonymous said...

Everyone talks and writes about IQ. And then some pompous fellow will tediously point out that there is more to human behavior than just intelligence. Very true, but those other dimensions are not well measured.


As a famously intelligent man once observed: Not everything that counts can be measured. Not everything that can be measured counts. That Einstein was one tedious guy, wasn't he?

Anonymous said...

"When I hear about breakthroughs like Wiles's or Perelman's and maybe Mochizuki's, I get this feeling of pride (granted, it's wholly unearned) that -- even though I have no idea whatsoever what they've done -- I, as a member of the human race, am distantly related to these guys."

So do these two:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zKmqm_3t7M

Ron Woo said...

"40s/50s/60s/70s Europe: Ingmar Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, Rossellini, Clouzot, Renoir, Tati, Visconti, Resnis, Truffaut, Resnais, Bresson, Godard, Chabrol, Marker, Takovsky, Jansco, Szabo, Wajda, Herzof, etc,etc...

What did China and Korea produce in the same period?"

Eh - that's is self-important, grossly over-rated stuff produced when the artform was only just beginning to mature. Anyone who thinks Tarkovsky and Herzog are great filmmakers is an idiot - a conformist and unthinking SWPL.

And why isn't Bertolucci on the list dummy - he truly is a great filmmaker of the ages.

What have European film-makers produced in the past two decades which will endure? Friggin' Luc Besson?

Then you look at the accomplishments of the East Asians, who have produced a cinema of singular vitality and originality which will stand the test of the time, and well, there's really no comparison between the two.

America and East Asia have been the spearheads of accomplishment in film-making for the past several decades.

Anonymous said...



There are a lot of lefties commenting on this site. Back when I first started reading and commenting online, in the late nineties, I noticed the Chomsky Groupies for the first time. So I'm no longer shocked by them, but they remain as peculiar as ever.

They're a bit like the Randians in their belief that their cult leader is the Greatest Person Of The Age, or perhaps of all time.



I thought Chomsky was no longer popular on the left, after refusing to acknowledge the power and influence of the Israel Lobby and for defending the 9/11 official story.

Anonymous said...

And of course in recent history, the 20th century, [the Japanese] did Asia a great favor by easily defeating all the colonial powers in east and south-east Asia and thus ending the myth of western invincibility.

Did they really do Asia a big favour? What you said was true, but the Japanese picked up where the Western imperialists left off, and thus became even more hated in continental Asia. Japan squandered an opportunity they could have used to lead an Asian alliance.

Anonymous said...

What have European film-makers produced in the past two decades which will endure? Friggin' Luc Besson?


Then you look at the accomplishments of the East Asians, who have produced a cinema of singular vitality and originality which will stand the test of the time, and well, there's really no comparison between the two.


Yup. Who can forget such classics as Godzilla vs. Gigan and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster?

And I can recommend Striptease Samurai Squad and Insect Woman to all you discerning film buffs. Originality which will stand the test of time!

Anonymous said...

That Japanese, and Asians in general, are unoriginal is just something white people tell themselves to make themselves feel better and to discriminate against Asians.

White people, after all, stole all their music from black people.

unix said...

"They figured out how to make cars that run more dependably, get better mileage, and last longer than Detroit's unionized monstrosities.<

That's their #1 modern contribution, from where I sit. 190,000 miles, zero problems is important. Arigatou gozaimasu."

The Japanese didn't "figure it out" all by themselves. Oh, they're smart. But they did not invent the auto, and they did not exactly invent their resounding success starting in the last 30 yrs of the 20th century either. To wit:

http://www.reviewjournal.com/auto/news/113004/25324139.html

"They [American auto manufacturers] never truly understood W. Edwards Deming until it was too late.

They never understood the genius in his philosophy and ideas.

The business world never understood that the 14 simple principles of one man could help build an empire.

Japan believed. Japan prospered.

Looking for the reason why American auto companies benchmark the Japanese?

Look to the American they once turned away."

I think that happened circa 1968. The rest is history.
America has produced incredibly brilliant inventors and entrepreneurs, but there's nothing like complacency to dumb us down.

Anonymous said...

"
Yup. Who can forget such classics as Godzilla vs. Gigan and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster?

And I can recommend Striptease Samurai Squad and Insect Woman to all you discerning film buffs. Originality which will stand the test of time!"

I guess all American cinema is about nothing else but Steven Seagal action flicks and Farrelly brothers comedies.

Cherry picking is a pretty transparent and insipid tactic I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

America and East Asia have been the spearheads of accomplishment in film-making for the past several decades

It is too flattering to East Asia to put it in the same league as America in this and most other categories.

America continues to be the undisputed leader in film-making, a technology and art form that it created.

Actually the comparison should be between the Anglosphere and East Asia. Despite a more than 3 to 1 advantage in population East Asia lags FAR behind the Anglosphere in not just movies but also music, TV, dance, theater, literature etc. There is a huge creativity gap here that cannot be denied. Ditto in science and technology.

Anonymous said...

There's a lot of "hazing" you have to go through to get to the point where you can do modern mathematics, spending several years sucking it up and learning vast amounts of knowledge. It certainly takes aptitude as well but there is a steep learning curve you have to push yourself over.

Speaking of genius, Bill Thurston died a few weeks ago. His essay "On Proof and Progress in Mathematics" is relevant here.

Anonymous said...

Would Chomsky be famous if not for his stupid political views?

Maybe. "Manufacturing consent" is really, really good. It's quite ironic because it applies a lot more to lefties who cluelessly cheer it up.

Anonymous said...

http://martinprosperity.org/media/GCI-Report-reduced-Oct%202011.pdf

The bottom of pg 18 of the report indicates a .84 correlation between their creativity metric and GDP/Capita. Even if the report's metric is flawed, history has numerous examples to support the hypothesis that innovation is very heavily dependent on economic well being.

Also, creativity is really a relative thing; e.g. if you compare east asians to native americans, or northern africans to subsaharan africans, all of a sudden east asian and northern african creativity doesn't seem quite so lacking as when compared to the Germanic peoples. Nobody can reasonably dispute that Northern Europeans in the past few hundred were supremely innovative; however it's intellectually more tenuous to say that others were uncreative.

Korea and Taiwan are likely key indicators to watch; they are much more likely to maintain high GDP/Capita than China, and if they too become very culturally unique and innovative like the Japanese over time over the next 20-30 years, then asian creativity/gdp/capita likely isn't so genetically inferior.

Side question: Do the Slavs have a reputation for being especially creative/uncreative? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

ALL East Asian Fields Medal winners did all their prize winning research in Western universities and most did it with white or Jewish partners. It's a pattern that persists in every science and math prize category you can think of. East Asians in Western countries, Western Institutions (usually with Western educations) with white or Jewish partners. Rarely do East Asians produce great work by themselves and in East Asia. East Asians are a free rider race.

The proof is bogus. You can bet on it. We will never hear about this proof again. Every so often East Asians make the news with these "aren't we so smart" stories that never get followed up because they are fake to begin with. What's interesting about this story is how white people automatically assume the guy is correct because he's East Asian. I've noticed this pattern of thinking in several other news stories of automatically assuming an East Asian is correct. There is a "good student" bias with East Asians that protects them from the normal criticism white or even Jewish academics receive when they present their research.

Anonymous said...

Side question: Do the Slavs have a reputation for being especially creative/uncreative?

Well, they've given us some great writers, several excellent composers and mathematicians, and a few groundbreaking scientists, so I suppose they're far from the most uncreative.

Anonymous said...

I can buy that Japan is quite a bit more innovative than either they let on, or we want to believe.

Lucille said...

What have European film-makers produced in the past two decades which will endure? Friggin' Luc Besson?

How about film-makers like Claude Lelouch or Alexander Sokurov?

While I'm not taking sides on the question of whether European or Asian cinema is better, all I can say is that you'll never know what's out there unless you watch more than what's at the local multiplex.

see the projectionist said...

" Anonymous said...
That Japanese, and Asians in general, are unoriginal is just something white people tell themselves to make themselves feel better and to discriminate against Asians.

White people, after all, stole all their music from black people."

You're probably meaning to be funny, but on the chance you are serious (!?) ... Whites are last people who need to "steal" any other race's inventions to make themselves feel "better." That's what black and brown (and sometime yellow)people have been doing, ever since they realized what things and conditions they wouldn't have if they really didn't have any whites. I mean, once the laws keeping them "down" were gone, what excuse was there?
It's sort of like saying the ocean has to steal water from the local pond.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who thinks Tarkovsky and Herzog are great filmmakers is an idiot"


yer mama.

Anonymous said...

I wonder.... what would American cinema be like if Jews hadn't created Hollywood.

Anonymous said...

"There are a lot of lefties commenting on this site. Back when I first started reading and commenting online, in the late nineties, I noticed the Chomsky Groupies for the first time. So I'm no longer shocked by them, but they remain as peculiar as ever."

You can despise Chomsky's politics, but if you don't think his contributions to linguistic are epochal in nature, you're just marking yourself as a rube...or as dumb as a lefty writing off Watson's co-discovery of the double helix because he now thinks black people are dumb.

Anonymous said...

You can despise Chomsky's politics, but if you don't think his contributions to linguistic are epochal in nature


The field of linguistics is distinctly unimportant, so nothing done in it can be "epochal in nature".

Even looked at within that small pond, Chomsky is not as big a fish as Newton or Einstein are in physics. His theories have been discussed but you'd be hard pressed to cite any concrete developments which have come from them.

Anonymous said...

Cherry picking is a pretty transparent and insipid tactic I'm afraid.


Not as insipid as tossing out unsubstantiated and unsupported allegations such as "look at the accomplishments of the East Asians, who have produced a cinema of singular vitality and originality which will stand the test of the time"

Now that's transparent and insipid.

Note also that you claim that they have "produced a cinema of singular vitality and originality", suggesting that their entire body of film work is of a high caliber, certainly higher on average than that made in the USA and Europe.

Anonymous said...

I wonder.... what would American cinema be like if Jews hadn't created Hollywood.

It would have been filled with even more untalented, obscure goy hacks like D. W. Griffith, Orson Welles, Howard Hawks, John Ford, and John Huston. Thank God we were spared such a cinematic fate!

Ivy League Bastard said...

>anonymous wrote:

)> Rarely do East Asians produce great work by themselves
)>and in East Asia.

The same is true in recent decades for Australia, Canada, post-USSR Russia, Eastern Europe, Ireland, Spain, Argentina, etc, in any field that involves physical apparatus and has a large industrial-governmental-military sector. Which is to say almost everything except math.


%> East Asians are a free rider race.

Every non-Asian country that I listed, and many that I did not, sustains some brain drain to the centers of science in the USA and Western Europe, and most of those countries are simply satellites in research terms. They have homegrown research but the best people go abroad.

]> The proof is bogus. You can bet on it. We will never hear about this proof again.
]>Every so often East Asians make the news with these "aren't we so smart" stories that never get followed up because they are fake to begin with.

You're talking mostly about people in obscure institutions in China and Korea staging publicity stunts. The current story is about a guy at a world-class institute who already did world-class work on related problems, and has been recognizable throughout his career as highly skilled and accomplished by the traditional metrics in his field.

&> What's interesting about this story is how white people
&> automatically assume the guy is correct because he's East Asian.

The NY Times quoted a professor expressing deep skepticism and pointing to specific warning signs. What more did you expect?

Anonymous said...

I wasn't solely talking about East Asians in Western universities. I was also talking about East Asians' pension for partnering with white or Jewish researchers. What I am saying is these East Asian achievements would not happen if they worked with other East Asians or worked in East Asia. East Asians free ride off of the white communities that created those Western institutions AND off of white or Jewish creativity, knowledge, lifestyle, manners, etc. Japan has been a first world country for 50+ years yet still hasn't produced first world institutions with people dying to get in. Why are Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese ignoring Japanese institutions and going to Western institions in Australia, New Zealand, England, America, Canada, you name the Western country. The Japanese free ride off of telescopes built in Hawaii or Chile. Why can't they build and operate their own telescopes in Japan? Because despite what we hear about super IQs of East Asians they simply don't have the knowhow to build and operate such equipment. We saw after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe that Japan's vaunted robotics industry was just hype. They had to ask for robots from the US and Europe to help them out. Australia, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Ireland etc. could produce results like other Western nations if they had the resources and larger white population. White achievements do not depend on getting information from East Asians, working in East Asian institutions and partnering with East Asians.

It's not just obscure institutions and it doesn't just happen in Korea and China. Fake research happens regularly in East Asia. On Shinichi Mochizuki's wikipedia page it says he "introduced" several theories. Apparently, they haven't been proven yet. On a math forum a poster said mathematicians were still trying to figure out his work from 2000.

The guy in the NYT article basically said that there are questions but because he has a reputation that he's probably right. That wouldn't happen with a white person regardless of their reputation. Articles always have experts who say this person is wrong (when the person is white). Work by whites are looked over and debated more than with East Asians.

Ivy League Bastard said...

#>I was also talking about East Asians' pension for partnering with white or Jewish researchers.

First-world science is done mostly by whites, Jews, East Asians, and Indians. Given that W+J predominate in the current centers of science, and are often the PhD advisors and graduate school colleagues of the EA's, work in those centers that involves East Asians will predominantly consist of EA-WJ pairings, followed by EA-EA pairings and many fewer EA-Ind, just as a result of natural statistical processes (pick collaborator at random but with preference for advisor, mentors, prominent and nearby colleagues).

$> Why are Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese ignoring Japanese institutions

They don't, they go there in large numbers but there are language and immigration barriers and a limited number of spots compared to the USA, Canada and Europe where the systems are set up to utilize foreign graduate students and postdocs en masse. By language barrier I mean that they have to learn English (and) or a European language to get a PhD and write papers, and learning Japanese/Korean/Chinese is a burden on top of that. Where there is no language problem, such as Chinese speakers going to Hong Kong or Singapore, of course they flood those destinations but the number of places is miniscule compared to North America.

>!> Australia, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Ireland etc. could produce results like other Western nations if they had the resources and larger white population

You make the resource excuse for the white countries but not the Asian countries. Maybe Canada or Australia "could" develop USA-level research centers, but the fact is that they have had a long time with stability, universities and high levels of resources, and did not succeed. As a result, they suffer Asian rates of brain drain. The UK and Western Europe also have had brain drain problems. Building first-rate science seems to require high levels of defense spending, as well as simply paying for a lot of research that has no application, and few countries except the USA and Soviet Russia have been down that path. Maybe Israel with its defense industry spinoffs, or China if it attains any sort of sustained wealth. France with its homegrown military-industrial complex might be an example, though it lacks the industrial scale and natural resources of the USA. I don't think any other countries have had the necessary military spending since WW2.

Ivy League Bastard said...

#$-> The guy in the NYT article basically said that there are questions
#$-> but because he has a reputation that he's probably right.

Of the three professors quoted by NYT, one explicitly stated that there was a disturbing vagueness to all the positive statements he had heard in relation to the claimed proof. This is a relatively vicious (though accurate) comment by math-academia standards for a plausible attempt at a proof. I don't know of any comparable case where pointed criticism appeared in a very public medium without anyone knowing of a specific problem in the argument.

When a Frenchman at Columbia University announced a solution of the same problem a few years ago, there was no such pre-emptive attack in the press. He did not have a correct solution and I don't think anything was salvaged and published from the attempt that he made.

You might be remembering the De Branges episode, where a (white) US professor announced the solution to a somewhat important problem, but had a history of earlier grandiose claims. Because of his negative track record, very few people took the 200-page proof seriously, until a seminar in Russia worked through it and found it was correct. In that case I think there simply was no NYT publicity until the proof had been checked, at which point there was positive publicity about the eventual vindication of a troubled career. After his triumph, the professor continued to make false claims of solution to other famous problems, but the media (correctly) took an interest only in the success.

#$> Articles always have experts who say this person is wrong (when the person is white).
#$> Work by whites are looked over and debated more than with East Asians.

I don't know a single example where that happened. Wiles, solver of Fermat's Last Theorem, was treated very favorably at the initial annoucement. Public skepticism appeared in print only after a very long and conspicuous delay, when serious gaps were identified in the proof and Wiles for quite some time could not repair the problem. Even so he was treated fairly and with full acknowledgement that he had made a breakthrough. Later the gaps were fixed and the rest is history.

Anonymous said...

The general perception I've heard from my Chinese coworkers and colleagues in grad school is that with few exceptions, you only go to grad school in Japan if you can't get into a program in the US, Canada, Australia, or Europe (and you don't go to Canada or Europe if you can get a spot in a US institution).

Ivy League Bastard said...

There is usually the preference order that you described, with the USA, followed by Commonwealth countries, followed by Europe, but this is heavily influenced by:
- the perceived desirability as an immigration target
- pre-existing investment in learning English but no other Western language
- perceived ability to obtain a job after studies
- ease of staying after the degree
- family or personal connections to the target country

USA, followed by Canada/Australia, win hands-down by these criteria, which are not the same as academic quality considered alone.

Anonymous said...

Ivy League Bastard, you made my point yourself. East Asians are free riding off of the West. I don't just think East Asians are avoiding going to neighboring East Asian countries for educations because Westerners have made it easier to get in and live, I think it's also because Western institutions even ones in small countries are better. In spite of what we hear about East Asians supposedly having super IQs and working like robots with no off switch they can't produce institutions they trust and want to go to. Japan has had 50+ years to produce institutions that educate East Asia and they haven't done it. Neither will Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, or China.

Issues are scrutinized more in the West and white researchers are scrutinized more than other groups.

Ivy League Bastard said...

>,> East Asians are free riding off of the West.

Anyone of any nationality who travels to a country higher on the food chain in order to improve his food supply is "free riding". That includes Britons, Canadians, Australians, Belgians, Spaniards, etc who come to the USA to do science. The issue is not whether East Asians do the same, but your claim that there is something fundamentally different in their case beyond temporary circumstances of who is where, today, on the economic and academic ladder.

Before WW2, the USA was an academic backwater compared to Europe. Americans who could afford it travelled to England and Germany for scientific and technical education. After WW2, immigration of European scientists and
the giant expansion of the US university/research enterprise reversed things. I think the US dominance today has roots less in white culture, and more in massive defense and aerospace spending, the GI Bill, Sputnik era investment in science and engineering education at all levels, and the decades-long devastation of today's economic rivals. After all, Soviet Russia, despite enormous differences in culture and governance, achieved many of the same things -- industrialization, a space program, competitiveness at elite levels in science -- by many of the same mechanisms.

The internal cultural barriers for the universities in Asia today are rooted in the college entrance exam system, which is under pressure everywhere that it exists, and political corruption. You cannot just assume that this will stay the same under economic development.

China re-started its university system from zero after the Cultural Revolution. Predicting the outcome based on current immigration patterns is like guessing in 1925 how the US system would fare internationally. It was certain that improvement would take place but the rise to world dominance could not have been foreseen.


>&> Japan has had 50+ years to produce institutions that educate East Asia and they haven't done it.

The Japanese did produce some world-class institutions, including the one where Mochizuki works. You are confusing that with becoming an education factory for the Pacific Rim, or developing a US style academic system, neither of which are projects that Japan has attempted. A country that is ethnically homogeneous, low-immigration, economically successful, and protectionist is not going to make special efforts to make its academia more competitive for the natives.

The Japanese do not import many immigrants or scientists, and when they do, it is often from Europe, the USA, and Australia. The language barriers for Asians to enter Japan are as high as for Westerners, and there are huge Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino (etc) communities on the Pacific coast of North America that make it a more welcoming destination.

>#> Neither will Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, or China.

Korea and Vietnam have the same problem of a one-country language barrier, which makes it a ridiculous comparison. Chinese students do go to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan for studies, but the number of students and workers who can be absorbed through that path is tiny compared to the uptake by the high-immigration Western nations. To compare the demand you would need an alternative universe with fifty SG, HK and TWs near China and see how popular that is compared to the West.

Anonymous said...

Based on the Shanghai rankings, there is only 1 non-English speaking university in the top 20: Tokyo University. All 19 other universities are either in the US, UK, or Canada.

Never mind the Japanese being uncreative, what about the rest of the world? What's wrong with everybody else who doesn't speak English?

Anonymous said...

Australians are not flooding American universities. East Asians are. It's about what East Asians can get out of it. I don't have any statistics but there is likely many times more Japanese in American universities than Australians. East Asians have a fundamentally different role as takers. It doesn't matter if a few Australians, Irish, etc. join American or Western European universities because they are apart of the West, it's apart of the exchange of ideas that has occured in the West for centuries. East Asia is not apart of the West. East Asian higher education is based on Western institutions, East Asians have been educated in the West to take that knowledge back to their homeland, and now are flooding Western institutions while at the same time blocking or limiting foreigners access. China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines will all follow Japan's path.