Intelligence and Loneliness

Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa is a psychologist who courts controversy. He has gone into sufficient level of detail to explain why certain type of women are unattractive and predictably kicked off a good deal of protest in the process. [link, link]

While I personally haven’t looked at, not do I have any interest in looking at that aspect of his research, there was this other observation made by Dr. Satoshi which made me pause and think. It was about the link between intelligence and loneliness [click here for the research paper]. If my understanding of what I have read is correct, then Dr. Satoshi suggests an un-insignificant correlation between simplicity and stupidity. Less intelligent people are simple. They think simple thoughts and make more friends and are therefore less lonely and happier. Ignorance seems to be bliss indeed! They also seem to like the daily soaps more! There is a postulate which seems to negatively correlate IQ with affinity for watching the “saasbahu” type of soaps. If you believe in the power law of distribution, then the below seems to be the reason why advertisers flock to buy ad spots during weekly soap opera runs.


It therefore seems that the following hypotheses shouldn’t be dismissed at first glance as outright heretics:

  1. Villagers are more satisfied with life and therefore happy
  2. Villagers who socialize more with each other are even more satisfied and therefore happier
  3. An intelligent villager seems to be an oxymoron
  4. It would be extremely difficult to spot an extremely intelligent individual in a very communal village.
  5. Intelligent folks are unhappy and lonely.

If leadership is a lonely place and if intelligent folks are unhappy and lonely, then it must mean that leadership is positively correlated with intelligence – which we generally know. However, I would be surprised if someone told me that all intelligent people are successful. Perhaps it is the weight of early expectations on sharp men and women (i.e. those endowed with high IQ), that seems to be making them gloomy.

I have however one question – if villagers are happier than their urban cousins, then why are they killing themselves? Is suicide so exhilarating? 😐


Prime Minister’s 70th Independence Day Speech

A word cloud of PM’s I-Day speech.


Short Sightedness


The Dashboard of Your Life

life circles RAGThe average life expectancy in India is now 67.3 years for males and 69.6 for females. Each passing decade seems to add 5 years to the average life expectancy. In a couple of decades, we could have Indians living to be three quarters of a century on an average. While it would normally mean that the working age also moves outward but that is unlikely to happen in India since there is a wave of youngsters getting introduced to the working classes each year effectively pushing out the older workers out into their retirement. The average retirement age may therefore continue to be around 58 years in India in the next 10 – 20 years to come.

So what we do we with so much time at our disposal? I am not talking about retirement and finances etc. I am talking about the discord between one view of our life where time just seems to flit by making us think that we never have time for the good stuff and the other view of life which emerges only when you step out of the day to day and look at the vaudeville of our life in total. 67.3 years is a lot of time. There’s loads and loads of time to accomplish lots and lots, provided our health remains our friend.

I created the picture below to depict the expanse of opportunity available with an average Indian male from a temporal perspective. Imagine each circle to be a week in a typical life where one starts earning at the age of 21 and stops doing so around the age of 58. Imagine also that you are filling up each circle with a RAG palette of colours to indicate the quality of that week. Perhaps we can also include a blue colour to depict a relaxing vacation where you don’t do much. You are the sole judge of whether a circle is to be filled in with red or green or amber. You do so on parameters of your choice, balancing your work and your life priorities. The purple bordered circles show each week of your childhood and student life,  the green ones are where the greenback flows in and golden yellow is the colour of your retired life.

For the weeks that you have lived, how does your dashboard look like as at today? Could it have been different? How would it look like at the end of your life’s book when the credits start rolling? 🙂

Life Circles v2


Ran off to the Himalayas for a holiday and now back after a recharge. What a beautiful place lived in by such good and simple people.

Sikkim Boy Pelling

Why Do People Make 3D Charts?

3DchartUgghhThe addition of the third dimension to the charts that most people make is something that has always puzzled me. It seems as if restating an essentially flat planar picture by including an added dimension adds more ‘depth’ to the message. I guess folks with a predilection to 3D think that they are adding more weight to their chart (and therefore their argument) by doing this. And also some ‘enhanced’ aesthetics.

That gets me to my main point. This is so so wrong. It is not about the chart at all. The excessive use of 3D talks a lot about the person who prepares this chart. Yes, a lot of criticism has been leveled at Microsoft Excel for continuing to offer super un-intuitive and irrelevant chart options and presets in its charting menus. Ribbons have come and gone but MS Excel continues to offer murderous weapons of data visualization. Now, if a murder is committed and a data story is brutally butchered, the culprit is not the agency that manufactured the weapon but the hands and brain that performed the mutilation.

So why do people do it? I have the following hunches:

  1. Because they are trying to please whoever the reviewer of the chart is. It never happens consciously but the urge to please is present nevertheless.
  2. It serves the chart creator’s misplaced sense of beauty and aesthetics. Isometric views are pleasing and more revealing, yes. But for complicated solid objects. Not for data that most of us play around with. It’s hard for me to relate to this but somehow the folks that render 3D charts genuinely believe that these look better. They even expect to be praised for the extra effort, if at all anyone were to focus on the presentation aesthetics.
  3. Value Add. Anything that happens easily or anything that is free raises suspicion. The much maligned but quite popular chart wizards of MS Excel render a chart at a click of a button. This does not satisfy the chart maker since it comes out pat. So out come the works: pschedelic colours, black backgrounds, 3D, etc. Its almost like a super avid gardener obsessively plucking out imaginary weeds from his patch to justify his extent of his passion for the gardening.
  4. Conformance. Everyone else is doing it or I was told to do it. I may be a newbie and may have been told to make it in 3D since “that’s the way things are done around here”.
  5. The Chart Lie factor. Some people do it because they want to purposely distort the message and “lie” through their charts and make it confusing for the reviewers. This percentage of such people is very very small.

My suggestion: avoid 3D unless showing spatial engineering, scientific or mathematical data. I don’t think too many readers of my website are engaged in visualization of engineering data like the locus of an electron in a cyclotron, or the spatial plot of isomorphic mathematical figures ….

MS Excel is vilified, but it is just a tool and quite powerful at that if one handles it with patience and precision. Maybe passion as well. I have pinned below some of my favourite visualizations that I have posted on this website earlier. Each of them have been prepared by me using standard features of MS Excel and the image editing functions of MS PowerPoint. 🙂bolly-tempsnakes 2KM Trades till date 06Apr12NIFTY VIX and Volumes00166_SKS The JPM Cuts00158_RIL INFY Creamy Layer00126_Returns Across Holding PeriodsInflation and RBI Repo00142_Diwali Rockets

What Unites India

What Unites India

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