The Dunning-Kruger effect, psychological sets, and the bottom twelve percent.

 

Some of the things I’ve been contemplating recently…

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect? What are psychological sets? And, who exactly are the bottom twelve percent?

Dunning-Kruger

Simply put, the Dunning-Kruger effect is when someone has a lot of confidence and over estimates their limited knowledge about a subject… whereas, a knowledgeable person would tend to underestimate their own knowledge because they realize just how much they do not know.

The polar opposite of the Dunning-Kruger effect is the ‘imposter syndrome’. This term was coined in 1978 to describe high achieving individuals who felt that their successes were a matter of luck or fraud. These individuals feel as if their successes are undeserved.

Psychological Sets

When discussing ‘sets’, it is important to take into consideration the many types of sets a person may undertake. A set is a group of expectations that can be shaped by the experiences of a person, which in turn, makes that person more sensitive to specific kinds of information, which can lead to what is known as ‘cognitive entrenchment’.

To avoid cognitive entrenchment, it can useful to consider, and to think about things from people who have a differing points of view. Not only will they tell you things you may not already know, they may also give you a new perspective on a subject matter. People who are fixed thinkers have the tendency to only see solutions that have worked in the past. This can best be described as having a ‘mental set’.

A perceptual set (perceptual expectancy), is a predisposition to perceive things in a certain way. An individual’s perceptual set is influenced by their life experiences, beliefs, motivations, education, culture, and core values. They can, in turn, impact how the individual navigates new experiences and problems, and can predispose the individual to interpret situations and new information in a biased way, based upon that individual’s perception.

And a mental set is the framework in which a person approaches or thinks about a problem. The tendency is to use the same method or solution process that worked with solving previous problems, while purposely or subconsciously, ignoring alternative solutions. This is essentially a very real cognitive block that impedes their ability to correctly solve the problem at hand.

How do we keep an open mind and not fall into perceptual and/or mental sets? One way we can try to overcome sets is to abstract the problem. Simplify the problem down to its essential elements. Do not pass judgment on ideas early on in the problem solving process. Listen to alternative perspectives and possible solutions.

The bottom twelve percent

This one is a particularly uncomfortable subject for me, but I do think it must be addressed. Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, roughly stated that someone with an IQ of 83 or lower, would be barred from joining the U.S. armed forces. Supposedly, with an IQ of 83 or below, there were no occupations within the U.S. armed forces that would be worthwhile to train that potential soldier to do. In other words, that person was not cost-effective to induct.

I’ve done a little research to determine the validity of this assertion. The best I could find does correlate, to some extent, his basic statement. But I do not think that’s the important take-away from his point. The real point in the statement is about the IQ score of 83, which translates to about 12.8% of the population. Twelve point eight percent out of a population of 331,000,00 people in the United States (2020 estimate), equates to 25.86 million people. Think about that for a moment… nearly 26 million people are not intelligent enough to be of much use to our armed forces… in any capacity. This is alarming for several reasons. 1) our armed services are an excellent way to propel service members up the socio-economic ladder, from lower to middle class and middle to upper class, 2) modern capitalism postulates that, with hard work and diligence, any person can raise himself/herself up out of poverty, 3) With each subsequent generation, Western society becomes more sophisticated and technologically advanced. Realizing that nearly 13% of our population hasn’t the mental ability to be economically useful, even as cannon fodder, for our armed services… what hope do they have functioning in modern society? How does society deal with that problem?

 

Credential harvesting RFID Badge Readers

 

Most modern office buildings utilize RFID badge readers for employee access. While these badge readers offer long-term reliability and convenience to their users… they can also offer a plethora of information about employees, as well as relatively unfettered access to those seeking to gain access to secured buildings and areas.

To understand how this is possible, we must first know how an RFID badge access system works. RFID readers work by broadcasting a very limited power field that activates the coil embedded on a nearby RFID card. The coil on the card then powers up a chip on the card that transmits repeatedly, the information stored on the card. This information is then read by the RFID reader and checked against its database, either granting or denying access.

So, how is this technology susceptible to hacking? 

Well, in order to create a duplicate RFID card to bypass an RFID system, you must obtain valid credentials and know what RFID system is being used. A picture of the target RFID  reader is useful for the hacker to identify the system and model. RFID readers located outside of buildings are not usually protected and fences around such buildings offer a false sense of security. It takes just a couple of minutes to gain access to the reader unit and to install an ESP tool (approximately $30 USD). An ESP tool is a WiFi enabled tap for the Wiegand protocol, which is a very common protocol for RFID reader systems and this device targets 26-37bit HID cards. The tool is used for data logging (recording) and can transmit that data to a smart phone or nearby laptop. To the authorized user, everything functions normally. The hacker now not only has the ‘key’ to the compromised reader, but he effectively controls the lock.

Why would a hacker need to capture many credentials instead of just a few?

A hacker can look at the information captured to see when a large amount of people enter and leave at given times and can then deduce scheduled start times, lunch times, shift changes, etc.  If the same badge ‘hits’ the RFID reader at regular intervals throughout the day, it can indicate that the badge belongs to a security guard. Security guards tend to have greater access to restricted areas and their card access codes are of greater value.

Does the hacker need to make an RFID card to gain access?

Yes and no. The hacker can simply transmit authenticated RFID badge information from their smart phone or laptop, to the ESP tool inside the hacked badge reader to gain access. If the hacker wants to bypass additional RFID readers inside the building, he would need to create a cloned RFID card since the other badge readers would not have been compromised by the ESP tool as previously described.

How much do these tools used to bypass RFID readers cost?

An RFID card reader and programmer of RFID cards costs around $300 USD. RFID cards are a couple of dollars each. ESP tools cost about $30 USD. The cost of the ESP tool program app on the smart phone is $80 USD.

 

 

 

 

 

Questionable Relationship Advice

A couple of friends thought my previous Man Club Tips article was hilarious and wanted advice on what to do once they started dating a person more long-term. Really??? They’re asking me? Ok, but they probably would be better off reevaluating their life choices.

So, now you’ve found yourself in a relationship. How do you manage expectations while maintaining a certain amount of freedom? Admittedly, if you’re still worried about your freedom, are you sure you should be in a relationship? Whatever! Here are a few pointers from Uncle Patrick.  🙂

 

Lower expectations

Simply put, keep ’em guessing. If you’re punctual, your significant other will come to expect you to always be on time. Work on the premise that schedules aren’t ‘set in stone’ and are always subject to last minute changes.

Another tip on lowering expectations has to do with chores around the house. If you really don’t want to do a particular chore, put in a little extra effort into fucking it up. If you pull it off correctly, your significant other won’t let you do that chore again.

‘Forget’ important dates. Focus instead on surprising your mate with tokens of your ‘love’. A random card, flowers for no reason, a dinner date out of the blue… these things should be done with enough frequency so as to mitigate any ill feelings for ‘forgetting’ those aforementioned important dates. You have to replace one with the other.

 

What’s for dinner?

What guy hasn’t asked his woman what she wants to eat and was met with ‘I don’t know, what do you want?’ And then, when you tell her what you’d like to eat, she replies with something like ‘I don’t like that’, or ‘I want something else but don’t know what.’ It’s enough to drive you mad! But, all is not lost. Here’s a trick I learned many years ago. When she asks you ‘what’s for dinner?’, you respond with, ‘guess where we’re going for dinner?’ Now, pay attention to her responses! She’ll tell you what she really wants to eat by trying to ‘guess’ where you’re taking her.

 

Dealing with past relationships

Inevitably it will happen. That moment when your significant other mentions a former partner. How do you handle the moment? Sure, you can be mature about how you choose to handle this situation, but what fun is that? Try associating a negative idea or feeling when he or she mentions a former lover. Every time that person is mentioned, associate a sad story or insinuate that the person was/is stupid, mentally ill, etc. This places your significant other into a position to either defend the former lover or to repress commenting in the first place. If she values your relationship, she would be very hesitant to defend the former lover. Either way, you win.

 

Anti-social behavior

It’s been said that marriage is an anti-social behavior. All of your male friends are now considered ‘bad influences’. On the other hand, her female and male friends aren’t. Not exactly a fair situation, right? The solution is to level the playing field. This calls for finding new friends that are a lot worse than your original friends. By comparison, your old friends will look like saints. The hope is that she relents somewhat and ‘tolerates’ your old friends on the condition that you get rid of the new ones.

Another tactic is to thin out her group of friends. If she has a girlfriend that you find completely annoying, this is your opportunity to get rid of her. Be sure to compliment her girlfriend by saying things like ‘she’s really cute in that outfit’, or ‘if anything ever happens to us, I’d like to go out with her’. There’s nothing like a jealous wife/girlfriend and her paranoia.

More to follow…

 

Specna Arms SA-E11 EDGE™ M4 CQB rifle

 

I recently picked up an M4 to add to my collection, a Specna Arms SA-E11 EDGE™ with Mosfet X-ASR installed. This particular M4 is a CQB suppressed version AEG airsoft rifle. I outfitted the M4 with a 2.5 – 10×40 (Red/Green) illuminated scope and a side mounted laser.

 

The specs on this rifle are as follows:

Length: 685mm – 770mm / 26.97 to 30.32 inches (Adjustable)
Weight: 2465g (5.434 pounds)
Inner Barrel: 310mm (12.2 inches)
Magazine Capacity: 125rds
Muzzle Velocity: 310~380 FPS (Measured with 0.20g BBs)
Thread Direction: 14mm Negative
Gearbox: ORION Ver 2 Metal, Fully Upgradeable
Motor: Long Type
Fire Modes: Semi/Full-Auto, Safety
Battery: 7.4v / 11.1v Buffer Tube LiPo Battery Recommended (Wired to rear w/ DEANS connector.)
Hopup: Yes, Adjustable

New toy…

Picked up a new toy recently… a gas blowback airsoft Beretta M9A1 (pictured top). It compares very well up against a real Beretta Model 96 in .40 caliber in terms of realistic weight, size, and function. I was able to interchange the Hogue wrap-around grips from the Model 96 to the M9A1. It was a perfect fit. The only real difference in appearance between the two weapons, aside from the color, is the safety orange barrel tip and the accessory rail on the underside of the M9A1.

 

A side by side comparison of a Model 96 and a M9A1 magazine.

 

 

The single shot fire mode is pictured below. Pushing the mode select all the way down, renders the airsoft firearm safe. Interestingly, if you place the mode select partially between the single shot and the safety position, there is a discernible ‘click’, which in reality… is the full auto mode. 

 

The magazine has a stackable 26 round capacity, holding 6mm BBs. The BBs can range in weight from 12 grams up to 40 grams, with the 20 or 28 grams being the most widely used. The lighter weight BBs shoot much faster but lack the ‘punch’ a heavier round would deliver. The lighter rounds also tend to decelerate more quickly and swirl while in flight, making for less accurate shots. 

This M9A1 was manufactured by WE and uses ‘green gas’ as its power source. Green gas is nothing more than propane gas mixed with a little silicone lubricant and lightly scented to mask the propane odor. Green gas costs about $11 – $14 dollars per 8 oz can. Green gas powered airsoft weapons are expensive to operate, and not easy to use. They require recharging constantly. That’s especially true if you’re using the weapons on full auto.

I experimented using CO2 cartridges in place of the typical green gas with some success. The cost for CO2 cartridges is more affordable than green gas but they still require constant recharging. The only upside to using CO2 is that the cost is more affordable. The downside in using CO2 is that the pressure placed upon the air reservoir built within the magazine is not controllable. That can lead to the magazine rupturing its seals and damaging your weapon.

The solution? Use the same type of air cylinders that paintballers use. The one I purchased has a 3,000psi rating and can… utilizing a quick-disconnect fitting that replaces the normal green gas charging port… be attached to the magazine reservoir. The pressure is dialed down to approximately 110psi from the tank, through the regulator, so as to not rupture the magazine.

The rig below can be purchased from either your local paintball or airsoft store. The tank runs about $65 and the regulator gage assembly, with hose, is about $85. 

 

You’ll still need to build an air linkage from the quick-disconnect hose assembly to your weapon’s magazine or charging port. Mine is pictured below with the green gas port changed out to a quick-disconnect fitting…

 

One advantage you gain by converting the green gas system to an air tank system is that you can switch your weapons out from sidearms, to assault weapons, to sniper rifles, simply and more efficiently than relying on green gas based systems. You’re able to carry less equipment because you’re not having to haul around a lot of 8 oz green gas cans, or handfuls of CO2 cartridges. This frees up valuable space in your tactical pack for ammo, medical kits, etc. And in the long run, it’ll save you a ton of money.

 

Here’s my M9A1 in action using the paintball air tank… Full auto Beretta M9A1 airsoft pistol  

Man club tips!

 

I was chatting recently with a friend of mine. He’s a single guy and was lamenting about how difficult it was to find available women. After making a few sarcastic jabs at him… because that’s what close friends do… I gave him a few pointers. Now keep in mind, guys being guys, we tend to be more caveman-like when we are talking amongst ourselves and full knuckle dragging usually ensues!

Here are a few ‘pearls of wisdom’ I bestowed upon him…

Bar name

If you’re just playing the field and not interested in an ongoing relationship, you may want to consider using a bar name. A bar name is nothing more than a made up name that you go by when doing the bar scene. If someone tries to track you down using the internet, etc., you won’t be found. If you want to be a true player, you have to up your game with fictitious business cards containing your bar name and some sort of believable business title, a burner cell phone number, and an email address (used only for dating purposes). Keep it simple.

Booger-Bear

A Booger-Bear is someone that hangs on you in a bar that you’re really not interested in pursuing romantically. You don’t want to be blunt and hurt this person’s feelings, but at the same time, don’t want to continue talking to them. What to do? Well, you walk the person over to a group of other people you casually know and introduce her to them. As they’re exchanging pleasantries, you step away quickly and ditch her. This is in effect, wiping her off on someone else… hence the term Booger-Bear.

Produce aisle

So, where should you look for women? Most men do not like to shop. Consequently, women are typically the ones that dominate the male-to-female ratios in most shopping environments… with a few notable exceptions. The produce aisle is a prime location to find women. ‘Why?’, you ask. Well, think about it… if they’re in the fresh produce aisle 1) they’re probably a good cook, 2) are into a healthier lifestyle, 3) depending upon the time of day, are single, a stay-at-home mom, or retired. Pick the one that suits your needs.

How does one approach a female in the produce aisle? Here’s the cave-man answer… ask for her opinion about produce selection. Women like having their opinions valued. When a man timidly smiles and asks her opinion, it places the woman in a position of dominance. She has the upper hand in this situation. Depending upon how she responds to you (if she smiles, turns red, plays with her hair, etc.), you’ll know if she’s receptive to you. It’s now up to you to go forward, soldier! Just don’t overplay your hand.

Ice cream aisle

Much like the produce aisle, we have the ice cream aisle. The difference here is that this is the aisle you want to leave alone. The women here are divided into two primary groups. One group is just there to grab ice cream and be on their way. The second group is looking to fill an inner void. Let’s examine this exotic creature in her habitat.

First group

Lady is passing through the aisle and very briefly looks at the ice cream before tossing a container or two into her shopping cart and is merrily on her way, quick and efficient! Clearly she has no time to waste on deciding what flavor she wants. Most likely, she’s grabbing either chocolate or vanilla ice cream, no frills or thrills here.

Second group

This lady may be nicely dressed but usually looks like she just crawled out of bed. Perhaps she’s still wearing sweat pants and not wearing make-up. She spends a fair amount of time looking at all the varieties… contemplating which flavor would best fill her particular sorrow. Sure, she may still look kind of attractive at this point, but in a few short months…! Jenny Craig will come to know her on a first name basis. Give her time. Let her work through her demons. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll see her soon in the produce aisle.

Now, I do want to be fair. A lot of this can also apply to men. Women look for men in hardware stores, and sometimes in auto parts stores. Logic would dictate that men found in these locations, know how to fix things. What woman doesn’t like a man who can do chores around the house?

 

 

 

 

A Golden Opportunity?

Background information:

Iran seeks to create a regional hegemony in the Middle East, and is traced back to the Iranian Revolution of 1979. They’re being opposed by Saudi Arabia. Their campaign for influence is known as The Middle East Cold War. This cold war is waged on multiple levels… geopolitical, economic, and sectarian influence. The United States backs Saudi Arabia and the Saudi’s allies, while Russia and China supports Iran and its allies. The problem that occurs in a regional hegemony is that it tends to limit the development of peer competitors in that region.

The current rash of conflicts between the two, started with the Arab Spring of 2011. Iran and Saudi Arabia have faced off in several regional conflicts to include the Bahraini uprising (2011-2014), the Syrian Civil War (2011 – today), and the Yemeni Civil War (2015 – today).

The Iran-Israel Cold War gradually emerged from the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution (1979). Iran has declared that Iran’s ultimate aim is the dissolution of the state of Israel. Iran has been involved in conflicts pitting Syria, Lebanon, and the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah, against Israel.

Iranian aggressions since 2019:

12 May –  four commercial oil tankers were damaged in the Gulf of Oman.

17 June – the United States deployed another 1,000 troops to the Middle East after another two ships were attacked in the Gulf of Oman.

20 June – Iran shoots down U.S. drone (RQ-4 Global Hawk).

18 July – An Iranian drone closed to within 1,000 yards of the U.S.S. Boxer, who then electronically jammed the drone, causing it to crash.

27 December – rocket attack on the K1 Air Base (Kaywan) in Iraq. One American contractor killed, and several American and Iraqi military injured.

31 December – Iranian backed military groups storm U.S. embassy in Iraq.

7 January 2020 – Iran launches 15 missiles into Iraq at U.S. military targets, in retaliation to Gen. Qassem Soleimani’s killing.

Side notes:

It is worth noting that in a meeting with Netanyahu (June 2016), Vladimir Putin described Israel and Russia as “unconditional allies” in “efforts to counter international terrorism”

In July of 2018, President Trump and Vladimir Putin agreed to cooperate in ensuring Israel’s security.

Summary:

With the recent demise of Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and the very limited and ultimately ineffective retaliatory strikes back from Iran, President Trump has the opportunity to finally do what no previous president has done… put a stop to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran recently declared that they will no longer abide by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal framework).

With the recent escalation in tensions between the United States and Iran, Trump has more than sufficient reasons to make a preemptive strike at Iran’s nuclear ambitions. And it seems that Putin has little interest in standing in the way should Trump attack Iran. I guess we shall see how this ultimately plays out in the coming months.

 

“Skipper” Al and Wreaths Across America

In each of our lives, we occasionally meet truly great people. This year, San Diego Mensa will be honoring United States Navy Commander Corwin Allan ‘Skipper Al’ Bell (July 15, 1941 – Aug 27, 2017) at the wreath laying ceremony. Skipper Al was an amazing man and a true gentleman. The touching story of his rescuing 47 Vietnamese boat people in the South China Sea can be found by following this link (https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-boat-people-give-thanks-to-navy-commander-2012nov21-story.html).

https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org

December 14, 2019

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.

Join us by sponsoring a veterans’ wreath at a cemetery near you, volunteering or donating to a local fundraising group.

Plant warfare

Plants actively engage in the environments in which they live. They can communicate with other plants and animal neighbors. They respond to threats around them by changing their defensive chemistry, and alert plant neighbors to predation.

The wild desert tobacco plant, like all plants, have more genomes dedicated to environmental perception and response than animals. The plant has to adapt it’s physiology to what is going on around them. Being able to respond quickly is essential. As the tobacco plant is attacked by insects, it ramps up production of the chemical called nicotine. Nicotine is a natural pesticide against most insects, but has no effect upon the Hornworm caterpillar. In this case, the desert tobacco plant releases a chemical signal to other nearby plants. This signal warns of the ongoing attack upon itself and predators of the Hornworm caterpillar are summoned to fight off the attack.

So, how does the desert tobacco plant know what bug or insect is attacking it and what predators of the pest to call in? That answer is found in the saliva of the attacking pest. The tobacco plant can identify the pest through the chemical compounds found in that pest’s saliva, thereby knowing what predators to call in to stem the pest’s attack. If a caterpillar eats the sticky sweetness from the plants trichomes (small hairs on plant stems), it will develop a smelly type odor, which in turn, will alert predators to the existence of the caterpillar.

The downside to the desert tobacco plant in ridding itself of the caterpillar, is that the caterpillar… once transformed into the nocturnal Hawk moth, is also its best pollinator. How does the desert tobacco plant solve this problem? It simply switches out pollinators. It does this by changing the shape of its flower, which typically opened at night, from an open shape to one that is more in the shape of a funnel. The funnel shaped flower would open in the dawn hours and produce a sweeter nectar, thus attracting hummingbirds instead of Hawk moths. This switch in pollinators can be accomplished in less than eight days.

The desert tobacco plant under attack from caterpillars, will emit a chemical odor to alert its nearby neighbors. The other desert tobacco plants in the immediate area would then ramp up their defenses. We see this behavior with other plant life too. Take, for instance, the acacia tree in Africa.

The acacia will emit ethylene to signal their neighbors to herbivore predation. The nearby acacia trees then ramp up production of tannin levels that can be lethal to herbivores feeding upon them. Interestingly enough, giraffes get around the toxicity of the acacia leaves by only eating a few leaves from the trees and then moving upwind to other acacia trees not receiving the ethylene signals from the previously foraged trees.

 

 

Something… out of nothing?

How can something be created from nothingness? How is that a possibility? Furthermore, how can it be proven?

If we were to place a box under vacuum, theoretically, we would have a box of nothingness. But is it really empty? The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Enter quantum fluctuation. A particle can be created in a vacuum, and disappear, provided that it happens very quickly.

In quantum physics, a quantum fluctuation is the temporary change in the amount of energy in a point in space, also known as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The uncertainty principle states that for a pair of conjugate variables such as position/momentum or energy/time, it is impossible to have a precisely determined value of each member of the pair at the same time.

Quantum physics and Special Theory of Relativity were further explained via Dirac’s famous equation.

Dirac equation(original)

This equation describes particles and anti-particles. These particles are created in pairs, which can borrow energy from a vacuum before reuniting and cancelling each other out, thus returning the borrowed energy. These ‘virtual particles’ can appear and disappear trillions of times in a blink of an eye. One proof that this does happen, is by observing electrons of an atom in a vacuum. The electrons want to move on a flat plane around an atom. If the electrons bobble in their orbit around an atom, it is because of particles and anti-particles, interfering and affecting the electrons’ orbits.

Now, this all begs the question, ‘Why does any of this matter?’ Well, we know that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate, but what is the driving force? One theory suggested that dark energy was the reason. A new theory puts forth the idea that, with the creation and destruction of these virtual particles, the universe oscillates between expansion and contraction. During these oscillations, the net effect is that the universe expands very slowly, but at an ever accelerating rate.