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Small-Scale Question Sunday for September 3, 2023

Do you have a dumb question that you're kind of embarrassed to ask in the main thread? Is there something you're just not sure about?

This is your opportunity to ask questions. No question too simple or too silly.

Culture war topics are accepted, and proposals for a better intro post are appreciated.

Jump in the discussion.

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The way any nationality or ethnicity's intellectual powers are directed is in large part culturally mediated and orthogonal to their measured intelligence. Imagine all the collective brainpower that has been spent (or wasted, you might argue) by Ashkenazi Jews in debating the finer points of Talmudical hermeneutics or by Indian Brahmins in memorizing and reciting the Vedas for thousands of years. However high IQ those populations were or are, there isn't much there for you to read if you aren't into esoteric religious literature or have some personal connection to that culture. If your interest is as specific as modern science fiction novels for example, then you're probably going to get more out of a random western or western-adjacent country like Poland or Finland than anywhere in Asia simply for contingent historical reasons.

As far as the Japanese go, I'd say from my limited experience that their technical expertise in many areas of manufacturing seems indisputable, that they have made major advances in science above and beyond their neighbors in East Asia, and are pretty much the number 2 country in the world after the United States in terms of unique cultural exports (anime, manga, video games, movies, etc. that don't simply ape American forms like European or even Korean producers often do). The fact that they developed a vernacular literature and achieved nearly complete literacy before even most western nations also ranks them pretty highly in my book.