Tuesday, November 11, 2003

another contest and more about taiwan

A reader from Fergus Falls, MN writes to ask:
do you worry about people who maybe don't want their private emails to you posted on your blog, where any fool who has known you for, say, [double digit number] years can identify the author? or is there a selection thing going on, where anyone who may have once been inclined to send you something private now avoids it? or maybe it's not an issue to most of your readers--i'd be curious to see a standard error of the mean # of message authors your readers could identify.

on other fronts, [name A] & i agreed that it was [name B]'s responsibility to get the scoop on why you went to taiwan, but being at work 24 hrs/day is getting in [pronoun's] way, so i'll just ask for all of us: what kinds of talks were these? why taiwan??
Of course, we can start with this message, and so This Week's Special Weblog Contest is to identify the author, [name A], and [name B]. E-mail me with your entries.

My reply to the part about my weblog: I generally ask people before I post their messages to my weblog. The major exception would be messages that are about my weblog, which I post with crazed abandon. Some names I suppress with the idea that some people who know them will know who they are, but others won't. I also suppress and abbreviate names sometimes so that the weblog post won't come up when the person is Googled. I'm still surprised by the number of people who have run across the weblog at one time or another.

My reply to the part about Taiwan: Awhile back, I exchanged e-mails with a professor in Taiwan who asked me a question about sociobiology and altruism (he was interested in what it might have to say about the outpouring of helping in response to a natural disaster there.) The professor continued to be interested in the topic, and later was in a position to bring in a couple people from abroad to talk about the implications of developments in biology for social science. He's in sociology, and so there's not a large pool to draw on in that regard anyway. Anyway, he e-mailed to ask me if I would come give two days of introductory talks on genetics, and I said I couldn't really talk about that but could talk about evolutionary psychology and sociology. So that's what I did. A professor from North Carolina did three mornings on behavioral genetics, and I did two afternoons on evolutionary psychology. And then I spent three days on the back end of the trip sightseeing. Everything you have heard about the Taiwanese being extraordinary hosts is true. Wonderful, wonderful, generous people. And Taiwan is absolutely gorgeous.

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