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 Post subject: Testosterone theory goes West
Post #1 Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:55 am 
Oza

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I have always been fascinated by the way amateurs (of all nations but westerners seem especially prone) are obsessed with invading. Without thinking about it deeply I have just assumed it was all about the nether regions, though an impish voice in my head did try to remind that women have a reputation for very aggressive go. But that's a reputation I've never quite agreed with, largely because women don't seem to invade so much.

I take my own theories with a pinch of salt because I belong to a generation when boys were not allowed to study biology. For me that's always created a barrier to medical sciences of body and mind in general. But I was in a bookshop yesterday and browsed through the bestseller collection. Thumbing though a scientific book on story-telling, I came across the following paragraph:

Quote:
Humans have a compulsion to make things happen in their environment that's so powerful it's described by psychologists as 'almost as basic a need as food an water.' When researchers put people in flotation tanks and block their eyes and ears they found that, often within seconds, they'll start rubbing their fingers together or making ripples in the water. After four hours some are singing 'bawdy songs'. Another study found 67 per cent of male participants and 25 per cent of female participants so desperate to make things happen in a room that was empty of stimulus, except for an electric shock machine, that they started giving themselves painful shocks.


I decided at once that that was a better theory to fit invasion-its than mine. It squares better with my observations on female play. What do you think?

The next paragraph in the book surprised me even more. It related an experiment in which two groups were asked to read a long passage. One group were told nothing about the passage and ended up unable to recall more than a handful of sentences. The other group was told that the passage concerned the washing of clothes. "The simple addition of a human goal transformed the gobbledegook into something clear. They remembered twice as much."

I think that insight could have a huge impact on go study, and none of it necessarily anything to do with memorisation. For example, practising reading. Just trying to read deeper and deeper is really only adding the 'degook' to 'gobble'. But if you add a goal, you can gobble your way straight through the problem. That trains your brain far more efficiently. So the goal is to define a goal. Well, many problems books come with hints, but many amateurs scorn them for that reason (is this testosterone at work?). But one pro's hint could be another amateur's goal. Do lots of such problems and you efficiently train your goal-making neurons as well as your look-ahead. Or not?

Anyway, I was impressed enough to buy the book and read enough before I fell asleep last night to agree with at least some of the comments in the blurb (e.g. Brilliant, accessible and very human. A stupendous achievement). It is "The Science of Storytelling" by Will Storr.

It does not, however, seem to tell us why people immersed in tanks end up singing bawdy songs. Maybe there really is testosterone in the water? But them why wait four hours? A fascinating area.

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 Post subject: Re: Testosterone theory goes West
Post #2 Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 2:09 am 
Honinbo

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John Fairbairn wrote:
I have always been fascinated by the way amateurs (of all nations but westerners seem especially prone) are obsessed with invading.


And today's AI invade less often than pros did before the AI era.

John Fairbairn wrote:
I take my own theories with a pinch of salt because I belong to a generation when boys were not allowed to study biology. For me that's always created a barrier to medical sciences of body and mind in general.


I suppose that's a cultural difference across the pond. Boys studied biology in my high school. However, there was a resistance to the theory of evolution. My teacher simply skipped the first chapter of the book. One generation later, the biology teacher was a creationist, for Christ's sake. :shock: My generation adopted the anti-testosterone slogan, Don't just do something, stand there. :cool: :lol:

John Fairbairn wrote:
The next paragraph in the book surprised me even more. It related an experiment in which two groups were asked to read a long passage. One group were told nothing about the passage and ended up unable to recall more than a handful of sentences. The other group was told that the passage concerned the washing of clothes. "The simple addition of a human goal transformed the gobbledegook into something clear. They remembered twice as much."

I think that insight could have a huge impact on go study, and none of it necessarily anything to do with memorisation. For example, practising reading. Just trying to read deeper and deeper is really only adding the 'degook' to 'gobble'. But if you add a goal, you can gobble your way straight through the problem. That trains your brain far more efficiently. So the goal is to define a goal.


I have been saying that for some time. Forming subgoals is important. This is one reason I say that conceptualization is important. Good concepts help to generate good subgoals.

John Fairbairn wrote:
Well, many problems books come with hints, but many amateurs scorn them for that reason (is this testosterone at work?). But one pro's hint could be another amateur's goal. Do lots of such problems and you efficiently train your goal-making neurons as well as your look-ahead. Or not?


IMO, giving hints is not good enough. Pros probably learned to generate good subgoals on their own when they were kids. But amateurs in general do not have that talent. Just practicing reading will not lead automatically to forming good subgoals. Better, IMO, to explicitly state the subgoal of a problem. That will lead to better reading, better understanding, and better recall. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Testosterone theory goes West
Post #3 Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 3:03 am 
Dies in gote

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Bill Spight wrote:

And today's AI invade less often than pros did before the AI era.



Is this definitely true? Assuming it is, it could be that there are still a lot of invasion threats and related defences going on below the surface of an apparently calmer game.

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 Post subject: Re: Testosterone theory goes West
Post #4 Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 4:10 am 
Honinbo

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dust wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:

And today's AI invade less often than pros did before the AI era.



Is this definitely true? Assuming it is, it could be that there are still a lot of invasion threats and related defences going on below the surface of an apparently calmer game.


Well, I wasn't counting the 3-3 invasion of the 4-4 corner, which the bots used to do more often. Aside from those invasions, and the occasional 3-4 attachment, the bots tend to play erasures more often than pros did before, and shallower erasures, at that. :) OC, erasures carry threats to invade.

Now, however, pros play nearly perfect openings, according to today's bots. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Testosterone theory goes West
Post #5 Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 12:01 pm 
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John Fairbairn wrote:
I have always been fascinated by the way amateurs (of all nations but westerners seem especially prone) are obsessed with invading.

I suppose this is purely anecdotal, but in my experience Asian amateurs (kyu to mid-dan players) are significantly more likely to make unnecessary invasions than Westerners. I have played far too many games against Asian players (predominately Chinese and Korean, but also Japanese) that went something like this: I made a small-ish amount of territory. My opponent immediately invaded it. By attacking the invading stones I managed to make territory elsewhere. My opponent immediately invaded that as well and so on and so forth. Whenever I brave playing on Tygem or Fox, I can expect 2-5 (rough estimate) invasions per game, most of which are far too hasty or not needed at all. Of course, there's also invasion-happy Westerners but hardly ever to this extent.

John Fairbairn wrote:
I think that insight could have a huge impact on go study, and none of it necessarily anything to do with memorisation. For example, practising reading. Just trying to read deeper and deeper is really only adding the 'degook' to 'gobble'. But if you add a goal, you can gobble your way straight through the problem. That trains your brain far more efficiently. So the goal is to define a goal. Well, many problems books come with hints, but many amateurs scorn them for that reason (is this testosterone at work?). But one pro's hint could be another amateur's goal. Do lots of such problems and you efficiently train your goal-making neurons as well as your look-ahead. Or not?

Something that always bothered me about life and death problems is that most of them are taken out of context. What is the right solution in one context is the wrong one in another. So, if we're speaking in terms of training goals then there might be some value in contextualising the problems.

I definitely agree that a lot of players are not focusing enough on goal-directed thinking and decision making. Whenever I teach beginners and ddks, one of my priorities is always to get them used to continuously assessing the board position and to base their moves on specific local and global goals. The lack of global goals seems to be a particularly large issue in a lot of players' games. I think this has a lot to do with a lack of patience and an instant gratification mentality. Since we're discussing psychological experiments, then the marshmallow test is always worth a mention. In this experiment, children were given one marshmallow but told they would receive another one if they didn't eat the first one until the experimenter returned. Those that were able to resist the temptation were reportedly much more successful in life and I would dare to argue that they would make much better go players as well. When faced with an opponent's rapidly expanding territory, the knee-jerk instant gratification response is clearly to invade it. This focuses on a short-term local goal while completely disregarding the long-term and the global goals. The same is true when it comes to attacking weak groups. Unlike many other games, go doesn't come with all the usual bells and whistles, and playing a calm move that makes the necessary preparations for a future attack or invasion just doesn't give the same instant kick as launching a full-scale attack right away.

That said, I don't think there's only psychology and emotions at play here. I often stumble into situations where I'm simply not able to judge whether an invasion, a reduction or expanding my own territory would be the best option. I suppose this is one of the downsides of not being a robot.

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