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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part One)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/01


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ tests scores developed by independent psychometricians. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Erik Haereid, Rick Rosner, and myself.

Keywords: actuarial science, America, Erik Haereid, Norway, Rick Rosner, statistics, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part One)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Erik meet Rick. Rick meet Erik. The topic is ‘The Future of Statistics and Actuarial Science’ for this discussion. Erik, you are a statistician and actuary. That is, you have the relevant expertise. Therefore, it seems most appropriate to have the groundwork, e.g. common terms, premises (or assumptions), and theories within statistics and actuarial science, provided by you. To begin, what are the common terms, premises (or assumptions), and theories within statistics and actuarial science at the frontier of the disciplines? From there, we can discuss the future of statistics and actuarial science within a firm context. 

Erik HaereidI thought the topic should be more common. I am not comfortable talking about the latest theories within Statistics and Actuarial Science; I have never practiced as a statistician even though I have an M.Sc. in Statistics. I have worked the last 20 years primarily with insurance administration; as manager, entrepreneur and as a consultant (pension schemes for companies; DB- and DC-plans, pension accounting and so on), and only in the life insurance and pension fields. I have not worked with insurance mathematics in 20 years. If you insist on using insurance as a topic, we must concentrate on life insurance and pension in Norway from 1960 to today. This is my premise. I think that I know the Norwegian life insurance area from the 1960’s until today well, but I hoped that we could concentrate on a more interesting and common topic; there are so many things going on in the world today. I thought we should talk about a common topic like refugee problems, economy, politics, war, peace, social psychology, aggression, love, existential questions, as intelligent laypeople, and not about topics related to my profession. I have several profound thoughts about many topics. Rick Rosner and I are both 50+ years and have experienced the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Why not use this fact as a basis for a discussion?

2. Jacobsen: Let us start with the first recommendation of the refugee problems:

Both of you are over 50+ years. You have experienced the changes of the 1970s to the present. There is a problem with refugees now. Have there been comparable problems within your lifetimes? What seems like the source of this current refugee crisis? What might alleviate the problems associated with it? What might be a general solution for it?

Haereid: One week ago, a Kenyan judge ruled that the Kenyan government’s plan to close Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, was wrong (“illegal” and “discriminatory”). I think this is a beginning of many refugee camps closures in the future; in Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, Lebanon, Jordan etc.

A lot of migrants moved from Central America to the USA in the 1970’s and 80’s. The Refugee Act brought USA closer to the UN Convention from 1951. Maybe Rick can say something about this event. The Reagan administration was not too happy about the situation.  And I would like to hear Rick’s opinion about Donald Trump’s apparent xenophobia.

I am born 18 years after the end of WW2, and the first catastrophe I remember is the Biafran War, the Nigerian Civil War, from 1967 to 1970. I remember the pictures of the malnourished children with huge bellies. This was hard. The picture of the famine left some psychological scars in a five-year-old boy from a developed country. The Biafran War led to a huge number of refugees inside the country. Then the Biafran Airlift was established and dropped food and medicines over the camps. Nigerian aircrafts tried to stop them from doing this, using hunger as a weapon against the people. I remember the commitment from the rest of the world, how everybody wanted to help. The media did a good job there, by transmitting pure pain into ordinary peoples living rooms. It made people feel empathy, and act.

There have been several wars and refugees for the last five decades, but not like today. The many conflicts, and the Syrian conflict as the main, make the situation today the most severe since WW2. There are approximately 65 million refugees in the world today, and about 21 million are refugees in other countries than their own.

The UNHCR and the international community have to take this situation more serious; this is only a beginning of a possible mass migration that has no end. In my opinion, we have to build separate cities or communities spread all over the world, where migrants and refugees can live temporarily in a sustainable environment. The tent camps have to be replaced by ordinary houses and infrastructure. This will be cheap compared to the alternative; more war, more suffering, more violence, an increasing pressure on the stabilized countries… The international community can for instance rent land from different countries that has land to spare.

When integrating or resettling too many refugees we will experience more far-right politics. We can expect a blooming extremism and fundamentalism when we try to integrate too many refugees and migrants in developed countries like the USA and Europe. Xenophobia expands when we don’t control the stream of refugees. This is as I see it the most important cause to define a limit of the number of migrants coming into USA and Europa. I have to add that I am myself in favour of diversity in any culture; diversity implies less xenophobia when the integration is done right. We learn to like and love; we can’t rush it. The diversity has to rise in right pace. If we move too fast, people get scared and their votes are based on that fear.

We have to learn from the many failures we have done concerning the treatment of refugees all over the world. The Syria crisis is a wake-up call. Today it’s about 5 million Syrian refugees outside Syria; most of them in neighbouring countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. I think we have to use more money on more sustainable solutions, and that one solution is to build more sustainable reception centers for refugees in areas where they can live temporarily with support from the international community; cities or communities with a certain level of infrastructure, independent of local fluctuations in politics and business. It would be like enclaves protected by the international community; UN, the different governments, non-profit organizations etc.

The final answer is, of course, to make the world more peaceful and balanced, but this answer does not help the 65 million refugees in the world today. This is another question, like how to cure cancer.

The sources of the crisis are war, starvation, environment, despotism, population growth, dreams about a better place…

Well, I think building sustainable communities in migration zones may alleviate the problem. The main task is to help the people who suffer beyond our imaginations. Wars are a consequence of instability. People have to feel safe, feel that they can live normal lives. And to achieve this we have to restore the meaning of the word respect.

Rosner: I recently had the immigration argument with a very conservative guy. So, I am generally not overly informed about political stuff, but on immigration, I am slightly less ill-informed than usual. My buddy argues that the US has let in something like 60 million immigrants in the past 40 years, which is somewhat higher than historical percentages. So, if it weren’t such a politically charged issue, I could see slightly reducing the rate of immigration from the average of 1.5 million per year over the past 40 years, even though that’s well under 1% of the U.S. population per year.

I find that for most political issues, there’s a large set of facts which most people don’t know, and the people who are informing us using these facts cherry-pick the facts to fit their biases. In the case of my conservative buddy, he listens to people who cherry-pick facts about Islam to make Islam sound like the worst thing possible. And because I am ignorant, I can’t argue against them very well.

All I can say is, “Well, that sounds way too awful to actually be the case.” But I don’t have the countervailing facts to fight his facts. One set of facts pertains to the rates and sources of terrorism in America and the rest of the western world. In America, current arguments about immigration are, for the most part, about whether we’re leaving ourselves open to terrorist acts and terrorist infiltrators—terrorist sleepers.

My conservative buddy has the additional argument that if you let in too many Muslim people, who, according to him, have a strategy and a religious obligation to have kids at a higher rate than the native population to eventually turn the country into a Muslim majority country. If you let too many Muslims into America, according to my buddy, they will become a significantly large minority, and they will enforce Sharia Law.

He says to look at Germany and other European countries, where the population is at 10% of the country and seems to be causing some problems. And yeah, I can see where there are some problems there. My friend says that in the 70s, we only had like 60,000 Muslims in the whole country. Now, we have 3 million Muslims because we’ve been letting in immigrants and because immigrants have kids.

My argument is that 3 million is still less than 1% of the total United States population. And even if those 3 million reproduce at a crazy rate, they will not reach the troublesome 10% level in 50 years or 60 years, and in that next 60 years, there will be so many other things happening in America. Muslims are having kids at a faster rate shouldn’t be in the top 3 or top 5 things that we should be worrying about.

I would worry about the social and political upheaval because of the crazy waves of technology that we’re going to continually be hit with over the next 60 years. I would counter the too many Muslims argument with what another friend who works in software and artificial intelligence (AI) says: “By the year 2100, the world may have 1 trillion AI at various levels of sophistication.”

So, I think we need to worry more about how we are going to build a society that can incorporate hundreds of billions of AI rather than whether or not 3 million Muslims will be having too many kids. As I’m speaking, we’re 6 or 7 weeks into the Trump presidency. He will soon be presenting the revised travel ban for 7 countries that give Trump the creeps because he thinks they’re the source of potential bad guys coming in.

My feeling is that we’re already fairly prudent in terms of letting people into the country to live. It takes—I’ve heard in my ignorant way—like 2 years of screening before people get to move here. In my ignorant way, I know that immigrants—both legal and otherwise—have lower crime rates than native-born Americans. So, it seems to me any adjusting we do does not need to be abrupt and draconian, but if we feel we need to protect ourselves more we can adjust existing practices to lower the level of risk presented by the people we let in as official immigrants.

We’ll never get every single dangerous person. This freaks out my conservative friend. He also argues that even if you do get everybody and do let in everybody that it doesn’t prevent the radicalization of their kids who grow up in America because, he claims, the first generation born here is more easily recruited to do terrorist stuff than perhaps their parents who came here as grateful immigrants.

Trump’s first big issue, which he ran on, was kicking out illegal immigrants. In his early campaign, he characterized them as our #1 threat, which, to me, seems like bullshit right off the top because, if you believe the statistics (and some conservative people don’t), prior to ’08, we had about 12.7 million undocumented aliens, and after the economy tanked, the net flow of undocumented immigrants was out of the US.

So, 9 years later, we have 11.7 million undocumented immigrants. Some conservatives say, “How do you know? Maybe there are 30 million undocumented immigrants.” But that’s a hysterical exaggeration. It’s around, say, 12 million. At 12 million, that’s less than 4% of the people in America, and 4% of the people can’t be the source of everything wrong in America in terms of crime, in terms of lost jobs.

It’s 4%. So, you’re not going to make everything better by kicking out the 4%, especially with regard to crime because that 4% has been shown to have a lower crime rate than people who were born here. They don’t have a zero crime rate, there are plenty of bad people among the 4%, but they’re not solidly bad people who are destroying the fabric of America.

Obama was deporting the hell out of people. I don’t know the statistics, but millions over the course of his presidency. A lot of people got deported. Conservatives will argue those numbers are kinda fake because a lot of the deported people come back in, but Obama deported more undocumented aliens than, I guess any other president, ever. [NOTE: Here’s a Snopes explainer of 21st-century US deportation stats.

So, I tend to be on the side of doing what we were doing under Obama and if we need to tighten things somewhat, fine, but we don’t need the full-on Trump treatment of immigration. There are a lot of things in the world that should be based on statistics and the best outcomes. Like when you look at instances of possible police incompetence that lead to fatalities, unjustified fatalities, it seems that there should be some statistics-based training of cops the way that sports teams do statistics-based tracking and training.

Basketball, you learn where the sweet spots are. You learn the statistical outcomes. Good coaches know, in basketball, whether you should foul an opposing player or not based on how good he is at shooting free throws. Like Hack-a-Shaq, if somebody’s terrible at free throws, then you deny them the likely 2 points of making a basket and make them shoot free throws. You can apply that to a general model where you don’t foul somebody shooting from behind the 3-point line because that gives them three free throws to shoot.

All of that stuff is based on keeping a lot of statistics and building strategic models based on those stats. You can do the same thing with certain aspects of policing. When, as a cop, you’re approaching a suspect and you’re apprehensive about certain things you’ve noticed about the situation you’re in, you should know what potential actions on your part have statistically minimized the worst possible outcomes.

It seems like that kind of statistical training might be helpful. I don’t know. I’m not a cop. I don’t know what statistics cops keep or what models they use, but, in any case, you can use statistics-based models for immigration. You look at immigration and related statistics, set your risk parameters, for tolerance of risk based on the US being a beacon for immigrants and for various other social and economic statistics, and you build your models and your strategies based on that stuff instead of on demagoguery and freaking out. 

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Erik Haereid: “About my writing: Most of my journalistic work I did in the pre-Internet-period (80s, 90s), and the articles I have saved are, at best, aged in a box somewhere in the cellar. Maybe I can find some of it, but I don’t think that’s that interesting.

Most of my written work, including crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway, as Nettavisen is)), a second place (runner up) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985 arranged by Aftenposten, and several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s, is not published online, as far as I can see. This was a decade and less before the Internet, so a lot of this is only on paper.

From the last decade, where I used more time doing other stuff than writing, for instance work, to mention is my book from 2011, the IQ-blog and some other stuff I don’t think is interesting here.

I keep my personal interests quite private. To you, I can mention that I play golf, read a lot, like debating, and 30-40 years and even more kilos ago I was quite sporty, and competed in cross country skiing among other things (I did my military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)). I have been asked from a couple in the high IQ societies, if I know Magnus Carlsen. The answer is no, I don’t :)”

Haereid has interviewed In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal Advisory Board Member Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, some select articles include topics on AI in What will happen when the ASI (Artificial superintelligence) evolves; Utopia or Dystopia? (Norwegian), on IQ-measures in 180 i IQ kan være det samme som 150, and on the Norwegian pension system (Norwegian). His book on the winner/loser-society model based on social psychology published in 2011 (Nasjonalbiblioteket), which does have a summary review here.

Erik lives in Larkollen, Norway. He was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1963. He speaks Danish, English, and Norwegian. He is Actuary, Author, Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Statistician. He is the owner of, chairman of, and consultant at Nordic Insurance Administration.

He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000) in Sandvika, Baerum, Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring, and a Journalist at Norsk Pressedivisjon.

He earned an M.Sc. in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences from 1990-1991 and a Bachelor’s degree from 1984 to 1986/87 from the University of Oslo. He did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests in history, philosophy, reading, social psychology, and writing.

He is a member of many high-IQ societies including 4G, Catholiq, Civiq, ELITE, GenerIQ, Glia, Grand, HELLIQ, HRIQ, Intruellect, ISI-S, ISPE, KSTHIQ, MENSA, MilenijaNOUS, OLYMPIQ, Real, sPIqr, STHIQ, Tetra, This, Ultima, VeNuS, and WGD.

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.

He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.”

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 1, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


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