Parenting and Verbal Intelligence

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

Family and parenting characteristics are not significant contributors to variation in IQ scores, Beaver et al. find, suggesting that IQ is in the genes:

To find out, the team pored over information from a study of more than 15,000 U.S. middle- and high-school students. It’s called the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.

Starting in the 1994-to-1995 school year, researchers had asked students a series of questions. For instance: How warm and loving are your parents? How much do you talk with them? How close do you feel to your parents? How much do you think they care about you?

Students also were given a list of 10 activities. Then the questionnaire asked how many of those activities students had done with their parents in the previous week. Did they play sports together? Go shopping? Talk with each other over dinner? Watch a movie together?

Students also answered questions about how permissive their parents were. For example, did their parents let them choose their own friends, choose what to watch on TV or choose for themselves when to go to bed?

The researchers then gave the students a test to gauge their IQ. Called a Picture Vocabulary Test, it asked the students to link words and images. Scores on this test have been linked repeatedly to IQ. Later in life, between the ages of 18 and 26, these people were tested again.

Beaver’s group was especially interested in results from a group of about 220 students who had been adopted. The parents who raised them had not passed on any genes to them. So if there was a link between the students’ IQs and the way their parents raised them, the researchers should see it most clearly in the adopted students’ scores.

But no such link emerged. Whether students reported their parents cared about them and did things with them — or reported that they did not — it had no impact on the their IQ.

Kettlebell Lessons with a Firearms Instructor

Friday, December 5th, 2014

While perusing Pavel’s fitness site, I was surprised to come across this story from a firearms instructor:

To illustrate the importance of dry fire, consider the story of Dave Westerhout.  Mr. Westerhout is known as one of the founders of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and a trainer for the Rhodesia Defense Force.  In the late 70’s, ammunition was particularly scarce in the African nation of Rhodesia.  This ammunition shortage was due in large part to how unpopular Rhodesia was politically. The native African population was disenfranchised and Rhodesia was breaking away from the British Empire.  Other nations weren’t recognizing them as a nation and multiple trade sanctions were imposed.  One side effect of these sanctions was an extreme ammunition shortage.

Westerhout adapted to the severe ammunition shortage the only way he knew how: dry fire practice.  He conducted experiments with two groups of soldiers.  One would use live fire, the other dry fire.  The results were impressive.  The dry fire group was outscoring the live fire group!  This convinced the leadership to adopt the dry fire practice for the entire force.

Then, in 1977 at the first World Practical Pistol Championship, the Rhodesian team produced some astounding results.  Dave Westerhout took the first place and another Rhodesian took the second, the Rhodesian team won the overall team event!

An American took the third place. All of this happened when the US was considered the dominant force in competitive shooting. All of this happened while Rhodesia faced an ammo shortage. How is this possible? Lots of dry fire!

The advantages of dry fire are obvious. You can do it in your home very quickly and easily. You are not driving somewhere and spending money on range time or ammo. You are getting a LOT of repetition and working on the most difficult of all fundamentals — the trigger control. Anyone can squeeze a trigger. Anyone can align the sights. Can you maintain sight alignment through a smooth yet quick trigger squeeze? If not, DRY FIRE! Start with what takes the least time and costs the least money. Add complexity later!

Now, it should be noted: Dry fire practice does NOT fully replace live fire training. It is just a great supplemental training tool. There are certain fundamentals you just can’t practice without sending rounds down range. For starters, you can’t practice Recoil Management. This stands to reason, as it’s hard to practice managing a gun’s recoil w/out feeling it recoil in your hands. Secondly, you can’t practice the Follow Through. In this instance, that simply means you can’t get a feel for how quickly you can get the gun back on target and send additional rounds down range (should it be necessary). All of that aside, you can practice the most difficult fundamental with dry fire training: the Trigger Control.

Another similarity I noticed is that Frequency Trumps Duration.

Are you training only once in awhile for a long dragged out session that leaves you wiped out? Or are you training more frequently for shorter periods leaving you “stronger or better” than when you started?

The Monster Factory

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

A cop who previously worked as a youth care worker calls his old job a monster factory:

I have seen it over and over again. Due to their behavior a child or teenager needs ‘intervention’, ‘help’, or is ‘at risk’. Teachers at first usually, and then a combination of teachers, social workers, and case managers come up with various ‘treatment’ and ‘goals’ for the child/teenager to strive for in their behavior. If the child or teenager ‘acts out’ the members of one of the institutions staffed exclusively by graduates of an approved social-work or education school, or some form of ‘line-worker’ like a (youth care worker) that has been vetted for ‘professional disposition’ by one of those graduates will ‘confront’ the child or teenager about their behavior. It is these confrontations about behavior that lie at the source of the problem. They happen almost entirely on the child or teenagers terms. By design.

A teacher, social worker, mental health professional, or case manager will for good reason make sure they do not touch, lay hands, or physically restrain their ‘client’. The fact that they can be sued is only the start. You may well have a teenager or even a child who is bigger and stronger than you. There are techniques for attempting to resolve the issue at hand or at least deescalate tension that may arise during a confrontation over behavior or that was present prior to it. However, these techniques all belie what is at issue and at stake; that the child or teenager has violated a rule or norm and that someone with the authority to command their behavior is telling them to stop and they are not doing it out of either ignorance or willful defiance. If you have the authority to command a stop to a certain behavior or change in it you do not need to negotiate your position on the matter. That is ceding authority to the kid. That is a horrible decision and especially practice to make but we do it anyway. Because it would be foolish to command behavior that you have no ability to back up with some form of consequence. THAT is why teachers, social workers, mental health professionals (I am thinking of them in institutional settings) and case managers do not physically restrain or push matters too far usually. Because you call the cops to do that. That is what we are for.

There is a problem with handling confrontations in this manner for children and teenagers who are treated this way their entire lives by institutional employees. They come to believe that when handling confrontations with employees of institutions (any institution: a school, a social work institution, law enforcement, companies, etc) that they can always dictate terms through their refusal to obey ‘the rules’ and by physically resisting or even physically escalating against whatever order they’re being given. ‘You can’t tell me what to do or else I’ll!…’ fill in the blank. This works fine if you’re in one of the institutions that is staffed by people who are given to avoid physical confrontation anyway (not everyone obviously) and are governed by rules that dictate that that is how confrontations will go, but if you run into people who won’t follow those rules in the real world you quickly run into problems.

A cop cannot get yelled at and simply back down. By law and certainly by case-law there is no requirement of a cop to cede ground. As a matter of fact in general you’d better not. You ARE required by law to enforce it whether you like it or not. We have discretion only when we know intervention will definitely cause more damage to life and property than can be reasonably justified, but as always, you’d better be ready to articulate it in court. You might back up to tactically gain advantage but that had better be the only reason you’re doing it. No law enforcement agency will employ a cop who backs down from enforcing the law. You aren’t ordered to take a suicidal position when enforcing the law, but you have to make your best effort and call back-up if you need it. This isn’t a chest-thumping, braggadocio’d position to take. It is the bare minimum required of any law-enforcement officer.

[...]

I see this day in and day out in the behavior of criminals and inmates in the jail and on the streets of the county I work for. My favorite situation is when fresh from being whisked from the juvenile detention center on their eighteenth birthday an inmate new to the jail will demand to see a supervisor when, “I don’t like the level of service being provided.” It’s the same on the street. After a few years the criminal type will get to know their rights in the system due to familiarity and their expectations will change. They won’t complain about things they can’t legally expect. They certainly don’t try to take your gun away and understand that it’s suicide to try. But the young ones… the ones that have only their prior experience with their schools or the juvenile system to operate on, they make very bad decisions. The world does not have to conform to your barbaric yawp. You must learn that no one kow-tows to you.

Or, as Ed Realist put it, “One could say that Michael Brown is dead because he was foolish enough to treat a cop like a teacher.”

How to Train Your Voice to Be More Charismatic

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Researchers are studying how to train your voice to be more charismatic:

In his experiments, Dr. Signorello analyzed recordings of speeches by leaders speaking French, Italian and Portuguese, including François Hollande, the current president of France, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a former president of Brazil. He also studied speeches given by two Italian politicians, Umberto Bossi and Luigi de Magistris, and by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

To isolate acoustic properties, Dr. Signorello used a speech synthesizer to eliminate the actual meaning of the words being spoken. The frequency, intensity, cadence, duration and other vocal qualities remained intact.

Then, to understand how acoustic traits affected perceptions, Dr. Signorello and his colleagues asked 107 female and 26 male volunteers to rate a speaker’s charisma on a scale using 67 positive or negative adjectives, ranging from eloquent and bewitching to egocentric and menacing. To ensure that only perceptions of vocal qualities were measured, they also had the Italian speeches rated by 48 people who didn’t speak Italian, and the French speeches rated by 48 people who didn’t speak French.

Generally, someone speaking in a low-pitched voice is always perceived as big and dominant, while someone speaking in a high voice is perceived as small and submissive. When speaking to crowds, the political leaders typically stretched their voices to extremes, with a wide range of frequency variation, Dr. Signorello said.

“In the three languages, I see a similar pattern,” he said. “My research shows that charismatic leaders of any type in any culture tend to stretch their voice to the lower and higher limits during a public speech, which is the most important and risky context of communication for leadership,” he said.

These leaders adopted an entirely different tone when speaking to other high-ranking politicos or when the subject strayed from political topics. “They stretch their voice less when they speak to other leaders, keeping the vocal pitch very low. They stretch the voice limits even less when they speak about nonpolitical topics,” Dr. Signorello said.

In one experiment, he found he could change the way people perceived President Hollande of France by artificially dialing the pitch of his voice up or down.

Aspiring executives should take note, Dr. Signorello said. “The voice is a tool that can be trained,” he said. “Singers and actors train their voices to reach higher or lower frequencies. A leader-speaker should do the same.”

In another 10,000 years the Bene Gesserit will have mastered this.

The Power of High-Leverage Practice

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Daniel Coyle discusses the power of high-leverage practice:

Here is Odell Beckham Jr. last night, making what might be the greatest catch in NFL history.

That video is beautiful, but there’s something that’s even more beautiful: Beckham Jr. before games, practicing exactly this type of catch.

This reveals the deeper truth behind his great catch: it was no accident. Watch how Beckham keeps one hand at his side, as if pinned by a defender; how he controls the nose of the ball with his index finger; how his eyes follow the ball into his palm. We normally think of this kind of catch as a feat of athleticism. This shows that it’s really a feat of preparation.

This is a very particular kind of preparation, systematically pre-creating the most difficult situations. You might call it High-Leverage Practice, because it shows how focusing relentlessly on pre-creating pressure conditions can set a performer apart from their peers.

Developing Cliques

Monday, November 10th, 2014

A new study finds that some schools are more likely to foster cliques than others:

Cliques form because people are often attracted to people of the same race, class, gender, and age as themselves—this is not a novel idea, and in sociology, this concept is called homophily (“love of the same”). But Daniel McFarland, an education professor at Stanford and the lead author of the study, discovered that this tendency to segregate is much more prevalent in large schools and schools that provide students with more academic freedom. A news release about the study explains: “Schools that offer students more choice — more elective courses, more ways to complete requirements, a bigger range of potential friends, more freedom to select seats in a classroom—are more likely to be rank-ordered, cliquish, and segregated.”

A New Caste Society

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Little has changed in the 42 years Steve Sailer has been reading social scientists:

As I’ve joked before, when I became interested in the quantitative literature on educational achievement in ninth grade in 1972, the racial rankings went:

  1. Orientals
  2. Caucasians
  3. Chicanos
  4. Blacks

Today, the order is:

  1. Asians
  2. Whites
  3. Hispanics
  4. African-Americans

New Tool for Children With Speech Errors

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

The letter r can be hard to pronounce, and some children never quite learn how, but a new tool could help:

Conventional speech therapy is often effective at helping to resolve speech errors from sounds that are made with the lips, such as “p,” “b,” “m” and “v.” Children can look in a mirror and imitate a therapist’s lips. But more complex sounds like “s,” “l” and “ch” are harder to fix because they involve movements of the tongue hidden inside the mouth.

Experts say “r” has a particularly complex tongue shape. Using ultrasound biofeedback allows children to see and visualize the tongue as it moves, something not possible in traditional speech therapy. Also, unlike other speech sounds, “r” isn’t always produced the same way; there are many different tongue variations that produce the same sound.

For some children, part of the problem may be an auditory-perceptual problem that makes it difficult for them to hear the difference between correct and incorrect “r” sounds, Dr. Byun said. Ultrasound images “replace the auditory channel with the visual channel,” she said.

To use the technology, an ultrasound probe is dabbed with gel and placed under a child’s chin. Sound waves capture real-time images of the tongue, which help patients and therapists see the outline of the tongue’s shape and position.

[...]

Among the most common tongue shapes for producing the correct “r” sound is the bunched “r,” where the tip of the tongue is pointed down or forward and the bulk of the tongue is raised up near the hard palate. Another is the retroflex “r,” where the tongue tip is curled up and slightly back.

In both these cases, parts of the tongue are doing different things at the same time. Generally the tongues of people who don’t pronounce the “r” sound correctly are making simpler or undifferentiated shapes.

“It’s a complicated sound to make. It requires some difficult and coordinated movements with the tongue,” said Jonathan Preston, an assistant professor in the department of communication sciences and disorders at Syracuse University. “Ultrasound makes it more obvious since people can visually adjust and they can learn to adjust in real time,” he said.

Stimulation Seeking and Intelligence

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Preschoolers who seek stimulation — who physically explore their environment and engage in verbal and nonverbal stimulation with other children and adults — end up more intelligent:

The prediction that high stimulation seeking 3-year-olds would have higher IQs by 11 years old was tested in 1,795 children on whom behavioral measures of stimulation seeking were taken at 3 years, together with cognitive ability at 11 years. High 3-year-old stimulation seekers scored 12 points higher on total IQ at age 11 compared with low stimulation seekers and also had superior scholastic and reading ability. Results replicated across independent samples and were found for all gender and ethnic groups. Effect sizes for the relationship between age 3 stimulation seeking and age 11 IQ ranged from 0.52 to 0.87. Findings appear to be the first to show a prospective link between stimulation seeking and intelligence. It is hypothesized that young stimulation seekers create for themselves an enriched environment that stimulates cognitive development.

This salient bit went unmentioned in the abstract:

The larger population from which the participants were drawn consisted
of 1,795 children from the island of Mauritius (a country lying in the Indian
Ocean between Africa and India).

(Hat tip to Richard Harper.)

Behaviorally Fit

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

Business schools don’t — but should — teach their students to become behaviorally fit, Lee Newman argues:

It’s a 9 a.m. meeting, Carolina is getting resistance from the team and a rival is trying to derail her with subtle gibes. This is a typical moment of truth, and her success will depend largely on how well she listens, reveals hidden agendas, demonstrates openness to others’ ideas, and controls her emotions.

Business school graduates and rising young professionals are all smart and armed with knowledge and tools. What differentiates them is how well they can think and react, and the quality of what they say and do in these behavioral moments that populate every workday.

Behavioral science has shown very clearly that when under time pressure and stress, we resort to default behaviors. These are automatic ways of thinking and reacting that are too often unproductive. Behind closed doors, when I ask a group of executives or young professionals, “Who in this room thinks they could be a better listener?”–90% or more raise their hands. In my experience, the majority of smart professionals listen too little, micromanage too much, judge too quickly, give too little consideration to the ideas of others… and the list goes on.

Learning best practices in workplace behaviors (e.g., 10 steps for active listening, eight steps for leading change, and so on) is useful, but also easily forgotten. When push comes to shove in a high-conflict meeting at the end of a long day, it’s less about what you know and are capable of doing, than it is about having well tuned behaviors that allow you to actually make things happen.

This is what I call “behavioral fitness.” Business schools and corporate universities need to treat the workplace like a behavioral gym where professionals have a clear training plan for what behaviors they need to work on, and then they need to get down to it. Professionals need to sweat daily, in every meeting, every conversation, and every problem solving session.

Why wait until post-grad business school?

Kid-Sized Spaces

Friday, October 24th, 2014

What is it like for kids to play sports in adult-sized spaces?

It’s Impossible to Build on Failure

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

It’s impossible to build on failure, Tony Robbins says:

You build only on success. I turned around the United States Army pistol shooting program. I made certain that the first time someone shot a pistol, instead of shooting the .45 caliber pistol from 50 feet away — which is what they were starting these guys out at — I brought the target literally five feet in front of the students. I wouldn’t let them fire the gun until they had rehearsed over and over again the exact perfect shooting form for two hours. By the time they held the gun, they had every technique perfected, so when they fired, they succeeded. BAM!

At first the Army thought it was stupid, but it put ignition into the students’ brain — “WOW! I’ve succeeded!” — versus shooting bullets into the ceiling or floor the first few times. It created an initial sense of certainty.

I believe in setting people up to win. Many instructors believe in setting them up to fail so they stay humble and they are more motivated. I disagree radically. There is a time for that but not in the beginning. People’s actions are very limited when they think they have limited potential. If you have limited belief, you are going to use limited potential, and you are going to take limited action.

Student-Athletes

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

I am shocked — shocked! — to find cheating going on at UNC!

A blistering report into an academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina released Wednesday found that for nearly two decades two employees in the African and Afro-American Studies department ran a “shadow curriculum” of hundreds of fake classes that never met but for which students, many of them Tar Heels athletes, routinely received A’s and B’s.

Nearly half the students in the classes were athletes, the report found, often deliberately steered there by academic counselors to bolster their worrisomely low grade-point averages and to allow them to continue playing on North Carolina’s teams.

I’m so glad we’ve ferreted out this one isolated program, and America’s student-athletes can continue their long tradition of academic excellence.

Gian-Carlo Rota’s Ten Lessons

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Gian-Carlo Rota of MIT shares ten lessons he wishes he had been taught:

  1. Lecturing
  2. Blackboard Technique
  3. Publish the same results several times.
  4. You are more likely to be remembered by your expository work.
  5. Every mathematician has only a few tricks.
  6. Do not worry about your mistakes.
  7. Use the Feynmann method.
  8. Give lavish acknowledgments.
  9. Write informative introductions.
  10. Be prepared for old age.

His lesson on lecturing:

The following four requirements of a good lecture do not seem to be altogether obvious, judging from the mathematics lectures I have been listening to for the past forty-six years.

Every lecture should make only one main point
The German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel wrote that any philosopher who uses the word “and” too often cannot be a good philosopher. I think he was right, at least insofar as lecturing goes. Every lecture should state one main point and repeat it over and over, like a theme with variations. An audience is like a herd of cows, moving slowly in the direction they are being driven towards. If we make one point, we have a good chance that the audience will take the right direction; if we make several points, then the cows will scatter all over the field. The audience will lose interest and everyone will go back to the thoughts they interrupted in order to come to our lecture.

Never run overtime
Running overtime is the one unforgivable error a lecturer can make. After fifty minutes (one microcentury as von Neumann used to say) everybody’s attention will turn elsewhere even if we are trying to prove the Riemann hypothesis. One minute overtime can destroy the best of lectures.

Relate to your audience
As you enter the lecture hall, try to spot someone in the audience with whose work you have some familiarity. Quickly rearrange your presentation so as to manage to mention some of that person’s work. In this way, you will guarantee that at least one person will follow with rapt attention, and you will make a friend to boot.

Everyone in the audience has come to listen to your lecture with the secret hope of hearing their work mentioned.

Give them something to take home
It is not easy to follow Professor Struik’s advice. It is easier to state what features of a lecture the audience will always remember, and the answer is not pretty. I often meet, in airports, in the street and occasionally in embarrassing situations, MIT alumni who have taken one or more courses from me. Most of the time they admit that they have forgotten the subject of the course, and all the mathematics I thought I had taught them. However, they will gladly recall some joke, some anecdote, some quirk, some side remark, or some mistake I made.

How Palmer Luckey Created Oculus Rift

Monday, October 20th, 2014

If there is a case to be made that unconventional schooling, without busywork or fixed schedules, helps unleash creativity, Palmer Luckey, creator of the Oculus Rift, might well be Exhibit A for the prosecution:

His mother, Julie, home-schooled all four of her children during a period of each of their childhoods (Luckey’s father, Donald, is a car salesman), but Palmer was the only one of the kids who never went back; he liked the flexibility too much. In his ample free time, he devoted most of his considerable energy to teaching himself how to build electronics from scratch.

No one else in Luckey’s family was especially interested in technology, but his parents were happy to give over half of the garage at their Long Beach, California, home to his experiments. There, Luckey quickly progressed from making small electronics to “high-voltage stuff” like lasers and electromagnetic coilguns. Inevitably, there were mishaps. While working on a live Tesla coil, Luckey once accidentally touched a grounded metal bed frame, and blew himself across the garage; another time, while cleaning an infrared laser, he burned a gray spot into his vision.

When Luckey was 15, he started “modding” video game equipment: taking consoles like the Nintendo GameCube, disassembling them, and modifying them with newer parts, to transform them into compact, efficient and hand-crafted devices. “Modding was more interesting than just building things entirely using new technologies,” Luckey told me. “It was this very special type of engineering that required deeply understanding why people had made the decisions they made in designing the hardware.”

Luckey soon became obsessed with PC gaming. How well, he wondered, could he play games? “Not skill level,” he clarified to me, “but how good could the experience be?” By this time, Luckey was making good money fixing broken iPhones, and he spent most of it on high-end gaming equipment in order to make the experience as immersive as possible. At one point, his standard gaming setup consisted of a mind-boggling six-monitor arrangement. “It was so sick,” he recalled.

But it wasn’t enough. Luckey didn’t just want to play on expensive screens; he wanted to jump inside the game itself. He knew the military sometimes trained soldiers using virtual reality headsets, so he set out to buy some — on the cheap, through government auctions. “You’d read that these VR systems originally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you thought, clearly if they’re that expensive, they must be really good,” Luckey said. Instead, they fell miles short of his hopes. The field of view on one headset might be so narrow that he’d feel as if he was looking through a half-opened door. Another might weigh ten pounds, or have preposterously long lag between his head moving and the image reacting onscreen — a feature common to early VR that literally makes users nauseated.

So Luckey decided to do what he’d been doing for years with game consoles: He’d take the technology apart, figure out where it was falling short and modify it with new parts to improve it. Very quickly, he realized that this wasn’t going to be simple. “It turned out that a lot of the approaches the old systems were taking were dead ends,” he said.

The problem was one of fundamental design philosophy. In order to create the illusion of a three-dimensional digital world from a single flat screen, VR manufacturers had typically used complex optical apparatuses that magnified the onscreen image to fill the user’s visual field while also correcting for any distortion. Because these optics had to perform a variety of elaborate tricks to make the magnified image seem clear, they were extremely heavy and costly to produce.

Luckey’s solution to this dilemma was ingeniously simple. Why use bulky, expensive optics, he thought, when he could put in cheap, lightweight lenses and then use software to distort the image, so that it came out clear through them? Plus, he quickly realized that he could combine these lenses with screens from mobile phones, which the smartphone arms race had made bigger, crisper and less expensive than ever before. “That let me make something that was a lot lighter and cheaper, with a much wider field of view, than anything else out there,” he said.

From 2009 to 2012, while also taking college classes and working at the University of Southern California’s VR-focused Institute for Creative Technologies, Luckey poured countless hours into creating a working prototype from this core vision. He tinkered with different screens, mixed and matched parts from his collection of VR hardware, and refined the motion tracking equipment, which monitored the user’s head movements in real-time. Amazingly, considering the eventual value of his invention, Luckey was also posting detailed reports about his work to a 3-D gaming message board. The idea was sitting there for anyone to steal.

But, as Brendan Iribe put it to me, “Maybe his name is Luckey for a reason.” By that point, no one was interested in throwing more money away on another doomed virtual reality project.

Then, in early 2012, luck struck again when the legendary video game programmer John Carmack stumbled onto his work online and asked Luckey if he could buy one of his prototypes. Luckey sent him one for free. “I played it super cool,” he assured me. Carmack returned the favor in a big way: At that June’s E3 convention — the game industry’s gigantic annual commercial carnival — he showed off the Rift prototype to a flock of journalists, using a repurposed version of his hit game “Doom 3” for the demonstration. The response was immediate and ecstatic. “I was in Boston at a display conference at the time,” Luckey said, “and people there were like, ‘Dude, Palmer, everyone’s writing articles about your thing!’”

The rest, as they say, is virtual history: Over the next 21 months, Luckey partnered with Iribe, Antonov and Mitchell, launched a Kickstarter campaign that netted $2.4 million in funding — nearly ten times its initial goal — and joined the Facebook empire, thereby ensuring the company the kind of financial backing that most early-stage tech companies can only dream of.

The Oculus Rift is now entering its final stages of development — it’s slated for commercial release next year — and this fall Samsung will release a scaled-down product for developers and enthusiasts, powered by Oculus technology, that will clip over the company’s Galaxy Note 4 smartphone. But Luckey knows that success is by no means assured. “To this point, there has never been a successful commercial VR product, ever,” Luckey told me. “Nobody’s actually managed to pull this off.” Spend a few minutes inside the Rift, though, and one can’t help but believe that Luckey will be the one to do it.