One of the most robust and interesting findings in education research has been that whether you have a good or bad teacher matters. A lot. Now a new study finds that it matters not just for your test scores, but can make students “earn higher salaries, live in higher SES neighborhoods, and have higher savings rates”.
There have been countless stupid bad-intentioned efforts to argue that IQ tests don’t really measure intelligence, but here’s one that seems pretty legit (popular, academic): students paid for performance on IQ tests will perform better. Depending on the size of the monetary reward, the effect can be up to +20 IQ points. The theory is that most people are poorly motivated to do well on IQ points, and that maybe some of what we view as difference in IQ is difference in how much kids accept that standardized tests is important and they need to work on it. They then go on to prove that IQ tests still measure intelligence but not as thoroughly as has been previously believed, and that the construct accurately measured by IQ tests (some sort of intelligence + test-taking skill + motivation) is in fact Super Important for life outcomes. Still, probably best to replicate all important previous IQ research with monetary incentives to see what happens.
Sam Harris explains why having a fireplace is about as bad for your health as smoking, and takes some stabs at why people refuse to believe it. The atheism connection is a little forced, but it’s important information I’d never heard about before.
LA recently passed a law saying that all porn companies in the city had to use condoms for their videos. As a result, 95% of porn companies left the city, the city lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue, and the porn companies just made condom-free videos somewhre else. This reminds me of Item 12 on the Evil Overlord List: “One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.”
The Upworthy Generator (h/t Chris Hallquist) creates random headlines in the style of Upworthy. I didn’t even know what the style of Upworthy was until I started playing with this, at which point it became extremely obvious. Three random clicks give me “What Happens When One Transgender Oscar Winner Gets Real About The Biggest Problem In America”, “You Don’t Want To Hear The Sobering Five Words This Disgraced Actor Created”, and “You Will Let Your Jaw Hit The Floor When You See What A Famous Converted Racist Wrote”. Touche.
I find this article to be an interesting journalistic experiment. Imagine the prompt: Nice people are living quietly with other nice people and bothering nobody. How can you make your readers hate them with the burning fury of a thousand suns? This ties into my theory that segments of the population who would strenuously deny something as pigheaded as making fun of nerds actually do exactly that using code words and a veneer of social responsibility (and surprise, surprise – it comes from Gawker)
I haven’t gotten to read this very long research paper yet, but it seems to be part of the previously-missing rebuttal to Nurture Assumption. Key quote: “Evidence suggests that as much as 26% of the variability of children’s psychological adjustment can be accounted for by the degree to which they perceive themselves to be accepted or rejected by their major caregivers.
List of Animals That Have Been Accused For Spying For Israel. Although the listed cases are clearly just misunderstandings of normal animal tagging, given projects like Acoustic Kitty and the Pentagon’s cyborg sharks, eventually this stopped clock is going to end up being right.
“The heart is one of the easiest organs to bioprint”, says an extremely optimistic engineer who has never bioprinted a heart. Still, pretty useful if you can manage it.
Bryan Caplan confirms a mysterious trend I talked about a few months ago: America is much more against gun control now than in the past. Lots of good discussion on why that might be in comments.
Also related to our discussion of trends in social movements: Epigone conjectures that feminism is on the decline because Google Books lists a decreasing percentage of books containing the word “feminist”. Aurini adds that there are also a decreasing percentage of books containing words like “sexist” and “misogynist” that are associated with feminism. Not sure whether this methodology is generally useless, whether it can’t distinguish between success and failure (eg “abolitionism” is rarely used today because abolitionism was successful), or whether I should take it at face value. In any case, I highly appreciate the creativity involved in using Google Books to more objectively measure the strength of social movements.
Oh, this is clever. Personal trainer takes impressive “before” versus “after” weight loss pictures – fifteen minutes apart. I always knew that those were mostly fake, but it’s nice to have the entire process spelled out for me.
Scott Adams: I Hope My Father Dies Soon. “I don’t want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I’ll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I’d be happy to tell you the same thing to your face.” I have only engaged with this issue in an impersonal way so I have trouble going quite that far, but whatever the nice, nonconfrontational version of wanting people to die a painful death is, that kind of is how I feel about people who oppose doctor-assisted suicide.
You knew Mohammed moved a mountain, but did you know he also split the moon?
Coca-Cola in the Philippines cancels its advertising campaign to donate the money to typhoon relief. Is it a ploy to gain even more publicity/advertising? Probably. But I’m linking them anyway in the hopes the ploy works and other companies are encouraged to try similar “ploys”.
I’ve said in a couple of places I am about ten times more skeptical of multiple sclerosis research/”cures” than I am of research or “cures” found in other diseases, because its relapsing/remitting nature makes it very easy to get strong placebo and expectancy effects. Nevertheless, with thirteen years of research behind it this multiple sclerosis cure seems unusually promising. Shame about the five percent chance of death and necessity of completely destroying the immune system.
You remember that “Why I Make Terrible Decisions” article that went around a little while ago by a poor person talking about how rich people could never understand her suffering and why she made the choices she did? Turns out it was written by an upper-middle class person as part of a scam to get money from people (and surprise, surprise – it comes from Gawker). When combined with that waitress n-word flap and the other lesbian waitress flap it kind of makes you wonder – in a country full of poverty, hatred, and oppression, how come the examples of such that go viral on the blogosphere are so consistently lies? Is it because real oppression doesn’t always come with a flashing sign that says “OPPRESSION” perfectly tailored to incite your hatred and outrage?
A very similar article that has not yet been proven a lie: The Logic Of Stupid Poor People. As best I can tell, it is both true and important, yet it also means that anyone who ever criticizes a poor person for making an unwise purchase will be bludgeoned by thousands of angry netizens wielding this article until they beg for mercy.
Oh man, is there anything the implicit association test can’t do? Along with detecting racism and predicting suicide, now it can predict the success or failure of a marriage. Just do an IAT asking someone to associate their partner with good or bad adjectives, and it will reveal a subconscious bias for or against them which seems to predict future divorce rates.
This is something I’d been hearing hushed rumors about for a long time, so I’m glad it’s finally out in the open: Mice Inherit Specific Memories. If scientists teach a mouse to fear a certain odor (because it is associated with electric shock), that mouse’s children will fear that same odor – even when those children are produced through in vitro fertilization and have no contact with their parents. The stated reason is “epigenetics”, which sounds plausible, except that there are only ~25,000 coding genes in a mouse. Now, smells are actually coded pretty specifically in the genome, but let’s take another example from that same article – Pavlov’s claim that his mice inherited memories of associating food with the sound of a bell. There’s no way that’s genetically coded. Also, how do these things reach from the brain to the sperm/egg? Either these results are very very false, or something really spooky is going on here.
Just a reminder that I STILL don’t have anywhere to stay in New York this December better than Raemon’s crowded attic. If you live in NYC and are willing to let me stay with you, please send me an email at scott[at]shireroth[dot]org.