The Koran talks about a mysterious immortal figure named Khidr who travels the Middle East and hangs out with prophets. And the passages about him seem to have inspired some of the Jewish folk tales about Elijah I heard growing up.
Scientists find the gene that causes an entire family to be morbidly obese. Uninteresting in that most people probably don’t have it. Very interesting in that it’s yet more proof that obesity can have genetic causes.
This is more levels of hype inversion than I like in my stories. Scientists Prove God Exists says an ABC article, which then goes on to say that ha ha, of course scientists didn’t prove God exists, they were just making a joke for a snazzy headline. All that really happened was scientists proved Godel’s ontological proof of God’s existence was correct. But, uh, if a proof of God’s existence is correct, that should mean God exists. I feel like the article somewhat overlooks this important point.
A while back we discussed ability of wealth or poverty to continue over generations, with some interesting papers on slavery as examples. I recently found another one that agrees that past levels of slavery are not related to lower incomes, but are related to greater income inequality, presumably through decreased education of black people. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t get here – instead of measuring income inequality and assuming it was racial, why didn’t they measure income of blacks directly? Also, how does this square with our last paper that found that descendants of enslaved and free blacks had equal outcomes within two generations of emancipation?
Less Research Is Needed: an article on how much the author hates the phrase “more research is needed” and how in some cases it can be used to make debate interminable so that the “wrong” side of a controversial question can never be proved.
Reddit has a really good post by a Chinese citizen about their perspective on the Tiananmen Square incident. It would have been worth it if all I’d learned was the phrase “the events of May 35th”, which is how they get past censors screening for the date “June 4th”. But instead, I get a really complicated picture of the forces at play which almost make me feel sympathetic for the Chinese government. See also the post just underneath on the revival of meritocracy and Confucianism in China (possibly exaggerated).
I know nothing about this and it is probably bunk, but with that disclaimer: Fluid Tests Hint At A Concrete Quantum Reality. The ripples of certain kinds of oil droplets precisely reproduce a lot of the weirdest features of quantum mechanics on a macro scale. The explanation isn’t anything weird about probabilities, just some unusual interactions between the droplets and its own waves. If particles produce waves in space-time with the same kind of properties, that would go a long way to explaining the quantum world.
More on the debate about whether marijuana use causes schizophrenia: schizophrenia and cannabis use seem to share common genes.
Chimpanzees don’t like Western music, but do like music from Africa and India.
Solve all tornados by building a 1,000 foot high wall across the Midwest. As a bonus, keep out White Walkers. However, I for one am not anxious to trust our country’s safety to anyone with the photoshop skills displayed by the demonstration picture. WHAT ARE THOSE BOATS EVEN DOING?
United States renaming street with Chinese embassy after imprisoned Chinese dissident. Sounds sort of like something a four year old would do. Reddit suggests China rename street with our embassy to “Edward Snowden Lane”.
Neo-Nazi hipsters considered more hateable than regular neo-Nazis or regular hipsters. I feel bad about sharing this article, because it’s clearly one of those “Look at the people who are different than you! Mock them!” type pieces. But to be fair, these people are pretty mockable. And I was tickled by the sentence “In February, Tim and Kevin started Balaclava Kueche, Germany’s first Nazi vegan cooking show.”
I am enjoying Fake Liberal News Site Twitter. The big question is which is more on target – @vauxnews (“The president’s plan to circumvent today’s Supreme Court decision is not just legal, it’s brilliant. And he’s handsome. So, so handsome”) or @salondotcom (“Could this Baptist YouTuber that freaked out over “Ancient Aliens” be the new face of the religious right?”)?
Speaking of Vox, here’s there article on how the New York Times predicted the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand would be good for European peace.
From the Department Of What Now, Motherf@#&kers? : sex differences in mental rotation, a skill generally associated with mathematics ability, are greater in nations with greater gender equality. Offered explanations aren’t bad, but poor nonrandom sampling limits ability to draw many conclusions.
ISIS’ Plan For Global Domination (supposedly). Is it wrong to want the terrorists to win so we can have a country called “Qoqzaz”? Also, I imagine two ISIS members daring each other to try to draw Khurasan bigger and bigger, then laughing and keeping it on the map because they’re not going to achieve global domination anyway.
I was linked to this interesting but hard to believe paper on how the requirement that psychiatrists report homicide threats to the police significantly increased homicide rates, presumably because homicidal people were less willing to talk the problem out with their psychiatrist. I’m doubtful for many reasons – what percent of murderers see psychiatrists, what percent of them would bring up their homicidality even without the ruling, what percent of psychiatrists would be able to treat them effectively, and what percent of homicidal people even know what the laws on mandatory reporting are?
I’ve had some patients ask me the best way to disguise their scars. This is definitely the best way.
Practice Makes One-Third Perfect, The Other Two-Thirds Is Talent. Interesting example of scientific failure here: people found that people who were good at things had practiced longer than people who weren’t and so assumed that lots of practice (rather than talent) led to success. More sophisticated investigation suggests that talent leads to minor success which leads to motivation to continue practicing which leads to lots of practice which leads to success.
We know the recession is officially over because Dubai has started building crazy huge useless buildings again.
Not only is truth stranger than fiction, it has better monsters. Here’s the Black Swallower. Make sure to read the section that tells how known specimens came to be collected.
Sky Kingdom is a Malaysian cult which is best known for having a giant two-story teapot in the middle of their compound.
Telegony is the ancient and medieval idea that a woman’s children could inherit characteristics not only from their father, but from all the woman’s previous sexual partners. It was seriously defended right up until the real mechanisms of genetics were pinned down in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I wonder how much influence that had on ideas of sexual purity.
From there I did some Wikipedia link-clicking to learn that the Telegony is also the name of a sequel to the Odyssey, and that in fact there is a whole Epic Cycle of which the Odyssey and Iliad are only a part. And it ends with all of Odysseus’ sons hooking up with all of Odysseus’ sexual partners, which I guess isn’t especially weird for a Greek myth.
The latest development in the brave new post-Bitcoin world is crypto-equity. At this point I’ve gone from wanting to praise these inventors as bold libertarian heroes to wanting to drag them in front of a blackboard and making them write a hundred times “I WILL NOT CALL UP THAT WHICH I CANNOT PUT DOWN”
Ozy and I are staying in the Mount Washington Hotel in the White Mountains right now, so here’s a New Hampshire hotel story for you. When the Supreme Court ruled in favor of eminent domain for creating useful public buildings like hotels, the residents of a town in New Hampshire where a Supreme Court justice owned property organized a movement to seize his house and turn it into a hotel called The Lost Liberty Inn.