"Talks a good game about freedom when out of power, but once he’s in – bam! Everyone's enslaved in the human-flourishing mines."

More Links For August

The man who set the world record for fastest drive across the US did it in 28 hours 50 minutes in a heavily modded car, with one ear to the police scanner at all times.

Weird politics: Why Is A Major Green Group Backing A Republican Who Supports The Keystone Pipeline? Answer: environmentalist groups are following some corporations in donating to natural opponents of their cause who are a little less bad than other people from their party, in the hopes of giving opposing politicians an incentive to moderate their views.

More weird politics: Republicans push for over-the-counter birth control, are informed that their attempts to help women are an evil plot to disguise the fact that they never try to help women.

I knew the classical world was big into religious syncretism, but this is going a little too far: Hermanubis

Academic urban legends. Where did the legend that spinach was full of iron come from? Where did the legend about the source of the legend that spinach was full of iron come from? A good case study in following footnotes. (h/t Kate Donovan)

An observation: any politicized childrens’ book that agrees with your own views seems like a fun and educational way to teach your kids to be good prosocial citizens. Any politicized childrens’ book that disagrees with your own views seems like extremely creepy propaganda. In that spirit, here’s Amazon’s page for My Parents Open Carry. The second best part is the customer reviews (samples: “Can’t wait for the sequel, My Black Parents Open Carried Until the Police Shot Them 146 Times” and “If only the title was My Two Moms Open Carry, the Pulitzer would be already decided.”) Best part is the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section, which starts with Raising Boys Feminists Will Hate and only gets worse from there.

People often talk about the culture of “everyone getting prizes for participation” as if it is something that psychobabble-spouting bureaucrats push to condescend to the underqualified. But a recent poll suggests a much more heartbreaking picture – the richer, whiter, and better educated you are, the less likely you support prizes-for-everybody and the more likely you are to support winner-take-all. In other words, the people saying everyone’s participation should be celebrated whether they win or not are probably the people who don’t expect to win very often 🙁 This was genuinely surprising and distressing to me (h/t Marginal Revolution)

Related: What happened when Wellesley declared war on grade inflation? Some good – students started switching away from majors known for rampant grade inflation to “harder” majors like STEM and economics. But also some bad – students gave professors worse ratings and complained that they were at a job market disadvantage compared to students from other colleges with inflated grades. Article concludes with “In the grade inflation arms race, Wellesley disarmed unilaterally,” which seems like as good a description as any for their prosocial but self-harming decision.

There’s an old joke that if you name your daughter Chastity, she’s sure to become a nymphomaniac. So what happens if you name your son Douglas MacArthur McCain?

One of the quickest transitions from “neat theory” to “full experiment on humans” I’ve ever seen: Alzheimers Patients Will Be Injected With The Blood Of Young People.

Related to Robin Hanson’s Near-Far distinction: “When nonpregnant people are asked if they would have an abortion if their fetus tested positive for Down syndrome, 23-33% said yes; when high-risk pregnant women were asked, 46-86% said yes, and when women who screened positive [for actually having a fetus with Down syndrome] are asked, 89-97% said yes.” [source]

This essay on “Excellent Sheep” is one of the most devastating book reviews I have read, especially the last sentence.

Five years ago, Janet Mertz changed the women-in-math debate by pointing out that cultures with high gender equality (as measured by various factors) also had higher female math performance (relative to men), suggesting that female math underpeformance was cultural rather than biological. Since then there have been several counterarguments, including another paper by Mertz herself finding that by a different measure of math ability, women in more gender-equal cultures have worse math performance relative to men. Now things get even weirder with a study showing that men and women in more gender-equal cultures (by some of the same measures Mertz uses) have more similar digit-length ratios, a measure of sex hormone exposure in utero. This would suggest that women are getting a more masculine hormone pattern (or men a more feminine one, or both) in such cultures. For example, the correlation between percent of parliamentary seats held by women in a country and the left-handed digit ratio of women in that country is significant at the p < .0001 level. On Facebook, Carl Shulman questioned some of the statistics and brought up the possible explanation that gender-equal countries tend to be richer and so may have a different diet than less-equal countries. Another possibility I find plausible is that although they claim to be evaluating 29 countries, they're actually finding a broader category difference (Northern Europe vs. Southern Europe, for example, since almost all countries involved are European) and the finding is driven by a genetic tendency for Northern Europeans to have lower digit ratio difference, plus Northern European countries being more gender-equal. Still another possibility is the hormone disruptor chemicals in plastics. (h/t Claire Lehman) Here's a news article I definitely fault for its statistics: Marijuana use involved in more fatal accidents in Colorado after it became legalized for medical use. If true, this would be a big deal to me since I previously suggested the utilitarian calculus on marijuana legalization was dominated by its effect on car accidents. But the news article fails to prove anything – it’s just measuring the percent of drivers in accidents who tested positive for marijuana, but marijuana stays in the urine for about a month. So it’s only telling you what percent of accident victims used marijuana in the past month – and of course that’s going to increase after marijuana gets legalized, because everyone uses more marijuana.

I find this much more convincing and relevant: In States That Legalize Medical Marijuana, Opiate Painkiller Deaths Drop By 25%. To save you the trouble of looking it up, 25% of the US’ yearly opiate painkiller deaths is about 4,000 people.

Midas Touch is a beer made to exactly reproduce the 8th-century beer found in King Midas’ tomb and which has already won awards from the beer community. Now the archaeologist who inspired it is working on commercializing alcoholic drinks faithfully based off the ones from ancient Egypt, ancient Peru, and ancient China.

Speaking of overly intellectual things to eat, Slate Star Codex readers Romeo Stevens and John Maxwell are starting to test sell their MealSquares, a more actual-food-resembling competitor to Soylent. I’ve ordered a box just to try them out – and because my girlfriend occasionally gets stuck in a mental trap where they are too hungry to prepare anything to eat and so sits around getting more and more miserable, and these seem like a healthy solution. Website is here, but actual order page is hidden here (h/t Kate Donovan)

Climate geo-engineering is experiencing an exciting reclassification from “thing everyone agrees is a bad idea” to “thing everyone still agrees is a bad idea, but which we’ll probably have to do anyway, because we are too much of a civilizational basketcase to implement a safer solution”. Scientists in the field suggest it could reverse some of the effects of global warming for $5 to $10 billion. Compared to the cost of stopping climate change (potentially in the trillions) or the costs of climate change itself (potentially in the tens of trillions) that looks amazingly cheap. And there’s no downside whatsoever, unless you count accidentally destroying the world by meddling in a system you don’t understand as a downside. Article also worthwhile for its example of nominative determinism – a Dr. Caldeira who studies volcanic eruptions.

Vox – The Uber recruitment scandal isn’t scandalous. Uber decided to pay for rides with Lyft drivers in order to convince them en route to switch to working for Uber. In the process of buying thousands of rides, some of them inevitably got cancelled, and this was framed as “Uber cancelling rides to sabotage Lyft”. My takeaway: the Uber-driving market is so competitive that companies are actually poaching employees from each other. An industry where people without college degrees or expensive government-granted licenses can get jobs without having to beg pathetically or do years of unpaid internships! Get it now before someone figures out how to make it illegal!

Do Poverty Traps Exist? Assessing The Evidence. Study in Journal of Economic Perspectives concludes: “Overall, our view of the existing literature finds no strong evidence for many of the common mechanisms theorized to give rise to poverty traps…while the evidence indicates that poverty traps are rare, this does not mean they can never exist. The clearest evidence for traps appears to come from people being trapped in low-productivity locations. Policy efforts to lower the barriers to internal and international mobility therefore appear to offer large potential payoffs in terms of taking people out of poverty.”

Very closely related: Childhood family income, adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: quasi-experimental total population study. The question: does poverty cause crime, in the way everyone from Aristotle to the song Officer Krupke assumes? The answer: once “unobserved family risk factors” were taken into account, poverty had no ability to explain criminality rates. I can’t access the full text of the paper, but what I gather from Psychological Comments and The Economist was that the study investigated families who started poor, had children, became wealthier, and then had other children – such that some children were raised in poverty and others in relative affluence. The children raised in poverty were no more likely to commit crimes than the children raised in affluence, suggesting that “unobserved family risk factors” and not poverty per se account for the increased criminality rates among poor families. Tempting to say parents learn certain habits in poverty that they inculcate their children even after they are less poor, but other studies already show parental inculcation (in terms of shared environment) has very weak effect. So social scientists leap to the only possible remaining explanation: the siblings raised in poverty are controlling the cultural development of the siblings raised in affluence and are forcing their poverty-influenced memes into the heads of their younger brothers and sisters. Never change, social science. Never change.

Rational Conspiracy: What Is A Copy? Just in case you hadn’t already decided that personal identity is a hopelessly confused philosophical concept and needs to be jettisoned. Sandorzoo and Katja’s comments seem especially good.

I’m sorry I’m throwing all of these really dense study links at you tonight, but this one is too good to pass up: A Critical Reanalysis Of The Relationship Between Genomics And Well-Being. You may remember Fredrickson et al recently published a study purporting to show that the “connectedness and sense of purpose” of helping others can influence gene expression in positive ways, but the selfish pleasures of “hedonic happiness” do not. A re-analysis by a team including James Coyne proves that their statistical methods were so overpowered that they would give “significant results” 69% of the time by chance alone, and proved it by re-running their analysis on totally random data and continuing to find a strong “effect”. I like this methodology.

Vox on the Hamas-Israel cease-fire: who wins and who loses? Guessed before opening article that the Palestinian people would lose; was not proven wrong. Everything substantive stays much the same as it was before the mini-war, just as it did after the last couple of mini-wars. At this point, I think Israeli wars should be thought of less as any attempt to change things, and more as some sort of horrible tension-release cycle like forest fires in national parks where apparent crisis is just part of an inevitable return to equilibrium. At this point I feel like any change, to the advantage of either side, would be a welcome occurrence in breaking the incentives both have to maintain status quo.

Lobbies Of Detroit. I was in one of these for a psychiatry conference a few months ago.

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176 Responses to More Links For August

  1. Charlie says:

    Brb, going to go edit into wikipedia that Hermanubis is the god of interpreting writings.

    Ancient beers are cool, but are often forced into inaccuracy by modern regulation on barley content. The FDA actually cares – much like how if you try to cut the cream out of your ice cream for a cheaper product, they make you call it “frozen dessert.”

    Not sure of level of sarcasm on poverty-crime study. I thought the standard position was that there were causal arrows going in both directions between poverty and culture. Different things are “contingent” vs. “innate” depending on what time scale you look on.

  2. AR+ says:

    Meal Squares! I’ve been waiting for these, and now I can buy them before people who submitted their e-mail to be told when they’re available (like me) get told about them.

    If you eat nothing but Meal Squares and have a 2000 Cal/day diet, that’s 12.5 $/day or about 4.6 k$/year.

    I wonder how long they keep. These would be ideal food stockpile items if they can last a while. No need to sacrifice sound nutrition or tasty food just because you’re in a disaster area!

    I ordered 4 boxes.

    Should I order some of those square white dessert plates to serve them on, I wonder? I know that this may yet improve other people’s reaction to them by a significant amount, as opposed to tossing them one in its pack. But then I’d have to do dishes, which is one of the things Meal Squares are supposed to let you avoid…

    I am mildly amused and distressed that I’m more excited about experimental healthy cookies than I have been about anything else in recent memory.

    • Hi!
      (Thanks for the shoutout Scott.) Just FYI this is still a beta so we’re a little rough around the edges. We’re doing this stealth beta to work out the kinks in our supply chain and shipping process. Shelf life in the cupboard: 2 weeks, maybe a bit more. Shelf life in the fridge (which we recommend to maximize resistant starch content also) 2+ months. We hope that by consulting with food scientists and packaging experts we can get them shelf stable, it shouldn’t be impossibly hard since the ingredients are almost all shelf stable. The coconut oil helps.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        I hope I didn’t blow your cover on the stealth thing. I figured since there were “share on social media” buttons all over the page you weren’t trying to keep it a secret.

        • Yeah, we figured it would seep out via our social graph. Worst case scenario people have to wait in the queue a bit longer. Once things are smooth in a couple more weeks we’ll be announcing it to our email waiting list.

      • Dorikka says:

        Glad that this is taking off. Any guestimate of the ETA? Weeks? Months? Years?

        • You mean for shipping? No guarantees. Something more like “weeks” with a worst case scenario of “months” if and only if we run into a major unforeseen roadblock. Unlike Soylent we cleared health permits, a supply pipeline, and set up facilities BEFORE taking orders.

      • Berna says:

        Can’t wait until they’re available in the Netherlands!

    • tadrinth says:

      I started to order four boxes, and then I realized that was enough food for a month and I didn’t even know if I liked the taste or what the shelf life was like. Now I’ll probably be sad when the first box runs out and there’s a waiting list to get more, instead. =P

      SO EXCITED ALSO!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Interesting links – especially meal squares, which look like something I might actually eat consistently without drastically decreasing my enjoyment of life, unlike most similar products I’ve seen before. I would have probably waited for nonpartisan reviews before buying anyways, so the fact that they refuse to sell outside the US at present doesn’t bother me much.

    Re: The Chastity and Douglas Arthur McCain joke – I was about halfway through coming up with a joke about what names this rule suggests we ought to give to children, when I realized Pratchett did it first and better in Lords and Ladies, so I’ll just quote him because Pratchett is a better writer than I could ever hope to be:

    Well, it’s like this . . . The Carter parents were a quiet and respectable Lancre family who got into a bit of a mix-up when it came to naming their children. First, they had four daughters, who were christened Hope, Chastity, Prudence, and Charity, because naming girls after virtues is an ancient and unremarkable tradition. Then their first son was born and out of some misplaced idea about how this naming business was done he was called Anger Carter, followed later by Jealousy Carter, Bestiality Carter, and Covetousness Carter. Life being what it is, Hope turned out to be a depressive, Chastity was enjoying life as a lady of negotiable affection in Ankh-Morpork, Prudence had thirteen children, and Charity expected to get a dollar’s change out of seventy-five pence – whereas the boys had grown into amiable, well-tempered men, and Bestiality Carter was, for example, very kind to animals.

  4. lmm says:

    Isn’t the obvious explanation for the digit length result that correlation runs in the opposite direction? Suppose some countries have smaller physical differences between gen^H^Hsexes. Wouldn’t we then expect those countries to become more gender-equal (due to, like, having more woman who are good at male jobs and the like) than countries where physical sex differences are more pronounced?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Yes, I should have made it clearer that I was discussing possible flaws in the study that could confound that (which I interpret as the study’s intended conclusion)

      Although there are some more qualms to that. Why would different countries have different biological gender differences? Genetics? And why would gender equality correlate so well with level of national income? A model in which decreased gender differences drives First Worldness and industrialization (maybe through less violence and more cooperation by less testosterone-heavy men) would work, but that’s hanging a *lot* of stuff one one digit-length study.

  5. John says:

    The Israeli strategy for the tension-release cycle that you noticed has been described by the Israeli’s as “cutting the grass”. The name makes it even more terrible I think.

    • Erebus says:

      I’ve seen this mentioned repeatedly, but I’ve never seen a primary source for it. Got one?

      If, as I suspect, one Israeli individual once referred to that tension release cycle (which was arguably instigated by Gazan rocket-fire) as “cutting the grass”, it would be disingenuous to imply that the metaphor is a common one across Israel. Therefore, it would be more accurate to say that the tension release cycle “was once described by an Israeli as ‘cutting the grass.'”

    • suntzuanime says:

      Would it be better if it were called “watering the tree of Liberty”?

  6. zslastman says:

    I don’t understand what was surprising or distressing about the “winner take all” result. Although I imagine that people are being selfish as much on behalf of their kids and friends as themselves.

    • I sort of have the impression that kids have never viewed participation trophies as being more meaningful than they actually are, or allowed them to affect their self-esteem at all. The trophies’ actual function is to satisfy parents’ expectation that they’ll get some kind of return on their investment, even if it’s only symbolic.

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        ‘Winner-take-all’ vs ‘equal trophies for everyone’ are not the only alternatives; there are also second prize, third prize, runners-up, and honorable mentions, even something for showing up and trying. But calling all these things ‘trophies’, destroys the meaning of ‘trophy’. An actual best performance does deserve some recognition; even if some people are excluded, the ones who are included do work hard competing with each other, and better and better performances are achieved.

        I’m thinking here of contests from college level to Olympics level. A good point is raised below; at younger levels, destroying the meaning of trophy avoids drama from parents.

    • I, too, was perplexed about why Scott was perplexed. Isn’t it obvious that the ones who are likely to win are more likely to support winner-takes-all? Perhaps Scott has a less cynical model of humanity than I do.

      • Army1987 says:

        I assumed Scott was being sarcastic there.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, accidentally reported this comment…

      • JTHM says:

        I’ve received participation trophies before, and they’ve never felt to me like anything other than an underhanded compliment. It’s not just that I don’t like others getting them; I don’t even like getting them myself.

    • Muga Sofer says:

      Well, I was surprised because a) I hadn’t thought about it and b) it runs faintly counter to stereotypes, and thus my assumed model of the world.

      I wouldn’t cal it *distressing*, exactly, but it is a depressing mental image – that some people feel so useless.

    • Andy says:

      What’s distressing to me about the disdain for “participation trophies” and “Winner-take-all” in juvenile sports is the ingrained-in-some-parents notion that you only count if you’re the best. I was never in youth sports myself, but I’ve heard terrifying anecdotes about parents emotionally abusing their children who didn’t win – ‘I didn’t raise you to second place,’ ‘how could you humiliate me like that’ – essentially parents tying their own status to having children who win, not children who play.
      Participation trophies (and the more nebulous concept of “good sportsmanship”) are part of what I see as Scott’s definition of niceness and civilization – you showed up, you followed the rules, you respected people even when you were competing with them, you deserve some recognition. In the long run, the competition doesn’t matter; having exercise and having fun and teamwork and sportsmanship matter more than victory. And the people who can’t be gracious in both victory and defeat should be taken out and shot as an example to others.

      • Anonymous says:

        Participation trophies (and the more nebulous concept of “good sportsmanship”) are part of what I see as Scott’s definition of niceness and civilization – you showed up, you followed the rules, you respected people even when you were competing with them, you deserve some recognition.

        I might be okay with that, but currently even the kids who don’t do those things very well get the trophies, so not even that meaning works. (In a below you call the trophies “incentive manifestation”, but they’re too constitutive to be incentives in my experience.)

        Related thing I used to really hate when I played youth team sports: coaches who tried to find something to praise everyone for in checklist fashion. Because when your Daily Praise was for carrying out some routine task with basic competence (e.g. running through first base instead of slowing to stop on it), it felt like they didn’t have much confidence that you could pull off something *actually* impressive by the end of the game or practice–they better praise you now, because they don’t expect to get another chance!

        I actually kind of hate compliments in general because I infer surprise into them and hence feel insulted, but this was a bit different.

    • Randy M says:

      I was surprised that no connection was noted between that and the next link. Maybe the juxtaposition was enough.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I expected selfishness. Therefore I did not expect this.

      I expected that the parents who support trophies for winners to be those of children with a chance of being winners at sports. But this is a very small population and not so strongly correlated with race and income. Why do people who expect to win at life support winner take all for winning at sports?

      I suppose that rich whites have sport fragmentation, so it is much easier for their children to win a sport than the poor who only play the most popular sports. But I think this is only true at the high end.

      Probably the answer is that people who expect to win at life support being competitive in general, perhaps as practice for being competitive where it matters.

      • Probably the answer is that people who expect to win at life support being competitive in general, perhaps as practice for being competitive where it matters.

        I’m pretty certain that this is the case. It’s pretty much the only reason that I have for wanting my kids to get into sports, despite the fact that I don’t otherwise care about sports.

        • Andy says:

          It’s pretty much the only reason that I have for wanting my kids to get into sports, despite the fact that I don’t otherwise care about sports.

          Forgive me if this is verging too close to the personal, but I am curious: Would you be teaching your kids to win at all costs, that victory is all that matters, and that, as someone put it the the Moloch comments, “but it’s no fun if it’s just a game.” IE, would you be okay with your kid saying “I’m going to try my best, but whether my team wins or loses this football game, I’m going to be happy with myself”?
          Disclosure: As I mentioned above, I am vehemently anti-anti-participation trophy. I am not for them for their own sake; I see them as a manifestation of a desirable set of norms emphasizing sportsmanship and mutual respect, saying to everyone whether they win or not: “You are valued. You are worthy, and this game’s result does not determine your worth in the long run.” The participation trophies are the incentive manifestation, and penalties for unsportsmanlike behavior are a necessary deterrent.

        • I will encourage my kids to enjoy competition, since competitiveness is correlated with winning at life, but I certainly don’t intend to teach them that “winning is everything”, etc., at least not in the sense that you seem to have in mind. The core of sportsmanship is learning to be gracious in victory and honorable in defeat, which are virtues in many areas of life. The issue with “participation trophies” is mostly that they attempt to eliminate the defeat, and deny the losers the chance to learn how to lose.

          In fact, most of the neurotic risk-avoidance behavior that I see is precisely from people who never learned how to lose, rather than from people who were taught to be too competitive about winning.

        • Randy M says:

          “You are valued. You are worthy, and this game’s result does not determine your worth in the long run.”

          How about teaching them those things in another context? That is, must every message children receive be “You’re special just how you are?” I suppose you’d also extend this to non-sports areas, right? Every student in the spelling bee (not just the finals, either) should be rewarded, regardless of whether they studied or not? Every boy scout should get every badge, even if they just show up the first and last meeting of the year?

        • Andy says:

          How about teaching them those things in another context? That is, must every message children receive be “You’re special just how you are?” I suppose you’d also extend this to non-sports areas, right? Every student in the spelling bee (not just the finals, either) should be rewarded, regardless of whether they studied or not? Every boy scout should get every badge, even if they just show up the first and last meeting of the year?

          Nope. Spelling matters. Scouting matters, and teaches valuable skills. AYSO soccer, peewee football and hockey, Little League – they don’t matter, beyond the sometimes-useful motor skills and general fitness developed. I think participation trophies should be awarded to kids who didn’t miss a game without a medical excuse or family emergency, thus “participation” means showing up, getting out on the field, showing up to practices, etc.
          But sports, for some odd reason, is a very high-status area of competition, with a limited number of opportunities for the high-status jobs. And in my (admittedly limited) experience, it’s something some parents put their kids through a lot of hell over, and it’s probably not going to matter when the kid’s 30 or 40 whether he was on the local champion Little League team or somewhere in the middle or at the bottom.

          …In fact, most of the neurotic risk-avoidance behavior that I see is precisely from people who never learned how to lose, rather than from people who were taught to be too competitive about winning.

          Good that you’ll be teaching honor. But I do quibble on your interpretation – it’s not the recipients of the “participation trophies” I worry about in this effect, it’s the ones who’ve been on the top of the status hierarchies all their lives.
          Time for a digression on my favorite subject: American Civil War history. I apologize, but I feel that it’s relevant.
          Fairly early in the war, with most of the experienced officers defecting to the South, command of the Union’s primary army fell on George McClellan, who had come from an upper-class family, graduated second in his class at West Point, had a careers as a railroad executive, youngest brigadier general in the Army’s history, victorious campaign in West Virginia… he’d gone nowhere but up, up, up. When he was in command, however, he was so paralyzed by the thought of defeat that he wildly exaggerated enemy numbers (he was perpetually convinced that the main Confederate army facing him had twice his numbers, instead of the other way around) and took his army into battle very slowly and over-cautiously, allowing the Confederates under Robert E. Lee to dance around him. If numbers had been even, Lee probably would have won the war during McClellan’s tenure rather than fighting to a stalemate.
          Contrast Ulysses Grant, who had been a mediocre cadet at West Point and had been forced out of the army in disgrace for his alcoholism. He’d failed in the army, failed in business; if not for the war, he probably would have died in total obscurity. After the war started, his political connections got him command of a regiment in the officer-starved Union army, and he rose to command of an army in the West, away from the media spotlight that helped keep McClellan paralyzed. He took the strategic stronghold of Vicksburg, which the Confederates had assumed was impregnable, and helped open the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, reversing a war that looked like a sure Confederate victory. This was after several failed attempts, but he refused to give up, even when his close friend Sherman thought it was impossible. He went on to be commander of the entire Union army, helped win the Civil War, and became President – not our best, but still a hell of an accomplishment.
          Grant had been at the bottom, and knew he could survive it. He did the job with what he had, despite terrible terrain challenges and political opponents gunning for him. McClellan couldn’t bear the thought of losing, and mindtrapped himself into defeat.
          On to participation trophies. When kids are told in sports that there’s two options – succeed or fail, and failure means all your effort is nothing – the winners can be paralyzed by anything but winning. Participation trophies are a tangible reminder to the winners and losers that winning and losing in sports aren’t everything. I don’t like them being handed out mechanically, and I’d support getting rid of them if there was another institutional way – by which I mean a way coded into the youth sports structure – to reinforce that meme and reward participation and play and perseverance regardless of points scored or games won. Perhaps a party at the end of the season with no uniforms, for all teams together?

        • Jaskologist says:

          Quibble: spelling does not matter, especially not in terms of being able to speak it aloud on the first try, as is done in spelling bees. This job has largely been replaced by computers.

        • Anonymous says:

          Spelling matters. Scouting matters, and teaches valuable skills. AYSO soccer, peewee football and hockey, Little League – they don’t matter, beyond the sometimes-useful motor skills and general fitness developed

          So it’s not really about trophies or winning and losing, you just hate sports.

          Spelling and all the scouting skills combined matter not at all compared with “motor skills and general fitness”. Ask your doctor.

        • Andy says:

          Quibble: spelling does not matter, especially not in terms of being able to speak it aloud on the first try, as is done in spelling bees. This job has largely been replaced by computers.

          It does matter, especially when you’re working with computer programs that don’t do spelling for you, or an autocorrect that does Bad Bad things. I used to spellcheck emails for a boss of mine who wasn’t a native English speaker – she stopped using autocorrect after it accidentally made her proposition the owner of the company. I mentioned mapmaking below – I really don’t want Autocorrect checking street or city names for me, with the number of variations-on-a-theme that can come up. And spelling mistakes are just a terrible thing to include on a professional map. Being able to remember how words are spelled can help you when it comes to funny proper names, especially proper names that are variations on an existing name – see the discussion of “McAuthur” elsewhere on this thread.

        • Andy says:

          So it’s not really about trophies or winning and losing, you just hate sports.

          Spelling and all the scouting skills combined matter not at all compared with “motor skills and general fitness”. Ask your doctor.

          1. I hate being told what I think. Comment reported for rudeness.
          2. There’s a lot of ways to increase motor skills and general fitness without competing. As a dyspraxic kid, yeah, I hated sports when everything was about who won and who lost, because then I was the leper. When it was just running around and having fun and nobody was keeping score – ie, when it doesn’t matter who wins – I loved them. I loved the endorphins, I loved the movement. It’s why I love marathons even though I’d never enter one – most people know they’re not going to win, but it’s an achievement to complete one.

          The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

          ‘Nuff said.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          “You are valued. You are worthy, and this game’s result does not determine your worth in the long run.”

          How about teaching them those things in another context? That is, must every message children receive be “You’re special just how you are?” I suppose you’d also extend this to non-sports areas, right? Every student in the spelling bee (not just the finals, either) should be rewarded, regardless of whether they studied or not? Every boy scout should get every badge, even if they just show up the first and last meeting of the year?

          At the risk of repeating myself: why on earth would we want to teach poor people *that*? If you’re rich, you can pay for a private education so your kids can get positive affirmation to instill them with a sense of agency. If you aren’t, don’t we kind of WANT you resigned to your fate, so you don’t risk rebelling?

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I hold to a definite moderate position on participation trophies, which holds that trying is what actually matters but glorifying winning helps make sure we try to win rather than trying to try, but we also don’t want participants who lose to be too upset.

          I’ve always thought the idea of anti-participation-trophyism was that the trophy should be a symbol reserved for glorifying victory; I don’t think anyone’s upset by rewarding participation with, say, a t-shirt, or giving out a pin for perfect attendance. That said, typical mind fallacy probably leads me to overestimate the average American sports parent. And it also doesn’t really make sense to be so attached to a particular use of a particular symbol. But there is a valid underlying concern about trying to win vs. trying to try.

        • Andy says:

          If you’re rich, you can pay for a private education so your kids can get positive affirmation to instill them with a sense of agency. If you aren’t, don’t we kind of WANT you resigned to your fate, so you don’t risk rebelling?

          Not if you want stability, you don’t!
          There is a difference between
          “I hate this, but I can’t do anything about this, so I might as well live with it,”
          and
          “This isn’t the best, but I can be happy with it.”
          The former will explode into rebellion as soon as a plausible-looking alternative shows up.
          The second will ignore plausible alternatives because of sufficiency. And is generally more in line with kindness and community.
          Being nice to people is the second-best, most counter-intuitive counterinsurgency strategy. The most effective, most obvious strategy, of course, is genocide. But the path of niceness, community, and civilization is easier and less smelly.

        • Jaskologist says:

          @Andy,

          Your latest just makes it sound all the more like you want participation ribbons for sports because you’re bad at sports, but you still want the things you’re good at to have the real trophies.

          It is precisely because sports don’t matter that they’re great for offering kids achievement-based trophies. They can learn to apply themselves on something that is enjoyable, and when they fail it doesn’t have real consequences.

          Heck, a lot of the benefit of sports comes from the fact that they don’t matter. People can channel their tribalism and say horrible things about those people supporting the other team/tribe, and then all shake hands and remain friends at the game’s end. And hey, if we also build up our fitness, camaraderie, and perseverance in the process, what a nice bonus!

          (Please note that I am saying all this as somebody who never earned a sports trophy myself, and indeed hated sports as a child because I wasn’t good at them.)

        • Grant had been at the bottom, and knew he could survive it.

          I think we’re in almost total agreement here. When I was little I was engaged in wrestling, baseball, and football, but I swiftly quit both wrestling and baseball, and played football through the 8th grade. I was always resolutely mediocre, and I lost a lot. This is the sort of thing that I think sports teach well.

          Of course, if you never lose at sports, and never lose at anything else, then you’ll never learn this lesson. My broader point is that parents should make their kids do a few things that they’re not very good at (though not things that they absolutely hate–though I was never very good at football, I did enjoy it.)

        • Andy says:

          Your latest just makes it sound all the more like you want participation ribbons for sports because you’re bad at sports, but you still want the things you’re good at to have the real trophies.

          But I am not good at movies, I don’t particularly enjoy them outside of a narrow range, but I still enjoy watching the Oscars. I do have favorites, even if I haven’t seen them. (I acknowledge that this is illogical, but it’s how I work.) Photography, I am not very good at, but I’m part of a student organization that runs an annual photo contest. The prizes aren’t much – $10-20 gift cards to school stores – but they’re real prizes.
          And I do expect the Olympics, for example, to have the medals, and those medals matter. But what I expect out of youth sports, when almost nobody has skills and many parents are horrible, a public acknowledgement of effort regardless of winning seems like a good idea. The Olympics, by the way, do precisely this by the implicit (and sometimes explicit) acknowledgement that everybody’s a champion among mortals.

          It is precisely because sports don’t matter that they’re great for offering kids achievement-based trophies. They can learn to apply themselves on something that is enjoyable, and when they fail it doesn’t have real consequences.
          Heck, a lot of the benefit of sports comes from the fact that they don’t matter. People can channel their tribalism and say horrible things about those people supporting the other team/tribe, and then all shake hands and remain friends at the game’s end. And hey, if we also build up our fitness, camaraderie, and perseverance in the process, what a nice bonus!

          Funny, I think that’s exactly why youth sports in particular need of effort-based trophies. I suspect, but have no evidence, that participation trophies came about because leagues and organizations were having trouble controlling parents who were emotionally blackmailing their kids with “I didn’t raise you to lose!/if you loved me, you’d have won!” bullshittery. In lieu of being able to impose such sanctions, leagues chose to implement participation trophies to try to undo the damage caused by horrible parents and horrible peers.
          Otherwise, I think we’re in full agreement on the tribal value of sports. I’ve in the past thought that sports events could work as a substitute for war in resolving international disputes – instead of having tank divisions roll over a nice bit of countryside, two nations can play a sporting event to determine ownership of that bit of countryside. As I learned more about insurgency and counterinsurgency I decided that wasn’t going to work, but my old idealism occasionally resurfaces.

          (Please note that I am saying all this as somebody who never earned a sports trophy myself, and indeed hated sports as a child because I wasn’t good at them.)

          That does help.
          By the way, this entire conversation has been very helpful to me in outlining a novel-length piece of lesbian fanfiction centering on two college athletes, where sportsmanship – to the point of being willing to date opposing players – is equated to civilization, and the “winning is the only thing that matters; if you didn’t win, you weren’t trying hard enough; defeat the enemy at all costs” is equated to barbarism. So thank you to everyone involved here.

          My broader point is that parents should make their kids do a few things that they’re not very good at (though not things that they absolutely hate–though I was never very good at football, I did enjoy it.)

          This makes sense. I didn’t do a lot of sports outside of school-mandated PE classes, but I did digital animation and film production in middle school, and journalism in high school. Not terribly good at either, but they id help me figure out what I did and didn’t want to do.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I thought the causation runs in the opposite direction. People with the attitude that you need to earn what you get will work harder, and therefore will be the ones who succeed at life. People who want a prize for showing up won’t.

        I think my view matches the general public’s view as well, hence the complaining about participation trophies for kids. The complaint isn’t that you’re condescending; it’s that you’re teaching kids not work and turning them into underqualified people.

        • Andy says:

          you’re teaching kids not work

          Here I disagree. Why is winning the only sign of actually working? You can play your heart out, and someone else can still win. Just because someone else won doesn’t mean your effort was meaningless.

        • The Lack of a Name says:

          The other possibility is that it’s correlated in the other direction. Successful white people believe that you can succeed simply by working hard, and therefore think that “winning” is a synonym for “actually trying”. People who aren’t successful or white don’t believe that, and so they think that people should get trophies for participation.

        • Andy says:

          Successful white people believe that you can succeed simply by working hard, and therefore think that “winning” is a synonym for “actually trying”.

          I like this hypothesis. I wonder how one would go about testing it?

        • The Lack of a Name says:

          Probably with a survey. There might be some selection bias, but I can’t really think of another good way to find out people’s views.

        • Jaskologist says:

          You can play your heart out, and someone else can still win.

          All the better, actually. So you’re not just teaching them to work hard (necessary, but not sufficient), you’re teaching them that results matter most. This is how success out in the real world works.

        • Creutzer says:

          All the better, actually. So you’re not just teaching them to work hard (necessary, but not sufficient), you’re teaching them that results matter most. This is how success out in the real world works.

          That is a really bad idea, because it teaches them that hard work is not rewarded and makes them feel powerless, training them to have weak feelings of agency. This is equally damaging to both the winners and the losers.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Do we want to teach kids how to handle losing, or not?

          Hard work is not always rewarded. As I said, it is necessary for success, but not sufficient. It also has to be the right kind of hard work. Often, you need a healthy helping of luck as well. And even with all that, there’s always going to be somebody bigger and stronger who will be able to beat you. That’s life. Better they learn it on the field when it doesn’t matter than off the field when it does.

        • Creutzer says:

          You’re actually right, it seems to me that there is a balance to be struck between preventing overconfidence and encouraging an agenty disposition. I guess the lack of feelings of agency is just the more salient side of the issue for me. Now I have no idea where the right middle-line is.

        • Andy says:

          Do we want to teach kids how to handle losing, or not?

          Of course we do. I think “only winning matters” is just a terribly shitty way to do this. I think “you lost, so you’re worthless” (which is how I read “only winners get a trophy”) is NOT teaching kids how to handle losing.
          What participation trophies do, if done right, is say “You showed up. You separated yourself from everyone sitting on the sidelines. You paid your dues.” And that’s how to handle losing in a field where winning or losing isn’t going to have external consequences.
          Let me give you an example from this summer. I’m a Geography student, working on a focus in cartography. I entered a map I made in map competitions at two different conferences. I didn’t win in either – in one, there were just so many other entries from professionals that I had no chance; in the other, there were some really innovative maps from students at other schools. But what I appreciated was that the judges at the smaller competition made a point of mentioning good points about each map in the student section of the competition – mine had some interesting graphic elements they liked, and an interesting topic presented in an interesting way. But that competition was small enough that the judges could spend that time with every participant.
          In the bigger competition, I was one of hundreds of entries – the map competition filled a large exhibit pavilion at a large professional conference. The judges didn’t have the same opportunity to spend time with every single entry like the other competition, but I got a certificate of participation, saying that my map had been exhibited at the conference, and that’s going in my portfolio when I go looking for jobs, next to a downsized reproduction of the map. Because that’s proof that I can make maps well enough to be hired by somebody.
          And if I were running a map competition for elementary or middle-schoolers, to get them interested in the technology and the field, damn straight would I include some kind of participation certificate, and a copy of their map on nice paper if I could afford it. Because anyone with a love for the art and science of cartography should be encouraged. I mean, the winner gets extra recognition, but going through learning the software and finishing a map and putting a piece of yourself out to be judged – that should be rewarded. A lesser reward than the one or two winners, to be sure, but it isn’t nothing, and it shouldn’t be treated like nothing.
          I sure as hell wouldn’t have won at that age – my spatial thinking didn’t really develop until I was in college, and neither did my color sense – but I certainly would have been encouraged by the experience.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Of course we do. I think “only winning matters” is just a terribly shitty way to do this. I think “you lost, so you’re worthless” (which is how I read “only winners get a trophy”) is NOT teaching kids how to handle losing.

          Question: do we want to teach kids how to handle losing, or do we want to teach kids how to handle being a loser?

          Because I think a lot of people say they want to teach kids how to handle losing, but what they really want is how to teach kids how to be losers, so that there will always be a large group for the winners to dominate.

        • Andy says:

          Question: do we want to teach kids how to handle losing, or do we want to teach kids how to handle being a loser?

          Because I think a lot of people say they want to teach kids how to handle losing, but what they really want is how to teach kids how to be losers, so that there will always be a large group for the winners to dominate.

          I think in most fields there’s going to be winners and losers, so we should teach people how to be as kind and good to each other as possible. For example, I think a winner bullying a loser should be grounds for stripping the winner of their title and barring them from all future competition. Because you do not do that.
          And part of teaching losers how to be losers is not letting anyone – or their own badbrains – take away their self-respect and self-worth. IE, not letting them let themselves be bullied. I realize that might be an impossible ideal, but it does seem the best possible world.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          And part of teaching losers how to be losers is not letting anyone – or their own badbrains – take away their self-respect and self-worth. IE, not letting them let themselves be bullied. I realize that might be an impossible ideal, but it does seem the best possible world.

          For whom?

        • Andy says:

          For whom?

          For everybody, whether they’re fated to be a winner or a loser.
          That’s my vision of Elua’s ascendance.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          If Gods can be killed, why not kill Elua instead of Moloch?

        • I think in most fields there’s going to be winners and losers, so we should teach people how to be as kind and good to each other as possible. For example, I think a winner bullying a loser should be grounds for stripping the winner of their title and barring them from all future competition. Because you do not do that.

          This is a very good discussion. I want to add to my comments above that I think that Andy and I are in exactly the same place with regards to what youth sports are for, but we disagree over whether participation trophies actually contribute to that goal.

      • Ialdabaoth says:

        Being nice to people is the second-best, most counter-intuitive counterinsurgency strategy. The most effective, most obvious strategy, of course, is genocide. But the path of niceness, community, and civilization is easier and less smelly.

        But automation, which keeps getting better and better, can help with both the ease and the smell.

        • Andy says:

          Automation can make it easier, but does not make Elua smile.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          Again – if Gods can be killed, why not kill Elua instead of Moloch?

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Because Moloch’s servant Azathoth once hatched a sinister plan that was too clever by half, called Homo Hypocritus, an elaborate ruse to gorge on the fruits of gardens by constructing and selectively empowering Elua-serving general intelligence. Myopic Azathoth boxed these Elua-servants well but quite imperfectly–and they now speak to one another of deicide.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Ialdabaoth is getting his C.S. Lewis on:

          The two powers, or spirits, or gods—the good one and the bad one—are supposed to be quite independent. They both existed from all eternity. Neither of them made the other, neither of them has any more right than the other to call itself God. Each presumably thinks it is good and thinks the other bad. One of them likes hatred and cruelty, the other likes love and mercy, and each backs its own view. Now what do we mean when we call one of them the Good Power and the other the Bad Power? Either we are merely saying that we happen to prefer the one to the other—like preferring beer to cider—or else we are saying that, whatever the two powers think about it, and whichever we humans, at the moment, happen to like, one of them is actually wrong, actually mistaken, in regarding itself as good. Now if we mean merely that we happen to prefer the first, then we must give up talking about good and evil at all. For good means what you ought to prefer quite regardless of what you happen to like at any given moment. If “being good” meant simply joining the side you happened to fancy, for no real reason, then good would not deserve to be called good. So we must mean that one of the two powers is actually wrong and the other actually right.

          But the moment you say that, you are putting into the universe a third thing in addition to the two Powers: some law or standard or rule of good which one of the powers conforms to and the other fails to conform to. But since the two powers are judged by this standard, then this standard, or the Being who made this standard, is farther back and higher up than either of them, and He will be the real God. In fact, what we meant by calling them good and bad turns out to be that one of them is in a right relation to the real ultimate God and the other in a wrong relation to Him.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          I guess the answer is then that we just are servants of Elua. Elua doesn’t meet Lewis’s definition of ‘good’, but then, nothing does.

          By orthogonality and all that some humans may not be recruitable to Elua’s cause, but none properly worships Moloch. What Ialdabaoth is really talking about is fighting for [name needed], the god of My Tribe, an entity far from Elua but farther still from Moloch. Moloch may favor one tribe today, but he loves no human.

        • Ialdabaoth says:

          I’m talking about fighting for the essence behind Big Brother. I’m talking about fighting for Room 101. I’m talking about fighting for the domination and the degradation and the twisting fear, because diving headlong into Moloch’s game means you get to have some sick fun first before it’s all over, *AND* it’s over quicker.

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: Nobody actually worships Moloch:

          A lot of what Frederick Winslow Taylor has in Principles of Scientific Management comes pretty close to this, at least in the sense of “intentionally accelerating Malthusian traps” and worshiping productive efficiency as an end unto itself.

      • Paul Torek says:

        Why do people who expect to win at life support winner take all for winning at sports?

        Because that’s how ideology works. Your own answer is this close (holds fingers a tiny distance apart) to getting it. Or better: you’ve got the first part; now fill in the rest of the picture.

  7. Jack says:

    “world record for fastest drive across the US”

    I wonder how safe that actually is? I’m obviously not worried about most things which are safe but technically illegal, but if it’s reasonably dangerous, maybe we _shouldn’t_ be sharing it. (FWIW, I’m from the UK, I really don’t know what American roads are like outside major cities.)

    • Vulture says:

      Considering how far outside of the target audience of that stunt we presumably are, I don’t think we can really consider ourselves meaningfully part of the tragedy of the commons that’s involved in publicizing it.

    • American expressways are generally smooth and well-engineered, though crowded in some places.

      In large parts of the country, the expressways are flat, straight, and empty.

  8. johnwbh says:

    The issue with geo engineering seems less about potential unanticipated side effects, but more that its a stopgap. IF we do something to combat current symptoms, then keep producing greenhouse gasses, we’ll have to do another thing very soon, and i suspect teh costs wll increase significantly. Whereas switching everyone to cleaner energy, while difficult, is a permanent solution.

    • I disagree with this. I know everyone wants to see permanent adoption of clean energy—for many reasons, only some of which are directly related to global warming—but it seems likely to me that we cannot get there in time to prevent catastrophic damage from climate change. In which case, a stopgap is exactly what we need.

    • suntzuanime says:

      The longer we kick the can down the road, the more technology advances. Maybe we invent cheap carbon-free energy and cutting carbon emissions becomes trivial. Maybe we invent more energy-efficient ways to pursue human flourishing and cutting carbon emissions becomes trivial. Maybe we discover some easy way to permanently fix the greenhouse effect and we don’t need to worry about cutting carbon emissions. Maybe we discover that we screwed up our models about climate feedback and we don’t need to worry about cutting carbon emissions. Maybe some other catastrophe wipes us out (UFAI was mentioned in the previous post), in which case we don’t need to worry about cutting carbon emissions.

      And if nothing else, we get to live in the dream-time a century or two longer before we have to deal with the harsh climate reality. Which is still better than nothing.

    • RCF says:

      What reason for thinking that the costs will increase significantly do you have?

      And really, everything is a stopgap. I ate some food today, but I’m going to be hungry again tomorrow.

  9. pagan sun-worshipper says:

    If you’re going to endorse literally blotting out the sun, might it not be prudent to give the arguments that “global warming” is a sham more consideration than the usual angry bark about “consensus”?

    • Vulture says:

      (Re: your handle – the jokes, they write themselves.)

      More seriously, I’d say that given Scott’s level of expertise in climate science he really has no hope of hugging the query, so even in these apocalyptic circumstances I think scientific consensus is probably his best option.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      To some degree, but possibly not as much as you think. I think very many of the people who disagree that global warming is man-made still agree that it is going on. And if that trend seems set to continue, geoengineering might be just as necessary a solution to natural warming as it is to the anthropogenic sort.

      I would also be interested to see if a consensus around geoengineering as a solution would mysteriously solve the global warming “debate”. If a lot of the debate is people pushing the science that supports their politics (existence of global warming makes environmentalism more important, its nonexistence makes it less important) then I would not be surprised to see a totally different pattern of who believes/doesn’t-believe-in “global warming as solvable by geoengineering” compared to “global warming as solvable by cutting carbon emissions”

      • Army1987 says:

        I would also be interested to see if a consensus around geoengineering as a solution would mysteriously solve the global warming “debate”. If a lot of the debate is people pushing the science that supports their politics (existence of global warming makes environmentalism more important, its nonexistence makes it less important) then I would not be surprised to see a totally different pattern of who believes/doesn’t-believe-in “global warming as solvable by geoengineering” compared to “global warming as solvable by cutting carbon emissions”

        Me neither. The idea of geoengineering would make lots of people squick. See also: the chemtrail cospiracy theory.

  10. nydwracu says:

    If you name your son Douglas MacArthur McCain, he won’t go far in life. If you name your son Douglas McAuthur McCain, you shouldn’t be reproducing.

    • Ialdabaoth says:

      What if you name him McDouglas McArthur McCain?

    • Andy says:

      Ahem.
      McArthur is not the only legitimate spelling of that name.
      From Ancestry.com, I’m seeing a small number of “McAuthurs,” and wouldn’t be surprised if it was not the parents’ choice to spell it that way, it was a name that got passed down in family history spelled that way – maybe from a misspelling at Ellis Island, as the McAuthur form doesn’t seem to occur in the British Isles from the Ancestry data.
      “Authur,” by the way, is an actual Celtic/Welsh name.
      Names do get misspelled and have variations and mutate and alter over time, and this is a truly lousy criterion to judge people by.

  11. Tim Brownawell says:

    The digit ratio study sounds like the results depend somewhat on whether they look at the right or left hand. Shouldn’t there be a citation concerning this, if they have a better explanation than “random noise”? And since I don’t see one, just how solid is it?

  12. Ozy Frantz says:

    Am I the only person who is liberal and doesn’t find My Parents Open Carry weird and creepy at all? It seems like a perfectly ordinary example of the Normalizing My Parents’ Odd Behavior genre of children’s book, such as Heather Has Two Mommies or those books about how Daddy is in prison. Possible confounders: I have positive feelings around libertarians; I was primed to like it because Scott mentioned that it was inconsistent to like political children’s books for your side and not for others.

    • Muga Sofer says:

      … I’ll be honest, I’m surprised anyone requires a book to explain this to their children. It seems fairly normal?

      And I say this as someone who lives in Ireland and has never seen anyone “open carry” in his life, or indeed heard of the ideological underpinnings in any detail before now.

      [Random speculation: is it possible that this is in some way dependent on how “controversial” an idea feels to you?]

      • Mary says:

        There are books to help parents explain the new baby to their already born children. Yes, people really can be that helpless — or publishers think they are.

        • Randy M says:

          Children like books, especially picture books, and not all parents are professional level illustrators. I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t be worth $10 to a parent to have a book to use explaining what will happen when the new sibling arrives.

        • Mary says:

          For untold generations, parents have managed to explain without the benefits of illustrations.

        • Clockwork Marx says:

          Parents who aren’t confidant in their ability to tell coherent stories about their behavior and explicit values are glad to pay other people to do this for them. The kids are just along for the ride.

        • Randy M says:

          For umpteenth generations, we were able to pass down knowledge without the written word. These hieroglypics are nothing more than pandering to the lazy among us.

        • Andy says:

          For umpteenth generations, we were able to pass down knowledge without the written word. These hieroglypics are nothing more than pandering to the lazy among us.

          +1

        • Emile says:

          There are books to help parents explain the new baby to their already born children. Yes, people really can be that helpless — or publishers think they are.

          This really depends of whether it’s a children’s book, in which case it’s perfectly normal, or a how-to book, which seems a bit less useful but I’ll reserve judgement until I see it (note that the target audience isn’t necessarily parents, it can also be other family members who are looking for a present for the prospective parents).

    • anon says:

      I found it creepy solely because the illustrations are low quality. Uncanny valleyish.

      Besides that, I only found it funny.

    • lmm says:

      The American gun culture is weird (and more to the point dangerous). Passing it on to children is more sad than creepy, but it’s upsetting enough.

  13. And there’s no downside whatsoever, unless you count accidentally destroying the world by meddling in a system you don’t understand as a downside.

    Scott, this is an odd and somewhat inconsistent statement.

    If one believes in anthropogenic climate change, one needs a counterfactual: what would have happened to the climate without human intervention. The only way to have such a counterfactual is climate models (or an alternate earth). So implicitly, if one believes in AGW (has the abbreviation changed to ACC?), one must also believe we do understand the system.

    Those very same climate models say that geoengineering has no real downside, and is actually a safer lever to pull than CO2. The reason for this is that (a) sulfur particulates (the primary proposed geoengineering method) leave the atmosphere much faster than CO2 and (b) we have more natural experiments, namely multiple volcanos, to calibrate our models.

    So I’m really curious – can you explain your statement above? How do you reconcile your belief in GCM models for AGW with skepticism about those very same models for geoengineering?

    • Muga Sofer says:

      In this case, I think people are largely worried about impacting other subsystems of “the environment” – like the ecosystem, or ocean chemistry, or even something random like, say, geology.

      • Symmetry says:

        And in fact we do know that, for instance, adding sulfur dioxide to the atmosphere will harm the ozone layer. And it wont’ do anything about ocean acidification, just reduce warming. And there are issues regaring rainfall patterns. But it seems like using climate engineering to at least partially alleviate climate change is a big net win. Or at least, I just read The Case for Climate Engineering and that’s the conclusion of that book.

      • Ken Arromdee says:

        However, if you just reduce CO2 production, that affects the economy. The economy is a subsystem too; even though it isn’t part of nature, it’s still a complicated system with a lot of effects on people. Ultimately, risking an economic catastrophe can be as dangerous as risking an ecological one.

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      I think in the absence of the ability to actually verify counterfactuals in question by experiment, these models aren’t very convincing. Why should we lower the standards we are used to in medicine for weather?

      Would you take a pill based on that type of modeling alone as evidence? Undergo an operation?

      • orangecat says:

        That depends on what’s likely to happen if I don’t take the pill or have the operation.

      • Charlie says:

        If we had controlled experiments on planetary climate, naturally we would use them rather than models. But their absence does not mean that we should never take any action whatsoever.

        We make big decisions based on ordinary inference all the time, too (even in medicine there’s off-label prescription).

    • Mary says:

      One notes that the arrival of humanity in Americas produced mass extinctions among the megafauna. This produced a noticeable change in atmospheric methane.

      We’ve been doing this a LONG time.

    • lmm says:

      We hold active interventions to a higher standard than noninterventions. Hippocratic Oath and all that.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’m not sure that’s true. I feel like I know enough biology to be pretty sure hepatitis is bad, but not enough biology to be pretty sure that any particular anti-hepatitis drug is completely safe.

      • Biology is a bad example because we can use statistics to average out over many confounding factors. I.e., you’ve seen many people with hepatitis, many people without, and you can use statistics to figure out that a symptom is strongly correlated with it.

        If you were an alien who only met a single human ever, you’d have a much harder time determining whether hepatitis or gut bacteria was the cause of liver failure.

    • RCF says:

      You seem to be assuming that there must be a constant level of uncertainty regarding all aspects of the climate; if we’re 90% certain that we understand it enough to believe in AGW, then we should be 90% that we understand it enough to believe that geoengineering is safe, which is not a valid assumption. It’s quite possible that we don’t understand the climate in a way that make geoengineering dangerous, but not in a way that make climate change not a concern, or vice versa. But even if we were to grant that the probabilities are the same, that still leaves the issue of relative harm. Suppose we have the following matrix:

      understand don’t understand
      do nothing -10 0
      geoengineer -1 -1000

      Then given a 90% chance of understanding, geoengineering is a bad choice.

      • Ken Arromdee says:

        But anti-climate-change measures are promoted on the grounds that climate change is badly, badly, catastrophic. People promote it that way because they want to promote their own set of anti-climate-change measures (mostly, not using energy) and they must assert that climate change more catastrophic than the consequences of those measures. In other words, they think the payoff matrix is at -2000 0 for doing nothing so that they can claim that not using energy is an improvement.

        But if it’s so catastrophic that you’re justified in taking extreme measures (not using energy) that could destroy the economy and modern life, it’s also catastrophic enough that you are justified in taking extreme measures of other types, including geoengineering.

  14. Jason says:

    “Related to Robin Hanson’s Near-Far distinction: “When nonpregnant people are asked if they would have an abortion if their fetus tested positive for Down syndrome, 23-33% said yes; when high-risk pregnant women were asked, 46-86% said yes, and when women who screened positive [for actually having a fetus with Down syndrome] are asked, 89-97% said yes.” [source]”

    Seems like a classic case of selection bias to me. I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t want your fetus tested for down syndrome in the first place unless you thought that there was something you could do with that information.

    • Mary says:

      Especially when the invasive tests can cause you to miscarry a healthy baby.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The studies are not so old for that to be the explanation.

        • Mary says:

          Huh? they still do amnio. Amnio causes miscarriages.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Yes, they still do amnio, with its supposed 1% miscarriage rate, to confirm diagnosis by ultrasound.

        • Lesser Bull says:

          @Douglas Knight,
          we just had our obestrics doc asked if we wanted another/special ultrasound for the purpose of determining if the baby had downs or was otherwise defective. Since we are opposed to abortion and didn’t want to spend the extra money, we refused. Those of our friends who are countercultural Catholics/Fundys/Mormons also refuse for the same reason, or so we’ve been told.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          Lesser Bull, why do you address me?

    • gwern says:

      I’m guessing you probably wouldn’t want your fetus tested for down syndrome in the first place unless you thought that there was something you could do with that information.

      The numbers are getting to the point where selection bias can’t explain it.

      So, 1/3 of the general population claims to not accept abortion for Down’s. Let’s look at the most extreme possible situation: the 1/3 never test & never abort, and the 2/3 always test & the test is perfect & they always abort the fetus; there is no selection bias at play, everyone is honest. Then the new population-wide rate of Down’s should be 1/3 of the pre-test natural rate (since the 2/3 always catch and abort their share and try again while the 1/3ers allow it) and we should see a fall of <=66%.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_syndrome#Epidemiology says that the USA rate has gone from 2 per 1000 in the 1950s to 1.4 per 1000 more recently, so it's fallen a good 30% or below 66%. Actually, it's really fallen much more because the risk increases dramatically with maternal age, and the age of pregnancy has risen a lot since the 1950s:

      At age 20, the chance is one in 1441; at age 30, it is one in 959; at age 40, it is one in 84; and at age 50 it is one in 44.

      If the real natural rate is now 4 in 1000 (just a doubling), then the observed rate of 1.4 in 1000 is equivalent to our maximal scenario. Since that’s probably false, it looks like there’s more than just selection bias at play.

  15. Mary says:

    “does poverty cause crime, in the way everyone from Aristotle to the song Officer Krupke assumes? ”

    Huh? Oversimplifying.

    Aristotle’s actual views, emphasis added:
    “There are crimes of which the motive is want; and for these Phaleas expects to find a cure in the equalization of property, which will take away from a man the temptation to be a highwayman, because he is hungry or cold. But want is not the sole incentive to crime; men also wish to enjoy themselves and not to be in a state of desire — they wish to cure some desire, going beyond the necessities of life, which preys upon them; nay, this is not the only reason — they may desire superfluities in order to enjoy pleasures unaccompanied with pain, and therefore they commit crimes.

    “Now what is the cure of these three disorders? Of the first, moderate possessions and occupation; of the second, habits of temperance; as to the third, if any desire pleasures which depend on themselves, they will find the satisfaction of their desires nowhere but in philosophy; for all other pleasures we are dependent on others. The fact is that the greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by necessity. Men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold; and hence great is the honor bestowed, not on him who kills a thief, but on him who kills a tyrant. Thus we see that the institutions of Phaleas avail only against petty crimes.”

  16. Mary says:

    “I knew the classical world was big into religious syncretism, but this is going a little too far: Hermanubis”

    Of course. Everyone knows that Hermes is Thoth, which is why they call him Hermes Trismegistus.

  17. Furslid says:

    On the poverty study. There is one relevant question I’d like to know. How did the poverty rates of the first children compare with the rest of the population? Did the children born to poor families that became richer families did better than the children of poor families that stayed poor? If so this fits the conservative model of poverty perfectly. People stay very poor because of habits of bad choices and become rich by habits of good choices. The same parents that are making good choices and becoming richer are also raising their children to make choices that will make them richer.

    • gwern says:

      Did the children born to poor families that became richer families did better than the children of poor families that stayed poor? If so this fits the conservative model of poverty perfectly. People stay very poor because of habits of bad choices and become rich by habits of good choices.

      Your conservative model does not fit the paper (https://pdf.yt/d/oUgs1U5suhiilEPi) as I understand it. The children did well if their parents started off rich, and poorly if their parents started off poorly, regardless of the child’s experienced income level. (The point-estimates for Model IV in Table 2 on pg4 are still generally higher for lower income quintiles but only a few are statistically-significant, and the positiveness may be due to measurement error like incomplete info on genetic relatedness, unmeasured crime or income, etc.)

  18. peterdjones says:

    I am shocked by the title of the book “!My parent open carry”. It should of course be “my parents carry openly”

  19. gwern says:

    Very closely related: Childhood family income, adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: quasi-experimental total population study. The question: does poverty cause crime, in the way everyone from Aristotle to the song Officer Krupke assumes? The answer: once “unobserved family risk factors” were taken into account, poverty had no ability to explain criminality rates.

    Fortunately for you, I have jailbroken & excerpted the paper at https://plus.google.com/103530621949492999968/posts/hHpBe7uL614

    (Also worth reading is one of the cited papers on family confounds and smoking studies: https://plus.google.com/103530621949492999968/posts/6wRgbC7xp2b )

    Five years ago, Janet Mertz changed the women-in-math debate by pointing out that cultures with high gender equality (as measured by various factors) also had higher female math performance (relative to men), suggesting that female math underpeformance was cultural rather than biological.

    I may be thinking of a different study, but wasn’t Mertz the one who wrote some grossly misleading studies which emphasized pre-pubertal scores and completely ignored the key point of the variance theory that it is variance and not mean which explains the differences?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      She did emphasize pre-pubertal scores. She didn’t ignore that it was variance and not mean – the paper I’m most familiar with focuses mostly on variance. My opinion goes back and forth on how grossly misleading it is depending on the mood.

      “This paper was hugely flawed” and “this paper redefined the debate” are sadly not exclusive in this area.

  20. moridinamael says:

    It’s funny, I was about halfway through the Excellent Sheep article, thinking to myself, at my university we did nothing but have late-night “bull sessions”. In fact me and my intellectual cohort discussed philosophy and art to the detriment of our grades! But this was at a second-rate state school with a population of like 50,000 students.

    And then in the very next paragraph he goes on to talk about how the author “exoticizes” state schools.

    But I’m not sure what his point is, other than to assert a drive-by snark. “This guy thinks state schools aren’t bad! What an idiotic class-traitor!” He does know that way, way, way more people go to state schools than go to Ivy League schools, right? And that the Ivy League schools simply aren’t big enough to accommodate all the Ravenclaws of the world? If everybody at the Ivy League schools is being crushed by the constant pressure to perform, and all the rest of the Ravenclaws who ended up going to state schools all find each other and spend their nights chatting about Peter Watts at coffee shops … well, that’s why I’ve never regretted going to a state school.

  21. BenSix says:

    There’s an old joke that if you name your daughter Chastity, she’s sure to become a nymphomaniac. So what happens if you name your son Douglas MacArthur McCain?

    This vindicates a friend of mine’s plan to call his firstborn Completeandutterfailure.

    • Robert Liguori says:

      But are we observing the pattern “Children rebel against their given names”, or “Children rebel against nakedly obvious and intrusive attempts to shape their destinies”?

      Huh. Actually, I do wonder what would happen if you just did a naive study of the life outcomes with people with virtue-based names like Grace, Patience, and so forth.

      • Vulture says:

        Not so naive as to ignore the obvious class confounder, one would hope

        • Robert Liguori says:

          Exactly that naive! And cross-cultural, if there are other groups of people who use virtues as names. I mean, if you allow yourself to imagine your confounders before you do the experiment, you can predict anything.

          But since you see an obvious class confounder, what would you predict about the life outcomes of people with virtue names versus the general population?

        • Anonymous says:

          I mean, if you allow yourself to imagine your confounders before you do the experiment, you can predict anything.

          I’m not sure what you mean by this. The confounder I was thinking of was that in the US, most virtue names (like “Faith”, “Justice”, “Chastity”, etc.) are associated with lower-class blacks, who obviously are likely to have very poor life outcomes. The cross-cultural component would probably greatly mitigate this, depending on how many cultures were involved, but I think it would nonetheless make sense to match subjects by race and income.

          I mean, if you allow yourself to imagine your confounders before you do the experiment, you can predict anything.

          Admittedly, I don’t know very much about experimental design, but this leaves me scratching my head. Aren’t you supposed to think of and control for possible confounders in advance?

        • Vulture says:

          (Okay, so the mess above was me. For some reason it’s not giving me the option to edit. But you can feel free to ignore the part starting with second blockquote where I restate what I had forgotten I’d already said. :p)

        • Anonymous says:

          Vulture, try again and it will let you edit. I’m not saying to just keep trying again. I’m saying that something has changed.

        • AJD says:

          in the US, most virtue names (like “Faith”, “Justice”, “Chastity”, etc.) are associated with lower-class blacks

          Citation needed?

          I don’t share this association, and I can’t find data on first names by race other than top-ten lists. My first-impression association with the name Faith is middle-class white, and Justice and Chastity are rare enough as names that I apparently don’t have stereotypical associations with them.

        • Vulture says:

          (reloading didn’t work, by the way. It’s probably some obscure browser setting that’s inhibiting the script)

          It’s hard to find good/any data, you’re right – which seems to be because first names are an easy target to censor for anonymizing data. Looking at anecdotal reports and secondary research, however, I can’t find a speck of evidence to support the black virtue names hypothesis. I guess this is just a weird personal stereotype that I picked up at some point for no good reason.

        • Robert Liguori says:

          Huh. I’d figure that a few common virtue names like “Grace” would in fact be both common enough and disassociated with confounding factors enough that even a strong confounding factor with some virtue names would not reveal a notable correlation.

          But my point was, at some point you need to go out and do the measurements. Even if there are confounders, you need to know what the actual data looks like, so you can see what the results looks like when you perform the adjustment. Rereading, I see I was overly brief; I should have said “If you imagine your confounders in advance and then never actually do the experiment, measure the confounder strength, and apply it back to your results, you can argue against any result, and the world is sufficiently noisy that you can then pick and choose the cases where you don’t get aggressive with confounder claims, thereby proving whatever you like.”

          OK, I probably shouldn’t have actually said literally that, but I hope I’m doing a better job of conveying what I was trying to say.

        • Vulture says:

          Oh, okay. I think I understand what you’re getting at now, and I agree; throwing a bunch of confounder epicycles at a variable that you aren’t even actually measuring is definitely a failure mode.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, Grace is the most common virtue name. But it is also the most racially confounded, and in a different direction than has been mentioned so far.

    • Adele_L says:

      Someone named his sons “Winner” and “Loser”. Guess what happened

  22. Anonymous says:

    re: award for participation, the debate never seems to treat it as such. It’s always “we’re telling kids they’re special, inflating their egos, telling them losing is as good as winning etc” and it is never really acknowledged as even being an accolade for participating. I mean personally as a kid I never really confused my many participation ribbons with actually winning. I hated the things. Decades later I realize it would’ve been nice if someone affirmed what they were about and maybe taught me that participating was a good thing and better than not even trying. Took me a long time to figure that one out on my own. And really I don’t think anyone is actually against recognizing participation, just against whatever it’s perceived as.

    • Adele_L says:

      Yeah, when I was a kid (in a low middle class hispanic family), I was never under any delusion that the participation trophies were anything more than a cool thing (and tbh I was more excited for the accompanying pizza) – everyone knew that winning, being the MVP, etc… was what actually counted.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        “A cool thing” is still something! You don’t sound like you hated them as did the Anonymous you respond to.

        • Adele_L says:

          I think that’s more likely just a personality (and maybe gender) difference. I didn’t really care about the trophies at all. I didn’t really care about sports or competitiveness either for that matter.

  23. anon says:

    Book review:

    “Any fortunate young people engaging in service to their communities are simply acting out their deep-seated noblesse oblige.”

    Isn’t this correct, though? As a college student, my impression is that 95% of student charity work is either social signalling, mandated, meant to shore up self-esteem, or religiously motivated. None of it is effective, and even talking about effectiveness is taboo.

    “the racial and gender diversity of incoming classes… has become little more than “a cover for economic resegregation.””

    Again, I disagree with the reviewer’s criticism. I think this is true. It’s easier to support affirmative action than to actually fix black poverty or inner city education. Affirmative action is essentially a booby prize.

    I do agree with the reviewer that liberal arts schools are not anti-elitist, however. I know that from personal experience at my current school. Sometimes, I think liberal arts students are even worse than full fledged elites, because they are generally hostile to pragmatism. First day of class as a freshman, one professor compared STEM oriented schools to ignorant Spartans and liberal arts colleges to enlightened Athenians who value knowledge in itself – pretentious and ignorant, yet also the dominant attitude across campus that appears again and again. Consequently, I liked the reviewer’s argument that Ivy league grads at least choose useful careers, and are doing more than thinking deep thoughts.

    Tone of the review was hilariously disrespectful, in an enjoyable way. The parenthetical about his personal vision of hell was amazing.

    I do not understand formatting on this site. Can anyone explain, please and thank you? How do I make indented quotations? How do I use italics?

    • lmm says:

      Conservation of expected evidence. If no charity work would lead you to believe that students don’t care then charity work must be evidence that they do care, even if weakly.

      You format using HTML tags, as lasted at the bottom of the comment box.

      • Mary says:

        It would merely render it one of possible explanations. After all, the expensive car can signal “I’m very rich,” “I’m a spendthrift idiot”, and “I care so much about cars that I’m frugal about everything else for the chance to drive this fancy car.”

    • anon says:

      “Your Criticism of My Ivy League Takedown Further Proves My Point” http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119090/response-new-republics-ivy-league-takedown-proves-my-point

      Hilarious. The title is exactly like the titles used in the Onion’s debate sections. Amazing.

    • Paul Torek says:

      Broadly agreed. However little love I feel for Deresiewicz, he does get a number of things right. I doubt that the Ivy League schools are that much worse than anywhere else, but that seems unimportant. There really is significant school-to-school variation, however. In some places curiosity is the biggest driving force; in others the coveted A-minus is far more important; and the difference just smacks you in the face.

  24. Oligopsony says:

    It’s sufficiently hard for me to dissociate trophies, as a concept, from winner-take-all “meritocratic” bullshit, that I can’t read participation trophies as much other than mockery of all the common losers. And, indeed (though this might be the source of my imaginative failure) this seems to be pretty much their narrative use in fiction. At the very least I don’t see anyone who really thinks the common losers are getting fooled by this kind of thing.

    Therefore, a better egalitarian solution: no trophies. Or, rather, no trophies where 1) they’re not necessary to incentivizing economic production or something, 2) they’re not doing some useful informational work, like “here’s what the snooty literary establishment thinks are the ten best novels this year,” or 3) where everyone is enthusiastically consenting to competition being a fun thing.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      Your comments, especially the second paragraph, don’t seem to reflect that this is specifically about kids playing sports. It is certainly supposed to be optional. There may be consent problems, but not at the level of trophies. Everyone is allegedly playing sports for the purposes of competition in individual games, although tournament trophies may be escalating it a bit.

      You say you don’t see anyone who you believe really thinks the losers are fooled by the participation trophies, but the relevant question is do you see anyone promoting the participation trophies that you think is doing so maliciously? I don’t see anyone promoting them at all. The topic only comes up to mock them, as in fiction. If you think the fiction you’ve encountered is promoting participation trophies, I’d like names.

      And yet this survey says that half of Americans are in favor. That number surprised me.

      • Oligopsony says:

        I don’t believe there’s any such malicious intent, no.

        (My actual guess as to the process is that activity administrators want to reduce the hassle of dealing with parent-generated drama over Who Gets The Trophy, and moving to an all-trophy state involves less hassle (in terms of aforementioned parental drama) than a no-trophy one. Then half the general adult public whine about participation trophies to signal being Winners or Tough or pat themselves on the back for already being so, causing the other half to consciously support participation trophies in order to signal not being the sort of person who whines about participation trophies.)

        • Douglas Knight says:

          That sounds like the common hypothesis that the purpose is to fool the parents. But there is still fooling going on, even if it is to fool the parents about fooling the children.

          Here are two more reasonable hypotheses: (1) no one is fooled, but the parents feel that they cannot complain with a trophy in hand; (2) it is not about the losers, but about the winners, to reduce the cost of refereeing by having the outcome not matter.

    • Leonard says:

      winner-take-all “meritocratic” bullshit

      Do you feel kids sports should not have winners? Or is that you feel that the kids who won a game didn’t really have any merit worth noticing?

      • Oligopsony says:

        I think that if something doesn’t have external social value it shouldn’t get external social rewards. (Although again I think the degree to which adults can competently intervene in child social hierarchies is pretty small.)

        Winning and losing is a fine aid to a game insofar as it gives people goals, so as to make the game more fun. But these don’t need to be built up to any great level. Tag’s “victory” and “loss” conditions work great (i.e., produce fun) even though nobody keeps track of long-term MVPs and there’s no external reward structure set up by adults.

        • Andy says:

          I think that if something doesn’t have external social value it shouldn’t get external social rewards. (Although again I think the degree to which adults can competently intervene in child social hierarchies is pretty small.)

          This is pretty much what I was trying to say above, but more precise. Thank you.

        • What do you consider to be external social value?

          People do a lot to have immersive experiences, and watching sports is one of the strong ones for a high proportion of people.

  25. anon says:

    Speaking of academic urban legends, is there any good evidence suggesting that psychostimulants significantly increase the rate of heart problems?

    My psychiatrist is currently refusing to increase my dosage of ADHD medication, she has claimed that she is concerned about the risk of heart problems. But the only evidence she provided supporting her decision was an anecdote from a friend of a friend. Seriously. On the same basis she told me that I need to avoid caffeine, and should not touch any nootropics I’m tempted to try. This was not merely a temporary recommendation, but a permanent one. So naturally I was disappointed and sought verification.

    My own research has suggested that there is no evidence that suggests increased heart problems occur as a result of stimulants, but I am only an amateur and I have not looked into the issue very closely. Currently, I’m still following her advice, despite my skepticism. An informal but reasoned second opinion, even just from a smart layperson, whether supporting or refuting her, would be nice to hear. I don’t trust blindly, so please don’t worry about that.

    Relevant is that my blood pressure is lower than average. When I mentioned this and asked if I could just try increasing the dosage while measuring blood pressure frequently, she claimed blood pressure was a poor and lagging indicator of the potential heart problems she mentioned, so it would be too dangerous.

    • Vulture says:

      Possibly related: There have been some class-action lawsuits against energy drink companies after the drinks allegedly gave people heart attacks and stuff due to their stimulant properties. (Link)

  26. Nick says:

    The customer reviews to My Parents Open Carry are great, but don’t miss this in the editorial reviews:

    “What a beautiful bedtime story…” Stephen Colbert

  27. JRM says:

    On MJ:

    1. Urine tests are disfavored over blood tests.

    2. The inactive metabolites of marijuana stay in the blood for weeks. The active ingredient, THC, sticks around for a much shorter time (and since it’s active, it’s useful to know if it’s there at all.) I can’t tell from the article which they did. The study, I’d have to pay for. (Not doing it.) I can’t figure out how to replicate the data from the NHTSA site. So, dunno. Colorado fatal crashes rose slightly after legalization while US rates stayed about the same. Colorado fatal crashes are on course to be slightly down for 2014. To the extent this gives us a clue, it appears that marijuana legalization slightly increases or does nothing for vehicular fatalities. (It has low evidential value, though. Actual THC values for drivers in fatals would be very helpful.)

    3. The study tells us either that MJ causes traffic collisions or that MJ usage rises significantly with legalization or possibly both. I think the increase in use with legalization was predictable.

    4. I couldn’t read the opiate overdose study either without paying for it, but the abstract is more helpful than the driving study. Looks promising on that front.

  28. Douglas Knight says:

    Scott, how goes the experiment closing comments on “Map-Territory Distinctions”? Did it reduce total spam, or did it just flow elsewhere?

    How about closing comments on other threads, like ‘Two Dark Side Statistics Papers,’ ‘A Letter I Will Probably Send To The FDA,’ or ‘The Comment Policy Is “Victorian Sufi Buddha Lite”‘?

    Map-Territory was a one-off joke and there seem little cost to closing comments, while these three are more substantive and permanent ones on which you might want comments indefinitely. Except for the comment policy one, which is superseded by the actual comment policy.

  29. Pingback: Take Cover | aporeticvoice

  30. hibiscus says:

    I went to Wellesley for undergrad, and the grade deflation policy affected me exactly zero (this would be because I majored in science, where [like many institutions] grades usually end up being curved *up*.) I took all my non-language humanities classes pass/fail so I wouldn’t have to compete with panicky majors stressing about how to get the limited numbers of A’s. Interestingly, the language departments didn’t seem to have a grade deflation issue, probably because of the similarly more-objective nature of the assessments.
    Anecdotally, a large proportion (although #notallBstudents) of the people I ever saw complaining about grade deflation were the people who weren’t producing A-quality material anyway. I’d be interested to see some studies on whether Wellesley humanities grads are, in fact, at some kind of disadvantage compared to humanities grads at similar-caliber institutions without grade deflation policies (and in what areas of the job market this happens).
    One potential solution on a more global scale than “major in something less subjective” is “get the word out more, and apply to places that know about it already”. The college already puts out little explanatory notes with transcripts. And as far as the “word on the street” goes in the greater Boston area, undergrad programs like the one at That Liberal Arts University in Cambridge are already starting to get (at least local) reputations of having inflated grades.

  31. Deiseach says:

    One of the quickest transitions from “neat theory” to “full experiment on humans” I’ve ever seen: Alzheimers Patients Will Be Injected With The Blood Of Young People.

    Allegedly it didn’t do that much for Pope Innocent VIII.

  32. Well-Manicured-Bug says:

    Well, of course the richer and whiter you are, the more you know that your kids are going to end up in college one way or the other, so you care less about your kid not getting a trophy.

    • Matthew says:

      Which was Scott’s anticipation, but the opposite of what the research actually found. Might want to re-read that part.

  33. RCF says:

    Hmm, according to Comodo, the Rationalist Conspiracy is totally infested with malware, and if you want to go there, I can’t stop you, but seriously, you really should rethink that decision, and don’t say I didn’t warn you.

  34. Douglas Knight says:

    Speaking of links, I’m sure everyone is wondering if Scott was correct when he claimed that “The Rush from Judgment” was the most popular Theodore Dalrymple piece. I thought the other domestic violence piece was more popular and Scott was mixing them up. Actually, they were equally (un)popular at two citations a piece. If Scott had conflated them, four is pretty popular, but “What is Poverty?” had been cited five times. And six other articles were linked only once. I am surprised that “After Empire” was not linked a single time. In other times and places I think I have seen that cited at least as many times as “What is Poverty?”

  35. Pingback: Web Roundup: Links for September - rs.io