If he’d posted it here it would have been a Comment Of The Month, but since he posted it on Less Wrong I’m reduced to linking it: Viliam Bur on why Freud is not your strawman of Freud.
Last links post I brought in Sariasan’s research showing that growing up poor doesn’t increase your chances of turning to crime as an adult once you adjust out heritable factors. I wasn’t aware he also has another study showing that growing up in a bad neighborhood doesn’t affect very much either.
One Hundred Actual Titles Of Real Eighteenth Century Novels. Number 25: “Flim-Flams! Or, The Life And Errors Of My Uncle, And The Amours Of My Aunt! With Illustrations And Obscurities, By Messieurs Tag, Rag, And Bobtail. With An Illuminating Index!”
A recent story that went viral on Facebook suggests that one in six French citizens support the Islamic State. I think the attraction might have been a dig at the French Muslim community for being radicalized or something, but the Washington Post points out that, among other problems, far fewer than one in six French citizens is even Muslim, which makes the number somewhat suspect. Their preferred explanation: most people don’t know what “The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” is, so when people hear a question of the form “Do you support…the Islamic State of Iraq…” they think it’s some kind of referendum on the Iraq War or the Iraqi government or something.
Cryptology enthusiast, Bitcoin pioneer, and occasional Less Wronger Hal Finney has passed away of ALS and been cryonically frozen. My favorite mini-eulogy is that of Ryan Carey, who pointed out on Facebook that “he is now the all-time winner of the Ice Bucket Challenge”.
There is an algal toxin, one of whose symptoms is “feeling like cold things feel hot and hot things feel cold.” I wonder if this can be converted to a party trick the same way Miracle Berries were. Probably better not, since “symptoms usually go away after days, but can last for years.”
Possibly the most amazingly trollish scientific study ever: Feminist Activist Women Are Masculinized In Terms Of Digit Ratio And Dominance: A Possible Explanation For The Feminist Paradox. Digit ratio is a measure of the lengths of different fingers that shows how much testosterone one received in the womb and seems to represent by proxy some sort of measure of biological “masculinity” or “feminity” – for example, transgender people have a digit ratio more like that of the sex they transition to. They found a masculinization in the feminist activists that was highly statistically significant (alpha = 0.0005, I think they mean p but I’m not sure why they said alpha) and an extremely large effect size (d = 0.6 – 1.6). In fact, on the right hand the feminists were more masculine even than men. The authors try to use this to explain what they call the “feminist paradox” – which is that feminism purports to be fighting for women but most women do not identify as feminists. I think they’re thinking that feminists are either those women who are so masculinized as to be unhappy with female gender roles, or so masculinized as to be uniquely aggressive about their unhappiness. The most convincing alternative I can think of is that high-IQ people of both sexes tend to have more androgynous digit ratios (so high-IQ women will have more male digit ratios). If feminist activists tend to come from the upper-class college-educated part of the population, then that might be a confounder which would be worth addressing.
Wikipedia: Naturally Superhuman People. “Wim Hof is nearly impervious to extreme temperatures. In 2009, he ran a marathon, wearing only shorts and a cap (no shoes), in -20C temperatures. He owns the Guinness World Record for the longest ice bath (nearly two hours). In 2011, he ran a marathon in 40C temperatures without drinking a drop of water during the run.”
S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) versus escitalopram and placebo in major depression RCT: efficacy and effects of histamine and carnitine as moderators of response. Sorta-natural antidepressant supplement SAMe comes somewhere between equaling and surpassing first-line antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro). Just one study, but several others have shown the same. It is starting to reach the point where if I had any say in the matter (which I don’t right now) I would be considering trying SAMe before an SSRI. Needless to say this could (but probably won’t) totally revolutionize psychiatry to a degree unprecedented for several decades.
I may have said some bad things about airport security now and then, but I’ve changed my mind. I love airport security. Airport security is the best. Please keep searching everyone’s luggage as much as possible with no concern for personal privacy.
@newmantras: A theme Twitter that mixes dating site profiles with Hindu verses on the glory of God.
Private companies are starting to invest in nuclear fusion, not that the amount of money they’re putting in changes much in a non-symbolic way.
Human pathos: Wannabe jihadis about to leave for Syria order Islam for Dummies off Amazon.
Cigar Aficionado’s biography of Churchill is 20% boring stuff about the cigars he liked, 80% awesome. Key quote:
While exhibiting great valor in coordinating the escape of many of the troops who were aboard the train, Churchill was captured by the Boers and taken as a prisoner of war. Although treated well by his captors, he later wrote of his time as a POW, “I certainly hated every minute of my captivity more than I have ever hated any other period in my whole life.” He hated captivity above all because it thwarted his ambition for heroic action: “The war was going on, great events are in progress, fine opportunities for action and adventure are slipping away.” So, after unsuccessfully appealing his capture on the grounds that he was a noncombatant, Churchill escaped from prison. Before escaping, however, he left a letter of apology on his bed to Louis de Souza, the Boer secretary for war. The letter began: “I have the honour to inform you that as I do not consider that your Government have any right to detain me as a military prisoner, I have decided to escape from your custody.” It ended: “Regretting that I am unable to bid you a more ceremonious or a personal farewell, I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient servant, Winston Churchill.”
As several people have already noted, there is this really weird issue among opponents of better replication efforts in the social sciences, where they are extremely sensitive to worries that there might be flaws in the replication studies, yet fail to draw the obvious conclusion that there might also be those same flaws in originals and therefore replications are indeed needed (see: Beware Isolated Demands For Rigor). Neuroskeptic takes one such argument to task.
Presburger arithmetic is an alternative to normal (“Peano”) arithmetic in which you are allowed to add, but cannot multiply. It possesses some impressive mathematical properties, including being provably consistent, provably complete (no Godel here!) and “decidable”, which means you can automatically prove any theorem you want using brute force alone (though it might take a while). I’m convinced – if we switch to Presburger, not only do we get free proofs for whatever we want, but we don’t have to memorize our times tables either!
Ever wonder what happened to that Honduran charter city idea? It’s still going ahead, but it looks like it’s doing so in the worst possible way – corrupt, opaque, and having kicked out everyone with principles in favor of steamrolling forward. On the other hand, part of the attraction of the idea was that it could work even in worst case scenarios – it’s designed for countries with terrible governments that can’t do anything properly. So at the very least this will give it a fair test on its own terms.
From Taymon Beal: A proof of the Halting Problem in the style of Dr. Seuss.
Things that exist: the go-away bird. This might be my spirit animal.
Scientific American comes out in favor of cryptographic locks on military weaponry.
A heartbreaking article on youth homelessness among gay teens kicked out by their families. Quote: “It sounds so paradoxical, but the kid who’s been abused and neglected from childhood, in this very perverse way, they’re ready for the trauma that’s to come on the streets. But queer youth who grew up in a family where they were taken care of, and there was ice cream in the freezer at night, they face an extra challenge of really not being prepared for the culture of the streets or the foster-care system.” A good reminder why everyone is (rightly) so concerned about homophobia.
Noahpinion: an interesting debate over the validity of those statistics you always hear about how America gets worse health care than other countries while spending much more money. Content note: one instance of fatphobia/insults to fat people.
Cell: Altering The Intestinal Microbiota During A Critical Developmental Window Has Lasting Metabolic Consequences. For example, give someone antibiotics as a baby, and you might kill their gut flora and cause them to be more obese as an adult. We are nowhere near the level of evidence where anyone should be denying a child life-saving antibiotics for a dangerous infection, but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PARENTS, STOP DEMANDING ANTIBIOTICS EVERY TIME YOUR KID HAS A VIRAL INFECTION THERE IS NO REASON TO DO THIS EVEN IF THEY *DIDN’T* HAVE ALL SORTS OF SIDE EFFECTS *WHICH THEY DO*.
@sarahdoingthing, who is either Sarah C or Sister Y or possibly some other Sarah entirely, has been plugging things into a program that purports to tell you what Myers-Briggs type you are by your writing. While this seems likely to be a faulty implementation of a faulty idea, it sure seems to be picking up something. Here’s Less Wrong posts by year, part one and two.
McDonald’s new CEO is a roboticist who, when first recruited by the company, thought he was going to an interview with McDonnell-Douglas. Also an inspiring story of Poor Young Black Kid Making It Big.
This is possibly the most important news story of the decade, although no one else will tell you that: Vasalgel preclinical studies making great progress. Vasalgel is the FDA-friendly, America-marketable version of RISUG, the permanent, easy, cheap, easily reversible contraceptive procedure for men. Once it exists, why not not fund free RISUG for every high school boy (as well as promising to fund the reversal operation) and cut accidental pregnancies down to zero? There’s your solution to fifty percent of social problems right there.
H/t Vipul Naik: Quora: what are your options if a restaurant demands exactly pi dollars? Some clever answers, as well as some groaners.
Saving the best for last: Steven Pinker – The Ivy League Is Broken And Only Standardized Tests Can Fix It. Starts with a review of the same book (Excellent Sheep) that I linked to a savage review of last month. Pinker re-tears it apart, then talks about how so-called “holistic” admissions perpetuate the advantages of the upper class, then goes over some of the research showing standardized tests are a fair and unbiased assessment of merit, then demands that colleges switch to a more SAT-centric admissons policy (the opposite of the current trend) in the name of fairness for the poor. I’ve been making this same argument for years and I’m glad to see it finally get the respect it deserves.