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Links 8/15: A Link In The Armor

Today, we are cancelling the beepocalypse! As per Washington Post, although colony collapse disorder remains a problem, it is not an existential threat because beekeepers are now able to breed new colonies faster than old ones are being damaged. Number of available bee colonies is actually higher than it was when the disease started.

Of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, which one do you think recently made headlines by standing by his support for universal health care? And which denounced immigration as a plot to destroy America?

Latest twin study finds that about 60% of variation in school test scores is genetic, suggests that genes are non-specific for subject and seem to code for domain-general intelligence.

The Verdict On Charter Schools after twenty-five years of experimentation in the US: mixed, some seem to do better than public schools and others worse, seem to be especially helpful for poor people and minorities, not so helpful for whites.

Wikipedia’s List Of Name Changes Due To ISIS. It sucks if you’re a girl whose parents thought naming you after an Egyptian goddess was a cute idea. But it really sucks if you dated that girl and got a tattoo of her name.

The model of racial “tipping points” – where segregation happens because white people don’t want to live in a neighborhood that passes a certain percent minority – is not consistent with the latest data.

Old studies: poor are more altruistic than the rich. New study: Rich are more altruistic than the poor, including donating a higher percent of their income to charity.

A very neat study design provides strong evidence for the effect of intrauterine factors on IQ: Persistent Effects of In Utero Nutrition Shocks: Evidence From Ramadan Fasting. Children of Muslim mothers (but not non-Muslim mothers) have up to 7 – 8% lower test scores as adults if their birth month lines up such that Ramadan (when Muslims fast) fell during a crucial point in their fetal development. Obvious implication is that not getting nutrition during that developmental period permanently harmed their brain. Most Muslim scholars say that God offers pregnant women the option not to fast if they make it up later, and it looks like they should probably take that offer. Also: I wonder what percent of international IQ differences this explains.

New study suggests that it’s low-status and uncool men who are sexist bullies, in order to cover up their own inadequacies. Hot on its heels, a different study finds (in accordance with much recent research) that bullies are actually higher status and better off than the rest of us. So either sexism works the opposite way as other kinds of bullying, or at least one of the studies sucks. Possibly related to the second possibility: the author of the sexism-bullying study has a website which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Yes, we all know it’s false that you only use ten percent of your brain. But what is the closest true statement?

Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic. I have been pushing this line for a long time against the “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” crowd and I am delighted to see it confirmed. More evidence for the idea of a general factor of fitness possibly based on mutational load.

A while back in a post mentioning the minimum wage a commenter challenged my claim that minimum wage research was controversial, saying that David Neumark, author of some of the strongest anti-minimum-wage studies, was potentially an ideologue. So I was very interested to see an entire article making the point that David Neumark is not an ideologue.

One of the most important skills in journalism is figuring out what information your audience needs to know.

Individual Differences In Cognitive Biases – Evidence Against The One-Factor Theory Of Rationality. Unlike IQ where lots of different kinds of intelligence tests correlate with each other pretty well, rationality does not appear to have a general factor and people who do well in avoiding one kind of cognitive bias aren’t much more likely to do well at avoiding another. Doesn’t look like a super well-cited paper, which makes me wonder whether Stanovich et al have a response to this.

A couple links posts ago we were discussing the surprisingly large economic divide between north and south Italy. I thought it might be genes. Well, I looked for papers on the issue, and it probably isn’t genes.

The study of hormone levels and gender differences is a mess, because there seem to be at least two different things going on: present-day testosterone levels, measured via salivary testosterone, and fetal testosterone levels, measured via 2D:4D digit ratio, and these things are either uncorrelated or anticorrelated or something, meaning that people who say things like “testosterone improves spatial rotation skills” and other people who say things like “testosterone harms spatial rotation skills” might both be right depending on when they’re talking about. Now I have finally found a study that examines both these factors, and it seems to find a relatively straightforward and strong effect where present-day-testosterone is negatively correlated with, but fetal testosterone positively correlated with, intelligence.

This is an interesting lens through which to view the recent result that transgender people have hormone levels consistent with their gender assigned at birth. Given that they tend to have 2D:4D ratios more like the gender they identify as, perhaps fetal testosterone is more important in the development of the “transgender brain” than anything that goes on during childhood or puberty.

1980s Zimbabwe passed a law banning people from making fun of the name of President Canaan Banana.

A while back, I criticized a study which suggested that people’s beliefs about brilliance determined the gender balance of a field, saying that in fact it was the facts-on-the-ground about brilliance which those beliefs corresponded to which did the determining. Last week, a team of researchers published a letter in Science making the same criticism. The team behind the original study responded, criticizing the critics’ analyses because of a statistical property called “colinearity”, but my own analysis has no colinearity problems whatsoever and finds exactly the same effects that the Science critics’ does. The team goes on to show that you can come up with models in which beliefs do some determining even after you’ve accounted for facts, but I still think there was borderline scientific malpractice in not even mentioning facts-on-the-ground in the original paper, and that their response is a good example of trying to Euler readers.

A while back I posted an article where a professor claimed that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were more of a myth than a reality. Now there’s a rebuttal, complete with some good historical examples of such signs. See also the debate between the two sides at the bottom, which seems to bottom out in “Well, if you make ad hoc changes to the theory such that none of the existing signs count as evidence against it, then it still stands!”

Obama administration backs occupational licensing reform. Who was it who said “the Americans will always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else” again?

Thing # 23898945767669 Which Causes Significant Weight Loss Despite Being Neither Diet Nor Exercise: vagus nerve blockade.

Thing # 23898945767670 Which Causes Significant Weight Loss Despite Being Neither Diet Nor Exercise: Okay, this one is fascinating. Gastric bypass surgery is the best-known and most effective treatment for obesity. The idea was that if your stomach was smaller, you would fill it up quicker and eat less, which sounds reasonable, but a growing body (no pun intended) of evidence suggests this isn’t how it works at all. It now seems likely that stomach size is a red herring, and the surgeries work by doing something involving bile acids, gut microbiota, and changes to metabolism. Now a new study in mice shows you can get most of the benefits of bypass just by diverting bile acids to the small intestine.

Thing # Something That Actually Doesn’t Contribute To Obesity, Sorry For Previously Suggesting It Did: copy number repeates in the salivary amylase gene.

Reddit: The story of the planned coup to stop Japan from surrendering after the A-Bomb.

The first round of polls suggest that potential Republican voters think Donald Trump won the first debate (1, 2). Other big winner: Carly Fiorina.

Are skills useful?

Gwern on Newton’s view of astronomy, which includes such gems as the sun being powered by giant comets lobbed at it by angels. Key quote: “After this, possibly God would renew creation by repopulating instead the moons of Saturn or Jupiter.”

A new pass lets you make microtransactions to get through paywalls on sites like Financial Times and The Economist. Sure, you can just use Google, but maybe if I help popularize this, someone will come up with a similar idea for academic journals.

Cooch-Behar is no longer the world’s most interesting border 🙁 🙁 🙁

According to rumor, Robin Hanson started his talk at this year’s Effective Altruism summit with “You guys all think of yourself as altruists…”. Now he’s posted a somewhat crotchety criticism of the whole movement. I forget how many meta-contrarian levels up we are at this point, but the Sherpas are starting to complain about oxygen deprivation.

If more people would pay attention to my theory that African-Americans are generally underrepresented in anti-establishment causes not directly related to race, we could save ourselves a lot of hand-writing about why Bernie Sanders’ base is so white.

The harmonic series (1/1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + …) famously goes all the way to infinity. The Kempner series – the same series, only without any terms that have a “nine” in the denominator, paradoxically does not and stops around 22.9 (h/t Zach Weinersmith). Related: the Ant On A Rubber Rope Paradox.

The World Bank’s “Ease Of Doing Business” report doesn’t correlate with how easy it actually is to do business in various countries. Apparent explanation: the World Bank measures how easy it is to do business honestly and without bribes, which is not a very popular or effective way to do business in a lot of places.

Even if we do develop exciting futuristic technology that can pump CO2 out of the atmosphere, it won’t save us, because it won’t help the problem of CO2 acidifying the oceans.

Community member/game designer Thomas Eliot, who helped host the SSC NYC meetup at his house, asks any Lovecraft fans or board game geeks reading this to take a look at his kickstarter for Cultists of Cthulhu: The Game

Community member/author Fiona van Dahl suggests that you might be interested in her new book, Eden Green.

Effective Altruism: The Book – Doing Good Better

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486 Responses to Links 8/15: A Link In The Armor

  1. suntzuanime says:

    I think that’s just how Robin Hanson talks. He seems really positive about Effective Altruism, after correcting for his general Hansonness. I mean he comes right out and says “I’ve decided that they do have a core position that is far from vacuous”, what more of a compliment could you ask for from the guy?

    • Dust says:

      Fun fact: Edward Snowden is the only person, group, or entity Robin Hanson has ever not been cynical about.

    • Benito says:

      If you look at my comment on there, you realise that he believes the core position is: old codgers have run things badly, and so a new generation deserves to take over.

      • Creutzer says:

        When in the end he says that they may actually become successful and get something done, that struck me as very positive. Compare what he says there with the usual form of his cynicism: X is not about Y. His assessment of EA is not of this form.

    • Deiseach says:

      I don’t know Robin Hanson or anything about him or what opinions he has on what topics, but I approve of the general “grumpy old codger” flavour of that post 🙂

  2. Puppies says:

    The sum of the reciprocals of the primes (1/2+1/3+1/5+1/7+1/11… ) diverges while the sum of the reciprocals of the squares (1/1+1/4+1/9+1/16+1/25…) converges, to pi^2/6. This means that there are many more primes than squares, which seems intuitively wrong.

    Edit: As Pku says, this is a result of the Prime Number Theorem.

    • Pku says:

      There are a surprising number of primes (about 1/log n of numbers up to n, which is way more than 1/sqrt(n)). Or to put it another way, primes get further between the higher up you go, but at a very slow rate.
      (also, fun fact: the sum of inverses of twin primes does converge; even if there are an infinite number of them, they’re pretty rare).

    • suntzuanime says:

      that seems intuitively super true. there are hardly any squares and there are primes all over!

    • Oscar_Cunningham says:

      Yeah, the intuition that primes get rarer higher up the number line is misleading. They only get rare like 1/log(n) and log is really slow growing. For most questions about the primes you are more likely to guess the right answer if you pretend that “A constant proportion of numbers are prime”.

      • haishan says:

        Honestly, for most questions about the primes you are very likely to get the “right” answer if you pretend that n is prime randomly with probability 1/log(n). For instance, the twin prime conjecture falls out of this immediately. With a little bit more work you can also get Goldbach’s conjecture. You also get a very strong result on prime gaps, much stronger than anything we can prove. Also, there are infinitely many Mersenne primes but only finitely many Fermat primes.

        (None of these things are known, but all of them — except maybe the last? I’m not sure — are widely believed.)

        • Pku says:

          It’s kind of the other way around, though – those things are believed to be true partly because, as far as we can tell, primes are more or less random.

    • Anonymous says:

      This means that there are many more primes than squares

      We have to be careful with infinite sets and saying that one has more elements than the other. The cardinality of the set of primes is the same as the cardinality of the set of squares (…and the same as the cardinality of the natural numbers). This result is probably even more counter-intuitive the first time you encounter it.

      • RCF says:

        Well, of course. All infinite subsets of a countable set are countable. So any set of integers will either be finite or have the same cardinality as the integers. But cardinality is simply one concept of “size”. One can define others, such as that A > B if (limit n -> infinity (number of elements of A less than n)/(number of elements of B less than n)) > 1. By this definition, there are indeed “twice as many” integers as even integers.

    • Troy says:

      Are there any convergent series in which the reciprocals of the numbers being summed do not get further apart on the number line as the series goes on? For example,

      1/1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + …

      converges, because powers of 2 get further and further apart. But are there any series of the form, say,

      1/n + 1/(n+m) + 1/(n+2m) + …

      that converge?

      • Chalid says:

        Seems like any such series could be bounded below by something resembling (1/m)*(the harmonic series), no?

      • RCF says:

        For well-behaved (I’m not going to get into precisely defining that term) series, the series has the same behavior as the integral. So, for instance,
        integral of (dx/(n+2mx)) = (ln(n+mx))/m + C
        Since that diverges, so does the series.

  3. Pku says:

    Intuitive explanation of the Kempner series thing for non-mathematicians: Most large numbers have a 9 in their decimal expansion (a number with 10 digits has about an even chance of having a 9 somewhere; a number with 100 digits almost certainly has one), so we’re summing over a much, much smaller collection of numbers, and the rate at which we ignore new numbers more than cancels out the fact that there are more large numbers than small ones.

    • RCF says:

      A Kemper series is clearly dominated by a geometric series, so once someone accepts that geometric series converge, it should be reasonable obvious that Kemper series do as well.

  4. Toggle says:

    The finitude of the Kempner Series seemed crazy to me at first, but then I realized that the chance of a number having a ‘9’ in it goes up as the number of digits increases. So you lose 11% of one-digit numbers (9), 20% of two-digit numbers (the 90s and 19, 29, 39…), and so on.

    But this explanation works for any random digit- the same statistical properties apply to 7 and 4 and whatnot. But I don’t know if the ‘9’ in the Kempner series is actually necessary. Does anyone know whether an infinite series of ‘1/1+1/2+1/4’ with all ‘3’s missing (or some other random digit) is finite?

    • Pku says:

      Yes it does: think about it this way: we’re removing about a constant proportion (9/10)^k of the numbers between 10^k and 10^(k+1) for each k. if we replace all of the remaining numbers with 1/10^k (which would just make them bigger), we get < (9/10)^k*(10^(k+1))/10^k=10*(9/10)^k, which is a shrinking geometric series, hence has a convergent sum.

    • Oscar_Cunningham says:

      Using the digit “9” is a psychological trick to make the series seem more paradoxical. It makes the first missing term furthest from the start of the series. If we were missing out the digit “1” then we would miss out eleven of the first twenty terms, but with “9” we only miss out two of these terms.

    • LosLorenzo says:

      OK, harmonic series = infinity, Kempner series ~23.

      So the sum of the terms removed from the Kempner series also = infinity, just a slightly smaller infinity than the harmonic series?

      • Vaniver says:

        just a slightly smaller infinity than the harmonic series?

        It is generally frowned upon to talk about one “infinity” as being larger or smaller than another. It is much better to talk about the series as being larger or smaller than each other, because we know how to add and subtract series easily.

        If we write your claim as math, it looks like infinity-23<infinity. By standard subtraction intuition, this makes sense–but typically people say things more like infinity-23=infinity, to make clear that infinity does not obey standard subtraction intuition.

      • haishan says:

        Yes, 1/9 + 1/19 + 1/29 + … + 1/89 + 1/90 + 1/91 + … diverges.

        This is actually pretty easy to see: obviously it’s greater than 1/10 + 1/20 + 1/30 + …, which diverges since it’s a multiple of the harmonic series.

    • Jonathan Paulson says:

      Yes. In fact, essentially the same argument is enough to show that if you remove all numbers which contain “2342098490131” in their decimal representation then the sum is finite.

    • RCF says:

      Yes, the wikipedia article linked to in the post goes over this.

  5. WowJustWow says:

    You might actually share more links about IQ than bloggers who get accused of being obsessed with IQ.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Don’t worry, I get accused of being “obsessed with IQ” too. I think anyone who so much as brings up the topic will get accused of that.

      I follow https://twitter.com/WhyBoostIQ on Twitter and so I’m always seeing interesting IQ studies, plus I archive-binged on Intelligence earlier this week.

      • Stezinech says:

        What that objection probably means is “IQ research makes me uncomfortable, and it hurts my growth mindset, which I believe is helping me succeed, so please stop”.

        One interesting fact from the school test score study: “When the scientists factored in IQ scores, they found that intelligence appeared to account for slightly less than half of the genetic component [in school test scores], suggesting that other heritable traits – curiosity, determination and memory, perhaps – play a significant role.”

        So, school test scores are mostly genetic, but about half of the genetic component is proabably something like conscientiousness. So don’t worry if your IQ is a bit low, it can be made up by the tendency to work hard. Although, the tendency to work hard is also mainly genetic.

        • moridinamael says:

          This, and yet I still get yelled at when I say “IQ is not intelligence.”

          • Stezinech says:

            I think there’s a bad tendency to equate intelligence with all adapative behavior.

            If we define intelligence in a reasonably narrow way to refer to the ability to reason or think abstractly, then IQ is quite a good measure of that.

            At the other extreme we have people defining intelligence as “the ability to be a good and effective person”, which is absurd and probably linked to the halo effect bias.

  6. BD Sixsmith says:

    The first round of polls suggest that potential Republican voters think Donald Trump won the first debate (1, 2). Other big winner: Carly Fiorina.

    From a family member, who worked at HP: If Carly Fiorina became POTUS, the first thing she would do would be to sell off Texas. (Which would go on to be financially more successful than the remaining states.) She would then ‘merge’ with Canada. (Although, apart from herself, the new country would be managed mainly by Canadians.) After reinventing the “American Way” she would leave, to boos and jeers, with a huge payoff.

    Not much worse than Bill Clinton, really.

    • Zebram says:

      I’m not sure why exactly she would sell off Texas. In the private sector, there are profit and loss signals, while in government, there aren’t. You could be doing terribly and destroy the country, but if the perception is that you are doing a great job, or the people like you for whatever reason because you bought their votes or whatever, they will keep you. I’m willing to bet nobody would give up a piece of the U.S. as the president. In the private sector, the threat of loss leads companies to sell off parts of their company that are losing money. In government, since financial loss is not directly considered, giving up part of the country simply reduces the power that you have, since you have less land and people that you control. That is something most people who want to become president would not want.

      • Steve Johnson says:

        The joke is that as HP CEO Fiorina sold off a portion of a more profitable business to acquire a less profitable business.

        Then left with a $60 million payday.

      • RCF says:

        There are plenty of metrics by which performance can be measured, although voters may not act according to them. For instance, GDP, interest rate on debt, exchange rates, and tax revenue.

        And selling off parts of your company that aren’t making money doesn’t make much sense. If someone’s willing to pay for them, then they must be capable of generating profits. Unless the buyer has some sort of comparative advantage, but then why not look for buyers with comparative advantage with your profitable parts as well?

        • Jiro says:

          You can sell off a part of your company if the opportunity cost to make it profitable is too high. Someone else might not have the same opportunioty cost.

          • RCF says:

            If the opportunity cost is higher than the profit, then it’s not profitable. If someone else doesn’t have that opportunity cost, then they have some comparative advantage.

    • Deiseach says:

      Donald Trump????

      Do the Republicans not want to have a chance at the Presidency?

      More worryingly, do the Republicans have a chance at the Presidency if they go with him?

      I shouldn’t sneer; our oh-so-tough-and-independent-minded Minister for Finance couldn’t do half enough arse-licking when Trump deigned to grace us with his presence.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        Donald Trump????

        Do the Republicans not want to have a chance at the Presidency?

        More worryingly, do the Republicans have a chance at the Presidency if they go with him?

        What good is electing a Republican president if he is just gonna be a cuckservative?

        Not that electing Trump would be of much help, because Moldbug. At most would delay the inevitable.

        • randy m says:

          Not sure if you are being serious, but there is a growing sense along Republican voters that Republican politicians are untrustworthy and/or unwilling to discuss taboo topics, so an outsider may be preferable.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Exactly. If all the politicians deliver is failure theater, why not pick the one who at least delivers entertaining theater?

          • Deiseach says:

            The man bought an Irish golf course, flew into Shannon airport in his private jet and had our Minister for Finance crawling all over him in a cringe-worthy display of forelock tugging, and bullshitted about how he was going to develop the golf course, create hundreds of jobs, and build a ballroom! That would attract people from all over the world!!

            I believe this is only slightly less plausible than that Two-Mile-Borris can successfully host ” all-weather racecourse and greyhound tracks, equestrian centre, 500 room five-star hotel, eighteen hole golf course, a replica of the White House in Washington, D.C. and a Las Vegas Strip style casino”.

            In short, I don’t believe he’s going to deliver on these extravagant promises and he may well end up selling on the course at a profit to him and a cost of no jobs and our dignity to us.

            So why the hell would the American people in any degree believe his promises?

          • Jaskologist says:

            Deiseach,

            It’s not that they believe his promises. It’s that they don’t believe any of the other guys’ promises either. Trump is just a way to give them all the finger.

        • ryan says:

          I swear that word is an evil plot to derail The Movement. Can’t we just stick with coward?

        • The term “cuckservative” only makes sense if you assume that people are married to their race.

          • moridinamael says:

            There was already had a word for this, RINO (Republican In Name Only), I get that Cuckservative means something marginally different but that’s not a good reason to use a new term. This leads me to conclude the Cuckservative is only being adopted because it’s irritating.

          • Jaskologist says:

            “Cuckservative” is an instance of the alt-right descending into the same signalling games that rendered Libertarians impotent. While at its best, libertarianism is about maximizing individual liberty, at the practical and popular level, libertarians are mostly concerned with signalling how they are not like those icky conservatives. Think of Nick Gillespie as the personification of this.

            The alt-right draws a lot from the mises.org crowd, and they still feel the same impulses. You’d think they’d be a little more resistant to it, given how much they discuss the dangers of signalling spirals and purging only the right end of a given spectrum, but c’est la vie. In the end, they’re still doing Cthulhu’s work.

          • nyccine says:

            No, “cuckservative” isn’t just marginally different; a key part of its meaning is derived from a rejection, by many on the alt-right, of Republican big-business boosterism, and the more libertarian and/or managerial strains of the Republican party. Additionally, whereas “RINO” never meant anything more than “doesn’t sufficiently toe the party line to my taste,” “cuckservative” carries with it an explicit insult that no-one on the right can comfortably stand and must address, forcibly.

          • Zykrom says:

            To be fair, “insulting” someone by comparing them to a huge badass animal is a bit silly.

          • @Zykrom, I can’t tell if you’re deliberately confusing RINOs with pachyderms or cucks with roosters.

      • stillnotking says:

        More worryingly, do the Republicans have a chance at the Presidency if they go with him?

        No. Trump is the GOP’s fun summer fling. And they only like him because he pisses off Mom the Democrats.

      • gattsuru says:

        The only person with worse unfavourable ratings than Trump is Hillary Clinton. It’s /very/ hard to imagine him lasting long into the primary season before some type of scandal-conservatives-care-about — real, manufactured, or both — hits him so hard Ross Perot feels it. I’m increasingly convinced that he’s only lasted as long as he has because so many likely Republican voters think that stuff he’s done that would /normally/ be a scandal were just made up.

        At least since Dubya years, June-August a year before the election is when the Republican party tends to look especially random, combined with the average voter (reasonably) having very little information or actual care about the candidates. In 2007 we had Fred (“Who”) Thompson and Guiliani sparing off til January of the following year; in 2011, “Crazy-Eyes” Bachmann, “Crazy” Paul, and “wtf” Huckabee looked like serious contenders right until they didn’t.

        There are a lot of conservatives that genuinely do want a outsider rather than the ISO-Standard Republican Candidate, having seen the latter sell out everything they cared about before losing anyway in 2012. But the more of Trump they see, the less he’s going to look like anyone-but-Romneyv2, and the more he’s going to look like a jackass version of Romney.

        • Deiseach says:

          I didn’t have much meas on Romney, but at minimum he looked like a serious politician. Trump? Even as a joke candidate, or a name being bandied about – it’s ridiculous.

          I don’t think Bernie Saunders is electable either, but at least his rival for the nomination is Hilary Clinton. Unless the idea is to make whatever shiny-haired nonentity they do pick look great by comparison, even entertaining the notion of Trump is disturbing.

          • Nornagest says:

            Hillary Clinton represents nothing but the Clinton brand, a stable of pollsters, and a swimming pool full of establishment money; I may as well vote for Coca-Cola, and I say that as someone that liked Bill Clinton. There’s no one in the current running, Democrat or Republican, who I wouldn’t vote for over her.

            Except for Donald Trump. Well, I still wouldn’t vote for her, but I’d probably stay home.

          • John Schilling says:

            Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders are both in the same category. They “thrive” on being outspoken proponents of a position as far from the mainstream as can possibly fit under a major-party tent; they will both poll on the order of 20% of their party’s voters when they are in the headlines, less when the spotlight shines elsewhere. Half of their supporters don’t understand how destructive they would be, half don’t care.

            The other 80% will vote for anybody but them, and they will not win.

            The difference is, right now the GOP’s 80% “Anyone but Trump” block is divided about half a dozen different ways, which makes Trump look like the leader. And there’s no particular reason for the average Republican to decide between Bush, Rubio, and Walker quite yet. But even if this persists long enough for Trump to win a plurality of the delegates, he won’t get the nomination.

          • Loquat says:

            Romney lost a lot of goodwill by so obviously changing his positions to say whatever he thought his potential voters wanted to hear. He had a perfectly respectable record as moderate-conservative governor of a liberal state, but decided that moderation was poison in the Republican primary, so he ran away from his record and took hard-right positions at odds with his previous actions.

      • Outsider’s slightly tongue-in-cheek theory: (1) controlling Congress is more important (for a US political party) than getting the Presidency is. (2) The party the President belongs to tends to lose votes, because the President (and by association the party) gets blamed for pretty much everything that goes wrong, regardless of whether such blame is rational. (This negative feedback explains why the presidential vote is often so razor-edge close.) (3) Therefore, the best way to control Congress is to make sure the other party wins the Presidency. (4) Therefore, Trump.

        Discuss. 🙂

        • Saal says:

          There is some truth to what you’re saying, but I think to an outsider it’s often easy to miss just how important cabinet seats, the justice department, and the plethora of executive defense and regulatory agencies are to paying dividends to corporate sponsors. These are all subject to Congressional oversight in theory, but not to such an extent that it’s not worth sticking your guy in the Oval for his 4.

        • Deiseach says:

          Harry Johnston, that makes sense of the whole shebang. Neither party wants to win the presidency, they want to lose it to the other side (while gaining control of congress).

          So when the Democrats let Sanders run, the Republicans let Trump do his thing. Now I understand! 🙂

      • Izaak Weiss says:

        I honestly think Donald Trump is a Democrat False Flag operation. Destroy republican trustworthiness, split the vote running as an independent, and bam! Hillary wins.

      • Ano says:

        The Republicans do want a chance, and that’s why the GOP establishment and media organs are trying to ruin him. Likely, it will work; Trump has terrible favorability ratings among Republicans.

        What this signifies more than anything is a reduction in the ability of the GOP establishment to control the conservative movement. This is also apparent in the sheer number of candidates; no truly organized party would permit such a chaotic primary.

      • CJB says:

        I mean- gang- the answer is right in what Scott posted.

        ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. FUCKING ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.

        I don’t care if Trumps a jackass. I don’t care what he told Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t care how mean he was to someone on TV that one time. Right now, we have literally, actually, tens of millions of illegal immigrants pouring over our borders. TWO presidents, one of each party, have done nothing whatsoever to curtail this. This one has actively encouraged it.

        I can’t think of a comparable time when you had an issue that was so clearly a huge concern to pretty much an entire base of a political party, with no action being taken.

        This is the biggest issue in Europe too, and in Australia- and essentially anywhere that enlightenment civilization has created something worth having. We aren’t getting highly skilled laborers for today’s economy. We’re getting hammer swingers and bricklayers and drug dealers- AND WE’VE GOT OUR OWN THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

        Yes, it’s because the conservative establishment doesn’t listen to us- about immigration.

        I think it’s Jeb’s campaign that’s going to flame out first- or if not, that soon after Trump. If Trump gets hit with a serious scandal he can’t duck (and his “Yeah? So’s your mom ;P ” attitude is essentially kryptonite for the media’s scandal mongering techniques, because people admire strength and cockiness more than they hate X scandal) his supporters aren’t going to Bush- they’re going to whoever is strongly opposed to illegal immigration.

        Ben Carson is running a very quiet but very successful campaign- he impressed a LOT of people at the debate, he’s getting individual donations on a Bernie level, he’s got intellectual credentials like woah, he’s got class and a great personal story. And he’s a black conservative- there’s nothing conservatives love more than a black conservative. Honestly- in the best of all worlds- he should be (and I strongly suspect will be) a VP nominee used to strengthen a more politically experienced frontrunner (Walker, Rubio, Cruz hopefully) and set him up as a really heavy hitter in eight years.

        The “uncontrolled primary”- eh. This time around, at least, it’s a big advantage. Right now, the Dems have Clinton (taking heavy fire from all directions, immensely unpopular).

        O’Malley? Please, oh please run the former mayor of Baltimore who backed down in front of a couple of protesters. I’m begging you.

        Sanders- going to have huge issues. The media is liberal, yes- but they’re worshippers of Mammon first. He’s a very short tempered person (Especially in a politico) who has been sitting in a very safe seat for a very long time. I suspect over the years, he’s said a lot of “eh, fuck it- I’m never gonna run for president” things that are going to be coming out as he crosses the line into “serious contender”….especially fighting a Clinton. They’re MEAN fuckers.

        And that’s it.

        Meanwhile, right now, the Republicans have defense in depth. Trump is leading with his chin, bless him- if he does nothing else, he’s brought immigration front and center. I suspect right now Hillary is laying low- which at any other time, would be a good strategy. She’s hoping for more flameouts- and a few will. Christie, Perry, Santorum will burn out big and loud. Instead, she’s just being brushed aside.

        It’s gonna be an interesting ride.

        • Earthly Knight says:

          “Right now, we have literally, actually, tens of millions of illegal immigrants pouring over our borders.”

          Do you have a citation on this? The figures I can find in mainstream sources suggest that there are, in total, around 11 million illegal immigrants residing in the US, down from 12 million in years past, and that the gross number of people crossing the border illegally each year is in the vicinity of 150,000.

          • Gbdub says:

            CJB is wrong on the number, but right on the larger point: Trump is popular because he’s being extremely blunt about an issue a lot of conservatives care about but GOP establishment politicians haven’t been taking a stand on. Also, he’s giving the finger to the media, which conservatives also find refreshing. People like a fighter.

            Don’t get me wrong, I think Trump would be a disaster as the actual candidate. But the biggest critiques against McCain and Romney from the right were that they were too deeply embedded in the “establishment” and more interested in keeping cozy with Washington society than in standing for conservative principles.

            Which I consider unfortunate because frankly I think Romney would have been a very competent executive, certainly more so than the current administration.

            And on the other side, the Democrats are going to offer up either an unrepentant socialist or the architect of the least successful aspect of the Obama administration (who also happens to be a corrupt as hell rape enabler). Sigh.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            …rape enabler?

          • CJB says:

            10 million or more new permanent immigrants over the next 10 years- which, given the 11 million already here….I mean, there’s a bit of hair splitting over “the next decade” and ‘now’ to me. But I’ll admit to over stating the case.

            Millions.

          • Gbdub says:

            Hillary Clinton put a lot of effort into shaming and discrediting the women Bill Clinton sexually assaulted. She victim blamed her way into a political career.

            And yes, Bill Clinton is a rapist – there’s no way an intern can give the POTUS “affirmative consent (and that’s just Monica – he was accused of a lot of stuff more clearly falling into sexual assault). He’s morally a rapist if not one in a strictly criminal sense. Bill Clinton is essentially Bill Cosby with “political power” instead of “fame and roofies”.

            Mainstream mid 90s feminists ignored all this of course, and 2016 feminists will as well, because the Clintons are on the “right” side of the abortion debate.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            “10 million or more new permanent immigrants over the next 10 years- which, given the 11 million already here….I mean, there’s a bit of hair splitting over “the next decade” and ‘now’ to me.”

            I notice you’ve hedged slightly to “permanent immigrants”, rather than illegal immigrants, but if we take your original claim the 10 million figure is ludicrously high even over a period of ten years. I repeat: the annual gross influx in recent years has been under 200,000, and net illegal immigration has been negative.

            Note also that the country’s population is projected to hit 350 million by 2025. The presence of 15 million illegal immigrants, while not trivial, is not going to fundamentally reshape the social order.

            “And yes, Bill Clinton is a rapist”

            I agree that the most powerful man in the world cheating on his wife with an intern fresh out of college is sleazy and wrong. It is not rape, though, and it is not in the same ballpark as drugging and raping 30+ women while they are incapacitated. Power and prestige are not quaaludes. If you want to call Hillary a sexual misconduct apologist, that’s fine by me, but please reserve “rape enabler” for people who have actually abetted an actual rape.

          • Ptoliporthos says:

            Re: rape enablers

            Well since we’re supposed to always believe women and stuff, there’s Juanita Broaddrick. But, at this point, what difference does it make?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            There’s this story as well:

            “Hillary Clinton is known as a champion of women and girls, but one woman who says she was raped as a 12-year-old in Arkansas doesn’t think Hillary deserves that honor. This woman says Hillary smeared her and used dishonest tactics to successfully get her attacker off with a light sentence—even though, she claims, Clinton knew he was guilty.”

            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/20/exclusive-hillary-clinton-took-me-through-hell-rape-victim-says.html

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            >I agree that the most powerful man in the world cheating on his wife with an intern fresh out of college is sleazy and wrong. It is not rape, though, and it is not in the same ballpark as drugging and raping 30+ women while they are incapacitated.

            That seems like taking the most charitable approach to the Clinton case while the least chartiable to the Cosby one.

            I do also believe that Cosby is probably guilty of a portion of that which he’s being accused of and Clinton probably didn’t rape lewinsky.

          • Jaskologist says:

            Bill has a long, long history of being accused of rape and sexual harassment. Remember, the Lewinsky scandal only came to light because she and Bill lied about their relationship in the course of dismissing a sexual harassment lawsuit against him by another woman.

            And that’s not even getting into his recently-uncovered involvement with the Lolita Express.

            Hillary’s role in all of this is not unlike the role of network executives in Bill Cosby’s past.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            So we have, on the one hand, accusations from a website which prominently features Alex Jones, and on the other, accusations that Hillary Clinton was at one point an attorney who did her constitutional duty in defending her client. Jesus Christ, is this slatestarcodex or freerepublic?

            The Broaddrick accusation against Bill seems fairly credible, at least, although Hillary’s role is limited to one oblique comment to the alleged victim.

            “That seems like taking the most charitable approach to the Clinton case while the least chartiable to the Cosby one.”

            Monica Lewinsky has never claimed that the not-technically-sexual-intercourse was anything but consensual, AFAIK, but I’m happy to stipulate that it was sexual misconduct. Not sure where the charity comes in.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The modern sexual harassment mindset says that a workplace superior always wields improper power over a subordinate.

            I’m not fully on-board with the entire mindset, but I find it hard to argue too hard with that sentence. If it makes it harder for POTUS to have an affair, well, too bad.

        • John Schilling says:

          TWO presidents, one of each party, have done nothing whatsoever to curtail [Illegal Immigration]. This one has actively encouraged it

          And the next one will do approximately the same. Also, he’s going to continue running the giant Ponzi scheme that is Social Security, he’s not going to round up the banksters, he’s not going to reintroduce the gold standard, and he’s not going to ban handguns. Among other things.

          American policy for many decades has been that we want ten to twenty million poor immigrants from impoverished countries to do the crap jobs that Americans won’t. Really, they won’t. Mexicans et al will. And the other part of our policy is that we don’t want to have to pay these people minimum wage or give them the usual range of workplace protections, and we’d rather their children not go to the same schools as our children.

          So we shout ILLEGAL!, and turn a blind eye so long as they take crap wages and don’t complain and don’t send their kids to the good public schools at least, and we get what we want and they mostly get what they want.

          The number of people who actually want to change this, is not enough to elect a president, or a congressional majority. Particularly if you count people with money to make campaign donations. The only actual debate is whether the people who clean our toilets are going to be afforded the same rights and dignity as the rest of us or whether we are still going to play the silly
          “ILLEGAL!” game.

          If you’re one of the people who actually wants all the ILLEGAL! immigrants rounded up and sent home, go stand over there with the people who want to repeal social security and go back to the gold standard, and argue with the people who want to ban guns and send all of Wall Street to reeducation camps.
          I actually sympathize with one or two of those views, but they’re not part of any real political debate at this time.

          • CJB says:

            Errr- actually, there is a huge population of people that WILL do shitty work for low wages, quite cheerfully, and derive huge benefits from it.

            Teenagers.

            No, seriously, and lets ignore the “Gasp! CHILD SLAVE LABOR” BS. My first job at age 13 was shoveling snow in Maine for (much) less than minimum wage. Lots of people I knew worked in cranberry bogs, or blueberry fields.

            Clerking, restocking, McDonalds, carry shingles up a ladder (another shitty job I did), picking tomatoes….these are all wonderful jobs for young people who A. want some pocket money and B. want to get job experience.

            Adults with families looking to start careers don’t want to do these jobs- but teenagers need jobs for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is- it’s good for them. It builds a resume, so when you hit one of those “entry level position: 1-3 years experience wanted” you can say “well, I’ve been picking tomatoes- it’s something.”

            Second- for jobs that teenagers won’t do, wages are artificially depressed by under the table workers, primarily hurting low-income americans.

            I hate to tell you this, but for many, many MANY years- right up through the 90’s, the “people cleaning our toilets” weren’t Hispanic.

            They were black. And they generally made shit wages, true, and we can argue all day about that. But they were disadvantaged American citizens getting jobs that they could do with little to no education, that could possibly provide other opportunities.

            The current immigration crisis isn’t the Eternal Mexican- yes, there were some migrant mexican laborers in the 50’s, but nowhere near as many.

            It’s a recent, and perfectly correctable crisis- one that never would’ve happened if we’d done the small, regular maintence work on the problem required.

            It’s like we haven’t maintained a car for a while, and now it’s gone from “needs oil” to “needs a new oil pump” and you’re going “eh, fuck it, lets take it down to the dirt track and redline it for a few hours, it’s fucked anyway.”

            Yes, it’s a bigger problem. Yes, it’s a more expensive problem. but it’s not the way things have always been, or the way they need always be.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think you’re about a generation out of date as to what sort of job most American teenagers will do – or more importantly what their parents will let them do and what future middle-class employers are looking for on resumes. Low pay, yes, or even none at all, but signalling middle-class job skills, values, and identity.

            And I’m pretty sure that if the plan is for Donald Trump to run on a platform of “Elect me, and it won’t be an ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT cleaning the toilet at the local truck stop, it will be your teenage daughter!”, that’s not going to pave a path to the White House or even to a seriously transformed national debate. Nor is “…a black person, like we had in the good old days”, going to be any better.

        • James Picone says:

          This is the biggest issue in Europe too, and in Australia

          I guess I should point out that ‘illegal immigration’ in Australia refers to a trickle of asylum seekers from the Middle East getting smuggled across the Pacific from Indonesia, not really the same thing as you’re referring to. And also both political parties are Very Tough on it, to the point that they’re kind of competing on exactly how cruel we can be to them. Right now the Liberal party (which is the right-of-centre party here, for hysterical raisins) has a policy of locking them up in stinking tropical jails with little to no judicial oversight, and the Labor party (left-wing) has a policy of We’re Tough On Boats Please Vote For Us. Between them those two are ~80% of primary votes. 10% of primary vote goes to the Greens, which have a vague “maybe we should process their refugee applications while they live in the community” policy. Remaining 10% is split between a number of independents and minor parties.

          • jaimeastorga2000 says:

            See “Australia wins the right to remain white.”, “The Camp of the Saints”, “Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia capitulate and allow the boats.”, and “How to stop mass illegal immigration to Britain” for James Donald’s take on Australian illegal immigration (or the lack thereof) and its implications for other first world countries.

          • James Picone says:

            Do I really have to?

            Sigh.

            At its worst, Australia has seen ~17000 asylum seekers a year showing up via boat. It’s a rounding error. The rate wasn’t sustained, mind. We were seeing ~3000 a year prior to that. It’s almost like there’s a lot of noise in the data!

            I’m not sure we have enough data to conclude that Abbott’s policies have, in fact, reduced the number of people showing up, whether it’s a fluctuation, or whether we just don’t know because part of Abbott’s policies is providing as little information about what’s going on. I don’t think we actually have any good stats on how many asylum seekers have shown up since the Liberals took government, nor how many have died.

            Jim’s claim that nobody has been shot is only technically true. Asylum seekers have died in the shithole prison camps. They’ve been raped in the shithole prison camps. We don’t know for sure how many, because again, the policy is that journalists or any kind of external oversight aren’t to be allowed anywhere near the camps. Just to be clear, when I say ‘people have died’, I mean of disease and violence, not old age.

            It’s a goddamn atrocity. I can’t imagine the people of 2060 will look too kindly on it.

    • Paul Torek says:

      Carly Fiorina shines – but will it matter? asks Politico. No, it won’t. Hint : money.

    • Adam says:

      She’s a pretty frickin’ interesting case. Ruin a company, leave with everyone hating you, run for governor of California, lose by a huge margin, then what do you do? Take your money and go live on an island? Nope, run for president. I just can’t follow her logic. Why do you need the headlines and fawning campaign staff so badly? Buy a piece of Bermuda and import 20 year-old college sports burnouts and pay them a hundred grand each to feed you grapes and answer yes to every question you ask.

    • James Picone says:

      You guys really need a better voting system.

  7. James Butler says:

    New study: Rich are more altruistic than the poor, including donating a higher percent of their income to charity.

    I’d like to see a comparison of percent disposable income donated, and disposable spare time volunteered (is there a word for this?), iff there is a reasonable way to measure these*.

    * The paper itself was tl;dr for me, but I’m assuming that if they’d meant disposable they would have said that in the abstract.

    • Zebram says:

      If that was the case, the rich would be donating an even higher percentage still, since most of their wealth, unlike the poor and middle classes, is not even in consumer goods, but tied up in capital. Bill Gates and Donald Trump, for example, don’t have billions of dollars worth of houses, cars, yachts, clothes, and food lying around somewhere, most of it is in stocks, real estate, etc.

    • Jon H says:

      I’d like to see that adjusted to exclude charity that mostly helps the wealthy or privileged. Donating to Harvard, or to the city opera, that sort of thing. Technically, it’s charity, but…

      • Zebram says:

        I’d like to see that adjusted to exclude charity that was done to boost one’s own ego, that is, to make oneself feel better about themselves. Only include charity that we can prove was done for pure altruism.

      • Adam Casey says:

        Presumably with the charity figures for the poor adjusted to exclude charities that mostly help American poor people? ;p

      • suntzuanime says:

        I don’t see any reason why donating to Harvard should be treated differently from any other religious donation.

        • Zebram says:

          Why is religious donation separated out from the others? You probably don’t like it because you think it doesn’t benefit the world, others may say that about the charities you donate to.

          • Adam says:

            Religious and university donations are alike in that you’re self-funding a club you belong to. It might be a club that does good in the world, but it’s still different than giving money to someone else specifically because they do something you think helps the world.

          • The Anonymouse says:

            If you donate to your church because you think it does good in the world, or you donate to the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative because you think it does good in the world, I’m not sure I’m seeing the distinction. SCI likely wins on effectiveness (depending on your view of the human soul), but if we’re categorizing by intent, they seem to spring from the same humanitarian impulse.

            It seems far more likely that some don’t want to include American religious charity in the lists because that would directly contradict the “greedy Republican” narrative that certain folks are rather invested in promoting.

          • RCF says:

            I think that there’s a difference to be made between altruism and humanitarianism. If you go around burning black churches, you’re experiencing significant disutility with no tangible benefits in order to advance what you consider to be the greater good. But that’s hardly a humanitarian activity.

          • Pku says:

            Regarding the religious charity example: Take donations to the Mormon church for example: to what degree do those end up doing classical charity work (like helping the poor or feeding starving kids in Africa), which are fairly uncontroversial, and to what degree do they go to things like supporting Mormon missionaries (which most non-Mormons probably don’t consider increasing net utility)?
            I can easily see someone who believes a significant part of a church’s donated funds go into the latter being against counting religious charities and being reasonable to do so based on that belief. (I have no idea what the actual numbers are, but someone in the church’s outgroup would probably assume this until presented with evidence to the contrary). This doesn’t necessarily require wanting to cling to the narrative of “greedy republicans”. And if it is used to justify that narrative, it can be a way to show it based on the virtue of charity – showing how republicans who genuinely try to be charitable can still be uncharitable.

          • Adam says:

            My actual reasoning wasn’t so much about religious activities as the fact that at least some of the money is going to create buildings for you and your friends to socialize in on the weekends. It’s the same idea with universities. Most of the people giving money went there and are giving as a form of gratitude to build up something they’re a part of. Same thing with something like NPR or a community theater. You’re giving money because you listen to the station or watch shows there and they don’t technically charge anything but rely on a sufficient number of their patrons being generous enough to pay anyway so they can continue operating. Giving money to your own church is purchasing religious service.

          • Zebram says:

            @PKU
            But what does this have to do with adjusting charitable giving in the paper that was cited? I realize most non-Mormons would not like to see more Mormon missionaries, for example, but why would that change the intention of the person giving or supporting such activity? The paper is dealing with altruism, not the net effect or outcome of each activity based on some measurement we might choose.

          • Pku says:

            If we get back to motivation, I guess giving to your church might also be motivated by ingroup/outgroup dynamics and social pressure. And you might reasonably object that all charity giving is affected by social pressures to some degree, but it does seem like you might want to draw a line there – it still feels like the 10% tax the mormon church wants is someting between altruism and membership fees (to take it to extremes, compare it to the church of scientology’s membership fees).

          • Deiseach says:

            The study was done by a German university using data from 31 countries, including (but not confined to) the USA.

            The authors explain how they covered religious donations:

            In other studies using the CEX [36], sometimes contributions to political, educational, and religious organizations were considered as well. However, we decided to limit our analyses to contributions made to charities. This was done for the following reasons: On the one hand, contributions to political and educational organizations do not rule out some kind of (in)direct return. Hence, they may not have been completely prosocial. On the other hand, compared with Germany (and compared with our Study 1), contributions to religious organizations are spent differently in the US. That is, in the US, contributions are used to finance the religious community (e.g., for the pastor’s salary) and to fund charitable church activities. In Germany, however, the religious community is financed via church taxes and contributions, and the offertory is therefore almost exclusively put toward the church’s welfare work. Nevertheless, results for all kinds of donations can be found in the Supporting Information (S1 and S2 Tables).

            So in Germany, “money in the offertory plate” goes purely to charitable purposes; in the US donations and pledges go for salaries, upkeep of the premises, running costs as well as towards charitable purposes – and I don’t know if everyone has experience of this, but churches/religious organisations will have specific fund-raising drives/collections for particular charitable aims, as well as various societies which perform specific missional/charitable acts (e.g. the St Vincent de Paul society).

            So, Adam, a person can donate to (say) the Trócaire charity which:

            Trócaire is the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

            We work with communities in the developing world to deliver long-term positive change to people’s lives.

            Established in 1973, today Trócaire works in countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East on issues including livelihoods, human rights, gender equality, HIV, climate change and emergency relief.

      • DanielLC says:

        How far do you take that? Technically donating to the Seeing Eye is charity, but it’s a thousand times less cost-effective than the [Fred Hollows Foundation](http://www.hollows.org.au/). Should we just limit ourselves to EA donations?

    • Deiseach says:

      I think where the problem crops up is here:

      Donation behavior.
      Donating was measured individually with two items in the year 2010. First, respondents were asked whether they had donated any money in the year 2009 (“Now we want to ask you about donations. In our understanding, donating is giving money for social, religious, cultural, charitable, and philanthropic purposes without expecting any kind of direct reward. This can be large amounts or even small amounts of money that you put in a donation box. Even the offertory in a church is a kind of donation. Did you donate any money in 2009—not taking into account membership subscriptions?”). Those who affirmed the first question were asked how much money they donated in 2009 (“How much money did you donate in the last year altogether?”). If at least one household member was a donor and affirmed the first question, the household was considered a donor household. In the present study, 53.51% (5,010 out of 9,363) of the households gave money to charity. Yet, only 4,907 of them reported how much they had given. As a measure of the relative monetary amounts of the donations, we summed up the individual donations made at the household level and determined the ratio of this sum to the annual household after-tax income. On average, the donating households gave 0.78% (SD = 1.64) of their annual after-tax income to charity. The mean of all households was 0.41% (SD = 1.25).

      I am going to propose that poorer households donate on an ad hoc basis; I know that charities are now pushing very hard to get donors to sign up to agree to pay a regular amount per month out of their bank account as a donation, rather than giving cash into a collection bucket (I’ve had the junk post and emails from charities trying to get me to do this after I’ve made a donation, plus the collectors going door-to-door with the clipboard going “Would you be interested in setting up a direct debit?”).

      For a richer household with more disposable income, this is a convenient way to manage charitable giving, particularly if you can claim back on your taxes for this kind of neatly recorded and verifiable donation method. A poorer household is less likely to sign up for this, because they can’t commit to giving the same amount of money each month – it’s an extra expense. One-off donations for a humanitarian crisis, or regular small “throw the change into the bucket” donations are more likely.

      This also perhaps explains the difference where “In the present study…5,010 out of 9,363 of the households gave money to charity. Yet, only 4,907 of them reported how much they had given”. If you give irregular cash donations, you’re less likely to be able to sum up “Oh, I donated €2,000 last year”. Contrariwise, the richer households can provide an immediate answer “Looking at my bank statement, I donated €4,000 over the past year”.

      • Speedwell says:

        I think the whole thing is a bit silly. Having been poor in young adulthood and moderately well-off in (cough) later adulthood (and am now an unemployed immigrant running on fumes financially and about to start back up the tech ladder), I’ve used portions of my income and/or savings *to help people or causes* at all income levels. At my most well-off, I’ve given money to charities to help people better off than I was at my poorest. Frankly I consider every penny a poor person earns and spends to support themselves and their families as “giving to the poor”, and every sandwich they give the hungry neighbors’ kids “in-kind charity”. I still manage my Kiva portfolio (though it is tempting to ask for some of the money back out at times). My point is, poor people help each other and do their best to stay out of the cynical clutches of so-called “welfare programs”, but would never think of themselves as being charitable. Shouldn’t this be counted to their credit, too?

      • Garrett says:

        I’m a little disappointed with this. I volunteer about 500 hours a year as an EMT with a 501(c)3. That’s roughly a quarter-time job which literally saves lives (granted, in most cases I’m a glorified taxi, but whatever). However, I’m not directly donating money. Instead, I spend money on uniforms, education, etc., almost none of which is even tax deductible.
        But because I’m not donating money *directly* to a charity, it wouldn’t count? That strikes me as a lousy study.

        • Creutzer says:

          You have to make some concessions to the practicalities of a large-scale study. One can’t assess in detail the particular circumstances of every individual. As long as there are sufficiently few people like you, they can probably be ignored. It only becomes a concern if there is a larger number of them, which seems a priori unlikely.

        • Deiseach says:

          Garrett, it would count under the heading of “Time donated volunteering”.

    • Jon Gunnarsson says:

      How do you define disposable income? We know that people can live on less than $1.25 (PPP) per day, because something like a billion people do just that. For people in rich countries like the US, deducting something like $450 p.a. to get at disposable income probably won’t change anything. So presumably you have some other definition in mind.

      • Speedwell says:

        I was with you up until “presumably you have some other definition in mind”. Snarky git. 🙂 I am assuming what you really meant to say was something to the effect that first you have to define what it is to “live on” a given amount of money, then you have to apply that definition meaningfully to the circumstances of a given individual, then you have to figure their income in cash, in kind, and in benefits, then you have to decide whether debt counts, and then you have to decide whether the total figure exceeds the amount that person needs to “live on”.

        In context, you could presumably argue that the middle-class ten-year-old holding 20 dollars in birthday money from Grandma is vastly more financially stable and wealthy than the millionaire whose business is heavily overextended and whose credit cards are at the breaking point.

      • TrivialGravitas says:

        The economic definition is what you earn less what you spend on food and bills. A decent chunk of that is going to be money that, after a certain income, really does not need to be spent (it might be difficult to maintain your job without a cell phone, but most people probably do not need to spend 3x as much on a smart phone).

        • Jon Gunnarsson says:

          How would adjusting for disposable income defined in this way make for a fairer comparison of charitability?

          Let’s imagine two people with an income of $200,000 p.a. each. Alice spends most of her large salary on a luxurious apartment in downtown Manhattan and expensive gourmet meals, so her disposable income is $50,000, of which she donates $10,000 to charity. Bob earns an equally large salary, but he makes do with a more modest apartment and home-cooked meals, such that his expenses on food plus bills are $30,000. His disposable income by your definition is $170,000, which he mostly spends on sportscars and expensive vacations, but he also donates $10,000 to charity. Does it make sense to say that Alice is being more generous or charitable?

  8. Machine Interface says:

    On acidifying the oceans, an amusing calculation (from memory): you could lower the pH of the oceans by one point by filling it with the entire world production of sulfuric acid every year for ten thousand years.

    • Zebram says:

      I’d better stop doing that then. I run Kramerica Industries, and we just dump the stuff into the water.

    • Toggle says:

      Does this include sulfate residence times?

      • Zebram says:

        I assume it does. I’m guessing he’s taking residence times and buffering and whatever else into consideration.

      • Machine Interface says:

        The calculation was done long ago with primitive tools and only a very limitimed understanding of maths and chemistry, and the exact modus operanti has been lost to the ages. Perhaps one day a brilliant archeologist will manage to reconstruct this ancient knowledge and even provide a more accurate calculation!

    • ryan says:

      And it might work too, given that there isn’t a practically infinite supply of Calcium Sulfate to buffer away your efforts.

  9. Squirrel of Doom says:

    The Ramadan study isn’t loading, so I can’t check how it counts any mothers who do defer fasting.

    If 1/3 of mothers do, and the aggregate test score effect is 7-8%, does that mean the fasting group cause a 10.5-12% reduction?

  10. Ilana says:

    Michael Kasumovic’s website is amazing. For some reason, I actually find the bizarre retro video game theme decidedly confidence-inspiring.

    • Shenpen says:

      Yes, but it is a textbook case of corporations-are-evil AlterNet-style idiocy.

      • wysinwyg says:

        Are there any criticisms of corporations that you wouldn’t consider AlterNet-style idiocy?

        I’m wondering if there’s anything in particular you’re objecting to or just that any unfavorable use of the term “corporation” is a fnord for you.

        • Shenpen says:

          Yes. Requirements of a Shenpen-approved criticism of corps:

          1) Realize different corporations are only one of the many power centers influencing politics

          2) Realize different corps have different interests, capitalism generally works so that it is possible to make money on BOTH sides of any disagreement, e.g. Glock makes guns for countries it they are allowed, Umarex makes tear gas guns for countries where normal guns not allowed

          3) Don’t demonize them and don’t try to appeal to my sentiments

          4) More importantly, don’t do the ridiculous little guy vs. big rich man emotional move

          5) Overally, define the issue as one specific group of corps having one specific set of interests vs. other influential groups having other interests, and it is a general tug, not underdog and overdog

          6) This is doubly so for financing scientific research. Some corps finance anti-global-warming and pro-tobacco research. Other power groups like the US gov finances the opposite. Nobody is an underdog. It is a tug.

          • wysinwyg says:

            That is an eminently reasonable list, thanks!

          • TrivialGravitas says:

            I somehow doubt the US uses substantially less tear gas than Britain. I may be jaded by past experience.

            Though I’m sure your point stands, you just need a better example. Tech companies opposing overbroad copyright laws perhaps.

        • Anderkent says:

          For me, it’s using the word evil that bothers me. Corporations are disfunctional – sure. Corporations considered harmful – go ahead. Corporations are evil – ? What does that even mean?

          • wysinwyg says:

            Yes, great point, but in this case I’m pretty sure “evil” didn’t show up on the site in question and was a bit of hyperbole on Shenpen’s part.

          • merzbot says:

            They knowingly do things with awful consequences because it makes them more money.

          • John Schilling says:

            So does everyone else. We just blame it on the corporations, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when we blame it on the government.

          • wysinwyg says:

            So does everyone else. We just blame it on the corporations, except on Tuesdays and Thursdays when we blame it on the government.

            Government and corporations are both great ways to diffuse responsibility, which I think does make their capacity for harm greater than that of an individual human being, on average.

            “Diffusion of responsibility” doesn’t really go far enough, though. Corporations are usually structured in such a way as to limit the information and resources available to each employee so that they only have enough of either to perform a single function. From that employee’s perspective, that function is all that matters, and usually the employee will only have a limited perspective on the effects of that function on other parts of the world. So they create an incentive structure that blinds employees to externalities.

            And then for any employee that exercises curiosity and learns about such externalities — if doing so interferes with the performance of their function (as a result of ethical pangs or anything else) the corporation is typically structured in such a way as to be able to remove that employee and replace him with another person with levels of curiosity and morality more suited to performing the function in question.

            (All these observations also apply to government, or bureaucracy in general.)

        • Anthony says:

          On an object level, there are two main streams of criticisms of corporations which aren’t “alternet-style idiocy”:

          1) the libertarian critique of corporations as using their money to buy protection from competition. AT&T and the cable companies do this in ways which most directly harm consumers, but it’s all over, and libertarians do a good job of making the criticism. (Supporting Uber and Lyft over taxis is the same sort of criticism.)

          2) the criticism that corporations are generally too beholden to dumb ideas popular in MBA programs of 5 years ago, and/or too often reward failure. Tying into other discussion, Carly Fiorina is a good example of this – her performance at HP was pretty poor, yet she walked away with lots of money. Lots of corporations treat their employees as replaceable resources, as was taught in MBA programs, and while at low skill levels you can get away with that, ultimately you can do better by treating your employees somewhat better than that.

    • AlexC says:

      I came here to say that. I thought it was awesome, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and more approachable than I’d expect most scientists’ websites to be.

      • Saul Degraw says:

        Would you hire a lawyer or an accountant with a website like that?

        • AnObfuscator says:

          That depends. Is it the site for the lawyer’s practice, or the lawyer’s personal site for expressing opinions and analysis of law?

          It would be a detriment as the former, but an asset as the latter.

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          I expect my lawyer to be impressive seeming to other lawyers (especially the judge). I do not expect scientists to be impressive seeming (an exception to be made if looking for an ‘expert witness’).

          • lilred says:

            Research is all about individual credibility, and how your personal website looks actually does matter from a signalling perspective. Counter-intuitively, good researchers have really ugly websites because their name carries all the credibility they need; but folks like Michael Kasumovic need all the gimmicks they can gather, because their publication records are unimpressive by themselves.

    • Nestor says:

      Indeed, it looks gorgeous, but I keep instinctively looking for the link to the kickstarter to fund the game

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      I do not think it’s right to dismiss findings based on a web site that tries to have some fun.

    • Saul Degraw says:

      I totally get what they are trying to do but it is just not working for me. Maybe this is a difference in professions? I’m a lawyer and I do judge other lawyer’s and lawfirms by the quality of their websites. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but it should be clean, easy to read, and professional. I wouldn’t hire a lawyer that tries to have fun with his or her website.

      Then again, as much as I don’t want to wear them all the time, I also think that there is something about a well-made and tailored suit.

      But yeah, I got the videogame vibe as well.

    • Winthrop Harvey says:

      Yeah I like it and, of course, it makes perfect sense given that a major portion of the lab’s research is related to games (which is great).

      I do think that the findings of the particular study are horrifically overstated. I mean, basically, they play Halo 3 and saw how much they got trolled while playing voice clips from male or female and doing good or bad.

      They get trolled more as female, and bad players troll more than good players. This surprising and not at all entirely predictable result means that they can make a blanket statement about overall male status and misogyny. This is obviously a reasonable extrapolation. /s

      The truth of the matter is, of course, that bad players and abusive players have substantial overlap, and that abusive players will latch onto anything and anyone that stands out as a target. So, of course females get more abuse, because being a female in Halo 3 makes you stand out. You’d get similar results for anything that makes you stand out: having an accent, having an ethnic voice, having an unusually old or young voice, sounding high, sounding drunk, sounding in any way unusual… I don’t need to redo the study with these conditions to know this, anyone who has played online video games with voice chat knows this.

      Basically, they vastly overinterpreted their findings. But hey, if we’re going to throw every lab and researcher who has ever had a weak study (published in PLOS ONE) under the bus, there’s not going to be anyone left to drive the damn thing.

      The study is actually still pretty fun and amusing to look at as, perhaps, one of the best quantifications of online trolling I’ve ever seen (treat yourself and read the examples in the supplemental text file – someone get them to release all their transcripts, please!) – just don’t take their discussion of the overarching interpretations seriously.

      • Nita says:

        They get trolled more as female, and bad players troll more than good players. This surprising and not at all entirely predictable result

        No amount of eye-rolling will change the fact that a skilled player will have a different gameplay experience depending on their perceived sex, because the sore losers try to suck up to skilled males and try to put down skilled females.

        of course females get more abuse, because being a female in Halo 3 makes you stand out

        Of course! Sexism solved, we can all go home now 🙂 More seriously, some unusual individuals have convenient culturally sanctioned abuse handles for putting them in their “proper” place (from the article – “it’s the bitch stealing my kills”), and others don’t (uh, “it’s the old codger stealing my kills”? “it’s the guy with the unbelievable bass voice stealing my kills”?).

        • TrivialGravitas says:

          There were very few players expressing statements such as those, and no correlation to skill (though at n=11 that’s not exactly meaningful).

          The ‘abuse handles’ model doesn’t explain the skill correlated data at all either. It’s not just a question of low skill players being meaner to women than to men who perform better than them, high skill players are also NICER to women than to men who do worse than them. You need a model that can explain both (the dominant psych model of sexism has a couple possible explanations, it’s consistent with both benevolent sexism and hostility to men).

  11. 60% of variation in school test scores is heritable, not genetic. Can you point me to the GCTA / GWAS where the SNPs behind heritability of school test scores in Scotland are found and fill out the heritability, and are replicated? If not, then twin studies alone do not prove that, and you can’t claim that.

    Heritability is a simple concept, I’m surprised that you’ve conflated it with “genetic-ness.”

    • JK says:

      Heritability is synonymous with “variation that is genetic”, so Scott’s usage is correct.

      The requirement for the causal alleles to be pinpointed is arbitrary. As long as a given heritability estimation method produces unbiased results, heritability or genetic variance is what it is regardless of whether we know the molecular specifics.

      • Ahilan Nagendram says:

        Not commonly in behavior genetics, heritability is more commonly taken to mean the variation in traits that can be allotted to genetic factors (both h2 and H2) but until the actual SNPs with additive effects behind the trait are found through GWAS / GCTA the heritability is “missing.”

        I believe in other fields this distinction is understood but not necessarily pointed out every time it’s discussed (I think in medicine, agrigenetics for example) but Scott is linking here to a behavior genetic twin study, so it’s a mistake on his part to conflate heritability with genetic causation.

        • Ahilan Nagendram says:

          Reading the paper, and as usual GCTA results in much, much lower heritabilities than the twin studies. Unimpressive, but that’s what GCTAs have been doing. And the usual ad hoc explanations for that are given out too.

          Another interesting thing is them bringing up Plomin’s usual claim of high heritability = social equality / meritocracy. If that’s true, and achievement within the British school system is indeed highly heritable (will have to wait for replications and twin studies elsewhere to compare) then that’s a big blow to the American school system.

          • JK says:

            They are not ad hoc explanations. It would be astonishing if GCTA and twin estimates of heritability were identical. That would mean that the few hundred thousand SNPs usually available fully capture all relevant genetic variation between individuals.

            Let’s say you recruit a bunch of people and have them take an IQ test. Then, you randomly assign them to treatment and control groups, and repeatedly smash the members of the treatment group on the head with a steel hammer, while the control group gets hit with a soft toy hammer. Afterwards, you observe that the IQs of the treatment group have declined while those of the control group haven’t. Just to be certain, you repeat the experiment with several new samples and get the same results.

            Based on your reasoning above, you would no doubt argue that this experiment does not provide any evidence for the causal effect on IQ of being hit on the head with a steel hammer. Not until you have uncovered how a steel hammer’s blow affects the molecular, neuronal basis of intelligence can anything be said about causality.

            I, on the other hand, would argue that the experiment provides excellent evidence for the causal influence on IQ of being repeatedly hit with a hammer. But I guess this is a philosophical difference between us, so there’s no point in arguing further.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            Based on your reasoning above, you would no doubt argue that this experiment does not provide any evidence for the causal effect on IQ of being hit on the head with a steel hammer. Not until you have uncovered how a steel hammer’s blow affects the molecular, neuronal basis of intelligence can anything be said about causality.

            I probably wouldn’t. But this hypothetical event has little to do with my saying that “the molecular, neuronal basis of intelligence” cannot be found through twin studies, until we have samples from across a range of environments (developed, non-developed, across SES and nations etc.) then maybe would the heritability figures from twin studies be more informative than they are.

            There are problems with the P = G + E model, but assigning E to only developed countries, for example, or in this case Britain, the heritability estimate is not globally informative. Claims drawn from this like “60% of variation is school test scores are genetic” aren’t any good.

          • JK says:

            There are several twin studies that include essentially entire birth cohorts of twins from specific nations and are therefore broadly generalizable. This is true of the British study under discussion. The results cannot be generalized to, say, the developed world, but this is no different from any other type of social science research.

            The G + E model fits the data well empirically. More complex models don’t. Data and theory are consistent with the additive model.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            But with so many interactions, differing in each individual in the kinds of data that the Visscher et al. churn out, it is not surprising, nor misleading that interactions are a small fraction of the total pattern assessed statistically. Those who suggest that much of the “missing” heritability is due to epistasis haven’t produced much convincing evidence, and again it is rather hard to document statistically. Still, prediction of traits in individuals could be seriously undermined by making group-based additivity assumptions.

            And an assumption it remains. When the range of genomes and environments are restricted enough, as in the class twin designs, and as Visscher points out, the additive model is a useful approximation. But the function which takes genomes and environments to psychological phenotyopes and complex traits can’t be reduced into a sum of assumed independent functions of genome and environment.

            h2 for a single population in a particular environment can’t be taken as h2 for all populations across all possible environments (whatever they may be, I certainly can’t think of them all). One can easily think of a design (albeit unethical) that shuffles around MZ twins around the world (restricted to regions with a near 100 IQ) and to different wombs and raised in different environments.

            It’s a study we won’t be able to do until cloning tech is around and ethical considerations aren’t, but it’ll be informative about a “global h2” of psychological or cognitive traits, if you will, and if anything, would be fun.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          What is the difference between “genetic” and “allotted to genetic factors”? That people will not finish reading long sentences?

      • TrivialGravitas says:

        Heritability is the variation that can be attributed to genetics in controlled environments (IE twins raised by the same parents). It doesn’t say anything about the balance between genetics and environment.

        • Ahilan Nagendram says:

          Expecting independent effects of environment and genes is a mistake in itself. “Nature and nurture” was always a false dichotomy.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          It really is the proportion of genetics out of the genetics+environment. Try wikipedia, though you have to read more than two paragraphs. A reality check is that it is dimensionless. If it were the variation of height due to genetics, it would have units of inches or inches squared.

          Do not confusing the method of measuring a construct with the construct itself.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            If wiki is really your preferred source, then perhaps you should look up “norms of reaction.” If you really don’t see the problem with extrapolating results of the P = G + E equation to all possible environments, then I don’t know what to tell you. (Assuming that “environment” refers to a real thing is mistaken too, as a result of the P = G + E assumption much of the “non-shared environment” is really more the different norms of reaction of DZ twins to the “shared environment!”)

            In the restricted range of genomes and environment additivity is a straightforward approximation. Not in all possible environments, or genomes. To claim any given trait is X% genetic, heritability studies in one environment (this case, the British school system, British socioeconomic environment etc.) is insufficient evidence.

            Heritability is a snapshot of the proportion of genetics out of the genetics+environment within one range of genotypes and environments. It is not meant to pick up GxG or GxE interactions or different genetic mechanisms. But in that one snapshot, we can more safely assume additivity, not outside of it.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            Don’t put words in my mouth.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            I don’t care to. I’m continuing to say what I’ve said before in this thread, your unhelpful comments within notwithstanding.

  12. Shenpen says:

    >Given that they tend to have 2D:4D ratios more like the gender they identify as

    Whoa, what? Suppose you live in a male body and consider transitioning to female. Your body is male but your digit ratio is female, your brain is female but your current hormonal levels (mood, behavior) are more male (you may like guns and boxing more than fluffy pink things and yet you somehow consider transitioning to female because why exactly?) …. I mean, like, what? I cannot make head or tails of it. If that prenatal T release gave you a dick, why didn’t it give you a male digit ratio? But it somehow did not affect your brain, yet, being raised as a boy gave you boyish interests (current hormonal levels predict that) just what kind of sense it makes?

  13. JK says:

    I have been pushing this line for a long time against the “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” crowd and I am delighted to see it confirmed.

    The study doesn’t confirm that. “Following medical advice” may be the genetically influenced mechanism here.

    rationality does not appear to have a general factor and people who do well in avoiding one kind of cognitive bias aren’t much more likely to do well at avoiding another

    Like Stanovich’s research, that study is rendered dubious by the use of an undergraduate sample. The g factor is weak, too, if you restrict the sample to smart people.

    • Danny says:

      The study doesn’t confirm that. “Following medical advice” may be the genetically influenced mechanism here.

      The implication of “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” is that they are better at following medical advice because they are more intelligent. The study demonstrates that there is a genetic component distinct but correlated to intelligence.

      Saying: “probably some of the genes that increase intelligence also happen to increase predisposition to listening to medical advice”, seems like a pretty different theory. There are plausible mechanisms by which it could work, but not whilst maintaining a simple casual diagram of intelligence -> listens to medical advice.

      Although actually, I realise I’ve been assuming that they are controlling for intelligence differential (between the twins). It’s possible that all the study shows is that fraternal twins have a higher difference in longevity because fraternal twins have a higher difference in intelligence, and there is an established link between intelligence and longevity. I’d assume that the this would be an obvious thing to consider in the study design, but maybe I’m putting to much faith in science.

  14. Shenpen says:

    Fetal vs. present-day testosterone: it is weird that when I was 16 it was precisely those boys who were unable to find a girlfriend because timid, geeky, antisocial, Aspie, had the hairiest legs or found it easiest to grow large beards. “Neckbeard”, as a term of insult, also acknowledges some sense hairiness which relates to T somehow, right?

    Google shows some evidence of linking hairiness to prenatal, not current T (makes no sense to me but whatevs). So the intelligent, hairy neckbeardy geek has a higher prenatal T and his meekness is all about currently low T.

    Next question: why the heck do men with high fetal T end up being meek, introverted, not too masculine, GF-quest failing neckbeardy geeks?

    Why does it seem like it correlates almost negatively?

    Why was it so that the masculine, outgoing boys in our class who found it easy to find a GF had hardly any chest or leg hair? They overcompensated low fetal T by somehow working up a high present one? While the geeks at some level figured they were “born alpha”, got intellectual, socially and physically lazy and end up with low present T?

    While we are at it, why is Asperger / Autism called “extremely male mind” ? Our textbook Aspie was anything but an alpha-male, such as a boxer or thuggishly cool drug dealer, they were typically timid, low or outside the male dominance hierarchy, and usually hated any kind of physicality, from never fighting to having rather two minds about sex. In fact they were often called gay / sissy, perceived as weak, and of course bullied due to that. But on the other hand – it correlates with higher fetal T, such as being hairy or intelligent. Just lower present T.

    Weird, innit? can someone make sense of it?

    • Forlorn Hopes says:

      For extremely male mind, it means read “systemising” rather than “alpha male”.

      Simon Baron Cohen is a major proponent of the theory if you want to read up more.

    • Roxolan says:

      “Neckbeard”, as a term of insult, also acknowledges some sense hairiness which relates to T somehow, right?

      Not at all. It refers to a lack of grooming (whether by laziness, incompetence, or choice). It’s the same as complaining about body odor, except easier because neckbeards can be seen on pictures.

      The insult does exclude men who do not grow beards for hormonal reasons, but you’re giving the name-callers far too much credit if you think that’s on purpose.

    • Maybe the testosterone receptors of Aspies are concentrated in their hair follicles.

      Maybe masculinity increases the variance in the nerdiness vs. macho scale but not the mean.

      Maybe I come up with too many ad-hoc explanations.

    • wysinwyg says:

      Maybe there’s a feedback loop between one’s perception of one’s social status and the amount of testosterone subsequently produced, and maybe androgynous-looking children have more friends/are more socially successful.

      Then children with high fetal T might appear more masculine, meaning they end up with lower social status, meaning they produce less testosterone, which reinforces their low social status.

      Give me a bit and I can probably come up with a few more ad hoc hypotheses for this.

      Anecdotally, I have a very low 2d:4d, disproportionately hairy legs, had very low social status as a child and perceived myself that way. I am generally introverted, but a psychology PhD said he would not consider an autism spectrum diagnosis and talked a bit about what would be involved there. (As a result of this talk, I suspect a lot of introverted men overestimate the degree to which they exhibit symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.)

      Also anecdotally, the only reason I ever had trouble getting dates was basically poor self-esteem. Looking back, I see I had many opportunities and ignored them due to self-doubt and fear of rejection.

      The “feedback between perceived social status and T production” seems really intuitively plausible to me — success in competition causes your brain/body system to be more competitive, and failure in competition does the opposite. The “androgynous children are more socially successful” seems somewhat less probable, though.

      • Shenpen says:

        >Maybe there’s a feedback loop between one’s perception of one’s social status and the amount of testosterone subsequently produced, and maybe androgynous-looking children have more friends/are more socially successful.

        My experience would be the opposite. My childhood looked a lot like a camp of wild barbarian orcs – that is normal, right? Power, strength, cruelty brought more status than being an easy to get along nice fella.

      • Shenpen says:

        > I am generally introverted, but a psychology PhD said he would not consider an autism spectrum diagnosis and talked a bit about what would be involved there. (As a result of this talk, I suspect a lot of introverted men overestimate the degree to which they exhibit symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.)

        The I-am-an-Aspie spiel is clearly overdone. I did it too. I realized I am wrong when I met real autists who said they have one videogame only and play it all the time. I was the opposite, I had many but not to win, but to daydream.

        I primarily disliked people. That led to fearing people. It is not the same as autism.

      • Shenpen says:

        >Also anecdotally, the only reason I ever had trouble getting dates was basically poor self-esteem. Looking back, I see I had many opportunities and ignored them due to self-doubt and fear of rejection.

        Sounds like me except I thought I somehow deserve models and I hardly even noticed indicators of interest from normal girls.

      • Shenpen says:

        >The “feedback between perceived social status and T production” seems really intuitively plausible to me — success in competition causes your brain/body system to be more competitive, and failure in competition does the opposite. The “androgynous children are more socially successful” seems somewhat less probable, though.

        Yes, it should be the opposite. Status is not popularity or likedness when you are a child. At 30 it can be. At 8 it is how much you scare the shit out of them vs. how much they scare you. Kids are barbarians. The feedback loop is high T, scaring them, making them understand you are not an easy target for sadistic bullying and torture so they should seek a weaker target, this gets you status, you get more T.

        • wysinwyg says:

          Status is not popularity or likedness when you are a child. At 30 it can be. At 8 it is how much you scare the shit out of them vs. how much they scare you.

          I suspect different children have different experiences as far as that goes…sounds like your childhood was a little more “Lord of the Flies” than mine.

          Nonetheless, I think you’re more right than wrong on this. I can think of other possibilities; interest in and talent at sports seem like they could be really important factors. Maybe birth order and how one is socialized with siblings.

          I primarily disliked people. That led to fearing people. It is not the same as autism.

          Ah, just using it a short-hand for the introvert/outcast personality trait cluster. I feel like we need a new name for this…

          Sounds like me except I thought I somehow deserve models and I hardly even noticed indicators of interest from normal girls.

          That was probably at least partially true for me as well. Introspecting, I think social status games play into this. Like dating someone “in my league” would be admitting that I have really low social status to myself, and so I avoided doing so.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think you’re reading too much into the beard angle.

  15. Muga Sofer says:

    >1980s Zimbabwe passed a law banning people from making fun of the name of President Canaan Banana.

    Power has it’s privileges.

  16. Jeremy says:

    We have a fundamental disagreement with Bernie Sanders that racism is somehow an offshoot from economic exploitation when the reality is that race and class in America are inextricably linked to the rise of capitalism in this country to the industrial revolution.

    Can someone please please explain to me what the substantial issue of policy is here? What policy do they support that he doesn’t, or vice versa?

    • Steve Johnson says:

      Communism in the name of the lower class vs communism in the name of the SJW.

      Who gets stuff when you loot companies.

      Are you required to set up diversity offices and speech codes or are you required to set up worker’s committees to approve work rules.

    • they are pretty much the same. I also found the distinction, if one exists, to be confusing

    • Deiseach says:

      Okay, trying to disentangle that, it seems to be arguing that Sanders is proposing an old-style merit model: just work hard enough and you’ll succeed! That is, once equal opportunities for advancement in jobs are open to everyone, then functionally, racism will have been overcome.

      The opposing or diverging or disagreeing opinion seems to be that racism is tied up with classism and both are necessary parts of post-industrial revolution capitalism; that a worker-class deprived of power is necessary to the whole enterprise and that designating certain groups, classes, or races to occupy the role of powerless is inextricably part of the entire system. Also, that racism as a means of preventing class solidarity by pitting white workers against others, so that (for instance) immigrants or foreigners are blamed for ‘taking our jobs’ or doing work cheaper so that wages are depressed or jobs outsourced overseas, distracts them from the real source and power-holders, prevents them from forming alliances with the other oppressed groups, and stifles any effective combination to seize control of the means of production.

      tl, dr: Sanders is saying it is possible to work within the system, they are saying the system needs to be smashed.

      • Shenpen says:

        But that is the weird part: in order for people to be exploited, they should actually have jobs. Marxists have a way of arguing that a reserve army of unemployed labor helps scaring workers into accepting lower wages, but isn’t the US black and other minority perpetual welfare class far too huge for that purpose? Even a leftie explanation, when realistic, should be something like capital not actually needing so many workers anymore. Which means, it doesn’t even want to exploit them. So exploitation theory clearly has a hole there. Although, of course, using the poor as customers, while leaving the middle-class taxpayer to pay them welfare does actually sound like exploitation. I wonder if every welfare program secretly had corporate sponsors. Paying only part of the tax burden, but getting the whole of the increased demand does sound profitable.

    • multiheaded says:

      Jacobin article attempting to steel-man the anti-Sanders strawman:

      https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/07/hillary-clinton-democatic-primary-sanders-netroots/

    • Saul Degraw says:

      As I understand it, Sanders thinks that racism is a symptom of income and wealth inequality. Jay Gould allegedly said he could set “one half of the working class against the other half”. There is evidence to suggest that elites in the South used racism to keep poor and working class whites in-line with their ideals for society. “You might not have much but you have your whiteness.”

      The Black Lives Matter argument is that income and wealth inequality matter but they are completely separate issues from racism which is its own structural problem. So you can get rid of all of income and wealth inequality and you will still have racism.

      • Adam says:

        This. I feel like for whatever reason, I ended up knowing a lot of Black Lives Matter people, even though I know almost zero actual black people. Sanders seems committed to the notion that ending economic inequality would also end racism, that it’s just a byproduct of class division where the elites are trying to turn the workers against each other so they don’t organize in their common interest. The anti-Sanders crowd is claiming no, every other race just has some visceral built-in anti-black sentiment bubbling beneath the surface and that would still be the case even in a communist paradise and needs to be addressed directly.

  17. James James says:

    Scott Sumner on charter schools:
    “The same idea [competition] has been shown to work with school vouchers, where private voucher schools can consistently produce the same crappy low achievement scores as the public schools, at a far lower cost per pupil.”

    • ryan says:

      It’s almost as if the pupils are failing, not the schools.

    • Held in Escrow says:

      I can believe this much more than private voucher or charter schools that produce better results having any sort of scaling ability

    • Adam says:

      I feel like the public school system is maybe the single best example of the Baumol effect, where productivity gains from technology in capital-intensive sectors lead to productivity losses in labor-intensive sectors because they can’t leverage the returns to capital investment, but still have to pay wages somewhat comparable to get anyone to work for them. It’s a little bad with teachers, but at least once they make the decision to become a teacher, there usually isn’t much else they can do in the future. It’s horrible with administration, though, since management skills are very easily translatable to other industries.

  18. Bill G says:

    I’m a pretty prolific table top gamer, and Cultists of Cthulhlu looks promising. It’s in line with a lot of the modern cooperative game mechanics (e.g., introducing a betrayer to help individualize player goals) and fixes a lot of the problems with the current dominant Lovecraft game, Eldritch horror (e.g., straight roll and move, random goals introduce throughout the game such that one can play optimally only with luck).

    That said, it’s getting harder and harder to justify adding another Lovecraft themed game to my collection. I’m at eight or nine already…

    • Pobop says:

      Has a Slate star codex card in one of the scenarios too! (Just noticed this, don’t know if it has been mentioned)
      Youtube review with the card

    • Jordan D. says:

      I’m not sure I can get into the game if the various Things in it don’t all turn out to be metaphors for emergent parts of human civilization.

      • Thomas Eliot says:

        I will do my best. The Cultist always represents some form of duplicity, and evokes a variety of oft-recognizable, enjoyable archetypes in their portayals by different players.

    • stillnotking says:

      Eldritch Horror seems like a harrowing test of teamwork, ingenuity, and strategy, but is actually a complete luckbox. That said, I love the game’s ability to generate awesome critical-failure stories; my favorite so far was when our team’s ultra-badass Martial Artist was headed to Antarctica for the climactic confrontation with the herald of the Old Ones, only to have the one weapon capable of slaying him pickpocketed from her in the slums of Calcutta.

      My first reaction to Cultists of Cthulhu was also “Another Cthulhu game?”, quickly followed by the realization that one can never have too many Cthulhu games.

      • Bill G says:

        Exactly to both accounts. In an ideal world this game will take Eldritch Horror and make it more of an actual test of those traits/achievements.

        And, I tend to behave as if someday, under a gibbous moon, I were to surmount my attic stairs and discovery, to my earthly shock and dismay, that my eldritch bookcases were missing the most modern Lovecraft themed diversions, I would surely die of….

      • Thomas Eliot says:

        My goal with Cultists is to have a nice, comfortable blend of luck and deliberate decision. I want you to deliberately choose between options, but still have a small chance of something amazing and unexpected happening. I’m gonna geek out at you about that now.

        The main mechanic is ability checks, as it is in many such games. Ability checks are of the form “Ability score, which is a few colored dice (Difficulty, which is a color)”. You always roll five dice: whatever there is in your ability score, plus extra dice of the difficulty color until you have five.

        You have four ability scores: Brawn, Finesse, Reason, and Focus. Each ability score is made up of two dice, each being green, blue, or red. All the dice have the same faces, just in different proportion. The green dice have 3 Good, 2 Weird, and 1 Bad. The blue dice have 2 Good, 2 Weird, and 2 Bad, and the red dice have 1 Good, 2 Weird, and 3 Bad.

        So you have five dice of various color, you roll them, some come up weird, some come up bad, if you’re lucky a few come up good. Most games would stop right here and have you consult the chart on the card to see if you succeed or fail. With Cultists, however, now you get to pick one of the faces and reroll all of the dice that are showing that face, in an attempt to get away from that result and/or get more good faces. Your decision will be affected by how many dice of what color are showing what face, and by the consequences: 2 weirds activates a weird result unique to that roll, 2 bads actives some bad thing, and 3 goods (typically) activates some good thing. Now good things are good (for academics, less so for cultists), and bad things are bad for the individual, while weird things are weird and also bad for the group as a whole (except the cultist, who likes them). So there’s a tradeoff decision to make: as an academic do I hurt my team, or hurt myself? As a cultist, how much do I risk revealing myself to try to hurt the opponent?

        There’s also other stuff in there to make for interesting decisions, but that’s the core mechanic that the game is built around, so I thought I’d share it.

    • Zubon says:

      Thoughts on the add-ons? They cost more than the game itself, so added content would need to be really good to justify $110 for the lot of them.

      • BillG says:

        As a rule, I never spring for add-ons on my kickstarter pledges. I’m not sure these ones are enough to change that rule for me.

        • Thomas Eliot says:

          More than fine decision. The Cultists of Cthulhu game is the game; the add-ons are for the same sort of devotees who own fifteen expansions to Arkham Horror and have a very specific subset of them that they’ll play with, so that those folks can have a bunch of optional rules to explore. I don’t want those optional rules cluttering up my base game, though, hence making them optional add-ons.

  19. James Picone says:

    That Guardian story about CO2 removal is very frills, little information. AFAICT all that’s being claimed is that if you have a magic pump that sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, that doesn’t suck it out of the oceans, so if the oceans have already gotten acidic and warm, they’ll stay that way. That is, geoengineering doesn’t immediately change the state of the oceans. Seems kinda straightforward and obvious to me?

    • thirqual says:

      I’ll try to get the study, but same impression from the Guardian story. CO₂ stored in the deep ocean would be hard to pump out, but it needs to get there first, and the timescale for ocean circulation/mixing are ~10³ to 10⁴ years. Plus, most of the biological activity is in the upper part of the oceans, not in the hard-to-equilibrate-with-the-atmosphere deeper layers.

      • James Picone says:

        The study is here (from the link in the Guardian).

        The claim there is basically “RCP8.5 followed by geoengineering doesn’t put the oceans in the same place RCP2.6 does over ~couple century timescales”, which seems obvious to me at least. But I guess it’s nice to have research behind claims that seem obvious. I haven’t read the paper closely, no idea whether the deep-sea stuff is more justifiable in there.

        • thirqual says:

          Thanks for the link.

          tl, dr: our intuitions were correct, but even with strong recapture it is possible if it starts late enough that enough of the ocean has cycled through in contact with elevated CO₂.

          In details, they look at 3 types of scenarios with models looking at both ocean and atmosphere processes:
          1 business as usual emissions, start of recapture at 5 or 25 GtC/year in 2250 (with ramping up of intensity)
          2 business as usual emissions, start of recapture at 5 in 2050 or 25 in 2150 (full intensity from onset)
          3 low emissions scenario

          (note: the 25 GtC/year is very optimistic)

          1 leads to almost 300 years of surface waters in contact with elevated CO₂ sinking before CO₂ levels begin to decrease. Those waters cannot equilibrate fast with the atmosphere, instead the CO₂ and acidity slowly diffuse in the rest of the oceans. By 2700, even with the fast rate, there is still a -0.1 pH unit anomaly of the global oceans (but the surface layers are fine). Using the more realistic slow rate, we would be unable to correct for the added CO₂ and the pH of surface waters would still be at -0.6 pH units (and ouch)

          2 shows again that a slow 5 GtC/year rate is not going to cut it, even starting as early as 2050, barely limiting the raise of T and the drop of pH. The results with the fast rate are not so bad, though.

          3 shows the best potential consequences for human activities (no large excursion in pH or T).

          All of this is of course very model dependent, and when evaluating 3 one should not forget that the CO₂ recapture process is not free either (see the link in the other comment for some details and numbers).

      • moridinamael says:

        I’m confused. If the CO2 diffused into the deep ocean on the timescale of 100 years, then if it’s subjected to an equal and opposite concentration gradient (sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere) then it should diffuse out on the same timescale. Handwaving about circulation and mixing times are a red herring. The mixing process is a *mixing process*, solutes are exchanged in *both directions* as a function of concentration gradient.

        Maybe I’m making an embarrassing mistake, I dunno.

        Edit: reads the paper

        Ok, so I’m basically right, the extremely long time projections they’re making are based on taking what they consider to be more realistic scenarios involving allowing CO2 emissions to continue for 150 years and then implementing a project of gradual CO2 removal. Of course you’re going to project that it takes forever if your forcing function dictates that it take forever. In contrast, their model predicts that if we magically slammed into a place a massive atmospheric CO2 removal project today, then it would only take about the same amount of time that we’ve been pumping CO2 into the atmosphere for the oceans to return to nearly their prior conditions.

        • thirqual says:

          The mistake we (kinda) did was forgetting advection which buries surface water in the northern Atlantic.

    • Shenpen says:

      Magic pump? Like, _trees_ ?

      • James Picone says:

        Trees only remove CO2 from the atmosphere on net as they grow, for making wood – once they start getting older and their growth rate slows/stops, they produce as much CO2 as they consume (how do you think the sugars they synthesise from CO2 get used?). Similarly, once a tree dies and rots, the carbon it was storing in its wood released back into the atmosphere.

        tl;dr mass CO2 storage with trees can only be done by significantly increasing the percentage of the Earth’s surface that is forested or by growing trees and then doing Something with them that prevents their wood rotting (making paper, making wooden things, turning it into charcoal and burying the charcoal, iunno). I don’t know how efficient or economic those approaches are.

        I wonder if there are any analyses of the carbon storage value of making roads? Lot of tar goes into them…. But the tar comes from fossil fuels, right? I am not exactly an expert on road construction.

        • moridinamael says:

          Until we genetically engineer Yggdrasil, which will double as an organic space elevator

        • Steven says:

          Which, incidentally, is why I pointed out ~25 years ago that people advocating the recycling of paper were making global warming worse.

          When you cut down the trees on a tree farm, make them into paper, and then landfill the paper, you’re sequestering carbon. And the cycle keeps sequestering more carbon, as the tree farm is replanted for more paper.

          When you recycle the paper instead of putting it in a landfill, you expend (usually fossil-derived) energy to not sequester carbon, and you reduce the market for the product of tree farms, encouraging people to do something with the land other than farm fast-growing trees.

        • Shenpen says:

          Sorry for the hyperbole. I must remind myself people around these parts tend to take things very literally.

          My point was basically the whole of organic life depends on the ability of plants to take CO2 from the air, this is a perfectly well known technology, so instead of trying to make something entirely new in principle i.e. “magic”, the solution should be more likely than not organic or imitating the organic.

          Since the main goal is IMHO to stop the carbon-positive use of fossil fuel, even carbon-neutral is better than actually sequestering carbon.

          A primitive carbon-neutral solution is farming trees and heating with wood pellets.

          I think plain simply these kinds of things should be optimized, such as algae synfuel was a good idea, it failed in 2013, but something in this direction.

          • I think the original point was to invalidate the assumption that we can fix the problem at some point in the future, that we don’t need to adopt carbon-neutral technologies as quickly as possible. In that context, photosynthesis probably isn’t fast enough to be relevant. (But I haven’t crunched the numbers.)

      • thirqual says:

        There are a bunch of solutions other than trees that have been proposed. The National Academy of Sciences published a report about geo-engineering this spring, I made some comments and extracted the more useful informations here .

  20. Kaura says:

    Having an ISIS tattoo wouldn’t be so bad, you could always just add letters around it:

    CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
    PHTHISIS, SCHMPHTHISIS!
    YET. MERISIS MINDSET.

    Okay yeah, your options are pretty terrible, but less terrible than ISIS probably.

    • Speedwell says:

      How about: IT DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF THE WORD ISIS.

    • Soumynona says:

      You could turn it into 1818 and say that it’s to commemorate the declaration of independence of Chile or something. Lots of other options too.

      On the other hand, people could suspect it stands for ‘Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler’.

      • Speedwell says:

        Or, on the COMPLETE other hand, it could be “double chai”, that is, 18 twice, with 18 representing the Jewish number considered particularly lucky (the word “chai”, with the numeric value of 18, means “life”).

      • Scott Alexander says:

        You could make it “H8IS” for “hate is”, and then tattoo “bad” underneath it.

        • CJB says:

          I suspect that the popularity of “Isis” in a variety of other formats is going to outweigh the bad press, generally speaking.

          Although this ties into something I’ve thought of before. Have germans evolved new terms for “my struggle” and “jews” given the….highly emotionally charged….status of “Mein Kampf” and “Juden”?

          I’ve noticed for myself that although the proper term for the descendants of Abraham is “The Jews”, if I’m talking about Jews and keep on saying “Jews” over and over again, then after a few repetitions of ‘the Jews’ I start to feel weird and start saying “the Jewish people.”

          • Protagoras says:

            Not to mention leader/guide. The common German word for that also took a beating as a result of the Nazi era.

          • Steven says:

            I’ve noticed for myself that although the proper term for the descendants of Abraham is “The Jews”

            Not quite. Descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael have never been considered Jews. And then there’s the whole mess of the Samaritans, who do not call themselves Jews (instead calling themselves Children of Israel) even though Jews started calling them Jews in the 19th Century (after a couple thousand years of denying that Samaritans were fellow Children of Israel).

      • AlphaGamma says:

        You could make it IBIS and add a picture of a bird…

  21. Mirzhan Irkegulov says:

    I think I understand where Bernie Sanders comes from. I’m currently reading a book by a heterodox economist Ha-Joon Chang called 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism. The book has 23 chapters, called “Things”, and Thing 3 is called “Most people in rich countries are paid more than they should be”.

    Swedish bus drives Sven is paid roughly 50 times more than Indian bus driver Ram. The primary reason for that, Ha-Joon Chang argues, is draconian immigration control in rich countries. Ram just can’t drop everything and become a Swedish citizen and drive Swedish buses. If he could, he would be happy to be paid much lower wages. This would drive Swedish bus drivers’ wages down, and with influx of immigrant bus drivers Sven would not get paid 50 times more than Ram in India.

    So the primary reason Sven is paid 50 times more than Ram is Swedish protectionism over labor market. You can’t argue that Sven is more productive than Ram, this wouldn’t explain such a vast discrepancy of wages. Not only Sven’s and Ram’s bus driving skills are probably similar, but Ram arguably is a better driver, because he has to evade cows, rickshaws, bicycles daily and generally deal with terrible driving.

    Bringing immigrant workers would drive local workers’ wages down significantly, because immigrants are willing to work more and get paid less, and might arguably be more productive in certain cases. And it doesn’t only apply to low-skilled workers, but to engineers, programmers, office plankton, who could work in Sweden instead of poor countries.

    Chang doesn’t advocate abolishing immigration control entirely, he says there are reasons why rich countries should still have immigration control intact. He mentions: stretching of physical and social infrastructure (e.g. housing and healthcare), tensions with local people, and degradation of social cohesion (because it’s harder to support a national identity). But it does seem that he argues for more immigration within certain speed and scale limits, because for him it makes no sense that a Swedish bus drives gets paid 50 times more than an Indian bus driver. (I haven’t read the later parts of the books, so maybe he goes on about immigration issue in greater detail.)

    Chang is generally left-wing and strongly against neoliberalism and Reagan/Thatcher-style economics. Maybe Bernie Sanders read him or otherwise somehow aware of these arguments against immigration. He thinks: many people in the US are already poor and/or unemployed and/or socially unprotected. If we increase influx of immigrants, we will make it harder for current US citizens to find job and survive. Open borders would increase the labor competitiveness, which you would think is a good thing, but it doesn’t solve the larger systemic problems of unemployment, terrible welfare systems and social infrastructure, poverty. So instead of taking outsourcing one step further and having cheap labor in the US instead of China and India, let’s first solve poverty and wealth inequality problem in the US and second help poor countries build strong economies and institute good labor laws.

    In your link Sanders is quotes saying:

    You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

    I think from a moral responsibility we’ve got to work with the rest of the industrialized world to address the problems of international poverty, but you don’t do that by making people in this country even poorer.

    and

    But I think what we need to be doing as a global economy is making sure that people in poor countries have decent-paying jobs, have education, have health care, have nutrition for their people. That is a moral responsibility, but you don’t do that, as some would suggest, by lowering the standard of American workers, which has already gone down very significantly.

    • Vaniver says:

      Not only Sven’s and Ram’s bus driving skills are probably similar, but Ram arguably is a better driver, because he has to evade cows, rickshaws, bicycles daily and generally deal with terrible driving.

      That’s… an interesting way of estimating relative skill levels, instead of looking at driving tests or accident rates of immigrant populations (to equalize driving difficulty) and so on.

      • Mirzhan Irkegulov says:

        Of course it’s handwaving, but there’s no way one bus driver can be 50 times more efficient than another bus driver. Any rigorous study to support this is just a waste of time.

        FWIW, there’s an article from Richard Eskow, a writer and campaigner, working for Bernie Sanders campaign. The article clarifies and tries to justify Sanders’s position on immigration and open borders. The core message of the article is, I believe, in these paragraphs:

        Sanders, himself the son of an immigrant, is a strong supporter of immigration and immigrants’ rights who wants to ensure that we have fair and humane policies in this area. He supports the DREAM Act, and believes the Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) should be expanded to include the parents of citizens, the parents of legal permanent residents, and the parents of DREAMers.

        The issue isn’t immigration. The issue is fair play for all working people. Principled opposition to “open borders” can and should be based on the recognition that the rights of all workers – immigrant and native-born, in the US and overseas – are eroded when workplace protections are weakened anywhere, and when human lives are subjected to the global flow of capital.

        Eskow argues that many proponents of “open borders” also support other right-wing free-market ideas such as cutting welfare. Open borders with no welfare will just make easier for American corporations to hire cheap labor, which is willing to quickly surrender its labor rights due to high competition.

        • Vaniver says:

          Of course it’s handwaving, but there’s no way one bus driver can be 50 times more efficient than another bus driver.

          What if they’re driving a cargo that has 50 times the value? If bus drivers have a multiplicative effect on the destination value of that cargo (as one would expect from a model where skill determines accident percentage), that seems sensible (as an upper bound on their value, of course; to get the actual wage we need to know much more about the economy).

          Open borders with no welfare will just make easier for American corporations to hire cheap labor, which is willing to quickly surrender its labor rights due to high competition.

          I agree that many forms of labor are not valuable enough to support an ‘American’ or Swedish standard of living, with the distribution of humans on Earth as it currently is. The proper economic view for opposition to open borders is seeing citizenship as membership in a particularly large union. As always, unions generate deadweight loss as part of enriching their members.

          • Emile says:

            What if they’re driving a cargo that has 50 times the value? If bus drivers have a multiplicative effect on the destination value of that cargo (as one would expect from a model where skill determines accident percentage), that seems sensible (as an upper bound on their value, of course; to get the actual wage we need to know much more about the economy).

            Let’s try to formalize that a bit; let’s say drivers A and B have probabilities pA and pB of having an accident, and that a successful delivery has value V, and a failed delivery has value Vf = V * (1 – K) (K is how more costly it is to lose a delivery, and would probably be greater than 1; it’s here to simplify the formulas below).

            So the expected value provided by the driver is V * (1 – p * K), so you could say that A is 50 times more efficient than B if

            (1 – pA * K) > 50 * (1 – pB * K)

            1/K – pA > 50 * (1/K – pB)

            Let’s say that pA = 0 (best driver ever), we have

            50 * (1/K – pB) < 1/K

            1/K – pB 1/K – 1/(50 * K)

            pB > 49/50 * K

            So B needs to be *very* close to the profitability limit (1/K) for that to be plausible.

            So a x50 ratio may be possible but would require especially bad drivers in the “poor” country; it doesn’t really depend of the value of the cargo.

        • Scott Alexander says:

          It sounds like he’s saying, “it’s not that I’m against immigration, it’s just that I think immigrants will steal our jobs,” which is pretty much the reason EVERYONE who’s against immigration is against immigration. Just because you have a reason for your position doesn’t mean you don’t hold it!

          Unless things have gotten so bad that Democrats interpret “against immigration” as code for “racism” or something.

          • multiheaded says:

            which is pretty much the reason EVERYONE who’s against immigration is against immigration

            Everyone except for the alt-right and/or the scientific racists, you mean? they offer a host of other reasons, up to and including hostility to miscegnation. It is known.

            re: Sanders – I view the whole debacle as an instructive little lesson in Why You Can’t Get To Socialism Through Ever More Social Democracy. ie what we actually complain about when we are so angry about “Reformism”.

            Any principled reformist/Sanders “socialist” attempt to square internationalism with class struggle would indicate the categorical limits of the very politics that spawned it.

            If you want immigrants to be allowed fair access to the global labour exchange AND a fair bargaining position that the social democrats want for 1st world workers… you would have to redistribute the unbalanced current concentrations of work and wealth and the means of production so radically that it would spell revolution/open class war.

            (So yeah, in practice libertarianism might be less bad from an actually left-wing/internationalist perspective than Sanders style protectionism. IDK about all the practical variables right now.)

            (my comment is boring and dogmatic, I know, sorry lol)

          • John Schilling says:

            There are I think three main reasons people are opposed to (unrestricted) immigration:

            1. The immigrants will steal our jobs

            2. The immigrants will sponge off our social services

            3. The immigrants will kill us and break our stuff

            I suspect that in practice these are strongly correlated as a matter of belief and weakly correlated in practice, but it’s entirely possible for someone to sincerely hold only one or two of them.

            And no, 1 & 2 aren’t necessarily contradictory. If the reason immigrants can “steal our jobs” is that they are willing to work for starvation wages, and we aren’t willing to let people starve in our streets, open immigration gives us one starving native and one half-starving immigrant for each job opening.

          • anon says:

            >Unless things have gotten so bad that Democrats interpret “against immigration” as code for “racism” or something.

            it’s gotten so bad plenty of Republicans interpret it that way.

          • Anthony says:

            Unless things have gotten so bad that Democrats interpret “against immigration” as code for “racism” or something.

            Ever since Obama finished off Hilary in the 2008 primaries, Democrats interpret everything that’s against their agenda as code for “racism”.

          • BBA says:

            According to that infamous Lee Atwater quote (“You start out in 1954…”), tax cuts are code for racism.

          • CJB says:

            I think the key that’s missing is “ILLEGAL immigration.”

            I seriously doubt Donald Trump or even your average “I hate the wetbacks!” racist has much problem with chinese immigrants on H1B1 visas. Because if we notice that suddenly all the people in the computer industry are chinese, or natives are being forced out, or they’re smuggling meth, or whatever else, we can reduce the number of H1B1 visas.

            We A. can’t do that with illegal immigration, and B. we’re seen unprecedented amounts of people.

            I mean, even if you think immigration is The Lifeblood Of America, there’s a difference between drinking from a garden hose and a fire hose.

          • Jiro says:

            There actually is objection to H1B visas in the computer industry. However, the objections are different in character than objections to Mexican immigration.

            The problem with the H1Bs is that the circumstances of H1Bs make it easy to hire them more cheaply than Americans, because it is hard for them to switch jobs, and because in general when you have more potential hires competing for a job the salary goes down.

          • Loquat says:

            @CJB –

            Here is a long article with multiple references objecting to H1Bs. Or more specifically, the way they’re being used – you say we can reduce the number of H1B visas if we notice problems, but the tl;dr summary of the article is that (a) the current number of H1Bs is in fact resulting in problems, specifically lower wages and higher unemployment for native-born IT professionals, and (b) the people with the power to change the number of visas actually desire this result.

          • Anonymous says:

            Reason #3 is not just that immigrants will commit crimes but also they may alter the culture in other ways, like changing the dominant language. (Which I think sounds crazy to some people in the North, but it’s already a real phenomenon near the Mexico border.) Another notable influence of that type would be to vote a certain way.

        • Of course it’s handwaving, but there’s no way one bus driver can be 50 times more efficient than another bus driver.

          OTOH, the exchange rate might be 50 times higher than it should be …

          • Creutzer says:

            Wait, the whole thing isn’t adjusted for local purchasing power?!

          • I wouldn’t count on it. Certainly I don’t see how it could be, unless Ram is sleeping on the streets (an option Sven doesn’t have, because climate) and only eating one meal a day. (Or unless Sven is paid much more than I’m guessing.)

          • Loquat says:

            http://www.worldsalaries.org/busdriver.shtml

            Sweden and India are both absent from the table, but let’s take Norway and China as proxies – before adjusting for purchasing power parity, and with all figures translated into 2005 US dollars, Jan the Norwegian driver is taking home $2633 per month after taxes, while Wei the Chinese driver is only taking home $122, about 1/20th what Jan was paid. But after adjusting for purchasing power (again scaled to the US), $122 in China is worth about $520, while in Norway $2633 is effectively reduced to $1909, so Jan is making not quite 4 times what Wei makes.

            So Wei’s still better off coming to Norway and working for half Jan’s wages, but it’s not quite as drastic an improvement as Chang seems to be claiming.

      • Nornagest says:

        A few years ago I spent some time hanging out in Manila, which has terrifyingly chaotic traffic that, when it’s moving, is kinda like getting shot at from random angles by a squad of giants armed with machine guns that fire jeepneys, Eighties-era Korean dirt bikes, and two-stroke autorickshaws with defective exhaust systems. People that’ve spent most of their adult lives driving there are probably technically better at driving than I am, in a lot of ways — more vigilant, better attuned to the cars around them, better sense of timing and distance. But I’ll eat my hat if they’re safer drivers in an American or European context.

        • moridinamael says:

          For example, in Non-Western Country X, actions like pulling out into traffic without looking are encouraged and are in fact probably the only way to successfully merge with traffic, because the absurdly thick traffic isn’t going to let you in unless your car is literally going to collide with theirs. In the West, this behavior would get several people killed.

    • Saul Degraw says:

      Isn’t this already sort of part of the debate about HB-1 Visas for engineers and computer programmers? Disney recently got in trouble when they tried to shut down their IT department and replace them all with HB-1 Visa holders.

      There is an interesting implication here that is going on said and it might be that people in the west have gotten too used to a high and comfortable standard of living. I don’t think anyone is going to take it well if they are told you are going to need to get used to more discomfort.

    • Deiseach says:

      How much does it cost Sven to live in his part of Sweden versus how much does it cost Ram to live in his part of India? Certainly there is probably no reason why Sven should earn 50 times more than Ram for the same job, but if you push Sven’s wages down to Ram’s level but leave him living in Sweden, then you probably quickly run into the problem of – Sven can’t afford to pay the mortgage on his house at that level, so the bank forecloses, and Sven then needs homeless services or social housing; maybe Sven can’t support his family at the same level, so perhaps his children need to be taken into care; Sven can’t consume expensive Swedish products the same way as before, so consumer domestic spending is depressed, which doesn’t help the economy, etc.

      • Eggo says:

        Seen from the perspective of a high level bureaucrat in the Swedish welfare office, this is an excellent outcome.
        Labour is cheaper, making it easier to afford pool boys on your government salary. Even better, you’ve just been promoted as the department expands to cover Sven’s family living on the dole.

        Who is running Sweden right now? Sven, or the bureaucrat? I suspect one is voting for the red-green alliance, and the other for a party that is essentially banned.

        • Deiseach says:

          Okay, Eggo, what job are you doing that is comparable to a job Ram or his counterparts in India are doing? And by Ha-Joon Chang’s logic, you should drop your salary or wages down to Ram’s level, because you are getting paid too much for the same work.

          Do you think you could live tolerably (pay rent, mortgage, bills, etc) on that money, living in the same place you now live? Would you have to move? Move where – a small town in the same country, another country?

          • Eggo says:

            What? Talking about wages without reference to supply and demand is just nonsense. It’s an easy way to end up drooling and ranting about “fairness”.

            You know how this works. A state with a million people has 50k unskilled workers who end up in labour-intensive work.
            Another other state with a million people sends half of its 500k unskilled workers to State A.
            What happens to the wages of unskilled workers in State A, now that there are five times as many pool boys per pool?
            What happens to the price skilled workers pay for services?
            Who benefits from this, and who gets hurt?

            How are we disagreeing about any of this?

      • Loquat says:

        I would be very interested to know if Ha-Joon Chang addresses that issue. “People in rich countries are paid too much” directly translates to “people in rich countries don’t deserve the standard of living they’re accustomed to and need to accept a noticeably lower one”, and as the environmentalists have learned, very few people like the idea of lowering their own standard of living for the sake of nebulous benefits largely accruing to strangers.

    • Brian says:

      Just another version of the Labor Theory of Value fallacy:

      “So the primary reason Sven is paid 50 times more than Ram is Swedish protectionism over labor market. You can’t argue that Sven is more productive than Ram, this wouldn’t explain such a vast discrepancy of wages. Not only Sven’s and Ram’s bus driving skills are probably similar, but Ram arguably is a better driver, because he has to evade cows, rickshaws, bicycles daily and generally deal with terrible driving.”

      There is no “objective value” of bus driver quality; a person gets paid for their labor what other people are willing to pay for it. Richer customers are willing to pay more for the same service than poorer customers. It’s just a different demand curve. The problem is that you’re putting a moral value on the price of labor, assuming without proving as a moral principle that “the same work should receive the same pay, regardless of surrounding circumstances.” But that moral principle doesn’t make any sense, because it would require customers to pay the same amount for the same work regardless of whether people in their community actually want that work at that price. An employee isn’t paid for their productivity, but is paid based on the intersection of labor supply and demand curves (productivity affects those curves, but it isn’t the only factor).

      Now it’s true that open immigration shifts the supply curve in richer countries, leading to lower wages. The flip side is that it also means lower prices, and generally everyone is both a producer and a consumer. As any economist will tell you, basic microeconomic theory tells you that open and free trade is net-beneficial but doesn’t actually make things better off for everyone. Politically, the question becomes whether you see yourself as the producer in the rich country hurt by free trade, or the consumer in the rich country helped by free trade–but people are more inclined to think about free trade’s/open borders’ effect on their income rather than expenses. It’s a concentrated harms/diffuse benefits problem.

      • Carl Shulman says:

        ” As any economist will tell you, basic microeconomic theory tells you that open and free trade is net-beneficial but doesn’t actually make things better off for everyone.”

        The income boosts from migration aren’t simply a matter of converging factor prices, and capital is already substantially internationally mobile in any case. It’s mainly a matter of higher productivity: both labor and total factor productivity are higher in rich countries.

        http://openborders.info/place-premium/

        • Christopher Chang says:

          The most impressive productivity gains over the last several decades (e.g. mainland China) have had almost nothing to do with mass immigration, so the “place premium” argument clearly fails in practice: it has proven to be more efficient, by far, to improve low productivity locations than to import a massive number of people from those locations, when both options are available. Immigration is, to first order, only relevant to the extent it accelerates knowledge transfer back to the home countries.

          So complete closure of the borders can indeed be expected to be an economic disaster–it is hard to imagine how China could have risen nearly as rapidly as it has without a sizable pool of westernized Chinese–but the selective immigration policies favored by median voters in most Western countries have not prevented that rise (despite non-negligible levels of anti-Chinese racism), and thus cannot be expected to prevent the rise of southeast Asian and other countries following similar development paths today.

          (Note that there may be other valid reasons to prefer more immigration than typical Western voters want; this is simply an explanation of why “place premium” is not a valid reason.)

          • Eric says:

            Note though that China’s economic rise was accompanied by massive internal migration, huge numbers of rural Chinese moved to the cities, from low productivity places to higher productivity places.

          • Christopher Chang says:

            But the “high-productivity” places were much less productive just 40 years ago. Also, China has enforced unusual (and I would agree with you that they’ve probably been excessive) restrictions on internal migration; this hasn’t prevented its rise.

            The bottom line is that increasing home country productivity is the most important thing by far, and a primary goal of immigration policy, assuming one values foreign lives as highly as native lives, should be to facilitate that; direct benefits to migrants are practically a rounding error in comparison. (Note that this does not mean the “brain drain” argument against poor country immigration is valid; “brain drain” only creates an imperative to encourage a sufficient fraction of immigrants to bring knowledge back to their home country.)

    • Glen Raphael says:

      Bringing immigrant workers would drive local workers’ wages down significantly, because immigrants are willing to work more and get paid less…

      When the Indian bus driver Ram moves to Sweden it is true that his presence increases the net local supply of bus drivers…but his presence also increases the local demand for everything other than bus drivers.

      Ram needs to buy food, clothing, shelter, fuel, entertainment – all the same kinds of things everybody else wants from the economy. Ram wasn’t in Sweden before so to get those things now he has to bid for them – he has to offer enough to entice suppliers to make and deliver a little more supply than they would have done without him there. This bids UP the price of all the goods that Ram buys and bids UP the value of labor in all those other fields that produce those goods.

      So Ram bids down wages for bus driving but bids up wages for everything else; the net effect on overall “worker’s wages” is neutral. Meanwhile his cousin the sandwich maker bids down wages for sandwich makers but bids up wages for everything not sandwich-related…including bus driving.

      (Another way to think about this is to consider a larger group of Indian immigrants all coming over at once. If the Swedish economy needs, say, one bus driver per 20 people and by coincidence exactly 1/20th of the new immigrants are bus drivers, the whole group has collectively increased both demand AND supply by exactly one skilled bus driver, leaving the previous market value of skilled bus drivers unchanged. No?)

      So the basic economics initially says immigrants can only drive down wages in certain fields – those fields that the new immigrants have a comparative advantage in. They can’t drive down wages in ALL fields at once or even MOST fields, and their average effect on the overall price level is roughly neutral.

      (Also worth mentioning: even if the net effect of all the immigrants WERE to noticeably lower the salary of bus drivers – which it might do if bus driving were something Indian immigrants are especially good at – that benefits everybody else in the economy. Or at least, everybody who rides a bus. Cheaper drivers means cheaper bus transit!)

      Now to get from “has approximately no effect, if you ignore the HUGE benefit to the immigrants themselves” to “is net-beneficial even to the local workers” you need to throw in some “comparative advantage” or “specialization of labor” story. To wit: there must be SOMETHING that Indians on average have a comparative advantage in; if immigration ends up shifting some of the doing of that thing to the new immigrants – which it almost certainly will – then to a first approximation everybody is better off.

      UPDATE: A few relevant studies linked and discussed here.

      • Jiro says:

        The problem with that reasoning is that if you reduced his salary in half, he wouldn’t necessarily buy half the amount of food, clothing, shelter, fuel, and entertainment. Some of those would go down (poor people don’t spend much money on overseas vacations), but some would not, and it’s by no means obvious that the amount that he spends is exactly in lockstep with his salary. And if those aren’t in lockstep with his salary, that means that they aren’t balanced against his salary and what you’re saying is false.

        • Glen Raphael says:

          Step back one level: do you at least agree with me that new immigrants must affect both the supply of labor and the demand for labor? And thus that we can’t IGNORE the demand side of that equation or assume it has zero effect?

          If you do, then that’s all I really need for my argument – you’re one up on the post I responded to. Now go look at the studies referenced here. (From thing#4: “Peri found that U.S. immigration from 1990 to 2006 increased real wages by 2.86 percent.”)

          BTW, I suspect the argument you’re trying to make proves too much. Question: do you believe the Swedish economy is made worse off when Swedish couples have kids? If not, why not?

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            The Swedish economy is worse off from the addition of children until they enter the labor force. What other answer is there?

          • Anonymous says:

            Immigration increases wages while the U.S. remains very particular about who it lets into the country. They’re not letting in Ram the bus driver, or at least not many of those types.

            Open borders means letting in not just more people, but the very lowest bidders for living conditions, from everywhere in the entire world. And no taking consideration of economic productivity or lack thereof.

            It’s also absurd to assume that immigrants will spend their wages within the country in these circumstances. They will send money back to their home countries.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            The Swedish economy is worse off from the addition of children until they enter the labor force. What other answer is there?

            Well, one other answer might be to include the value to the children themselves of their existence and perhaps the value to the parents who wanted them here. But yes, in terms of easily quantifiable impact to, say, GDP per capita, your view is the traditional one. Which prompts this observation:

            A new Indian immigrant is *better* for the Swedish economy than a new kid!

            The immigrant is better in that he/she arrives already old enough to work, has survived childhood diseases, has already been educated on somebody else’s dime, has already learned a trade. The new immigrant can be productive right away whereas with the kid we have to wait a decade or two before they can be productive.

            It’s true that the new immigrant may have different views than current citizen adults – but that is also true of the kid. It’s true the new immigrant may be willing to initially work at less than the market rate for labor and may be less productive and may need to learn on-the-job at first – all also true of the kid. An immigrant who decides to be a bus driver imperceptibly depresses the wages bus drivers can request; the same is true of a kid who decides to be a bus driver.

            So most of the simplest claimed arguments against allowing immigration “for economic reasons” turn out to work pretty well as arguments against allowing parents to have kids.

            Yet somehow when we look at cute little kids we can easily see the potential they have to make the world a better place. I wish we could exercise similar imagination when we look at immigrants.

          • Jiro says:

            Step back one level: do you at least agree with me that new immigrants must affect both the supply of labor and the demand for labor? And thus that we can’t IGNORE the demand side of that equation or assume it has zero effect?

            It’s pointless to agree with that, because what you actually said was:

            So Ram bids down wages for bus driving but bids up wages for everything else; the net effect on overall “worker’s wages” is neutral.

            That clearly implies that you are asserting that the size of that effect is the same size as the other side–not just that it exists and has non-zero effect.

          • Jiro says:

            Well, one other answer might be to include the value to the children themselves of their existence and perhaps the value to the parents who wanted them here. ..
            A new Indian immigrant is *better* for the Swedish economy than a new kid!

            Saying that we should “perhaps” include the value of the children to the parents glosses over that that’s the big difference between the two cases. Children are a cost to their parents, but the intangible benefit to the parents is so great that the parents are willing to spend lots of money to raise them. There’s no “perhaps” here; the benefit to the parents is greater than this cost or, by definition, the parents wouldn’t pay it. If you’re going to compare the cost of an immigrant to the cost of a child, you end up not being able to count the cost of raising the child *at all*, since it is more than balanced out by the intangible benefit to the parents. And then, of course, it turns out that the child is more valuable than the immigrant.

          • Samuel Skinner says:

            “A new Indian immigrant is *better* for the Swedish economy than a new kid!”

            Unless they commit crimes or collect unemployment. Those are costs not borne by employers so voters should always suspect equilibrium migration is nonsocialy maximizing.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            Jiro: Would it help to read me as saying “is approximately neutral” wherever I said “is neutral” above? If so, please do that. I did not mean to claim it would precisely balance. Just that the effects – if properly specified, which I haven’t fully done – seem similar in magnitude.

            Since there is a large inferential distance to cross and the point you were responding to seems kind of tangential (and your text hints at other big scary disagreements lurking beneath the surface), I was trying to retreat to a simpler-to-defend claim that puts us in a similar situation. Hence the revised proposal.

            So: IF you agree with me that the new bus driver produces both effects that raise AND effects that lower worker salaries rather than only one or the other, then you should realize that figuring out whether there’s a net effect and if so which way it goes is more complex than just comparing his salary to that of one other guy who has the same job. From THAT basis, we might agree that in the end it’s going to end up an empirical question whether worker salaries go up or down rather than something we can deduce precisely from first principles.

            (And from there, you might be willing to read some of the papers that claim in practice the net effect on workers salaries seems to be positive – more immigration means native workers earn more.)

          • Glen Raphael says:

            Unless they commit crimes or collect unemployment.

            Sure, but native-born kids also can commit crimes and collect unemployment.

            In practice, immigrants to the U.S. seem to be less criminal than natives, even in cases where you wouldn’t expect them to be. Most notably, when Castro emptied the prisons and sent all his criminals and crazy people to the US, they were less trouble than the native Floridians.

            (As for collecting unemployment, I’d be fine with restricting that benefit to the native-born. Better yet, if we could somehow ban new immigrants from ALL welfare benefits but also not TAX them for those benefits, within a decade or two I’d expect them to reinvent Friendly Societies and be better off than the natives!)

          • Adam says:

            At least in the U.S., unemployment is already restricted to people who can demonstrate a sufficient average wage history spanning enough time to qualify for the benefits, and you can’t voluntarily quit or be fired for cause. It’s not like someone can just enter the country, never get a job, and begin collecting.

          • BBA says:

            I think “unemployment” is being used as shorthand for all welfare state benefits, which have differing eligibility requirements but virtually none of which are accessible to newly arrived immigrants, in America or anywhere else on Earth.

          • @Glen:

            From THAT basis, we might agree that in the end it’s going to end up an empirical question whether worker salaries go up or down rather than something we can deduce precisely from first principles.

            Since the same available resources (including both natural resources and things like export markets) would be having to support more people, it seems reasonable to expect salaries to be more likely to go down (in real terms) than up.

          • @BBA: based on some very brief research, it seems that immigrants to the UK from other parts of the EEA were able to claim jobseeker’s allowance immediately upon entering the UK until 1 January 2014. (Now they have to wait 3 months.)

            Immigrants to the UK who are legitimately employed are still immediately eligible for welfare benefits such as the housing benefit.

            fullfact.org

            researchbriefings.parliament.uk

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Harry Johnston:

            Since the same available resources (including both natural resources and things like export markets) would be having to support more people, it seems reasonable to expect salaries to be more likely to go down (in real terms) than up.

            Ah, but the new person increases the local supply of at least two crucially important resources: human labor and human creativity. And they obtain other resources only via voluntary trade which presumably has both consumer surplus and producer surplus – the trade that gets them any other resources than what they already had makes everybody involved better off.

            One factor I suspect people aren’t seeing here is that if somebody comes along willing to work for less money than the usual amount that very fact by itself makes most of the people around them better off.

            Imagine if somebody invented a shovel that digs 3 times as deep for the same invested effort – you’d want more shovels like that, right? Well, somebody willing to do 3 times as much work for the same salary is a similar boon. We should want more people like that around. Both those people AND those shovels expand the range of work the economy can collectively accomplish. They improve our opportunity set.

          • @Glen,

            Maybe. I’m unconvinced. Bottom line, pretty much all of the world’s nations have too many people already, so it seems extremely doubtful that adding more can be a good thing in the long run.

            … actually, it seems obvious that adding people whose standard of living is (by our standards) unacceptably low can only lower our average standard of living, unless you don’t include the immigrants in your average. In the short term, it might be possible that the average standard of living for everyone else will increase slightly (although probably only if the economy was not functioning properly to begin with) but it seems to me that this would only be true in the short term.

            In the longer term the immigrants or their descendants are going to wind up with the same standard of living as everyone else, but the average will still be the same – and lower than it would otherwise have been.

            One specific objection:

            And […] the trade that gets them any other resources than what they already had makes everybody involved better off.

            The people involved in the trades would presumably be better off. But that doesn’t mean that everyone will be better off (the trivial counterexample being the person who would otherwise have been employed doing the work the immigrant is now doing) and it doesn’t mean that the net effect is necessarily beneficial.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Harry:

            it seems obvious that adding people whose standard of living is (by our standards) unacceptably low can only lower our average standard of living, unless you don’t include the immigrants in your average.

            Right – it’s important to not do that. If you want to include the new immigrants in your average now, you need to include them in BOTH sets being compared – the before and the after – or you are making a mathematical mistake.

            Suppose Joe moves from El Salvador to the US and his income triples. The average income of the group consisting of “the former US + Joe” has increased by this change because Joe existed both before and after he moved. If you include Joe in the average after but not before, you’ve corrupted the comparison – “average standard of living for {group}” has changed primarily because {group} is a different set of people, not because anybody in particular in that set is doing better or worse.

            If we’re better off AND the new immigrants are better off, that is a net improvement, right? It’s true that the number “average standard of living (here)” declined, but it’s not clear why we should care – in changing the group composition between samples we’ve destroyed the intuitive meaning of the metric being sampled, rendering the comparison invalid.

            (a more interesting example of this same dynamic is claims like “middle class wages have stagnated”. Sometimes when you look into those you find every single subgroup got better off and the overall average changed due to demographic shifts. Averages are not people.)

          • @Glen: we care because in the long run, the set “our descendants” (or, to look at it from a more personal angle, “my descendants”) will be worse off than they would otherwise have been. And that’s assuming that the net effect (not including the immigrant) won’t be immediately negative, which I still find doubtful.

            (It seems to me that in the absence of unusual skills, the only way adding an immigrant could improve matters for everybody else is if the economy is dysfunctional, and that if so there should be a better way of fixing it. I’d rather be looking for a sustainable solution – labour subsidies? – than fixing the short-term problem by accepting a long-term loss.)

            Even if we’re being entirely altruistic and considering the benefit of humanity as a whole, it still might not necessarily be a good idea. For one thing, aren’t we likely to be sucking precisely those people out of other nations that they most need? It might also have an unwelcome effect on world population, if immigrants are more likely to be able to afford children here than they would have been at home, or if those left behind are likely to have more children because there’s less competition for resources. (For clarity, I’m not claiming that is definitely true, just that it might be and should be considered.)

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Harry:

            we care because in the long run, the set “our descendants” (or, to look at it from a more personal angle, “my descendants”) will be worse off than they would otherwise have been. And that’s assuming that the net effect (not including the immigrant) won’t be immediately negative, which I still find doubtful.

            If (by assumption) the immediate net effect of the new immigrant’s arrival is neutral or positive for the rest of us, why do you think the long-term effect would be negative? What changes down the line that turns “neutral or positive” for you now into “worse off” for your descendants?

            It seems to me that in the absence of unusual skills, the only way adding an immigrant could improve matters for everybody else is if the economy is dysfunctional

            Are you familiar with the principle of comparative advantage? Even if the economy were perfectly functional we’d still be able to gain from trade with people who possess a different basket of skills and preferences than our own, no? Now add in that if those people move here they can be several times more productive than where they are…

          • @Glen,

            If (by assumption) the immediate net effect of the new immigrant’s arrival is neutral or positive for the rest of us, why do you think the long-term effect would be negative? What changes down the line that turns “neutral or positive” for you now into “worse off” for your descendants?

            The immigrant and/or his descendants aren’t going to accept a lower standard of life than everybody else indefinitely. Eventually things will average out.

            Even if the economy were perfectly functional we’d still be able to gain from trade with people who possess a different basket of skills and preferences than our own, no?

            The melting pot or “alloys are stronger” argument. Fair enough, I suppose, but I can’t imagine this having enough of an effect to cancel out the increase in population. (And would it really persist? The immigrant’s children would be taught in the same schools as everyone else, after all.)

            Mutual immigration would be a different story.

      • Loquat says:

        I was reading a discussion of minimum wage law on another blog not too long ago, and one of the commenters arguing against a minimum wage presented the case of a family of illegal immigrants he knew. They were all working under the table for less than minimum wage and living a much lower standard of living than the average low-income American is accustomed to, but they were happy that way because they’d been accustomed to living at or below that level in their home country anyway. (Or, to use his phrasing, the US government says you need $X/hour just to survive and they “knew that wasn’t true”.)

        So yes, Ram would contribute to the Swedish economy by buying things, but if he’s accustomed to a much lower standard of living than Sven, and lots of other Indians come over at the same time who are also accustomed to the same lower standard of living and dont feel the need to raise it – to use your example, suppose they’re used to much more crowded buses than Swedes are, so they’re satisfied with 1 bus driver per 30 people – then the additional demand doesn’t balance out the additional supply and the existing Swedes still suffer.

    • “You can’t argue that Sven is more productive than Ram”

      Presumably the argument applies, with differences in detail, not only to bus drivers but to more or less everyone else. The Swedes don’t get to tax the Indians, or anyone else outside of Sweden, so if each Swede is getting fifty times as much as each Indian (an exaggeration, but it will do for the moment), Sweden must be producing fifty times as much. In which case the Swedes are more productive, and the question is why.

      Perhaps Sweden has more or better natural resources per capita, and their availability increases the productivity of those with access to them. But as long as the resources are privately held, immigrants can only get them by buying them from their (Swedish) owners, benefiting not harming the latter. Perhaps Sweden has better legal and political institutions or more capital per capita (but is that capital immobile? What prevents Swedish capitalists from investing in India?) Perhaps Swedish consumers pay more for the same services than Indian consumers–but, if so, lower wages due to immigration are a transfer from one Swede (the worker) to another Swede (the consumer), with a net gain due to the extra consumer and producer surplus on the increased quantity of services consumed.

      To make sense of this story, you need an explanation of why the Swede makes fifty times as much as the Indian.

    • AlexanderRM says:

      FYI: Where Bernie Sanders is actually coming from is that he’s running in an election where his voters are Svens and not Rams. This is the same effect that impacts every single other politician in America, and also the American news media and the like. This naturally results in politicians being selected who favor Svens over Rams, just as when black people and women, we had policies that favored white men (admittedly not a perfect experiment since increases in voting rights were the result of white men deciding that blacks and women had moral weight, but it was definitely a factor).

      I like that in the article he *almost* comes right out and says it:
      “It would make a lot of global poor richer, wouldn’t it?”
      “It would make everybody in America poorer”

      Actually, while he’s not willing to admit that he considers non-Americans to have less moral weight, he does come out and say the actual reasons for that position:
      “As a United States senator in Vermont, my first obligation is to make certain kids in my state and kids all over this country have the ability to go to college, which is why I am supporting tuition-free public colleges and universities.”
      In other words, people from Vermont vote for him now, people from all over the country will vote for him when running for president, so his obligation is to people in Vermont and/or to all Americans.

      • jaimeastorga2000 says:

        he’s not willing to admit that he considers non-Americans to have less moral weight

        For fuck’s sake…

        I’m sick of utilitarians and effective altruists framing concentric altruism/loyalties/circles of concern, which are perfectly normal and universal human behavior, as if they were some inexplicable act of bigotry which implies that the fiend who dares to hold such views must believe that non-Americans have less objective moral worth than Americans, or that objective moral value decays as a function of spatial distance to the subject, or any other such nonsense.

        • Samuel Skinner says:

          Holding the concerns, needs and goals of strangers to be less valuable than those of people who are similar to you is the very definition of believing they have less moral worth.

          • Jiro says:

            Holding the concerns, needs and goals of strangers to be less valuable than those of people who are similar to you is the very definition of believing they have less moral worth.

            No, that’s not true. For instance, there are people who lose utility when I commit blasphemy. I don’t care a bit about that. Do I believe they have less moral worth? I certainly think their concerns, needs, and goals have less moral worth, but that’s not the same as believing that they have less moral worth.

            And even ignoring that distinction, he was complaining that EAs characterize him as treating outsiders as having less objective moral worth, not less moral worth. It’s true that what he was replying to didn’t use the word “objective”, but it was still making a value judgment that implied that. EAs who speak like that are not just saying “you think they have less moral worth” as an abstract description of people’s belief systems in the same way that you may say “you are a redhead” to someone with red hair; they are making a moral condemnation based on standards that they think that all people should follow.

          • houseboatonstyx says:

            > Holding the concerns, needs and goals of strangers to be less valuable than those of people who are similar to you is the very definition of believing they have less moral worth.

            I think this can be read as a parody of EAs and Utilitarians.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            >I certainly think their concerns, needs, and goals have less moral worth, but that’s not the same as believing that they have less moral worth.

            This is kind of splitting hairs. It is assigning them less moral worth, and that’s OK.

            The issue is that it sounds ugly, and one doesn’t like to have one’s morality made sound ugly. But one has to deal with it.

          • Jiro says:

            Whatever: Yet the example I gave was blasphemy, and I’m pretty sure that most if not all EAs don’t think that someone’s loss in utility due to blasphemy counts when assessing a policy. So then EAs should describe themselves as believing that other people have less moral worth (and that’s OK).

            The reason they don’t describe themselves that way is that when they describe non-EAs that way, that has connotations beyond the literal words, and they don’t wish to apply those connotations to themselves. Which is also why you rarely see EAs add the words “and that’s OK” like you did–because that would mean having to deny the connotation, and they don’t want to deny the connotation.

          • Tarrou says:

            In that case, every time you feed yourself instead of a starving african, you are a racist who believes all black people are morally inferior.

            Bad argument is bad.

          • Histidine says:

            In that case, every time you feed yourself instead of a starving african, you are a racist who believes all black people are morally inferior.

            I’m pretty sure the primary characteristics of said starving African influencing my decision here (virtually the only characteristics, in fact) are “not me”, “not part of my family (biological ties or otherwise) to within 2°”, and “not somewhere I can easily see them”, not “black”. If I wasn’t already going to feed them instead of myself, changing their race to match mine would have ~0 effect.

            Your argument reads to me as a parody of stereotypical SJWs.

  22. Robert Liguori says:

    Re: Bullies…isn’t this a bimodal thing? I mean, from the anecdata of my time in a public American high school, there was Cohort A, who made adroit use of social and political positioning to pick on the weak kids, and many of whom were liked by teachers and administrators, and there was Cohort B, who were violent, impulsive, and who used bullying as a fallback method whenever their normal social skills failed, whether or not they could get away with it. Both fall under the category of bullies, but they had very different properties and almost no overlap; if your studies were geared to pick up one cohort versus the other, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’d have some weird-ass conclusions.

    • stillnotking says:

      “Bullying” is something almost everyone does when the opportunity arises, and is defined from the victim’s POV rather than the perpetrator’s. (I recall a study of middle-school kids a while back that showed only a tiny percentage of them thought of themselves as bullies, despite a widespread perception that bullies were everywhere.)

      No doubt there is some stability in behavior patterns as people settle into particular roles, but there is no hard separation between bullies and non-bullies, the way there is between, say, car thieves and everyone else.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      And the two studies are conducted in completely different environments. Meat-space and cyber-space operate very differently.

      Does it really seem plausible that the people who send death threats in Halo or on twitter are higher status and happier with their lives? Not happier than they would be otherwise, but happier than the average person, and with such status that they would be considered high status?

      • Anonymous says:

        Why not? We’re not talking about “true threats” right? We’re not talking about people who have real intent of violence, just people who are willing to talk shit on the internet.

        Those people might easily be happier than average for various reasons, like that they’re not overly serious about everything. Lower scrupulosity, you might say. Or lower inhibitions.

  23. JayMan says:

    A couple links posts ago we were discussing the surprisingly large economic divide between north and south Italy. I thought it might be genes. Well, I looked for papers on the issue, and it probably isn’t genes.

    A good general rule of thumb is that just because some paper gets published making some claim, it doesn’t mean that this claim is true. Indeed in the human sciences, it’s likely that it isn’t true. You have to look at the paper.

    Such is the case here. This particular author has an axe to grind, to put it mildly, on this issue. All the facts that support genetic bases for racial differences in IQ work for IQ differences between N. and S. Italy. But a certain segment of people (many of whom accept biological racial differences) can’t accept that the same holds true for Northern vs Southern Europeans as well as for Western vs Eastern Europeans.

    Looking at historical development is always a tricky matter. The facts on the here and now (and for that matter, much of the past century) are clear.
    But let me give you a couple of historical maps on this:

    Spread of literacy across Europe:

    http://callisto.ggsrv.com/imgsrv/Fetch?recordID=eesh_0001_0005_0_img0066&contentSet=SCRB&banner=55c497b6&digest=c498d076b6032f5b6009b2c6f836f93a

    Nature paper on births and deaths of humanity’s prominent people. Notice how Northwester Europe stands out over the past 1,000 years. Also notice what you see in Italy:

    http://www.nature.com/news/humanity-s-cultural-history-captured-in-5-minute-film-1.15650

    Another version:

    http://www.livescience.com/47149-birthplace-to-death-bed-of-150-000-famous-people-visualized.html

    Of course, Charles Murray made this into an entire book. The difference between North and South Italy is clear.

    And blaming the difference on “education” is beyond stupid. Chicken and the egg, anyone? Where does education come from? This very post contains a link explaining where.

    Daniele is correct in that North African admixture isn’t the source of the difference. But it doesn’t have to be. 1,000 years is more than enough time for major IQ differences to evolve.

    • Speedwell says:

      About to click on the link for the Nature paper. I’m curious to see whether the same trends hold true if you use just the data for famous women. Assuming they included any, of course.

    • Sam says:

      I think looking for genetic explanations to explain Italian economic discrepancies is entirely unnecessary when there is such a clear historical explanation: poor governance during the early Industrial period. Arguably the governance issue goes back even further, to when southern Italy was an overseas territory under Aragon and then Spain, regarded as simply a source of taxes and manpower for the overlords. It is unsurprising that this would produce chronic underinvestment in infrastructure and (human and physical) capital. So even the independent Kingdom of Naples / Two Sicilies was starting from a disadvantage, but the Wikipedia article suggests they mismanaged their industrialization as well. And I would speculate that (in a preview of what would happen in the EU on a larger scale) Italian unification led to monetary and fiscal policy that was unfavorable to the weaker/poorer south.

      Why go fishing for a genetic explanation when political economy provides a pretty obvious explanation?

      • John Schilling says:

        You all would have to bring this up while I’ve still got the spreadsheet for IQ, GDP, and navigable waterways open on my computer 🙂

        Northern Italy has the Po river system and some other minor rivers and canals, which the CIA gives as 2400 km of navigable waterways. Also a first-rate natural harbor or two on the Mediterranean. Southern Italy just has its Mediterranean coast and an assortment of minor ports. If the same trends apply in Italy as in the United States, that should give the North an average of 9.2% in per-capita GDP and 1.2% in test scores.

        So, about a quarter of the observed discrepancy right there. And Sam’s got a point about the history. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled discussion of IQ and genetics.

        • Anthony says:

          So HBD*chick has posited that outbreeding has had fairly significant pro-civic effects, that have become genetic differences between populations, and that may make possible increased genetic potential for intelligence. In the West, the Church was against cousin marriage, but lack of enforcement and difficulty of travel work against that, and there are practical reasons (related to preserving wealth) to encourage cousin marriage.

          I speculate that what you are seeing is partly the result of easier transportation making enforcement of the ban on cousin marraige easier, and of finding unrelated partners within easy travel distance, removing two factors encouraging cousin marraige (or at least removing two factors impeding enforcement of the ban). As people living in generally flatter, more riverine areas were more likely to marry non-cousins, they created societies which had the wider social trust necessary to economic advancement (which would improve the reproductive fitness of being smarter), and possibly gained a little intelligence directly from the wider mixing.

      • birdboy2000 says:

        This is true, but political economy provides an equally good explanation just about anywhere else – India’s share of world GDP plummets throughout the colonial period, and colonial rule in Africa was worse than India’s. The people proposing that genetics correlate to GDP are not trying to explain some mysterious phenomenon that historians are incapable of resolving.

        (I’m somewhat open, given what we know about childhood malnutrition and growth, to the proposal that the correlation goes the opposite way – poverty lowers IQ, so poor countries seem dumb. The reverse strikes me as “scientific” racism being repackaged as an explanation for a phenomenon we already understand.)

  24. The Ramadan result makes no sense to me, because my knowledge of the way Ramadan is actually implemented in majority-Muslim cultures suggests that mothers are not actually getting fewer or worse calories during that time period. The rules of Ramadan are such that you’re not allowed to eat during the day, but you can eat all you want after sundown. And, as might be expected, what most Muslims actually do during Ramadan is shift all of their meals to fall after sundown or before sunup. My friends and acquaintances who have lived in majority-Muslim countries (Morocco and Jordan, in case anyone asks) have reported some amusing cultural practices around this (such as mandatory midnight lunches), all of which suggest to me that there’s no real caloric deprivation during Ramadan.

    Another interesting comparison would be Lent in Orthodox countries; the rules of Lent, when fully observed, are more stringent than those for Ramadan (basically: no meat, oil, or alcohol), and they plausibly could cause deficiencies in calories or certain kinds of nutrients. Is any such effect observed?

    • AlphaGamma says:

      As far as I recall from friends who keep Greek Orthodox Lent, oil is allowed except on Wednesdays and Fridays, but dairy products are not.

      The restrictions of Greek Lent are essentially going vegan, with the exception of the two days without oil and the fact that “bloodless fish” (in other words non-fish seafood such as octopus and squid) are allowed.

    • Speedwell says:

      As someone who struggles with blood sugar and kidney function issues who needs to not only eat small meals at regular times but also to keep as hydrated as possible, I would of course be technically exempt from Ramadan fasting rules. But these also make me very aware of what it would do to me if I failed to eat or drink for the entire length of the day and then stuffed my pie hole all night. Blood sugar affects a cascade of hormones and processes, and so does hydration level. I am not familiar with how any of these affect pregnancy, but it seems reasonable to think that dehydration makes it more difficult to remove toxic substances, and both hypo- and hyperglycemia more likely to disrupt fetal metabolism. Anyone know more about how it works and whether this could be a factor?

      • US says:

        It’s been a while since I read about these things and I don’t have a lot of time so sourcing will be sparse. It’s also not a complete answer. Anyway.

        Hormonal factors during pregnancy in general are on net affecting metabolism in a diabetogenic manner promoting hyperglycemia and insulin resistance; this is part of why some pregnant women get gestational diabetes and why pregnant women with diabetes have much higher insulin requirements than non-pregnant diabetics. Pregnant women with diabetes in general have poorer pregnancy outcomes – although outcomes used to be *much* worse than they are now – and the pregnancy complication rate tracks metabolic control (as measured by Hba1c). Due to the observed harmful effects of hyperglycemia on the fetus, pregnant diabetics are advised to achieve lower Hba1c’s than non-pregnant diabetics.

        In a non-diabetic, the initial metabolic responses to starvation involve down-regulation of insulin and up-regulation of glucagon; a situation which to me seems to mimic the diabetic state of insulin deficiency and glucagon excess.

        In diabetics, pregnancy risks associated with the metabolic derangements both relate to factors involved in organogenesis and to factors relevant later on in the time course of the pregnancy, such as risk of (/pre-)eclampsia and increased birth weight. As for the former, an important observation in this context is that permanent damage to the fetus can take place before the individual knows that she is pregnant:

        “There is an increased prevalence of congenital anomalies and spontaneous abortions in diabetic women who are in poor glycemic control during the period of fetal organogenesis, which is nearly complete by 7 wk postconception. A woman may not even know she is pregnant at this time.” (Sperling et al.)

        In studies I’ve seen dealing with pregnant diabetics, the main concern related to hypoglycemia is the fact that severe hypoglycemic events are more common in pregnant women (in one study I’ve read, 45% of the pregnant women in the sample had at least one severe hypoglycemic event during pregnancy) because they need to keep Hba-1c relatively low, not that hypoglycemia is related to risk to the fetus; but this doesn’t rule out that hypoglycemia may harm the fetus. However the risk from hyperglycemia is very well established, so I assume most doctors are more tolerant of occasional hypoglycemic episodes during pregnancy than they are during the rest of the diabetic’s life. Be that as it may, I should note that until I see evidence to the contrary I’ll not be convinced hypoglycemia is a serious factor in the context of the starvation-related pregnancy-risk in non-diabetics we’re talking about here, as the body’s self-defence mechanisms towards low blood glucose should even in people who eat irregularly be quite sufficient to deal with this. It seems to me much more likely that it’s the things their bodies do to avoid hypoglycemia, to deal with the fact that they’re not eating for extended periods of time, that’s causing them, and their future offspring, problems.

        It’s well established from the literature on diabetics and pregnancy that metabolic derangements during pregnancy can harm the fetus. However I’m not sure exactly how this ties in with starvation in non-diabetics during pregnancy. In the context of Mai’s initial comments I’d however suggest that focusing only on the total amount of calories ingested and assuming that the risk to the fetus relates to the amount of calories ingested, or not ingested, is not the right way to approach these things; it’s a lot more complicated than that (and adding ‘certain kinds of nutrients’ to the mix is not enough).

        • US says:

          Okay, I figured maybe I should add just a little more. Because if you look at pregnancy complication rates in diabetics today, they’re sort of higher than average, but not terrible – so it’s kind of easy to miss just how big of a role these kinds of factors can play. An illustrative quote from Tattersall’s excellent book Diabetes – a biography may help illustrate the potential these variables have for causing trouble:

          “It has often been suggested that insulin immediately revolutionized the outlook for pregnant diabetic women. In fact, what it did was to reduce maternal mortality from 50 per cent to around 3 per cent. The outlook for the baby remained poor, with two series in 1933 reporting foetal mortalities of 64 per cent and 41 per cent. The results were so discouraging that women on insulin were advised not to get pregnant, and sterilization was actively encouraged. […] In the late 1940s every other baby of a diabetic mother died either before or soon after delivery.”

          It’s results like these which make doctors paranoid about hyperglycemia in pregnant diabetics. The metabolic derangements in starving pregnant women may be different from those of diabetics, but if they’re even remotely similar, you’d expect bad things to happen to some of those children.

          • US says:

            Hmmm…

            Actually on second thought hypoglycemia may play a role here (as well?). Hypoglycemia affects brain tissue disproportionately, and for all I know (…I’m not an obstetrician) hypoglycemia in the mother may cause hypoglycemia in the child (I should note that I don’t know how closely linked these systems are, and I’d be curious to know if others know about this…). The brain is very sensitive to hypoglycemia. A developing brain is probably extra sensitive.

            It seems from research on diabetics that pregnant diabetics have increased risk of hypoglycemic episodes early during pregnancy, and these episodes may not only be related to stricter metabolic control; they may be both diabetes-related and pregnancy-related, in which case vulnerable non-diabetics (such as e.g. pregnant women who don’t eat during the day) may also be at risk for hypoglycemic episodes (and at higher risk than fasting non-pregnant women). The ‘counter-regulatory systems should be able to deal with these things in non-diabetics’-argument I made above is less convincing if pregnancy alters the body’s response patterns to hypoglycemia in subtle ways which increases the risk of hypoglycemia, which the diabetes-research may(?) be an indication of.

            Given that I changed my mind I should probably explain why. I think I initially rejected the idea of hypoglycemia being important in part because back when I cared about these things some years ago I looked over some of the research on the long-term developmental effects of severe hypoglycemic episodes during childhood, which seemed to find that there wasn’t really much to find, in the sense that long-term effects, if any, were minor (I had a personal interest in this research as I’ve had type 1 diabetes since childhood and suffered multiple hypoglycemic episodes during childhood). I have not looked at that stuff since then and consensus may well have changed in light of new data – the picture was far from clear back when I was looking at that stuff. A second reason for not thinking it likely that hypoglycemia is involved here would be that if hypoglycemia is dangerous to the fetus, it’s sort of weird that the pregnancy-related diabetes-research I’d read had not brought this up. But on the other hand that sort of makes sense if the effects are relatively minor and mainly affect variables that are comparatively hard to investigate (a neural tube defect or a dead baby from hyperglycemia is hard to miss in a study, whereas a 10 point IQ loss in the third grade is a bit harder to pick up); and if there’s a consensus that high blood glucose values during pregnancy are really bad for the baby (which they are), it may be harder to motivate research into these topics in the first place. A third reason is that hyperglycemia in the fetus can affect the central nervous system and cause neural tube defects, so focusing on how hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia affects adults (leading to a ‘hypoglycemia is much more likely to affect the brain’-position) may be a bad idea, considering that age-specific effects may be heterogeneous for ‘similar’ imputs.

            (Sorry for the multiple comments and for the speculation…).

          • Speedwell says:

            No, enjoying your thoughts very much, thanks!

      • Troy says:

        I know almost nothing about medicine, but I can’t imagine that not drinking all day in the heat of the Middle East is good for you (or your baby).

    • anonymous says:

      Just because people who observe Ramadan eat a lot when the sun is down, doesn’t mean it is enough to compensate for the missing daytime calories.

      You can’t be that sure unless you count the calories for a lot of people.

  25. Anonymous says:

    There’s a tall hotel in my city that still has a large sign reading ISIS.

    (Not that I think they ought to change it anyway).

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      I was saddened that people are being harassed for not changing their name away from ISIS, like the nail salon in the Wiki link Scott posted.

      People really will be monsters to each other given the flimsiest of excuses.

  26. off topic, but is STEM easier or harder than liberal arts such as history or philosophy. The online opinion seems to skew in favor of STEM being harder, but any further insights from the community?

      • Saul Degraw says:

        This is sort of confusing because according to this my IQ could be anywhere between 114 (Arts-Performance & Studio) to 124 (Other Humanities & Art). I was a theatre major. FWIW I received a 660 on my Verbal and a 650 on my math SAT.

        • Adam says:

          Yeah, this is tough to use as a predictor in the other direction when people have a lot of majors. I did public admin at one point, which is apparently fifth-lowest, but I also did math and philosophy, which are numbers two and three. I got a perfect SAT score at one point, but not on my first try.

        • Vaniver says:

          Don’t go by mean score for the group when you have your individual score.

          What year you took the test matters, but let’s go quick and dirty and just use this table. 90th percentile on verbal and 86th percentile on math; average those together and you get 88th percentile. Stick that into a normal distribution calculator and we get 118.

    • Speedwell says:

      Since you asked. I found it much harder to be a piano performance major than I ever did to be a mechanical engineering student. This is at least partly because of scarce resources like practice room time, societal factors such as the pissing contests among talented people as to who is more talented than thou, and the pressure to be at the top of your game all the time with no tolerance for errors (and no agreement, frequently, on what errors even are). As an engineering student, I can study with a book propped up in bed. I can be a better engineer without making someone else being a worse engineer. If I have a question about how to do something, other engineers are happy to explain. There are non-arbitrary standards that I can say I met or didn’t meet, and tolerances that recognize practical limitations. And if I spend eight hours a day practicing as an engineer, I get a paycheck.

      • Adam says:

        I was already under the impression music performance specifically is about the toughest career field a person could try to get into. You start off with enormous innate talent differentials, have ridiculous practice time requirements to master your art, there are very few well-paying positions open and they open when the few who hold them die. There’s a joke about New York City subway musicians being among the best in the world because there are so many homeless Julliard grads, and I believe Julliard is the most difficult four-year university in the U.S. to be admitted to.

        • I think the ultimate source of the problem is that a significant number of people really like being musicians and so are willing to be musicians even if the job pays poorly—enough so that the intersection of supply and demand occurs at a low wage. Similarly for actors.

          • Tibor says:

            I am also not sure that music is such a all-or-nothing field as it is often portrayed as. I have several friends who are professional musicians. I would say that they are very good but they are nowhere close to famous on a national (I come from a country of 10 million people…which happens to roughly be the population of NYC if I’m not mistaken) level or being valued studio artists big pop stars pay a lot of money to play on their records (or shows). Still, they make a decent living, roughly around 30 000 Czech Crowns which is about 1300 USD a month, which is a little bit above the Czech average salary. They also get to do a job they really love (even though part of their income comes from teaching music or playing in “entertainment bands” rather than more sofisticated but also less popular “artistic” music, which I guess they don’t enjoy as much as “doing their own thing” regardless of how many people are willing to pay for that). However, this is not a 9-5 job, you are paid for playing, but you have to practice, pack your equipment, drive to the venue, sometimes sleep over, come back the next day…also find the time to compose new stuff and so on. Still, one can make a decent living this way, even if you don’t end up being a rock star.

            Maybe this is different in the NYC…but I would also guess many people would be surprised by how much the NYC underground musicians actually make. It is not going to be stellar, but probably quite decent living. Of course, the situation in the US could be different for some reason, although I don’t know why it should (it is true that the music schools the people I know also teach at are state-subsidized which could mean more students, and possibly there are no tax-funded music schools in the US, but this is perhaps 20-25% of their income at most anyway).

            As for actors, I know some too, although I don’t know as much about he situation there, being an amateur musician, but not being involved in acting in any way. From what I gather, it seems that if you just play in the theater, your salary is going to be very low. If you can get some TV ads or radio ads, or voice acting (dubbing seems to be very lucrative…probably less so in the US where the vast majority of what you get in the TV or cinema already comes in your language), you can get a decent living again even without becoming a film star.

            Basically in both professions, you can make decent (but not great as long as you are not both very talented and lucky…and patient) money by doing some extra work which perhaps is not exactly the kind of art you’d like to do, but for which there is demand (“easy” kind of entertainment music, teaching music, TV ads, dubbing, perhaps a role in a soap opera, but that already is not as easy to get) and then doing whatever you want in the rest of your time. For some reasons, despite the fact that unlike film and theater, non-classical music is not subsidized in any way other than occasional city music festivals and public music schools (where you still directly pay a fee as a student, just not the full fee), musicians seem to be quite happy about that, whereas I always hear actors and filmmakers demanding more money from the government for the support of the arts and feeling outraged about “selling off” by doing advertisements or things like that.

    • anodognosic says:

      To draw a distinction: it’s generally much easier to get good grades in the humanities because it’s hard to bullshit your way to a right answer in STEM fields, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to be *good* at the sorts of things done in the humanities.

      • Pku says:

        Personal example in point: When I was in high school I won the school short story writing competition, but got a D in the Literature and “personal expression” (essay writing) classes.
        (Wait, that actually just (at best) shows independence of grades and skill, not one being easy and one being hard).

    • LTP says:

      I’m a current philosophy/math double major, so perhaps I can offer some insight.

      I would say that introductory/lower division classes in the humanities are definitely significantly easier than introductory/lower division STEM classes assuming you have at least average academic writing skills (which not all STEM majors have). It’s easier to BS your way through those courses by doing things like skipping or skimming the readings and then looking up online summaries, writing essays that are in a good form but are substantively rather vacuous and still getting B’s or even A’s in some cases, skip a few classes here and there, and putting work off until the last minute, especially if you have a natural aptitude for the humanities. In the STEM courses, you have to be much more organized to succeed. You have to do most or all of the homework, even if you have a aptitude for STEM, to really get the concepts.

      I think at the upper division level they are more equal. Upper division STEM courses are very similar to the lower division ones, and in some ways they’re slightly easier because you’re building off the foundation you got in previous courses. Meanwhile, upper division humanities courses are much harder than the lower division ones. While I would say there is still somewhat more room for BS’ing your way through them than STEM courses, you probably won’t be able to BS your way to an A or even a B+ anymore. Also, unlike in STEM, the upper division courses in the humanities don’t as much build off of the lower-division courses, but rather are qualitatively different in what is expected in a way that makes them much harder, e.g. you go from writing short papers that explicate a philosophical position you went over in class to having to write original (or quasi-original) and persuasive arguments for or against various positions in 8-10+ page papers.

      I would say, like anodognosic, that excelling in the humanities is just as hard as doing well in STEM, even if getting the good grade is easier, especially in the lower-division courses.

      • Adam says:

        I was kind of in a boat like this. My majors seriously ran the gamut, starting from studio art to eventually doubling in biology and philosophy, then going to grad school for public policy, then grad school for finance, then back to undergrad for math, then back to grad school for computer science. I’ve kind of been doing school on and off my entire adult life even while working.

        The lower-division humanities are somewhat watered-down by design because the distribution requirements make it so a lot of non-majors are taking it just because they’re forced to. On the other hand, the lower-division bio courses were among the hardest I ever had to take because they’re pre-med weeder courses and intentionally made harder than they have to be. I had some philosophy courses that counted as gen-ed, but the professors hated that and wanted to hold more in-depth courses that actually required background knowledge and they’d start the course by actively encouraging non-majors to drop because it wasn’t going to be easy.

        For what it’s worth, I got my worst grades in philosophy. I’m not sure what it was exactly. I’d say, based on the evidence of thousands of years old open questions, philosophy is asking the hardest questions, but also the grading standards are kind of arbitrary and you’re not expected to actually answer those questions.

        I’ve yet to ever get anything but an A in a math or CS course, where the grading standards are not so arbitrary. Does your proof actually prove what you say it does? Does your code work? Then you’re good to go. On the other hand, to the extent some people are just bad at math, this will be harder for those people.

        Bio was probably the heaviest workload, because biological systems are stupidly complex and understanding them is a tedious exercise in endless knowledge-absorption.

        Finance was by far the easiest. It can be mathy but it seems like most schools heavily water down anything taken by business-focused students, so you’re really not required to understand statistics and differential equations and if you do it’s a hundred times easier, and on the flip side, there isn’t nearly as much writing and it’s just easier to read a financial statement than it is to read Derrida and Heidegger.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      It depends a lot on what you’re good at. Non-STEM were always easier for me, but I know people who had exactly the opposite experience. If someone knows if they got higher grades in English than Math in high school, they’ve probably got a better sense of how this will work for them than any study can tell them.

      If you mean “in general, for most people”, the IQ data seems relevant and I think more people drop out of STEM classes – although once again this surely depends on how hard each individual class is.

    • I think it depends which topic in the humanities and whether your aim is to pass, get good grades, or actually be good at it (three quite different goals imo). There are significant differences in the level of difficulty in the various humanities, especially at undergrad level. I think philosophy is probably significantly harder than the others (including economics and social science which are passable with very minimal effort), but if you go to primary texts in the other fields instead of the textbooks or basic reading you’ll find there is usually plenty to chew over. I perceive there’s much less need to consult primary research in the STEM subjects to get a good understanding (easier to establish to correctness of answers), and so its a bit apples and organes, but I could be totally wrong on that part.

  27. Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic. I have been pushing this line for a long time against the “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” crowd and I am delighted to see it confirmed. More evidence for the idea of a general factor of fitness possibly based on mutational load.

    interesting ..I wonder if the health benefits taper-off after a certain IQ threshold is breached, and possibly even reverse. Many instances of high-IQ people dying early from suicide, drug addiction, etc

  28. Anon. says:

    Klein asks him about UBI, he says he’s raising the minimum wage to $15. Jesus Christ…

  29. Vaniver says:

    The first round of polls suggest that potential Republican voters think Donald Trump won the first debate (1, 2). Other big winner: Carly Fiorina.

    I called it yesterday at lunch, but you heard it here now: Trump and Fiorina as the Republican ticket in 2016. Current odds for: somewhere around 2:3. (What’s the best political prediction market these days?)

    • Deiseach says:

      Trump and Fiorina as the Republican ticket in 2016

      I’m not American, and that’s really depressing. Can the Republicans really not find somebody with a bit of conviction (other than “make the maximum amount of money for me and screw the rest of you”) to run for them?

      • Why would I want to have a Republican president? The only thing I want from the Republicans is good reality television, which Trump + Fiorina would supply in spades.

        • Deiseach says:

          Because it’s bad for any country, and especially for a two-party country, to have one party so weak or so obviously unelectable that power comes to be concentrated in the grasp of one party. Now, Congress as a whole is different because Republicans can achieve the balance of power there, but the American Presidency is not just a figurehead position.

          And unless we’re going to believe that Party Q is the epitome of all that is evil, and Party K is the party of truth, justice, and a hard-boiled egg, then we shouldn’t want to see any party in a long, uninterrupted stretch of holding power.

          • Pku says:

            Agreed – the thing that bothers me most about the republicans is that there are a lot of things I really don’t like about the democrats, but the republicans seem to destroy any chance for a reasonable alternative.

          • Jaskologist says:

            A lot of conservatives believe that for all intents and purposes this is already the case, via an inner-party/outer-party dynamic.

  30. Vaniver says:

    Even if we do develop exciting futuristic technology that can pump CO2 out of the atmosphere, it won’t save us, because it won’t help the problem of CO2 acidifying the oceans.

    What? How do you think that CO2 got into the oceans in the first place? If we reduce atmosphere CO2 levels, then presumably CO2 will diffuse back out of the ocean into the atmosphere.

    [Edit]This is discussed elsewhere in the comments–apparently the claim is that it will take a long time for this diffusion process to happen.

    • Because there’s a chemical reaction involved, I don’t think there’s any particular reason to think the rates would be the same each way. (Although from skimming the comments it sounds as if it is at least similar.)

  31. William says:

    Engaging with this “collinearity” claim on their terms would be a big mistake, because “collinearity” is the essence of your critique. Your original point is that the researchers have two available explanatory variables:

    Variable 1: perceived ability
    Variable 2 : measured ability

    But the “problem of collinearity,” in regression analysis, is precisely that two explanatory variables are highly correlated with each other, thus making it extremely difficult to distinguish the individual effect of either variable.

    In other words, when these researchers say, “Adding measured estimates of ability creates a collinearity problem for the regression because measured ability is highly correlated with perceived ability,” you ought to respond: “Yes. That is the whole point.”

  32. Correction: I didn’t say – or intend to say – that David Neuwark is a conservative hack. I’m pretty familiar with Neuwark’s work, and his studies don’t suggest that he’s a conservative hack. But I do think he has an ideological bias regarding the minimum wage. Economists can have biases that don’t map onto the typical democratic-vs-republican biases.

    I’m sorry I made the remark about Neuwark. It was based on a study that before the internet became a big thing, which is to say, it might as well be prehistoric. At this point, that study was long enough ago that it genuinely should be forgotten. Neuwark is a serious economist whose work deserves to be taken seriously.

    However, I think the other arguments I made back then continue to stand well.

    • Emile says:

      Economists can have biases that don’t map onto the typical democratic-vs-republican biases.

      I prefer to phrase that as “non-economists tend to have biases”, i.e. if economists and the general public disagree on something, my money is on the economists being (more) right.

      The fact that the economists’ position doesn’t map to political partisanship (i.e. they tend to take the “left wing” position on immigration (it’s good for the economy!) and the “right wing” position on minimum wage (it’s bad for the economy!)) makes me trust their judgement more.

      • I prefer to phrase that as “non-economists tend to have biases”, i.e. if economists and the general public disagree on something, my money is on the economists being (more) right.

        I’m not sure you understood what I was saying. I wasn’t saying all economists are biased, and the public is not biased.

        The fact that the economists’ position doesn’t map to political partisanship (i.e. they tend to take the “left wing” position on immigration (it’s good for the economy!) and the “right wing” position on minimum wage (it’s bad for the economy!)) makes me trust their judgement more.

        In the case of the minimum wage, there is no such thing as “the economists’ position.” The limited evidence available on this question suggests that US economists are split on the question of the minimum wage (economists in other countries are generally more in favor of the MW than US economists are).

        Here are two sources to support my statement. The second is almost a decade old, but also more interesting and wide-ranging, and written by two economists who oppose the minimum wage.

        Poll Results | IGM Forum

        Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage

        • The questions your first link goes to were not of the form “does increasing the minimum wage reduce job opportunities for workers now getting the minimum wage” but “does slightly increasing the minimum wage noticeably reduce job opportunities” and “are the negative effects of such an increase large enough to outweigh the positive effect on those low skilled workers who would get the higher wage” (again not an actual quote). The question posited a $9 federal minimum, which is lower than the current state minimum wage in some states, an increase of a dollar or less in about half the states.

          Economic theory does not answer the first question, since it does not tell us how large the decrease in quantity of labor demanded is with a given increase in cost, and it cannot answer the second question, which depends on non-economic value judgements.

          The bias of economists is towards believing the implications of economic theory, one of which is that if the price of an input is raised, the quantity demanded (ceteris paribus) goes down. As best I can tell, most of the people in the political world who favor in increase in the minimum wage, including both Obama and Sanders, do not believe that, at least in public.

          And what they favor is an increase, relative to current minimum wages (state or federal, whichever is higher), about five times larger than the increase posited in the question, hence one much more likely to have significant effects.

          Jim Buchanan used to say that all economists agree that raising the minimum wage reduces the employment of unskilled workers. He added that that was not an empirical claim but part of the definition of “economist.”

          • Tibor says:

            Harry: When Zach makes strips about economics, he oscillates between funny and smart economic analysis and complete misunderstanding of economics, both are about equally frequent for some reason. This one seems to be of the second variety.

            By the way, splitting up with your business-partner because he shot your dog is not irrational at all. I signal I am willing to retaliate when someone causes damage to me – even at costs to me. But those costs are investments. If I have a reputation of inflicting costs on you if you do something bad to me, you are less likely to harm me in the future. If you shoot my dog, I break up the partnership and decrease the chances of losing more dogs in the future (also it is not completely unreasonable to assume that you are less trustworthy than you seemed to be since you did something like that).

            And even when people don’t actually always act rationally and there are probably some hardwired modes of behaviour that can be exploited because of that, it seems to be a model that works very well in describing how people behave most of the time. The problem is that most people think that economics is exactly this sort of “cartoon economics” like in that strip.

            Maths has the problem that most people think they know what it is, find it hard to understand and boring and conclude it is not for them. Economics has the problem that most people think they what it is, find it easy to understand and “obviously wrong” and conclude that it is not worth studying further. In maths, this is IMO chiefly caused by extremely bad way maths is being taught at schools. In economics, I blame terrible choice of technical terms which leads people astray 🙂 I am less sure whether the fact that it is not a part of the standard curriculum is a good or a bad thing, observing how big a disservice the standard curriculum does to maths (although probably it still makes the actual maths level of an average person higher than in a situation where most of the schools are the way they are, only maths is not in the curriculum at all).

    • Scott Alexander says:

      Sorry. I’ve changed the text of the link. “Hack” and “ideologue” have pretty similar connotations for me, but if you think people will view them differently I will make the correction.

      • Deiseach says:

        For me, “hack” means “will churn out any old rubbish without necessarily believing, endorsing, or caring about the topic; works strictly for-hire”, e.g. “L. Ron Hubbard was a hack writer for the pulps in several genres, not merely SF”.

        “Ideologue” has the connotation “is a True Believer who spends every waking moment promulgating the message, may or may not be getting paid, but is doing it out of conviction and not for the spondulicks”.

      • I was objecting more to the word “conservative.” Thank you for changing the wording.

        • Is your complaint more than “he has the same biases as other economists, including Krugman back when he was a textbook author rather than a public intellectual?”

          • John Schilling says:

            The more interesting question is, how much money/fame would it take for you to believe that the positions were true? I suspect it has as much to do with how the rewards are offered than their absolute magnitude, but we’re talking the mother of all cognitive biases here.

  33. Erol Can Akbaba says:

    For accessing academic papers freely, there’s sci-hub. Either go to sci-hub.org and search for the paper, or open a paper’s URL and add “sci-hub.org” after the main URL part.

    Example:
    paywall.com/scientific-article –> paywall.com.sci-hub.org/scientific-article

  34. gwern says:

    Also: I wonder what percent of international IQ differences this explains.

    Not that much, as you can see just from the restricted time domain of one month (assume equal distribution, then 1/12th of the population will be affected by 10% so an average decrease of 7%?).

    suggests that mothers are not actually getting fewer or worse calories during that time period. The rules of Ramadan are such that you’re not allowed to eat during the day, but you can eat all you want after sundown.

    Just because they are allowed to eat after sundown doesn’t mean they are getting the same exact number of calories; to give a concrete example, the interpretation of intermittent fasting studies is hampered by the fact that sometimes the IF causes caloric deficits and that may be what is driving any positive results. Even if they are getting the same number of calories and it hasn’t been tilted towards junk food by the holidays, the long gaps between eating may themselves be doing significant damage to the fetus.

    Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic. I have been pushing this line for a long time against the “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” crowd and I am delighted to see it confirmed. More evidence for the idea of a general factor of fitness possibly based on mutational load.

    I admit I was quite surprised by this. I thought Gottfredson had made a pretty persuasive case.

    Well, I looked for papers on the issue, and it probably isn’t genes.

    The abstract of the paper makes no sense to me. It sounds like they’re saying, ‘look, south Italy has bad test scores! This explains the poverty! And scores went up at one point, so it must not be genetics!’ Yeah… no. (They also seem to be making wild claims about the genetics in the absence of any, you know, genetics info. There’s a reason we have a whole field of ‘population genetics’ instead of just drawing all our phylogenetic trees using “ancient history”.)

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I haven’t read the whole Ramadan paper, but it seems like a Ramadan in a month adjacent to the particular month they studied probably also has some effect – there are fetal development windows, but they’re not perfect. 3/4 of babies should have a Ramadan somewhere during pregnancy.

      • gwern says:

        Sure, but they won’t necessarily all be vulnerable, if we go off the example of iodine where after the second trimester the effects seem minimal rather than the usual dramatic increase.

      • AlexanderRM says:

        To clarify, the study linked compared Muslims with Ramadan during a certain point in their gestational cycle, to the 1/4th of Muslism who went through the full 9 months in between Ramadans, correct? Definitely not to non-Muslims or anything like that, and definitely without any major confounding factors like how religious the parents were?

        I would have assumed it was to other Muslims, the main one that made me very suspicious was “performed more child labor”. It seems like child labor should be significantly less affected by intelligence than various adult conditions- there might be borderline cases where the parents notice that a child is intelligent and work hard so they can go to school and not have to do child labor, but it’ll definitely be a lot weaker than intelligence overall.

  35. Beliavsky says:

    Linda Gottfredson has written some papers on health and IQ. They are available from her site http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/index.html#Publications . Here is one.

    Intelligence Predicts Health and Longevity, but Why?
    Linda S. Gottfredson and Ian J. Deary
    ABSTRACT—Large epidemiological studies of almost an entire
    population in Scotland have found that intelligence (as measured
    by an IQ-type test) in childhood predicts substantial differences
    in adult morbidity and mortality, including deaths from
    cancers and cardiovascular diseases. These relations remain
    significant after controlling for socioeconomic variables. One
    possible, partial explanation of these results is that intelligence
    enhances individuals’ care of their own health because it represents
    learning, reasoning, and problem-solving skills useful
    in preventing chronic disease and accidental injury and in
    adhering to complex treatment regimens.
    KEYWORDS—intelligence; health; longevity

  36. Sam says:

    Regarding 1Pass, I would hope that they refuse to let academic publishers participate unless the Springers and Elsaviers of the world reduce the single-article purchase price to a reasonable level. I might even pay as much as $5 to read a paper ($1-2 strikes me as a better target), but generally they charge much more.

    • Urstoff says:

      I don’t really understand their pricing model at all. Most researchers have access via institutional libraries, so who is the main consumer base for individual articles, and is $30 an article (or thereabouts) really the price that maximizes revenue?

      Of course, one hopes that PLOS One and other open access journals eventually kill Springer and Elsevier.

      • suntzuanime says:

        I think the idea is that they want to make not having institutional access sufficiently unpleasant that institutions will be forced to subscribe to them. The individual article price is so high not because they are hoping to get a lot of people to pay it, but because they don’t want universities saying “to hell with this, just buy your articles piecemeal”.

  37. ADifferentAnonymous says:

    Isn’t it a standard observation that bullies bully those a little bit lower status than themselves? Which, taken with the premise that women are lower status than men, predicts that men of lower status will be more likely to bully women?

    I don’t look forward to how this finding will be used in online debates either, but so far there results are pretty well predicted by typical progressive assumptions.

  38. SkyCarson says:

    Regarding the gastric bypass operation.

    In my Opinion (based on talk with doctors) the reduction of volume is really only a fraction of the intended consequences. with a gb you also reduce the lenght of the small intestine the food will travel plus reduced exposure of the food to acid in the stomach which will lead to malabsorbtion of nutrients.

    I have a gastric sleeve that reduces the size but i have a greatly reduced sense of hunger (of course i may want to eat certain things but the difference in strenght of the feeling is at least an order of magnitude)

    that said i lost 60 kg in about 15 months. i have to say that in that for half of that time i ate 3 meals a day á 250gr consisting of mostly protein (60-80 gr protein a day (which is the recommendation) min which is approx 100 – 140 gr meat, fisch, eggs with the rest split evenly between carbohydratbased food and vegetables ) spread apart at least 4 hours

  39. Jiro says:

    I still think the most likely explanation for why African-Americans are underrepresented in the things you describe in that earlier post, is that when the groups are just forming, they start with a greater or lesser proportion just by chance (when the group is small, this is possible; when the group is small and confined to one geographical area, even more so). When the group grows, it grows in a way that is affected by the initial racial proportion of the group, so a group that happens to start as mostly white stays that way.

    • NZ says:

      That doesn’t fully explain it. Suppose there is X, a new anti-establishment cause not related to race. A group is formed that cares about X, and the cause grows. Why is it so likely that that group is composed so heavily of white people, and that as they grow and merge with other groups, those groups will also be composed heavily of white people?

      • John Schilling says:

        Scott already dived into this one.

        A short answer is, the group will wind up consisting of a few rich people who care about X, a somewhat larger group of middle-class people who care about X, and a much larger group of middle-class people who care about signaling that they aren’t dull boring middle-class drones. Dull boring middle-class drones care about their meaningless, consumer-driven lives and maybe about dull boring causes like poverty and breast cancer. I care about X, which you’ve never even heard of, which means I had to put some thought into it and that means my caring is better than generic dull boring middle-class caring.

        This group of people will be almost entirely white. Colored people have spent the last couple centuries working and fighting to be accepted as members of the “dull, boring” middle class, and many of them are still worried about falling back out of it. Very few of them are going to invest any social capital in signaling that they are Not Like Other Middle-Class People.

        • Adam says:

          Colored people are also not purchasing indulgences for their white guilt.

        • Zykrom says:

          ssc commenters now unironically use ‘colored’

          • Cauê says:

            Can someone please give me a link to the official list?

            It’s hard to keep up as a non-native speaker, especially when “person of color good, colored person bad” is the kind of rule we are expected to follow.

          • But having an official list would deny power and status to those who make it their business to know what’s the “correct” way to refer to people, and who denigrate those who don’t know. If the list were public and (more importantly) stable, then anyone could learn it; whereas if the list is an ill-defined and shifting social norm, then knowing what’s on the list can be a marker of the Right Sort of Person.

          • John Schilling says:

            Is there a better term for “black and Hispanic but not white or Asian”?

          • Nornagest says:

            Zykrom: unhelpful.

            Cauê: I don’t know for sure if PoC is related, but a similar fashion in English-language disability politics is “people-first language”: theoretically, by saying “people [with some qualifier]” rather than “[qualified] people”, you’re implicitly reminding yourself that you’re talking about people, rather than, say, evil mutants.

            I don’t really buy it, myself. The linguistic distinction is found nowhere outside politics that I know of, and insofar as there’s a practical effect I’d be much more inclined to believe that it comes from consciously deciding to use a nonstandard construction: signaling, in other words. If it ever becomes standard, it’ll be just one more step on the euphemism treadmill. But it’s easier for me to comply than to argue, and I don’t really have any fundamental objections, so I often use it when I’m talking to activist types.

            (When I’m talking to actual black people, I usually just use “black”, and so do they. I have so far never found a need in such a conversation to refer to more than one non-white ethnicity at once.)

          • Deiseach says:

            Yeah, how dare the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People retain such a racially-based slur in its organisational name –

            – oh, wait… that’s different.

            Please wait to distinguish between people using “colored” in a fashion meant to be derogatory and belittling, and people whose first language is not English and don’t get the finer nuances of why “people of color” is okay but “colored people” is not.

          • Cauê says:

            Nornagest: thanks, that might help, possibly.

            Funnily enough, I remember the literal translation of “person of color” (pessoa de cor) being used around here by people who were obviously making an effort to be unoffensive, back when I was growing up. But nowadays that would draw the same reaction as Zykrom’s above. So the explanation at least doesn’t seem to be universal.

          • Speedwell says:

            John Schilling asks, “Is there a better term for “black and Hispanic but not white or Asian”?”

            Well, I believe that in the casta system of old Mexican racial classification, they were called either “mulatto” or “pardo” depending on whether the Hispanic parent was a Spaniard or contained some Amerindian heritage. But I doubt you really want to go back to that sort of thing.

          • Zykrom says:

            I have to concede that I was rude, sorry John.

            But, the unvirtuous part of my brain really really wants me to point out that someone who uses the phrase “colored people” in the same sentance as “purchasing indulgences for their white guilt” is essentially garunteed to be intentionally signalling anti-anti-racism at the very least.

          • Adam says:

            Jesus, man. What good is being Mexican if I don’t even get to make fun of white people? This is the blog that originated the term ‘Planck hostility.’ Can we have just a tiny bit of humor? Is there an accepted way of signaling ‘joke?’

          • Jiro says:

            Is there a better term for “black and Hispanic but not white or Asian”?

            The usual codeword is “underrepresented minority”.

          • NZ says:

            NAM = non-Asian minority

        • NZ says:

          I’m going to use NAM (non-Asian minorities) where you use “colored”, mainly because to me “colored” represents black people only.

          It’s true that NAMs spent the last couple centuries working and fighting to be accepted as members of the dull boring (i.e. white) middle class, but only until the 1960s. Since then, I don’t think it’s true that they are worried about falling out of it (though it is realistically a cause for concern).

          Rather, they want the material comfort that comes with being middle class, but none of the white cultural associations or civic responsibility. It’s not that NAMs are incapable of handling these, either (they were making good progress half a century ago), but that it is seen as affirmation of buying into the Evil White Man’s social order.

          I think a more plausible explanation (and I still haven’t read Scott’s earlier one, so let me know if I’m repeating his) is that they’re used to being very conformist within their own cultural niches and identities, in which being anti-establishment only comes up if it’s something along racial lines. Straying off this reservation would be nonconformist within their own cultural/racial niche, and so it’s “crazy white people stuff”.

      • Jiro says:

        It’s not necessarily true that the group is initially composed of white people. However, if it becomes initially composed of white people by chance, that composition can then stick around as the group gets bigger.

        • NZ says:

          Right, but my question is why is it so likely that it WILL initially be compose of mostly white people? How many such groups are NOT composed mostly of white people?

          • Jiro says:

            The majority of the population is composed of white people (or at least of people who are not underrepresented minorities). So many more groups will start out all white by chance than all black by chance.

          • NZ says:

            But do you really propose that these groups will start out approximately in proportion to their representation in the population?

  40. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    Of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, which one do you think recently made headlines by standing by his support for universal health care? And which denounced immigration as a plot to destroy America?

    Sorry if this is an attempt at humor that escaped me, but denouncing open borders is not the same as denouncing immigration. Also Trump’s proposal for universal healthcare, is surprising no doubt, but it is vague, whereas Bernie Sander’s proposal for a single payer system is concrete.

    • Wrong Species says:

      Sanders doesn’t seem to be a fan of more immigration either.

      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        If this is the case, then he doesn’t say it in this interview, and he certainly doesn’t say that immigration is a “plot to destroy America”.

    • Nita says:

      Of course it’s supposed to be funny. If Scott has to choose between accuracy and humor or rhetorical flourish…

    • Scott Alexander says:

      What exactly is the difference between open borders and immigration? Immigration is good up to X people, but after the X+1st person it becomes a plot to destroy America?

      (I suppose I would accept “we will only allow immigrants of a certain demographic” as a consistent pro-immigration anti-open-border position, but I doubt that’s where Sanders is going)

      • Samuel Skinner says:

        “Immigration is good up to X people, but after the X+1st person it becomes a plot to destroy America?”

        It is possible the country can only absorb so many people at once. Think a lag time in training officials who speak Spanish. Or having a large number of migrants means they form their own communities and don’t assimilate (this is a more common fear). Or importing large enough numbers and they start becoming a voting block, which incentivizes importing more.

      • whateverfor says:

        If you assume constant marginal costs and decreasing marginal benefits then there exists some N where more is bad, even though some is good. This is true for all kinds of things, it shouldn’t be surprising at all if it’s true for immigration.

      • Alexander Stanislaw says:

        Almost every country has immigration, no country has ever seriously considered open borders (the Schengen area doesn’t count, it is limited to a small subset of the world population). And yes this is because current laws restrict the number and type of immigrants that can enter according to profession, criminal record, medical history, employment history etc.

        Since Bernie Sanders starts off by talking about low wage workers, he clearly think that the ability to restrict what types of workers can live in the US is an important aspect of immigration law. He may well not be a fan of more legal immigration (not that there is anything contradictory about wanting more legal immigration while thinking that open borders is madness), but there is a rather big difference between disliking something and thinking it is a “proposal which says essentially there is no United States” in his actual words. He reserves that charge to open borders.

        • “no country has ever seriously considered open borders”

          Aside from the USA for the first century of its existence? There were, in theory, restrictions on polygamists, people carrying communicable diseases, and some criminals, but I don’t think they were very effectively enforced.

          In the years before WWII immigration was about a million people a year into a population of about a hundred million, the equivalent of three million a year now.

          • Alexander Stanislaw says:

            Heh, I was wondering if someone would actually find an example – thank you. In the modern world, transportation is cheap and anyone can effectively travel anywhere which is drastically different than back then. I’ll take your word for it that the U.S. in those days had open borders in theory*, but it would not resemble open borders today.

            The larger point – that immigration is near universal and open borders is a fringe and uncommon policy suggestion seems indisputable, and I’m quite shocked that Scott disputed it – I thought he was just going to acknowledge that it was a hyperbole.

            *Back then, convenience, communication and many other obstacles functioned as de facto controls on migration.

          • Tibor says:

            I think the main difference between then and now is that there was no welfare state. The current immigration to the EU is nowhere near the numbers you cite for the US (although arguably more strenuous as the people who immigrate from the middle east and Africa come from a very different culture, whereas most of the immigrants to the US came from Europe to a more or less European culture of the US) but is already causing a lot of trouble. Both the relatively large number of immigrants and the problems are caused mainly by the fact, that anyone who comes and asks for asylum is given money and shelter (and a lot of other services) and the procedure seems to be biased, at least in some countries towards granting the asylum (which means even more money from the state) and even if it is not granted, the asylum procedure is slow, taking several months, which results in people piling up (from what I read in “die Welt”, almost half of the people asking for asylum status in Germany come from the Balkans, having very low chances of getting it, but there still is a high political opposition to simply automatically reject their asylum request, especially on the left).

            This turns free immigration into rent seeking and therefore into a problem. Unfortunately, most of the opposition to this state of things in Europe is not libertarian (“let them come as they wish, but don’t give them any subsidies from the state”) but nationalistic (“close down the EU borders” or even “abolish Schengen!”…despite the fact that the Schengen zone hardly has anything to do with this).

            The fact is, that in the EU of today, basically nobody is willing to cut down the welfare state. And If I take the welfare state as a fact for the time being, the closing down the borders position might end up being a lesser evil. Actually, I like the Czech system where non-EU immigrants are only eligible for welfare after (I think) 3 or 4 years of living in the country. This is compatible with the welfare state (which I am not a big fan of, but it is the reality I have to operate in) whereas it does not deter pretty much any of the non-welfare-seeking immigrants. One would still have to change the asylum laws, however, which are a bypass to this.

            Unfortunately, with parties like Le Fronte National in France or Folkeparti in Denmark (and similar parties elsewhere), the likely mid-term future of the EU actually seems to be simply more restrictive border controls.

  41. bill fremp says:

    On Robin Hanson and EA – this reminds me a lot of the baseball scouts vs stats culture wars in the early 2000s.

    Books like Moneyball and websites like Baseball Prospectus brought sabermetrics into vogue. They yelled about how a lot of the old stats didn’t tell us much and presented newer and more useful stats. These stats were somewhat more complicated and often had silly names. And a lot of baseball writers thought this was dumb and there were a million hot takes about how “numbers don’t play baseball, people do” and quips about nerds needing to leave their mother’s basement and go watch a game. And the nerds responded with a lot of snark, and there was a great back and forth.

    And then pitchfx gave a lot of interesting data about pitchers (pitch release points, pitch movement, etc) and batted ball data drastically improved the defensive statistics. And all of a sudden it was possible for the nerds on the internet to see some of the stuff that made the scouts valuable. And it showed that the internet nerds were drastically undervaluing defense in a lot of their models. So they updated the models, which now gave somewhat more intuitive results. And sports journalists started to use them now that they lined up a little better with what they thought they already knew, and the conflict died down and everyone started working together.

    Meanwhile a lot of teams were already using some forms of advanced statistics, but they started promoting it more. They hired well talented sabermetric bloggers, and talked about how their scouts and their analytics departments worked together. Except for the Phillies. The Phillies continue to insist stats are useless, and they’re currently 42-67.

    And from the outside, this is how it seems to be going with EA. There’s a fringe group of nerds who are interested in charity. They are doing a few things really well, but possibly undervaluing more traditional tools and they’re bad at PR. Then there are people in the establishment who have been doing what they’ve been doing for a long time, probably already use data to some degree, and are somewhere between dismissive and hostile. And this all appears to be moving into the next stage of handwringing from both sides about how the other is Totally Missing the Point. And then eventually both sides will come to realize that they’re actually on the same team and everyone will be much better off for it.

    For baseball this took about 30 years and the Phillies are still holding out. So with that in mind, I read Hanson’s article less as contrarian and more as a plea to speed up the process.

  42. E. Harding says:

    “A new pass lets you make microtransactions to get through paywalls on sites like Financial Times and The Economist.”
    -Whoa! You mean Google Cache and cookie-blocking are too cheap for these people?

  43. Troy says:

    The World Bank’s “Ease Of Doing Business” report doesn’t correlate with how easy it actually is to do business in various countries. Apparent explanation: the World Bank measures how easy it is to do business honestly and without bribes, which is not a very popular or effective way to do business in a lot of places.

    Could there be a selection effect at work in the study of “how easy it actually is to do business in various countries”? Perhaps companies that are able to successfully navigate bribes/red tape/etc. within a reasonably short period of time stay in business, while ones that can’t quit.

  44. Trevor says:

    I really like the way Math With Bad Drawings handled Zach’s comic / Kempner’s series.

    http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2015/07/15/the-strange-music-of-the-harmonic-series/

    Punchline – eventually, (almost) every number has a 9 in it. So “throwing out terms with a nine in the denominator” means “throwing out almost the whole tail of the harmonic series”. Which gives you convergence.

  45. Trevor says:

    The Americans will always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.

    😉 It’s one of my favorite quotes, so of course I can’t help but tear it down. Turns out, all nations are like that.

    http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/11/exhaust-alternatives/

  46. Question about self esteem: How does it differ from being conceited? For that matter, how did it ever get classified as something good?

    • US says:

      “how did it ever get classified as something good?”

      I think it’s mostly that when you have high self-esteem, you don’t have low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is associated with a lot of bad things:

      “A wide array of studies have shown clear and consistent evidence that individuals who report more positive feelings of self-worth are also more emotionally stable and less prone to psychological distress than those who do not feel as good about themselves […] There is little debate that self-esteem is positively associated with outcomes such as self-reported happiness […] and overall life satisfaction […] Although there is a clear link between low self-esteem and psychopathology, the reason for this connection [however] remains unclear. […] low self-esteem is listed as either a diagnostic criterion or associated feature of at least 24 mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV- TR). Low self-esteem and an insufficient ability to experience self-relevant positive emotions such as pride is particularly strongly linked to depression, to such a degree that some even suggest conceptualizing self-esteem and depression as opposing end points of a bipolar continuum”.

      “Not only might perceptions of others’ self-esteem influence interactions among relative strangers, but they may also be particularly important in close relationships. Ample evidence demonstrates that a friend or partner’s self-esteem can have actual relational consequences […]. Relationships involving low self-esteem people tend to be less satisfying and less committed […], due at least in part to low self-esteem people’s tendency to engage in defensive, self-protective behavior and their enhanced expectations of rejection […]. Mounting evidence suggests that people can intuit these disadvantages, and thus use self-esteem as an interpersonal signal. […] Research by MacGregor and Holmes (2007) suggests that people expect to be less satisfied in a romantic relationship with a low self-esteem partner than a high self-esteem partner, directly blaming low self-esteem individuals for relationship mishaps […] it appears that people use self-esteem as a signal to indicate desirability as a mate: People report themselves as less likely to date or have sex with those explicitly labeled as having “low self-esteem” compared to those labeled as having “high self-esteem” […] Even when considering friendships, low self-esteem individuals are rated less socially appealing […] In general, it appears that low self-esteem individuals are viewed as less-than-ideal relationship partners.”

      The quotes above are from the book Self-esteem. Specific mechanisms have been suggested for at least some of the negative effects of low self-esteem on relationships – for example it’s noted in The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships that especially women with low self-esteem seem to be more jealous than their high-self-esteem counterparts: “a substantial number of studies [have] found that, particularly among women, jealousy is related to low self-esteem”.

      One of the theories of the functions of self-esteem assumes that it has a status-tracking property, and a related theory states that it may also have a status-signalling property:

      “According to the sociometer model, self-esteem has a status-tracking property such that the feelings of self-worth possessed by an individual depend on the level of relational value that the individual believes he or she possesses […] In essence, the sociometer model suggests that self-esteem is analogous to a gauge that tracks gains in perceived relational value (accompanied by increases in self-esteem) as well as losses in perceived value (accompanied by decreases in self-esteem). […] The status-signaling model of self-esteem […] provides a complement to the sociometer model by addressing the possibility that self-esteem influences how individuals present themselves to others and alters how those individuals are perceived by their social environment. […] The existing data has supported this basic idea” (same source as above).

      To the extent that self-esteem functions as a status indicator, it’s certainly far from surprising that high self-esteem is considered desirable.

      (For what it’s worth, I’m one of those chronic low self-esteem guys who tend to have a profound dislike for conceited people who in my opinion think too highly of themselves).

      • houseboatonstyx says:

        I’ve seen ‘self-respect’ credited as protecting children from getting into drugs or bad company. ‘Self-esteem’ seems to be effectively the same feeling with the same result. but available even to small children who have not yet earned the right to self-respect.

    • Loquat says:

      If you have adequate self-esteem, you’re less likely to accept poor treatment or decide you don’t deserve any better. It is of course possible to have too much self-esteem and cross over into being conceited, but you don’t want it to be too low or else you’ll be miserable. It’s like blood sugar that way.

      See also this classic work on the subject.

    • Furrfu says:

      Self-esteem, although it goes back to William James, was popularized when Ayn Rand’s secret lover decided he was a psychologist, wrote a book about it, and eventually got a Ph.D. in psychology from an unaccredited school. I know this sounds like a satirical joke, but it’s true. He even changed his last name to include “Rand” in it. Different researchers have tried to distinguish it from being conceited, or even claim that they are opposites. The importance of self-esteem in solving social problems has been shown to be essentially nil, and other researchers have comprehensively shown that self-esteem is mostly harmful, in part because people with high self-esteem are likely to exaggerate their positive traits in self-reports, which probably accounts for most of the positive associations with high self-esteem found in older, less rigorous resarch.

      • Deiseach says:

        Ayn Rand’s secret lover decided he was a psychologist, wrote a book about it, and eventually got a Ph.D. in psychology from an unaccredited school.

        It sounds perfectly Randian, to be honest. “I am an unacknowledged genius and these petty moochers and looters have no idea how to handle me, so they try to stifle and hold me back! But I award myself the title I deserve because no-one is fit to judge me but myself!”

      • US says:

        I read that Baumeister et al. paper as well (though it’s a while ago, so I’m relying on memory and a brief skim), and I don’t think your summary over the link is at all accurate – i.e. that the paper argues that “self-esteem is mostly harmful”. Just take a look at these quotes from the abstract:

        “Self-esteem has a strong relation to happiness. Although the research has not clearly established causation, we are persuaded that high self-esteem does lead to greater happiness. Low self-esteem is more likely than high to lead to depression under some circumstances. […] Overall, the benefits of high self-esteem fall into two categories: enhanced initiative and pleasant feelings.”

        There are downsides as well, but with upsides like that it’s not trivial to argue that they argue that self-esteem is harmful. I think the important observation made in that paper is that as a therapeutic intervention deliberately trying to boost self-esteem does not seem to work, and may be harmful. But this is very different from saying that (a higher level of) self-esteem itself is necessarily (more) harmful (than a lower level of self-esteem). For example a lot of people in the field have argued that it matters where the self-esteem ‘comes from’.

        To people following your link to the wiki section on implicit/explicit self-esteem, I’d note/add that the data used in that type of research seems to me to be of very questionable validity, and when I first read about these topics I was thinking that the variables aren’t measuring what the theoreticians claim they measure – not even close. So whereas it may make sense to distinguish between the two in theory, the construct validity of those variables as they’re used in actual research is… Also, my impression from the review coverage of these topics in the text I mentioned above was that the findings from that literature seem to be all over the place, which makes a lot of sense if the constructs are invalid.

      • Anthony says:

        The way Branden used the term “self-esteem” does not match well with the way many (most?) other people use it. The common meaning of it is something like “thinks oneself is awesome”, while Branden’s use of the term is much more like “self-respect”. However, lots of people latched onto the term using its fluffier meaning, which would tend to match the results Furrfu describes above. However, some people *do* use it in about the same way Branden does, and they tend to find generally positive results from it.

  47. Urstoff says:

    Curmudgeonly Robin Hanson is best Robin Hanson. Also, love his description of the rationalist community:

    “wherein people take classes on and much discuss how to be “rational”, and then decide that they have achieved enough rationality to justify embracing many quite contrarian conclusions.”

  48. JB says:

    Scott, there are some gaps in the Beepocalypse article. I wouldn’t be so quick to assume the bees are safe yet, without a few other questions being answered.

    First of all, they say nothing about the total number of bees, only the total number of colonies. If the method of creating new colonies is to divide your population in half, as they say, then “number of colonies” is not necessarily a reliable measure of number of bees. Are bee colonies getting smaller?

    Another question — could the increase in bee colony numbers also be a result of the massively increasing death rate? If in 1990, 90% of your colonies survive until next spring, and in 2015 only two thirds do, then you had better start the year with more colonies just to maintain baseline levels. Their data source states: “Honey producing colonies are the maximum number of colonies from which honey was taken during the year. It is possible to take honey from colonies which did not survive the entire year.” Rising colony numbers may in fact be a sign of an industry in distress.

    Secondly, they seem to think that just because bees and queens can be purchased on Amazon, the market has solved this problem. That seems to me like claiming that if rhinos were available for purchase on Amazon, they couldn’t also be at risk of extinction, because the global rhino population could at any time be restored to arbitrary levels by just buying lots of them from Amazon. Am I reading this right? I understand that bees can be bred and raised, unlike rhinos, but even so there aren’t magical bee factories. Beekepers are presumably the ones selling bees on Amazon to other beekeepers, and if colonies’ rate of sudden death continues to rise, it will become harder and more expensive to raise bees for sale, even as demand increases.

    Lastly, maybe we should be concerned about whether the populations of different species of bees are decreasing. If the rate of bee death increases across all kinds of bee populations, but the rate of bee production is increased to compensate only for the particular species that commercial beekepers manage, then the result could still be a concerning loss of pollinator diversity. And overall pollinator numbers may decline as well, if honey-producing bee populations stay constant while non-honey-producing pollinator populations plummet.

    • John Sidles says:

      JB’s suspicions are correct–the Washington Post article references several scientific articles … none of which support its thesis.

      Overall it has zero rational force.

      Conclusion  “Beepocalypse” denialism is a thing.

    • An Amazon Attack says:

      From the moment I read the caption on the photograph I thought there was something wrong with how the article was framed. Bees are “perfect capitalists”? As crude anthropomorphisms go that seems like a much bigger stretch compared to calling them communist workers. And of course it bookends the article with another fellating of the “free market.”

      Also, read the comments. Which are closed now, but all 6 surviving comments are dated August 3rd. The piece ran July 23rd. One of the commenters notes that all of the old comments are deleted, and that the deleted comments had mirrored the still-extant criticism by beekeeper “Susan T Rudnicki”, which also shared a lot of your concerns here.

      Susan T Rudnicki
      8/3/2015 11:13 AM EDT
      Mr Ingraham—do not assume you can read a few papers on CCD and bees and make cogent, authoritative remarks in a newspaper piece—-this piece fails miserably.
      I AM a beekeeper, in Los Angeles, using feral honey bees, making public presentations, teaching beekeeping and selling honey. I am going to fill in your ignorance here with a few salient points. Making splits causes a yield of TWO WEAK hives, which is not the same as having the vigorous, healthy original hive. And just so you know, the splits the commercial folks are making from the survivors of pesticide, fungicide, herbicide exposure on industrial crops are the already weakened colonies that happen to make it. So, the splits are not especially fated to thrive, either. Your little tables showing statistics does not tell the real story of the insults being suffered by ALL pollinators from monocrop, industrial agriculture. The typical Consumerist answer to a problem—“just buy more” bees and queens is not addressing the real problems which are decline in clean forage from toxic chemical exposure, lack of forage diversity, trucking bees all over the country, narrow in-bred genetics. The loss of all pollinators, as well as decline in overall ecosystem diversity from the same insults, is the REAL issue.
      Your piece is also old ground previously plowed over by that corporate apologist and booster at Forbes, Jon Entine, another geek behind a computer who writes about beekeeping with a singularly narrow and uniformed arrogance. Like your ballyhooed Tucker and Thurman, the “economists” (never far from pontificating for the beauties of the “free market”) the people weighing in on the loss of pollinators and trying to urge us not to be concerned are akin to Climate Change denialists.

      The comparison to Entine doesn’t seem quite right though, if they’re talking about this piece, which disputes the cause of CCD, not denying that it’s a serious problem.

      Basically this article reads like shitty propaganda based on a paper not by biologists or beekeepers, but by economists at a ‘free market environmentalist’ think tank.

  49. James says:

    Re: “low-status and uncool men are the bullies” study: note that their metric for “low-status and uncool” is not being good at Halo 3. They would’ve been able to run exactly the same story if they’d gotten the opposite result, where the people who were good at video games were the sexist ones.

    St. Rev deconstructed it on Twitter a few weeks ago: https://twitter.com/St_Rev/status/624040894149304321. Particularly note this graph of the actual data points, rather than an extremely neat best fit line with chopped y-axis range: https://twitter.com/othercriteria/status/623861315849818112

    • Toshiaki says:

      The fundamental methodology of the study does not seem to me to be sound, much less any of the statistics.

      I haven’t seen the full Kuznekoff & Rose paper, but from what I’ve read on articles about it they used two different players and three gamertags (one for male, female and non-talkative). Kuznekoff was a proficient player while Rose was unfamiliar with the game.

      They are playing Team Slayer which is a mode with two teams of 4 competing to be the first team to reach 50 kills or the time limit. A good way to evaluate how well someone is doing is to compare their kills to their deaths. An even amount is basically treading water and obviously having more kills than deaths means you are actively helping the team win. Comparing the difference in kills or deaths between two players as this study does is meaningless. Someone with 20 kills and 10 deaths has contributed more to winning than someone with 0 kills and 5 deaths, but by the studies metrics the later player is more skillful. A sane heuristic to compare is kills – deaths or kills / deaths.

      Halo 3 uses Trueskill for matchmaking and tries to have some semblance of team balance. However, since this is tied to the gamertag itself if the player (or the player’s skill level) is not the same the matches you get will be skewed. Both the male and female gamertag start at 1 skill but end at near 25. An experienced player starting out at skill level 1 will have a significant advantage until their gamertag’s skill eventually reaches equilibrium with their true skill level. If you alternate between a high and lower skill actual player they will be consistently over-challenged and under-challenged. The new player will also probably improve their actual playing ability a great deal compared to the seasoned player. It would be nearly impossible to keep track of the difference between the player’s actual skill and the presumed skill they are being matched on.

      I posit that people are more likely to make positive comments to someone is that clearly doing more than their fair share to help a team win and negative to someone that is detrimental to the team. If you switch players every game or so and play say 8 matches total a day for 3 days cycling between all 3 gamertags as they apparently did* all of those delta skill differences will be a confounding factor and probably result in differences in actual performance between the male and female voices.

      I don’t remember much of statistics, but these look like significantly different distributions to me. I might just be jealous someone got a grant to play Halo though.

      * This is mostly conjecture on their procedure. However, Game seems to be . Looking at the data in that order it seems to constantly switch between matches where they have 1 kill and 11 deaths to 23 kills and 3 deaths even at the lowest skill levels then back and forth.

  50. Data And Philosophy says:

    Robert Putnam’s first book, Making Democracy Work, was on the difference between Northern and Southern Italy, including how they diverged immediately after the centralized government devolved power.

  51. maxikov says:

    Now I have finally found a study that examines both these factors, and it seems to find a relatively straightforward and strong effect where present-day-testosterone is negatively correlated with, but fetal testosterone positively correlated with, intelligence.

    The part of my brain that simulates The Absolutely Terrible Tumblr User says: “Take that, cis people!”

    • Nornagest says:

      Cute, but I doubt there are enough non-cis people in their sample to meaningfully affect the statistics.

    • RCF says:

      I’m not sure what your point is. This would suggest that the most intelligent people would be those with low present-day testosterone and high fetal testosterone. So would such a person tend towards being being a transman?

      • maxikov says:

        My point is that high fetal testosterone and low present-day testosterone totally sounds like a trans woman on antiandrogens.

        • An Amazon Attack says:

          Which would put the inverse, trans men, on the opposite end of that scale, not cis people who would be smack dab in the middle.

        • RCF says:

          Scott strongly implied that people with high fetal testosterone grow up to identify as male. Assuming this is true, high fetal testosterone and low current testosterone would imply transman not taking hormones.

  52. Arthur B. says:

    The Ease of doing Business might be a good indicator for multinational companies wishing to do business. You can tell how corrupt a country is by looking at whether McDonald owns the stores there, or let them operate as a franchise.

    • Vaniver says:

      The Ease of doing Business might be a good indicator for multinational companies wishing to do business.

      In particular, it is an American crime for an American company to bribe an official in another country, even if that’s the “normal” way for things to be done over there.

      • John Schilling says:

        I believe that it is not actually illegal for Americans to bribe a corrupt foreign bureaucrat to do something that is nominally his job to do, only to bribe them for extralegal favors. E.g, if the Kreplachistani customs inspector won’t pass your shipment of construction materials unless you slip him $1000, you can pay him.

        However, that can be a fine enough line that most American corporations will sensibly adopt a straight no-bribes policy.

      • BBA says:

        In some cynical moments I’ve wondered if the FCPA is hurting the competitiveness of American businesses and a repeal would be beneficial for the economy.

        • suntzuanime says:

          There might be countervailing advantages from a “pre-committing to not get extorted” point of view.

          • RCF says:

            Also, coordination effects. One can view FCPA as being in the same category as a minimum wage, collective bargaining, large customers negotiating a volume discount, cartels, etc.

        • Furrfu says:

          They may be right: your hypothetical businessman can probably trust a government official whose salary he pays himself more than a government official whose salary is paid by the government. The second official is more likely to take actions unfavorable to the businessman.

        • Anthony says:

          An honest politician is one who *stays* bought.

  53. Alexander Stanislaw says:

    Hot on its heels, a different study finds (in accordance with much recent research) that bullies are actually higher status and better off than the rest of us.

    Waaaaaah! Almost none of the findings in that study are statistically significant. That they don’t report it in the abstract is disappointing*. I’m very frustrated by how few people are going to notice that.

    *Edit: Actually they outright lie in the abstract: see here for the study. They claim that the comparisons between bullies and victims are significant, when only one out of three of them are.

  54. Saal says:

    Just wanted to point out with regard to the twin study link that “heritable” is probably a better term to use, rather than “genetic”.

    “Heritability estimates are often misinterpreted if it is not understood that they refer to the proportion of variation between individuals on a trait that is due to genetic factors. It does not indicate the degree of genetic influence on the development of a trait of an individual. For example, it is incorrect to say that since the heritability of personality traits is about .6, that means that 60% of your personality is inherited from your parents and 40% comes from the environment.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability

    edit: oops, I see others have already addressed this O.o

    • fubarobfusco says:

      To give a silly example: If height is 60% heritable, that doesn’t mean that the median person with “short genes” is 60% as tall as the median person.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Fubarobfusco, can you exhibit anyone ever making this mistake about any trait?

        Saal, I have no idea what you mean. Can you give an example of a mistake that someone might make by confusing “heritable” with “genetic”?

        • Saal says:

          Well, I can give an example of a mistake I’ve made 🙂

          In the long ago, in the before time, little Saal assumed that IQ being .81 “genetic” (a commonly quoted upper bound) meant that there was a direct proportion between “IQ genes” one received from one’s parents and measured IQ. In reality, that .81 refers to percent variance, which is rather different.

          For someone new to genetics research, I suspect this is an easy mistake to make (although this may be a case of typical mind fallacy intersecting with my own denseness, which is perfectly possible), so I generally prefer that people use “heritable”, which is technically correct, rather than ” genetic” in these cases, which is more colloquial(?).

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I have no idea what that means. Does it actually mean something, that it could be false? Or does it mean nothing, and your real mistake was in believing that it meant something?

            Moreover, why would you be more likely to make that mistake with the word “genetic” rather than “heritable”?

          • Saal says:

            @Douglas

            Looking at my post the morning after writing it, I definitely didn’t succeed in saying what I was trying to say. Let me give it another crack.

            To someone without a firm grounding in the subject being discussed, the phrase “IQ is .81 genetic” may be taken to mean “81% of a given person’s IQ is directly attributable to their genes”. In other words, I may assume that a person of IQ 100 got 81 points from their genes, and the other 19 from fetal and childhood nutrition, education, being raised in an environment with more/less toxins like lead, etc. This is incorrect.

            In reality, “.81 genetic” is referring to how much variance can be explained by looking to genes. It can only be measured by comparing multiple organisms, or better yet multiple populations. With a genetically homogeneous population with, say, 1 stddev of variation of intelligence either way, heritability may be extremely low, but this does not mean that you’ve discovered a population that sucks their intelligence out of the atmosphere and gets next to none of it from their genes. Nor does a heritability of .81 mean that we can say “it’s all in the genes!”, shut down all our childhood nutrition charities, close the schools and go home.

            My reason for preferring heritable to genetic is simple: heritable is the more specific term. “Genetic” just means “having to do with genes”, and while there is a common convention where using genetic in these cases just means “I didn’t feel like writing heritable”, it is my opinion that heritable offers additional clarity over and above genetic that makes it preferable. If I notice that I’m confused by a study on IQ and genes, and I look up the meaning of the word “heritable”, my first result is the wikipedia page with both detailed intuitive explanations of heritability and mathematical models I can use to test out the concept myself.

            On the other hand, if everyone but me is doing just fine with “genetic”, then so be it. It’s no skin off my back. I just thought it would be nice to let SA know about a failure mode I’ve experienced in the past, which other people may or may not still be experiencing, so he could take it into consideration if he so chose.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            That seems to be exactly the error that F mentioned. (Fubarobfusco, that does not count as an answer to my question to you.)

            I am more concerned about coarse levels of understanding than specifics. I think that if one uses the word “genetic” more people will understand that it is about genes than if one uses the word “heritable.” This is in part because people come to the SSC comment sections and assert that heritability is not about genes. Those people are both a demonstration and a cause of this confusion.

            I see no reason that people will make up detailed false theories in response to the word “genetic” than to the word “heritable.” If people think that it is possible to extract detailed theories from a single word, that is a problem, but I see no reason to expect it to depend much on the word. Thus I do not worry about such people, but instead worry about the first approximation of whether people get the correct coarse understanding.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            This is in part because people come to the SSC comment sections and assert that heritability is not about genes.

            Assuming that heritability captures and explains genetic effects betrays an ignorance of genetics. The reality is always more complex than what you want it to be. This is complicated by the “missing heritability” problem. So if you are going to claim the trait in question as being X% “genetic” as opposed to “heritable,” you’d best point out the SNPs (at least the additive ones) behind the heritability.

          • Saal says:

            @Douglas:

            Take a population with trait A. The entire population is resident in Homogeneous Environment X. Variance in trait A is thus .99 heritable.

            Now split this population in two. Send one half to Heterogeneous Environment Y and the other to HE Z. Without knowing more about how these environments differ from each other, from the original environment X, etc., I can’t tell you how much variance is still explained by heritability, but it sure isn’t .99 anymore.

            I’m reasonably certain this is all anyone is saying. Heritable =/= genetic in the sense that laypeople (like myself) understand the term “genetic”.

            Edit: I like that you use the term coarse. Heritability is a coarse estimate of just how much phenotypic variation can be attributed to genotypic variation. So yes, it’s about genes in that sense. But it’s also somewhat deceptive in that even relatively small changes of environment etc. can WILDLY effect heritability estimates. I mean shit, IQ is almost twice as heritable as an adult as it is for a child. To the avg layperson, that’s really strange. After all, they have the same genes, right?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            People come to SSC and assert that heritability includes the shared environment of parenting. This is an error at a very basic level of understanding. I think that using the word “genetic” avoids this error and makes it harder for them to confuse others.

            I find it hard to believe that using the word “genetic” makes people more likely to believe that the environment does not vary than using the word “heritable.” Maybe using the word “genetic” makes it more likely that people believe that they have some idea what is going on, which seems to me like a good thing. In any event, I think that such fine-grained errors are worth the benefit of avoiding the coarse-grained error of thinking that heritability means the effect of parenting.

          • Saal says:

            @Douglas: If someone has indeed made the mistake of conflating heritability and a shared parenting environment, then I must concede that is much more severe than the mistake I highlighted, as it is a category error, not merely one of degree. However, I would venture to say that someone who insists on such a flawed understanding of heritability after being corrected (with sources) is likely to be beyond reach, either due to a defective reason or strong ideological bias.

            It may be worthwhile to tailor one’s vocabulary to suit those who at least make an effort to gain a correct understanding of the subject at hand.

            Edit: Looking at Scott’s link, he specifically says “variance is genetic” as opposed to just “genetic”, which I don’t remember reading the first time around. If that was how it was written in the beginning, then I must shamefully apologize for making a mountain out of a molehill and not reading more carefully. If not, then this phrasing is a perfectly acceptable compromise from my perspective, and leaves no rhetorical wiggle room for anyone to sneak environmental factors in, thus addressing both of our concerns.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            While Scott does often change phrasings, he did not in this case.

            Even if people can be corrected, actually correcting them is a cost. Correcting so that they get it right a month later is a difficult and uncertain task. I am not concerned about the beliefs of the strident drive-bys, but I am concerned about the confusion they spread. I have seen several people I respect make this specific mistake in these comment sections.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            People come to SSC and assert that heritability includes the shared environment of parenting.

            Who? Where?

            And if you believe that the variation in test scores outcomes is “60% genetic” (ignoring the incorrect phrasing) globally based on one twin study with a British cohort, then you don’t understand basic genetics or behavior genetics. And even claiming that the heritability includes all genetic effects is also misleading. For example, copy number variation can differ between twin genomes (due to de novo mutations).

          • Alexander Stanislaw says:

            Ahilan:

            Here is the most recent instance I can remember of two people talking about “non genetic heritability” which is nonsense.

            Also, now would be a good time for you to stop asserting straw men about what Douglas believes. It’s very tiring to be accused of believing stupid things that one has never said.

          • Ahilan Nagendram says:

            Insisting on using incorrect terminology due to a few commentors is simply foolish.

  55. Dan T. says:

    So far, the libertarian organization International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL) hasn’t seen the need to change its name to avoid confusion with one of the acronyms of the notorious terrorist group.

    • John Schilling says:

      Nor the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), an arms-control organization I sometimes work with. They have explicitly noted the incongruity, particularly in the context of headlines like “ISIS studies feasibility of covert nuclear weapons…”

    • John Schilling says:

      Also in the unchanged-name category, the DC superhero Isis, who I had not realized was still a going thing. Do vaguely remember the ancient TV series, but…

      Talk about missed opportunities. Possibly the only superhero in the entire DC and Marvel pantheon combined without a designated nemesis, much less a rogue’s gallery. There’s apparently a “Black Adam” character associated with her, but reformed into an antiheroic sort-of-ally of Isis, so that’s no good.

      If the new caliphate had somehow translated its name as “Batman”, you can be sure we’d be responding with “Operation Scarecrow”, the first armed drone over Syria would have conspicuous Joker nose art, etc. Names and symbols matter, damn it, and this is one area where the comics geeks traditionally do good work. I feel let down.

      • Pku says:

        We could start operation Black Adam, and hope it convinces ISIS to gradually become antiheroic sort-of-allies (Against Iran? a new soviet union? the lizard people?)

      • LHN says:

        Black Adam isn’t even at base related to Isis. He’s an old-school Captain Marvel villain: the first person the wizard Shazam gave powers to, who went bad. (First appearance 1945.)

        While I’m not up on his association with Isis, I’d guess it rests on a) Isis’s having split a TV show with Cap in the 70s Shazam/Isis series (though they were separate stories with occasional crossovers), and b) Black Adam having originated as the fictional Pharaoh Teth-Adam, giving a built-in Egyptian connection.

        Unfortunately, Isis’s history up until very recently was limited to the live action series, which took place during a period in which TV just didn’t give iconic opponents to supers. (Neither the Shazam series nor The 70s Incredible Hulk so much as used the existing deep bench of enemies those characters had in the comics.)

        And fond though I am of DC historically (if not at the moment), they were never the “show the hero punching out Hitler” company.

        • Ghatanathoah says:

          In Isis’ most recent appearances it was retconned that she was given her powers by Black Adam, who shared a portion of his powers with her. She’s essentially his version of Mary Marvel. I imagine the writers were trying to consolidate the origins of the Egypt-related superheroes.

          Of course, that was a whole entire universe reboot ago. I’m sure they’ll introduce a new origin for her eventually.

    • My impression, at a recent event of the International Society for Individual Liberty (in Bali), was that they were making a point of not using the initials. Also of avoiding the word “anarchy.”

  56. RCF says:

    Has anyone had their browser complaining about invalid https certificates at SSC?

  57. Izaak Weiss says:

    I can’t believe you missed the chance to say “beequilbrium”.

  58. E. Harding says:

    “The World Bank’s “Ease Of Doing Business” report doesn’t correlate with how easy it actually is to do business in various countries.”
    -Exhibit A: China. If the Ease of Doing Business report is correct, nothing would get built there. Also, according to the relevant Enterprise Survey, China doesn’t have much low-level bribery (prevalence=~11%). Also, interestingly, very few firms say corruption is an obstacle to doing business there, compared to half of firms in Brasil (which doesn’t have that much low-level corruption, either).

    Also, Georgia rapidly improved its Doing Business ranking between 2004 and 2008 and economic growth slowed down. Before, it had been growing as fast as China. Afterward, it was barely an economic success story.

  59. RCF says:

    “Employee Free Choice Act” is a rather Orwellian title. The act would give workers less, not more, choice, by making it easier for unions to force employees to pay union dues. Saunders’ characterization that it would make it easier to have a union is dishonest. Currently, workers can “have a union” any time they want to. It’s when they want to force other employees to have that union that they run into problems.

    It would be like if there were a bill that makes it easier for people to form a HOA and force their neighbors to join it, and it were called “Homeowner Free Choice Act”.

  60. Michelle Taylor says:

    It seems to me that the prosociality results given by the study cited are based on the increased ability of higher social classes to donate money or time; even though it is a percentage basis, progressive taxation has long been based on the assumption that higher income groups can more easily part with a higher proportion of their income.

    Whereas the psych studies have the levelling factor that they provide the resources that can be kept or given away.

    So it seems entirely consistent that lower social classes _want_ to be prosocial more – if provided with resources, they will give more away – but higher social classes are actively prosocial more ‘in the wild’ – because it hurts them less to do so, because they have the spare resources to be able to do so.

    • Adam says:

      Well, at least in the US, you also get a tax break for donating, and the value of that is clearly greater in the higher brackets and worth nothing at all if you pay no taxes. Plus just basic diminishing marginal utility.

      Plus, the actual interesting result they found wasn’t that rich people donate more than poor people. It was that rich people and poor people both donate more than the middle class.

    • On the other hand, higher income people may have less leisure, hence less ability to donate time. Many high income jobs involve large inputs of time and some of the poor are unemployed.

  61. Vamair says:

    It’s low-status, but I kind of believe in astrology. A very steelmanned version of it, something like “chemical balance and nutrition may differ during different seasons, as do the first experiences of a child, so that’s strange that no real differences actually result because of it”. That Ramadan link supports this assumption, but some other researches do not. Does anybody know anything relevant?

    • houseboatonstyx says:

      The obvious first thing to look at would be northern vs southern hemisphere stats, where the astrological factors are pretty much the same but the seasons are different.

      • Vamair says:

        Well, I think that the interseasonal differences are the astrological factors. But do they actually somehow affect human personality and health or not? And if they do – how much? Cloning people with a half-year difference would give us a decisive answer, but before that…

        • houseboatonstyx says:

          Hm? Do you mean that what may look like effects of what sun sign generic-you are born under, are really caused by whether you were born in midwinter or midsummer?

          If so, Capricorns born in Europe should show different effects from Caps born in Australia, but similar effects with Cancers born in Australia.

          ETA: A simpler experiment on astrology would be:

          1. Get an auto insurance company to ask customers not only their date of birth, but time and location.

          2. Choose a time period recently passed and tote up (but do not reveal) the number of accidents.

          3. Supply a few reputable astrologers with the date, time, and location of birth of a large number of policy-holders, and ask them to retroactively-predict which ones would have accidents during that period.

          4. Compare.

          Adjust for the people who did not buy insurance covering that period, because their astrologer told them it would not be needed.

          • Vamair says:

            Yes, that’s what I’ve meant. Signs are just time of the year. I don’t really believe it’s worth listening to the astrologers, or even checking if they’re right or not. Even if there are some truths to their predictions, right now I think the well is too tainted. I mean, small samples, pattern recognition in overdrive mode, no statistics, lots of epicycles, did they ever stand a chance? Just looking for any seasonal patterns would be enough. I’d consider astrology as a field (and not as a practice, the way it’s practiced is almost certainly the worst) to be not bunk if there are any significant periodic patterns in health or personality. It’s also possible, though, that the people who are into astrology are described by it better than chance, but that’s a different topic. The experiment you’ve suggested is nice, the only problem is that I don’t have an insurance company. And I’m not sure why we need an astrologer for the experiment. Just for the adjustment?

  62. Colin Fraizer says:

    But it’s still an interesting reason to not watch “The View”.

  63. weareastrangemonkey says:

    Not sure about how bad the response to the “Expectations of Brilliance” study is. Multicollinearity is just saying that some of the independent variables are highly correlated with one another. This is a problem because you will have little independent variation in the independent variable. That is, if we have perfect correlation between two variables then it ends up being like trying to correlate two variables where one of the variables only takes one value – the correlation is somewhere between plus and minus infinity.

    But there multiple collinearity argument is really odd. Importantly they do not complain about the collinearity between “the field specific ability beliefs” and the GRE variables. To do this would make it all to obvious that they are begging the question: Why should we believe their explanation when it is highly collinear with the GRE variables?

    Instead they complain about the collinearity between the three GRE variables and appeal to a statistical rule of thumb for rejecting models based on the variance inflation factor being above a certain cut off. They are certainly correct that we have very high levels of multicollinearity when all three of the GRE measures are used and the field specific ability beliefs.

    But they are making a mistake by suggesting that this is something to do with these variables collinearity with one another rather than these variables collinearity with the “field specific beliefs about ability”. This is because if it was due to the GRE variables’ collinearity with one another then it would make it much harder to get statistically significant estimates for the GRE coefficients. But in the regression including all three they are all highly statistically significant but “field specific belief” is not. This suggests that “field specific belief” is strongly collinear with the combination of these three GRE variables and that they have independent variance that explains the percentage of women in the field while this cannot be said for “field specific belief”. So why do we want to believe it is driven by “field specific belief” rather than GRE results?

    However, when you examine

    in the response to the comment we see that some really weird stuff is going on when you put in the three GRE results together. Look at how small the slope is when you include quantitative GRE by itself or the ratio by itself. The slopes are small and field specific belief effect doesn’t shift much. It is only when you put the trio in that the field specific belief effect shifts massively but then also the estimated slopes on the GRE results go ballistic. This lends some credence to “multicollinearity is causing our estimates to be wildly inaccurate.”

    For completeness they should really have put the three GRE variables in by themselves without the measure of field specific belief. If their was a low variance inflation factor then we could see that the problem is that “field specific belief about ability” is just highly collinear with the three GRE variables and so we may worry that this is instead what is driving the result in the original paper.

  64. weareastrangemonkey says:

    Not sure about how bad the response to the “Expectations of Brilliance” study is. Multicollinearity is just saying that some of the independent variables are highly correlated with one another. This is a problem because you will have little independent variation in the independent variable. That is, if we have perfect correlation between two variables then it ends up being like trying to correlate two variables where one of the variables only takes one value – the correlation is somewhere between plus and minus infinity.

    But there multiple collinearity argument is really odd. Importantly they do not complain about the collinearity between “the field specific ability beliefs” and the GRE variables. To do this would make it all to obvious that they are begging the question: Why should we believe their explanation when it is highly collinear with the GRE variables?

    Instead they complain about the collinearity between the three GRE variables and appeal to a statistical rule of thumb for rejecting models based on the variance inflation factor being above a certain cut off. They are certainly correct that we have very high levels of multicollinearity when all three of the GRE measures are used and the field specific ability beliefs.

    But they are making a mistake by suggesting that this is something to do with these variables collinearity with one another rather than these variables collinearity with the “field specific beliefs about ability”. This is because if it was due to the GRE variables’ collinearity with one another then it would make it much harder to get statistically significant estimates for the GRE coefficients. But in the regression including all three they are all highly statistically significant but “field specific belief” is not. This suggests that “field specific belief” is strongly collinear with the combination of these three GRE variables and that they have independent variance that explains the percentage of women in the field while this cannot be said for “field specific belief”. So why do we want to believe it is driven by “field specific belief” rather than GRE results?

    However, when you examine table 1 in the response to the comment we see that some really weird stuff is going on when you put in the three GRE results together. Look at how small the slope is when you include quantitative GRE by itself or the ratio by itself. The slopes are small and field specific belief effect doesn’t shift much. It is only when you put the trio in that the field specific belief effect shifts massively but then also the estimated slopes on the GRE results go ballistic. This lends some credence to “multicollinearity is causing our estimates to be wildly inaccurate.”

    For completeness they should really have put the three GRE variables in by themselves without the measure of field specific belief. If their was a low variance inflation factor then we could see that the problem is that “field specific belief about ability” is just highly collinear with the three GRE variables and so we may worry that this is instead what is driving the result in the original paper.

  65. Adam says:

    Happened to me the other day trying to link to Stack Exchange, and apparently blogspot gets roasted all the time. I think wordpress might just identify blogging software that isn’t wordpress and mark it as spam.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      A simple solution to blogspot.com is to change it to blogspot.ca. For any other site that causes problems, use a url shortener, like bitly.

  66. onyomi says:

    People who think Trump “won” the first debate either didn’t watch it or were planning to think he won before they saw it. His performance was pretty much objectively bad, and his sexist remarks about Kelly were also pretty insulting even for Trump supporters, as well as, again, pretty much objectively incorrect, insofar as such a thing can be incorrect. (He is wrong that the moderators were bad or biased; I have no idea whether Kelly was menstruating…). The moderators were very good.

    Weirdly enough, if I had been picking a candidate *solely* on the basis of what they said at the debate, having no other information about them whatsoever, I might have voted for Mike Huckabee. He came off as super nice, affable, well-informed, and weirdly libertarian with his consumption tax idea that is more radical, and, imo superior to any other tax proposal out there, including Rand Paul’s.

  67. TrivialGravitas says:

    Doesn’t look like a super well-cited paper, which makes me wonder whether Stanovich et al have a response to this.

    Uh, the date on that is may-june 2015. No time for any of that to happen just yet.

  68. SCPantera says:

    Some (admittedly difficult-to-verify) 8chan/GamerGate digging found some apparent sketchiness with regards to Michael Kasumovic’s research, especially regarding funding.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CLP-3Q-UkAAQKSa.jpg:large
    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CLQV–GUEAAJX_U.png:large
    https://twitter.com/mombot/status/627001429257904128

    Seems his original grant was for bug research. I suppose I dunno if this is common practice or not for grants to be used for multiple projects, so maybe it’s nothing?

  69. weareastrangemonkey says:

    Scott,

    I think you might want to reconsider or check your analysis from your post on the expectations of brilliance and the percentage of women in science. Note that table 1 from the reply runs a multivariate regression that includes only the quantitative GRE. The quantitative GRE is significant as are the field specific beliefs about ability. Field specific beliefs about ability has a coeff of -0.37 and quant gre -0.63.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      The quantitative GRE is close to what I got (unless you mean regression coefficient, in which case I didn’t do that).

      I will have to defer discussing whether ability beliefs are significant even after regressing out quant GRE since I had somebody else do that analysis for me.

      • weareastrangemonkey says:

        Okay, so their results come from a multivariate regression. When we control for quant GRE by itself beliefs are still statistically and quantitatively significant. So including quant GRE does not wipe out the ‘belief effect’.

        The original paper is still methodologically weak as it does not demonstrate causality or rule out alternative mechanisms. It would not get published in a decent economics journal, it surprises me that it got published in a top science journal. Perhaps the standards at science are lower than I would have assumed.

        However, something odd is genuinely going on with the ‘comment’ that includes the 3 GRE measures. I do not think they are Eulering in ‘the reply’ to ‘the comment’; they have at least half a point.

        I believe it is worth understanding collinearity and it is not particularly complex. See my other post above for a fuller discussion.