Okay guys, there’s an island in San Francisco Bay on sale for five million dollars. That’s, like, less than a lot of houses in San Francisco. Surely some of you can get together and figure out something awesome to do with this?
Scott Aaronson speaks at SPARC on Common Knowledge and Aumann’s Agreement Theorem. I get a shout-out at the bottom.
Reddit’s r/china has some interesting looks into the Chines microblogosphere. You can find the comments of ordinary Chinese web users about the stock market crash (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) but for a real look into the Chinese id, see what commenters think when somebody’s daughter wants to marry a Japanese person.
Speaking of r/china, I was originally confused by their references to “Uncle Eleven”. Turns out to be a nickname and censorship-route-around for Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Can you figure out why? (answer).
The Trobriand Islanders have a system of status based on yams, and Wikipedia describes it as charmingly as possible.
More compound interest being the least powerful force in the universe – an Indian housing lottery offering slum-dwellers the chance to move to better neighborhoods has no effect fourteen years later.
Jeff Kaufman weighs in on effective altruism, AI, and replacement effects.
Related: 100,000 Hours – “It’s a common misconception that we recommend all effective altruists “marry to give,” or marry a high-net-worth individual with the intent of redirecting much of their wealth to effective causes. In retrospect, we emphasized this idea too much in our early days, and as the most controversial of our suggestions it attracted a lot of press. In fact, we recommend that only a small fraction of EAs pursue MtG. MtG is probably best suited to attractive people, those with good social skills, those who fit in well in high-status and wealthy circles, and women looking to marry men.” Clue for the clueless: THIS IS A JOKE.
We know that religious people are happier and more mentally resilient than non-religious people, but the standard explanation is that going to church provides a sense of community and social connectedness. But a new study finds that religious activities are better for your mental health than other forms of social participation.
Matching Platforms and HIV Incidence – online and mobile dating sites increase HIV prevalence when they enter an area. The quasi-experiment suggests they’re responsible for about a thousand extra HIV cases in Florida.
Uber for health care in the form of doctors making on-demand house calls. It’s easy to dismiss this as a toy for the ultra-rich, except that the price – $100 to $200 per visit – actually isn’t too bad compared to what you might otherwise have to go through to get a doctor if you’re not on insurance.
Argentina sort of has open borders already. Why aren’t people raising money to send Africans to Argentina? Or are we worried that if too many people take advantage of the opportunity Argentina will change its mind?
UK admits e-cigarettes are safer than smoking and a useful way to fight tobacco addiction.
Scientists: Modafinil seems to be safe and effective “smart drug”. “We’re not saying go out and take this drug and your life will be better,” [we’re just presenting lots of evidence that this is the case].
Patient blows up hospital ward after lighting cigarette in hyperbaric oxygen chamber. The scary thing is that I can totally imagine the sort of person who would do this.
70% of Pakistani medical students are female, but only 23% of doctors are. A medical education is a status symbol in Pakistan, and women seem to be pursuing it to increase their value in the marriage market, then getting married and dropping out of medicine. As a result, Pakistan spends a lot of money on medical education and is drastically short of doctors. What do they do? Does your opinion change if I tell you that people involved in US medical education have told me we have a similar problem here? (albeit much less severe, and more related to child-rearing than marriage)
The FDA has been approving lots of stuff lately.
Finally, a smoking gun that one of the country’s leading climate change experts was engaged in perpetrating a fraud of massive proportions! Unfortunately for oil companies, that fraud was pretending to be a CIA spy in Pakistan to get out of work.
A more serious problem: most Kyoto-Protocol-approved carbon offsets from Russia and Ukraine may be made up for profit.
Ex-President Jimmy Carter is metal: “I may be dying, but I am going to take an entire species with me.”
Dolphins discover Goodhart’s Law.
Burma’s Superstitious Leaders: “The decision in 1970 for Burma to change from driving on the left-hand side of the road to the right-hand side was reportedly because the General’s astrologer felt that Burma had moved too far left, in political terms.” You say ‘astrologer’, I say ‘social priming theorist ahead of his time’.
Related: Get your anti-priming tin foil hats!
A while ago I argued with Topher about the degree to which people used to say refined carbohydrates were good for you. Topher said no one important had ever said anything like this, and I said some people had sort of said things that implied this even if no one had said it in so many words. Maybe we were both wrong: there was (and still is) a substantial body of literature directly suggesting that “a high-carbohydrate, high-sugars diet is associated with lower body weight and that this association is by no means trivial”. Sigh.
All I want for Christmas is augmented reality sand that turns into a relief map.
Plan to solve problem by releasing 25,000 flesh-eating turtles failed due to “lack of planning”, say government officials.
A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style [warning: opens as PDF]. Unless you’re a machine learning specialist, you want to skip to page 5, where they show the results of converting a photo to the style of various famous paintings.
You’ve probably heard by now that the psychology replication project found only about half of major recent psych studies replicated. If you want you can also see the project’s site and check out some data for yourself.
Related (though note this is an old study): journals will reject ninety percent of the papers they have already published if they don’t realize they’ve already accepted them.
Related: this article on the replication crisis has a neat little widget that lets you p-hack a study yourself and will hopefully make you less credulous of “economy always does better when party Y is in power!” claims.
A study comparing the association between twins (really interesting design!) finds that genetics seems to determine the degree to which fast food makes you obese. That is, people with certain genes won’t gain weight from fast food, but people with other genes will. Still trying to decide what to think about this.
The VCs of BC – trove of cuneiform tablets on the ancient Assyrian economy reveals that they had institutions similar to our stocks, bonds, and venture capital. Also really interesting exploration of the gravity model of trade and what it means for economics today.
Sam Altman, “head of Silicon Valley’s most important startup farm”, says that “if I were Barack Obama, I would commit maybe $100 billion to R&D of AI safety initiatives.” Meanwhile, on my blog, people who don’t have a day job betting fortunes on tech successes and failures continue to say they’re 99.9999999% sure that even $1 million is too much.
Governors’ Mansions of the United States. I wouldn’t mind being governor of Idaho. On the other hand, I think becoming governor of Delaware would be a step down for a lot of people.
Evidence of pro-female hiring bias in online labor markets.
Speaking of confidence and probability estimates, Scott Adams goes way way way out on a limb and predicts 98% chance of Trump winning the Presidency. While I super-admire his willing to make a specific numerical prediction that we can judge him on later, I wonder whether he’d be willing to bet me $100 at 10:1 odds (ie I pay him $100 if Trump wins, he pays me $1,000 if Trump loses), given that if his true odds are 50:1 that should be basically free money. Or, of course, he could just play the prediction markets and have even better chances. If not, then despite his virtue in giving a number at all, I can’t believe it’s his real one.
Schwab study looks at how five different strategies for market timing would have worked over the past twenty years.
Retrospective study: the “STEM pipeline” stopped “leaking women” in the 1990s; since that time nothing that happens after the bachelors’ level explains underrepresentation of women in any STEM field.
High levels of national development make countries more likely to be democracies, but democracy does not seem to cause higher levels of national development. Related: relationship between peace and democracy may be spurious.
Jerry Coyne weighs in on the recent “Holocaust trauma is epigenetically inherited” study. Please consider epigenetic inheritance studies guilty until proven innocent at this point.
Doctors Without Borders makes a plea against cracking down on India’s cheap generic pharmaceutical industry, the “pharmacy of the developing world”.
Remember that story a couple of months ago on a sting that proved most big supplement companies don’t contain any of the active ingredient at all? Now there’s some argument going on that the sting was dishonest and bungled their tests, and the supplement companies were perfectly fine all along. Related: apparently you can’t sue a prosecutor for anything they do, even if it’s really stupid and destroys your business.
Nonconservative whites show a preference for black politicians over otherwise-identical white politicians in matched-“resume” studies, leading to greater willingness to vote for them, donate to them, and volunteer for them. I don’t think the paper looked at conservative whites, and I’m curious what they would have found if they did.
Further suggestion that genes have more effect on IQ in the rich than the poor. A koan: this study found shared environment only affects IQ for people below the tenth percentile in economic status. The tenth percentile of income is below $12,000. But fifty years ago, probably most people were below $12,000, and fifty years from now, maybe nobody will be below $12,000. Do you think this same study done in the past or future would repeat the finding of a less-than-$12,000 threshold, repeat the finding of a less-than-10% threshold, or something else? Why?
Higher school starting age lowers the crime rate among young people. Four day school week improves academic performance. It would probably be irresponsible to sum this up as “basically the less school you have, the better everything goes,” but I bet it’s true.
Currently #1 in Amazon’s Political Philosophy section: SJWs Always Lie by Vox Day. Currently #2 in Amazon’s Political Philosophy section: John Scalzi Is Not A Very Popular Author And I Myself Am Quite Popular, by somebody definitely going the extra mile to parody Vox Day.
Related: did you know that Vox Day once formally debated Luke Muehlhauser on the question of God’s existence? It went about as well as you would expect.