Probably demonstrates something about psychology: I had no idea until this week that I had two very different mental images stored of the White House: they turn out to be its north vs. south facades. Did everyone else already realize this?
CRISPR may be tested on humans to cure rare form of blindness in 2017. I didn’t realize that it could potentially be put in a virus and used on adults. That’s…something.
This month in credentialism: Alabama’s Teacher of the Year resigns after being told she does not have the proper qualifications to teach.
That time all of the whales in the world sued George Bush.
Mark Zuckerberg accidentally signs wrong document, leading to lawsuit and trip down corporate governance rabbit hole. I continue to think corporate governance is probably one of the most important issues in the modern world, which is completely ignored by everyone (including me) because it’s super boring.
Lottery ticket sellers win the lottery much more often than chance. But how exactly do they cheat? (read comments)
Many interesting reviews of Houellebecq’s Submission, with some of the best concentrating on how it’s using Islam to critique the West’s lack of principles rather than critiquing Islam itself. Ross Douthat’s is a good first stop. Somewhat related: “Meet the intellectuals leading France to the right, les nouveaux reactionnaires“.
Speaking of the far-right, some people suggest “new imperialism” as a solution for poverty: instead of having lots of Third World people immigrate to the West to benefit from its institutions, put Western institutions in charge of the Third World. This makes some sense, but I’ve never heard these people carry it to its logical conclusion: since the Third Worlders don’t seem to be up for it, why not at least put Switzerland or Denmark in charge of America?
A homepage for lowering Bay Area rents.
Noah Smith: isn’t it kind of a coincidence that China’s services sector is taking off right when their industrial sector is collapsing? And to exactly the degree necessary to maintain near-7% growth? Maybe it’s all just crooked accounting.
Some people from rationalist-adjacent group Clearer Thinking are working on fact-checking 2.0.
Relevant to some recent SSC posts: The myth that Bernie Sanders’ supporters are overwhelmingly male is not borne out by the numbers. Lots of demographic claims seem to be better interpreted as weird pseudo-moralistic fables than as factual assertions.
The people who vote decide nothing. The people who count the votes also decide nothing. The people who decide in what year the election gets held decide quite a lot.
Last month I linked a piece about “the only way” to respond to a teacher’s demand to show your work on a math test. It turns out there is a second acceptable way.
The Golden Giraffes are apparently some kind of Internet blogging award and contain a couple good pieces from rationalist and rationalist-adjacent blogs including David Chapman, Aceso Under Glass, and Jaibot, plus me, plus some otherwise cool people like Venkatesh Rao, David Benatar, David Deutsch, and Scott Adams. Take a look and vote if you find one you like.
Greg Cochran is always a mind trip. This time he uses math and evolutionary biology to show why a lot of seemingly non-infectious diseases “have to” be caused by pathogens. Would love to hear some other biologists’ opinions.
Paying repeat criminals to stop committing crimes: it seems to work, but what about the message it’s sending?
People who perform insane self-experiments with weird drugs are my tribe, so here’s a guy who says he reversed aging with This One Weird Peptide. You know you can trust him because he publishes his results as a poorly formatted .txt file.
GiveWell: The Lack Of Controversy Over Well-Targeted Aid. A lot of people worry that aid makes things worse or supports murderous despots, but most people agree that the sort of aid GiveWell and other effective altruist organizations promote does not have those problems.
More on Hanson’s Hypothesis for health care: the Amish consume very little of it yet are just as healthy as everyone else. Obvious confounders include everything else the Amish do.
Sierra Leone is officially Ebola-free, meaning the big Ebola outbreak from last year has been contained to a handful of cases in Guinea.
The new startup trying to sell celebrity meat may or may not be serious, but now that they mention it it’s an obvious corollary of vat-grown meat technology and it’s sure to happen eventually. Weird.
A lot of the people I went to high school with are doing interesting things now. Michael Bernstein, whom I can vouch for as super-bright in the tenth grade, is now a Stanford professor working on social computing and has published The Handbook of Collective Intelligence on how groups make decisions.
Path Dependence In European Development is the seemingly innocuous title of a paper purporting to show that European countries whose royal families had a higher percent male children during the age of monarchy are more prosperous today, supposedly because they had more heirs and so suffered fewer economically destructive wars of succession. It’s very carefully done and even includes an answer to my immediate objection (ie don’t richer people have more sons?). But it contradicts so much else, like the study showing American bombing of Vietnam has already been economically-adjusted away that it’s hard for me to credit too much.
The history of Nazi board games: “Jews Out! was not an official Nazi propaganda effort but an unsuccessful commercial product; the game was criticized by an SS journal that felt it trivialized anti-Semitic policies.” Does it count as horseshoe theory when the Nazis are worried about trivializing anti-Semitism?
I think I somehow made it this far without linking to David Severa’s really thorough dialogue presenting different arguments for and against increased immigration/open borders, so I hereby correct that omission and highly recommend it.
Study finds gender bias in how people interpret claims that studies find gender bias. Also, holy frick, how did I not already know about that second graph?
Speaking of things that are something, Polygenic Risk For Alcohol Dependence Associates With Alcohol Consumption, Cognitive Function, And Social Deprivation. The main point being mentioned here is that the reason people in poor areas are more alcoholic might not be because poverty is depressing and makes one turn to drink, it might be entirely genetic. But I’m not sure I get the posited mechanism; is alcohol such a big deal that it in itself makes people live in poor areas? Or is it all the correlations with other traits? Are these because of mutational load, coincidence, or something else? Anyway, my big take-home lesson from this study is that people now understand some polygenic traits well enough that we can start doing genetically-informed social science with them. That’s big.
Related: The Genetics Of High Intelligence. Short version: it’s additive and polygenic all the way down, and there’s no “special sauce” to unusually high intelligence aside from doing very well in the lottery of genes that determine the normal intelligence range. I’m not sure how this relates to claims about substantial IQ boosts from genes like torsion dystonia. Some discussion of this over at Gwern’s G+, but I don’t understand some of his conclusions – for example, why does this suggest against Cochran’s mutational load theory?
@CultureShipName on Twitter.
Yeah, we’re used to priming experiments failing to replicate these days, but Neuroskeptic shows an especially beautiful example with all of the data points graphed out so clearly that you can see exactly what happened. Also, romantic priming is probably not a thing.
Payday loans clearly screw over the poor, but every attempt to do something about them has been stymied by the reasonable question “how exactly does it help to take an option away from poor people while giving them nothing in return?” But the New York Times has a great article up on how the problem is overregulation of lending that makes it impossible for normal banks to give payday-sized loans at normal-bank-prices.
A while ago I linked to a piece about artificial lights indistinguishable from real windows and how they might revolutionize design/architecture. I was curious how those are doing these days so I looked into a bit more: they now exist, are available to consumers, but cost about $60,000 per light; among the customers willing to pay those prices are operating theaters and airports. Hopefully the cost will go down Moore’s-Law-style soon.
New York Times wrote an editorial panning Chris Christie. I love Christie’s response: didn’t read it, too much trouble getting past the paywall.
Police body cameras – good for victims, good for officers: Texas officer’s bodycam proves that professor fabricated her racial profiling claim against police.
A new study not only quantifies political bias in economics, but even kind of suggests a sort of toy method of ‘adjusting’ for it. “The average optimal tax rate reported by economists in our data is 41 percent. Using our model, we can also estimate that these economists as a group are slightly left of center. We can then figure out what optimal top tax rate a hypothetical centrist economist would report: 33 percent.”
Iran goes all soft and inoffensive: “‘Death to America’ does not mean death to the American nation, it means death to the US’ policies and death to arrogance.”
Reaching peak rationalist: prediction markets can help determine which psych studies will replicate, with bonus quote from Robin Hanson.
GMU economist professor and occasional SSC fan Garrett Jones has a new book out: Hive Mind: How Your Nations IQ Matters More Than Your Own. I haven’t read it yet, but I hope it will fill the important niche of “less terrible version of Richard Lynn”.