The time the government tried to ban encryption of digital communications – specifically, of telegraph messages.
Finance startup Swanluv will pay for your dream wedding, but you owe them all the money back plus extra interest if you get divorced. It looks like they are betting that Inside View exceptionalism will make people calculate that even though the deal is net negative for most people, their love is strong enough that their marriage will never fail. Some possibility that this will keep people together long past the point when they would otherwise have divorced, which different people can interpret as either a good or a bad thing.
Wired originally claimed they’d found Satoshi Nakamoto but now believe it was more likely a hoax. A commenter on r/bitcoin puts the clues together and comes up with a pretty good story for why not-Satoshi would be hoaxing us.
Diplomats in Paris reach climate deal. This is really exciting and maybe one of the biggest/most encouraging news events in a long time. But the pessimistic take is that these nonbinding promises aren’t likely to be enough. Related: Thomas Schelling on adapting to climate change.
Also related: Sea level rise simulator. Plugging in the actual expected sea level rise for 2100 (0.5 – 1 meters) is pretty unexciting on this scale. But kind of excited about the San Franscisco Bay Area extending into the Central Valley; they could use the extra building room and it’s not like the Central Valley people were doing much with it anyway.
Dog life expectancy has doubled in the past 40 years. What can pets teach us about aging?
Media cues indicating acceptance for larger body types “resulted in greater actual or intended consumption of food”. But remember first of all that there’s a huge streetlight effect in this kind of ultra-short-term study, and second of all that actively shaming people for being overweight also makes them eat more. We do not yet understand this territory and it is probably more complicated than anyone wants to admit.
Noahpinion: Academic BS As Artifical Barriers To Entry
A friend used to have a thing where he’d go to various Silicon Valley parties and events, introduce himself as “Bob, founder of [most absurd startup idea he could think of], and see how many people actually believed him. His favorite was “It’s like Uber, but for puppies”. Well, about that…
The difference between r and r-squared continues to be a source of much wailing and gnashing and teeth, but here is a relatively thorough explanation (h/t Pseudoerasmus)
This seems like a pretty big deal: scientists find underappreciated part of opiate system, may now be able to shut off pain entirely. Also, apparently you can temporarily cure Congenital Insenstivity To Pain Syndrome with naloxone – something they discovered in an experiment where they gave naloxone to an adult with the condition and caused them to feel pain for the first time in their life. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during that experiment.
How much of the modern creative writing scene comes from CIA attempts to fight communism during the Cold War? And how does it affect what we consider “good” versus “bad” writing today? I knew there was something sinister about “show, don’t tell”.
This week in college name-change campaigns: protesters want Lebanon Valley College to rename Lynch Hall (named for ex-college-president Clyde Lynch) because it reminds them of lynching. And Harvard scraps the term “master” for leaders of colleges because it might remind people of slavery. This is your required reminder that Vox wants you to change your browser to auto-replace “political correctness” with “treating people with respect”.
Markets in everything: tiny working engines to power to your paper airplanes
I wrote about Hróbjartsson and Gøtzsche in my post on SSRIs, but I’ve always though they were underappreciated and needed more scrutiny. So here’s DC Science on how most of what we call placebo effect is just regression to the mean.
More AI openness: Facebook will release its new customized artifical intelligence servers. Related: Jimrandomh beat me to the punch of discussing OpenAI’s tactics.
Senators (including Ted Cruz) introduce the bill that I and a lot of other people in medicine have been wanting for a long time: any medication approved in another developed country is fast-tracked for US approval. This could save thousands of lives and spur drug development worldwide. If this goes through I wonder if pharma companies will shift their research to whichever country has the quickest approval process.
Poor Francis Bacon. Spends his entire life telling people to use reason and empiricism, then after he dies he gets worshipped as a god by a group who believe he ascended bodily to Heaven.
Some people responded to my review of Hive Mind by asking why, if we’re so concerned about IQ, we don’t care more about increasing it. The answer is: we do care a lot about increasing it, people are already trying this in Third World countries, but increasing it in First World countries is really really hard. The one exception to that is that decreasing lead exposure is really powerful and important. That’s why we should be concerned that, among the many awful things going on with the water supply in Flint, Michigan now, one of them is soaring levels of lead. The city has bungled this so badly that people are calling for them to switch to using the Detroit water system – and you know things are bad when your environmentalist purity campaign is “We should be drinking the water from Detroit”. Related: the research team investigating the water does a Reddit AMA.
Tumblr user worldoptimization reviews some of the evidence around the “mismatch hypothesis” of affirmative action.
Here are fifty fan theories about Song of Ice and Fire. Warning: spoilers up to current point and (if theories are correct) possibly beyond. Also warning: if you click on the link, you will probably end up reading fifty fan theories about Song of Ice and Fire.
Conventional wisdom: openness to experience is associated with being less prejudiced. New study: openness to experience is sort of like non-conformity, and it is associated with being less prejudiced to unconventional groups but more prejudiced towards conventional groups. I feel like I might have had a blog post sort of like this a while ago.
GiveWell finally starts looking into one of my pet causes: lithium in the drinking water.
Kickstarter for a line of stylish professional-quality tinfoil hats. Alas, not likely to be ready in time for Christmas this year.
Jewish law forbids a divorce unless both parties agree, leading to some complicated situations when one party refuses to consent. Now a New Jersey Orthodox rabbi is sentenced to ten years in prison for hiring goons to beat up Jewish husbands until they agreed to divorce their wives.
We’ve all heard stories about various ways people cheat on tests, but your test-cheating scheme has probably gone out of control when it leads to 2,000 arrests and 40 murders.
I’ve talked before here about the dangers of relying on self-report surveys of drug use. Here’s a cute example: self-report surveys find less than a third as much alcohol consumption as is actually recorded via state sales taxes.
Latest volleys in the can-anyone-learn-to-code wars: Programming Recognized As Core School Subject versus Learn To Code: It’s Harder Than You Think. Key statistic from second article: [some very high number] percent of programmers are self-taught.
The latest discrimination experiments have moved beyond job interviews and housing applications to show that minorities even face obstacles selling items on eBay.
The oft-repeated claim that wine experts can’t tell the difference between white and red wines is mostly false.
Related: the Dunning-Kruger effect as commonly understood is, appropriately, not actually what Dunning and Kruger found and not actually true.
And from the same excellent page: a lot of what we believe about happiness set points is made-up, and no, disabled people do not become just as happy as non-disabled people after they adjust to their disability (original study). Time to go find the nearest blackboard and write I WILL NOT BELIEVE SURPRISING YET HEARTWARMING THINGS WITHOUT CHECKING A PRIMARY SOURCE a hundred times.
Vegetarian Diets Are Worse For The Environment Than Eating Meat versus No They Aren’t, You Idiot. Key claim: eating lettuce is calorie-for-calorie worse for the environment than eating meat, but you have to eat 93 cups of lettuce to get the caloric equivalent of an ordinary serving of meat, so most people who go vegetarian are probably doing something a little less silly than replacing all of their meat with lettuce.
Latest study finds the same thing as every other study: No Impact of Income On Standardized Test Scores. I am 100% sure that this will be the finding that finally puts this claim to rest forever and we will never have to hear about how the SAT just tests how rich your family is ever again.
Almost all good studies on the effects of immigration find that it does not depress the wages of native citizens, with one exception: an analysis of the Mariel Boatlift did find a significant negative effect on natives. Now a re-analysis finds that this was probably a mistake and the Mariel Boatlift didn’t have a big effect on wages any more than any other source of immigration.
Fame without fortune: YouTube celebrities are getting millions of hits, get mobbed by fans when they go outside, and are still living paycheck to paycheck or working day jobs as waiters and cashiers.
The Once And Future Liberalism – a really interesting article that’s hard to summarize. If I had to give it a try: despite the consensus that conservatives “want to go back to the 1950s”, that decade should in fact be associated with the consolidation of the New Deal programs that gave us modern liberalism. These programs – including very high taxes on the rich, big monopolistic corporations that were really cozy with the government, and a heavily unionized workforce – actually worked really well, but we can never go back to them because *mumble*. Now this system is collapsing and we’re fighting over the wreckage.
Results Of A One-Year Longitudinal Study of CFAR. Going to a CFAR workshop seems to produce long-term gains in self-rated life satisfaction, productivity, etc, although the study design cannot rule out response bias. Related: CFAR is holding its winter fundraiser; you can read their pitch here and you can actually donate here.
Still related: in case my post last year didn’t convince you, here’s Ozy, here’s Kelsey, and here’s Alison all talking about why you should participate in Giving What We Can’s 2015 pledge drive and promise to give at least 10% of your income to charity in the new year.