Newspapers showed the picture of a man who died in the terrorist attacks on Paris last year. But somebody who is clearly the same man was shown as being killed in the Orlando nightclub shooting last month. And now the same person is in the body count for the attacks on Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. Who is the mysterious man who dies in every terrorist attack?
Systematic review: “Overall, results of these studies do not indicate a higher prevalence of eating disorders among fashion models compared to non-models.”
/r/AccidentalRenaissance: everyday photos which, when you think about it, look kind of like Renaissance paintings.
Pseudoerasmus reviews Empire of Cotton. Even though he’s not a fan of the book, just his hostile summary helped me understand some of what people mean when they say that “free trade” has set back the developing world.
In order to counteract my (and maybe your) usual bias: here’s somebody fired for doing a study that found that some people were racist.
Oh God oh God oh God functional brain imaging studies are awful – “If the whole-brain across-subject correlation analysis with 16 subjects considers 1000 possible correlations (considerably less than the number of voxels in a whole-brain analysis) the peak correlation coefficient is expected to be about 0.75, even if the true correlation is actually 0.” Best read alongside the old study that replicated various results about the brain in a dead salmon to show how easy it was to fake.
Supposedly most antidepressants don’t work in kids and teens, but Prozac does. But I find anything that discovers striking cross-SSRI differences a little hard to believe.
Psssst, wanna buy a slightly used Soviet surplus tank? What if I told you they cost less than a nice car?
The Kentucky meat shower was an unexplained event when meat fell from the sky like rain. “A letter from Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton appearing in the publication Medical Record [stated] that the meat had been identified as lung tissue from either a horse or a human infant, ‘the structure of the organ in these two cases being almost identical.'” Well that’s not creepy at all.
LWer and Future of Humanity Institute scholar Stuart Armstrong is in the news for a paper written together with Google AI scientists detailing an exciting new avenue for working on AI safety based on designing intelligences that will not resist their own shutdown. Related: scientists at Google, OpenAI, Stanford, and Berkeley publish a review of Concrete Problems In AI Safety.
Related: Treasure-hunting is big part of Tibetan Buddhism, and monks inspired by mystical revelation will often go out and unearth treasures or manuscripts hidden by past saints.
Review: “Nominal agreement between initial studies and meta-analyses regarding the presence of a significant effect was not better than chance in psychiatry, whereas it was somewhat better in neurology and somatic diseases.” If I’m understanding this right, it means that an initial study about something in psychiatry conveys literally zero evidence about whether that thing is true or not.
China plans to cut meat consumption by 50%.
Everyone knows that “millennials” are far left, but the truth is more complicated – really into gays, marijuana, and immigration, but not much different than older generations on support for the poor or on racial issues (wait, really?)
David Chapman on Brexit. This probably has something to offend everybody.
A list of 308 online effective altruism-related resources. Some of the Facebook groups seem kind of Potemkin-y, though.
Relevant to my interests: there was once an unrecognized US state called Scott.
Economists are very pessimistic about (one version of) universal basic income.
Related: an alternative to universal basic income is the universal basic share, where the government says something like “We pledge to forever redistribute 10% of GDP, whatever that may be, among our citizens as a universal basic income”. The hope is that even if this starts out as not enough, as the economy grows it will gradually become more and more until it’s enough for people to live on. But I worry that ignores the effect discussed here, where if the government had tried that in 1900 then by now the income would have grown to the amount the poor needed to support themselves in 1900, yet would still be way below the amount what we consider a minimum standard of living today.
Company that handles tech company interviews makes a feature that changes what gender an interviewee’s voice sounds like, to see if women get more tech jobs when the company thinks that they’re men. To the surprise of nobody who is paying attention, there is no anti-woman bias found and in fact women do slightly better when they are known to be female.
If you miss the predictions of health risks and so on that you used to be able to get from 23andMe, you can get them free from Genotation now – just upload your 23andMe data to their site and it will do the calculations for you. I’m slightly confused that its ancestry panel seems to think I’m East African, but I guess in a sort of cosmic long-term sense it’s not wrong.
Wait List Zero is a group that encourages altruistic kidney donation, eg donation to a person you may not know who really needs a kidney.
Two new studies conclusively determine that the apparent “obesity paradox” – the finding that sometimes overweight people had lower death rates than normal weight people – was an error and that in fact being normal weight is healthier.
Last week: Kentucky legalizes hair braiding without a license. This week: fiery storms scour the land; the living envy the dead.
Psychiatrists often use drugs that modulate norepinephrine, like Effexor and Strattera, on the assumption that this chemical plays an important role in psychiatric disease. But some people have a rare disease that causes them to have literally no norepinephrine at all yet seem to be psychiatrically normal. I have no idea how this can be true.
Intermittent fasting is no better than just dieting the normal way. I hate to gloat, but this concludes an almost ten-year argument I’ve been having with an acquaintance who said that the failure of doctors to immediately endorse intermittent fasting proves that the medical profession are all quacks who don’t care about their patients.
Ross Douthat: The Myth Of Cosmopolitanism. “[We give] the elite side of the debate (the side that does most of the describing) too much credit for being truly cosmopolitan. Genuine cosmopolitanism is a rare thing. It requires comfort with real difference, with forms of life that are truly exotic relative to one’s own….The people who consider themselves “cosmopolitan” in today’s West, by contrast, are part of a meritocratic order that transforms difference into similarity, by plucking the best and brightest from everywhere and homogenizing them into the peculiar species that we call “global citizens”…There is more genuine cosmopolitanism in Rudyard Kipling and T. E. Lawrence and Richard Francis Burton than in a hundred Davos sessions.”
The campaign for rigor in UFO hunting.
Tell me I’m misunderstanding this, or else it’s the most confusing thing I’ve read all month: study shows that sugar only makes you gain weight insofar as it tastes good, and mice who have been genetically engineered not to like the taste of sugar fail to gain much weight on sugar even when they eat exactly as much of it as the mice who like it. Possible implications for artificial sweeteners?
Refugee children who arrive to the US at a very early age like 6 months don’t have substantially better outcomes than those who arrive at a later age like 6 years. This is very strange, because we expect them to be living in a terrible deprived environment before immigration but a much better one afterwards. How do we reconcile this with the “childhood stresses of poverty” theory of poor people’s problems like in that study about the Cherokee reservation?
All of those studies showing that a picture of eyes watching you would make you behave in a more prosocial way are the latest victims of the replication crisis.
The first fully automated fast food restaurant comes to San Francisco.
Brian Tomasik has a really good article on gains from trade that asks the important question – why is there ever conflict? Why don’t people just Aumann-agree on how the conflict would probably go, and skip the part where they actually waste all of their resources fighting each other? See also this SSC post.