500 BC: Buddha preaches a message of peace and compassion. 1411 AD: China and Sri Lanka go to war over the Buddha’s tooth.
More on confusing effects of school entry age: in Brazil, students who enter first grade later get higher test scores and are more likely to go to college
I recommend against naming ships Windoc until this phenomenon is investigated more thoroughly.
There’s been some recent buzz about Tom Wolfe’s book attacking Noam Chomsky. I can’t comment on the linguistic elements, but it has an unfortunate tendency to take its opposition to evolution’s role in human psychology/society so far that it seems to be denying evolution itself: “I think it’s misleading to say that human beings evolved from animals — actually, nobody knows whether they did or not. There are very few physical signs, aside from the general resemblance of apes and humans.” Jerry Coyne is suitably dismissive. And Nathan Robinson gets into a side debate on Chomsky’s opinion of intellectual elitists (against). On the other hand, here are some apparently sober people disagreeing with Chomsky.
Guests on the TV show Firing Line included Richard Nixon, Saul Alinsky, Noam Chomsky, B.F. Skinner, Allen Ginsberg, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jorge Luis Borges, the Dalai Lama, Jack Kerouac, and Mother Teresa. Though not all at once.
SETI has detected a suspicious signal from a sunlike star 95 light-years away. Signal strength is high enough that any civilization sending it would have to be well beyond humans. But how could a posthuman civilization exist 95 light-years away from us without us noticing until now? (EDIT: likely false alarm)
Hey, remember how well it worked last time the our society declared war on a commonly used recreational plant with many medical uses and few side effects? No? Well, the DEA certainly does, which is why they’ve decided to expand the drug war by making kratom a Schedule 1 substance. If you feel like doing something meaningless, there’s a petition you can sign.
In 1999 South Korea passed a law mandating that all online commerce be done on Internet Explorer, saying it was the only way to ensure consumer safety. Thank goodness for international differences in regulatory regimes; otherwise people might be tempted to take their own country’s rules seriously.
EpiPen prices have been rising gradually for years. Why did it only become a big news story recently? Quid.com investigates. Their answer: Bernie Sanders!
Activation of mu opioid receptors might trigger several different signaling cascades, raising the prospect of selective agonists that can trigger good effects (like pain relief) but not bad ones (like respiratory supression).
Dystopian ant society in nuclear bunker goes exactly as well as you would expect.
FDA orders antibacterials removed from consumer soap. I actually support this one: there’s no evidence antibacterials help with much, and there’s some concern that they can increase antibiotic resistance.
Contra a study from a couple of links posts ago, the latest replication attempt suggests democracy does not increase economic growth.
A boon doggle is a cutesy braid thing you can make with lace or rope. In 1935, the press excoriated FDR’s New Deal for spending $3 million giving unemployed people crafts lessons where they made boon doggles, and the word became a nickname for any overpriced useless government project.
There have been so many conflicting experiments and arguments about the supposedly physics-defying EMDrive that the debate will probably only get resolved once somebody launches one into space and tries it.
Why Don’t We Have Pay Toilets In America? Short answer: some college kids launched a wildly successful campaign to ban them. On the other hand, it looks like pay toilets only cost a dime, whereas it costs me $2 or $3 to buy a coffee in a cafe just so I can use the cafe’s Customer Only non-pay toilet, plus it’s a waste of coffee.
Some SSC readers ask me to inform you of e-quilibrium, an attempt to make e-cigarette fluid that mimics the chemical composition of tobacco as closely as possible (except for the part where tobacco kills you). I do not know anything about this field and can neither endorse nor specifically anti-endorse this.
You know that weird thing where no matter what happens in the real world, US economic growth keeps to a perfectly straight line on the decades-or-above timescale? There’s a field studying that, it’s called balanced growth economics, and it’s pretty much as confusing as you would expect.
GiveDirectly’s basic income experiment runs into unexpected trouble as some poor people refuse their cash grants, suspecting it might be a scam. I guess if somebody offered me a year’s salary for no reason I would probably suspect it was a scam too.
How Seattle Killed Microhousing. It’s not just San Francisco that wants to make affordable housing illegal.
I’m not really qualified to have an opinion on it, but MIRI is very excited about their most recent paper, Logical Induction, which is apparently a big step in relating inductive reasoning to mathematical proof.
Scott Aaronson suggests that people with computer skills can best fight Trump by creating vote-trading websites that allow people in safe states to vote third-party in exchange for third-party supports in swing states voting Hillary. Apparently this has been confirmed legal by the court system. See also existing vote-trading websites like makeminecount.
Explain this one: Haitian-Americans have one of the lowest crime rates in the country, well below other blacks, Latinos, and whites.
The Missing Slate: “Marginal Revolution may well be the finest blog ever; if we wanted to put a blog in the Smithsonian to show future generations what happened when smart people in our time spoke their minds, then Marginal Revolution would be my choice.”
“Most critics of neoliberalism on the left point to the dramatic reduction in the scale of government activities since the 80s – the privatisation of state-run enterprises, the increased dependence upon private contractors for delivering public services etc. Most right-wing critics lament the increasing regulatory burden faced by businesses and individuals and the preferential treatment and bailouts doled out to the politically well-connected. Neither the left nor the right is wrong. But both of them only see one side of what is the core strategy of neoliberal crony capitalism – increase the scope and reduce the scale of government intervention.”
A Genetically Informed Study Of The Association Between Harsh Punishment And Offspring Behavioral Problems: adjust for genetics, and “mild” physical punishment like spanking seems to affect children slightly at most; outright abuse seems to have very strong negative effects.
The most prestigious scientific journals may publish the worst research.
Maybe the most popular Major League Baseball promotion of all time was Disco Demolition Night, when the Chicago White Sox suggested that people who hated disco bring disco records to their game and they would destroy all of them in a big explosion. It ended in fires, rioting, accusations of racism, police intervention, a forfeited game, and possibly the decline of disco nationwide.