The town of Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky is supposedly named because it’s in a county whose shape looks like a monkey’s head, and the town is around where the eyebrow would be.
A man involved in a homophobic hate killing and a fellow prisoner who also murdered a gay man have become the first couple to gay marry in prison.
Claritas Prizm helps companies analyze consumer demographics using their system of 66 US social classes with cutesy names.
Ribbonfarm offers a live video blogging course aimed at “beefing up [their] pipeline of potential contributors”, complete with assigned reading, homework, and a fee. It’s already over, so don’t bother applying. I guess I’m just linking this so that one day, when I get put in jail for blogging without the appropriate licenses and certifications, I know where things started to go wrong.
NASA is publishing their paper finding that the EMDrive produces meaningful thrust; more skeptical friends have recommended this and this picking-apart of some of their methods. I know nothing about physics, but the little I know of social sciences recommends extreme skepticism about effects so small that it takes heroic effort to distinguish them from noise, especially when they don’t respond to manipulations in predictable ways.
Prescient Marginal Revolution post from last year on how celebrities and CEOs make better politicians than politicians
One of the better post-election-handwringing pieces: Nathan Robinson, What This Means, How This Happened, What To Do Now?
The Atlantic: are transgender people more autistic? If so, why? My thoughts on this deserve a full blog post, but for now I’ll just leave this paper on autism in congenital adrenal hyperplasia and let you draw your own conclusions.
Ben Carson declines a role in Trump’s cabinet on the grounds that he is a doctor and knows nothing about politics and would probably screw it up. On the one hand, this is admirably humble and clear-thinking. On the other, I am kind of confused what he thought he was doing when he ran for President. Update: Trump picks Carson to lead HUD.
Reddit asks people who randomly ran into Donald Trump before he was President what he was like in real life. A surprising number of New Yorkers had encounters with him, and all gave pretty much the same picture.
Kanye West: I didn’t vote, but if I did I would have voted for Trump. Possibly related: Kanye West hospitalized, placed on psychiatric hold. Old, but relevant under the circumstances: Scott Adams: The Odds Of A Kanye West Presidency Are 90 Percent.
Chinese scientists claim they can use machine learning to predict criminality from facial appearance. Still needs a lot of double-checking before accepted, but basically believable. Maybe related to mutational load: “The variation among criminal faces is significantly greater than that of the non-criminal faces. The two manifolds consisting of criminal and non-criminal faces appear to be concentric, with the non-criminal manifold lying in the kernel with a smaller span”.
Less Wrong is trying to regain its status as a good discussion hub and it’s actually going pretty well. Among the posts there worth checking out: A Return To Discussion, Double Crux: A Strategy For Resolving Disagreement, and Sample Means: How Do They Work?
Related to the Return To Discussion post: is an intentionally confusing interface the secret of Tumblr’s success?
Ozy at Thing of Things did a social justice Intellectual Turing Test.
NEJM: genetic risk and healthy lifestyles are independent determinants of cardiac disease. That is, whether you have a high or a low genetic risk, living a healthy lifestyle will decrease your risk of heart disease about the same relative amount.
SSC reader Fiona van Dahl, some of whose other work has been mentioned here, has a new novel out, New Night.
Remember Trump’s claim that millions of non-citizens voted in the election? It comes from a journal article in Electoral Studies (article, popular summary) calculating that several hundred thousand non-citizens probably voted in the 2008 election. But further research has challenged that claim (study, popular article), and it now seems to be very much in doubt. [EDIT: National Review defends the study, and relevant SSC]
Related: the studies above form part of the backdrop of Nathan Robinson’s excellent article The Necessity Of Credibility: To Prevent Fake News You Have To Offer Real News. I think it says a lot of important things, but it does miss the important question of when you should or shouldn’t report on exciting-sounding but not-yet-replicated studies – and so fails to have a good theory of whether the villains of the piece even did anything wrong.
In my post on Daraprim (the toxoplasma drug Martin Shkreli hiked the price of), I noted that the Daraprim molecule looks easy to make and somebody could probably cook up a batch for pretty cheap as an act of civil disobedience. Now it’s been done: Daraprim Drug’s Key Ingredient Recreated By High School Students In Sydney For Just $20.
Looking for a good charity to give to over the holidays? Aceso Under Glass makes the case for Tostan.
The wit and wisdom of new Defense Secretary pick James Mattis: “Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
Andrew Gelman: How Can You Evaluate A Research Paper?
A lot of Castro retrospectives were along the lines of “Cuban communism could be brutal, but at least it brought people good affordable healthcare”. But Cuban healthcare and other public services actually underperformed most other Latin American countries during the Castro period.
Today in “forced to have grudging admiration for people I don’t respect very much for speaking out unexpectedly eloquently against people I respect even less”: Sarah Palin denounces Trump Carrier deal as crony capitalism. I have a really bad feeling that this ends with every company that was planning to do something good anyway crediting Trump in exchange for free Presidential goodwill, and we get a neverending string of apparent Trump victories that are very hard to disprove.
Internationally Comparable Math Scores For Fourteen African Countries. African countries’ math scores are “significantly lower than predicted by African per capita GDP levels, and converging slowly, if at all, to the rest of the world during the 2000s.” Apparently the African economic boom is not going to solve educational problems on its own. Best case scenario: we just need more deworming.
Also in bad news: South Sudan “on the brink of genocide”
kontextmachine on the history of county power in the US.
I’ve previously criticized Vox in general and Sarah Kliff in particular for their pieces on drug regulation, so I should give credit where credit is due: their latest article, The True Story Of America’s Sky-High Prescription Drug Prices, is pretty good and well-balanced (aside from using stick figures, which I find condescending and annoying). It also uses the word “trade-off” seven times, which is how you know you should trust it.
Globalization Not To Blame For Income Woes, Study Says. But you can mostly skip the article itself in favor of this convincing re-imagining of the famous “elephant graph”.
US labor productivity still increasing at same rate as always, apparently.
The new King of Thailand, Vajiralongkorn Borommachakkrayadisonsantatiwong Thewetthamrongsuboriban Aphikhunuprakanmahittaladunladet Phumiphonnaretwarangkun Kittisirisombunsawangkhawat Borommakhattiyaratchakuman (Vaj to his friends). Interesting fact: he got second-class honors (= a B grade) on his law degree in a Thai university. I feel like when someone feels safe giving the Crown Prince a ‘B’, that’s a good sign that your country is sufficiently non-corrupt.
New study on Swedish intergenerational mobility finds somewhere in between Clark and his critics.
Trump’s election victory raised interest in epistocracy, a hypothetical system of government where only well-informed people can vote. A new blog post pops that bubble, calculating that Trump beat Clinton among well-informed voters by an even bigger margin than among the general public, although note that the methodology uses broad demographic bins and can’t prove this is true of individual voters.
Lord Dunsany wrote a sequel to The Tortoise And The Hare, where there’s a forest fire and the animals need to send warning quickly. Since they have already determined that the tortoise is faster than the hare, they send him to spread the message, and everybody burns to death. This is probably a metaphor for life.