The world’s largest hotel is in Saudi Arabia, hosts 10,000 guests, and looks pretty much how you would expect the world’s largest hotel in Saudi Arabia to look.
Legends of Chinese immigrants in California, unsourced, sometimes a bit implausible. “John the Chinese laundry man was the laughingstock of Weaverville, California. For months he washed the Anglo miners’ clothes and never charged a penny for his services. But a year later one of the miners came across John wearing fine clothes in Sacramento. He had washed enough gold dust out of pants cuffs and shirttails to set himself up for life.”
Common vs. Specific Factors In Psychotherapy – Opening The Black Box. Key quote: “Neither variability in competence nor adherence [to the principles of the therapy involved] was related to patient outcome…extent of training might also not be relevant to outcome.”
The size of a nation’s legislature tends to be about the cube root of its population. Also, the US House of Representatives is “one of the world’s most undersized” legislatures.
Sam Altman on the increasingly repressive climate in the Bay Area; makes some of the same points as my article about Kolmogorov complicity, but better, and with more personal experience. Tyler Cowen’s response. Related: GSS survey data shows high IQ predicts “free speech absolutism”.
Related: Heterodox Academy offers OpenMind, “a free, online platform designed to depolarize communities and foster mutual understanding across differences”.
More on the link between autism and transgender, with a few more studies than I’d seen before. Although only 5-10% of autistics have gender dysphoria, up to 25%-50% of transgender people may be autistic.
Late Christmas shopping idea: gravitational distortion placemats.
Contra Turkheimer and others, a new team finds no tendency for environmental influence on intelligence to be stronger in the poor, not even in the United States. [EDIT: Or maybe it doesn’t contradict Turkheimer, just show his results don’t extend to adults]
Also, even though the obvious evo psych explanation for bitter taste is that it’s supposed to warn us of potentially toxic molecules, there’s no real relationship between bitterness and toxicity.
The New I-66 Tolls Offer Great Insight Into Commuter Psychology. Commuters okay with a road being illegal to use (except for certain groups), but angry when it was legal to use but with a very high toll.
People Learned To Survive Disease; We Can Handle Twitter. Interesting take on cultural evolution including a micro-review of new James Scott book.
Some rare good news: the grad student waiver tax will not be in the final tax bill.
This month in the FDA: liberalization of rules on genetic tests like 23andMe (official statement, media summary). Related: probably legal for police to get your DNA from a genetic testing company if you’re a suspect; some good discussion of the exact warrant requirements buried in the Reddit comments. 23andMe has announced they will fight any such requests; unclear what other companies will do.
No, it’s not just your imagination: recent mystery interstellar asteroid Oumuamuamuamuamuamuamua does look kind of like a spaceship. Some good discussion in the comments here. And Robin Hanson on what it might teach us about interstellar space.
Venus only has one earthquake every hundred million years or so, but it’s a doozy.
The 100 most-discussed scientific papers of the year. A combination of health-relevant, politics-relevant, clickbaity, and groundbreaking new science. My girlfriend is lead author of #16.
Related, though you’ve probably seen it already: DeepMind has made an AI that can learn to play at superhuman level in various games including chess, Japanese chess, and Go – after just a few hours of practice.
Related: MIRI’s 2017 fundraiser. For those of you who don’t know, they’re a research institute that looks into the possibility of future AI superintelligence and how to make it safe for humans. I can vouch for them as good people; see also Zvi Mowshowitz’s I Vouch For MIRI.
Percent of people in different countries on who think life is better vs. worse than fifty years ago. More vs. less market freedom seems to be pretty big explanatory variable; being in Latin America doesn’t help.
This article purports to rank all generals and prove that Napoleon was the best. It’s gotten a lot of coverage, but it seems trivially wrong to me – as far as I can tell, it gives each general credit for their win vs. loss record, but doesn’t adjust for number of battles. So a general who fought 30 battles and won 50% would be “better” than a general who fought 10 battles and won 100%. As such, I can’t endorse it – but it’s a cool way of looking at things and I hope someone tries something similar and does it right – which would probably involve starting with a prior that each general is average and treating each battle as a new piece of Bayesian evidence.
We often hear that the amount parents talk to their baby is vital in explaining their development and life outcomes, so Scientific American profiles a South American tribe where parents practically never talk to their babies. But how many people from that tribe get into Ivy League colleges, HUH SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN?
In the IGM poll of economists, which I’ve cited a few times here as a good measure of expert opinion, top economists generally favor repealing Net Neutrality. H/T Buck, who writes that “if you think that repealing net neutrality is clearly bad, I’d love to bet you about it. Betting is a tax on bullshit and I feel like the internet is particularly full of bullshit at the moment; I’d like to do my part to clean it up a little while also hopefully making a little money. I’d love to hear your concrete predictions about how the world will be worse as a result of the repeal of net neutrality. I’m willing to spend at least a thousand dollars betting on this topic.”
Bay Area politicians die as they live: causing delays for local commuters.