North Korea’s official Twitter account only follows one active user, a twenty-something Texan investor, and he has no idea why.
Robin Hanson talks a lot about the RAND insurance experiment, which found that giving people better health insurance didn’t necessarily make them healthier. More recently Oregon ran a very similar experiment. The conclusion? All commentators agree – the results supported whatever that particular commentator involved originally believed.
A modern replication of a 1930s survey about what people want in an ideal mate shows much more interest in love and “chemistry”, much less in reliability and ambition.
The Center for Applied Rationality explains what they’ve been doing in 2014 and what their plans are for the next year. If you like what you hear, you can donate to their fundraiser and get your contribution matched until January 31.
Radley Balko’s terrifying civil liberties predictions for 2015, with the world’s most obvious twist ending.
Hiwi al-Balkhi had the ‘asshole atheist’ thing down as early as the 8th century AD. During his life in modern Afghanistan, he managed to ask the hard questions like “why does God require animal sacrifices if He doesn’t eat?” and “how do we know the Israelites didn’t just cross the Red Sea at low tide?” Also one of the first big fans of listing Biblical contradictions. For his trouble, he got his books banned and his name corrupted to a similar-sounding word meaning “dog-like” in most contemporary historical records.
Washington Post: Japan’s Sexual Apathy Is Endangering The Global Economy. “Extremely high numbers of Japanese do not find sex appealing – 45% of women and 25% of men ages 16 to 24 are not interested in or despised sexual contact.” The conclusion reminds me of what some commenters were saying in my On The Road review, about how whatever you think of old-timey separate gender roles and whatever you think of modern equal gender roles, they’re both pretty stable equilibria compared to the confusion and conflicting demands you get in a mish-mash of both (but see also the counter-article here)
A kind of meandering Tumblr post that ends up as a really interesting theory of how, instead of the academic system working by having fields containing many conflicting views, it works by having each field focus on one view and then opposing views branch off by pretending to be different fields.
Hans Rudel was the top German bomber ace in World War II even though people (including Hitler himself) kept trying to prevent him from flying. He was shot down 32 times, wounded five, and escaped after being captured by the Soviets. After the war, he kept himself in shape by climbing the the highest mountain in the Americas and one of the world’s highest volcanoes – despite missing one leg. He also founded some successful businesses, helped design planes for the modern German air force, and made life very awkward for everybody by continuing to be a vocal Nazi until his death in the ’80s.
Interesting thing I came across in research for Untitled post but didn’t get a chance to explore: female journalist Norah Vincent decided to investigate sex roles by disguising herself as a man and then going undercover to extremely masculine things like bowling groups and strip clubs and Catholic monasteries and men-only therapy groups where they talk about their rage issues with women (well, that escalated quickly). She concluded that “Men are suffering. They have different problems than women have, but they don’t have it better…I really like being a woman…I like it more now because I think it’s more of a privilege.” Her book Self-Made Man (ha ha) is available on Amazon. Anyone know of any men who tried the reverse of this?
The Man Who Called Gandhi A Sissy – pretty interesting Economist article on Vinayak Savarkar, the founder of modern Hindu nationalism and of a huge Indian movement that spawned, among other things, India’s ruling BJP party and its prime minister Narendra Modi. Interesting fact – despite being a Hindu supremacist obsessed with getting all Indians to convert to Hinduism, he didn’t think highly of the Hindu religion itself – “he himself was an atheist and disapproved of aspects of traditional Hindu belief, dismissing cow worship as superstitious”
Russia has a surprising number of gay Nazis, including a group called Gay Aryan Skinheads whose flag is a swastika with two crossed penises under it. Interesting in a narrative-bending way; their explanation is that gay people are oppressed in Russia, so they need to be scary and militia-like to defend themselves.
The epitome of credentialism: the highest IQ man in the world, Kim Ung-Yong, who once held the Guinness record for highest IQ, was taking university classes at age 4, working at NASA by age 8, and had his Ph.D by age 15. When he moved back to his native South Korea, he couldn’t get a job because he had no elementary, middle, or high school diploma.
A while ago, Eliezer said on Facebook that he thought the failures of conventional nutrition science had killed millions of people. A bunch of people made fun of him, said he was exaggerating, said he was being overly contrarian and gullible, et cetera. Well, now BMJ, third-largest medical journal in the world, publishes an article by one of Britain’s leading doctors: Are Some Diets Mass Murder? Worth reading just for the conflict of interest statement at the bottom.
My recent post on nerds and feminism was something I wrote in anger and anxiety – I’ll admit that I actually lost some weight because I was pacing so much after reading the article that inspired it. Some of the things it said needed to be said, but I probably didn’t say them in the most productive way and probably am not the person who can do so. So I highly recommend two other, much more carefully-thought-out articles on the same topic – one from The Merely Real as well as one from kind-of-contradictorily-named blog Nothing Is Mere. This is also my answer to people who asked me whether there were “any good feminists”. You will want to comment on those articles there, not here.
The charity singularity‽ (h/t Robert Wiblin)
Brian Tomasik graphs years of commercial software development experience vs. belief in a hard takeoff and finds that people with lots of work experience in the tech industry much more likely to believe AI onset will be gradual. Unclear what to do with this information, especially since many of the hard takeoff people are very well respected scientists and academics.
Identical twins decide to do their own mini-study – one eats a very low fat diet, the other a very low carb diet. Low-carb guy loses more weight but feels constantly miserable; low-fat guy loses less weight but retains more mental and emotional continence. Let the “well, it would have worked perfectly if they’d just done my version of the low-fat/low-carb diet” begin. Those of you who have known me a long time may be reminded of The Story of Emily And Control
Elon Musk does an AMA on Reddit. Someone finally asks him for details about the Mars Colonial Transporter – specifically whether it’s “a crew module like Dragon, a launch vehicle like Falcon, or a mix of both” and he answers that “The Mars transport system will be a completely new architecture. Am hoping to present that towards the end of this year.” I’m not sure what that means in this context, but looking forward to finding out.
I’m glad to see discussion of motte-and-bailey moving out of social justice circles and into the more general discourse. Here’s a blogger accusing English Defense League of motte and bailey – their public statements (motte) suggest they want to fight Muslim terrorism and extremism, but their everyday actions (bailey) look more like they want to cause trouble for all Muslims. On the other hand, Ozy is not a fan and has banned discussion of motte and bailey from their blog; some good discussion in the comments there.
War Nerd on how the defense industry has nothing to do with defending America. Related: the (not necessarily doubled-checked-by-me) claim that the amount of money the US spent on the barely-functional F-35 fighter jet could have bought a mansion for every homeless person in the country
Going around social media today: this article called How Big Is The Sexism Problem In Economics? This Article’s Co-Author Is Anonymous Because Of It which reports upon how a new study shows economics is very sexist and it’s gotten so bad that the female co-authors of this very article have to stay anonymous because she fears sexist reprisals. They describe the study as “document[ing] the gender gap in economics and discuss[ing] many possible hurdles at each stage of a female economist’s career”. While some of their points are accurate, especially about economics’ relative position, a reading of the study being cited as evidence finds that the paper itself strongly believes its conclusion is that there is very little sexism, and in fact the study’s actual authors summarized their findings for the New York Times as an editorial titled Academic Science Isn’t Sexist which says that “in sum, with a few exceptions, the world of academic science in math-based fields today reflects gender fairness, rather than gender bias.” While everyone has a right to interpret data in their own way, to me this drives home the importance of reading actual research instead of (or even in addition to) the way it’s being presented by the media.
Brown adipose tissue, a form of fat that burns energy, is interesting because it’s probably the closest equivalent to the popular notion of “some people just have high metabolism and won’t get fat no matter how bad their diet is”. Clearly finding a way to alter the metabolism of brown fat would be promising, and a new study shows that the FDA-approved drug mirabegron does exactly that and “may be a promising treatment for metabolic disease”.
A difficult problem: a very frequent commenter here has written a book. He would like me to link to it and advertise it for him. But the book is written under his real name, and he doesn’t want his pseudonym on here linked to it. So I guess all I can say is that someone whom you no doubt know if you read the SSC comment sections regularly is the author of STORM BRIDE, and you should probably start speculating wildly on who it is (without leaving any Google-incriminating comments; rot13 your work or something) and maybe check out the book also.