Sometimes called “the most astounding medical lecture ever”, the notorious Brindley lecture is a good example of why your announcements of ground-breaking urology discoveries should not include live demonstrations.
FAA: If you can get to the moon, nobody’s stopping you from claiming property there.
Normal weight woman gets a fecal transplant from overweight donor and suddenly gains a lot of weight, supporting theory that microbiome is involved in weight regulation.
A claim that humans naturally divide into a bimodal distribution of monogamous and promiscuous.
Left-handed people differ from righties in various ways, including less likely to attend college, less likely to get good jobs, and earn an average of $1,300 less per year. Likely mechanism is that a lot of neonatal health issues that disrupt brain development can leave you left-handed. If you restrict your sample to people without any neonatal health issues, lefties and righties appear about equal.
Sounds like a dystopian horror story – in a lot of areas, it is illegal to live with your friends because zoning issues say that houses must be owned by “a family”.
There is a campaign going around to boycott Yale’s senior gift because of their shameful mental health policies. Those policies are that if a student at Yale develops a serious mental illness, they can sometimes be kicked out of school because of worries that if they committed suicide on campus it would be a public relations nightmare. Yale is far from the only college to do this, but I’ve talked to some people there who say they’re especially bad. I’m reluctant to signal-boost this because I don’t really like boycotts as a political tactic, but the article suggests the senior gift is already very politicized and so this wouldn’t be politicizing it any further. If you go to Yale, take a look and draw your own conclusions.
Some interesting discussion of the Crusades recently, sparked by an Obama remark. Here a historian explains that a lot of anti-Crusade tropes are myths. On the other hand, the trope that the Crusaders were bloody and killed lots of innocent people is totally true. There was a lot of outrage that Obama was trying to distract from ISIS with his clumsy remark that Christians had done some bad stuff too. The appropriate analogy to me seems to be “Down with ISIS” : “Christians do bad stuff too” :: “Black lives matter!” : “All lives matter!”. The second statement in each branch is 100% true, but brought up at a time when it can’t help but be seen as a somewhat insensitive distraction.
Adjunct Professors Demand That Their Pay Quintuple. I don’t have enough space to do justice to this issue in a links post, but I urge you to meditate on the claim mentioned in the article that adjuncts need their pay quintupled in order to get “the kind of upper-middle-class salary they think people with advanced degrees should be able to expect.”
Ramon Llull meets Weird Sun Twitter in @CloneOfSnow, which describes itself as “an attempt to robotically exhaust all pairs of memes.” Since popular memes are often created by combining two other memes, for example something like “Hello, gentlemen, all your snakes on a plane are belong to us”, if you just get a list of all memes and combine them exhaustively, some of the results should be interesting. And so they are.
The Chinese philosopher Mozi was one of the first pacifists and consequentialists – and his followers decided the greatest good was to train to become experts in siege warfare, then go around to places helping them resist invasions.
WhoPays is a site where writers post how much they got writing for different media. Useful if you’ve just gotten an offer from someone and want to know if it’s competitive, or if you want to know where to send a piece. Linked because I keep getting for-profit news sites asking me to write for them for free if they promise to link back to my blog; I guess this probably works for some people but it annoys me and I want people to know their options.
Woman’s wedding to Charles Manson called off after it turns out she just planned to wait for him to die so she could turn his corpse into a tourist attraction. r/theredpill warned me about this kind of thing!
Everybody knows that gender stereotypes are so fluid and socially constructed that people used to associate pink with boys and blue with girls, right? According to a more recent paper, this is “a scientific urban legend”, and when you do a systematic search of old books, blue and pink always had their current gender associations (study). I find the paper’s claim that maybe these links are genetically based to be extremely bizarre and hard to swallow, which I guess means that there was no harm done – whether or not pink and blue actually reversed, it’s the sort of thing that probably could have happened. But if the new paper is true, there’s still a lesson to be learned about how easily any politically convenient story that supports nurturist ideas can turn into gospel.
The case for melancholia as a distinct type of depression.
Here’s a study I don’t believe at all, but can’t quite figure out how to debunk: The Lethal Effects Of Three Strikes Laws. Not only do three-strikes laws fail to decrease crime, but they “are associated with 10-12 percent more homicides in the short run and 23-29 percent in the long run”, possibly because “a few criminals, fearing the enhanced penalties, murder victims and witnesses to limit resistance and identification”. Are there really that many criminals hardened enough to consider killing witnesses an option who weren’t going to be getting these long sentences anyway? Are there really that many instances of witness-killing? Until this gets replicated, I defy the data.
A newer, bigger, more rigorous study once again finds that quality of parenting has no effect on whether a child becomes a criminal.
At this point I only really pay attention to results in economics when they go against the bias I expect the writer to have. In that spirit, here’s a study by Alex Tabarrok finding that increasing regulation is not to blame for the decline in American entrepreneurship.
The Man Who Tried To Redeem The World With Logic is an interesting biography of near-forgotten polymath and neuroscientist Walter Pitts. Related: a couple of posts ago, someone pooh-poohed me for saying von Neumann was a born genius, insisting it was just the effect of the high quality education his rich father gave him. Walter Pitts worked with von Neumann and was considered to have a similar level of genius – and he was the son of a poor laborer in Detroit who insisted he drop out of school to do real work. Pitts’ education consisted solely of reading library books on his own time, including Principia Mathematica – about which he sent a letter to Russell containing several corrections when he was only 12 years old.
Work Stress Found Not To Cause Cancer. The most interesting thing that could come out of this study would be an attack on the tradition that has sprung up from the Whitehall Study, which found that lower-ranking civil servants were more likely to get diseases than higher-ranking civil servants even after the usual confounders were adjusted away, and which is touted as proving that inequality directly causes poor health. This current study doesn’t directly contradict Whitehall since it limits itself to a few cancers and Whitehall mostly limited itself to cardiovascular disease and a different few cancers. But it will be interesting to see if someone tries to replicate the Whitehall results in light of this new study, and whether they hold up.
The Promises And Pitfalls Of Genoeconomics. Most interesting result: male income appears to be heritable at a level of 0.6 or so (female income slightly lower). This isn’t just boring old “if your parents are rich you’ll be rich”, this is pure genetic “based on the difference between monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins” heritability. Applying this result to your favorite economic argument is full of potential pitfalls I should probably write a full post on sometime.
Thing #8603238450 that correlates with obesity and is neither calories in nor calories out: timing and intensity of light exposure.
Another boring article on political correctness which I am linking not for the sake of the article itself but for the sake of a short throwaway argument it makes: private colleges are companies in the free market, so if they want to ban offensive ideas, then students won’t go to them unless they like offensive ideas being banned, which means the market works – ie a Patchwork/exit/Archipelago type picture. Anyone want to agree or disagree?
Extreme Obesity In Children Tied To Low IQ, independent of obvious genetic diseases. At least three possible interpretations. Number one, low IQ kids have poor impulse control/understanding of consequences so they have poorer health. Number two, bad diet impedes brain development. Number three, there are non-obvious genetic diseases which affect both metabolism and IQ; this would work especially well in the context of a mutational load argument.
The Nazis had a bright idea. They didn’t like Jews. A lot of Arabs didn’t like Jews. Why not dislike Jews together? Thus begins the facepalm-inspiring history of attempts to translate Mein Kampf into Arabic, which basically consisted of the smarter Nazis saying “This might catch on if we remove the parts about Arabs being subhuman scum” versus Hitler saying “But I really like those parts!”
I didn’t think it was possible to make a graph about US inequality I’d never seen before, but the second graph in this article is genuinely pretty neat. And worrying.
Relevant to my interests: how a bunch of different measures of different kinds of intelligence relate to college majors.
Melanie’s Marvelous Measles is an anti-vax propaganda book aimed at children ages 4-10 about getting measles is actually really fun, and also how really vaccination causes the measles (why yes, those two forms of propaganda do seem to be mutually self-defeating). You probably shouldn’t read it. But you should definitely read the Amazon reviews.