Perytons are mysterious bursts detected by radio telescopes. Some kind of novel astronomical object? Maybe not – a recent investigation suggested something more banal – microwave ovens in the astronomers’ break room.
Greg Cochran on creepy cell line infections. “There are diseases that look as if they might be infectious where no causative organisms has ever been found – diseases like sarcoidosis. They might be caused by some disease that started out as your second cousin Frank.”
Yale on climate change polling. More people believe in global warming themselves, than believe there is a scientific consensus around it? That’s the opposite of what I would have expected. More people want to regulate CO2 than believe global warming exists? Polling is weird.
A lot of the scrutiny around Ferguson focused on its corrupt police force as an example of white officials fleecing black citizens, and how this might be solved by mobilizing black voters to take control of the government. The Daily Beast has an interesting article on the town next to Ferguson – where black officials fleece black citizens about the same amount.
CVS will allow people to get naloxone without prescriptions in order to fight deaths from opiate overdose (which naloxone treates). The two interesting things I took from this study – first, it’s surprisingly legal to give prescription drugs away without prescriptions if you can get a couple of trade groups to agree to it. Second, maybe this will mean alcoholics can try the Sinclair Method on their own.
An Italian surgeon is prepared to attempt the world’s first head transplant.
A multinational team says their machine learning program can now predict IQ from MRI images accurately enough that their estimates correlate at 0.71 with the real thing. I asked Twitter what they thought; apparently it’s real prediction rather than “my machine learning algorithm correctly predicted the same data we fed it”, but it might be confounded by the sample of different-aged children; the program might just be reading off whose brain looks older and predicting that older children perform better on IQ tests.
How did surveyors in 1919, long before the computer was invented, calculate the geographical center of the United States?
No Irish Need Apply: A Myth Of Victimization. A historian argues that there are no actual records of 19th century American businesses or advertisments using this phrase, and it was later made up to promote Irish-American solidarity. When asked for comment, experts look shifty and say they “know nothing”.
More strong claims for probiotics: a four-week treatment with a multispecies supplement decreases reactivity to sad mood, considered a risk factor for depression.
Vox writes about Raj Chetty’s theories of location-dependent social mobility, and now it seems that Hillary Clinton is a huge fan. But Steve Sailer points out exactly the same giant gaping radioactive flaw that I noticed – he is basically just noticing that there is less social mobility between races than within them, and that therefore, places with high black populations appear to have less social mobility. Please tell me I’m misunderstanding something and he didn’t actually miss this.
A while back we discussed gender differences in ethical theories. A recent big meta-analysis finds that women are moderately more deontological than men, and men slightly more utilitarian than women. Whatever.
It’s morally wrong to blame a victim’s actions for their own victimization. We should be blaming those victims’ genes. Or something. Not really sure what to do with this one.
Very closely related: a while back I argued that the apparent connection between childhood bullying and psychiatric disorders was way too strong to be real and likely to represent some kind of common confound. Sure enough, when somebody twin-studied it they found that at least in the case of paranoia 93% of the association is likely to represent a common genetic risk factor.
Ready For Hillary? Take Our Quiz And Find Out! Question four: “Her slogan is (a) Ready for Hillary, (b) Resigned to Hillary, (c) Preparing for Chelsea, or (d) What Difference, At This Point, Does It Make?”
19th century polymath Francis Galton was among the first to study the efficacy of prayer, noting among other things that despite all the people praying “God save the King” royals tended to die earlier than other upper-class individuals.
Chris Blattman conducted a study in Liberia that finds that at-risk poor young men given cognitive behavioral therapy were involved in 20-50% less crime, drugs, and violence than a control group, with effects lasting at least a year. This sincerely surprises me. I would pay money to see what James Coyne thinks of this.
New work with odd jellyfish-like creatures called ctenophores raises the surprising question: did neurons evolve twice?
In order to prove some kind of point, Ecuador very carefully disguises a portion of its territory as Costa Rica, tells some of its citizens they were going on a trip to Costa Rica, then keeps them in Ecuador. Now it’s an international incident with the Costa Rican government getting involved.
Individual Differences In Executive Function Are Almost Entirely Genetic In Origin. And when they say “almost entirely”, they mean “about 99%”. This doesn’t make sense to me – why should this be the only 99% genetic thing in a world full of cognitive skills that are about 50% genetic? Really looking forward to a replication attempt.
Has Obamacare Turned Voters Against Sharing The Wealth? Maybe not Obamacare specifically, but the magnitude of increasing opposition to redistribution is surprising and disturbing. Also a confusing sign of how poorly trends in media coverage mirror trends in people’s attitudes.
FBI Admits It Fudged Forensic Hair Matches In Nearly All Criminal Trials For Decades. “Oops” doesn’t seem to cut it.
If Douglas Hofstadter wrote erotica (h/t Multiheaded)