Automated theorem provers and the changing foundations of mathematics (does not require much math knowledge to read).
Some opponents of open borders argue that a lot of Third World countries (eg Afghanistan, Somalia) are kind of terrible, and worry that if we import many of their citizens here, then they might bring whatever factors made their country terrible to the First World and make our countries terrible. The open borders movement presents the start of a counterargument.
Canada passes a law saying they must eliminate one old regulation for every new regulation adopted. I didn’t realize libertarianism had a win condition, but I think Canada just reached it. Will be very interesting to watch.
Remember, “non-shared environment” doesn’t necessarily mean “sociology stuff” – Toddler temperament could be influenced by different types of gut bacteria.
Citizens of Baltimore living in (more) terror (than usual) as murders and all other types of crime skyrocket after Freddie Gray riots. Seems to be caused by the police not doing much policing. Dueling talking points are “recent media feeding frenzy has left police so scared of racism accusations that they won’t touch any majority-black area” versus “police are acting like toddlers and saying ‘well, if we can’t do policing with racism and brutality, then we’re just not going to do any policing at all, SO THERE”.
Old question “why does evolution allow homosexuality to exist when it decreases reproduction?” seems to have been solved, at least in fruit flies: the female relatives of gayer fruit flies have more children. Same thing appears to be true in humans. Unclear if lesbianism has a similar aetiology.
“Translating Finnegan’s Wake into Chinese” sounds like a bad joke or possibly a metaphor for life. It’s actually an unexpected bestseller.
BoingBoing: Why Rickrolling Is Sexist
When I wrote a post calling the education system kind of useless (no, not that one, the other one) the first comment was Buck asking why developed countries with lots of education seemed to do better than developed countries with little education. A new study provides an answer: not because of education, because that seems to have no effect.
A novel but fascinating way of investigating gender discrimination in pay: do male-to-female transgender people take a pay cut? Do female-to-male transgender people get a pay raise? Obviously there’s a lot of trouble in adjusting for the effect of transgender itself on pay, but the study finds a 20% pay cut for M->Fs and a 10% pay raise (nonsignificant) for F->M, and concludes that this seems is likely more gender-related than transition-related. Probably should add this to my list of good social justice studies to replace some of the others that keep dropping like flies.
This is the most “we are living in the grim cyberpunk future” story I have ever seen: Russian billboard advertising contraband changes to a more innocuous advertisement when its computer vision system spots a police officer.
Back when I was writing about AI scientists who worried about AI risk, I somehow missed this great interview with Stuart Russell.
A mile-long machine is going to be deployed to the Tsushima Strait to clean it of floating garbage. If it works, there are plans to dispatch 1000 km (!) worth to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But actual ocean-garbage-ologists say it will never work and might be counterproductive.
Does Zoloft treat Ebola? Scientists decide to throw every existing drug at the Ebola virus to see if just by coincidence some of them work just by coincidence, and get some weird positives. But given how many drugs psychiatry has borrowed from infectious diseases, it’s about time we started giving some back.
The most important thing I’ve gotten out of this FIFA scandal is that being a complete loon is apparently no barrier to holding a very high position in the world’s most influential sporting body. Upon being arrested, vice-president Jack Warner promised: “Not even death will stop the avalanche that is coming” he said. “The die is cast. There can be no turning back. Let the chips fall where they fall.” About soccer negotiations. This is the same guy who cited the Onion article.
Latest hullaballoo: Curtis Yarvin (aka “Mencius Moldbug”) was invited to give a presentation on his new computer system Urbit to the Strange Loop tech conference. Then some of his ideological enemies (actually literal Communists) found out, objected to his political views, and he got banned from the conference. Article here, Hacker News thread here, impressively prescient Moldbug post here, demonstration of inevitable Streisand Effect here. I did consider not linking this since it’s so obviously toxoplasma, but I was convinced to do so by this letter where the conference organizer states he’s never read any Moldbug himself, but decided to cave to the ban request because otherwise politics overshadow the conference, which was supposed to be about tech. This kind of crystallizes a pattern I’ve been noticing recently where some social justice activists use a tactic along the lines of “Nice institution youse gots here, shame if somebody were to politicize it”. I sympathize with the desire to give into that to avoid trouble, but I think maybe the only way to avoid enshrining that kind of heckler’s veto always working is to make it clear that the choice to give in will also be politicized. Maybe if organizers know that banning all insufficiently-leftist-people and not banning all insufficiently-leftist-people will both result in politicization and Internet firestorms, they’ll say “screw it” and just follow their principles.
Is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy For Depression Losing Its Efficacy? New meta-analysis across almost 40 years shows that “effects of CBT have declined linearly and steadily since its introduction” with high significance consistent across multiple different measurement modalities. Study theorizes that maybe therapy is getting worse as a lot of people who aren’t very good at it or don’t stick to the evidence-based principles jump on the CBT bandwagon. Also suggests maybe as it becomes less “the exciting new thing” there’s decreased placebo effect. I would add a possibility that CBT ideas have become so prevalent in our society already that there might be less left to teach, and that as depression diagnoses have skyrocketed we may be sending a different population to therapy (eg people who are less severely depressed and therefore can’t be helped as much). Somebody should also try to unify this result with the finding that antidepressant drug efficacy has been declining over the same period. There’s something very important hidden here, but I’m not totally sure what it is.
Dalai Lama says is considering reincarnating as a ‘mischievous blonde woman’.
The economics of art museums. The first half of this article is a terrible ramble that demonstrates some, uh, creative understanding of economics. The second half is much better, and describes the economic forces that lead most art museums to keep most of their art in basements where no one can see it forever, even though selling the tiniest fraction of that could allow them to (for example) make admission free forever.
We already sort of knew that exposure to cat parasite toxoplasma was a risk factor for schizophrenia. Now researchers take the next step and find that children in cat-owning families are at higher risk of schizophrenia across multiple different studies. Odds ratio not on abstract, but it’s about 1.5.
Technocracy Inc was a pro-technocracy movement of the 1930s which had over half a million members, who “painted their cars Official Technocracy Gray, wore a uniform consisting of a gray double-breasted suit, and saluted [leader] Scott when they encountered him in person. At their most extreme, some members replaced their names with numbers, such as 1x1809x56.”
CuddleBids is…I should probably avoid saying “Uber for cuddle prostitution”, but I’m not sure there’s another equally concise way to describe it. Notable as example of the kind of website I hate, with all the information carefully hidden away where it can’t interfere with the sleek design. Other than that I so in favor.
Cool graphs on my Twitter feed: effect sizes of preschool interventions (low and dropping), funnel plot of preschool interventions, not very encouraging at all. Poor sociology. There’s always time to get into the gut-bacteria-studying business.
Cute confirmation bias experiment: when an education plan was pitched as “the Democrats’ education plan”, Democrats supported it 75%-17%, and Republicans opposed it 13%-78%. When the exact same plan was pitched as “the Republicans’ education plan”, Democrats opposed it 80%-12% and Republicans supported it 70%-10%.
The first review of this light fixture.
“Crash blossoms” are complicated ambiguous headlines, like “Screenwriter Reveals He Tried To Commit Suicide During Awards Ceremony”. Language Log has nine whole pages of crash blossoms.