A thing you can do: sunburn images onto your body. Whatever, it’s better than tattoos.
Everyone knows women live longer than men on average. But did you know this wasn’t true until the 20th century? Most likely explanation: men are more predisposed to heart disease, but this wasn’t a problem until we started living longer and eating worse diets.
Old conventional wisdom: birth order is super important to personality. Other old conventional wisdom: birth order has no effect on personality. New conventional wisdom: birth order has a statistically significant effect on personality which is much too small to matter in real life. Yeah? THEN HOW COME OUR LESS WRONG SURVEY FOUND A REALLY STRONG BIRTH ORDER SIGNAL?
If you’re in Boston, don’t worry, the weird giant sailpunk mechanical monsters walking along your beaches are just part of an art exhibition. Or else they’re real giant sailpunk mechanical monsters using an art exhibition as a perfect cover so that nobody notices until it’s too late.
Poachers kill rhinos to sell their horns as fake medicine. Boring solution: patrol against poachers. Creative solution: coat the rhinos’ horns with poison so you can’t make medicines out of them, then dye them pink so it’s obvious what you’ve done.
This post on haplodiploidy (an alternative genetic method of determining sex among some animals) is pretty interesting throughout, but the best part is the explanation on guevedoces, the rare condition, mostly in the Dominican Republic, where apparent girls turn into boys around puberty.
Controlled experiments found evidence of discrimination in the workplace by sending companies identical resumes with white and black names and finding companies were more likely to pick the white ones. This led to a very large trial in France of having various firms making real hiring decisions receive resumes from a centralized agency either normally or with the race of the applicant obfuscated. The surprising result: people who received anonymized resumes were less likely to hire minorities, even though the firms weren’t explicitly doing any kind of affirmative action. Authors suggest maybe this is a result of selection bias (the most pro-minority firms were the ones willing to participate in this experiment), but 60-something percent of the firms asked to participate agreed, which somewhat limits the extent. A good time to review some of the possible confounders in past experiments. Also, standard disclaimer that France Is Not America and racial attitudes there might be importantly different.
The abortion rate is now back down where it was in 1973 when Roe vs. Wade was decided. But this seems to owe more to declining pregnancy rates than to people being less willing to end pregnancies in abortion.
A few months ago I listed a bunch of AI researchers and computer scientists and such who were interested in the Singularity. Now another computer science prof has a book out: Roman Yampolsky’s Artificial Superintelligence: A Futuristic Approach.
A question I definitely would not have thought to ask but which turns out to be pretty interesting: Why Is Greece Such An Economic Success?
A CEO Explains Why CEOs Make So Much Money. If I understand correctly, he’s saying that ever since well-meaning regulations forced companies to disclose CEO pay, no high-level company wants to look underconfident in itself by paying its CEO less than the industry average, but as the lowest-paying companies switch to the industry average, the industry average creeps up in an endless cycle. This is the first explanation I’ve heard that makes sense to me; next step is to check whether CEO pay started ballooning around the time that regulation was passed.
Startups are figuring out how to remove carbon from the air, but it’s unclear what their business model is. I’m pretty sure in a saner world we would be taxing carbon, and doing it in such a way that you could get tax vouchers if you could remove carbon from the air, thus incentivizing companies like these. As it is, I hope charity groups will tide them over until they can take off and become profitable. Related: Sea levels might rise faster than currently believed.
Here, have an entire essay about Saruman.
Oppenheimer’s famous “I am become death, destroyer of worlds” quote misunderstood, say Gita experts, actually meant as a humble statement of devotion to duty.
There are about seven major botanical bioregions in the world. The entire Northern Hemisphere is one. South + Central America is another. And the smallest is a tiny area right around the Cape of Good Hope.
New clothing line aimed at disabled kids (descriptive article, site) has no tags, no front or back, and no inside-out or rightside-in. Why did it take such a specific social cause before people came up with such a wonderful idea?
You know oxytocin? The hormone that makes you more loving and cuddly? What happens when you give it to puppies? SCIENCE, YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR!
Obama: “We need to have a national conversation on race”. David Cameron: “We need to have a national conversation on seagulls attacking small dogs”
Scott Sumner on Slate’s overconfidence and terrible reporting on the Chinese stock market. Also, a question for the economics gurus here: China has made it pretty clear that they will use their reserves of approximately infinity zillion dollars to stabilize the Chinese stock market whenever it crashes. Assuming people believe them, there’s no reason to panic or get into a mass selloff when the shares start going down, and so China will never have to make good on their pledge to intervene. Have they just solved the problem of stock market crashes? That doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that should work.
The International Astronomical Union declares that seas on the Moon must be named after states of mind (example: “Sea of Tranquility”). The Soviets explore the far side of the moon, find a sea there, and name it the Sea of Moscow, sparking a crisis. The crisis is resolved when the International Astronomical Union declares that “Moscow is a state of mind” [backup source].
Further adventures in inappropriately Hitler-branded products.
Seen on Reddit: When The Onion Accidentally Breaks The Story First
Deworming – that is, mass-treating children in tropical Third World countries with medications that kill parasitic worms that may retard their growth – is one of the most popular effective altruist causes and comes highly recommended by GiveWell. The movement was started by a large study which found that dewormed children were healthier and did better in school. The authors of that study recently released their data publicly (hooray! everyone should do this!) and some other scientists re-analyzed their statistics. They found no effect of deworming on exam scores or school attendance, leading the Guardian to write that New Research Debunks Merits Of Global Deworming Programmes (STOP USING THAT WORD) and Ben Goldacre to write a critical review on Buzzfeed. Around the same time, the Cochrane Collaboration did their own meta-analysis on all deworming research ever and found that “there is now substantial evidence that this does not improve average nutritional status, haemoglobin, cognition, school performance, or survival.” But deworming supporters Evidence Action accuse the skeptics of being in the pockets of Big Parasitic Worm, and Giving What We Can says they stand by their support for deworming. GiveWell also stands by their support at great length. Development economist Chris Blattman also concurs, offers a guide to the “Worm Wars”, and concludes that “you have throw so much crazy sh*t at Miguel-Kremer [the study supporting deworming] to make the result go away that I believe the result even more than when I started”. Oh, and I want credit for getting through this entire paragraph without making any puns about “global worming denialism”.
Britain assesses the performance of their academies – which I gather are school-choice-style experimental schools aimed at poor students. The bad news: most academy chains do worse than the normal education system. The good news: a few chains do much better, so if the bad ones can be outcompeted and the good ones scaled up, the experiment could still be an success.
New(ish) MIRI director Nate Soares sums up the accomplishments of MIRI’s past year, including a lot of stuff I didn’t know about. Also of interest – did you know AI value alignment is now getting money from DARPA? Indeed do many things come to pass. Anyhow, all these announcements are to build interest for MIRI’s summer fundraiser, so go and donate if you are the sort of person who does that sort of thing.
Some studies suggest that, among Muslims, political Islamism / support for instituting Sharia law doesn’t correlate at all, even a little with support for terrorism?
I am pretty okay with this anti-polyamory t-shirt.