Today, we are cancelling the beepocalypse! As per Washington Post, although colony collapse disorder remains a problem, it is not an existential threat because beekeepers are now able to breed new colonies faster than old ones are being damaged. Number of available bee colonies is actually higher than it was when the disease started.
Of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, which one do you think recently made headlines by standing by his support for universal health care? And which denounced immigration as a plot to destroy America?
Latest twin study finds that about 60% of variation in school test scores is genetic, suggests that genes are non-specific for subject and seem to code for domain-general intelligence.
The Verdict On Charter Schools after twenty-five years of experimentation in the US: mixed, some seem to do better than public schools and others worse, seem to be especially helpful for poor people and minorities, not so helpful for whites.
Wikipedia’s List Of Name Changes Due To ISIS. It sucks if you’re a girl whose parents thought naming you after an Egyptian goddess was a cute idea. But it really sucks if you dated that girl and got a tattoo of her name.
The model of racial “tipping points” – where segregation happens because white people don’t want to live in a neighborhood that passes a certain percent minority – is not consistent with the latest data.
Old studies: poor are more altruistic than the rich. New study: Rich are more altruistic than the poor, including donating a higher percent of their income to charity.
A very neat study design provides strong evidence for the effect of intrauterine factors on IQ: Persistent Effects of In Utero Nutrition Shocks: Evidence From Ramadan Fasting. Children of Muslim mothers (but not non-Muslim mothers) have up to 7 – 8% lower test scores as adults if their birth month lines up such that Ramadan (when Muslims fast) fell during a crucial point in their fetal development. Obvious implication is that not getting nutrition during that developmental period permanently harmed their brain. Most Muslim scholars say that God offers pregnant women the option not to fast if they make it up later, and it looks like they should probably take that offer. Also: I wonder what percent of international IQ differences this explains.
New study suggests that it’s low-status and uncool men who are sexist bullies, in order to cover up their own inadequacies. Hot on its heels, a different study finds (in accordance with much recent research) that bullies are actually higher status and better off than the rest of us. So either sexism works the opposite way as other kinds of bullying, or at least one of the studies sucks. Possibly related to the second possibility: the author of the sexism-bullying study has a website which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
Yes, we all know it’s false that you only use ten percent of your brain. But what is the closest true statement?
Link between intelligence and longevity is mostly genetic. I have been pushing this line for a long time against the “probably intelligent people just live longer because they’re better at following medical advice” crowd and I am delighted to see it confirmed. More evidence for the idea of a general factor of fitness possibly based on mutational load.
A while back in a post mentioning the minimum wage a commenter challenged my claim that minimum wage research was controversial, saying that David Neumark, author of some of the strongest anti-minimum-wage studies, was potentially an ideologue. So I was very interested to see an entire article making the point that David Neumark is not an ideologue.
One of the most important skills in journalism is figuring out what information your audience needs to know.
Individual Differences In Cognitive Biases – Evidence Against The One-Factor Theory Of Rationality. Unlike IQ where lots of different kinds of intelligence tests correlate with each other pretty well, rationality does not appear to have a general factor and people who do well in avoiding one kind of cognitive bias aren’t much more likely to do well at avoiding another. Doesn’t look like a super well-cited paper, which makes me wonder whether Stanovich et al have a response to this.
A couple links posts ago we were discussing the surprisingly large economic divide between north and south Italy. I thought it might be genes. Well, I looked for papers on the issue, and it probably isn’t genes.
The study of hormone levels and gender differences is a mess, because there seem to be at least two different things going on: present-day testosterone levels, measured via salivary testosterone, and fetal testosterone levels, measured via 2D:4D digit ratio, and these things are either uncorrelated or anticorrelated or something, meaning that people who say things like “testosterone improves spatial rotation skills” and other people who say things like “testosterone harms spatial rotation skills” might both be right depending on when they’re talking about. Now I have finally found a study that examines both these factors, and it seems to find a relatively straightforward and strong effect where present-day-testosterone is negatively correlated with, but fetal testosterone positively correlated with, intelligence.
This is an interesting lens through which to view the recent result that transgender people have hormone levels consistent with their gender assigned at birth. Given that they tend to have 2D:4D ratios more like the gender they identify as, perhaps fetal testosterone is more important in the development of the “transgender brain” than anything that goes on during childhood or puberty.
1980s Zimbabwe passed a law banning people from making fun of the name of President Canaan Banana.
A while back, I criticized a study which suggested that people’s beliefs about brilliance determined the gender balance of a field, saying that in fact it was the facts-on-the-ground about brilliance which those beliefs corresponded to which did the determining. Last week, a team of researchers published a letter in Science making the same criticism. The team behind the original study responded, criticizing the critics’ analyses because of a statistical property called “colinearity”, but my own analysis has no colinearity problems whatsoever and finds exactly the same effects that the Science critics’ does. The team goes on to show that you can come up with models in which beliefs do some determining even after you’ve accounted for facts, but I still think there was borderline scientific malpractice in not even mentioning facts-on-the-ground in the original paper, and that their response is a good example of trying to Euler readers.
A while back I posted an article where a professor claimed that “No Irish Need Apply” signs were more of a myth than a reality. Now there’s a rebuttal, complete with some good historical examples of such signs. See also the debate between the two sides at the bottom, which seems to bottom out in “Well, if you make ad hoc changes to the theory such that none of the existing signs count as evidence against it, then it still stands!”
Obama administration backs occupational licensing reform. Who was it who said “the Americans will always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else” again?
Thing # 23898945767669 Which Causes Significant Weight Loss Despite Being Neither Diet Nor Exercise: vagus nerve blockade.
Thing # 23898945767670 Which Causes Significant Weight Loss Despite Being Neither Diet Nor Exercise: Okay, this one is fascinating. Gastric bypass surgery is the best-known and most effective treatment for obesity. The idea was that if your stomach was smaller, you would fill it up quicker and eat less, which sounds reasonable, but a growing body (no pun intended) of evidence suggests this isn’t how it works at all. It now seems likely that stomach size is a red herring, and the surgeries work by doing something involving bile acids, gut microbiota, and changes to metabolism. Now a new study in mice shows you can get most of the benefits of bypass just by diverting bile acids to the small intestine.
Thing # Something That Actually Doesn’t Contribute To Obesity, Sorry For Previously Suggesting It Did: copy number repeates in the salivary amylase gene.
Reddit: The story of the planned coup to stop Japan from surrendering after the A-Bomb.
Gwern on Newton’s view of astronomy, which includes such gems as the sun being powered by giant comets lobbed at it by angels. Key quote: “After this, possibly God would renew creation by repopulating instead the moons of Saturn or Jupiter.”
A new pass lets you make microtransactions to get through paywalls on sites like Financial Times and The Economist. Sure, you can just use Google, but maybe if I help popularize this, someone will come up with a similar idea for academic journals.
Cooch-Behar is no longer the world’s most interesting border 🙁 🙁 🙁
According to rumor, Robin Hanson started his talk at this year’s Effective Altruism summit with “You guys all think of yourself as altruists…”. Now he’s posted a somewhat crotchety criticism of the whole movement. I forget how many meta-contrarian levels up we are at this point, but the Sherpas are starting to complain about oxygen deprivation.
If more people would pay attention to my theory that African-Americans are generally underrepresented in anti-establishment causes not directly related to race, we could save ourselves a lot of hand-writing about why Bernie Sanders’ base is so white.
The harmonic series (1/1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + …) famously goes all the way to infinity. The Kempner series – the same series, only without any terms that have a “nine” in the denominator, paradoxically does not and stops around 22.9 (h/t Zach Weinersmith). Related: the Ant On A Rubber Rope Paradox.
The World Bank’s “Ease Of Doing Business” report doesn’t correlate with how easy it actually is to do business in various countries. Apparent explanation: the World Bank measures how easy it is to do business honestly and without bribes, which is not a very popular or effective way to do business in a lot of places.
Even if we do develop exciting futuristic technology that can pump CO2 out of the atmosphere, it won’t save us, because it won’t help the problem of CO2 acidifying the oceans.
Community member/game designer Thomas Eliot, who helped host the SSC NYC meetup at his house, asks any Lovecraft fans or board game geeks reading this to take a look at his kickstarter for Cultists of Cthulhu: The Game
Community member/author Fiona van Dahl suggests that you might be interested in her new book, Eden Green.
Effective Altruism: The Book – Doing Good Better