You probably know Alan Turing was pretty good with computers. But did you know he was also an Olympic-class marathoner?
Study predicts that US average IQ will rise 2-3 points in the next fifty years, driven by finding that minorities are catching up very quickly. Haven’t investigated their numbers yet, but excellent if true. [EDIT: more discussion here]
Rabbi, what are the Jewish laws regarding Halloween?
Not mentioned on the above, but I’m going to come out and guess this dog costume is probably treyf.
Omnilibrium is a social site that tries to improve online filtering. Instead of a big pot of Reddit-style karma that shows everyone the most upvoted posts, it tries to show everyone posts upvoted by people whose opinions have previously been correlated with theirs, with various customizable options to decide how much you want to be exposed to differing opinions. It needs more users for a good trial run, so check out their FAQ and then join in.
From the Department of Goodhart’s Law: economists sometimes use the Big Mac index to estimate the value of a country’s currency; knowing this, Argentina strong-armed their local McDonalds into changing the price of Big Macs.
This is the only proper response to a teacher taking off points because you didn’t “show your work”.
The Cuban government (not Castro, the one before) built the Panopticon as a real prison.
Pseudo-Erasmus gives a good introduction to the emerging study of cultural institutions.
Disney’s 101 Dalmatians was loosely based on the original novel. Disney’s sequel was not based on the original sequel. The original sequel involved an alien dog coming to Earth to save the Dalmatians from nuclear war.
10/21/15. No hoverboards, but the government did grudgingly allow us to use the genetic tests we were using just fine years ago until they took them away. Well, some of the genetic tests. At double the price.
Female education decreases teenage fertility, but does not have a more general lifetime effect on fertility.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about how restrictive regulations let Turing Pharmaceuticals raise the price of Daraprim to $750/pill. Now one group has found a way around that – use compounding pharmacies, which are less bound by the regulations, to sell the same medicine for $1.
Evidence shows that evidence-based literary instruction doesn’t work. Which, if you think about it, means that it does work. Or something.
My new favorite thing – extraordinary overwrought Bollywoodesque portrayals of the climactic archery battle in the Mahabharata. Here’s how one movie handles it, here’s the same thing from a TV series handles it, and then and only then are you prepared to appreciate the consummate genius of this lentil cake ad
Michigan leads the nation in routing around democracy. The pessimistic view is that democracy shouldn’t be routed around. The optimistic view is that democracy should rarely be routed around, the catastrophes in Detroit and Flint are among those rare times, and this proves that people are good at limiting this extreme remedy to the times when it’s needed.
A history of people being excessively geeky and emotional about literature, from the Iliad to the present day.
Nostalgebraist, frequent commenter on Rationalist Tumblr and whose previous story Floornight got advertised here, has finished his latest work of online fiction, The Northern Caves. It’s the chronicle of “an online message board devoted to a cult fantasy author wrestling with his baffling final book” in a way that quickly turns weird. I have some commentary on it here and a review here.
Japan’s Yakuza are famous for…well, many things, but one of them is having great trick-or-treating on Halloween. To the dismay of children everywhere, this year they have announced suspension of their operations due to an especially big turf war.
Why we are really far away from successfully simulating the brain.
Chanda Chisala at Unz Report is on a roll. He’s been talking a lot about how the success of African immigrants to the US confounds a lot of simplistic explanations of the black-white achievement gap. Everybody figured this was just a result of those immigrants being heavily selected, but now he’s back with two posts arguing that it’s not selection effects. First, he points out that the immigrants’ children don’t seem to be regressing to the mean in a very specific Jensenian way that we would expect if they had been selected – this is more complex than I originally thought and not answered simply by “the offspring of two equally extreme parents will not regress”. Second, he points out that even the children of Somali refugees – an unselected population if ever there was one – seem to be doing better than native-born African-Americans. Some attempts at counterargument from James Thompson and Human Varieties. It’s good to see these issues being debated by such civil and mathematically sophisticated people, and also a sign of change how many people on both sides are black. Also by Chisala: book about Barack Obama debating Ayn Rand
Closely related to the recently linked Berniebro article: A Portrait Of The Person-Guy. “The Person-Guy is the cause of every evil and frustration in your life. The Person-Guy only wears odd socks, because he thinks that wasting our limited lifespan sorting them into matching pairs is indicative of a potentially authoritarian neurosis. The Person-Guy has a minor vocal tic, and it sends you into strange daylight fantasies”
Was World War I really a uniquely depressing and terrible war? Or were World War I soldiers just big wimps?
Designer makes a flag for Earth. Finally, something to burn when you just want to protest everything.
Franz Ferdinand is mostly famous for getting assassinated, but if that hadn’t happened maybe we’d know him for his plan to modernize the Austro-Hungarian Empire into a United States of Austria. Meanwhile, the modern heir to the Habsburg name used to host a game show.
Do extra police reduce crime? Many studies have converged upon the finding that they do. Here’s a recent one where a private university increasing police patrols cuts crime in nearby areas by 40 – 70%.
Genetic engineering has now reached the point where we can give dogs super-strength. And by “we”, I mean Chinese people. We can hold conferences about how we should form a commission to determine a framework for investigating the potential implications.
Joe Biden has decided not to run for the Presidency, likely ending his career. That makes it a good time to go beyond the stereotype of the gaffe-prone crazy uncle and look back on his the highlights of his forty years in politics.
Very large randomized controlled preschool study finds abysmal results of pre-K education; recipients of pre-K do better in kindergarten, but by third grade the trend reverses and they have worse behavioral and academic outcomes (hey, remember that study from last month how entering school too early may exacerbate ADHD)? This echoes results from the last few large randomized well-conducted preschool studies, so even the educational establishment is vaguely starting to notice a trend. James Heckman leads the pro-pre-K response, saying that past studies have found the same lack of advantage in later school performance but then later found better adult employment and prosociality outcomes; his explanation is that preschool doesn’t necessarily increase IQ but does increase “social and emotional skills that are greater determinants of late-life success”. But then how come the pre-K children had worse behavior in school in the new study? Possible explanation: the old studies Heckman cites were preschool plus a bunch of early life care and parenting help; maybe the latter helped and the former was at best neutral? Vox has a really excellent summary.
Facebook: Classical art memes.
David Burdeny (click on the link, then on the “Russia: A Bright Future” tab on the bottom of the page) photographs Moscow’s astonishly opulent subway stations. Also from Russia: Putin introduces
inelegant hack bill to prevent religious scriptures from being banned as extremist hate speech. When you’ve got to officially declare “right, but this doesn’t apply to things we like”, it’s probably a good sign you’re insufficiently meta.
American? Vipul Naik explains how to test your filter bubble, eg how much your friends differ from the general population. Go to his list of candidates’ Facebook pages and see how many of your friends support each.
Speaking of filter bubbles, if you’re surrounded by terrible people, consider that you might inadvertantly be selecting for them.
Before: obesity set point is just speculation. Now: obesity set point is an effect of melanocortin sensitivity in the hypothalamus.
Type 2 poliovirus has been declared eradicated (“declared” means it hasn’t been spotted in years and people are finally confident it’s gone). Type 3 is probably gone but not yet official; type 1 is still around but rapidly declining. The end is in sight.
Disrupting urban violence with culture, including that time all the gangs in the Bronx held a truce meeting, agreed that killing each other was unpleasant, and decided to invent hip-hop instead. This is maybe the most Hobbesian thing I’ve ever read, not in the “absolute monarchy” sense but in the “eventually people get tired of the state of nature and explicitly decide on civilization as an alternative” sense. Although better not to think too much about what it means that people have to pull a Hobbesian invent-civilization manuever in the middle of the most densely populated areas of the United States, which some people would have considered already a civilization.
Adopting good curricula – not even inventing it, just using the ones that are already out there and well-tested – is probably the cheapest way to make education more “effective”. Why are so few people doing it?
Sarah C has been writing a lot about structural issues in modern cancer research. See for example Is Cancer Progress Stagnating?, Chemotherapy Then And Now, A Note On Protocols, and much more on her blog.
People imitating Lovecraft’s short stories are a dime a dozen, but at least one person is trying to imitate Lovecraft’s sonnets, and they’re not bad, albeit they go way too heavy on name-dropping various mythos references in a way Lovecraft himself never did.
Some effective altruists are doing their own analyses of the offset costs of various kinds of vegetarianism (see mine here) and get broadly similar results. Jeff Kaufman finds that giving an extra $2/year offsets any harms of eating dairy. Gregory Lewis thinks that being vegan is equivalent to a 46 cent donation to the Humane League.
We know about Stanislav Petrov, Vasili Arkhipov, and other Soviet close-calls with nuclear war. We know about them in part because the Soviet Union collapsed so we got lots of records. There are probably a lot of American close-calls with nuclear war we still haven’t heard about, but it’s starting to look like one of them was during the 60s in Okinawa.
An argument against affirmative action: suppose a student with mid-tier grades ends up in a high-tier school. That student may be surrounded by students with high-tier grades who are faster learners; ie she may be the slowest person in her class. First, this can be frustrating and disspiriting. Second, it means she’s in trouble on anything graded on a curve. Third, the professor might aim their teaching to the median student and end up going too fast or over the head of students below the median. All of these mean a mid-tier student might do worse at a high-tier school than she would at a mid-tier school which she could get into on her grades alone. If this negative effect is larger than the positive effect from going to a more prestigious school, the overall effect of affirmative action could be negative. A long essay by Gail Heriot argues this is what’s happening and gives various statistics in support. Especially worrying is the possibility that affirmative action drives minorities out of STEM classes – which are very hard and might exacerbate the dynamic above – and into easy-A classes where they don’t have to worry so much; could this be why black students in all-black universities succeed at STEM at a much higher rate than black students at mostly-white universities where affirmative action is commonplace? Maybe – but I kind of want to see this argument made by someone other than the Heritage Foundation before I sign on.
Did you know: our modern word “dunce” comes from some theologians who thought that Duns Scotus was really stupid.
New study suggests that good ventilation in buildings increases cognitive test scores as much as 100% – a figure so high that it seems impossible no one noticed this before. Possible mechanisms include decreasing CO2 concentrations – which is being played up for the global warming angle. If this replicates everyone should stop everything they’re doing and improve their ventilation however possible – if being the key word..
For only $76, you can have a cube made of 62 different elements. That’s only $1.23 per element!