“All infinite regresses are at most three levels deep”, versus the US military’s R4D program to build a radar detector detector detector detector.
Jury fines Gawker $115 million + for releasing a sex tape taken of wrestler Hulk Hogan without his consent. Key insane quote by Gawker founder Nick Denton: “We’re fighting for the truth to hold elites accountable…whether that light exposes a Florida celebrity having a swingers party invited by the host to have sex with his wife — whether it’s that or whether it’s the fact that the system is rigged and people can’t make it.”
The Thirty-Six Strategems of ancient China. Comes off as a cross between Machiavelli and a Chinese restaurant trying too hard to sound mysteriously Oriental. Strategem One is “Cross the sea without the Emperor’s knowledge”, Fifteen is “lure the tiger off its mountain lair”, Twenty-One is “slough off the cicada’s golden shell”.
Slate: Until 1950, US Weathermen Were Forbidden From Talking About Tornadoes. Officials worried that talk of tornadoes would create massive public panic; Midwestern businessmen worried about “giving potential investors the idea that their region was twister prone.”
Some of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies sell the service of circumventing annoying regulations. The unfortunately named Nurx promises to (legally) get you birth control without making you visit a doctor.
Meredith Patterson at Status 451 tells the story of the time she discovered an error in the preprint of her paper after 68 news organizations had already reported on it.
Eliezer Yudkowsky and Alexei Andreev announce Arbital, which they describe as “an attempt to solve online explanations”. Looks like they’re using an explanation of Bayes’ Rule (what else?) as the showcase.
New study shows that children born just before the school cutoff date (ie those who enter school a year earlier) are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD compared to peers. Obvious implication is that people overdiagnose kids who are only struggling because they’re younger. Much more speculative implication that would nevertheless be consistent with previous research: starting school too early causes ADHD.
University of Missouri’s big protests last year were such an economic disaster that the college has had to institute budget cuts and a hiring freeze.
Most single genes have only a tiny effect either way on risk of schizophrenia. And then there’s SETD1A, which increases your risk by thirty-five times. Seems to be involved in regulating methylation. Implication of major epigenetic role in schizophrenia?
A couple of weeks ago I linked to a very silly study on feminist glaciology that was going around. Now the author reflects on his newfound fame as the face of Everything That Is Wrong With Postmodernism In Academia, insists that feminist glaciology is more important now than ever.
The newest attempt to build a libertarian society is Fort Galt down in Chile. Sure, mock the idea of building a libertarian commune where everyone lives together in a big building, but…wait a second. Apartments cost $10,000? To buy? And it’s fantastically beautiful waterfront property? Apparently everything I have ever heard about the economic advantages of libertarianism is true, and then some.
Reddit now has an r/AskTrumpSupporters, but if it’s anything like r/AskReddit expect a lot of “I’m not a Trump supporter, but…”
Eliezer Yudkowsky on the Multiple Stage Fallacy – eg “For X to happen, we’d need A, B, C, D, E, and F to all happen, and when we multiply together the chance of all of those the probability is miniscule; therefore X will not happen.” Related: Jeff Kaufman defends himself against accusations of Multiple Stage Fallacy.
Cultural transmission seems to be sex-biased; that is, mothers are more likely to transmit culture to their daughters than their sons, consistently across various non-human animal species. Why?
California’s OpenJustice initiative has made mountains of data on crime and punishment available to the general public, just in case you want mountains of data on crime and punishment.
Related: More immigrants means less crime.
MIRI is hiring type theorists. I didn’t realize that was still a thing.
McDonalds says employee wage hikes have paid for themselves by decreasing turnover and increasing customer service. Executives respond by saying “Hurr durr we are morons who leave money on the ground for no reason”, smashing rocks against their own skulls.
University of Kent students to vote on construction of a 250 foot iron statue of Margaret Thatcher, about 2.5x the size of the Colossus of Rhodes. Kent University Conservative Association officials say they have launched the initiative partly to point out weaknesses in the university’s petition system but also partly because they want a 250 foot high iron statue of Margaret Thatcher.
Countries with fewer Jews in medieval times (usually because they kicked them out) remain poorer today. Possibly involves founder effects about where the great banks got started. Mooted as a possible explanation for the Northern Italy/Southern Italy wealth gap.
Republicans are probably not very credible leaders in the fight to protect campus free speech: NY lawmakers cut City University of New York funding by 30% to punish the college for allegations that they allowed anti-Semitic protests. But the Reddit commentary suggests this was just a cover for perfectly normal political vindictiveness.
Daily Kos: It’s Over, Gandalf: We Need To Unite Behind Saruman To Save Middle-Earth From Sauron. “Remember, you might not like having to support Saruman, but we live in a two tower system.”
Game theorist Robert Aumann has suggested to the Israeli military that they build an auto-retaliator that instantly bombs the Gaza Strip for every missile sent into Israel, so that Hamas knows with total certainty how things are going to work and nobody has to go through the “is it really morally okay to retaliate?” debate again for every missile launched.
The Major Trends In US Income Inequality Since 1947. Would you believe that the level of income inequality hasn’t changed since 1960? True if and only if you count income per person rather than per family. Does that mean supposed changes in income inequality are actually changes in family structure/composition? Also, someone on Twitter says the tax data tell a different story, though I can’t find them myself. (likely false, see here)
Free Northerner: The High IQ Homo Economicus. Warning: this is really alt-right, with all of the jargon and offensiveness that implies. I’m linking it anyway because it’s the best-laid-out explanation of an under-talked-about idea which seems to me vital to the project of having an intellectually defensible conservativism. Two major problems with conservativism: first, although it has fun using new genetic discoveries to mock socialist concepts of human malleability, a full biodeterminism would equally negate the conservative insistence on instilling traditional values – if things like conscientiousness and criminality are mostly genetic, why care if people have traditional values or not? Second, a bunch of atheist homosexual polyamorous feminist liberals are doing absolutely fine, and in fact statistically these people do better than traditional religious folk in a lot of ways. Northerner’s post solves both of these in one fell swoop: it theorizes that the genetically gifted have low impulsivity, low time-preference, etc and will succeed (almost) no matter what; these people support liberalism because they don’t need traditional morals and feel like such morals are bogging them down. The genetically unlucky are in great danger of social failure, but traditional values and culture are a guide for them to live their lives in ways that nevertheless let them flourish. For example, an upper-class Ivy Leaguer might be able to practice free love and experiment with drugs without serious consequences; a lower-class hillbilly might try exactly the same thing and end up a teenage single mother addicted to meth. Conservative ideas like chastity and avoiding drugs would be useless baggage tying the upper class down, but vital to the lower class’s continued success. This idea is very appealing in tying a lot of conservatives’ favorite hobby-horses together and making liberals look like the privileged bad guys throwing the lower class under the bus for the sake of the well-off, but thus far people have been content to raise it and let it speak for itself; the next step is for somebody to really start presenting evidence for or against.
Extremely related: Vox on “no excuses” discipline. Tough charter schools that make students wear uniforms and behave in regimented ways at the threat of harsh punishments seem to be almost miraculous in their ability to improve scores and outcomes among underperforming and minority students – for example, Vox says that “all the highest academic results ever produced for poor students and students of color have come from no-excuses schools, period” (though beware selection bias!). Needless to say, people are attacking them as probably racist and regressive, writing soulful songs about how they are the educational equivalent of racist cops shooting black teenagers (really!), and demanding their “radical overhaul”.
Speaking of “high” achievers, here’s a study on cannabis legalization and students’ academic achievement.
It was a cool theory, but childhood antibiotic exposure does not cause later weight gain.
There’s something oddly fascinating about dash cam car crash videos.
Immigrant men are much more likely to be employed than US men. I don’t know how much of this is that immigration selects for healthy people who want to work, how much of it is due to ease of illegally hiring them at less than minimum wage, and how much is due to the “immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t” effect.
Paying people $10 increases their willingness to register as organ donors.
Contra past studies claiming that the stress of poverty decreases cognitive and decision-making ability, a new paper finds that poor people do no worse in these areas before payday (when money is temporarily scarce) as opposed to after payday (when money is temporarily in easier supply). But are we sure this is the right time scale to be thinking on?
Horse wears tweed suit to symbolize the importance of…aw, forget it, just look at the picture of the horse in the tweed suit.
Medical marijuana seems to very significantly decrease chronic opiate use in pain patients, which is a big deal since chronic opiate use is terrible.
Autophagy watch: Britain’s National Union of Students calls on university LGBT societies to drop representatives for gay men from their leadership because “they do not face oppression as gay men within the LGBT+ community” and “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia [are] unfortunately more likely to occur when the society is dominated by white gay men.”
43 toddlers killed or injured someone with a gun last year. 40/43 seem to be boys, a surprising fact which cries out for more explanation.
Larger portions are probably not a driving factor behind the obesity epidemic.
Alice Eagly is not impressed with the research showing more diverse teams/organizations/corporate boards do better. “Despite advocates’ insistence that women on boards enhance corporate performance and that diversity of task groups enhances their performance, research findings are mixed, and repeated meta-analyses have yielded average correlational findings that are null or extremely small…Rather than ignoring or furthering distortions of scientific knowledge to fit advocacy goals, scientists should serve as honest brokers who communicate consensus scientific findings to advocates and policy makers in an effort to encourage exploration of evidence-based policy options.”
♫ “William Henry Harrison. My name is William Henry Harrison. And there’s really no comparison. To any other shoooooooow.” ♫
Weird Sun Twitter illustrates my complaint about the concept of “sea-lioning” from the last Open Thread.
People prefer traditional-looking architecture and are willing to pay extra for it, so why aren’t we building more of it?
British minority voters are no more likely to vote for a candidate of their own race (except Pakistanis). Would be curious how the same analysis would turn out in the US – many black people obviously loved Obama, but I’m not sure how many black people who weren’t Democrats already did. Also, Rubio and Cruz both lost to Trump (Trump!) among Latinos.
I haven’t confirmed this is true, but if so it’s really interesting: Private non-violent police company successfully enforces order in parts of Detroit. Apparently they’re hired by owners of big buildings in the ghetto to decrease crime and misbehavior in their building thus raising land values, and their secret to success is being very caring and understanding to people and engaging with the community. Leftists and anarcho-capitalists, you may now start competing to see who can shout “THIS PROVES WE ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING” louder.
Tracking (eg putting all the high-achieving students together in a separate class) improves test scores for high-achieving students, especially minorities, without any negative effects on the lower-achieving.
Maybe sort of related?: students whose teachers cheat to give them a higher test score have better life outcomes. I predict later we find this isn’t true.
The New York Times with an unexpected theory why Hillary outperforms Sanders among blacks: black people are twice as likely to think the economy is doing well. Interesting to consider alongside the graph at the bottom of my last post.
Freddie deBoer writes a white paper supporting standardized testing in colleges. His position is that private colleges need to be held accountable and we need proof that online courses don’t work, but American Interest points out that it might break the power of education-industrial complex if people who go to less prestigious institutions have an objective way to prove they’re just as good as people who went to more prestigious ones. And I will add that it might incentivize colleges to admit based on something vaguely resembling merit if they want higher test scores. Overall this would be amazing it it happened.
This Aerospace Company Wants To Bring Supersonic Travel Back. NYC to London in 3.5 hours for $5,000 round trip, planned for a few years from now. I am not a marketing expert, but I feel like it is a bad idea to name your experimental aircraft company “Boom”. Update: Virgin Airlines plans to order the jets.
New York Times on neighborhood effects. Previously one of the stronger arguments against the existence of neighborhood effects was that the Moving To Opportunity trial, a large randomized experiment considered the best in this area, had found no effect. Now Chetty and others reanalyze the data a few years later and find that the extra few years have allowed children who were younger when they Moved To Opportunity to grow up, and these younger children have strong positive effects. Therefore we can conclude that moving to a better neighborhood when you’re young is very helpful, and when you’re older it’s much less helpful. This escapes the genetic confound objection because it’s a randomized trial; it escapes the publication bias objection because it’s a huge experiment that would be reported no matter what and in fact was reported earlier as having a null result. The only objection left is the experimenter effect objection – Chetty is known as somebody who strongly believes in the effects of social mobility and finds it in all of his experiments. Overall this greatly increased my belief in the reality and importance of neighborhood effects.
Looking for a May Day present for the socialist in your life? Try Queue: The Game, designed by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance so nobody ever forgets how complicated it was to obtain basic goods under Soviet communism.