Long 2004 piece by Atul Gawande on ranking doctors by outcomes, why we don’t usually do it, and diseases where it seems to work.
Bryan Caplan (2014): talk of the “increasing returns to a college degree” don’t necessarily motivate more students to go to college if they predict they’ll fail.
In November, Maine will vote on becoming the first US state to use ranked-choice voting.
A 2004 study showed that the antidepressant Celexa worked in children. Newer studies show it doesn’t. As part of a lawsuit, investigators got all of the pharma company’s internal data on the trial that “proved” the drug worked. So if you ever want to see exactly how pharmaceutical companies cook their trials, here’s your chance.
Did you know: military dogs traditionally outrank their handlers in order to encourage the handlers to treat them with respect.
The Mennonites are an anachronistic German Protestant group much like the Amish. And like the Amish, they have big communities in Pennsylvania. But did you know there are also large Mennonite communities in Paraguay, Mexico, and Belize?
Fredrik deBoer’s thoughts on atheism pretty much parallel my own evolution on the same subject.
IF you’re anxiously awaiting Civilization 6, there’s a good compendium of all available information about the game here.
Missouri governor defunds the state’s public defense system so that it has trouble hiring enough lawyers to defend cases. Head public defender makes use of an obscure law that lets him “draft” lawyers when not enough are available – and drafts the Missouri governor himself to fill in until the funds arrive.
I think someone might be trolling the sovereign citizens – somehow it’s entered into their lore that if you officially write “I am an idiot” on your court paperwork, the government can’t prosecute you. I guess I understand how this sort of makes sense – “idiot” used to be Greek for someone not involved in political life – but I still wonder if this is the best prank of all time.
The governor of Nebraska occasionally honors people by declaring them an Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. A similar tradition of Kentucky honoring people by naming them Colonels is how we got Colonel Sanders. Related Colonel Sanders fact: he was so angry with KFC switching from his original recipe that he denounced their food as “pure wallpaper paste…there’s no nutrition in it and they ought not to be allowed to sell it.”
Poll finds that 37% of Trump supporters have zero friends who support Clinton; 47% of Clinton supporters have zero friends who support Trump.
Remember when LHC thought they found a new particle recently. They didn’t. Scientists in other fields declare physicists weird, creepy for waiting to make sure finding actually exists before announcing it.
Sam Bowman’s neoliberal manifesto aims to carve out “neoliberalism” as a particular policy position (instead of just a vague smear) based around belief in markets, technocratic managerial competence, and interest in helping the poor through evidence-based programs. It’s a useful term since it has elements of liberalism and libertarianism but doesn’t exactly fit into either. But I worry it still doesn’t draw a fine enough distinction. Hillary Clinton and Peter Thiel would probably both be “neoliberals” under this definition, but there’s a big gap between them. More important, Hillary’s brand of neoliberal can probably be relatively happy with the direction things are going, whereas Thiel’s brand is phenomenally unhappy. A better explanation of the differences between the two might be a worthwhile project.
Studies kept finding that people who drank more alcohol had lower mortality, but everyone assumed it was doomed to stay a correlational finding only – after all, you couldn’t ethically randomize people to start drinking alcohol, could you? Well, now they did a study where they randomized people to start drinking alcohol.
Donald Trump quotes superimposed on pictures of Zapp Brannigan works surprisingly well.
New paper finds that blinded review of linguistics papers increased percent of women whose papers did well at a conference, suggesting previous discrimination against women. Slight catch is that in previous linguistic conferences, papers by men and women did equally well, but after institution of blinded review, women did much better than men. Authors write that this suggests previous bias against women lopped off the bottom half of the female ability distribution, leaving only women who were so brilliant that they could effectively compete on a skewed playing field, and who therefore did better than men once the playing field was leveled. I find this a little self-serving, but it’s hard to explain why blinding review would have this effect otherwise, and I don’t see any obvious attempts to cook the data. All of their data is freely available (good for them!) so if you want to investigate yourself, let me know if you find anything interesting.
In case you really like quantifying things, here’s The Cost Of Crime To Society. They just gave per crime statistics, but multiplying everything out it looks like it’s on the order of $300 billion/year, which is way more than I expected and which doesn’t even seem to count things like decreasing land values.
This week in “studies saying the opposite of what previous studies said”: Uber does not decrease traffic fatalities; Mexican immigration does decrease native wages; but only for African-Americans; religious children are no less altruistic than anyone else.
Scientists have bred alcoholic rats in order to investigate the genetics of alcoholism.
A single mutation in horses 1000 years ago noticeably increased their rideability.
There have been no major hurricanes in the US for 11 years, which is statistically super-unlikely. I’m sure global warming skeptics will pounce on this, but this actually seems to go beyond no-change – is it possible that global warming might paradoxically decrease hurricane frequency?
New York Daily News: We Were Wrong: Ending Stop-and-Frisk Did Not End Stopping Crime. I will always republish people admitting they were wrong, so good for them.
Filipino president verbally attacks the Pope, jokes about raping missionaries, announces that “I don’t care about human rights”, catcalls female journalists, encourages citizens to shoot drug dealers, and called the US ambassador “a gay son of a whore”. But also, he is lauded for his work promoting women’s and LGBT rights in the Phillipines, and during his tenure as Mayor of Davao transformed it from “the murder capital of the Philippines” to “the world’s fourth safest place”.
That weird star that we’re not supposed to blame on aliens is still doing weird things.
Chinese audiences loved “Kung Fu Panda” so much that it inspired national soul-searching on why the West was better at making Chinese-culture-themed movies than they were.
Musical Alexander Hamilton: proud immigrant who sings together with Lafayette about how “immigrants get the job done”. Real-world Alexander Hamilton: “The United States have already felt the evils of incorporating a large number of foreigners into their national mass…to admit foreigners indiscriminately to the rights of citizens, the moment they put foot in our country, as recommended in the Message, would be nothing less, than to admit the Grecian Horse into the Citadel of our Liberty and Sovereignty.” H/t Alyssa Vance.
There is no hedonic adaptation to poverty; “poverty starts bad and stays bad in terms of subjective well-being”.