Marble quarries somehow look both exactly how you would expect a marble quarry to look and yet also much much better.
Profile of Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign chairman, a former naval officer whose motto is “Honey badger don’t give a s***”.
Genetic risk for high sugar consumption is somewhat correlated with genetic risk for substance abuse, suggesting some kind more more general genetic risk for impulsivity and addiction.
Brookings Institution: “There is a deep well of rigorous, relevant research on the performance of charter schools in Massachusetts…This research shows that charter schools in the urban areas of Massachusetts have large, positive effects on educational outcomes. The effects are particularly large for disadvantaged students, English learners, special education students, and children who enter charters with low test scores.”
One interesting methodology to examine whether school degrees are useful in and of themselves or for signaling value: look at teenage mothers. Someone who delivers a child a month after graduating high school is probably the same sort of person as someone who delivers a child a month before graduating high school, but the former will probably get a degree and the latter probably won’t. Based on this methodology, a paper finds that a high school degree has real value and not signaling value. Possible confounds: maybe the availability of a GED makes this situation different than for college; maybe there’s a ceiling effect for how well people with teenage pregnancies do?
“Related”, by which I mean completely contradicting the above: Danish data (of course it’s Danish data) showing that school effects are mostly just signaling. Maybe a US/Danish difference?
Marginal Revolution asks why bowling has declined in America. Did you know in the 1960s, top bowlers made twice as much as top football stars, and a bowler was the first athlete ever to get a $1 million endorsement contract?
Federal government tells Berkeley they may not offer free online video courses, because they are discriminatory against deaf people who cannot hear the audio. Willing to reconsider if they translate them into sign language as well or add closed captioning, but the college says it can’t afford that and will probably just take the courses down. This is a metaphor for how everything works all the time.
Hey, remember those five different times when thousands of Irish-Americans formed impromptu armies and invaded Canada in order to pressure Britain to free Ireland?
The Daily Show had a whole segment making fun of Donald Trump’s claim that his microphone wasn’t working properly during the last debate. Now the Commission on Presidential Debates has confirmed that his microphone was indeed defective. On the other hand, still no sign that it was part of a giant Clinton campaign conspiracy, and not clear exactly how a microphone malfunction makes you say that not paying taxes makes you “smart”. Come to think of it, every part of this story is also a metaphor for how everything works all the time.
Herman Mashaba started out as the son of an impoverished widowed domestic worker in apartheid South Africa and rose to become a multimillionaire businessman. Now he was just elected as the first Libertarian mayor of Johannesburg, and has vowed to end poverty in the city by encouraging construction and investment. The best thing to happen to African capitalism since Nwabudike Morgan?
Adam Smith Institute argues for the claim that markets will punish discrimination by pointing out many examples of exactly that happening. This is in honor of a recent study which follows up on one of those resume experiments by finding that companies which discriminated against minorities in the hiring process were twice as likely to go out of business as those that didn’t. As welcome as this result would be I’m not sure I buy it – discriminatory vs. non-discriminatory companies likely only differ in a few employees, and that’s not enough to double the company’s chance of surviving. The paper itself points out that this could just be an artifact of more organized companies having a better hiring process that relies less on personal judgment, or the sort of company leaders who aren’t racist also having other good qualities. Related: did you know that the segregation-era South had to pass laws prohibiting companies from preferentially hiring (cheaper) black labor?
Andrew Gelman on the history of the replication crisis.
American television: Let’s see which celebrity can answer trivia questions the fastest. Japanese television: We’re going to tie a piece of meat to a celebrity’s body, take her to the island of Komodo, and film her getting chased by Komodo dragons.
In Denmark, neighborhood of origin does not influence earnings after age 30. In Sweden, neighborhoods also don’t matter for earnings, education, etc. Still not sure why Moving To Opportunity had such a strong effect in the US, unless it’s the whole “US socioeconomic status differs a lot more than Scandinavian socioeconomic status”. I feel bad for being excited that Scandinavia will probably develop its own segregated underclass in the next few decades and we’ll finally start getting good studies about how that affects things.
Lifehack: Align the High and Low Lights of North Shields to escape being caught in the Black Middens.
More praise for SSC sponsor Beeminder.
A physicist on the problems with “publish or perish” and modern science culture. I keep hearing about this but I have yet to read a clear explanation of how a better system would work.
The Insanity And Brilliance At Ethereum’s Developer Conference. “Until you see it for yourself, it’s hard to truly grasp the scope of what is being built. If Ethereum works it will fundamentally change society.”
Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft come together to form Partnership on Artificial Intelligence To Benefit People. Probably more about privacy and cybersecurity at this point, but still useful to have as a framework if larger issues come up in the future. I would link to the organization’s website itself, but I’m boycotting all those sites that are one page full of giant images and two or three sentences of text which don’t explain anything useful.
Only about forty percent of Americans support Trump for US President – so how come fifty-four percent of Chinese do?
China admits that 80% of its clinical trials are fabricated.
There’s a standard argument that sweatshops are good for the Third World because they increase employment opportunity. Now Chris Blattman has studied it empirically.
Helpful 19th century infographic on Albion’s Seed and Bay Area transhumanism (h/t ecstatmonochromat)
Argument: Maybe the surplus of men in mathematical fields is for some biological reason. Counterargument: as the culture has become more accepting toward women, more women have entered these fields, so wouldn’t attributing the remaining difference to biological factors be a very silly god-of-the-gaps argument, arbitrarily saying that all of the already-resolved differences were cultural but all of the not-yet-resolved differences must be biological? A study adds a new perspective to this debate by determining that the percent women in the extreme right tail of mathematical ability was increasing rapidly up until twenty years ago, after which point it has mysteriously remained exactly the same. Women continue to do better at verbal tasks.
Remember how you had to learn cursive in elementary school even though it was clearly useless and inferior to other forms of communication? An Atlantic article argues that there was sort of a rational explanation – cursive was the most convenient form of writing for the obsolete pens of yesteryear, and it took a while for people to realize that better pens made it unnecessary.
Garett Jones has written a long summary article of his theory about how immigrants can change countries’ economic fundamentals.
Reddit: What is a great career path that kids in college aren’t aware exists? Answers include “sailor”, “actuary”, and “person who joins the military for the minimum allowed period of time and then takes advantage of veteran-related programs to get free college and a cushy government job for life”.
The BMJ published an article a while ago pushing a extreme Taubesian view of nutrition. Now it’s facing calls to retract as scientists point out various errors.
The newest front in the replication crisis: basic math errors. A bot finds that 13% of papers may have a math error large enough to potentially change the paper’s conclusion.
Leading environmental scientist James Lovelock was previously famous for his belief that global warming would be much worse than anyone thought. Now he says he’s changed his mind, that global warming will probably be so slow we don’t need to worry much, and that he’s actually concerned about AI risk.