DMT users are building a “psychedelic temple” on a site in upstate New York that “aligns with the solar plexus of a projected goddess”, and it looks exactly like you would expect.
A new AI will draw a picture based on a caption you give it, but it’s not very good. Article here, and you can try out the AI itself here. If all this AI progress seems to be moving too fast and making you scared, tell it to draw “a woman with the correct number of eyes”. And fnord888 starts a duel between the picture-based-on-caption AI and the caption-based-on-picture AI.
Overcoming Bias on the newest theory for why big firms are pulling away from others: proprietary backroom IT.
If someone’s choking, and you’re wondering if you should use a ballpoint pen to puncture a hole in their throat for them to breathe through, a Journal Of Emergency Medicine study where researchers stuck ballpoint pens into the throats of corpses suggests that you should probably hold out for a real scalpel. Also, all emergency medicine doctors are now at severe risk of being plagued by the vengeful dead.
Peter McCluskey of Bayesian Investor, who unlike me actually knows stuff about economics, reviews Piketty, is able to be much more critical of some of his claims like the ones about the ultra-rich getting better investment returns than everyone else.
Basic income recipients react to one of the world’s largest experiments being cancelled. Whether you support basic income or not, promising people three years of free money, letting them quit their jobs or make long-term investments or whatever, and then saying “wait, actually, changed our mind” is pretty scummy.
Attempted drone assassination of Venezuelan president fails, but probably a sign of things to come as more and more private citizens become capable of building their own assassination drones.
Last month, Indian scientists reported the development of a room-temperature superconductor. After that, the story gets weird and possibly fraudulent.
Mastodon Is Better Than Twitter: Elevator Pitch. “The real advantage Mastodon has over Twitter is that Mastodon is not an outrage machine that’s corroding our ability to view our political opponents as real humans, deserving of sympathy and understanding.” Discusses how even the simplest things, like renaming “retweet” to “boost” and taking away the option to add a comment above it, can completely change the dynamic. I quit Twitter a while ago and am almost tempted to try Mastodon now.
China watchers have been talking more about weaknesses in Xi Jinping’s rule, although so far nothing seems to have come of it.
From the Culture Wars thread: courts have struck down a record number of Trump administration initiatives – not just because the initiatives are unprecedently bad, but also because the administration doesn’t seem to be putting any work into dotting and crossing their legal Is and Ts. Is this intentional?
Students and student groups boycotting Israel are facing weirder and harder-line tactics than ever, including some kind of sinister organization of people in canary costumes who are apparently trying to signal threats but only insofar as you can signal threat by showing up and dancing in a canary costume. Other groups put photos and information of anti-Israel activists online along with descriptions of how they are racist and anti-Semitic. I assume this is a sign of things to come after every issue becomes approximately this heated, though maybe not the weird dancing canary people in particular.
Some rare (and probably irrelevant) climate good news: UK carbon emissions are now back below 1890 levels.
Study: Hitler’s public speeches did not measurably increase support for the Nazi Party, challenging the story that everything comes down to his skill as an orator and demagogue (and further reinforcing the idea of campaigns in general not being very effective at changing minds). But then how did the Nazi Party get so much support so quickly?
Berkeley police get in trouble for tweeting the names and mugshots of antifa protesters arrested during dueling antifa and alt-right protests earlier this month. They explain themselves by saying that all arrest records are public anyway – but there’s a difference between having something publicly available in some office drawer somewhere and putting it on a widely-read Twitter account. See also Against Signal-Boosting As Doxxing.
Aristotle, On Trolling.
A study of the distribution of spatial intelligence around the world shows that it pretty much matches the distribution of regular intelligence around the world, with some surprises. East Asia does less overwhelmingly well than it does in a lot of regular intelligence tests. Countries with less gender equality have a higher male-female gap in spatial intelligence, which remember is the opposite pattern as they show in percent women seeking high-spatial-intelligence-requiring traditionally male jobs.
New antimalarial bed net works better than older bed nets, is effective against otherwise-resistant strains of the disease.
Did you know: New York has a Donald Trump State Park, but it’s inaccessible, unmaintained, asbestos-laden, and covered in garbage.
Polygenic scores branch out into detecting risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes. New score is able to identify 8% of the population at greater than threefold increased risk for heart disease. In ten years, those health reports you get from 23andMe are actually going to mean something.
This month in dog-whistling: Internet flies into a frenzy when alert sleuths discover that a Massachusetts prison guard has an arm tattoo containing Known White Supremacist Number 88. Hundreds of online comments and various threats to the guard’s physical safety later, the guard clarified he played college football with uniform number 88. Relevant groups still say they’re proud of challenging the “privilege” of people who can use the number 88 without caring how offensive it is.
Noahpinion on a different way of thinking about housing: suppose a city built houses that only rich newcomers were allowed to live in. Would this be good or bad for poorer long-term citizens?
Old Catholic religious law said that any new territories discovered belonged to the diocese from which the discovering expedition set out, so the Pope shouldn’t have been so surprised when the Bishop of Orlando asserted his religious control over the Moon.
Michael Johnson of Qualia Research is really excited about connectome-specific harmonic waves as a paradigm for neuroscience. I am kind of failing to grasp exactly what they do or why the brain should have waves in it at all. Maybe I need to back up and understand regular brain waves better before I think more about this.
Finance/legal experts say that Elon Musk will probably just get a slap on the wrist for impulsive and potentially market-manipulating tweets, because the Trump administration SEC has stopped doing the thing where they punish people who break laws. Still some chance that Tesla will suffer from a private class action suit. While I’m glad that a company doing important work won’t fall apart just because of one impulsive tweet by someone who might not have been in the best mental state at the time, punishing executives’ bad behavior with fines when those executives are tycoons with infinite money seems like a really stupid policy.
The last links thread led to this petition to ban San Francisco supervisors from having kitchens getting over 1500 signatures. Obviously this is a broad-based movement that needs to start running candidates for important municipal positions (for those not in on the joke: it was a protest over some SF supervisors trying to ban companies from having on-site cafeterias).
The story of the quest to expose Yoshihiro Sato, a bone health researcher who fabricated dozens of major clinical trials. And by “quest to expose”, I mean “it was really easy to figure out, but none of the journals who had published his fake trials wanted to retract them or even acknowledge the problem”. This all happened about 5-10 years ago, and I wonder if it could still happen today. I feel like someone would have published it on a science blog, or some important researcher would have tweeted it, and then lots of people would be aware of the allegations, and at the very least the guy wouldn’t keep publishing more false trials for years and years. The abdication of all science-related professional communication to the journals seems to have created a really dangerous chokepoint and I’m glad it’s gradually loosening up.
This site claims to be able to provide free EMDR online – does anyone know anything about it or have an opinion?
A famous study showing that people forced to mechanically smile were actually happier failed to replicate a few years ago, leading to the usual doubts, accusations, and confusion. An Israeli group recently published an update: they did experiments which showed that in situations without a video camera watching (as in the original study), smiling produced happiness. But in situations with a video camera (as in the replication), smiling did not produce happiness. A rare example of really figuring out what’s going on behind apparently conflicting results instead of just dismissing one side or the other – except that scientists really, really don’t think the new both-sides-were-right-after-all study is going to replicate!
A few months ago I found a strong birth order effect in the SSC survey. Eli Tyre on Less Wrong says he’s replicated the effect in a sample of famous mathematicians. If you’re a college student or someone else being asked to do an interesting psych research project, replicating this in some other sample would be easy, require zero tools, and make an actually interesting contribution to science. Bonus points if everyone can agree on a statistic to show how birth-order-skewed different samples are so we can compare one to another.
Gwern provides evidence that John von Neumann should share credit with IJ Good as the first person to seriously consider the technological singularity.
This month in “people who were probably teased in school”: Saint Homobonus.
NSI-189, the exciting revolutionary amazing new antidepressant that doesn’t work, has found a new lease on life; the FDA has named it an “orphan drug” for rare congenital condition Angelman Syndrome. I don’t know if this is part of some sort of long-term plan to use the Angelman indication as a springboard back into depression or something.
80000 Hours: If You’re Really Unsure Whether To Quit Your Job Or Break Up, You Probably Should. Researchers get thousands of people on the fence about major life decisions to make them by flipping a coin. Later, the ones who made the decision to switch jobs or break up were much happier, suggesting that there’s a status quo bias and that you can improve your life by being slightly more willing to take risks. Sneaky nitpick: this can’t rule out the possibility that quitting your job is almost always a somewhat good idea, but for 1% of people an abysmally bad idea, such that it’s bad on net.
Some Enlightenment-era rulers, including Frederick the Great of Prussia, would order criminals to be publicly tortured to death, but actually kill them quickly and mercifully beforehand in a way the crowd couldn’t detect – in order to reap the deterrence effects of harsh punishment with a clean conscience.
The Department of Education reported 235 school shootings in the US for the 2015 school year. When NPR checked, they were only able to confirm 11 of them. The others seem to have been mostly Lizardman’s Constant – ie real school shootings are so rare that they were massively outnumbered by school officials filling out the survey wrong or misunderstanding the question.
Chinese scientists claim to have used CRISPR to successfully remove a genetic disease from human embryos, although those embryos will not be implanted and turned into people.
Reason on how alternative newspapers and erotic classified sections are unfairly targeted by government investigations under the banner of scare stories about sex trafficking. Kamala Harris really comes off looking bad in this one, which makes it suck that the world is trying to put me in a position where I’m forced to vote for her in two years.
The newest literary medium is short comments on unrelated Reddit threads ranting about flesh interfaces. Read if you like Lovecraft, enjoyed the Gig Economy story linked here a few months ago, or have generally good taste.