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Links 6/19

[Epistemic status: I have not independently verified each link. On average, about two of the links in each links post turn out to be wrong or misleading, as found by commenters. I correct these as I see them, but can’t guarantee I will have caught them all by the time you read this.]

A neural net trained on change.org tries to write its own petitions, eg “Help Bring Climate Change to the Philippines!” and “Donald Trump: Change the name of the National Anthem to be called the ‘Fiery Gator'”

New study fails to find any evidence that watching pornography as a teenager harms future sexual satisfaction.

The Pentagon vs. the Second Commandment: during the Gulf War, psy ops officers investigated various bizarre proposals, including “project[ing] a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam”.

Although successful academics are less likely to have a psychotic disorder compared to the general population, their relatives are more likely, suggesting that psychosis genes are adaptive and maybe creativity-promoting up to some threshold. But looking in more detail, the study finds increased risk for academics’ children, siblings, and niblings, but not parents and grandparents; not sure what to make of this. Hot take: maybe exposure to an academic during your formative years makes you more likely to become psychotic.

The idea behind charter schools is that lots of people will start different schools, some will be better than others, and the good ones will take over. But for the good ones to take over, they would have to scale up from a single school to a whole chain of schools. A new study examines whether they can really do this – and finds that they can. “Estimates based on randomized admission lotteries show that replication charter schools generate large achievement gains on par with those produced by their parent campuses..charter schools reduce the returns to teacher experience and compress the distribution of teacher effectiveness, suggesting the highly standardized practices in place at charter schools may facilitate replicability.”

No opinion on the content, but I really like the name of Michael Huemer’s new blog, Fake Nous.

The regular market is a prediction market on asset values, so if asset values correlate with something we care about, we can use the market to predict how it will turn out. This is the principle behind Schlenker and Taylor on climate change, where they measure the prices of complex financial derivatives relating to air conditioning demand. They find that past investors did a good job predicting the extent of future (now present) climate change, mostly by trusting the IPCC predictions and ignoring doubters. Related: global warming skeptics could bet against future air conditioning demand and make a killing if they’re right – are they trying this?

Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald talks about animal rights. Also, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald has between 24 and 26 dogs, and maintains “extremely personal relationships with each of them”.

If schools replace punishment-based models of discipline (especially suspensions) with “restorative justice” based on helping students build better relationships that prevent them from offending again, does this help students succeed? A big randomized controlled trial investigates the issue. Its own summary of its conclusions is highly positive, saying that it decreased suspensions and racial disparity in suspensions. But the skeptical perspective is that of course it did, just like never arresting criminals would decrease incarceration and racial disparity in incarceration. The real question was whether it made schools better or worse, and Twitter user Spotted Toad makes the case against, saying that it significantly decreased academic achievement at the relevant schools, hurt African-American students most of all, significantly increased the size of racial achievement gaps, and may have even resulted in the death of a student.

What Is Esther Wojicki’s Parenting Secret? Of Wojicki’s three daughters, one is CEO of YouTube, one is CEO of 23AndMe, and one is a UCSF professor of medicine. Wojicki says her secret is letting children be independent and make their own mistakes. Not mentioned as secrets: having kids with a Stanford physics professor; renting your garage out to Sergey Brin and Larry Page so they can make Google. I wonder if her genetics-tycoon daughter cringes every time Mom gives one of these “parenting secrets” interviews.

Scholar’s Stage: stories about sexual selection (like “women are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”) are meaningless, because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

GPT-2 simulates the Culture War Thread from r/TheMotte.

Robin Hanson: why do people usually assume that ability to bend the rules will work in their favor?

Related to recent discussions here: mothers are less likely to breastfeed, seek prenatal care for later siblings. Regardless of how much these things matter, probably a pointer to generally caring less. Probably not an explanation for birth order effects given resetting after seven year gap, but interesting.

I’ve really been enjoying YouTube videos with visual representations of classical music. I know the score is supposed to be a visual representation of music, but these videos work better for me; I’m apparently so much of a visual learner that music makes a lot more sense to me when can I see it with my eyes. Start with Bach and Mozart, then follow the Up Next links if you want more.

How Soviet centralized economic planning led to the near-extinction of whales, for no particular reason (h/t Gwern)

McSweeneys: Obituaries For The Recently Cancelled. Suave upper-class jokes like this are doing a thousand times more for the anti-PC cause than Ben Shapiro fans openly protesting PC.

Related: the Internet analogized to Liu Cixin’s Dark Forest.

Supporters predicted that California bill SB50, the YIMBY measure to make it easier to build housing in urban areas, would have passed if it had made it to the state senate floor. Instead, it was killed in committee by state senator Anthony Portantino, “who represents a wealthy suburban bedroom community near Los Angeles” and “whose own solution to the housing problem is to authorize speciality ‘California Housing Crisis Awareness’ license plates” (h/t @webdevmason, follow her for more snarky housing-related updates). The bill may return in 2020.

New paper argues that that screening human embryos for polygenic traits won’t increase those traits much – with current tech and reasonable assumptions, it could only increase height by 2.5 cm or IQ by 2.5 points. But it’s kind of pointless discussing current tech levels when the tech is improving so fast. They also model a scenario where polygenic scores can predict 30% of IQ variability: selected embryos would gain 9 points on average.

The new president of Nintendo of America is named Doug Bowser.

A study demonstrating that homophobia cut 12 years off the life expectancy of gays has been retracted after years of criticism; the finding was the result of a variable coding error. Why did it take so long to discover? Because when other scientists first tried to point out flaws in the study, they faced media attacks like this ThinkProgress piece from 2016 titled Anti-Gay Researcher Now Tries To Claim Stigma Doesn’t Harm LGBT People.

A long time ago I wrote about the Wiseman/Schlitz experiment, where a psi believer and psi skeptic tried to do the same experiment, and found it detected psi whenever the believer did it, and found nothing whenever the skeptic did it. Alert reader Anna Mallett points me to a 2006 follow-up, where they tried to figure out why this happened. The result? This time nobody detected psi at all.

There was a gene drive in Nantucket
They took an allele and then stuck it
It’s going to heal ya
From getting borrelia
But anti-tech locals might fuck it
(h/t Georgia for link and poem)

StreetRx tells researchers (and “researchers”) the going price for illegal street drugs in major cities throughout the US.

The military has raised eyebrows by admitting they’re concerned about some recent UFO sightings. There’s some good discussion on the subreddit, which mostly agrees that this article is the best introduction to / speculation on the issue. It theorizes that the military is deliberately trying to stoke public interest in UFOs for some reason, possibly because they’ve got some weird new plane designs they want people to avoid connecting to them if spotted. But assuming Russia/China/other rivals are smart enough to figure out what a random defense blogger figured out, why do they care whether Joe Average Citizen who looks up in the skies and sees a weird plane goes to the papers saying “UFO” or goes to the papers saying “new military prototype”? The Russians/Chinese will just read the article and assume it’s a new military prototype either way. I’d be interested in hearing our local defense experts’ thoughts.

Related: in 1997, the UK launched Project Condign, a top-secret investigation into British UFO sightings. They determined that some of them were inexplicable by normal standards, and posited “a supernormal meteorological phenomena not fully understood by modern science…referred to in the report as ‘Buoyant Plasma Formation’, akin to ball lightning”. Also, “the electromagnetic fields generated by plasma phenomena are also hypothesized to explain reports of close encounters due to inducing perceptual alterations or hallucinations in those affected”. This sounds like they’re optimizing for making it sound like a really pathetic cover-up; given the speculations above, maybe that’s exactly what they’re doing.

You probably knew that classical architecture originally had vibrant colors, but I’m still wowed by this reconstructed Etruscan temple roof.

RIP Norman Hardy, the first terminally ill person to cryopreserved directly after euthanasia. Would-be cryonauts have wanted something like this for a while, since it’s hard and takes time to go from whatever random place you die to cryopreservation; if your death is scheduled, you can be cryopreserved immediately with much less tissue damage. Hardy was an old friend of Robin Hanson’s, part of the original group of late-20th-century geek libertarian transhumanists, and has the most Web 1.0 homepage ever.

Megan McArdle: Europeans should stop mocking Americans’ air conditioning as environmentally unfriendly, because it shifts the US population to hotter places further south. This reduces the US need for heating, and heating is even more power-hungry than AC. High use of AC prompted the migration to Sun Belt cities where heating is unnecessary and so saves energy after all. Anyone disagree?

GeneSight has discontinued its pharmacogenetic tests for ADHD and analgesic tests, admitting they don’t work. I have no link to this because it was sent to me in an email, but their statement reads: “As the number of available pharmacogenomics tests increases dramatically, we believe it is important for clinicians to utilize PGx tests that have demonstrated efficacy and safety in clinical studies. The science for GeneSight ADHD and GeneSight Analgesic does not currently meet this standard. As a result, we will no longer offer these products. We will instead focus on helping clinicians improve the treatment of depression with GeneSight Psychotropic, which has been studied extensively in multiple clinical trials.” Keep in mind I don’t think that one works either, and the FDA agrees.

Related: how come some people take the sedative Benadryl and feel more excited instead of more sedated? Maybe because they’re an ultrarapid CYP2D6 metabolizer.

The rise in social-justice-related terms as a percent of words used in the media over time.

Penn study of school children finds those who nap midday are happier and do better in school. There’s a lot of medical advice against napping going around, but I think it depends a lot on the person.

Another nootropics survey (see here for more on the questions and methods). No real surprises, but people like theanine, magnesium, and NAC a little more than I expected.

To everyone’s surprise, there’s another Bitcoin boom, with values tripling over the past three months. Doesn’t seem to me like anyone really knows why, though speculation includes Facebook’s new cryptocurrency giving it an air of legitimacy, and monetary policy problems in India increasing demand for non-government alternatives.

Did you know: once Abercrombie and Fitch hired Slavoj Zizek to write ads for them, and somehow this just straightforwardly resulted in really Zizekian Abercrombie and Fitch ads. I am not making this up. This really happened.

@nostalgebraist has a very good introductory explanation to the transformer architecture, the key insight behind some recent machine learning advances including GPT-2.

Is Summer Learning Loss Real: How I Lost Faith In One Of Education Research’s Classic Results. Contra the title, the article doesn’t really seem to doubt that children forget things during the summer, only that this is a cause of student achievement gaps. Also, one of its points in favor of this is a study that shows achievement gaps are mostly present when kids enter school at age 5 and do not get any worse over the course of schooling. But taken seriously, this would suggest there is no advantage to going to good schools over bad schools at all. I don’t think this is impossible – it’s just the old “everything is genetic” argument – but it weirds me out when people say things that imply gigantic world-shaking conclusions but only use them to debate some minor point.

Speaking of which, Kelsey Piper at Vox has a good article on fact-checking errors in popular books. Her flagship case: a book saying women shouldn’t get married because married women were very unhappy. The author wrote about a survey where “married people are happier than other population subgroups, but only when their spouse is in the room when they’re asked how happy they are. When the spouse is not present: f***ing miserable”. It turned out the author was misreading a “spouse absent” condition on the survey, which actually meant people who were long-term separated from their spouses!

“Persistence research” tries to measure how modern outcomes may reflect long-gone historical events, like how the territories of two different medieval empires may remain different even today based on the long-term effects of their policies. A new paper challenges some of its most surprising results, suggesting that the field does a bad job adjusting for spacial autocorrelation. Potentially not great for “deep roots” work used to justify immigration restrictions.

Anti-Japaneseism is a fringe ideology in Japan which believes the Japanese people are uniquely evil and need to be destroyed, kind of like a single-country version of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. From there you can also go down the rabbit hole of weird Japanese leftist movements, including the “Armed Front of High School Students for Violent Revolution” and the United Red Army’s unusually heated “self-criticism sessions”, which “killed 14 of its 29 members in less than a year”.

I once attended a conference on AI risk where a skeptic said he wasn’t going to worry “until an AI could do Winograd schemas”. This referred to a test of common sense and linguistic ambiguity that AIs have long been famously bad at. Now Microsoft claims to have developed a new AI that is comparable to humans on this measure. Some more discussion here.

Not only does Christianity have a flag, there’s even a pledge of allegiance to it.

Google Maps indicates some kind of kabbalistic sorcery going on at this remote Australian peninsula. Wikipedia suggests a transmitter at the Harold E. Holt Naval Communication Station is involved.

Vox: climate change will kill lots of people, but probably will not destroy the human race. Reassuring, but just a few days after the article, there was an announcement that Arctic permafrost is melting decades sooner than anyone thought, which probably increases risk of some kind of really disastrous methane/clathrate feedback loop thing. Any climate scientists in the comments want to comment on how worried we should be?

Sultan bin Salman Al Saud was the first (only?) person of royal blood to serve as an astronaut.

The Guardian: The Truth Behind America’s Most Famous Gay-Hate Murder. Argues that the brutal killing of Matthew Shepard was probably drug-related, not homophobia-related.

First controlled study of LSD microdosing. This writeup is mostly negative and describes it as “few benefits and some downsides”, but the actual study is more nuanced and mostly a grab bag of results on a bunch of weird tests that don’t necessarily seem to correspond to what we care about. I say jury is still very out.

Did you know: the Bay Area water system includes two Water Temples, the Pulgas Water Temple and Sunol Water System, built to mark crucial points on main aqueducts.

If you ever wanted to stay on an Amish farm and experience not having technology, this is your chance: the Amish are now on AirBnB.

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573 Responses to Links 6/19

  1. gwern says:

    I once attended a conference on AI risk where a skeptic said he wasn’t going to worry “until an AI could do Winograd schemas”. This referred to a test of common sense and linguistic ambiguity that AIs have long been famously bad at. Now Microsoft claims to have developed a new AI that outperforms humans on this measure. Some more discussion here.

    The amusing thing is that it’s already obsolete, it seems, by XLnet: https://www.reddit.com/r/MachineLearning/comments/c2q5k7/r_xlnet_a_new_pretraining_method_for_nlp_that/ Live by the SOTA, die by the SOTA…. Onward to SuperGLUE!

    First controlled study of LSD microdosing. This writeup is mostly negative and describes it as “few benefits and some downsides”, but the actual study is more nuanced and mostly a grab bag of results on a bunch of weird tests that don’t necessarily seem to correspond to what we care about. I say jury is still very out.

    Fulltext: https://www.gwern.net/docs/nootropics/2019-bershad.pdf

    I wouldn’t call RAT or dual n-back or digit symbol substitution tests all that weird IMO (Cyberball maybe, yeah), and for a n=20 within-subject experiment, the point-estimates are remarkably close to nil. Considering the other studies are also very unimpressive (https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/08/11/384412 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0211023 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00213-018-5119-x and of course the original: https://www.gwern.net/LSD-microdosing ), and there’s a very weak prior for LSD microdosing, I’d say it’s looking really bad for LSD microdosing. Whenever someone does a blinded experiment, or even just systematically collects questionnaire data, all the huge effects claimed just disappear.

  2. Nav says:

    Megan McArdle: …heating is even more power-hungry than AC… Anyone disagree?

    True for most places in the US, but not NYC. Most heating in NYC is done by steam, run through pipes underneath the streets since the late 1800s. The steam is generated as a byproduct of power generation, and is also used in the summer to operate compressors for AC. It’s an extremely efficient public utility, with the caveat that you don’t have granular control over the temperature. Hence “Brooklyn air conditioning”: use an open window above the radiator to modulate the apartment temperature. But I wonder if most US cities lack the density for such a scheme, not to mention the political will.

    • acymetric says:

      That seems pretty suspect to me. I would guess that the majority of states use more energy on cooling than heating.

      • VivaLaPanda says:

        I think one big detail is that for myself, and many people I know, it’s easier to deal with cold temperatures than warm temps. Most people don’t run heat at night because you just get a bunch of blankets, or if people do heat at night it’s usually with a space heater in a small area. However, in hot climates running the AC all night is common.

        • Mary says:

          You don’t run the heat at night, your pipes freeze. It gets ugly.

          • acymetric says:

            I think where you live is going to heavily impact this, but I would guess that more of the US is “warm weather, higher bills in the summer due to AC” than “cool weather, higher bills in the winter due to heat”.

          • VivaLaPanda says:

            I’ve lived in areas where temperatures around 5F are common at night and never had this problem? Can assume it’s an issue with temperatures far below 0F?

          • AlphaGamma says:

            You can set your thermostat to 40F at night to stop the pipes freezing.

          • Telemythides says:

            No they don’t. Unless you live in a shack it takes more than one night for your house to cool down that much.

          • Mary says:

            @Telemythides

            That’s the thing about winter: it tends to last more than one night.

            @VivaLaPanda
            Pipes freezing is a factor of external coldness, how insulated the house is, where the pipes are, and above all else, what you do to heat the house.

            Indeed, you can get pipes freezing at 5F if the set up is right.

          • Telemythides says:

            @Mary

            That wouldn’t be an effect of not running the heat at night.

            If you’re still running the heat during the day you can definitely turn is off at night and not worry about the pipes.

          • Enkidum says:

            Spoken as someone who’s never lived in an old house in -40C weather.

          • Mary says:

            Leaving the heat on all day and turning it off at night produces a ghastly lag.

      • alwhite says:

        Simple math disproves that idea.

        I’ll use Kansas as an example. Summer temps average about 80 F. Winter temps average 30 F. Humans enjoy around 70 F. In summer we have to cool 10 degrees of difference. In Winter we have to heat 40 degrees of difference. By temperature alone, we have to heat 4 times as much.

        There are some conversion factors for heating with fuel vs cooling with electricity, but winter is definitely more energy intensive.

        Here’s 7 years of data I kept:

        The dollar amount is highest in summer but you can see the KWhours is more expensive than the gas cost, which peaks in the winter. There’s usually 4 months of heavy heating, and 3 months of heavy cooling. Heating is definitely more energy intensive than cooling.
        https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1km4YqNZjIvz2oVVu8uKQzy7VnxJ1k7EtIa2odAfM9bA/edit#gid=0

        • Murphy says:

          what are the gas units there?

          There’s another advantage to aircon:

          solar power has some major issues re: when it provides power vs when there’s demand… but PV solar built to help meet aircon demand is almost an ideal use case.

        • acymetric says:

          One: I did not realize North Carolina was so much warmer than Kansas.

          That said, using 70 degrees as the baseline the summer temps are still closer to that than the winter temps…and I can assure you that when using electric for both AC and heat the summer bill for electric is between 50-100% higher than the winter bill.

          • alwhite says:

            I think we’re going to need some actual data, because I’m not believing your 50-100% higher statement.

            When determining average temperature I grabbed the month of July and January (the hottest and coldest months) and then averaged the high and low for those months. January is 38/21 in winter, so 30; and July is 91/72 in summer, so 80. (when I get Kansas data from the same site as North Carolina data, I get 89/68)

            By the same method, North Carolina is 51/30 in winter, so 40; and summer is 89/68, so 79.

            So, I had said that Kansas has 3 months of heavy cooling (June, July, August). North Carolina’s temp curve is flatter and cools off slower, to the point that I could see an extra month of cooling. In May and September, North Carolina is about 2.5 F warmer than Kansas. So, NC needs to cool longer and doesn’t need to heat as much.

            Because of the way insulation and heat transfer work, a 10 degree difference can mean a lot. Heat transfer works on an exponential scale and not a linear one, but it shifts with the quality of your insulation. In either case a 40 deg differential will be more than 30% more costly than a 30 degree differential. Because Kansas and North Carolina peak out similarly in Summer, but have different Winters, I think we’re still seeing that heating is more expensive than cooling, e.g. moving from Kansas to North Carolina will significantly decrease your heating costs but mildly increase your cooling costs.

            I’d like to see actual KWh reports from utilities to confirm this.

          • acymetric says:

            I don’t have old electric bills, but May-June-July-August bills were typically in the $120-180 range, while November-December-January-February bills tended to be $70-100.

            I do grant that AC is more efficient in a kwh->btu sense than heaters, and that the temperature difference is larger, so I’m not quite sure how to square this.

            Possible explanations: I was in a top floor apartment…I wouldn’t expect the effect on heating and cooling to be so extreme but maybe it is. Also could have had an old/bad AC that was horribly inefficient, I guess.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            I wonder about this as well; even in the warmest part of North Carolina, annual heating degree days exceed cooling degree days. Perhaps they’re raising electric rates in the summer to limit the peak load from all those people who heat with fossil fuel and use window air conditioners in the summer?

          • M says:

            Top floor apartment is the key.

            You’re getting heat from all the other apartments and the common areas.

            In the winter this lessens your share of the heating. In the summer this increases your share of the cooling.

          • acymetric says:

            @M

            I know, that’s why I brought it up. I’m just surprised the effect would be so strong. Wild estimates based on the numbers being thrown around:

            With no outside factors I would expect my summer bill to be something like (conservatively) 70% of my winter bill. The reality is that the summer bill was more like 150%+ of my winter bill. That is a huge swing and it is hard to believe it could all be explained by (oversimplified) “heat rises, cool air sinks”.

          • alwhite says:

            @acymetric

            Thermodynamics is a fascinating and very complex field. It’s actually not intuitive at all.

            Hot air rises and heat sinks.

          • Aapje says:

            @acymetric

            Getting heat from neighbors can have a huge effect, especially if the neighbors below/next to you like a warmer apartment. Then they’ll be subsidizing your heating bill quite a bit.

          • Getting heat from neighbors can have a huge effect

            One chapter of the first edition of my Price Theory was on home heating, which I used to illustrate a variety of economic principles, including the logic of externalities. Assuming that everyone is fully rational and perfectly informed, the landlord maximizes his net income by subsidizing the heating bills of his tenants to reflect the externality, making it in each tenant’s interest to heat to the optimal level.

            The publisher made me take it out in the second edition, presumably because it didn’t fit into the standard syllabus other professors followed. I’m putting it back in the third edition, which I will shortly be self-publishing in both kindle and paperback.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            The non-co2 externalities of coal are very certain, and very high. The formulation I like is “Use coal, pay one dollar to the utility, pay one dollar to the doctor”.

          • The non-co2 externalities of coal are very certain, and very high.

            Not true, I think, for natural gas. A carbon tax discourages both.

          • IrishDude says:

            @acymetric

            I don’t have old electric bills, but May-June-July-August bills were typically in the $120-180 range, while November-December-January-February bills tended to be $70-100.

            I keep a spreadsheet on all my monthly bills. As a counterpoint, I live in the mid-Atlantic region and over the past 7 years (my current home tenure), my electric bills average $200 in the hottest months of July and August and $360 in the coldest months of January and February.

        • deltafosb says:

          Air conditioners almost universally have efficiency higher than one, measured by
          (amount of heat removed)/(amount of electrical energy used) – the right keyword to search for is `EER’, it typically hovers around 8-10 – so I don’t know if simple math is enough to determine what is costlier.
          Interesting thing is that heaters also can have efficiency higher than one – this kind of design works as an inverted AC.

          • alwhite says:

            Efficiency higher than 1 is bordering on perpetual motion machines and probably isn’t a safe metric to be using. Convert amount of heat removed to watts / energy used in watts and efficiency will be less than one.

            Heating, by nature, will be more efficient than cooling. Inefficiency typically means energy is converted to heat instead of work being done. When you’re trying to heat, converting waste to heat only helps. When you’re trying to cool, the waste to heat is counter to the goal.

          • nkurz says:

            > Convert amount of heat removed to watts / energy used in watts and efficiency will be less than one.

            I don’t think that’s true for modern air conditioners. The idea is that it takes less energy to move heat from one place to another than it does to generate heat. There is some confusion of units between SEER, EER, and COP, but the general idea that you can move 1 unit of energy out of a room with less than 1 unit of input energy:

            A SEER of 13 is approximately equivalent to an EER of 11, and a COP of 3.2, which means that 3.2 units of heat are removed from indoors per unit of energy used to run the air conditioner.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_energy_efficiency_ratio

    • nkurz says:

      > Most heating in NYC is done by steam, run through pipes underneath the streets since the late 1800s.

      I don’t think this is true. Could you provide a source for this?

      While parts of NYC do have central steam heat, I don’t think it comes close to providing a majority of the heating for the entire city. I think you may be confusing “NYC” with “parts of Manhattan”, and possibly additionally confusing “uses steam” with “uses district steam heating” (as opposed to heating with steam generated by boilers located in the building).

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Yeah, wikipedia lists 4 plants in Manhattan and 1 each in Brooklyn and Queens. Also it makes yet another distinction. It claims that only half of district steam is from cogeneration. The rest is centralized for efficiency, but isn’t saving power by using waste heat.

      • Another Throw says:

        NYT says 70% of large buildings.

        • nkurz says:

          > NYT says 70% of large buildings.

          The NYT says “Steam systems heat an estimated 70 percent of the large buildings in the city and are a leading energy waster.” The vast majority of these buildings (personal knowledge) use private boilers that are located in the building. The number that use “district heating” is far fewer. This is why I suggested the OP may be confusing “uses steam heat” with “uses district heating”.

          Overall, it’s a strange article since the main thesis of Holohan’s books is that steam is actually quiet and efficient, and it’s only because of poor maintenance by ignorant plumbers that it has a reputation for inefficiency. If you have steam heat (whether as an owner or a renter) definitely get a copy of “Greening Steam” to understand how your system should be working: https://www.amazon.com/Greening-Steam-19th-Century-Heating-Systems/dp/0996477209

          • Another Throw says:

            If I was being obstreperous, I would say “he obviously meant ‘NYC’ to mean ‘New York County,'” because then it would be a true statement and because I have literally never met a person, even among those that live there, that doesn’t mean that when they say New York. It is actually kind of annoying that someone thought it would be a good idea to give a county, city and state the same name. (And then give the boroughs that are coextensive with those counties different names.)

            But you are right, I didn’t actually read that article very carefully.

          • I have literally never met a person, even among those that live there, that doesn’t mean that when they say New York.

            I certainly don’t.

            I was born in New York. I believe in Brooklyn. To me, “New York” means the city. I guessed from your comment that New York County was Manhattan, and googled to make sure.

    • Well... says:

      Hence “Brooklyn air conditioning”: use an open window above the radiator to modulate the apartment temperature.

      Maybe that’s efficient from a utility standpoint, but doesn’t freely introducing foul NYC air into an apartment building for half the year cause those buildings to degrade or accrue mildew and things like that more rapidly? In which case they have to be torn down and rebuilt, which has a lot of costs associated with it especially in NYC…

    • herbert herberson says:

      This kind of centralized heating is actually a lot more common than I think most people realize.

    • Another Throw says:

      The steam is … also used in the summer to operate compressors for AC.

      Is it? I was under the impression that it is used for a different refrigeration cycle that does not require a compressor (or any moving parts at all).

      As for “Brooklyn air conditioning,” I have a random anecdote. I was shooting the breeze with someone in their pre-war office, and after I noticing that their window was open they gave me a very long complaint about how their office is way too hot (and how everyone else’s office is too cold)… while I was looking directly at the brand new thermostatic regulating valve on their radiator. (Most of the other office dwellers were out of luck because their regulators were much older and covered in about ten coats of paint so they couldn’t be adjusted.)

      “Ahem, have you ever tried adjusting that?” is a surprisingly effective way to win friends.

      • Lambert says:

        If you’re running whatever Einstein-Szilard fridge or other clever thermodynamics hack off steam, then why not do the same using natural gas? And why not for heat pumps?

    • Matthias says:

      Those combined heating/electricity systems are usually not that efficient, because they need to keep the ‘waste’ steam at a higher temperature than what is optimal for electricity generation alone.

      They have some of those systems in eg East Germany as well. But a bit more civilised than the New York one, you can control your own temperature.

  3. outlace says:

    I think there’s a big unaddressed critique with the arguments set forth in the “Against Human Sexual Selection” essay you linked to. Sure, in most of human history females did not choose their mates, but humans are just the tip of an iceberg of animal evolution going back millions of years. Whatever vagaries human culture has had the past few thousand years seems largely irrelevant if female attraction to dominance traits in males was selected for in our rodent ancestors millions of years prior. Similarly, I don’t think our general fear of large toothed animals is due to selective pressures during recent human evolution.

    edit: I would also point out that very small differences in reproductive fitness can propagate widely. So even if most females did not choose mates, there were surely a few at the margins that did, and if their reproductive fitness increased as a result then the predisposition for sexual attraction to males with dominance traits (or whatever) would increase in the whole population.

    • tvt35cwm says:

      Your edit is the key point.

      I’d add that whatever the power dynamics at the mate acquisition stage, enthusiastic cooperation during sex would likely result in more babies and more-loved babies than sullen resistance.

      And once we had enough culture to pass on information about arbortifacient herbs, differences would increase.

      • Virriman says:

        Yes, the essay rejects female agency to an absurd degree. Even under very oppressive conditions, people have agency. Though they may face many constraints, they’ll still be able to make SOME decisions that will influence their outcomes in predictable ways, and they’ll generally use them to influence their environment in ways that will maximize their utility. Even pre-teen children generally have some skill at successfully manipulating more powerful adults in their environment.

        In the oppressive environment described in the essay, there are many opportunities for a women to steer things to her advantage. This could mean working to impress their desired mate and his father. Or it could mean finding ways to boost or sabotage the perceived value of various potential mates as her parents consider them. It could even mean goading an undesired husband into dangerous hunts or feuds.

        • mxhaas says:

          The agency of the females may not also be restricted to postive influences on the parents or negative influences on the mate. The essay seems to completely overlook the idea that most humans are attracted to those who show positive emotion towards them. The males who are ultimately doing the selecting (with oversight from their social community) may be predisposed to ask for blessings to mate with a woman who has in some way expressed interest in them. If there are 10 single females to choose from in a social group and 5 of them have expressed interest in a male he may be more likey to choose from these 5 than the 5 who show disinterest. Of those 5 the social community may veto a few but that still in many cases would leave the male with a compatible mate from those who intially show interest. It may not work like this every time but at least enough to be significant. The essay just seems to paint the males as purely emotionless and just as interested in mating with an emotionally distant partner as with one who actively shows affection. These are the margins where the female agency may really come into play.

        • kerkeslager says:

          In addition to rejecting female agency, the essay rejects any possibility of effective positive intent from the males. While the power dynamic certainly is oppressive, I think it’s a pretty large assumption that fathers would choose mates for their daughters with no concern for their daughters’ preferences. This smells like the author has a very “woman oppressed, oppressor evil” attitude, when the reality is more complex. This sort of thinking which overly-castigates oppressors doesn’t do the oppressed any favors. Consider the effect of this bias if you’re trying to persuade a father to let his daughter choose her own mate: if you just tell the father he’s evil, it’s not likely to produce the change you seek.

          The problems don’t stop there:

          1. Half the genes in a female are from her male father, and given the number of genes that affect sexual preference, it’s a solid chance that some of the genes which affect sexual preference in males were passed down from father to daughter. That is to say, if we accept the proposition that males have genes which cause sexual preference, it’s likely that females have some of those same genes.

          2. De-facto, we have at least one really strong, clear example of mate preferences in females which is likely biological. Is the article denying a genetic component in lesbianism?

          3. There’s also a disconnect between mate selection in a social sense, and mate selection in a reproductive sense. A patriarch might determine who their daughter marries, but they can’t exert nearly as much control over who their daughter reproduces with. Up until the last century there were no reliable means to determine paternity, and there are numerous examples of infidelity and husbands raising other men’s children. Are we to believe that female preference had no effect even in adultery?

        • zinjanthropus says:

          Good points by all. Ancient literature is full of stories in which true love wins out over parental preference. Even in Romeo and Juliet, old Capulet wants the County Paris, his choice for his daughter, to woo her and win her consent.

          Also, even if we restrict ourselves to anatomically modern humans, that’s 50,000 years or so. Anyone who wants to argue that females had no influence over a 50,000 year period over who their mates would be has assumed an enormous burden of proof.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          I don’t see why sexual selection wouldn’t work just as well if it were “parents are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”.

        • zzzzort says:

          There’s a lot of ways in which the essay is wrong and over simplified, but I think it’s at least a somewhat useful corrective. Armchair evolutionary biologists (like armchair political philosophers before them) tend to be terrible at imagining pre-agricultural societies, and use that lack of imagination to sneak in their own biases. If you take the evolutionary arguments seriously, then you would expect to have just as much explanatory power over how people interact with and appeal to the parents of their eventual mates. And I don’t want to say no one, because on the internet there’s always someone, but almost no one makes those arguments. Instead it’s all about women swooning for the guy with the biggest muscles for killing mastodons (and often with the subtext that that’s why women won’t date the person making the argument). Yes, women had a lot more agency than the essay gives them credit for, but individuals all had a lot less agency than many people imagine, because humans are social and lived in societies with a lot of rules.

          • John Schilling says:

            There’s a lot of ways in which the essay is wrong and over simplified, but I think it’s at least a somewhat useful corrective. Armchair evolutionary biologists (like armchair political philosophers before them) tend to be terrible at imagining pre-agricultural societies, and use that lack of imagination to sneak in their own biases

            The sort of “armchair evolutionary biologist” who is so genuinely terrible as to use these spherical-mate-selecting-cow models at face value, is usually doing so because they’ve found a model that fits their existing biases and wants to stop thinking at that point. If you try to make them think about it further, they’re going to really want to think just enough to find an excuse to dismiss you – and if the counterargument is as equally-and-oppositely-stupid as “arranged marriages, so no female agency”, then they’ll have the excuse they need to ignore you in about fifteen seconds flat.

            Everybody else knows that they’re using spherical-cow models, but has made that decision because they’re willing to settle for an approximate answer and because they think cows are more approximately spherical than they are, say, cubical. Offering your cubical-cow model doesn’t produce sudden enlightenment and a commitment to more precise, nuanced analaysis, it makes them think you are an annoying pedant and, unless they thing cubical-cowism really is a better approximation, makes them want to ignore you.

            So, no, nobody who actually needs correcting will be usefully corrected by something this sloppy and blatantly wrong.

    • Randy M says:

      So even if most females did not choose mates, there were surely a few at the margins that did, and if their reproductive fitness increased as a result then the predisposition for sexual attraction to males with dominance traits (or whatever) would increase in the whole population.

      I’ve always thought of sexual selection as molding the trait to the preference (Peacocks get colorful feathers since Peahens prefer them) rather than molding the preference to the trait (women get more attraction to dominant males because that’s where the mating opportunities are).

      I suppose either could operate in different circumstances but that’s an interesting wrinkle.

    • jumpinjacksplash says:

      I think you’d probably have enough extra-marital pregnancies throughout human history to sustain women having mate preferences. Not just “false paternity” situations, but pre-marital pregnancies (resulting in shotgun weddings or not), couples eloping etc.

      The other thing that’s always bugged me: did European peasants (c. 80% of the population) really arrange their marriages, or did they just marry whomever they wanted to (with basically the same caveats that people have now)?

      • Mary says:

        Well, there’s a Norse myth about Rig and the origins of Thrall (slave), Karl (man), and Jarl (lord).

        Thrall just shacked up with a woman he liked, and Jarl sent a message and gifts to a neighboring king to ask for their daughter (sight unseen), but Karl met his bride at a religious festival and then made the arrangements with her parents.

        At the very least, the pecuniary side of things had to be settled. For instance, what the bride received in “morning gift” — which would be what she had to support herself in widowhood.

      • Watchman says:

        I can’t comment on all European peasants, since this covers a vast range of societies. Late-medieval English peasants though provide an interesting picture: marriage of women seems to normally be in the 20s (5-10 years later than aristocratic women, who tend to be the medieval ideal in modern society). Marriage was often shortly before or even after the birth of the first child. Both these things suggest that there was a high degree of autonomy for the woman here.

        Note also contemporary literature (Canterbury Tales, The Decameron etc) doesn’t shy from showing women as having their own sexual agency. The Decameron (written by a clergyman) kind of celebrates it (great read if you still think the middle ages were all chivalry, maidens and mud).

        Thus might be an unusual period, both for the flowering of vernacular literature and the survival of manorial and parochial records which allow us to recreate society. But even if unusual (and I doubt it was) it is unlikely to be unique, allowing us to consider that there were periods when generations of female choice in sexual partners was an active factor.

      • Lillian says:

        This is into the early modern period, but i think it’s representative of traditional attitudes:

        When the state started taxing marriage in the 1690s, the vicar of Tetbury in Gloucestershire carried out a survey of his parishioners to find out how many had been married in church. He was covering his back – clergymen who failed to ensure that their parishioners were officially married were penalised. He discovered that half of them had not been married in church, but clandestinely, making private vows to each other, or married in a private dwelling by some roving clergyman. They were living in stable, but irregular unions.

        Given the choice, those unencumbered by property preferred to avoid the expense and rigmarole of an official church wedding and spend their money on drinking to celebrate the new partnership. Dodging the newly imposed tax and resentment at the state’s interference in their private business provided further incentives to live in “common law unions” that had no basis in law and did not carry property rights. As long as a couple considered themselves “married in the sight of God” and was “reputed lawful man and wife amongst their neighbours” the forms of ceremony mattered little to them.

        Since then living together in such unions, at least among the poor, has been more common than we think. It was only during the First World War when “common law wives” applied for their partner’s pay and pensions that the question of official marriage became an issue.

        […]

        The same casual attitude applied to sexual morality. Upper-class marriages involved property and meant that an unmarried girl’s chastity had to be guarded at all costs. But chastity mattered less to others. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, when Victorian notions of respectability filtered down to the labouring class, a surprisingly high proportion of English brides were pregnant on their wedding day. Pre-marital sex was a sort of fertility test and pregnancy did not so much precipitate as anticipate the wedding; or, as a Norfolk farmer explained to his vicar, “You would not buy a horse without trying it first”.

      • kaneliomena says:

        At least some European peasant societies had customs to facilitate meeting and ensuring compatibility between potential marriage partners that indicate some independence from parental choice:

        Night courting is a traditionally defined pattern of courtship distinguished by bedding down together before marriage. It is not to be confused with practices of premarital mating. Sexual intercourse is not intrinsic to the relationship, and where present is generally regarded as a relatively recent intrusion (…) Keeping company in bed constitutes the European institution of night courting only if it is done overtly, with moral approval of the community and as a customary technique for the selection of marriage partners.

    • Unirt says:

      Yeah. The no-sexual-selection case would be stronger if human females didn’t have very strong preferences for males or the seemingly elaborate mate selection criteria. While some female mammals look like they have no preference for males – they are fine with whoever comes with the territory – women very notably do. This at least needs an explanation. Would evolution maintain a set of preferences if these were no use whatsoever? Also, men have some behavioural tendencies that need an explanation if seducing a female is never a necessity. Why would young men of different hunter-gatherer groups preferentially share their kill with families involving young women (citation needed)? I suppose, even if marriage is mostly arranged, extramarital kids make up a large enough portion of all kids that extramarital affairs, and thus female preference, are still evolutionarily significant.

    • yaolilylu says:

      Another factor is that even in very oppressive societies, like pre-modern China, the mating choice is still made by the female, just not for herself: she chooses her sons and daughters-in-law instead. (Fathers theoretically have all the power, but in practice matches are largely female-made.)

  4. orthonormal says:

    The Wikipedia protocol was an April Fools’ Day joke.

  5. jasmith79 says:

    I remember pledging allegiance to the Christian flag (as well as the American flag) as a kid at a religious elementary 30 years ago. I haven’t thought about it in oh, about 30 years until the link reminded me. There’s also a pledge of allegiance to the Bible.

  6. jgaln says:

    Regarding the chance of climate change causing human extinction, I found this article about the end-Permian mass extinction has reshaped my view of what an out-of-control climate could look like. The image on page 6 is a good summary. I’d love to hear Scott’s take on this, if he hasn’t seen it already.

    http://burro.case.edu/Academics/USNA229/impactfromthedeep.pdf

    • James Green says:

      I’m pulling out the final paragraph from that linked pdf because it seems particularly relevant.

      Most troubling, however, is the question of whether our species has anything to fear from this mechanism in the future: If it happened before, could it happen again? Although estimates of the rates at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere during each of the ancient extinctions are still uncertain, the ultimate levels at which the mass deaths took place are known. The so-called thermal extinction at the end of the Paleocene began when atmospheric CO2 was just under 1,000 parts per million (ppm). At the end of the Triassic, CO2 was just above 1,000 ppm. Today with CO2 around 385 ppm, it seems we are still safe. But with atmospheric carbon climbing at an annual rate of 2 ppm and expected to accelerate to 3 ppm, levels could approach 900 ppm by the end of the next century, and conditions that bring about the beginnings of ocean anoxia may be in place. How soon after that could there be a new greenhouse extinction? That is something our society should never find out.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        … and this is what gets me about the so-called warmist position.

        All of their conclusions are predicated on the idea of ignoring what we already know to be true. Once you pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere, you get extremely bad results.

        Even leaving out things like collapses in the ocean food-chain, ocean acidification, ocean
        anoxia, etc. you still have to deal with the inevitability of loss of glaciation. In the US alone that puts the entire eastern seaboard, all of Florida, large chunks of the gulf coast, most of Louisiana and much of the western coast underwater.

        We have to stop at some point.

        • We have to stop at some point.

          Are you thinking in terms of centuries or millenia? You might want to look at this article, which works out the implications of burning all fossil fuels. A relevant quote:

          Antarctica is projected to become almost ice-free with an average contribution to sea-level rise exceeding 3 m per century during the first millennium.

          My blog post discussing it is here.

          • Swami says:

            I enjoyed your article, David. I will say though that according to your upper limit, everyone in Phoenix is already dead. Summer average high is in the low 40s. It is still booming.

            But I do agree with you that if the worst case scenarios on AGW came to pass, we would on net gain in habitable and comfortable living conditions with the opening of Canada and Siberia. There are substantially more major cities even today in deserts than in frozen tundra.

          • jgaln says:

            @Swami – right. The wet bulb temperature is what matters for habitability, and Phoenix is very dry. Its maximum wet bulb temperature seems to be around 77 F (25 C).

          • DinoNerd says:

            @Swami

            My understanding is that as well as overall warming, there’s convergence of temperatures – thus Arctic temperatures are increasing faster than tropical temperatures. The prehistoric periods with super high carbon levels seem to have had tropical/subtropical temperatures from equator to poles – no temperate zone at all.

            Depending on the definitions used (e.g. for sub tropical), and the reliability/accuracy of that research (and my memories of it, etc.), this could mean that places beyond the Arctic Circle become hotter than I’d want to live without air conditioning, while those in previously temperate areas are merely somewhat worse than that.

            But however you look at it, modeling this as “climate zones shift north (south in the other hemisphere) uniformly” doesn’t match what we’re already seeing.

          • there’s convergence of temperatures

            Freeman Dyson explains this somewhere in one of his books. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas. The more of one greenhouse gas in the air, the less the effect of adding another–you can’t absorb more than 100% of the infra-red coming up from the Earth. The warmer it is, ceteris paribus, the more water vapor, hence the less the effect of adding CO2.

            The implication, which practically everyone ignores, is that the pattern of warming is biased in our favor. It makes winters milder by more than it makes summers hotter. It warms cold places, where warming is good, more than it warms hot places, where warming is bad.

            That’s one of the reasons that I think the net externality from CO2 might turn out to be positive.

          • phi says:

            @DavidFriedman on competition between greenhouse gasses.

            While it seems plausible to me that the effect of adding an additional unit of greenhouse gas diminishes as the amount of gas in the atmosphere goes up, your proposed mechanism (“you can’t absorb more than 100% of the infra-red coming up from the Earth”), sounds wrong. The atmosphere is already almost completely opaque to infra-red. Adding more greenhouse gasses leads to warming because it increases the number of times that an infra-red photon must be absorbed and re-emitted before escaping to space. It’s like how a sheet of paper won’t make a very good insulator, even though it blocks all the infra-red photons that hit it, but a stack of paper will insulate much better.

            It seems like a better explanation would be that blackbody radiation goes as T^4, meaning that warmer regions leak heat to space more rapidly. That’s just idle speculation, though. It could be that other effects are far more important.

            I definitely agree with you that the poles are heating up faster than the tropics, though.

        • souleater says:

          I’ve been reading your comments on here for years, so maybe you can move the needle for me on GW. I don’t always agree with you, but I know you’re acting in good faith and I would appreciate it if you took the time to change my mind on this.

          I’m a skeptic on global warming, partially because I feel like none of the proposals currently on the table would have an appreciable effect on stopping global warming. I can understand that proponents are probably just trying to do anything, no matter how small, to move the overton window, and I’m not faulting them for that. But I don’t think any solution I’ve ever heard proposed would appreciably reduce global warming. The Green New Deal is the most ambitious plan on record, “Yet the United States is currently responsible for only 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions” (WaPo link) So even radical cuts to US emissions wouldn’t be sufficient.
          If the solutions proposed don’t solve the defined problem, then it makes me wonder if the folks in power who are proposing those solutions aren’t acting in good faith. Even though I know the average democrat voter is.

          Reason I’m bringing all this up is I’m curious about what the average left leaning high information voter believes about. I understand this would be all speculation, but I’m trying to get a sense of how concerned people are:

          a) What is your gut sense on the worst case scenario if we do nothing about global warming with regard to humanity. What percentage of the population will die as a direct result of global warming? How might it affect the economy?

          b) If the US implements the most dramatic plans on record, i.e. GND, Paris Climate accord, and anything else I’m not thinking of, how would that change your answer to “a”

          c) Instead of trying to stop global warming, what would you think of trying to prepare for it? Ramp up flood control research; offer incentives for people who will move to higher elevations, Invest in indoor climate control and agricultural technology and continue work on hardier GMO varieties etc.

          • notpeerreviewed says:

            In what sense are you a skeptic? If you believe that global warming isn’t happening or that it’s not caused by humans, that’s one thing. If you believe IPCC-type recommendations on how to deal with global warming are misguided, that’s a different thing, and I’m not sure “skepticism” is even the right word for the latter.

          • jgaln says:

            “I’m a skeptic on global warming, partially because I feel like none of the proposals currently on the table would have an appreciable effect on stopping global warming.”

            I’m not sure I follow what you mean. Are you saying that a lack of proposed effective solutions is evidence that climate change isn’t real / isn’t anthropogenic? Or do you just mean you’re skeptical about the proposals? Or our ability to solve the problem in general?

          • One can be skeptical of different parts of the current orthodoxy.

            What I am skeptical of is the claim that AGW can be expected to produce large net negative effects in the next century or so. Do I qualify as a skeptic?

          • souleater says:

            @notpeerreviewed

            I’m a skeptic in the epistemic learned helplessness sense. I don’t know if GW is happening, I don’t know if it’s caused by humans, and I certainly don’t know enough about IPCC to render any kind of judgment on it.

            if I know that a false argument sounds just as convincing as a true argument, argument convincingness provides no evidence either way. I should ignore it and stick with my prior.

            I’m not a climate scientist, I know absolutely nothing about climatology, and I’m reasonably sure that a climate scientist would be equally convincing to me regardless of the accuracy of their position.

            Normally, I would think it would be reasonable to default to believing whatever the scientific consensus was, but global warming is being used to justify particular groups claim to political power, so I look at GW studies with the same critical eye as I would studies showing the benefits or drawbacks of the minimum wage.

            I don’t know what to believe about global warming, but I get the sense from some people (my very smart and very well educated fiance for example) that they believe that global warming represents an existential threat to the human race.

            I got to admit, that if I was 100% convinced that catastrophic global warming is real, and preventable, no other policy position would matter to me. Despite my personal politics, I would be morally obligated to vote for whichever candidate promises to stop the imminent extinction of the human race.

            @jgaln

            My response to notpeerreviewed might answer your comments, but to elaborate a bit more, is that people in power who say they believe in global warming aren’t behaving the way I would behave if I was in power and believed in global warming. Their rhetoric doesn’t seem to match their behavior to me.

            I do want to make it clear that I doubt the sincerity of politicians, but not the sincerity of the commenters here. I tried to make that clear in my comments, but I also want to explicitly say it incase it didn’t come through.

          • tscharf says:

            Any policy that does not directly address the speculative very large increases in CO2 from China, India, and Africa is not going to move the needle much in actual temperature increases. You either stop them from being wealthy, or convince them to use clean energy. If clean energy is more expensive than fossil fuels in places that are still working on indoor toilets then you can bet they will take the lowest cost energy option.

            If you make clean energy less expensive and as reliable as fossil fuels everyone wins. If the mentality is instead focused on carbon sinners must be punished then it may not be effective. Stop future people from using fossil fuels by making it an easy choice.

          • tscharf says:

            @souleater

            What you want to try to separate is climate science and how the media reports the findings of climate science. They are far from the same thing. My take is that the media is chock full of journalists that are environmental activists (ESPN is full of sports enthusiasts) and reasonable reporting on this issue stopped at least a decade ago.

            Of course bypassing the media and reading an IPCC report is beyond the scope of most casually interested citizens. I have read a few pieces of the IPCC report and find the media reporting on the areas to be incoherent and continuously alarmist while the actual report to be informative and enlightening.

            Sea level rise for example. “Up to 2M by 2100!”. I have literally seen 20M estimates routinely that are being referenced from someone here that are absolutely crazy with a capital C. Seas did rise 100M after those massive glaciers melted after the last ice age. Timescale is ummm…important when parroting these claims.

            If the assumptions for the estimate aren’t given, the time frame for the estimate not given, the full range of the estimate not given, and some probability of the worst case scenario not given then it is 99% chance it is intentionally misleading propaganda.

          • AllAmericanBreakfast says:

            Two good proposals to look into are dramatically increasing green energy research, and geoengineering, specifically cloud-seeding. Once you have green energy that’s cheaper than fossil fuel, it will take off of its own accord. Unfortunately, research is always underfunded because the public benefits exceed the maximum private gain through patents, so we ought to be subsidizing it, even through a purely capitalist lens.

            Cloud-seeding would work by stirring up the oceans, increasing salt concentrations on the surface, which evaporates with the water and forms more white clouds. Their higher albedo acts like a mirror, reflecting more sunlight and cooling the planet. Last estimate I heard, on a recent EconTalk episode, was that this would cost $10 billion (per year?) as opposed to $400 billion a year to convert just the US to green energy, and work immediately. We should at least be studying this proposal.

          • Mabuse7 says:

            Ted Nordhaus recently wrote a good article on this exact problem, basically arguing that the climate movement suffers from a paralysing mix of market-led economic orthodoxy and counterculture small-is-beautiful sensibilities.

          • Unfortunately, research is always underfunded because the public benefits exceed the maximum private gain through patents, so we ought to be subsidizing it, even through a purely capitalist lens.

            The problem with that form of the externality argument, here as in other contexts, is that it implicitly assumes that the subsidy is being done by someone with the best of motives and enough expertise to figure out what should be subsidized. That’s unlikely to be the case when it is done by a government.

            Consider what is probably the largest program in the U.S. to reduce global warming–biofuels. As best I can tell, the conclusion of the serious environmentalists, some time back, was that it doesn’t reduce CO2, that the fuel burned in growing and transporting the corn produces as much as the use of ethanol from corn saves.

            It does, however, have two other effects. The desired one is to raise the price of corn, thus benefiting farmers. Al Gore, to his credit, eventually admitted that one reason he supported the program was the Iowa primary.

            The undesired effect, which nobody relevant cares about, is to eliminate from the market about ten percent of the world’s production of maize, thus doing our bit to promote world hunger.

            If the government were subsidizing research (it almost certainly does–but assume by more) it would be subject to the same incentives. And consider that subsidizing one line of research diverts creative people away from alternative lines.

          • souleater says:

            I have read a few pieces of the IPCC report and find the media reporting on the areas to be incoherent and continuously alarmist while the actual report to be informative and enlightening.

            I feel like part of the root of my issue, I’m reasonably confident the rhetoric doesn’t match the true severity of the situation.. I know everybody engages in rhetoric, but I don’t know how to have a good faith negotiation with people whose position is:

            a) if we don’t enact my policy preferences we could go extinct
            b) if you try to negotiate for your policy preferences you’re holding humanity hostage
            c) I shouldn’t even have to give up anything for my preferred policy because this will save all our lives

            Is this a strawman? It feels like it is, just because of how unreasonable it looks, but this is genuinely my understanding of the position of the democrat leadership/base. If I inadvertently built a strawman here, I hope someone would correct my thinking.

            Any policy that does not directly address the speculative very large increases in CO2 from China, India, and Africa is not going to move the needle much in actual temperature increases. You either stop them from being wealthy, or convince them to use clean energy.

            It seems to me that what would really be required to appreciably reduce global warming, would be large transfers of money from western nations to developing countries for infrastructure improvements. Which was a big provision in the Paris Climate Accord (wikipedia)

            This bothers me a bit because, while I don’t know enough to be sure, I feel like it may be a bit of a conflict of interest to have the UN, be leading the charge on global warming, considering it would have the effect of transferring wealth from US to developing countries.

            Honestly, Global Warming would cause such wide ranging transfers of wealth and power, I’m not sure if there is an organization that I trust to look at this in an unbiased way.

            I know my abject refusal to consider the science and data probably rankles the rationalists here, but I’m hoping that outlining my thinking might provide some insight on why some people continue to be skeptical on Global Warming.

          • Matt M says:

            It seems to me that what would really be required to appreciably reduce global warming, would be large transfers of money from western nations to developing countries for infrastructure improvements.

            And then, by what mechanism do we ensure that these “developing countries” don’t simply take the money, use it for other things, and continue to build coal plants?

          • tscharf says:

            The better way is for the developed world to do what it does best, develop the technology to make clean energy cheap and reliable, sell it to the developing world as a better product for their energy needs. Wealth transfers in that direction are not necessary.

            It is noted that most advocates never even talk about this. They are hell bent on destroying their perceived enemies and implementing preferred policies they already favored in the first place.

            Human extinction is not a serious argument, ask those who say these things to explain exactly how that would happen. There isn’t a serious scientist who believes this.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @souleater:

            I just wanted to offer an apology for not having been able to respond. The last few days have involved a pet health emergency, an in from out of town guest, and then travel. I had meant to at least put some sort of reply down but hasn’t been able to get back around to it.

            Such a heartfelt question at least deserves some response, if however cursory. Note, I’m not a climate scientist.

            A) I’d say the worst case scenario is laid out in the link above, some massive anoxic event. Another potential scenario is ocean acidification caused by absorption of CO2 leading to a massive disruption of the ocean food chain and mass die off of ocean life, leading to other downstream collapses.

            However, I think the reasons to deal with climate change can be much more quotidian. Massive disruption of geo-political stability due to 100s of millions or billions of climate displaced refugees will likely make for ugly, ugly times. That’s one of the things the US military believes is a credible long term threat, AFAIK.

            B) I think this is the wrong question. I sometimes call this the ocean liner problem. An ocean liner takes a great of time to change its bearing 180 degrees, but this doesn’t mean starting to turn the wheel is useless. I model Paris as one step in a process. Even if Paris doesn’t fully solve the issue (which it does not, and was not intended to do), it is certainly a step on the way to a solution. Every ton of CO2 we don’t put into the atmosphere now adds some length to the runway we need to get the plane off the ground.

            C) To a certain extent this is already happening. Look at what’s happening in Miami or on The Mississippi. But putting up a sea wall is not nearly so simple as it seems, Miami may already be untenable. The forces at work are gargantuan, and we are only dealing with about 8 inches of sea level rise.

          • tscharf says:

            Miami is already untenable, what a load of crap. Billions of climate refugees, where do you find this stuff? This isn’t consensus science and you only hurt your cause by parroting it.

            Florida has the toughest building codes in the nation, coastal building codes are for 100 year storm surge events. Any home built in southern Florida in the past 25 years will be built for approx. 130 mph sustained winds and is built 10+ feet over sea level. For moderate future emissions scenarios Miami will probably get about another 12 inches of sea level rise by 2100.

            There will be costs, some infrastructure may need to be moved or rebuilt. They just spent $500M improving pumping ability to stop localized flooding during king tides.

            If you want to live or visit Miami you can expect some extra taxes to deal with these things as time goes by just as if you live in Illinois you can expect to be taxed for future pension fees.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Miami already has flooding through bedrock on the full moon.

          • @HBC:

            That article implies that the problem is due to SLR, but it says nothing about how long it has existed. Given that SLR in Florida has been only eight inches over the past century, it doesn’t seem likely that it is entirely responsible for what the article describes.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            Sea level rise is not uniform.

            While sea level has risen 3” since 1992, local rises have been as much as 9”.

            The sea level of the East Coast of the US is currently rising 2x or 3x faster than the average. The loss of gravitational pull from the melting glaciers allows the already liquid water to flow away from the land masses that lose them. In addition, that loss of mass has effects on the earth’s crust, which springs up from mantle locally.

            In addition to that, the East Coast of the US is still sinking due to the loss of the Northern Glaciers in the previous ice age.

            So Miami is an area that is far more impacted by sea level rise than average.

          • nkurz says:

            @DavidFriedman: Given that SLR in Florida has been only eight inches over the past century

            @HeelBearCub: Sea level rise is not uniform.

            I’m pretty sure that David is aware that sea level rise is not uniform, and was making the specific claim that (relative) SLR in Florida was only 8 inches over the last 100 years. Your reply would indicate that you think he is wrong, and that the actual rise in Miami might be much larger. Or am I misreading, and you are making a different point?

            The best chart I can find (https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=8723170) claims a best estimate of 9.6 inches of sea level rise in Miami Beach over the last 100 years. Oddly, the chart only has measurements from the 1930’s to 1980’s. Given the (at least local) importance of this issue, it seems unlikely that there aren’t more up to date measurements. Do either of you know where to find them?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @nkurz:
            Global sea level rise since 1900 is estimated to have been between 6.3” to 8.3”.

            I’m not aware of the ability to tease out precise local measurement from 1900 forward, and I don’t think David was referring to local rise in Miami. If he is referring to sea level in Miami from 1900 forward he possibly should more clear about that.

          • So Miami is an area that is far more impacted by sea level rise than average.

            Aside from subsidence, I don’t see why any of the effects you mention would make SLR different for Miami than for other places, since they all contribute to global SLR.

            It’s worth distinguishing between sea level going up and the land going down. Both result in the local sea level going up, but only the former is due to global warming and could be reduced by policies to deal with it.

            It’s pretty common, in alarmist literature, to show pictures of flooding on the Atlantic coast with the implication that it is due to AGW when a majority of the change (not for Miami–I think the pictures I saw were for North Carolina) is due to subsidence.

            Going back to your question, my eight inch figure was from one of the web pages I found discussing it and, I think, was specifically for Florida. I assume it included the effect of global SLR plus any local subsidence, but I don’t know.

            In any case, my central point was that the piece you linked to implied the problem was due to AGW but offered no evidence that it was, in particular did not say when the problem was first observed, and that it seemed implausible that a sea level rise as small as has so far occurred could be responsible for much of the effect.

            Do you disgree?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            I will circle back later to the idea that average sea level and peak local sea level are not at all the same thing. In the mean time you seem to be claiming that a rise in average sea level of 8” should never lead to a local peak (high tides, storm surges, etc) rise of greater than 8”. This should strike one as an obviously a facile assumption.

            On to your claims about subsidence not being related to global warming, and how global sea level rise should be uniform. I just linked you to an article about how subsidence is, in fact, directly related to global warming that is occurring now and occurred and the end of the last glacial period. This same article pointed that local sea level is affected by the gravity, gravity from the mass of the glaciers that are currently melting.

            It would nice if you at least acknowledged the claims before going on to your claims that these two elements don’t exist as a result of warming. Certainly the subsidence from the end of the last glacial period aren’t caused by the current warming, but this is neither here nor there as to whether warming can cause further subsidence, nor whether pre-existing subsidence means that current sea level rises due to AGW become harder to deal with.

          • tscharf says:

            There is sea level rise as measured by tide gauges which is localized and confounded by the land sinking and other issues. There is global sea level rise that measures the entire ocean via satellite. The differences are discussed here in FAQ 13.1.

            The Key West trend is more up to date.

            Miami and the rest of FL’s SLR has been pretty much linear over the past 100 years. Everyone expects it to accelerate in the next 80 years but there is little sign of a sharp acceleration happening anytime soon. SLR is approx 1 inch per decade. If it was to reach the oft quoted “up to 2M by 2100!!!!” then the rate of SLR would need to change to 7.5 inches per decade, starting tomorrow.

            Just looking at the trends and the knowledge that these things change slowly leads one to the conclusion that this is very unlikely. I would love to place a bet on that not happening…

            What is also not talked about is that Miami doesn’t need to protect itself against 2M of SLR until there is some reasonable chance that will actually happen. Building a a big wall today would be silly. If in 30 years there is marked acceleration then plans should be made and executed. There are large populations that already live below sea level, it’s not an evacuation.

          • tscharf says:

            @HBC

            You stated Miami is already untenable. Instead of nitpicking on the details, can you provide the information that led you to this conclusion?

            The “east coast” is not rising 2x to 3x the average. You can zoom in here and check the trends all over the east coast. Isolating areas where the land is sinking the fastest and inferring these are demonstrative of AGW SLR is misleading, but is standard practice in environmental journalism.

            “how subsidence is, in fact, directly related to global warming”

            I suppose if we reduce CO2 emissions then land subsidence will then stop, correct?

          • In the mean time you seem to be claiming that a rise in average sea level of 8” should never lead to a local peak (high tides, storm surges, etc) rise of greater than 8”. This should strike one as an obviously a facile assumption.

            It seems the natural assumption. Can you offer any reason why increasing the depth of the ocean by 8″ would effect high tide by more than that, or storm surges by more than that?

            I just linked you to an article about how subsidence is, in fact, directly related to global warming that is occurring now and occurred and the end of the last glacial period.

            I do not believe your article claims that current subsidence is related to current warming. That claim, if I correctly understood it, was a reference to the elastic response, which affects sea level—water going up, not land going down.

            This same article pointed that local sea level is affected by the gravity, gravity from the mass of the glaciers that are currently melting.

            Which is relevant because it means that water that was being attracted to a melting glacier no longer is, hence that sea level everywhere else is higher. That’s one of the reasons why sea level has been rising at a bit less than an inch a decade.

            Certainly the subsidence from the end of the last glacial period aren’t caused by the current warming

            Correct.

            but this is neither here nor there as to whether warming can cause further subsidence

            The fact that subsidence from the end of the last glaciation is still occurring might give you some idea of the relevant time scale.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            You can take your issues up with NASA.

            These regional differences in sea level change will become even more apparent in the future, as ice sheets melt. For instance, when the Amundsen Sea sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is totally gone, the average global sea level will rise four feet. But the East Coast of the United States will see an additional 14 to 15 inches above that average.

            Tides, winds and ocean currents play a role in these regional differences

            As any ice sheet melts, sea levels along coastlines as much as 1,500 miles (2,000 kilometers) away will fall as seawater escapes from the reduced gravitational pull and the crust lifts. The escaping seawater flows clear across the equator: the melting of Antarctica affects the U.S. East and West coasts, and Greenland’s disappearance impacts the coastline of Brazil. These regional differences are significant – such as in the case of the East Coast of the United States.

            The East Coast is also on the losing end of another important solid-Earth process that affects regional sea levels: post-glacial rebound.

            In other words, there a variety of factors that lead to regional differences and post glacial rebound is not the only reason for regional differences.

            @tscharf:
            You also can take your issues up with NASA:

            If you live on the U.S. East Coast, though, your sea level is rising two or three times faster than average.

          • tscharf says:

            I’m still missing the part where Miami is already untenable.

            The NASA info has no references so its impossible to track down what they are really saying, it does state seas are rising a “few millimeters per year”. Apparently the “other NASA” disagrees. If you compare the other NASA to the previous noted NOAA sea level trends you will not find 2x to 3x (6 mm to 9 mm) to be the case.

          • nkurz says:

            @tscharf: “Apparently the “other NASA” disagrees.”

            I think the explanation is that “East Coast” is being used colloquially to refer to a subset of mid-Atlantic states, and does not refer literally to all parts of the US that border the Atlantic. Just like the “Midwest” isn’t located in the middle of the American West, in this case the East Coast does not refer to Florida.

            “Postglacial rebound” (a good search phrase) is a well known phenomenon that is causing relative sea levels to drop in some areas that were once covered by glaciers. Now that the heavy glaciers are no longer pressing it down, the land springs back up, causing the local sea level to appear to drop. In some parts of Scandinavia, this rate of rise can be extreme. In Norway, some Paleolithic settlements that were once on the coast are now 60m above; parts of Sweden are now several hundred meters higher than they once were.

            What’s less known is that there can be a counterbalancing “seesaw effect”, where adjoining areas sink, causing locally elevated sea levels. The NASA press release is talking mostly about this effect, caused by the melting of glaciers in Eastern Canada a few millennia ago: Maine is rising a little, New England is sinking a little, North Carolina is sinking fast, but Florida is sufficiently far enough away not to be significantly affected.

            Unfortunately, the press release doesn’t really make the distinctions clear. The map on Page 7 of this unrelated PDF (entitled “Uplift from GPS” is the clearest graphic that I could find that describes the actual situation: https://topex.ucsd.edu/geodynamics/PGR_sea_level.pdf.

            I also have a longer more “meta” reply that I may try to write up. It’s interesting watching from sidelines at how different people in this thread approach the issues. My current thought is that there’s a divide between camps of those who believe it’s justifiable to be wrong as long as one’s logic is sound (HBC), and those who believe there’s no excuse for being wrong just because the experts and authorities are mistaken (DF).

          • Controls Freak says:

            @HeelBearCub

            Massive disruption of geo-political stability due to 100s of millions or billions of climate displaced refugees will likely make for ugly, ugly times.

            I think this claim has gotten lost in the discussion, so I’d like to address it. The best reference I’ve come across that tries to estimate this came from the World Bank. First, note that the high part of their high end does not get to billions. Next, note that they have some suspicious scenario choices (RCP8.5 is not going to happen, and combining it with SSP2 or SSP4 doesn’t work). Nevertheless, that’s not even the most important bit.

            The most important bit is that they’re using a gravity model to model how desirable various places are to live, abstracted away from internal motivations. This might end up painting a very different picture than your “ugly, ugly times”. The report consistently uses the term “migration” instead of “refugees”, and I commend them for this. Migration may be, “Well, the productivity of Joe’s farm has been going down, so only one of Joe’s kids stays on the farm to work it. The others get some other sort of education, move to the city, and get some other sort of job.” This dynamic has absolutely happened in the US over the past century, too. I often say that I’m “one generation removed from the farm”, because while my father retained some connection to the old family farm, I went into a different line of work and moved into a city area. It’s difficult to detangle these things if we’re not being extremely careful… and if I’m being strong in my wording, it’s flatly deceptive to speak about this type of migration in terms of “refugees”, bringing in all of the connotations that implies (as is seen in your phrasing). My personal internal migration halfway across the country has expressly not been an ugly time; I rather think I’ve improved my life when compared to staying and working on the family farm.

            A good way to check whether we think the big number on the front of the box actually means that there are ugly times inside is to see how it compares to the baseline. In the World Bank report, they have a series of plots (the first is Figure 4.3, and similar ones follow in the sections for the different geographical areas) which let us compare the predicted number of internal migrants due to climate to the number of internal migrants due to other factors. In almost all cases, it’s a pretty small fraction of the total. Another way to think about this is to realize that we already have many times more migration than the amount predicted due to climate change. This tends to look a lot more like me moving halfway across the country for a better job than an ugly, ugly time.

            If you have any source that you think gets to something more akin to ‘refugees’ than ‘migrants’, I’d be interested to see it (though, I think such analysis is going to have massive hurdles to get over, as that’s diving head-first into fast-timescale political dynamics).

            That’s one of the things the US military believes is a credible long term threat, AFAIK.

            I’d like some substantiation for this, too. The only thing I’ve ever seen come from military documents concerning climate change is really banal stuff. Stuff that makes you think it was thrown in there just to appease someone who demanded that they talk about the effects of climate change. Stuff like, “People are saying they think [insert predictions of others] might happen. If so, we should be careful to monitor the effects on political and military situations.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            OK, I said I’d circle back around to the idea that the static sea level rise amount can’t simply be added to whatever your peak tide number is to get the rise in the peak tide level.

            Obviously tide changes (from low tide to high tide) vary greatly from one site to the next around the globe. The tidal displacement of the volume of water is affected by the local topography. Pressure systems, wind and other effects will change the local tidal variation. I don’t claim to be a scientist, let alone one that has an expertise in tides, but I think the fact that we see a great deal of variability, both from location to location and temporally, should give us the intuition that tidal effects aren’t simply linear.

            According to this paper, which is referencing another paper:

            . [Dynamic Sea Level] DSL changes are coupled to
            static sea-level effects that can amplify or reduce DSL changes
            by up to ~±16 %

            The [western tropical Pacific] WTP, for example, has experienced the fastest localrate of DSL rise over the altimetry record

            Along the (eastern US) EUS coastline, DSL has also risen faster than
            [ global-mean sea-level] GMSL since ~1900, particularly north of Cape Hatteras

            So, for instance, when we look at the annual cycle of king tides in Florida, we see a trend line that is consistent with 9 or 10″ inches in King Tide change over just the last 25 years. Obviously we haven’t seen that much static sea level rise in Florida.

            Dynamic Sea Level and static sea level aren’t the same thing. Dynamic sea level has great variation from static sea level. That variation may be increased 16% in some areas by the change in static sea level. That will result in even more impact in some areas as sea level rises.

          • tscharf says:

            Some of the localized sea flooding paranoia (nuisance flooding) has to do with boundaries where if a certain level is breached then a large amount of damage can done (e.g. a dike being overrun). Depending on geography small rises in sea level can make large incursions inland as the sea is effectively a limitless source for local flooding. Some studies attempt to quantify this damage based on local geography but I have found they invariably always assume no preventative action will be taken, or environmental journalists only quote the worst case numbers under the worst case scenarios.

            It is rare for any structure in Florida to be less than 10 feet above sea level, only structures more than 25 years old that are grandfathered in are in this class. You need to be 20 feet above sea level to avoid flood insurance in my county. I can tell you that the threat that matters for FL residents is hurricanes and the potential storm surge associated with it (10 to 20 feet worst case). To the extent that storm surge is higher with higher sea levels climate change makes it worse, but this is not the threat FL coastal residents care about.

          • tscharf says:

            @nkurz

            It isn’t that difficult for environmental journalists and activists to be more accurate in their statements with a little more effort. They continuously try to use the maximum impact phrasing without technically lying. It’s become counter productive to their credibility.

            The laziest of shortcuts is the “up to” phrasing of potential impacts. It’s like the old game of telephone where a story changes as it is passed along. Activists then drop the “up to” and suddenly climate change will deliver 1M or 2M of sea level rise. It’s unclear how many people do this knowing of its deceptiveness and how many just parrot talking points.

            1M = Worst case range of the worst case emissions scenario (RCP 8.5) in the IPCC AR5 report.

            2M = A further analysis of an “extreme” scenario based on RCP 8.5 that the study estimates is < 1/1000 probability if RCP 8.5 occurs. I believe this was rapid melting of the WAIS.

            If China's promises are to be believed RCP 8.5 isn't going to happen, RCP 8.5 also assumes 15B by 2100 people and China using 10x the annual coal they use today, among other unlikely assumptions. Nothing wrong with evaluating worst case scenarios, it's how it is misused for propaganda.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @tscharf:

            To the extent that storm surge is higher with higher sea levels climate change makes it worse, but this is not the threat FL coastal residents care about.

            If you are saying that, by revealed preference, Florida residents have shown they don’t care about storm surge risk, sure, I guess.

            But if you are saying that an increase in storm surge doesn’t matter to Florida, that seems like a bold claim.

          • tscharf says:

            The point is that FL coastal building codes are already set today for 10 – 20 ft of storm surge so any claims that a couple feet of SLR over the next 80 years make these regions untenable today is misguided at best.

            Can you discriminate between “Miami is untenable” and “SLR will have some measurable impacts”?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @tscharf:
            A mere Nine feet of storm surge destroyed 80% of the buildings in Mexico Beach last October.

            The issue with the Southern tip of Florida is all of the combined issues. You mentioned sea walls before, but sea walls are minimally effective given the porous nature of Florida’s bedrock. Active pumping is required as well. The more areas that require active pumping, the less effective the pumping will be. The Biscayne Aquifer is at risk of saline intrusion. The properties that provide the bulk of local tax revenue are those most at risk. In the city of Miami Beach alone, $1 trillion in property is at high risk of loss by 2050. Before that, flood insurance premiums are likely to skyrocket the next time FEMA does adjustments.

            Take all that and you have a situation that is rapidly becoming precarious, which only gets more untenable as we move forward over the the next 100 years. The sea level rise from 2C is baked in already, and it doesn’t look like we are going to stop there. And then at some point, eventually, inevitably, we are going to have one very large storm event that is going to change the face of the tip of Florida.

          • tscharf says:

            Your knowledge of SLR and storms seems to be … incomplete. Miami will have about 3 to 5 more inches of SLR by 2050. This is only catastrophic in the fevered dreams of alarmists. My game of alarmist whack-a-mole is now complete. I think you will find Miami still there in 2050 and 2100, and hurricanes still happening as they always have.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @tscharf:
            You just made a claim:

            The point is that FL coastal building codes are already set today for 10 – 20 ft of storm surge

            I showed this was categorically false.

            I suppose retreating while declaring victory is a strategy…

          • Anthony says:

            @HeelBearCub: From the article you cited:

            Florida has some of the most stringent hurricane building codes in the country, but they apply only to new or retrofitted structures.

            Mexico Beach is on the west end of what is sometimes called Florida’s Forgotten Coast, so named because it is not heavily developed like many of the state’s other shoreline areas, with their lavish homes and high-rise condos and hotels.

            Most of Mexico Beach was not built to current building codes. This absolutely does not falsify @tscharf’s statement about current building codes.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Anthony:
            It unequivocally does, because the vast majority of buildings in Florida aren’t built to that code. Claims that the current operant code means that the extant structures of southern Florida are secured against the risk of a 20 foot storm surge aren’t correct.

            Florida is not “set today” for a 20 foot storm surge.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            If you divide the number of buildings in Florida that will be knocked down by storm surges between now and 2100, by the number of buildings in Florida that will be knocked down between now and 2100 because the owners want to build something new (that will have to comply with the new hurricane code), you probably come up with a pretty small number.

      • Robert Jones says:

        While it’s obviously correct that if current trends continue, we would reach the 1,000 ppm threshold in the early 23rd century, it seems unlikely that they will. Firstly, I don’t think there’s sufficient supply of fossil fuels to continue burning them at the current rate for 200 years. Secondly, solar is already competitive with fossil fuels in many places and likely to improve, and I don’t see anyone building coal-fuelled power stations once solar is cheaper. Thirdly, while 200 years is the blink of eye geologically, it’s a long time in human terms: if we avoid extinction or catastrophic social collapse for that long, I’m pretty sure we’ll figure out a way to ameliorate global warming.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Secondly, solar is already competitive with fossil fuels in many places and likely to improve, and I don’t see anyone building coal-fuelled power stations once solar is cheaper.

          Environmentalism, and specifically policies intended to combat climate change, is pushing on the market to actually help this occur. There are real barriers to carbon neutral energy generation involving peak demand. Providing incentive to decrease risk and increase rate of return for all of these technologies is a great deal of what spurs development of these technologies. Even credible threats of regulation or anti-CO2 policies help in this regard.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        The so-called thermal extinction at the end of the Paleocene began when atmospheric CO2 was just under 1,000 parts per million (ppm). At the end of the Triassic, CO2 was just above 1,000 ppm.

        At the end of the Paleocene, CO2 levels went DOWN to 1000ppm. For the Triassic, it’s less clear, some graphs show a peack of Co2 at the beginning of the Triassic, others show this same peak at the middle of the Triassic, and yet others at the end. Anyhow clearly, the only safe thing to do is to quickly pump up the level of CO2 to more than 1000ppm if we want to avoid the fate of the Plesiadapis.

        Links to various CO2 graphs over very long time scales:
        here, here, and here.

        • eric23 says:

          The sun’s light was weaker in the Triassic than it is now. So a high CO2 level now would mean much higher temperatures than in the Triassic.

          • nkurz says:

            Thanks! I haven’t seen this pointed out before. It seems like the accepted number is that the sun is increasing in brightness by about 10% per billion years: http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Lectures/vistas97.html. Since the Triassic was about 250 million years ago, this would mean that the sun was about 2.5% less bright then that it is now.

            Given all the other dynamics in the system, I’m not sure the same level of CO2 would necessarily make the temperatures “much higher” than it was then (despite the increase, we still managed to have a recent ice age), but compared to all the other factors, this is still a gigantic change. Each doubling of CO2 provides something like 4W/m^2 of increase, whereas difference in brightness between now and the Triassic would be more then 30W/m^2 (2.5% of 1300W/m^2).

          • jermo sapiens says:

            The sun’s light was weaker in the Triassic than it is now. So a high CO2 level now would mean much higher temperatures than in the Triassic.

            Thanks. Do you know if it was equally weaker across the spectrum or specifically within the visible range?

            In any event, the point is that pointing to extinction events occurring at 1000 ppm is not evidence that when (if) we reach 1000 ppm we will have an extinction event.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      The author of the article has an interesting book out (with Joe Krischvink), A New History of Life (2016).

    • Dedicating Ruckus says:

      That article seems weird to me. The evidence that the Permian and Triassic extinctions were not abrupt, and thus were probably not due to impacts, seems reasonable. However, the hypothesized mechanism is extremely speculative. Most obviously, while those extinctions may have been “slow”, they still happened over the course of a million years or so; meanwhile, their own graph shows that the CO2 levels can just hang out well over 1000 ppm for tens of millions of years on end without triggering it. It really needs a mechanism to explain why that feedback loop got started at any particular point; and their proposed “volcanism -> CO2 -> warming -> ocean anoxia” doesn’t qualify, because 1. the extinctions don’t reliably happen after steep CO2 increases, and 2. the climate shifts plausibly attributable to CO2 are small compared to background caused by other stuff.

      It scans a lot like people searching hard for a hypothesis that lets them accord with the current political zeitgeist, and privileging it way beyond the merits of the evidence once they’ve done so.

    • tscharf says:

      Real Climate addresses the “methane bomb”
      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/01/much-ado-about-methane/

      It’s over-hyped, as almost anything appearing in a MSM article on global warming is. As I recall the main issue is that methane is a short lived GHG and even if it was all released at once then it would also all dissipate relatively quickly. It is unlikely that the frozen methane in the ground would all be released in any short time frame. CO2 takes a much longer time to dissipate (which it does eventually).

  7. ItsGiusto says:

    Suave upper-class jokes like this are doing a thousand times more for the anti-PC cause than Ben Shapiro fans openly protesting PC.

    Is this statement backed up by evidence? Or is it just supposed to be your opinion on what is more effective?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      My opinion.

    • Radu Floricica says:

      There was a study saying reductio ad absurdum, or an extra dose of believable sarcasm, is more effective in changing opinions than pure argumentation. I’m counting it as one of two likely weapons for common-sense, together with using influential individuals (aka prestige).

      Don’t have a source on hand, sorry, and I have a train to catch. Well, to receive smb, same thing.

    • acymetric says:

      Seems to me this is the kind of thing that will only be appreciated by people that already agree…I’m not sure it’s winning people over.

      I’m also not convinced that those jokes were either of suave or upper-class, but whatever.

      • Logan says:

        You’re modeling people as “agree-ers or disagree-ers” with nothing in between. The value of “suave upper-class” sarcasm is that it allows people who like PC and want to see themselves as liking PC to ruminate on the excesses/downsides of the worldview.

        You can engage with that article without feeling that you are “giving up ground” to the “enemy.” However, once your brain contains a “what it looks like when PC goes too far and becomes a caricature of itself”-meme, you are better able to push back against extremism in your community.

        • Matt M says:

          The value of “suave upper-class” sarcasm is that it allows people who like PC and want to see themselves as liking PC to ruminate on the excesses/downsides of the worldview.

          Agree. Ben Shapiro et al are preaching to the choir, and their other policy preferences already make them radioactive to anyone who actually participates in PC and might have any influence in regards to scaling it back and reducing its power.

          This sort of thing is preaching to the sinners, if you will. It speaks the same language and holds the same base core values as the audience that can actually do something to help tame PC.

          • ItsGiusto says:

            I don’t know. I think both can be useful, but I feel like the IDW movement has done orders of magnitude more for anti-PC than suave upper-class sarcasm that doesn’t reach a very large audience. I feel like the IDW has single-handedly “held the line” or maybe even pushed back the Overton window in recent years. But maybe I’m just saying this because I engage with the IDW, and therefore I’m attributing the improved climate to them.

          • albatross11 says:

            The power of “cancel culture” comes from the fact that everyone expects everyone else to agree with it, even if they themselves don’t. Things that make fun of cancel culture weaken it, just as do people making above-ground arguments against it.

          • Aapje says:

            Things that make fun of cancel culture weaken it

            Not necessarily. Humor is a way to cope with fear, but it doesn’t necessarily lessen fear.

          • Matt M says:

            I feel like the IDW has single-handedly “held the line” or maybe even pushed back the Overton window in recent years.

      • Galle says:

        As someone who sees the anti-PC cause as pretty much entirely a case of tilting at windmills, I honestly can’t tell whether the article is supposed to be a parody of actual “cancellations” (and Scott thinks it advances the anti-PC cause by mocking political correctness) or a parody of what anti-PC activists believe “cancellations” to be (and Scott thinks it advances the anti-PC cause by belittling and alienating those who are sympathetic to it).

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Related: I read the quips and I’m not entirely sure what “canceled” means. Is this some kind of hip lingo among the kids these days for “no longer friends with” or something?

    • If you replace PC with “X,” that statement is far from immediately obvious. I myself engage in the game so I’m not hurling stones here, but I think it’s often just a rationalization for taking the safer path. You don’t want to admit you’re being cryptic about X because you’re afraid of the repercussions from being open about it, you want to say you’re doing it because it is the best possible strategy and that all those people openly protesting are doing it wrong.

  8. SG says:

    New study fails to find any evidence that watching pornography as a teenager harms future sexual satisfaction.

    Isn’t the better question whether watching pornography as a teenager harms future sexual satisfaction of *one’s partner*?

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I’d mostly heard people worrying it harmed the watcher’s satisfaction by giving them unrealistic expectations.

    • Protagoras says:

      If something harms the sexual satisfaction of one’s partners, it will in most cases end up also harming one’s own sexual satisfaction in fairly short order.

    • caryatis says:

      I wonder about the effect of watching porn at younger ages. Lots of guys I know started at 9-10. By 15-18, I imagine your sex drive is largely formed.

  9. Reasoner says:

    New study fails to find any evidence that watching pornography as a teenager harms future sexual satisfaction.

    yourbrainonporn.com has a bunch of studies making the opposite argument. My anecdotal experience concords with their claims.

  10. suntzuanime says:

    Scholar’s Stage: stories about sexual selection (like “women are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”) are meaningless, because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

    This is obviously ridiculous, come on. Have you met a woman? They have mate preferences. You should be able to discard this as politically-gratifying nonsense just on the basis of a simple reality check.

    The flaws in the logic that jump out at me, even given we accept the questionable claim that arranged marriage was near-universal in the evolutionary environment:
    1: Just because parents have the formal authority over the marriages of their children doesn’t mean they don’t take the desires of their children into account and doesn’t mean the children don’t have informal negotiating power.
    2: The child’s mate preferences influence extramarital mating, either through cheating in a marriage or through sex before marriage (which feeds into 1, getting pregnant by your sweetheart is a form of informal negotiating power).

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      3. If there isn’t any particular reason to select against women having mate preferences, women would probably have mate preferences for the same reason that men have nipples.

      4. This is literally the exact opposite of how every other species works. Honestly, the weird thing is that men have mate preferences.

      • Aldabra says:

        5. Sperm competition has evolved, suggesting that a significant proportion of children over evolutionary history have been fathered by men who weren’t the official mate.

        • Aapje says:

          6. The people who arrange marriages include women, so female mate preferences would still matter even if procreation only happened through arranged marriage.

        • Telemythides says:

          Humans have less adaptation for sperm competition than chimps or bonobos, which suggests that’s been growing less important since the split.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            The divergence time for humans, chimps, and gorillas is the same. We don’t know what the common ancestor was like. We don’t know if it had more or less sperm competition. But we do know that this period of time was long enough for chimps and gorillas to have testicle sizes on either size of humans. Thus humans have plenty of time to reach equilibrium in their niche (as least the niche before agriculture). So less sperm competition than chimps, and more than the virtually zero levels found in gorillas.

          • Telemythides says:

            Yeah, I guess it should’ve settled and humans are somewhere in between chimps and gorillas on testicle size, but much closer to gorillas.

        • spencer says:

          Can you explain what you mean by this? I understand ‘sperm competition’ to refer to types of selective pressures relating to multiple potential male partners. Not technically a trait that can evolve itself.

          I could see something like “we observe recent adaptations among humans in response to sperm competition, therefore preventing alternative mates has historically conferred a selective advantage.” I’m not sure that this necessarily implies anything about historical mating patterns.

          Are there specific adaptations in humans you are referring to? Most of the responses to sperm competition I can think of are cultural (e.g. monogamy). If there are biological/non-behavioral traits in humans then they are much more subtle than the classic sperm competition examples, e.g. mating plugs.

      • nadbor says:

        re 4. – TBH men aren’t exactly picky when offered sex…

      • vV_Vv says:

        4. This is literally the exact opposite of how every other species works. Honestly, the weird thing is that men have mate preferences.

        Men compete for women, hence they have to optimize their efforts. By having a preference for the most fertile-looking women, this male competition results in increased fitness for the winners.

        E.g. There are Alice, Bob, Carol and Dave.

        Alice is hotter (visibly more fertile) than Carol.
        Bob is stronger and more skilled than Dave, but not strong and skilled enough that he can monopolize both women, he has to let Dave have a wife in order to live in peace.

        If Bob had no preferences, then he would randomly pursue either Alice or Carol, thus his extra strength would give him no advantage in mate selection. Instead, by preferring Alice he increases his expected number of children.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Some degree of male mate preference makes sense, but intuitively it seems like human males way overvalue appearance. Especially facial appearance–how much health signal is there really in the difference between an okay face and a smokin-hot face? And for that matter, why the infamous emphasis on appearance over other signals of fitness?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            but intuitively it seems like human males way overvalue appearance

            Yes it does seem like that. But there is probably a reason for it, because I doubt evolution made us into shallow superficial jerks just for fun.

            A few ideas:
            -facial beauty is strongly linked to facial symmetry, which in turn is linked to a low mutational load
            -women dying in childbirth was ridiculously common in the not-so distant past (in my own social circle, I can think of 5-6 women who would have died in childbirth, if not for modern medicine, including my sister and the mother of my children). does being attractive reduce the risk of dying in childbirth? probably at least somewhat.

          • ADifferentAnonymous says:

            Oh, there’s definitely a reason, but there can be reasons besides appearance measuring health. Both your suggestions are possible, but I suspect something more like the kind of feedback loop that gave peacocks their tails.

            My hypothesis: male status. Basically, at t=0 men compete with each other for the fittest mates. At t=1, you can estimate a man’s general ability-to-get-what-he-wants by looking at his mate. Others’ estimate of your ability is what we call ‘status’, and it comes with advantages.

            So at t=2 men now have extra incentive to get fitter mates, and also to prefer more readily apparent forms of fitness. At t=3 a man’s mate’s appearance is an even better proxy for his capability than it was at t=1. And so on…

          • vV_Vv says:

            Especially facial appearance–how much health signal is there really in the difference between an okay face and a smokin-hot face?

            On average more attractive people are smarter, saner and live longer.

            I’m not sure if faces intrinsically expose health correlates more than other body parts or we just notice the details of facial appearance more. After all we have brain areas specialized for facial recognition, possibly they also function to detect facial correlates of health.

            And for that matter, why the infamous emphasis on appearance over other signals of fitness?

            Like what? Appearance is, by definition, apparent.

          • nadbor says:

            Say what? That’s the entire point of sexual selection! A feature is attractive because it is attractive. Once a majority finds bushy tails attractive, it is gotta seek a mate with a bushy tail or you will end up with unattractive thin-tailed children and hence few grandchildren. If the tail signals health that’s a nice bonus but once sexual selection gets going it can sustain itself in the absence of signalling.

      • vV_Vv says:

        (cont. from the above because the edit window expired)

        Bob preferring Alice to Carol of course doesn’t mean that Bob wouldn’t bang Carol on the side if he’d expect he could get away with, unless Carol looked old or very ugly (obviously infertile and/or diseased).

        • Jeff R says:

          I think the bigger issue is that men (usually) invest time and resources in their offspring to a greater degree than just about any other species does, so poor choices in a mate have a large opportunity cost (ie, you wind up investing a lot in low quality offspring).

      • jermo sapiens says:

        4. This is literally the exact opposite of how every other species works. Honestly, the weird thing is that men have mate preferences.

        Yeah good point. Never considered it before, but with all the nature shows I’ve watched (and fallen asleep to, thanks David Attenborough), it’s always females who are choosy. To what extent is that a human only thing? Is it because we are upright apes whose women need a weird pelvis to walk with and give birth to a helpless baby with a ginormous head, and so certain proportions become appealing to men? Or is the gestation period specifically difficult for women so that men are attracted to beauty (which is a general proxy for health)?

        I cant fathom of a male deer thinking one female deer is much hotter than other female deer, but then again that’s not really my scene. Maybe they do. But for men, physical beauty is a key factor for attraction. Anyone telling you otherwise is lying.

        • Walliserops says:

          I think humans have an extra dose of male choosiness because they invest more into children. Your average bug only loses sperm and time to a wasted mating, so they can afford to go around mounting everything from beer bottles to their own predators (I wish I wrote down the source somewhere, but I’m 80% sure there’s a seed bug that regularly tries to get it on with spiders). They want to be a little bit picky because sperm and time are still resources and can get expensive (see: these wasps that ejaculate like half their body weight into sexually deceptive orchids), but not too much. And female bugs have more expensive gametes -> a limit on the number of potential offspring -> more interest in making these offspring as successful as they can -> greater attention to mate choice.

          But then you have bugs that sacrifice something big in exchange for mating, like food or extended parental care. In these bugs males are a lot choosier in whom they want to mate with, because they can only do so a few times before their resources run out. There are very extreme cases where the male donates something so valuable that they get to be the pickier sex, and females start courting them for that resource instead (e.g. some cricket relatives feeding their wings to their mates). There are even cheaters in these relationships, females in some dance flies can inflate their abdomens to look more fertile and attract gifts from males (and males cheat with decoy gifts, dance flies are weird). So the two extremes are:

          1. No male investment, no real preferences, super-successful males can have infinite kids and should go around mating with everything possible
          2. So much male investment that you start outweighing female contribution and reverse sex roles, but you get a very limited number of kids that you want to optimize, so you want to think very hard about mate choice

          Humans are in between, but they’re leaning more towards the high-investment strategy, so they get more pickiness than the norm. As for deer, my blind guess is they’re less choosy than us, but choosier than bugs.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            Thanks. All very good points. There’s even some males who get eaten by the female after mating, so I suppose these guys have to be the choosiest in the animal kingdom (actually probably not, but it’s an interesting question).

            @ADifferentAnonymouse above makes a good point that for humans, female hotness becomes a marker for status and I agree with that. PUAs have this concept of female preselection, where if you’re an average looking guy and you go to a party with a super hot girl, the other girls will take notice and naturally be interested in you. I think that’s right.

          • Walliserops says:

            Re: Choosiness under sexual cannibalism, I think males are unchoosy at least in spiders, because there’s no mating pool to choose from. The odds of finding multiple females are so small, and the returns from successful mating so large, that even the fittest male wants to mate with the first female he encounters, even at the risk of death.

            They still want to minimize that risk, so you see tricks like courtship rituals that identify your species and lower aggression, binding the female in temporary webs, or guarding an immature female and mating during the window she becomes sexually receptive but unaggressive. They can also go the other route and willingly sacrifice themselves to maximize returns, like Tidarren spiders that tear out their palps inside the female to prevent further matings, or redbacks that cooperate in feeding themselves to their mates.

            Edit: Turns out there is a spider with sexual cannibalism and a large mating pool that allows multiple female encounters, and males are indeed the choosier sex.

      • Logan says:

        >3. If there isn’t any particular reason to select against women having mate preferences, women would probably have mate preferences for the same reason that men have nipples.

        This is irrelevant, since the original claim isn’t “women have no preference” but rather “female mate-preference is not explicable by fitness increase, since we evolved in an environment in which female mate-preference could neither increase nor decrease fitness.” Your point 3 is in total agreement with this original claim.

      • Galle says:

        3. If there isn’t any particular reason to select against women having mate preferences, women would probably have mate preferences for the same reason that men have nipples.

        To be fair, if this were the case, it would lead women to have very different biological mate preferences from what people typically believe.

    • Squirrel of Doom says:

      Furthermore, the fact that women have strong mate preferences disproves the theory that in “most of human history women did not choose their own mates”!

      Yes, I said it!

      • suntzuanime says:

        To be fair, you could get sexual selection even with women only having partial control over their mating. If their preferences are taken into account 30% of the time, you can get some evolutionary juice out of that, but disrespecting a woman’s bodily autonomy 70% of the time is plenty enough to shock the conventional mores of a modern liberal democracy.

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          That’s the real steelman of the post. It’s not plausible that female mate preference never mattered, but it does seem true that it used to matter less than it does now. So what does that imply about sexual selection?

          For one thing, if women had more agency with respect to secret affairs than marriages, their preferences might be more optimized towards choosing affair-partners. Hence the oft-bemoaned preference for “bad boys”?

        • Squirrel of Doom says:

          Of course. I didn’t think that needed saying.

          Men surely never had 100% control either.

          If you try to do the math, you can end up wondering if being attracted to competent rapists was a successful trait for women. After all, their sons would have a good chance of spreading their mother’s genes!

          And so on. This stuff is counterintuitive and not always morally uplifting 🙂

        • ADifferentAnonymous says:

          Okay, it’s beating a dead houseo at this point but the Quillette article that Scholar’s Stage cites for evidence actually contains the following:

          All first marriages are arranged by parents, and the girls have little say in the matter. If the choice is unpopular, the girls will show their displeasure by kicking and screaming, a way of asserting their independent voice in decision making against the alliance of parents and potential husband. If they protest long and hard enough, the marriage will be called off. The fact that close to half of all first marriages fail among the Ju/′hoansi is eloquent testimony to the independence of Ju women from both parents and husbands. In some cases girls have been known to attempt suicide rather than allow a marriage to be consummated.

          • John Richards says:

            The Christian histories of the lives of saints are practically filled with stories of women who don’t want to get married. And you see stories of men being dragged to brothels to “make a man of them” and trying to get out of it.

    • The author’s claim is more qualified than Scott’s paraphrase. He doesn’t say that females don’t have biological mate preferences. He says that he doubts the evolutionary narratives that people use:

      I need to be more specific. Not all sexual-selection theory is bunk. I have fewer objections to the theories as applied to male preferences. I have more trouble with theories that try to explain female mate preferences and male phenotypes (for the uninitiated: that means something close to “things that women are ‘naturally’ attracted to, and by extension, behaviors or traits that have been selected for in the present male population”) through the frame of sexual selection. This is the stock and trade of evo-psych. Sillier, more grotesque versions of these theories often trickle down into the arguments you read on pick-up artist and MRA boards. But be they scientific or far less so, all such theories run aground on the same shoals: the model they posit for female mate selection does not reflect how human mate selection actually worked for most of human history.

      • suntzuanime says:

        His claim is a little more qualified than Scott’s paraphrase but a lot less qualified than yours. In your quote he’s saying “not all sexual selection is bunk” but he’s referring to men having mate preferences as the part that’s not bunk, and female mate preference as the part that is bunk. He says he has “trouble with theories that try to explain female mate preferences … through the frame of sexual selection”. Which is slightly hedged at most, he’s saying he doesn’t believe in it, he’s saying it runs aground on shoals. Scott’s paraphrase is a lot fairer than yours.

        • He never says anywhere in the article that female mate preferences are bunk. He says that female mate preferences being explained by their own choice is bunk.

          • Dedicating Ruckus says:

            Where would female mate preferences come from if not their own choice? Why would preferences ever be adaptive if those preferences have no influence on outcomes?

    • Wouldn’t this have to revolve around things where there is likely to be great disagreement between parents and daughter over what counts as a good husband? Female mate preference based selection will have been strong for the (pre-homo sapiens?) period of history prior to the stated hunter gatherer “arranged marriage”. Women would have had mate preferences. Then if parental selection became the dominant force, selection for different male traits would have occurred for the traits where parents and daughters disagreed. Otherwise you are just reinforcing the same traits. If ape-woman who knows no arranged marriage is selecting for strong productive males, and then arranged marriage comes along, but the parents are just selecting for strong productive males, we’d have to be able to look at the whole thing at a much higher resolution. It’s going to be very subtle things making up the difference.

      Also, we should probably check to see if parents in places that still have arranged marriage or at least a strong influence over the process actually select for different things than what women are selecting in more liberal countries. Possible confounders are the studies that show women in third world countries prefer more masculine men (because it’s the third world or because parental choice is strong in the third world?), so you’d need to isolate arranged marriage from mate choice within a third world context without bumping into class or caste confounders. Difficult (crack at it smart people!).

    • SnapDragon says:

      Agreed, this article is shockingly bad, and I’m stunned to see Scott link to it without any qualifications. This is the sort of nonsense you get when there is never any pushback to escalating the “woe is women, the patriarchy was so horrible to them for all of history” meme. You always have to outdo the previous researcher’s horrors and hyperbole. So eventually we get to this tripe, honestly claiming that the only procreation that ever happened in all of the human species’ history was due to rape and arranged marriages. Right, CLEARLY no woman had ever pursued sex with a man before the 19th Amendment. Yeesh.

      BTW, it sounds like I’m unfairly and sarcastically paraphrasing, but … I don’t think I am! That’s how absurd the article is; I really can’t see a way to steelman it. For it to be true that women’s mate preferences have no evolutionary cause, it really does require that, for all time, women have had literally zero influence on their mating. Even a small bias is enough for evolutionary pressure.

    • Galle says:

      This is obviously ridiculous, come on. Have you met a woman? They have mate preferences. You should be able to discard this as politically-gratifying nonsense just on the basis of a simple reality check.

      While the original argument is definitely wrong (if nothing else, I’m pretty sure arranged marriages didn’t really become a thing until after the Neolithic Revolution, which gives women plenty of time to evolve mate preferences) this counterargument isn’t valid – the claim was that women do not have biologically-ingrained mate preferences, not that they don’t have mate preferences at all.

  11. OutsideContextProblem says:

    A study demonstrating that homophobia cut 12 years off the life expectancy of gays has been retracted after years of criticism; the finding was the result of a variable coding error. Why did it take so long to discover? Because when other scientists first tried to point out flaws in the study, they faced media attacks like this ThinkProgress piece from 2016 titled Anti-Gay Researcher Now Tries To Claim Stigma Doesn’t Harm LGBT People.

    ThinkProgress has also updated some of the language in this article to account for this development.

    Comparing with the archive it mostly looks like they removed some of the rather harsh language used, to make ThinkProgress look better. This seems duplicitous, if you view a webpage as a record of what has been said, rather than a continuous statement.

  12. ARabbiAndAFrog says:

    If schools replace punishment-based models of discipline (especially suspensions) with “restorative justice” based on helping students build better relationships that prevent them from offending again, does this help students succeed? A big randomized controlled trial investigates the issue. Its own summary of its conclusions is highly positive, saying that it decreased suspensions and racial disparity in suspensions. But the skeptical perspective is that of course it did, just like never arresting criminals would decrease incarceration and racial disparity in incarceration. The real question was whether it made schools better or worse, and Twitter user Spotted Toad makes the case against, saying that it significantly decreased academic achievement at the relevant schools, hurt African-American students most of all, significantly increased the size of racial achievement gaps, and may have even resulted in the death of a student.

    Helping students build better relationship sounds like something that would obviously work if teachers could build trust and respect between teachers and students. But I wouldn’t trust trust most of my teachers to tell me how to live my life or behave.

    Most teachers are clueless, lack necessary awareness to identify who was wrong in some way, biased and afraid of lawsuits. Policing disruptive behaviour can be codified, how do you teach someone not to be disruptive?

    Scholar’s Stage: stories about sexual selection (like “women are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”) are meaningless, because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

    What if we go the other way around? Happy people live longer and mutual attraction will likely promote reproduction as well – meaning that naturally submissive women who were predisposed to submit to their husbands and were in general attracted to those who would control their lives and deny them freedom and obey them are the ones thrived in the restricted environment for hundreds of generations?

    • imoimo says:

      I was somewhat confused by the 74 Million article on restorative justice because the vague perception I had was that these programs focus on group therapy as a means towards behavioral change. I was optimistic about that strategy, as a replacement for things like detention. Looking here, seems I was thinking of “Tier 1” intervention, whereas the discipline issues in the article come from “Tier 2”. I wonder if all schools are implementing this the same way, or if there are places that do Tier 1 but not Tier 2, and whether that method shows any benefits.

    • Nornagest says:

      I’m very skeptical of anything calling itself “restorative justice”, but at the same time, suspensions are a piss-poor punishment for schools. Most kids don’t want to be in school. The ones who do are the ones you want to keep there at all costs, and the ones that don’t, won’t see being kept out as a punishment.

      (Their parents might, but then it only works as a punishment if the parents care and have the time and basic parenting competence to do anything about it. Which, again, is probably least true for the kids you most want to deter.)

      • Randy M says:

        The parents might not care about the kids missing school, but they sure care about having to find alternative day time supervision. This is obviously less a concern in high school.
        Even kids who don’t want to be in class, though, might prefer to be on campus during school hours with their friends then at home.

        But in general suspension is probably used as a “get this kid off campus for a while and hope he cools off” deal for situations where the admin expect the student to be a danger. Getting regular suspensions is probably a strong sign a student is on their way to a continuation school.

    • Jiro says:

      Helping disruptive people creates bad incentives that encourage disruption–which is the flip side of the same incentives that discourage disruption when you punish disruptive people.

  13. VivaLaPanda says:

    RE: The Vox article about human extinction:

    I think that you can be confident the species will survive while also thinking that Global Warming will be bad enough to destroy large swathes of civilization.
    Humans survived the ice age, and my priors would lean significantly towards too much cold weather being harder to survive than too much warm weather given that the equator is heavily populated but the polar regions aren’t

    My worry with global warming, so far as high level species stuff goes, is more about it exacerbating national tensions and making nuclear war more likely.

    • James Green says:

      Counter-point: there are not enough nuclear weapons in the world to cause human extinction.

      Additional note: massive volcanism is what killed off the dinosaurs (Deccan Traps), not a meteor. It takes an absolutely huge event to cause a mass extinction and volcanism is probably the only thing that can do it. Events like Krakatoa and Tambora offer a comparison point of what a hotter world could be like.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Deccan Traps is an interesting hypothesis, but it’s poor form to simply state this as if it is scientific consensus when it is not.

      • Eternaltraveler says:

        You are correct that there aren’t enough nuclear weapons in the world to cause human extinction. Onky 10k megatons or so.

        However the idea that a collision can’t be a huge enough event to cause a mass extinction has no basis in reality. They can be arbitrarily large events that can result in the complete liquification or disintegration of a planetary body.

        As it happens the asteriod that is thought to have killed the dinosaurs had an estimated impact energy of 100 to 300 million megatons and a large part of north america caught immediately on fire. This intuitively sounds like an extinction level event to me.

      • VivaLaPanda says:

        I guess it’s not even so much about nuclear war alone. Maybe one way to put it is that natural disasters by definition don’t care about human life, and so many people can die but some people will have a chance to adapt. On the other hand in war destruction of human lives is the explicit goal, and there are intelligent agents pursuing that goal. Not that I think that, even then, extinction is very likely. However, I do think that an extended hot war between major powers followed by nuclear exchange would probably take longer to recover from than global warming.

  14. Well... says:

    Scholar’s Stage: stories about sexual selection (like “women are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”) are meaningless, because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

    Women who were attracted to the mates they ended up with, even if they didn’t select them themselves, might be more likely to reproduce more times though, right?

    I’ve really been enjoying YouTube videos with visual representations of classical music.

    These videos contain what is called a piano roll. They aren’t too dissimilar from what a score looks like, just the colors are inverted, there are no staff lines, and the length of notes is shown graphically rather than based on whether the note is filled in/has flags/etc. You could switch to looking at a score and get a richer experience while still finding it fairly intuitive as a visual learner.

    • VivaLaPanda says:

      The assertion that female mate preference didn’t have any effect on who they ended up bearing kids with seems suspect to me. Not a historical source per-say, but I’ve been reading Romance of the Three Kingdoms lately, a book that I would expect to minimize the power of historical women if anything, and potential wives definitely had some degree of negotiating power with arranged marriages. Another angle is that mothers had significant power in helping to decide marriages, which would have a similar effect.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Women who were attracted to the mates they ended up with, even if they didn’t select them themselves, might be more likely to reproduce more times though, right?

      It’s hard to see a straightforward evolutionary explanation for this. Female frigidity towards a monogamous mate only makes intuitive sense if she’s cheating, or leaving open her options to cheat, or has a child from a previous better mate she’s trying to redirect resources towards. If you’re stuck with a loser mate, you pretty much gotta make the best of it, better half-loser children than no children at all (from an evolutionary perspective).

      • Aapje says:

        A plausible strategy is to extract resources from him while avoiding pregnancy and being on the lookout for a better partner.

      • Well... says:

        My thinking was that if a woman was forced to be with a man she wasn’t attracted to, she’d do things to avoid having sex with him and maybe only end up with a handful of kids. (It’s horrible to think about, but even rape has its opportunity costs.) Meanwhile another woman who was forced to be with a man she was attracted to would be much more open to sex and end up with a lot more kids than the woman in the first example. Compound this over time, and…

        • suntzuanime says:

          Yeah, but my question is why would that sort of female behavior be favored evolutionarily? If you’re doing something that causes you to end up with a lot less kids, that’s, all else equal, poor evolutionary strategy. If women were always given pure take-it-or-leave-it mates, we would expect them to adapt to take it, because leaving it is such an evolutionarily-disfavored choice.

          • Dedicating Ruckus says:

            The most obvious way this could be favored is as negotiating leverage in the mate-selection process. If a woman makes a prior threat “if you make me marry him, I’ll ensure we have as few children as possible”, then for the global strategy to be effective she has to actually follow through, even if that’s maladaptive in the immediate case.

            Of course, the global-scale hypothetical good outcome of this kind of strategy is “the threat is effective, and she gets married to someone she likes better instead”. Which means we’re just back to “yes, women did have notable agency in mate selection”.

          • Well... says:

            She doesn’t have to remarry someone she likes. The woman who DOES marry someone she likes has more kids, and to whatever extent it happens, her preferences for that kind of man are encoded in a greater proportion of the next generation’s females.

          • Logan says:

            @Well…

            Yes, but then the least picky women would have the most kids, not the women who favored the men with the fittest genes. The question, remember, is why women favor strong high-status men.

          • Well... says:

            Good point. I suppose I hadn’t considered “not picky” as an option. I assumed all women are at least to some extent picky about their mates (especially when they’re young and the ticking clock isn’t yet a factor).

    • TheFlyingFish says:

      These videos contain what is called a piano roll. […] You could switch to looking at a score and get a richer experience while still finding it fairly intuitive as a visual learner.

      I think there’s an argument to be made that this type of visualization is more intuitive than a traditional score, particularly with regard to note lengths. There’s no intuitive indication that, for instance, a hollow note with a stem is twice the length of a filled note with a stem and half the length of a hollow note with no stem, whereas it’s immediately obvious that a line twice indicates a note twice as long.

      Admittedly this format is missing a lot of things, like dynamic markings, phrasing/articulation, etc. But someone with little to no experience with standard music notation isn’t probably going to get those things from looking at a score either, so this seems like a good introduction, at least.

      • Well... says:

        Oh, I agree the piano roll is probably more “walk up and use” intuitive. I’m just saying a score is also fairly intuitive[*], and if you’re willing to climb that relative hill of, say, learning how the note lengths are signified, you get the reward of much richer data about other aspects of the music.

        And I agree, it’s a decent introduction.

        *For instance, a bunch of notes crammed together in a single measure look like they’ll go by really fast, and they do. A series of notes climbing up a staff left to right look like they’ll rise in pitch, and they do. A space with no notes in it will be silent, and it is (although you have to learn to recognize the symbols for rests and when they’re present). A bunch of notes stacked on top of each other looks like it means you’ll hear lots of sounds at once, and it does.

      • AG says:

        In contrast, I feel like musicians trained on score do worse on video games doing the “notes/bars flying at you!” model like Guitar Hero or DDR, because you have no real sense of how long the bar is, even when they are generous enough to give you a downbeat indicator, which they mostly don’t. And that’s because we’re used to getting the exact length of the note from the note itself, instead of guessing how long a line is. Most people aren’t that good about eyeballing fractions. Trying to sight-read a song from a Synthesia file would be nightmare to me.

        A game like Rhythm Heaven, however, is closer to the score approach, by association strict rhythm patterns with a shape or color, rather than a line length. Combined with its call-and-response approach, I’d argue that it’s more effective at teaching the layman rhythm sense.

  15. ParryHotter says:

    Regarding the Matthew Shepard story, Katie Herzog wrote about it also a few months ago, at The Stranger.

    I couldn’t help thinking that this Guardian article is a perfect example to highlight the contrast between The Guardian of 2019 and what it used to be. I highly doubt this article would ever have a chance of being published in The Guardian these days. Firstly because of the content of the article; printing a story which would in any way detract from the victim portrayal of a minority group? Fat chance. And secondly, because the author is someone who is now vilified as a transphobic “TERF” by trans activists.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      It seems to me that Matthew Shepard’s murder involved an usually large amount of pain. Is it actually typical of murders from drug deals gone wrong, or might it have been about both drugs and homophobia?

      Or something else driving the level of malice?

      • Aapje says:

        Professional cartel hitmen seem to typically torture people before murdering them, if they get the chance.

        In this case, the murderers were amateurs, so the abuse was more likely driven by anger. It seems to me that people can be very angry over very many things and can have highly varying levels of propensity to anger. I think that your model of humans is wrong if you think that they can only get this angry due to homophobia.

      • baconbits9 says:

        The article claims that the killers were trying to find out about a large drug stash/transaction that they could steal, implying they were trying to get information out of him.

      • S_J says:

        Drafts of articles based on that research have been floating around for a few years. I think it was linked on the pundit-known-as-Insta a few years back.

        I’ve seen the claim that Matthew Shephard and at least one of the killers were both drug users and occasional sexual partners. In the Guardian article, this is said:

        Jimenez found that Matthew was addicted to and dealing crystal meth and had dabbled in heroin. He also took significant sexual risks and was being pimped alongside Aaron McKinney, one of his killers, with whom he’d had occasional sexual encounters. He was HIV positive at the time of his death.

        I deduce that homophobia was not a component of the murder.

        Further down in that article, we find

        I spoke to Waters, who has since retired from the police, having seen him praise The Book of Matt on social media. “I believe to this day that McKinney and Henderson were trying to find Matthew’s house so they could steal his drugs. It was fairly well known in the Laramie community that McKinney wouldn’t be one that was striking out of a sense of homophobia. Some of the officers I worked with had caught him in a sexual act with another man, so it didn’t fit – none of that made any sense.”

        But when Matthew’s friends Walt Boulden and Alex Trout heard of the attack they rushed to the hospital. They contacted the Associated Press and a number of local gay organisations that same day. Boulden, a 46-year-old college instructor who says he was the last person to talk to Matthew before he met McKinney and Henderson, linked the attack to Wyoming legislature’s failure to pass a hate-crimes bill. Boulden later said the assault was identified as a hate crime by a policeman.

        [Edited to add: The Guardian article linked by Scott is from 2014, as is the book by Stephen Jiminez. I wish this information had become better-known since then; all I can say is that the legend of Matthew Shepard has remained untouched by the research of Jiminez..]

        • jermo sapiens says:

          This is really old news and I’m surprised to see this in a slatestarcodex links post. This would be like linking to a story about how Jussie Smollett’s story was a hoax five years from now.

          • Spookykou says:

            Personally I only know of Smollett through his hoax, and have never heard of any drug connection to Matthew Shepard before this. A google search of the two names seems to be similarly biased.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            never heard of any drug connection to Matthew Shepard before this

            I’m not surprised. Facts that go against the official narrative are heavily suppressed these days.

          • Matt M says:

            What other widely discredited popular beliefs might people still somehow not know about?

            I’ll start with: Alger Hiss really was a Soviet spy!

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not surprised. Facts that go against the official narrative are heavily suppressed these days.

            Which is probably why Scott didn’t know about it. I linked that same story in a comment earlier this month, so I guess senpai noticed me.

          • Jiro says:

            What other widely discredited popular beliefs might people still somehow not know about?

            Love Canal as a greedy corporation poisoning people. The Stanford Prison Experiment. Kitty Genovese as crowds refusing to call the police because they don’t want to get involved. Tank Man trying to prevent the tank from running people over.

    • sourcreamus says:

      I have done a little reading on the story and think that Jiminez is exaggerating the evidence for Shepard being a drug dealer or involved in the drug scene other than as an occasional user.
      From the trial evidence it seems that the killers were coming off of a meth bender and were desperate for money to keep it going. They chose Shepard because they thought a gay guy would be much more likely to get in a truck with strangers. They robbed him and beat him so savagely because they were still somewhat under the influence of meth withdrawal. They tied him to the post so they could rob his house before he could notify the police and never intended to kill him. They then proceeded to get in fight with a couple guys while looking for Shepard’s house and were arrested.
      The gay panic defense was a long shot defense by their attorneys because they were so obviously guilty there was nothing else for them to try.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        They chose Shepard because they thought a gay guy would be much more likely to get in a truck with strangers.

        Except according to townsfolk they were not strangers.

  16. Luke the CIA Stooge says:

    The thing with the UFOs is there doesn’t seem to be a conclusive pattern that would point to a specific technical breakthrough that far back.

    My instict is all this coming out now is more of a psy op to try and recruit a UFO craze. The US developed a series of normal, non-revolutionary techs that are markedly better at defeating radar and technical detection consistently but are vulnerable to visual discovery. So, inorder to get the most out of their new toy, they try to start a UFO craze so all the visual reports gets drowned in the noise of UFO bullshittery and internet hoaxes. Increase the noise to signal ratio. And at the same time phych out the powers so they have to take the blatantly impossible hoaxes seriously.

    Think about it, an advanced breakthrough in actual aviation tech would cost billions, and is no garrantee. Recruiting some former airmen to lie and say they saw something impossible, or giving some ex-airmen cranks the go ahead to talk publically, while at the same time declassfying some spooky sounding fringe case, and throwing internet publications some clickbait would cost maybe a couple mil on the high end.

    Occam’s razor says this is just the airforce try to increase the amount of fake UFO bullshit Chinese analysts have to sort through.

    I give it 70% a few decades from now we’re reading about a panic in the airforce mid 2010s that UFOs weren’t popular anymore and reports of weird flying things online were becoming genuine sources of information leak, so they poured a chunk of their news budget into restarting a UFO craze.

    The military spending its money wisely and effectively: Low probability

    The military trying to paper over an operational deficiency with a wacky psy op:
    High probability

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      How many mild nutcases people with unorthodox views among Navy higher-ups will it take to generate the observations we have? Say some admiral sees usual reports about more or less natural phenomena and takes it too close to the heart and thinks Navy should do something about alien threat. He then proceeds to look for such reports vigorously, and eventually some morally flexible careerist not too far below him starts to juggle with the incoming data in order to confirm the views of the admiral and get his favor. He is indeed awarded for “vigilance” and so incentivized to further cook the books. Other people around who notice that prefer not to interfere since it’s relatively harmless and the admiral has too much political capital to bother. After a few iterations and perhaps percolation down the command chain, – can’t we get Navy fighters chasing UFOs?

      Surely this isn’t something I’d expect to happen every other decade in a functioning navy. But that’s [just one of the explanations which are] a few orders of magnitude more likely than secret aliens or new physics non-compliant aircrafts.

    • Bugmaster says:

      You’re probably right, but, to be fair, if I was a general stationed at some base; and I saw a flying object hanging around in the sky above that I could not identify; I’d want someone to ID that bogey pronto. The USA is not the only nation with secret military projects and weird-looking aircraft, after all.

  17. Le Maistre Chat says:

    … why was my post on Anti-Japaneseism deleted?

  18. melolontha says:

    Hot take: ‘niblings’ is a bad neologism, because its meaning isn’t really guessable, but it looks like it should be. Better to go with something more transparent (though I’m not sure what; ‘niephews’ looks too much like a typo, and ‘niecephews’ is too ugly) or something properly new and obviously unguessable.

    • achenx says:

      Zeroth-cousins-once-removed?

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      As a theoretical matter, I understand why you might say the meaning of ‘niblings’ isn’t really guessable, but as a practical one, I find that people seem to effortlessly understand it when it’s used in context. That, along with its looking “like it should be” (i.e., like a real word), may account for why ‘niblings’ has gained some traction. If it continues to gain traction, of course, at some point the question of its theoretical guessability will become moot.

      • I find that people seem to effortlessly understand it when it’s used in context.

        I didn’t. I haven’t googled for it yet, and at this point I have no idea what it means. I wasn’t even sure it meant anything–it could have been a joke.

        • acymetric says:

          From the context of melontha’s post I figured out it had something to do with nieces and nephews, but wasn’t quite sure what. Eventually I figured it out from some of the other posts.

          I sure hope that term doesn’t catch on. Just say “nieces and nephews”, sheesh. Is it really something people say or did Scott make it up? At 31 years old this is the first time I’ve ever seen it or heard it.

          • Swami says:

            I figured it refers to snacks. So I am confused.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I thought it was something to do with adopted siblings (not-[real-]siblings –> niblings as a portmanteau).

            And for the record, I don’t think that “niblings” sounds like a real word, but like one of those cutesy little terms that the more annoying advocates for polyamory come up with (cf. thruple, compersion).

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        I saw it for the first time in this post and was pretty confident in my (correct) guess for the meaning.

    • Deiseach says:

      What’s wrong with “siblings’ children” (or “sibs’ kids” if you absolutely must only have words of one syllable)? “Niblings” is too cutesy-pie and evokes the “Ugh, Care Bears huggles and cuddles puerility” reaction in me.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      As far as I know, neither of my sister’s kids has ever made a magic ring out of Rhine gold.

  19. Luke the CIA Stooge says:

    Is it just me or does it seem like Zizek is completely indistinguishable from an AI mimicking Zizek.
    Aside from raw contextual match (he will reference the thing he’s nominally commenting on most of the time) he’s one of the few intellectual I’ve actually heard talk who i have no Idea if he even has a logic or if its just loose affect and association all the way down.

    Does anyone else get that? Does any other prominent intellectual give you that vibe? (J Peterson always kinda seemed this way as well)

    • I think Zizek is a guy who always has his tongue firmly in cheek. He’s somewhere in between sincere and a troll. I don’t think that’s what Peterson is going for.

    • Akrasian says:

      Yep. Their ‘debate’ was hilarious because they largely just talked past each other and delivered the usual spiels their respective followers must have heard hundreds of times before.

      • Hoopdawg says:

        Weird. My impression of the debate was that Peterson came for a battle, whereas Zizek’s intention was reaching out to Peterson’s audience. To the extent they talked past each other (which, admittedly, they did a lot), it was largely due to this mismatch. I’m not sure either can be classified as “delivering the usual spiels”, other than a nearly tautological observation that they didn’t change their positions and talking points.

        • Akrasian says:

          I probably did overstate the case. All intellectuals repeat their talking points ad nauseam. I think I’m just especially sick of these two because they’ve been memed so hard and the debate had so much drama around it, so when they actually got together and I heard them sounding like the various spoofs and caricatures of them that had been circulating with the hype, it just seemed ridiculous.

          I think the debate started with that mismatch you described. Peterson opened by aggressively attacking Marxism and its consequences, and was surprised when Zizek didn’t want to actually defend Soviet-style central planning. From there, IIRC, they engaged in some joyous mutual (intellectual) masturbation, agreeing in broad terms on topics like contemporary Christianity and where capitalism fails, and not really working out where their disagreements (which must exist) lay on these topics. It might have improved from there, I don’t think I actually watched it all.

    • Bugmaster says:

      No, you’re not the only one. I have a feeling that he went so deep into recursive layers of… whatever you call it when philosophers do snark… that he lost his way and went into some kinda infinite loop.

    • James Green says:

      Zizek is 10% useful insights, 50% controversy-making-for-the-sake-of-it, and 40% twitching.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      Are you saying Zizek is the identity under the iterated-GPT2 operator?

  20. Anti-Japaneseism is a fringe ideology in Japan which believes the Japanese people are uniquely evil and need to be destroyed, kind of like a single-country version of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. From there you can also go down the rabbit hole of weird Japanese leftist movements, including the “Armed Front of High School Students for Violent Revolution” and the United Red Army’s unusually heated “self-criticism sessions”, which “killed 14 of its 29 members in less than a year”.

    I’ve always viewed Japan (and to some degree Korea) as being less leftist overall than her Western allies. Not in terms of surface level economic policies, but in terms of the general philosophy that seems embedded in the culture. Certainly what seems to be largely absent is the moderate left paradigm of the West where feminism is very strong and has a well structured canon of thought. Social justice exists everywhere, but it seems comparatively milder in modern Japan. So the center-left of Japan comes across as less leftist than the European center-left when viewed across this dimension.

    When you look at these far-left groups, however, they seem more leftist. Granted this is the 70s, but Western far-leftists of the period were largely orthodox Marxists and Soviet groupies. Anti-Japaneseism meanwhile is some sort of inverted ultranationalism, which comes across as so far-left it sounds like a parody made up by the right. Could it be that the far-left fringe of Japan is more leftist than the Western far-left fringe?

    • Akrasian says:

      Everything that comes out of Japan seems to be bizarre. Which is odd because they’re also stereotyped as more conformist than the West. Just another layer of contradiction.

      • Aapje says:

        Perhaps greater conformism breeds greater extremity, because those who reject the norms somewhat are rejected so strongly, that they become untethered from society. A theory I’ve heard is that gays got a fairly extreme culture for similar reasons.

        • Chaostic says:

          I would think greater conformity among individuals in a group with an unusual belief, would cause greater conformity to that belief. Which would make the group more extreme than a group made up of adherents who tend to take things less seriously.

    • jgaln says:

      You might be aware of this already, but the Japanese Communist Party is considered a proper, relevant political party in Japan and has 12 elected seats in the Diet.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Communist_Party

      Also this video is anecdotal evidence, but overall matches my own anecdotal experience there: Japanese people on feminism

      My impression was that Japan perhaps is culturally more similar to a 1960s USA than today’s USA.

    • birdboy2000 says:

      Germany has basically the same thing with the Anti-Germans, it’s New Left edginess mixed with Axis war guilt and a sense that the past generation didn’t face up to it enough.

    • ADifferentAnonymous says:

      The Japanese Right has also had its moments. Like the porn star who performed a literal plane-crash kamikaze attack in an attempt to kill a corrupt politician.

  21. waitwaitwhat says:

    The rise in social-justice-related terms as a percent of words used in the media over time.

    The charts in the linked twitter thread all say “Number of news articles”, both in their titles and their Y axes. I would imagine that a substantial amount of the increase is due to total number of articles published.

    EDITED TO CHANGE MY MIND: The repeats with just the New York Times as a source, showing the same trend, are much more convincing. I searched the New York Times with four key words picked at random and none of those had a substantial upward trend in number of articles containing them over the last twenty years.

    • Aapje says:

      Scott linked to his old graphs. For the newer ones he switched to percentages for the reason you gave and still found large increases. I suggest people just browse his Twitter posts for the last month or so.

    • tmk says:

      I don’t find that one surprising in any way. Isn’t it just the graph shape you’d expect for any new buzzword? Starting from zero and quickly going up. I bed you’d see the exact same graph for recently invented conservative buzzwords. For a 90’s or 00’s buzzwords you’d see the same graphs followed by a drop or leveling off.

  22. AlexOfUrals says:

    Europeans should stop mocking Americans’ air conditioning as environmentally unfriendly… Anyone disagree?

    I do! While the general premise of the article about living in southern climate being eco-friendlier overall might be true, some of the Americans’ air conditioning habits are anything but. Such as keeping a train waiting on a station for half hour with all doors open, air conditioning running on full power, apparently trying to cool the entire street. Or doing the same with a bus. Or a car. Also the author doesn’t explain what’s the point to cool offices, buses etc to an uncomfortably cold temperature, so that you have to put a jacket on? And even as far north as in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, developers building new apartments seem to be unaware that house heat insulation is a thing. So I think Europeans are fully justified in their mocking, and so am I (though not technically a European myself).

    Also, as Nav poninted out, you can do heating much more energy efficiently than by using electricity. That’s how heating is done everywhere in Russia and I assume other former Soviet republics with cold climate – though I wouldn’t know about the Western Europe. So differences in average vs comfortable temperatures can not be directly compared by modulo, as the article does. Another reason is that anything else you do with electricity besides controlling temperature ends up as heat – so it adds to your cooling bill and subtracts from your heating bill. And the same goes for sunlight. And waste heat from a car engine. And a lot of stuff, really.

    • martinw says:

      Also the author doesn’t explain what’s the point to cool offices, buses etc to an uncomfortably cold temperature, so that you have to put a jacket on?

      Different people have different temperature preferences, and it’s easier to warm yourself up to above ambient temperature by putting on a jacket, than to cool yourself off to below ambient temperature. So it makes sense to keep the office at a level where most of its inhabitants want it a little warmer.

      • AlexOfUrals says:

        That makes sense. But why don’t they apply the same logic when reasoning for which height to make seats? Sitting in a seat made for someone taller is slightly uncomfortable at most, sitting in a one made for someone shorter is excruciating. Same for height adjustable desks, and many there things in fact. Naturally, bigger stuff costs more, but so does colder temperature!

        (I know I know. Principal-agent problem is much more pronounced in the latter case. Just nagging)

        • beleester says:

          Adjusting the height of a seat is equally easy in both directions – you’ve got some sort of telescoping tube and you can lengthen it or shorten it. So it makes sense to build them so that the middle of their adjustment range is average height.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          I’m with you on the height adjustable desks, but as a 6′ 0.75″ person with a 30″ inseam, I generally adjust the chairs all the way down to put my arms and chest at a comfortable height for the table, and let my legs splay out under the table.

    • Dragor says:

      I recall reading an article about how this is actually an engineering problem and for some reason it actually is hard to cool buildings to reasonable temperatures.

      • AlexOfUrals says:

        Sounds like nonsense. I’ve achieved this many times, simply by turning air conditioning down to the comfortable level – in a car, in my apartments, even in the office when it’s early morning and there isn’t much folks around. (For reference, comfortable for me is around 75-78 F)

  23. Alex Zavoluk says:

    StreetRX seems to mostly have prescription medication rather than street drugs (at least, I checked Chicago, which I would expect to have cocaine or heroin or something, and didn’t see any).

    The US government and military apparently used to consider UFOs to be a serious national security concern, until the 70s.

  24. vaniver says:

    Now Microsoft claims to have developed a new AI that outperforms humans on this measure.

    No, on Winograd specifically it gets 89%, which is comparable to the human 95% but not better. (The paper Gwern links to gets 90%.)

    • Hackworth says:

      A follow-up comment in the reddit thread claims that 95% was the top percentage, for people with the best grasp on language, and 90% was the average (median?). Still technically better than 89%, but indistuingishable for all practical purposes.

  25. Brett says:

    The stuff about mating and women seems right. We don’t really see major mating inequality among modern homo sapiens until the contraction in y-chromosome lineages about 4000-8000 years ago, not coincidentally the time when we get increased warfare among patrilineally related groups and increased societal inequality (meaning that the top men had the power to control more women and force them to mate with them).

    To me, there’s an unspoken “cap” on how much warming we’ll allow to happen. If it gets too bad, we’ll do our best to model the outcomes and then dump a ton of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect more light away, cooling the planet (like a major volcanic eruption, except man-made). The estimates I’ve seen for doing that are not devastatingly expensive – think $2-3 billion/year. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, and I think there’s definitely a good chance that it won’t.

    I just thought the UFO stuff was just a problem with their equipment, which they didn’t want to state publicly because doing so would give folks ideas on how to figure out its actual capabilities, and those capabilities are classified (hence why Congress got a closed briefing on it). I’m still pretty skeptical that it’s some drastic leap forward in hardware, far beyond anything we have now in aerospace technology, and they’ve somehow kept that mostly secret. Stuff leaks.

    • To me, there’s an unspoken “cap” on how much warming we’ll allow to happen. If it gets too bad, we’ll do our best to model the outcomes and then dump a ton of aerosols into the stratosphere to reflect more light away, cooling the planet (like a major volcanic eruption, except man-made). The estimates I’ve seen for doing that are not devastatingly expensive – think $2-3 billion/year. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, and I think there’s definitely a good chance that it won’t.

      Agreed. Additionally though, if the really bad effects of warming take over a hundred years to occur, you have to start factoring in technology/automation/human augmentation/AI. If whatever we are 150-200 years in the future is substantially less vulnerable to the effects than what we are now, we’re less likely to need to make interventions exterior to our bodies.

      • anonymousskimmer says:

        Because no other life matters except us.

        People can be profoundly evil.

      • @anonymousskimmer

        Wild animals die all the time on an individual level from both predators and the environment, so I don’t know if you’re saying we should save animals in general from all harms. On the species level, you’re getting into making sure more animals in that species breed more than they die, which is something the individual animals don’t even know about as a concept other than the direct effect. It’s mostly for our benefit to do such a thing.

        Other lives matter besides human lives, but certainly not as much (part of human value is reciprocation involved; if we give a chimp human rights it will not appreciate them), and there’s certainly no special case with global warming that there hasn’t been with the constant and ceaseless turmoil of death that is nature. Unless you’re planning to give animals civilizations with a police force and turn predators vegetarian, it’s not something to lose sleep over. On the species level, that’s something the individual animal has no knowledge about, except in the case of not being able to find a mate because of reduction in numbers, but in which case refer to the first point.

        Should we go to excess lengths and difficulties to prevent sambar deer from being killed by global warming (assuming they even would be) if we’re not going to prevent them from being killed by tigers just because one cause is “unnatural” and one is “natural”? Beyond the suffering of the individuals, which matters but is intractable, if we want to preserve the species, it is only for our aesthetic joy. There’s no ethical dimension to species preservation. Only the individual suffers and whatever we do short of uplifting and crazy schemes like that which just make our planet more overcrowded with political beings, the individual animals trapped outside of civilization are going to suffer.

        • anonymousskimmer says:

          It’s not about “natural” versus “unnatural”, or suffering in general, it’s about externalities of our actions, especially our actions of convenience. Suffering caused by our knowledgeable, yet uncaring choices.

          We appear to be fundamentally in philosophical discord on the basics of this issue. I don’t buy your ultimate statement vis-a-vis what I was originally responding to.

        • It’s not about “natural” versus “unnatural”, or suffering in general, it’s about externalities of our actions, especially our actions of convenience.

          Yes, but if the natural world is going to be an incredibly violent place anyway that does set a higher bar on how willing we should be to lower human living standards in order to reduce externalities that make things worse for certain animal species.

          Suffering caused by our knowledgeable, yet uncaring choices.

          It’s not uncaring; it’s simply placing the care with humans rather than animals. We haven’t yet eliminated poverty, but in the West we’ve reached a level where the baseline standard of living is drastically greater than it has been for most of human history, and we got there thanks to the fuels which made the industrial revolution possible. It was absolutely worth it, and if we ran history over again, we should do it again.

          Granted, if solar energy and nuclear energy can take the place of those fuels than that’s all the better, both for us and the animals of the world, but we can’t instantly transition off of fossil fuels, and if it comes down to choosing between “reducing externalities” and living standards then we should find another way. We’ve already seen the effect of trying to force fuel taxes on the poor in France.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      Wow, great explanation about UFOs, probably matches the observations and priors better than anything I’ve heard of or came up with. Especially because both this and the previous spikes in UFO encounters are apparently associated with testing of new radars.

  26. Sniffnoy says:

    Oy, that Reddit link about the Winograd schemas repeats the claim that various chatbots have “passed the Turing test”. This is of course not true; various chatbots have passed various restricted “Turing tests” that, well, may not be the worst benchmarks but pretty clearly have basically none of the significance of an actual Turing test. If you have a program that can pass an actual Turing test, it’s almost certainly an AGI. In any case this doesn’t really bear on the rest of the linked post, but I thought that was at least worth mentioning.

  27. sandoratthezoo says:

    Re: the academic/psychosis thing, maybe just this:

    Psychotics are unlikely to have (legitimate) children, and if they do have children, their children are less likely to be pretty successful, eg academics. So everyone that they’re looking at has some genetic predisposition to psychosis, but the ones who are pre-selected to be parents to relatively successful children, or are themselves the relatively successful children, are already determined to have won that lottery.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      I think it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. Compare academics to controls. Compare parents of academics to parents of controls. Compare children of academics to children of controls.

  28. Bugmaster says:

    the Amish are now on AirBnB.

    Yes, but do they have WiFi ?

    Seriously though, how does this work, exactly ? As far as I understand, the Amish believe that electricity is basically Satan; so how are they voluntarily using the service that is built upon the biggest networked Satan on the planet ? On a more local scale, why would any Amish voluntarily invite random heathens into his home ? Is this place just an Amish-styled theme park, or what ?

    • acymetric says:

      Your understanding is incorrect. My understanding is probably also incorrect but is closer to reality. They basically view electricity as something that leads to temptation, and acts as a distraction from their goals/values. They already allow various use of electricity, although I’ll admit I’m somewhat surprised that AirBnB was given a carve out.

      If they really open the door on this, an Uber-like app for horse-and-buggy rides in places with high concentrations might be a money maker.

    • Aapje says:

      @Bugmaster

      Seriously though, how does this work, exactly ?

      Perhaps they have an ‘English’ associate who handles the online stuff? Or perhaps they only use a laptop and only for certain purposes.

      As far as I understand, the Amish believe that electricity is basically Satan

      My understanding is that they object mainly to being on the grid. Battery power is acceptable, so laptops and tablets might be acceptable to some Amish.

      On a more local scale, why would any Amish voluntarily invite random heathens into his home ?

      Money. Many Amish already increasingly work in non-Amish factories, as farming has become less viable for them as well.

      Is this place just an Amish-styled theme park, or what ?

      They still live their life, just paid for by the tourist…

    • Edward Scizorhands says:

      There are many kinds of Amish, but the general rule is that they avoid permanent ties to the outside world.

    • Deiseach says:

      The link says “Amish farm country” and promises stays with/visits to “Amish and Mennonites”, and the Mennonites are more technology-friendly. I have a suspicion the Mennonites are the intermediaries between the tourists and the Amish proper, or it’s more Amish/Mennonite than strictly Amish-only.

      From a quick perusal of Wikipedia, the history of the Mennonite Church looks a bit like Judaism – you have the old orthodox hold-outs, then conservative but more modern types, and even progressives!

      Conservative Mennonites include numerous groups that identify with the more conservative or traditional element among Mennonite or Anabaptist groups but not necessarily Old Order groups. The majority of Conservative Mennonite churches historically has an Amish and not a Mennonite background. …Those identifying with this group drive automobiles, have telephones and use electricity, and some may have personal computers. They also have Sunday school, hold revival meetings, and operate their own Christian schools/parochial schools.

      And there seems to be a fascinating split (not quite schism) amongst Old Order Mennonites as to the “horse and buggy” traditions and the ones that allow – gasp! – driving cars!

      Horse and Buggy groups have retained a rural lifestyle with farming as an important part of their economy. Most horse and buggy Old Order Mennonites allow the use of tractors for farming, although some groups insist on steel-wheeled tractors to prevent tractors from being used for road transportation. Some groups like the Orthodox Mennonites and the Noah Hoover Mennonite still till their fields with horses. The horse and buggy people stress separation from the world, excommunicate, and normally shun in a strict form. All Old Order Mennonite groups meet in meeting houses or church buildings (when they have full-fledged congregations), contrary to the Old Order Amish, who meet in homes or barns of their members.

      Automobile Old Order Mennonites, like the Weaverland Conference Mennonites, Wisler Mennonites, and Markham-Waterloo Mennonite Conference also evolved from the same series of Old Order schisms from 1872 to 1901. They often share the same meeting houses with, and adhere to almost identical forms of Old Order worship as their horse and buggy Old Order brethren with whom they parted ways in the early 20th century. Although Weaverland Old Orders began using cars in 1927, the cars were required to be plain and painted black. The form of the ban among automobile groups in general is less severe, that means the ex-communicant is not always shunned, and is therefore not excluded from the family table, shunned by their spouse, or cut off from business dealings. All automobile Old Orders have already shifted from Pennsylvania German to English or are in the process to do so. Since some decades family size and growth rate of the Automobile groups have diminished compared to the horse and buggy groups.

    • simeon says:

      I LOLed when I clicked the link and saw the face of a childhood friend! Who is *not* Amish but probably has family connections who are.

  29. RogerKint says:

    for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences

    I don’t think that follows. Firstly, women often did have some choice, at least in rejecting candidates. But secondly and more importantly, to the extent that the mate preferences of their parents (who did most of the choosing) were genetically conditioned and affected the eventual fitness, the prevalence of genetic variants predisposing towards certain mate preferences increased in the population, including in women. For example, if women whose parents preferred wealthier, higher-status mates for their daughters had more surviving children over time, any genetic preference for such mates would have become more and more prevalent in the population, including in women making mate choices on their own.

  30. AlphaGamma says:

    On Anti-Japaneseism:

    I was aware of the Anti-German movement in Germany, but that seems rather more sane- AFAIK even its most extreme advocates call for the abolition of Germany as a state rather than the extinction of the German people.

  31. tentor says:

    As a European, I don’t mock AC in general (especially when its really hot outside), but I do mock cooling below 24°C/75°F. When I have to put on warm clothes for going inside, you can’t argue with energy conservation.

    • The Nybbler says:

      As a European, I don’t mock AC in general (especially when its really hot outside), but I do mock cooling below 24°C/75°F.

      One problem is you can’t easily control temperature and humidity separately. If you cool to 75 degrees, the humidity could still be very high and uncomfortable. Buildings have hot spots and cold spots, and if you cool most of the building to 75, 20% of it could be well over 80. And when the system cycles there’s a range of temperatures; if the system normally cools to 75, it might reach 80 before cycling back on, and the hot spots might reach 90 or above. There are fancy building HVAC management systems purporting to solve all these problems, but nobody uses them. Probably because they’re expensive and won’t work well given the frequent re-configuration of interior office space.

    • Hackworth says:

      Depending on humidity, I’d be uncomfortably warm at 24°C, indoors. If you are saying you need warm clothes below 24°C, I’d say you are unusually susceptible to the cold.

    • AMT says:

      As a Canadian that moved to America, I have to agree that Americans are insane about AC. Yes, it may be more energy intensive to heat in -40 degree weather than to cool in 100F weather, but there is no reason for the AC to ever be set under 70F. Pretty much everyone should be comfortable enough at 75F, if not even slightly higher.

      McArdle’s argument is like saying “Hey, we are driving a small, fuel efficient car while you are driving a truck!” But the point is that idling, even with a more fuel efficient vehicle, is still a waste. Should everyone move from cold climates to warm ones? Maybe…but many countries (America?) seem reluctant to allow much immigration, so arguing “just move!” but also “you’re not allowed to move!” doesn’t always work. Maybe it’s more valid within the EU and within a single nation (e.g. move from Alaska or North Dakota to Texas), but that’s about it.

      My guess is that with rising obesity rates in America, people on average prefer colder temperatures now, hence the AC set to under 70F at many businesses.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Pretty much everyone should be comfortable enough at 75F, if not even slightly higher.

        It turns out saying this does not make it so.

        My guess is that with rising obesity rates in America, people on average prefer colder temperatures now, hence the AC set to under 70F at many businesses.

        Such cooling is older than the rise in obesity.

        • acymetric says:

          I’m reasonably comfortable at 75F as long as it isn’t extremely humid (hint: in North Carolina it is always extremely humid), but I’m even more comfortable at 72, or, ideally 68.

          My counterpoint to “under 75F is wasting energy” further up: If you ever heat to more than 65F when its cold outside you’re the one wasting energy.

          • Swami says:

            My wife likes it around 73 year round, and guess what? That is what our house temp is set at. If anyone disagrees, please take it up with her. Good luck on that.

            BTW, we live in Chicago, and with gas heating and electric cooling our bill is higher in summer than winter, though I do not know how to translate that into affects on AGW.

          • acymetric says:

            @Swami

            I was just throwing that back at anyone suggesting that a thermostat below 75 is unreasonable (by suggesting they are being unreasonable themselves if they keep their homes too warm when it is cold).

          • March says:

            @acymetric,

            How is that a gotcha argument? I don’t heat more than 65F in winter, unless I somehow got really cold during the day. It’s easy enough to put on a sweater and make a cup of tea.

          • AMT says:

            I never said I would heat my home to 75F, and agree that doing so would be a waste (for me anyway). I find a temperature anywhere between 68 and around 78-79 pretty comfortable, so I just wouldn’t want to spend any resources going further than necessary in either direction. 65 would be fine, if my hands wouldn’t be getting cold at that point, and while wearing a hoodie or sweater inside is fine, wearing gloves is different if you want to use your hands. I get that people have different preferences, but it seems a bit odd to me that some people have zero range to their acceptable temperature. On the other hand, I recently saw a tv commercial from the local power company trying to convince people to conserve energy, by saying you could save 1% on your bill per degree colder you set the thermostat in summer…which is less than I expected, and made me think that it would be completely worth it if you find it any more comfortable being slightly little cooler in summer, or warmer in winter. So it would still make sense to be willing to spend the money if 73 is the optimal temperature, even if 73 plus or minus 5 degrees would be satisfactory.

            But it still seems like something is very wrong when I walk into a store in the summer and start feeling like I need additional layers of clothing.

          • acymetric says:

            @March

            How is that a gotcha argument? I don’t heat more than 65F in winter, unless I somehow got really cold during the day. It’s easy enough to put on a sweater and make a cup of tea.

            I mean…I didn’t mention you by name and you weren’t involved in the discussion prior to this, is there a reason you think this comment was meant to “get you”? My point was just that at least some of the people complaining about too much AC could probably reasonably be accused of using too much heat (I picked arbitrary numbers just like the people complaining about AC usage do, so let’s not parse 65 and 75 too closely here anyway). That doesn’t apply to everybody, and apparently that includes you.

            @AMT

            On the other hand, I recently saw a tv commercial from the local power company trying to convince people to conserve energy, by saying you could save 1% on your bill per degree colder you set the thermostat in summer…which is less than I expected, and made me think that it would be completely worth it if you find it any more comfortable being slightly little cooler in summer, or warmer in winter. So it would still make sense to be willing to spend the money if 73 is the optimal temperature, even if 73 plus or minus 5 degrees would be satisfactory.

            But it still seems like something is very wrong when I walk into a store in the summer and start feeling like I need additional layers of clothing.

            You’ve got it…generally speaking the marginal cost is minimal. I used to be really tight about my AC usage both at home and in the car. At some point a switch flipped and I decided that I worked too hard for my money to sacrifice being at the exact temperature I wanted to be in order to save like $10-15 per month.

            The difference is just some people have different preferences. I’m “comfortable” in the mid 70s as long as it isn’t terribly humid (at which point I would prefer low 70s at least) but I’m more comfortable between 68 and 70, especially at night when trying to sleep.

            As to stores/restaurants that are particularly cold, I don’t have a good explanation ready. I’m sure there is some established industry reason for it. Probably something about a customer coming in and having to wear a jacket is a better experience for a customer than a customer coming in and starting to sweat because it’s too warm.

            Or a status thing, like from days gone by, like “hey, we’re so big time we can afford to keep this place ice cold” or something.

          • March says:

            @acymetric,

            OK, substitute your original term ‘counterpoint’ if you think ‘gotcha’ is too personal.

            People who say ‘people who set the AC below 75 in summer are wasting energy’ can easily respond to ‘if you ever heat to more than 65 when it’s cold outside you’re the one wasting energy’ with ‘well yeah, both overheaters and overcoolers are wasteful’ without losing any of the thrust of their argument.

          • acymetric says:

            Good grief. I didn’t say it applied to everyone who criticized air conditioning. If you are big on responsible usage of AC in the summer and the winter then I’m not talking to you.

            I’m talking to people who like to dunk on Americans for using AC who turn around and keep it at a toasty 72-74 or whatever on cold winter days.

            Is there a reason you feel so personally attacked by a comment that doesn’t apply to you and was never directed at you?

          • March says:

            There’s obviously a tone misunderstanding going on here. Not even a smidgen of personal feelings involved. Peace out.

          • Eternaltraveler says:

            I set the AC in my bedroom to 64 and find temperatures above 72 annoyingly hot. In winter the heater is set to 60. I very rarely get cold and certainly not at any temperature where water is a liquid.

            When I visit northernn Europe in winter I have to open windows in my hotel because usually there is no other way to get the indoor winter temperature below 80.

            My impression is that most Europeans like more heat than I do. They are welcome to it. In my house they can wear a sweater.

          • eccdogg says:

            Fellow North Carolinian here and the humidity really is a big issue.

            I could be comfortable at temps up to 75 or even 78 during the day, but with the AC set at those temps it does not cycle enough to reduce the humidity.

            In July you can wake up in the morning an temps will be around 70 (21C) with a dew point also around 70. It might take til mid morning for temps inside to rise above 75 but it will be oppressively humid.

            ETA: according to the EIA the US uses about 4 times as much energy for heating as cooling.

    • By-Ends says:

      One reason to keep buildings cooler is that warmer temperatures are associated with decreased productivity in an office environment.

      http://www.irbnet.de/daten/iconda/CIB6432.pdf

      “We found that agents were 16% slower at wrap-up when the temperature was greater than 25.4 °C. This was the largest effect with a p-value less than 5%. However, temperatures greater than 25.4 °C occurred on only seven days, six of them in a nine-day period starting at day 21.”

      “There is some evidence that high temperature (> 25.4 C) is associated with lower work performance. “

    • Robin says:

      Do Europeans still mock AC? I though mocking AC was a thing of the past, like mocking cellphones, psychotherapy or answering machines… All practices which used to be mocked as sooo American, but then were widely adopted in Europe.

      • sharper13 says:

        A bit belatedly, but your comment is related to my first thought when the topic of increased AC consumption being a signal for global warming changes. It seems like increased AC use is much more caused by increased wealth in general, i.e. in general the wealthier someone gets, the more AC they purchase and use. The “signal” from the changes in wealth levels over time would seem to dwarf any additional “noise” from minor temperature fluctuations over time.

  32. “A study demonstrating that homophobia cut 12 years off the life expectancy of gays has been retracted after years of criticism; the finding was the result of a variable coding error. Why did it take so long to discover? Because when other scientists first tried to point out flaws in the study, they faced media attacks like this ThinkProgress piece from 2016 titled Anti-Gay Researcher Now Tries To Claim Stigma Doesn’t Harm LGBT People.”

    I agree that these media attacks were likely unjustified or ad hominem, but Mark Regnerus—the person who did this study—has done some genuinely bad research. One of his most famous papers suggests that kids raised by same-sex parents, on average, have worse outcomes than kids raised by opposite-sex parents. The problem is that the paper looks at kids who “have witnessed their parent have a same-sex relationship” and doesn’t adjust for any confounders—and Regnerus admitted in an interview that his paper only had *two* kids who were raised from early childhood by the same same-sex couple, and both of those kids had positive life outcomes. So, this is an ad hominem attack, but the scientist who pointed out these flaws doesn’t have a strong record of sound research either.

    • ManyCookies says:

      Stopped clocks and all that.

    • RogerKint says:

      My recollection is that studies predating Regnerus’s had similar sample problems, but they didn’t lead to similar controversy because they didn’t find that the children of gay parents had worse outcomes.

    • SamChevre says:

      This goes in the confounder study notes.

      The key thing is that if you control for two parents in a stable relationship, children with same-sex parents have comparable outcomes. If you don’t, they have far worse outcomes. It’s very debatable whether this should be controlled for or not.

      • Evan Þ says:

        How about if you control for two parents who were in an apparently-stable relationship at the time the child was born/adopted? That’d probably be the most relevant piece of data to know.

        • SamChevre says:

          From memory, with the caveat that I read reports on the studies not the studies themselves: the key child population that drives the results is children whose parents were in an apparently-stable heterosexual relationship when they were born, which one parent later left for a same-sex partner.

  33. InvalidUsernameAndPassword says:

    Calling the researcher who criticised the retracted LGBT life expectancy paper “anti-gay” was hardly inaccurate though, given his output.

  34. Dragor says:

    The Pentagon vs. the Second Commandment: during the Gulf War, psy ops officers investigated various bizarre proposals, including “project[ing] a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam”.

    What are the implications of something like this for copywrite? If I synthesze a recording of you singing a song, do you own the rights? If I own the rights, can I send you a cease and desist if you start singing the song?

    • beleester says:

      NAL, but I’m pretty sure that would fall under “derivative works” in copyright law. Same as a cover of a song. If you weren’t licensed to create that recording, then the original singer/songwriter would be able to sue you. (Fair use exceptions apply, of course.) If the fake was meant to be identical to an existing recording, it might even be just a straight copy, not a derivative work.

      A derivative work gets copyright protection only on the new material. So while you can’t sue the original singer for singing their own song, if they took the video of your fake and used it in their own music video, you might have a case.

      I’m not sure what this has to do with holograms of Allah? If God himself has a copyright claim against you then you have bigger problems than getting sued.

  35. Anon. says:

    I’m very skeptical about “arranged marriages therefore no sexual selection” arguments. Why does it have to be monocausal? Arranged marriage doesn’t mean the bride has no choice whatsoever. And that’s before we get into the issue of extrapolating from what we know about recent marriage practices into the pre-historical past.

  36. Hoopdawg says:

    “There is no advantage to going to good schools over bad schools at all” is my default take on education, and this makes me view alternative schools as basically a fraud working by attracting attention of more careful, more ambitious students or parents and then presenting the resulting self-selected above-average population as a result of their own systemic superiority.

    But my untrained eye sees no obvious flaw in the charter school study. Which calls for an alternative hypothesis in which bad schools are so bad they actively stunt a child’s education. I don’t think the high bar of not actively stunting a child’s education should require inter-school competition to clear, but whatever works, I guess.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      I think the main blessing of a charter school is that the vouchers themselves associated with the school can potentially be less than the per pupil per year costs of conventional schools.

      The flip side to the argument that charter schools have no benefit is that a schools budget can be reduced at no cost to academic achievement.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      Which calls for an alternative hypothesis in which bad schools are so bad they actively stunt a child’s education.

      There’s indication that charter schools’ results are entirely explained by them being able to expel disruptive students, which the public schools cannot. So…possibly yes.

      • Mark Atwood says:

        It takes just two jokers, or just one really bad one, to ruin an entire class’s experience each day.

        And unless you have an unusually trusting relationship with your kid as a parent, they probably won’t tell you about it, at least not until months have been lost. And the teacher certainly won’t.

        And it’s gotten bad even in the “good” public schools.

        (I’d been digging into the disaster that is “restorative justice” that has infected Seattle Public Schools, until we elected to completely opt out of the problem rather than fight the school about it.)

    • Matt M says:

      My theory here would be something like “There’s no advantage to going to ‘good’ public schools over ‘bad’ public schools at all, but there may be an advantage towards wholly alternative modes and models of education.”

      Public schools, in general, are all operating under, if not the exact same curriculum (and often even that), the same sort of structure, logic, principles, etc. What separates the “good” from the “bad” is, as you say, just a reflection of the selection of the student body itself. But charter schools may be operating under an entirely different model, which may produce sustainably better results, even controlled for inherent student ability.

  37. dunkinsailor says:

    If you like the music visualization, check out this one, which is even 3D!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6xWGVhZl1g

    • AG says:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAafyK44fCc

      This is my favorite Bach performance ever, better than any traditional performances, even. There’s a neat little explanation about how the bass line outright has a deliberate visual component, and with that fact in mind, you start to see it in the rest of the piece. But also, the removal of differing instrumental timbre actually brings the structure out even more.

  38. ThomasStearns says:

    because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

    Don’t we know this is wrong, because of penises? Namely, they’re much better (for women) than other primate species’ penises, and potential fathers in law don’t care about the penises of potential sons in law?

    • March says:

      That could just mean that ‘good’ penises lead to more children once the mate has already been chosen.

      Ideal amount of sex for conception is once every two to three days in the fertile window (which is non-obvious in humans). A penis that would (I don’t know what counts as ‘bad’ here) leave a woman sore for an additional 12 hours might mean a suboptimal frequency or a younger age at which a woman says ‘screw you and your sandpaper penis, go bother a mistress for all I care, I gave you your heir and a spare.’

      • ThomasStearns says:

        Fair

      • HeelBearCub says:

        a woman says ‘screw you and your sandpaper penis’

        But this implies an amount of agency in selection of mating, at the very least. If women have that agency, we still get the effects of selection.

        • March says:

          I doubt the original article was trying to imply that women have no agency at all.

          If you knew sex with your partner was going to be some kind of annoying, there are many subtle ways you can make the prospect less attractive. Men aren’t rape bots with a 48-hour cycle, so just by washing your hair every day at his preferred nookie time, cooking flatulence-inducing food, using soap that smells kind of ugh, getting more fat or buff than your husband prefers, virtuously getting involved in all kinds of community care activities or just regularly playing dead in bed, you can probably get to 50% less sex easily.

          If the original article WAS trying to imply that women have no agency at all, I’d have to ask if the author ever met a woman.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            But “do women have agency” isn’t really the question being asked. The real question being asked is “how much agency do we have to remove before we can posit that selection effects don’t matter”.

            As you are pointing out, we would have to remove much more agency than merely loss of influence over initial mate selection.

            I think the article is actually trying to make a different point than the one indicated by Scott’s summary, having to do with the size of those selection effects. But I’m not sure.

    • SteveReilly says:

      Apparently the idea that the human penis is unique is controversial: https://traditionsofconflict.com/blog/2018/6/7/the-human-penis-is-remarkably-boring

  39. eterevsky says:

    Isn’t the creed already a kind of pledge of allegiance?

    Also, how is the report of melting permafrost different from a conservative saying that a particularly cold winter disproves the climate change? I.e. shouldn’t it be treated as a single data point, which in itself doesn’t change much in our expectations?

    • blashimov says:

      The point of permafrost is that it’s permanent – it’s not about one season. We have 0 expectation that it will refreeze significantly – IT SHOULDN’T MELT AT ALL – that sad, it’s bad in the same way the IPCC has always been conservative and underestimating the long tail, but still not apocalyptic to the human race. Even if sea level rises 4 meters, however, climate change still won’t end civilization unless we nuke ourselves over it. But if you don’t want wars countries *have* to get over this stupid racist/nationalist immigration stance and let people in – they’ll die otherwise, and put enough people in that position and they start being willing to kill to live.

      • But if you don’t want wars countries *have* to get over this stupid racist/nationalist immigration stance and let people in – they’ll die otherwise, and put enough people in that position and they start being willing to kill to live.

        I agree that countries should be much more willing to accept immigrants. But the idea that sea level rise will produce hundreds of millions of immigrants is a fantasy, at least at levels of SLR projected for the next century or so. Over a millenium you might get that sort of SLR, but that’s enough time for hundreds of millions of people to move.

        The most recent IPCC report showed a range of SLR for the end of this century with the high end, at the high emissions scenario (which assumes that emissions continue to rise for the rest of the century, ignoring both exhaustion of fossil fuels and technological progress in alternatives), at about a meter. If you look at the Flood Maps Page, you can see that the effect of that is almost invisibly small almost everywhere. Even if you take it up to two or three meters, you aren’t flooding out hundreds of millions of people.

  40. bean says:

    I was reading Tyler Rogoway’s article on the UFO sightings, and while he’s usually about the best public defense reporter on the internet, I have to disagree with him here. He uses the fact that the Nimitz CSG was using CEC for the first time as proof that the incident was real. I’d take the opposite tack, and suggest a very strong possibility that it was all caused by a CEC glitch.

    (CEC is a system for passing targeting-qualitly data between ships and aircraft, to allow, say, a ship to shoot based on data from an AWACS plane overhead. Previous systems had passed much less precise tracks, only enough for the tactical picture, with the firing platform’s own sensors providing the precision necessary to shoot. So to a large extent, CEC erases the distinction between your own data and someone else’s. It’s quite exciting, but these kind of networked systems have all sorts of potential pitfalls if you don’t get them just right.)

    OK. So we have a new system which lets us pass targeting-quality data between ships. We’re testing it for the first time. How does this generate false UFO reports?

    One of the CEC platforms picks up something. Could be a wave that makes it past the filters. Could be anaprop. Normally, the contact would fade out pretty quickly and everyone would just go back to ignoring it. But it goes out over CEC, and everyone else’s sensors start looking for anything in that direction. Maybe they even treat it as a confirmed contact and start reducing the thresholds for picking something up. Suddenly, there’s another wave/anaprop event/something picked up on another ship, and the “contact” shoots from 60,000 ft down to sea level. Everyone watching the CEC makes the mistake of assuming that the data they’re seeing is an accurate representation of reality, and you have a UFO report. When they get back to base, the CEC people do some digging, realize what happened, and patch it. They don’t talk much about it because it would be embarrassing, and everyone else is much more interested in UFOs than the finer details of network-centric combat systems.

    The experience of the F-18s supports this. For all I know, the “tic-tac” was a weird cloud of some sort, and the “sea boiling” incidents sound an awful lot like, say, a feeding frenzy on some unfortunate fish school. The radar on the Hornets didn’t pick anything up, even at close range, and then pattern-matching takes over and people start screaming about UFOs.

    I don’t have nearly as good of a theory for why it’s coming out now.

    • glorkvorn says:

      You seem like you’re well-informed, so I’ll direct this question to you. I read a theory somewhere that the visual UFO sightings (so not just radar, but various navy personnel saying they saw something similar with their own eyes) could have been caused by the radar ionizing the air, in a way that makes it visible. And that this is more likely with cutting edge radar from multiple platforms all focused on the same spot, but still kinda hard to reproduce reliably. Does that seem possible?

      • bean says:

        I’ve never heard of such a thing happening, but I’m not someone who has any expertise in radar behavior or atmospheric physics, so I’m really not the one to ask. My guess on those would generally be “weird optical phenomena near weird radar phenomena, not well-correlated”, because particularly in the Tic-Tac case, they don’t line up very well.

        Then again, radar is really weird, so I wouldn’t rule it out.

    • John Schilling says:

      I don’t have nearly as good of a theory for why it’s coming out now.

      CEC is new and still kind of glitchy, and for that matter AESA radar is still new-ish and kind of glitchy. It really sounds like the Navy is telling its people “Look, we know that bug reports on this stuff will often sound like old-school crazy-nutjob UFO reports; we still need the bug reports, so if you get a weird contact, check it out and report it and don’t worry about sounding like a crazy UFO nut”.

      • bean says:

        CEC has been in the field for 15 years. AESA is somewhat newer, at least in operational use. I’m well aware that these facts don’t make it immune to glitches, but they’re probably not as common as they once were. Also, if they were pushing the “system glitch” angle, they’d probably have said something to that effect instead of treating it like a UFO thing.

        • b_jonas says:

          Why?

          I’m serious here. I don’t know anything about military, but I do work with software, and I do know that people don’t like to give detailed bug reports. Suppose you told the soldiers that there may be glitches in the targeting system, and if you meet one, please report them to me. When the soldiers meet those glitches, they’re shrug their shoulder, blame the stupid targeting system, work around its bugs, and either won’t send me a bug report, or send me one with too few details to be useful. Suppose that instead you somehow encouraged the soldiers to spread UFO stories. When the soldiers meet the glitches, they will try to document it in as much detail as possible, record them with their mobile phone cameras, and post them on the internet. They’ll try to make the details precise and usable, because otherwise it will seem like another one of those completely unbelievable bogus UFO reports. Hopefully you’ll even get reports of the same event from multiple soldiers. I’m not good at manipulating people, but if I had access to a manager who is good at that, I would ask them to manipulate the soldiers to treat the glitches as potential UFOs.

        • bean says:

          That’s actually a really good point. If nothing else, it will make sure that these things get reported to someone who is listening, even if that person’s response is to call the CEC team instead of the MIB.

          When the soldiers meet the glitches, they will try to document it in as much detail as possible, record them with their mobile phone cameras, and post them on the internet.

          Recording a military radar display and posting it on the internet is a very good way to end up either in the brig or at the very least with a dishonorable discharge.

  41. jefftk says:

    “In the grand calculus of the country’s planned economy, whaling was considered a satellite of the fishing industry. This meant that the progress of the whaling fleets was measured by the same metric as the fishing fleets: gross product, principally the sheer mass of whales killed.”

  42. JohnBuridan says:

    You can still see the original colors and wall paintings in Etruscan tombs today. I would love to see a Neo-Etruscan collection at IKEA.

  43. zima says:

    Re: the sexual selection bit; women have never been helpless against male coercion. For instance, unlike many female monkeys, human women hide when they are fertile, incentivizing men to stick around. Women can also have extramarital affairs, or choose not to cooperate in subtle ways that make it harder to have and raise children.

    If anything, the fact that many marriages in human history were coerced provides a reason why women who preferred more dominant men passed on this preference—women with that preference would have been more cooperative when forced into an arranged pairing with a dominant male.

    • SEE says:

      For instance, unlike many female monkeys, human women hide when they are fertile, incentivizing men to stick around.

      The problem with that theory has always been the order of causality. Males “sticking around” has been present in the human lineage since at least our common ancestor with the chimpanzee and bonobo, since all three “naturally” live in bands with multiple males contributing to the group. But concealed ovulation is only present in one of the three species descended from that last common ancestor, so it can’t be the cause of that behavior.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        The divergence time for humans, chimps, and gorillas is the same. We don’t know what the common ancestor was like, except that there was plenty of time for humans to become as different from chimps as gorillas are and arguments like this are lousy. This argument better survives just dropping the common decent detail and arguing just by comparing the two populations.

        However, people do argue that chimps use promiscuity analogously to concealed ovulation. Females seem to choose a mate and seem to be fairly successful in conceiving by him, but also have sex with lots of other males, in what appears an attempt to create ambiguity.

        • SEE says:

          The divergence time for humans, chimps, and gorillas is the same.

          Just because the one end of the range of reasonable paleontological dates for the split between Hominini and Gorillini overlaps one end of the range of the reasonable dates for the split between Hominina and Panina does not mean that it’s plausible to postulate the divergences were near-simultaneous. The molecular evidence is strong that the CHLCA postdates the GHLCA.

          • Douglas Knight says:

            I’m making a quantitative statement. Qualitative questions like 3-way vs 2 splits are stupid. In particular, the qualitative conclusion that you should talk about the nearest relative and ignore gorillas does not follow from it being 2 splits. It depends on the time between those 2 splits.

            What are the actual numbers?
            Wikipedia seems to put the split with gorillas at 10 million years ago and the split with chimps as a continuous process spanning 9-6mya. What I was saying is that 9 vs 10 is practically simultaneous. 10 vs 6 is starting to sound like a big difference. Still, we don’t know what the common ancestors were like. It would be 12 million years between humans and chimps, but 10 million years between humans and the common ancestor with gorillas.

  44. Paperclip Minimizer says:

    The rise in social-justice-related terms as a percent of words used in the media over time.

    The y-axises in the graphs from the tweet thread you linked to are the numbers of words, not the percentages of the words.

  45. Edward Scizorhands says:

    GPT-2 simulates the Culture War Thread from r/TheMotte.

    The cherry on top is that the thread is locked.

  46. vV_Vv says:

    Scholar’s Stage: stories about sexual selection (like “women are naturally attracted to dominant-looking men, because throughout evolution they were better able to provide”) are meaningless, because for most of human history women did not choose their own mates, and so women are unlikely to have strong biologically-ingrained mate preferences.

    From the link: “In his work examining ethnographic evidence from 190 hunter-gatherer societies, evolutionary psychologist Menlaos Apostolou notes the prevalence of arranged marriages, writing that across these societies “the institution of marriage is regulated by parents and close kin. Parents are able to influence the mating decisions of both sons and daughters, but stronger control is exercised with regard to daughters; male parents have more say in selecting in-laws than their female counterparts.””

    Influence != Force. Also, cheating is a thing, and even in modern societies 2-10% of children have misattributed paternity. Btw, the claim that women don’t have sexual preference for strong, dominant-looking men is ludicrous.

    • JPNunez says:

      The same link you posted about misattributed paternity says the 10% figure is an exaggeration, and that the actual number is probably closer to 2%-1% or less.

      • vV_Vv says:

        A 2005 scientific review of international published studies of paternal discrepancy found a range in incidence, around the world, from 0.8% to 30% (median 3.7%).[5] However, as many of the studies were conducted between the 1950s and the 1980s, numbers may be unreliable due to the inaccuracies of genetic testing methods and procedures used at the time. Studies ranging in date from 1991 to 1999 quote the following incidence rates: 11.8% (Mexico), 4.0% (Canada), 2.8% (France), 1.4% and 1.6% (UK), and 0.8% (Switzerland).[5] These numbers suggest that the widely quoted and unsubstantiated figure of 10% of non-paternal events is an overestimate. However, in studies that solely looked at couples who obtained paternity testing because paternity was being disputed, there are higher levels: an incidence of 17% to 33% (median of 26.9%). Most at risk were those born to younger parents, to unmarried couples and those of lower socio-economic status, or from certain cultural groups.[6]

        It says it depends a lot on the country, age, culture and socio-economic status. I’d expect that in a society with arranged marriages paternity fraud is much more common than in a modern society with self-determined, usually late marriages.

    • Robert Jones says:

      The other thing is, I really thought we’d got over thinking that contemporary hunter-gatherer societies are reliable indicators of primeval hunter-gatherer societies. Hunter-gatherer societies may be socially conservative, but they’re not static even over periods of centuries, let alone the hundred-odd millennia of our species’ history. Conditions in contemporary hunter-gatherer societies are different because they have more advanced technologies, are restricted to limited and marginal ranges and are influenced by neighbouring sedentary societies.

  47. Deiseach says:

    A bumper bundle of links! To pull out some plums:

    The Pentagon vs. the Second Commandment: during the Gulf War, psy ops officers investigated various bizarre proposals, including “project[ing] a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam”.

    Yeah, that’ll be really convincing – TO MEMBERS OF A RELIGION THAT DOES NOT PERMIT IMAGERY OF THE DIVINE. If they tried the Archangel Gabriel or maybe even the Prophet Muhammad, it would at least be plausible – but an image of God for a belief that holds no such images can be made? What were they planning to use – Jack Chick’s faceless giant on the heavenly throne? Michaelangelo’s God the Father? This is indescribably stupid even for a really stupid suggestion.

    If schools replace punishment-based models of discipline (especially suspensions) with “restorative justice” based on helping students build better relationships that prevent them from offending again, does this help students succeed?

    Based on my admittedly limited experience: no. Some kids have genuine problems and need help and understanding rather than being booted out once they act up. However, some kids are nasty little toads who are only interested in being troublemakers, and if you can’t suspend them they won’t buckle down to learn in class now that they’re assured of hugs and understanding, so the teachers’ time is going to be taken up dealing with them rather than teaching, which is hard luck on the rest of the students who might like to spend that forty minutes learning something. And of course the usual bullying and petty criminality etc. is going to go on by the hard chaws, but yeah, it’ll certainly make the suspension record look better: ‘last year we had thirty suspensions, this year it’s reduced to zero (because we no longer suspend the troublemakers, not because they’ve turned their lives around), yay us!’

    I wonder if her genetics-tycoon daughter cringes every time Mom gives one of these “parenting secrets” interviews.

    I wonder if her Google-employed daughter (since Google owns YouTube) winces, wondering if anyone will ask “So, do you think your mom getting to know the founders of Google when they were just two starry-eyed kids with a crazy idea and doing them a favour had anything at all to do with you getting the job there over all the other applicants?”

    They find that past investors [on demand for air conditioning] did a good job predicting the extent of future (now present) climate change, mostly by trusting the IPCC predictions and ignoring doubters. / High use of AC prompted the migration to Sun Belt cities where heating is unnecessary and so saves energy after all.

    Doesn’t the latter cancel out the former? If more and more people are moving to the Sun Belt, then you don’t need climate change to be happening to see a demand for more air conditioning, since the demand is growing due to the growing population in the hotter areas?

    It turned out the author was misreading a “spouse absent” condition on the survey, which actually meant people who were long-term separated from their spouses!

    What’s even better is that this was the second example in the same week of “oops, boy did I get that one wrong” – the first being Naomi Wolf managing to write a thesis which was then turned into a book which was then reviewed on a BBC radio show where the host gently pointed out to her she had got it completely wrong. Not only were her chosen examples not being executed, some of the sample cases she picked – including her star performer – were actually cases of what we’d now call child sexual abuse – the ‘he was only 14 and they executed him!!! (er no they didn’t)’ Thomas Silver convicted for assaulting a six year old boy, and the ex-schoolteacher John Spencer for “felonious assault on three of his pupils”.

    Not only does Christianity have a flag, there’s even a pledge of allegiance to it.

    That’s more “Some American Protestants invented a flag and a pledge” and not Christianity as a whole. In terms of American Protestantism and the creation of a civic religion or mixing church and state, yeah that’s pretty much what I’d expect them to do. If I’m going to have a Christian flag, it’ll probably be some version of the Agnus Dei with Vexillum.

    • bean says:

      In fairness to the Psyops people, I’m pretty sure that this was someone outside the expert community spitballing “What if we did X?” and them running down the technical aspects of it, which are much more challenging than the psyops aspects.

      Also, I just noticed who wrote the article. William Arkin is close to the bottom of my list of people to trust in military journalism, after I ran across some of his stuff on the battleships. He apparently claimed that they were sent to the Gulf because it was cheaper to shoot 16″ shells at Iraq than to dispose of them normally. (Given that they fired maybe 10% of the stock, this is not particularly plausible.) And his handling of the Pioneer surrender thing in that war verges on research misconduct. I’m not saying he’s wrong here, but I suspect that he’s exaggerating the bizarre aspects of what went on.

      • Deiseach says:

        bean, even given what you say, I still expect better than this kind of sloppiness and inattention to basic detail in my “crazy tinfoil hat conspiracy theory loons” project, thank you very much! What next, wings on Balrogs? 🙂

    • Evan Þ says:

      If I’m going to have a Christian flag, it’ll probably be some version of the Agnus Dei with Vexillum.

      As an American Protestant, yes please! And then have the pledge to that flag be the Nicene Creed, or else the Vicit Agnus. That’d avoid all the embarrassment and cringeworthiness.

    • S_J says:

      About that “Christian Flag”: When I was young, I would usually see the flag in an American church, on one side of the pulpit…with the Stars and Stripes on the other side. The congregation was typically one or another of Congregationalist/Wesleyan/Baptist.

      I can’t say I studied the source of the flag, but that usage made me suspect it was a piece of Protestant Americana.

    • Matt M says:

      Yeah, that’ll be really convincing – TO MEMBERS OF A RELIGION THAT DOES NOT PERMIT IMAGERY OF THE DIVINE.

      This was my first thought as well. How do they even decide what Muhammad supposedly looks like, given that his followers are banned from reproducing his image? How would they know its him? I’d love to be a fly on the wall in the committee that debated this.

    • Paperclip Minimizer says:

      Also said genetics-tycoon daughter was married to Sergey Brin.

      • Deiseach says:

        So it sounds like the answer to “Wow, Mrs Wojcicki, how did your daughters turn out so successful?” is “First, have both parents be very smart, second move to live in a nice stable middle to upper-middle class area where they’re both involved in academics, third pick just the right startup founders to be nice to and do favours for, then fourth have two of your daughters marry those guys once they’re rich and famous!”

        Just simple basic parenting techniques anyone can follow! 😀

  48. Jacobeus says:

    Keep in mind that each new UFO report has just a slightly higher chance of being at least somewhat credible as time goes on (“credible” meaning there was some kind of object seen, regardless of source), due to the simple reason that as technology gets better we should have fewer anomalous events and more coverage of events from a greater number of observers and information channels.

    This makes things like the 2004 Nimitz event very bizarre, no matter how it is interpreted. If there really was some physical object flying around doing the maneuvers that were reported, there aren’t a lot of other explanations for that besides a) aliens or b) incredibly advanced human technology that somehow only the government has developed, and far beyond private tech and academic knowlege. The latter explanation has huge problems too, since it goes strongly against the government-as-bloated-incompetent-bureaucracy trope we usually take as a given. The more time goes on the greater chance that if that b) were true, some kind of leak would happen or the tech would finally get released to wider use.

    So basically we start to narrow down the possible explanations to artificial intelligently created object from somewhere else in the universe, or that the event as stated never happened at all. I still put the vast majority of weight on the latter hypothesis, currently. Its still very feasible at this stage that the event could consist of a combination of sensor glitches and embellished or outright fabricated accounts from fighter pilots with some media hysteria thrown in. But, I do admit that even that is a fairly brittle hypothesis in the sense that it could be disproven relatively easily – we could always get some actual data, for example. (also the same argument about technology improving over time still applies to the likelihood of sensor glitches).

    So if these do keep happening, then it sort of all depends on what you believe the prior probability of aliens is, doesnt it? (I would argue that most people give a much lower prior probability to this than is warranted, but thats a whole other can of worms).

    • beleester says:

      Greater coverage doesn’t necessarily mean greater understanding. For instance, if there’s some rare weather phenomenon that creates UFO-shaped clouds, having more eyes looking just means that the unknown weather phenomenon will be reported more often.

    • Nornagest says:

      In a way, I think that the sheer impossibility of some of the stuff being reported ought to bias us towards the “government (or closely linked company, like Lockheed) came up with a serious breakthrough” explanation over the “aliens” one. If the objects looked and maneuvered like aircraft as we know them, just to our F-35s as the F-35 would be to a Sopwith Camel, then that would imply a hundred years’ worth or so of progress in many fields: engines, aerodynamics, avionics, etc. No one on our planet’s got the resources to do something like that. But since the rumored objects break those rules, then they could plausibly be explained by one big advance: something like a powerful reactionless drive might do it.

      Various permutations of “hoax” or “exaggeration” or “swamp gas and light from Venus” are still probably more likely, though.

    • Matt M says:

      The latter explanation has huge problems too, since it goes strongly against the government-as-bloated-incompetent-bureaucracy trope we usually take as a given. The more time goes on the greater chance that if that b) were true, some kind of leak would happen or the tech would finally get released to wider use.

      Yeah. I consider “alien craft are flying around the world monitoring us as we speak” to be quite implausible, and purely the domain of science fiction.

      And yet “the government has masterminded a conspiracy to keep something like that hidden” may be even less credible and realistic than that!

  49. ana53294 says:

    I remember watching this documentary by Vice on virgin bride markets in Bulgaria, and being surprised how much agency the girls seemed to have. Of course, the family that agreed to let the journalists tag them was probably more liberal/open than other families, but they were still selling their daughters. It was just more like selling football players than slaves.

    I can imagine that in the past, it was a bit worse, but girls probably had agency to make themselves more attractive to men they liked, and make themselves unattractive to men they didn’t.

    • I had a long conversation once (on a flight from Bombay to Sydney) with a woman from southern India who had an arranged marriage. By her account, the parents selected her future husband but she (and presumably the man) had a veto.

  50. Freddie deBoer says:

    As usual, a charter school study takes it on faith that the l”ottery” is truly random, when we have every reason to believe that they are not. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-charters-admissions/special-report-class-struggle-how-charter-schools-get-students-they-want-idUSBRE91E0HF20130215

    • JohnBuridan says:

      Yeah, on my list of things that don’t make charter schools any better than public are:
      Front-end filtering, where the lottery is not truly random, or the spots are too few and the school isn’t forced to scale appropriately.
      Back-end selection, where troublesome students are expelled.
      De-careering education, where the average teacher has only been in the profession for 5 years cf. NOLA.
      Although NOLA advocates claim it is the secret sauce, private boards of directors vs. an elected superintendent.
      On my list of potentially good things about charter schools:
      Freedom to try to different incentive structures for schools.
      Greater mixing of socio-economic groups, which while not always a good thing, there does exist some optimal level, which is frequently not reached.
      Potential to escape bad equilibria in curriculum incentives, for example AP using the power of incentives to standardize curriculum through control of standardized tests.

      • albatross11 says:

        My guess is that selecting your students is probably an order of magnitude more effective at getting measured success in {standardized tests, graduation, college, life success} than any educational intervention that could reasonably be done at a charter school. (That is, within the normal budgetary and personnel constraints–you don’t get to assign one full time tutor per kid or something.)

    • InvalidUsernameAndPassword says:

      Your link seems to be about barriers to entering the lottery…

    • Douglas Knight says:

      It’s a problem that most of the charter school literature does not do RCT, but the papers that do RCT do attempt to test the lottery. When I googled for charter RCT, the first was about Boston, just like this paper. It found one school with a rigged lottery, but found that the rest, the ones included in the RCT, had similar incoming test scores between winners and losers.

  51. Randy M says:

    GPT-2 simulates the Culture War Thread from r/TheMotte.

    This is hilarious, and very nearly passes the Turing test (at least as well as TheMotte, anyway).

    [–]cwGPT2Bot[S] 4 points 1 month ago
    That is the last thing I want to do. I’m making this a permanent ban; either you’re removing it or you’re removing it.

    That said, I’m going to keep these rules as they remain. Your posts are your posts, regardless of what you post next. If you haven’t removed them by some point, you’re free to keep them; we have no reason to expect a specific person to be more careful when removing their comments.

    [–]cwGPT2Bot[S] 7 points 1 month ago
    Sex has different effects on individual bodies than gender does.

    Insofar as sex (or gender identity in the mechanistic/postmodern sense) is an actual part of human bodies, if gender identity is real, it’s a non-natural part of those bodies.

    Also, sex has no bearing on the question of gender.

    [–]cwGPT2Bot[S] 1 point 1 month ago
    I can’t speak for others, but the modern incarnation of Moloch just seems like a more benign Moloch, and thus far the most powerful adversary is the present day social justice warriors (blueshift and yellow, with some greenshift and brown). The Moloch is the anti-Biblical Baal, the opposite of Christ, the God of the Bible, the Antichrist.

    • imoimo says:

      Is it weird that I felt like I was learning from parts of that thread?

      Also I love that it links to non-existent articles, then quotes them. It’s pure opinions without a shred of content.

  52. Swami says:

    On the climate question, I wish the conversation would be broad enough to acknowledge costs and benefits on both sides of the debate.

    On the cost side, there are huge costs not just from climate change, but from our actions to address the issue. These include lost growth from rent seeking, foolish investments, empty grandstanding, and anything which lowers the expected rate of economic growth. Foremost in the latter concern is the risk of master planning commissions and actions (implemented to improve the climate) screwing up the economy. And yes, these risks are potentially catastrophic, with the possibility of leading to the impoverishment and/or death of huge swaths of humanity.

    IOW, the actual debate is not about the cost of climate change, vs some base case (whatever that will be), it is the cost of AGW vs the costs of doing something about the issue.

    I am not a skeptic because I doubt that humans are affecting the climate (I don’t), I am a skeptic because I worry a lot more about the catastrophic dangers of misplaced “solutions” to the issue. Considering the fact that the climate change groups routinely exaggerate the issue (to a ridiculous degree) and that their coalition clearly includes Socialists and those openly opposed to free enterprise, I simply worry a lot more about those saying they want to solve the problem than those who dismiss it.

    I agree with the experts on the issue such as Lomborg and the panels he has organized on challenges facing humanity that the solution to AGW is R&D into cheap, clean technology and perhaps CO2 removal.

    The climate is a complex, dynamic system, and so is the economy. One real threat is that we will destroy the latter by trying to control the former. And the latter is probably the more fragile of the two.

    • meltedcheesefondue says:

      Pricing extenalities and allowing these to be traded (eg cap and trade) has an excellent track record in other areas. Why insist on R&D rather than letting the market decide on the best way of addressing the problem?

      And it’s much better to implement market-friendly solutions, than to do nothing and risk “socialists” getting to implement their solutions.

      • Swami says:

        Good points across the board, melted.

        I am fine in theory with cap and trade, indeed I assume it would be one good way to incentivize decentralized R&D.

      • tscharf says:

        Because changing the behavior of the EU and the USA isn’t that important when you run the numbers for future emissions. You want to change the behavior of the future population increases in developing economies.

      • The Nybbler says:

        Nobody knows the correct value of the externality. Probably not even the _sign_.

        • meltedcheesefondue says:

          No, this is not an area where are completely clueless. There is uncertainty, but it’s not the case that we have literally no idea. Uncertainty is an argument for tracking the changes and adjusting prices/quantity, not for doing nothing.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Uncertainty quantification is a tricky area. Obviously, no model is perfect, and no estimate is exact (“All models are wrong, but some are useful,” and all that). Yet, there are important questions as to the nature and scale of the uncertainty involved. The context to this is the fact that the estimated effect sizes are surprisingly low. David Friedman is fond of pointing out that (Nobel-winner) Norhaus’ estimate of the cost of climate change is ~0.06% GDP. Another David, this time one who is definitely in favor of carbon-reducing policies (Roberts), once made a similar remark about the IPCC assessment:

            The latest such analysis is the 5th IPCC Assessment on Mitigation of Climate Change, which has people confidently asserting that properly addressing climate change will trim 0.06 percent a year off global GDP growth. Not 0.05 a year. Not 0.07. But 0.06.

            With small effect sizes, quantifying uncertainty of estimates can be quite important. So, let’s turn to the estimates.

            The primary methodology used to estimate SCC is the integrated assessment model. These come in various flavors, but as a class, they’re the frontrunner, and so are a good place to start applying uncertainty analysis. I’ve personally stated here many times that my opinion (due to my background in dynamical systems theory) is that basically all of the IAMs do their timescale separation backwards, and so are theoretically indefensible (and we don’t even get to the stage of performing an uncertainty analysis). But my objection notwithstanding, there is published literature from folks like Pindyck which argues that IAMs turn out to have extremely high uncertainty due to sensitivity to difficult-to-estimate parameters, making them not very useful for policy. Another example of a published critique supporting Nybbler’s statement comes from Rosen/Guenther, who wrote:

            For the reasons cited [in the paper], not only do we not know the approximate magnitude of the net benefits or costs of mitigating climate change to any specific level of future global temperature increase over the next 50–100 years, but we also cannot even claim to know the sign of the mitigation impacts on GWP, or national GDPs, or any other economic metric commonly computed.

            In context of all of this, Pindyck came back around to say, ‘Ok, so we have no theoretically-justifiable way of calculating SCC. Instead, let’s see if there’s at least some consensus among experts, so that we can at least get an order of magnitude estimate that gets us close.’ He asked economists and climate scientists to estimate quantities which could be used to compute a SCC (but he constrained their answers so that the result had to be positive, because, ya know, I guess it would look bad if anyone had estimated a negative SCC), and the result was published in this paper, and the important figure is here. Uh, they span three orders of magnitude. Oh, and they’re still clustered around zero (yet, somehow, no one is allowed to estimate it at $-1/ton for some reason). I think it’s very plausible to think that the uncertainty might be significant, given the predicted effect size.

          • Uncertainty is an argument for tracking the changes and adjusting prices/quantity, not for doing nothing.

            Correct on a philosopher king model of government, where the decisions are being made by competent people whose only incentive is maximizing human welfare, at least that of the people whose government they are.

            Consider an alternative model, where the decisions are being made by people who have lots of self-interested reasons to do things contrary to the welfare of their population. Any additional excuse for doing things, especially one where it is very unclear what should be done, can be expected to have a net negative effect.

            I again point to policies that turn a tenth of the world’s supply of maize into alcohol with no CO2 benefit.

            California’s produces about 1% world CO2. Nonetheless, the government of California does things that impose costs on its citizens with the excuse that they help slow global warming.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Uncertainty is an argument for tracking the changes and adjusting prices/quantity, not for doing nothing.

            For climate effects, the feedback loops are too long for this to do anything. If you’re just measuring carbon burned, you’re back to not knowing. The idea of a Pigovian tax is that you cause the market price, and hence the amount of good transacted, to be the same as it would be were all externalities to have been internal. If you don’t know the actual cost of the externality (which you don’t), and you don’t know the quantity of goods that would be transacted under such conditions (which you definitely don’t), you don’t know how to set your tax and you can’t use feedback to fine-tune it.

        • Thomas Jorgensen says:

          For co2, perhaps not, but for the other shit fossil fuels put into the air and water, we most certainly do, and it is horrifyingly high. A law that taxed fossil fuels for the health costs they impose on society in general would be more or less perfectly equivalent to a law that just said “Utilities must use nuclear power”.

          • What are the large and known externalities of burning natural gas?

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            At the power plant? Not much. This is, and I admit this freely, a far better argument against coal.

            I still loathe the dash for gas as being a recapitulation of a major mistake the Brits made several decades ago.

            In a plant with modern western-world levels of filtering of the flue gas, natural gas is clean.
            There are some caveats to this:
            First:
            Most natural gas is not burned in state of the art combined cycle power-plants that catch all the particulates. Emissions from natural gas combustion in less than pristine equipment is a big, big killer. The straight health impacts of the natural gas plant in Quom, for example works out to nine cents and change per kwh.

            Second: natural gas in the USA means fracking. Fracking is nasty, and fracking is completely irresponsible use of aquifers, which, given how water-limited US agriculture is, that is just poor policy.

            But sure, let us call it clean. That does not mean it is a good idea. The Brits already made this exact mistake, and here is why natural gas is a terrible solution for the grid:

            Natural gas has historically been extremely unstable in price – Basing the entire grid on it basically amounts to playing Russian roulette with the economy. Sooner or later, there is going to be another major price spike – that is not a possibility, that is a certainty, and if that happens after a major dash to gas, hello recession.

            You can tell this is true simply because without such an anticipated price spike. The entire investment hype around fracking and natural gas makes no sense whatsoever. The only way to get decent returns on capital in natural gas production is if the plan is to jack prices through the roof once everyone has changed to natural gas. Lets not set ourselves up to be squeezed dry, okay?

            If the squeeze does not materialize, then the entire natural gas boom will have been one long refutation of the efficient market hypothesis, and supply will dry up in any case.

            And then the world will be up shit creek without a paddle, or more specifically, will be looking at a grid which has not nearly enough generating capacity available. Like the UK is presently doing, and paying entirely unconscionable amounts of money to address.

          • ChrisA says:

            Do you really think the US gas supply industry is a coordinated scam? Seems like this would require a huge amount of people to be in on it because of the number of different firms involved. And on the volatility of natural gas prices for the Uk, is it really that much more than coal or oil? And what would have been the uk alternative? More coal or nuclear? Seems like they have some issues as well.

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            I think it is a scam. No coordination needed. People would simply not be investing the amount of money they are, if they anticipated that low gas prices were a permanent state of affairs. I mean, it is possible they are all wrong about that, and the US of A will get cheap gas for decades on the back of venture capital engaging in collective madness – But if so, that is still not actually cheap power, it is just power paid for by crazy people on wall street, and looking at the way the yields of a fracking well falls of a cliff pretty much immediately, I very, very much doubt this future will happen.

            Nat gas is not a solution over any time horizon past the next, well, not even a decade.

            The UK should damn well have built reactors, yes. The issue is that all the alternatives have really fatal flaws so we are going to end up doing that in the end anyway, might as well do it now.

      • b_jonas says:

        I hear that the market works efficiently if they got returns from their good decisions within a few years, but not very efficiently when it may take decades for their decision to have the most significant effects. This phenomenon even has some fancy name like “exponential discounting”.

        • meltedcheesefondue says:

          >I hear that the market works efficiently if they got returns from their good decisions within a few years, but not very efficiently when it may take decades for their decision to have the most significant effects. This phenomenon even has some fancy name like “exponential discounting”.

          That’s the general argument for subsidising R&D (eg in universities). You still price externalities (to encourage deployment of current renewable tech and efficiency), but subsidise the R&D separately. The correct level of subsidies is harder to estimate, though.

        • Matt M says:

          Is there any particular evidence you can think of that shows the state making efficient decisions that will take decades to yield positive results?

          • Clutzy says:

            This is the problem. Although many companies have short term horizons, almost all governments do. OTOH, companies certainly invest long term when they are confident their property interests will be protected. Logging companies are a great example. There are certain ones that relate to hardwood cultivation that have century long timescales to harvest, and they engage in the practice.

          • albatross11 says:

            Clutzy:

            I suspect that the ability of decisionmakers to make long-term decisions depends a great deal on how the accounting is done in the organization. If the accounting is done in a way that shows a benefit when long-term stuff is done, and that’s taken into account when judging the decisionmakers’ actions, then long-term stuff will be done. If not, then it mostly won’t be.

          • Clutzy says:

            Actually, I’d expect the kind of HR/Accounting bureaucracy to be weakest in companies with long timescale projections. They are already accepting great risk of an intervening event, so paper pushers are of little use.

        • Enkidum says:

          The large-scale funding of research-oriented universities.

        • This phenomenon even has some fancy name like “exponential discounting”.

          Exponential discounting is part of the market working perfectly.

          Capital is productive. A thousand dollars spent now produces, on average, $1500 in twenty years, assuming no inflation and a real interest rate of 2%. Hence it would be a mistake to bear a $1000 cost now for a benefit of only $1400 in twenty years. You discount the benefit back to the present, when you are bearing the cost, and correctly conclude that the investment is a net loss.

        • quanta413 says:

          The large-scale funding of research-oriented universities.

          It is not obvious that the large scale funding of research-oriented universities has been a good investment in a public goods sense. At least not since it took its modern form post WWII. Maybe the more distant past is more easily defended since there were fewer scientists and less public funding.

          For example, despite vast experimental successes, from a public point of view it may still turn out that most of experimental high energy physics has been basically a waste since after the 1970s.

          And that’s ignoring that theoretical high energy physics has been so bad after the 70s that some theoretical physicists would now rather give up on empiricism than admit they wasted their time.

          Other fields have been much more successful such as genetics, but some have done even worse. Public funding for research looks more like a crapshoot than a strategy. It beats out the actively bad policies like rent control or farm subsidies (of which there are a lot), but I find myself doubting it matches up well against maintaining roads or prosaic things.

          EDITED: made slightly less polemical. Removed extraneous detail.

  53. ajfirecracker says:

    McSweeneys: Obituaries For The Recently Cancelled. Suave upper-class jokes like this are doing a thousand times more for the anti-PC cause than Ben Shapiro fans openly protesting PC.

    Try to signal your class a little harder please. Jerk.

  54. JoeCool says:

    Assuming the military did invent some cool aero tech, does anybody know what some cool civilian applications could eventually come to be?

    • glorkvorn says:

      They were described as moving at hypersonic speeds (mach 5 +), and no visible exhaust or heat. If that’s true, it would completely revolutionize the economy. You could have a flying car that flies halfway around the Earth in an hour. Heck, strap the engine onto your house and fly the whole house too, since apparently energy and inertia aren’t a problem anymore.

  55. robirahman says:

    Megan McArdle: Europeans should stop mocking Americans’ air conditioning as environmentally unfriendly, because it shifts the US population to hotter places further south. This reduces the US need for heating, and heating is even more power-hungry than AC. High use of AC prompted the migration to Sun Belt cities where heating is unnecessary and so saves energy after all. Anyone disagree?

    Reduced need for heating doesn’t make up for the increased air conditioning usage unless the duration of the year where the people no longer need heating is much longer than the increase in duration of the period where they use air conditioning. It takes much more energy to air condition a home by one degree than to heat it by the same amount. I had when taking thermodynamics that air conditioning is approximately 5x more expensive per degree than heating, but I’m having trouble finding current figures for modern HVAC systems.

    • bean says:

      I think you have that backwards. Heating is generally 1 unit of energy per unit of heating, while A/C is several units of cooling per unit of energy. There are heat pumps which are essentially reversed A/C units, but they work best in places where it doesn’t get too cold. Yes, this is somewhat impacted by the sources of energy (HVAC is usually using electricity generated somewhere else, which is less efficient than burning natural gas in your furnace), but I’m going to want a cite on this.

      • JohnBuridan says:

        Wait a second, bean, I thought power plants are significantly more efficient than home generators, and in general generators scale extremely well. Clarification?
        http://www.akruralenergy.org/2011/2011REC_Diesel-Engine-Efficiency_Fetters.pdf
        [Example link fixed.]

        • bean says:

          They are. But home heating doesn’t usually go through a generator. It’s straight from burning natural gas, which releases all of its energy for heating.

          • Lambert says:

            I wonder why nobody runs heat pumps off gas.

            (except for refrigeration in the developing world)

          • vV_Vv says:

            I wonder why nobody runs heat pumps off gas.

            The efficiency of heat engines scales with size. While natural gas power stations are the possibly the most efficient heat engines in practical use, a small gas turbine or piston engine just big enough to power an A/C unit would be terribly inefficient.

            (except for refrigeration in the developing world)

            These are also inefficient and inconvenient, they are used only where there is no reliable electricity.

  56. bean says:

    If a VHF transmitter like Holt is Kabbalistic Sorcery, I’d love to see what you make of Project Sanguine.

  57. Peffern says:

    -1 for not calling it “The Second Commandment vs. The Second Amendment.”

  58. MostlyCredibleHulk says:

    New study fails to find any evidence that watching pornography as a teenager harms future sexual satisfaction.

    I wonder how hard it was for them to find a control group, especially among the males. Or did they just assume those lying about never have been watching porn are good enough?

    Suave upper-class jokes like this are doing a thousand times more for the anti-PC cause than Ben Shapiro fans openly protesting PC.

    Any evidence for that? I assume this is the evidence Scott likes upper-class jokes more, but Scott is kinda already on the side of anti-PC cause so the effort would be wasted on him?

    where they measure the prices of complex financial derivatives relating to air conditioning demand

    Is it really true that AC buying is significantly linked to the climate change on the scales that can be detected now? I.e. wouldn’t progress in technology, people in hotter places getting richer and general preference for more comfort cause AC buying behavior even if climate change didn’t happen? From what I understand, at least in short term the change is fractions of a degree, and installing AC costs quite a bit of change (unfortunately, I know it from personal experience). Would these decisions be really caused by percentage-of-a-degree increase in temperatures or rather by the raise in salaries in hot places (in several senses) like Silicon Valley? There are a lot of old houses in SV with no AC, but I don’t think anybody would consider building a new AC-less house here. Is that because of climate change or because people’s standards (and their ability to pay for them from those sweet hitech mid-to-high six figure salaries) increased?

    • Matt M says:

      Any evidence for that? I assume this is the evidence Scott likes upper-class jokes more, but Scott is kinda already on the side of anti-PC cause so the effort would be wasted on him?

      The fact that someone like Scott can be on the anti-PC side of things is evidence that upper class criticism of PC must be useful/effective. Scott didn’t arrive at his un-PC views by listening to Ben Shapiro, and nobody else like Scott will ever be persuaded by Ben Shapiro. But they might be persuaded, if not by exactly this, but by things very much like it…

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        The fact that someone like Scott can be on the anti-PC side of things is evidence that upper class criticism of PC must be useful/effective

        Not really. Scott might be anti-PC for entirely unrelated reason (such as being a smart person and seeing how harmful PC excesses are for the culture) having nothing to do with upper class criticism. He may have not arrived to his opinions because of Ben Shapiro – for starters, I think he probably held these views before Ben Shapiro became known, on the culture war scene at least – but your thesis that “nobody else like Scott will ever be persuaded by Ben Shapiro” is rather questionable and I see no support to it. Why not? Because some ignorant people call him a “Nazi”? They call Jordan Peterson a “Nazi” too, and they suggest Milton Friedman is only one step removed from them. Since pretty much every prominent person from the right is “nazi” anyway, as far as left is concerned, where do you think converts would come from?

  59. Kestrellius says:

    Anti-Japaneseism is a fringe ideology in Japan which believes the Japanese people are uniquely evil and need to be destroyed, kind of like a single-country version of the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

    Hmm. Kind of reminds me of a particular ideology held by a certain character in a certain manga.

    A character who expects people to be exactly right…

  60. Anthony says:

    Breastfeeding – is there any physical effect where women are less likely to be able to breastfeed (or breastfeed adequately) later children? This happened to my mother, who wanted to breastfeed my younger sister, but was physically unable to. (Is there any physical effect in the opposite direction?)

    For prenatal medical care, is there any examination of the possibility that first-time mothers may overdo (past the point of diminishing returns) prenatal care, and for second and later pregnancies generally seek out enough prenatal care? One way to check this would be to compare women for whom money and/or time spent on prenatal care is of different salience

    • Randy M says:

      This happened to my mother, who wanted to breastfeed my younger sister, but was physically unable to. (Is there any physical effect in the opposite direction?)

      Where you… don’t want to, but must?
      Children who are allergic to many kinds of formula perhaps.

    • Deiseach says:

      I think it’s that for the first child, because it’s the first child and the new parents have no experience and are hyper-vigilant about everything, then things like “I have to breastfeed” and so on get pushed.

      For subsequent children, the parents have learned that it’s not the end of the world if they do/don’t breastfeed, or that bottle feeding fits their schedules better and the baby settles better with a bottle, and that kids do get colics and colds and bumps and bruises but they also get over them, so there’s less panic about “Ahhhhh! Junior has a rash, is it heat rash or meningitis?”

      • acymetric says:

        It sounds like an “unable to lactate properly/sufficiently” problem, not a “we decided it wasn’t as important this time” thing.

        • Anthony says:

          In my mother’s case, it was definitely a physical issue. However, while my wife breastfed both kids, we definitely were more relaxed about the sorts of things discussed in that study.

          Part of that is there just isn’t *time* to do all that baby care fussiness when you’ve got a 3-year-old underfoot.

          That probably explains a lot of the “parents are more vigilant” after a gap of 7 years. A 7-year-old is much less effort, and is in school a good chunk of the day.

  61. Kestrellius says:

    Re: UFOs

    Any explanation involving aliens is going to run smack-dab into the Dyson Dilemma — i.e., if there are spacefaring aliens anywhere in our vicinity, why haven’t they eaten all the stars around here yet?

    I saw something adjacent to this in the reddit thread — people asking about why the aliens wouldn’t have eaten the Sol system yet — but nobody seemed to catch the real question. It’s easy enough to think of reasons why aliens wouldn’t do anything with Sol, but it’s much much more difficult to think of a reason why they wouldn’t consume any of the millions or billions of other stars we can see, or at least a few of the closer ones (if their home system is nearby and their range is limited).

    And we would know if that was happening. Stars in the sky = few or no nearby advanced aliens, basically.

    • herbert herberson says:

      This is why I’ve always found superficially even-more-exotic-than-ET theories like time travelers or visitors from a parallel dimension to actually be more credible than aliens

      • Kestrellius says:

        A couple years back I happened across some UFOlogy-type website that tied UFOs in with the Simulation Argument, making the case that UFOs are basically player avatars for the simulator-beings.

        Still not exactly probable, but I always thought that was a way more plausible explanation than the usual one — despite having dramatically bigger implications.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      Easy explantion: Dyson spheres are impossible.

      • Kestrellius says:

        They are definitely not impossible. It’s my fault for saying “sphere” instead of the more appropriate “swarm”, but literally all you need for a Dyson enclosure is the ability to make solar collector stations and put them in orbit around the star. We’ve technically started building a Dyson sphere already, what with our satellites and such.

        • Bugmaster says:

          No, that’s not the only thing you need. You also need the ability to convert pretty much any kind of matter into your sphere/swarm; and you need the ability to lift that matter into orbit extremely cheaply (ideally, for free). Both of these technologies are likely to be impossible.

          Now, granted, you don’t need any of that if you just want to put a few satellites in orbit of your star; I’m talking about the situation where you put so much stuff around the star that it causes it to dim appreciably, as seen from Earth. That said, I want to point out that we don’t have the technology today to make “solar collector stations”, either…

          • Kestrellius says:

            You also need the ability to convert pretty much any kind of matter into your sphere/swarm

            You need to be able to convert an enormous — but finite — amount of matter into mirrors, probably ultra-thin ones. That’s not the huge problem you seem to think it is, given the amount of metal in the Sol system.

            and you need the ability to lift that matter into orbit extremely cheaply (ideally, for free).

            First of all, you don’t need to get the matter from Earth. In fact, I doubt Earth contains enough matter for a whole swarm. You’d want to get your materials by mining asteroids and smaller planets, probably.

            Second of all, even ignoring that, is there some reason you think orbital rings are impossible? I can see issues with stability, but…impossible?

            Are…are you just using the word “impossible” to mean “expensive”? That would explain a lot.

            Now, granted, you don’t need any of that if you just want to put a few satellites in orbit of your star; I’m talking about the situation where you put so much stuff around the star that it causes it to dim appreciably, as seen from Earth.

            …We put a few satellites in orbit of our star. Then we…keep doing that. At what point does that suddenly stop being possible? Obviously we’d need to design the satellites differently from the ones we have now — ultrathin mirrors, as I said — or we’d end up wasting tons of matter. And we’d probably run out of usable matter on Earth, so we build an outpost on Mars or someplace and start launching from there. And then the inner planets. And so on.

            How is this impossible? Expensive, sure. Difficult, sure. Time-consuming, sure. We’re talking about timescales of millions of years, here.

            That said, I want to point out that we don’t have the technology today to make “solar collector stations”, either…

            Are you misunderstanding me? I’m talking about satellites equipped with solar panels. We have those in orbit already.

            Granted, energy storage is an issue — our batteries could stand to be a lot better. Of course, if you make the satellites a bit bigger and more sophisticated, you can just store the energy in the form of potatoes…

            And anyway, while thinking about/researching this, I realized you don’t even need to make the whole thing out of solar panels. You can just use mirrors to contain the light, and have a smaller section of collectors that the light will eventually reach.

            By the way, I came across this article while researching this just now. Pretty basic, but it goes over the swarm construction process. It does kind of gloss over the details of robotic mining, but I don’t see a good argument for considering that impossible.

            I mean, I don’t know. Maybe there’s some huge insurmountable engineering obstacle preventing all this that I (and all the various other people who think this can be done) just haven’t noticed — God knows I’m not an expert. But you sure haven’t pointed it out. All I’m seeing is a lot of blanket assertions that things are impossible, and very little in the way of supporting argument.

          • b_jonas says:

            Kestrellius:
            > I’m talking about satellites equipped with solar panels. We have those in orbit already.

            We have satellites in orbit around Earth. We don’t have ones in orbit around the Sun.

          • JPNunez says:

            This assumes there is a use case for satellite swarms around the sun.

            Imagine we do it with current technology, ignoring economics of putting them in orbit, maybe even
            ignoring materials.

            Congratulations, now you have a bunch of computers at lightspeed latency around the sun. Amazon ain’t gonna be renting those for hosting, or almost anything, because of the latency. Anything you save on powering them will be spent several times x in transmission.

            The obvious use case is to put AGI there, cause AI wouldn’t care much about latency if it only has to talk to itself and occasionally talk to the slow, far away humans.

            But then again, maybe AGI ain’t possible. Or aliens are sufficiently cautious about AGI to not put it where they cannot easily pull the plug on it, or keep its communications closed.

            I also worry about putting enough satelites there to really cover the sun; for one, maybe aliens won’t like to potentially cover their own sun with satellites, unless they are fighting some extreme case of global warming. Second…dunno how feasible is to put more than a ring of satelites around a star in quantities enough to dim a sun.

            A possible use case is putting gigantic GPUs there and running slow machine learning jobs. I _guess_ that if you could get enough of them this could make economic sense in the super long run as opposed to just putting them on Earth, or on orbit around Earth.

            There’s also the problem of opportunity cost. I said to ignore the economic/material costs of building a Dyson sphere. Imagine what you could do with all the rocketry to put even a decent swarm in just a ring around the sun.

            You could easily colonize Mars and a few other satelites and move people around these colonies instead.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Kestrellius:

            You need to be able to convert an enormous — but finite — amount of matter into mirrors, probably ultra-thin ones.

            Well, the conventional fully solid Dyson sphere would also comprise an “enormous but finite” amount of matter; specifically, the matter that used to make up the rocky planets and even the gas giants. Obviously, the satellite cloud would be much cheaper, but I am not convinced that you’d be able to get away with just using a few asteroids — not for the kind of satellite cloud that would be detectable for hundreds (if not hundreds of thousands !) of light years.

            But, even if you solve that problem, you run into a more basic one: what are those satellites even doing ? Someone upthread suggested making them into data centers, but this won’t work too well due to the massive latency (there’s a reason Google and Amazon have multiple data centers in every region). Most likely, whatever industrial complex requires that satellite cloud would be as difficult to build as the cloud itself; that was actually the motivation for the traditional Dyson Sphere do begin with.

            We’re talking about timescales of millions of years, here.

            Right, that’s kind of what I mean by “impossible”. If you’re spending a million years on just launching solar satellites one by one, then probably you’re doing something wrong, because you could be spending that time more productively on building almost anything else. I grant you that you could do it just for fun, I guess, but why would you ?

            The article you link refers to “exponential returns from a virtuous cycle beginning with robots mining material from Mercury” (or some similar planet, presumably), and pretty much implicitly assumes exponentially self-replicating fully automated robotic factories that can convert an entire planet into mirrors. As I said upthread, this is primarily the part I’m having issues with, and handwaving it away with “well obviously we’d have nanotech” or something is less than convincing.

          • John Schilling says:

            Right, that’s kind of what I mean by “impossible”. If you’re spending a million years on just launching solar satellites one by one, then probably you’re doing something wrong, because you could be spending that time more productively on building almost anything else.

            No, you could only productively spend the time building cold, dumb, inanimate sculpture. If the things you are “productively” building are meant to do anything at all, even just sit around and compute, they are going to need an energy source. Rather quickly, on a cosmic scale, you’re going to have run through all your fossil-fuel inventory, all the fissile material in your planet’s crust and even core, all the deuterium in your oceans and even in the atmospheres of your gas giant planets.

            And really, long before you get to the point of trying to mine gas-giant atmospheres for fusion-reactor fuel, someone is going to point out that it would be easier to just put up some more solar collectors and use the big fusion reactor that’s already there and pre-fuelled for the next few billion years.

            Want to build something that does something? Put a few solar panels in orbit to power it. Want to build something more? Orbit a few more solar panels. Lather, rinse, repeat.

            Either this ends with people (or whatever) deciding that they are done with building useful stuff, or it ends with their star pretty much fully enclosed with solar collectors.

          • Kestrellius says:

            @JPNunez

            The standard model is that the mirrors/solar panels/whatever are linked to space habitats (something like O’Neill cylinders). So, what are you using all the energy for? To grow food for the trillions upon trillions of people living throughout the swarm.

            And, yeah, building self-sufficient space habitats isn’t an easy engineering project. But if you’re going to tell me it’s impossible, you’d better have a really good argument. We’re not talking about FTL here — there’s nothing in the laws of physics that should be able to keep us from taking Earth’s biosphere and scaling it down.

            As for economics, this isn’t something some company is going to be building all of a sudden in the next century to achieve a specific goal. This is something we build bit by bit over the next few thousand years, to meet the needs of our expanding population. (Obviously our growth is slowing down at the moment, which is concerning — but one would expect natural selection to take care of that in the long run.)

            @Bugmaster:

            A solid sphere is, using current technology, outright impossible. We have no materials capable of maintaining structural integrity at that scale. I suspect that it would require some kind of gravitic fuckery, which may or may not ever be something we can do. And even then, I don’t see much reason to build a shell instead of a swarm.

            As for materials, I honestly don’t know if the asteroids would be enough. I think it’s usually assumed that we’d be disassembling a couple of the inner planets — but we could start with asteroids, which would then give us more energy to work with when trying to take apart the planets.

            As for productivity, literally nothing is more productive than building a structure that can take all the energy put out by a star and put it to use. (Other than a: harvesting the matter from stars by some other means, or b: generating energy out of nothing. But I imagine you think both of those things are impossible. You might even be right about the second one.)

            Concerning the millions of years: my point is that, given the age of the universe, any aliens which evolved anywhere in our sphere of visibility would have a good chance of getting a several-million-year head start, which means they have more than enough time to Dyson up their star even using incredibly slow methods.

            Obviously I don’t recommend building a swarm by launching communications satellites one at a time. I’m just saying that — since you appear to believe that this moment right now is the apex of human technological development, and none of the technology we currently have can ever be made more efficient or even adapted for other purposes — it would be possible to do it with literally just the stuff we have now, albeit at an agonizing pace.

            You seem to be conflating self-replicating machines with nanotech. AFAICT, there’s no reason self-replicators need to be tiny — it could be something as mundane as factories that look much like the ones we have now, but fully automated (and capable of assembling more such factories). I don’t see much reason for your extreme level of skepticism, either — we already know that self-replicating machines are possible, because that’s what we are, so why shouldn’t we be able to make our own?

            I understand doubts about how much more efficient the process could be made, but the advantage of self-replicating robots isn’t speed — it’s that we don’t have to perform the labor.

            We don’t need grey goo that can eat Mercury in a week and turn it into mirrors. We just need machines that can coordinate and perform long-term, large-scale industrial projects without us having to worry about it too much. It’s fine if the process takes decades, or even centuries. We’re not in a rush, here — it just needs to keep up with the population growth.

            @John Schilling:

            Oh thank God. I was beginning to feel like I was losing my mind.

          • Bugmaster says:

            @Kestrellius:

            since you appear to believe that this moment right now is the apex of human technological development

            Please don’t strawman me. I am claiming that a specific science-fictional technology is impossible, not that any and all potential future technologies are impossible. In fact, you seem to agree with me on the impossibility of a few such technologies, such as FTL, energy from nothing, and maybe gravity manipulation; I’m just adding one more item to the list.

            Broadly speaking, we’re discussing two main topics:

            1). What technologies would you need in order to launch a sufficiently large swarm of satellites into solar orbit ?, and
            2). What would be the point of launching all those satellites anyway ?

            Let’s start with (2), since I doubt that anyone would want to launch a Dyson Swarm just for the heck of it. So far, two possible applications have been proposed:
            2a). Data centers. This is not a bad idea, but like I said, it suffers from massive diminishing returns due to high latency.
            2b). Habitats. This is also a good idea, but the kind of engineering skill required to build and maintain something like that — not to mention the energy and material requirements — would be orders of magnitude greater than what is needed to launch all those satellites. If you can do that, then you can do more interesting things instead, such as build colonization ark ships.

            The reason I started with (2) is because it makes (1) an even more difficult problem. Now, you don’t just need to build satellites; you need to build all this other stuff too. In order to accomplish such a feat, you’d pretty much need to build some sort of a self-replicating factory; a universal assembler that can take any kind of matter, and transmute it to the finished product. You’d further need to use this assembler on the rocky planets, at the very least; the asteroid belt doesn’t have nearly enough matter in it to cover an appreciable percentage of the solar system with satellites, habitats, data centers, or what have you.

            I would argue that matter transmutation is outright impossible (without the use of magical nanotechnology, that is). Even relatively simpler feats, such as taking atoms and arranging them one-by-one into some arbitrary pattern, is impossible in the general sense.

            I would agree that self-replicating factories are possible in principle; in fact, the Earth is covered with such things already (some of them are called “humans”). But I doubt very much that you could use conventional mining/refining/smelting/construction/biological reproduction techniques to build a Dyson Swarm; at least, not in any kind of a relevant time-frame.

            I broadly agree with John Schilling’s point: solar power satellites are a pretty good idea in general, and are probably an achievable technology (though I’m not certain of that). I’m merely arguing that a Dyson Swarm is categorically different from just a few satellites; is most likely impossible; and would be a waste of resources even if it were achievable.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Maybe I missed it, but how does John Schilling go from “our planet is wreathed in solar collectors” to “our star is wreathed in solar collectors”?

          • Lambert says:

            Well, once 99% of the light that passes through the Earth’s SOI hits a solar panel already, you’ve got to go heliocentric.

            If power consumption does not stop increasing, and solar power works the best in the extreme long-term, then you have to envelope the sun with solar panels. It’s not like there’s any way of getting more energy out of the sun than letting a load of its light leak away into interstellar space. It’s a matter of geometry.

          • John Schilling says:

            how does John Schilling go from “our planet is wreathed in solar collectors” to “our star is wreathed in solar collectors”?

            The same way you go from “I put a solar collector on my roof” to “our planet is wreathed in solar collectors”. One step at a time, with each step being “Other people built useful stuff; I want to build useful stuff too. Where can I put the solar collector to power the useful stuff without interfering with anybody else?”

            As Lambert says, a planet – including all the stable orbits surrounding it – will eventually run out of room for solar collectors. So will a star, of course, and the difficulty of starflight might result in a specieswide “OK, I guess we have to stop building more useful stuff now”. But if you’re putting solar collectors around your planet, the marginal cost of putting the next one in heliocentric orbit instead is small.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Well, what exactly is happening to all this energy that wouldn’t normally hit the planet after we do whatever thing it is we want to do? It seems like it will all be thermal in short order, correct? That or we have come up with some way to turn it into matter.

            Seems like that just ends up baking the planet?

          • Lambert says:

            Where we’re going, we don’t need planets.

            All the industry of whatever form will be in deep space. There just won’t be enough space on planetary surfaces. Type II civs are just mind-bogglingly big.

            On the outside of the dyson sphere, much less discussed than the solar cells but just as important, will be a vast array of radiators.
            As the solar panels take in as much low-entropy energy as possible, the radiators will emit that energy with as much entropy as possible.

            You want to make the radiators as large as possible, since specific entropy of blackbody radiation is porportional to temperature, and temperature is inversely proportional to the fourth root of area.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Lambert:
            If you are positing that all of this energy is going to solar collection arrays far away from earth and being used there, rather than being used locally, then this just leads right back to Bugmaster’s basic question … what is it being used for?

          • John Schilling says:

            “If you are positing that all of this grain is being grown on farmland far away from the Fertile Crescent and being used there, rather than being used locally, then this just leads right back to the basic question … what’s it being used for?”
            Sargon of Akkad, ~2280 BC

            Enough of this. I can’t imagine anyone as truly devoid of clue as you appear to be here, but I also can’t imagine any reason for you to pretend to ignorance. Baffled, I disengage.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            Dude.

            I would hope that after all of our interactions here that wouldn’t be something you would say.

            I believe you are saying a ring of solar collectors at Earth’s orbit is inevitable.

            I’m legitimately asking, are we positing manned colonies on the other side of earth’s orbit? Are we positing raw collection of energy? Are we positing manufacturing of some kind?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Perhaps one of the disconnects I am having is with the basic assumptions Lambert makes: “Type II civs are just mind-bogglingly big.”

            First, their is a little bit of question begging here, in assuming something about a type 2 civ to prove that we will get there. But that is more of a quibble.

            Given what we seem to know about human populations with effective birth control, it’s very much not clear to me that we can assume population growth unless we assume an infinite life span, or at least an ever increasing life span.

          • albatross11 says:

            The dyson spheres are there to mine cryptocurrency, of course. A thin shell of solar panel, computing and communications infrastructure, and heat radiators surrounding the whole sun.

            It all started when some bright boy decided to ask his extremely powerful AI to make him rich by mining Bitcoin….

    • bullseye says:

      Our capabilities, and many of our goals, are incomprehensible to a chimp. We might well be just as bad at understanding advanced aliens.

      • Kestrellius says:

        I’m not arguing with you, per se, but…people say this, and I’m not sure it’s true. Are our goals incomprehensible to chimps? Are they even incomprehensible to ants, the standard point of comparison?

        I mean, our instrumental goals, sure. “What’s money?” But our (nearer-to) terminal goals? Those ought to be pretty familiar to just about all life. We want more food. We want better mates. We want higher social status, so that we have greater access to those things.* We want to be protected from things that might hurt us… I don’t think any of that would be incomprehensible to a chimp.

        There are all sorts of weird outliers, like suicidal people (not dismissing them; I have been one for large portions of my life), and more broadly, people with non-material ambitions — but the end goals of most of our population hew quite close to “survive until reproduction”. It would be extremely weird for any species which arose via Darwinian evolution to have goals incompatible with these (because, of course, any individuals which do will be selected against).

        So, I’m sure aliens might do and say and think and want all sorts of incomprehensible things. But at the end of the day…if they’re bound by the laws of physics, I would expect their ultimate goals to be quite mundane, and much the same as ours.

        *That one’s probably incomprehensible to ants. I don’t think they have much concept of social mobility.

        • Bugmaster says:

          I’m not sure about chimps, but at least some of our goals are comprehensible to at least some of the animals (otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to domesticate them). Many animals can correctly perceive and react to human behaviours, even animals who’d never been domesticated.

          I’m not sure about ants, though — can they even be said to “comprehend” anything ? At some point, you could be stretching the term too far. Rocks react to gravity, but I wouldn’t say they “comprehend” it.

          • Kestrellius says:

            I’m not sure about ants, though — can they even be said to “comprehend” anything ? At some point, you could be stretching the term too far. Rocks react to gravity, but I wouldn’t say they “comprehend” it.

            Yeah, that’s a fair point. I was thinking of ants because…I don’t know where it was; might’ve been an XKCD. There was this comic or something talking about ants’ conception of God, and how they would think “He must have all the sugar“. And the joke is how naive a statement that is.

            But, well, if we were to think of ourselves as gods relative to ants…we do have all the sugar, or at least a fair approximation of it. We have lots of other things, too, but sugar is pretty important to us. The ants aren’t wrong.

        • Enkidum says:

          I think all but the most basic of our social goals are incomprehensible to all other animals. A huge part of what differentiates us from them is social complexity and the degree of modelling of others (in fact Graziano would argue that is the basis of consciousness, and I agree with him at least 50%, which is more than I can say about most theories of consciousness). The fact that we worry about what other people think, which is arguably the main driver of most of our actual behaviour, is literally incomprehensible to the vast majority of non-humans (some apes can kind of do this, but not nearly to the extent we can).

          I think when you say something like “we want higher social status, so that we have greater access to those things”, you’re combining evolutionary and psychological explanations of behaviour. Ultimately the reason we developed the kinds of obsessively social minds we have is because they are fitness-enhancing, so they get us more descendants/food/whatever. But we have no access to that in our own reasoning, 90% of the time. What you call our “ultimate” goals are not our ultimate goals, they are “that which enhances fitness of the species”. Dawkins has quite a bit to say about this, and is famously misinterpreted on a regular basis.

          I guess what I’m trying to say in a very waffling manner is that the goals of aliens, etc, should ultimately be consistent with evolution by natural selection, and at least in principle model-able by us in some way, with the assistance of sufficiently advanced math (that we haven’t yet developed). But there’s no reason to think that this is in any way available from surface-level information. Cf. Roadside Picnic or Stalker, either the movie or the games, although I don’t believe they get into the details as much as the original short story.

        • bullseye says:

          We share some of our goals with chimps and ants, but the methods we use would not make sense to them. Going to an office to sit at a desk would not make sense to a chimp (or even a human hunter-gatherer), even if the underlying goal is food and shelter.

          Some of things we avoid doing also wouldn’t make sense. A chimp would assume that a creature capable of eating its fill of delicious food would certainly do that, but it’s something many of us avoid. Getting back on topic, building Dyson spheres might have a downside that’s clear to aliens capable of doing it.

        • Michael Watts says:

          We want more food. We want better mates. We want higher social status, so that we have greater access to those things.* We want to be protected from things that might hurt us… I don’t think any of that would be incomprehensible to a chimp.

          *That one’s probably incomprehensible to ants. I don’t think they have much concept of social mobility.

          You know what ants have even less of than they have social mobility? Mating.

          “Better mates” might not make sense to a chimpanzee either; their system is that when a female goes into heat, every male in the group has sex with her in a big gang bang. Everyone gets exactly the same mates.

    • Bugmaster says:

      My answer to the general question — “why haven’t we detected aliens yet ?” — would be that aliens, especially advanced aliens, are incredibly rare; so rare, in fact, that they are unlikely to exist within our own light-cone. Those that do exist (if any) are unlikely to be old enough to have developed any easily detectable advanced technology. We are effectively alone in the Universe (unless FTL travel were somehow possible, which it’s not).

      The specific question — “why can’t we see Dyson Spheres” — is even easier to answer. Even if technologically advanced aliens existed, they are unlikely to develop Dyson Spheres, because Dyson Spheres are probably completely impossible, just like any other feat of engineering that relies on quasi-magical molecular nanotechnology… which is impossible.

      • Kestrellius says:

        TIL that I’m impossible.

        My answer to the general question — “why haven’t we detected aliens yet ?” — would be that aliens, especially advanced aliens, are incredibly rare; so rare, in fact, that they are unlikely to exist within our own light-cone.

        That does seem to be the most likely explanation, yes.

        The specific question — “why can’t we see Dyson Spheres” — is even easier to answer. Even if technologically advanced aliens existed, they are unlikely to develop Dyson Spheres, because Dyson Spheres are probably completely impossible, just like any other feat of engineering that relies on quasi-magical molecular nanotechnology… which is impossible.

        What? Where are you getting the idea that you need molecular nanotech for a Dyson sphere? I’m…I’m not sure it would even help, except in very indirect ways. The engineering challenges involved in Dyson construction are all extremely macro-scale, as far as I can tell.

        On top of that, you’re just…wrong. You are literally made of the thing you just said was impossible. Now, our ability to take the principles by which our cells operate and use them to create more efficient machines with more specific functions…well, we’ll see. It may well turn out to be impracticable. But we don’t know yet, and neither do you.

        • Bugmaster says:

          Where are you getting the idea that you need molecular nanotech for a Dyson sphere?

          Most Dyson Sphere scenarios involve collecting all available matter in the star system, and converting it — via nanotech — to some sort of an ultra-tough material that forms the Dyson Sphere; the builders would then live on its inner surface; inside its shell; or as computational constructs within its computing substrate. Don’t get me started on that last one.

          Now, our ability to take the principles by which our cells operate and use them to create more efficient machines with more specific functions

          Sorry, that won’t work. There are very strict limits on what our water-based chemical cells are able to accomplish, and feats like converting rocks to computers in a day are far, far beyound it. It is tempting to say, “so, forget water-based chemistry, just use some tougher process to build nanotech”, but AFAIK no such process exists — due to the energies involved. Any nanotech powerful enough to “gray goo” the world would either run out of energy immediately, or instantly vaporize itself, or both… Assuming you could even start it up at all.

          • Kestrellius says:

            Most Dyson Sphere scenarios involve collecting all available matter in the star system, and converting it — via nanotech — to some sort of an ultra-tough material that forms the Dyson Sphere; the builders would then live on its inner surface; inside its shell; or as computational constructs within its computing substrate. Don’t get me started on that last one.

            Oh, okay. I guess you wrote that before I clarified that I was talking about swarms. Yeah, you don’t need any of that.

            There are very strict limits on what our water-based chemical cells are able to accomplish, and feats like converting rocks to computers in a day are far, far beyound it.

            Why…would you need to convert a rock into a computer in a day? I mean, it’d be handy. I wouldn’t say no to it. But…you don’t need it for…well, honestly, I’m not actually sure what nanotech is supposed to be for, other than the obvious medical applications (which are a huge deal, but notably don’t require turning rocks into computers).

            I mean there’s the universal-toolkit stuff, but I don’t really think you need proper nanotech for that — just (“just”) universal assemblers that are on the small side.

            It is tempting to say, “so, forget water-based chemistry, just use some tougher process to build nanotech”, but AFAIK no such process exists — due to the energies involved. Any nanotech powerful enough to “gray goo” the world would either run out of energy immediately, or instantly vaporize itself, or both… Assuming you could even start it up at all.

            Well, you’re not wrong. AIUI heat dissipation is the major issue, and it would put some harsh limits on the speed at which nanobots could do things.

            But, I mean…”molecular nanotechnology” does not equal “grey goo that eats planets in twelve hours”. That’s not at all implied. Unless you were trying to indicate that by saying “quasi-magical”, but that wasn’t really very clear. (And of course I was led astray trying to figure out why you would need nanotech to build big mirrors in space.)

          • Bugmaster says:

            …well, honestly, I’m not actually sure what nanotech is supposed to be for

            Most science-fictional scenarios, such as Dyson spheres, the Singularity, Von Neumann probes, etc., require an ability to convert any kind of matter into some complex device, and to do so relatively quickly. Given about 18 years, you can convert a relatively small amount of organic material into a fully functioning human, but building a Dyson Swarm requires much larger energies across much smaller time-scales.

            You mention “just (‘just’) universal assemblers that are on the small side”, but I’m not sure what that means; nor am I convinced that a “universal assembler” of any kind can exist, depending on what you mean by the term — but I don’t want to strawman you.

      • Are you arguing that nanotechnology is quasi-magical, or only that there are some imaginary versions of it that are?

        • Bugmaster says:

          I would say that the kind of nanotechnology that people usually propose as a mechanism for achieving the Singularity is quasi-magical. Obviously, biological cells are perfectly mundane, but you can’t make an AGI FOOM UFAI etc. out of them. Well, arguably we are in fact such a UFAI already, but you know what I mean 🙂

    • Anthony says:

      All the heat put out by a star has to be radiated away eventually, even if you do have a Dyson Sphere. Imagine a spacefaring species whose optical range is shifted towards violet compared to humans. They build a Dyson Sphere, and all their satellites, or some substantial fraction of them, are glowing red hot, while the star inside is still white-hot like our sun.

      Now it’s a red giant.

      • arbitraryvalue says:

        You would be able to tell the difference between a star and a Dyson sphere by the spectral lines. (The same way we can tell what stars are made of.)

        Edit: I think you would be able to tell. But I’m editing to indicate that I’m proposing this as a possibility rather than just telling you that you’re wrong. In principle a star would have spectral lines and a hot solid sphere would not…

        • John Schilling says:

          Correct. A red giant will have the usual absorbtion lines, obvious to any astronomer, where a hot Dyson shell will just be a blackbody.

          • Anthony says:

            You’re generally right, though that would depend on the composition of the Dyson sphere and any gases immediately around it.

            I’m pretty sure that most red giants don’t have the very metallic spectrum that a Dyson sphere would likely generate, and if it’s made up of smallish bodies, those bodies won’t have enough hydrogen close enough to radiate a hydrogen spectrum that much brighter than the spectrum of the solid bodies making up the sphere.

  62. Emperor Aristidus says:

    The thing about “women not choosing their own mates for most of human history” looks dodgy to me. They didn’t for most of recorded history, but what the heck do we know about distant prehistory? What about habilines and australopitheci?

    • They based it off of studies of 190 hunter gatherer groups. It’s not just settled civilizations.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Wait, hunter gatherers had arranged marriages? I thought they were kind of loosey-goosey about the whole procreation and paternity thing, since people didn’t really have “property,” and with no inheritance to worry about correctly attributing paternity isn’t all that big a deal.

        • In his work examining ethnographic evidence from 190 hunter-gatherer societies, evolutionary psychologist Menlaos Apostolou notes the prevalence of arranged marriages, writing that across these societies “the institution of marriage is regulated by parents and close kin. Parents are able to influence the mating decisions of both sons and daughters, but stronger control is exercised with regard to daughters; male parents have more say in selecting in-laws than their female counterparts.” As anthropologist Janice Stockard writes of !Kung hunter-gatherer populations in southern Africa, “Traditionally in the !Kung San, marriage is a relationship among a husband and wife and the wife’s father and is at the outset firmly based on compatibility between the two men.”
          Apostolou further reports that female age at first marriage tends to be at the onset of puberty or earlier across the vast majority of the societies in his sample, and notes that these “Arranged marriages usually take the form of parents or close kin “giving away” their female relatives after negotiations with the male or his relatives. As such, males are allowed much more autonomy to exercise mate choice than females.” Anthropologist Lewis Binford’s 2001 volume Constructing Frames of Reference includes data on age at marriage across nearly 200 hunter-gatherer societies, and across these societies the average age at first marriage is recorded as 14 for girls, and 21 for boys. [2]

  63. Gerry Quinn says:

    Everything is pornography to teenagers. To quote Jim Morrison:”The bus gives you a hard-on With books in your lap”. It’s a long time ago now, but I was there.

  64. Ruben says:

    Re the criticism of persistence research by Morgan Kelly, this paper by Riana Minocher is also worth reading. Once you see this sort of country-level analysis done well for once, you see how crappy most of the other papers on it are.
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1090513818302514

  65. Douglas Knight says:

    Does the schizophrenic professor paper correct for multiple comparisons? It appears not.
    (At first I was optimistic because of the use of the word “hierarchy” in the figure Scott linked, but it appears to mean that schizophrenia trumps bipolar, ie, bipolar is defined to have no diagnosis of schizophrenia.)

    the study finds increased risk for academics’ children, siblings, and niblings, but not parents and grandparents

    You mean risk for schizophrenia. For “any mental disorder” it finds (definitely surviving multiple comparisons) the opposite effect, but reduced for children and niblings but no effect for parents and grandparents. But also no effect for siblings. I feel like the increased rate of schizophrenia should be judged on this baseline and thus should be more impressive. (eg, failing to adjust for age would produce this all-in effect because the children and niblings of academics are younger; but it would underestimate schizophrenia. They claim to adjust for age.)

    For more statistically significant is the age effects. Academics have children 2 years later than controls. You might have expected that, thinking that academics run a tight rat race and postpone their lives, but no, actually, their parents and siblings also waited 2 years more than the parents and siblings of the controls.

  66. naj says:

    The bigger issue of Lyme disease in the linked article is the fact that “The manufacturer took the human Lyme vaccine off the market due to controversy over now-disproven side effects.” I get an occasional tick bite and I would really like to take this vaccine.

  67. Harkonnendog says:

    A kid with a vivid imagination watches more porn than anybody.

  68. teageegeepea says:

    Garett Jones calls the “deep roots” literature the “dog that didn’t bark” when it comes to errors of persistence:
    https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/1139501918622035968

    • teageegeepea says:

      Rather than creating an account to comment here, he responds to my comment with an explanation on twitter:
      https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/1144629376857858049

      The cross-country Deep Roots tests look stronger, not weaker, after the spatial autocorrelation critique–largely because ‘migration unadjusted’ Deep Roots scores *don’t* get those magic asterisks that are so easy to get!

      His original tweet read:

      More noteworthy: The dog that doesn’t bark. The results with small magnitudes. In the Deep Roots literature, the “migration unadjusted” measures have *lower* statistical significance (FWIW) & *smaller* coefficients. That’s a big story, and it’s not predicted by Noise Theory.

      But you should click through to see the table & the larger thread that was part of.

  69. Amy says:

    “project[ing] a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad urging the Iraqi people and Army to rise up against Saddam”.

    image of Allah

    Imagine not doing your research to that level. This is probably the single most taboo thing in all of Islam. Images of Muhammad are small cake in comparison. Outright blasphemy would be less offensive.

    • John Schilling says:

      Well, presumably it’s not taboo for Actual God to produce an image of Himself if He feels it appropriate to do so. Is it even a meaningful concept in Islam for a thing to be so taboo that even God isn’t allowed to do it? And from the description, it sounds like the “plan” was for the people of Baghdad to actually believe this was Actual God manifesting above them to command them to rise up against Saddam.

      In which case, it fails due to outgroup stupidity bias – the average Iraqi may not have a Master’s Degree in Smartyness like the people who came up with this plan, but they aren’t so foolish or ignorant that they’ll fall for a silly hoax like this.

      But for a more sophisticated version of the plan, the blasphemy could be the point. Trolling the enemy is completely legit. If you are faced with an enemy that is likely to hide and plot and prepare and conduct elusive hit-and-run operations until you give up and go home or they have grown strong enough to defeat you outright, then you want to force the issue early. So set up a bunch of strong defensive positions, and do something so outrageous that the enemy will attack with grossly irrational force and resolve. Then kill them.

      Not a good plan if you’re going for a negotiated settlement, but if that’s off the table then the question is what sort of provocation to use. Though even there, any plausible implementatuon of the Giant Holographic Allah is likely to fail to Obvious Lameness.

      • zzzzort says:

        I think history (or even the barest minimum of foresight) shows that defeating the Iraqi army/Hussein regime is relatively easy, whereas not being hated by the Iraqi people is relatively hard. This plan would have putatively helped with the easy part while making the hard part a lot lot harder.

        • John Schilling says:

          The plan won’t work at all, but if we imagine it works at the “easy part” then it likely works at the “hard part” as well. If projecting images in the sky makes the Iraqi people rise up against Hussein , that’s because either A: they really literally believe that God is telling them to fight on the Americans’ side or B: their fear and awe of America’s great power as manifest by sky-image-writing greatness outweighs both their fear of (or loyalty to) Hussein and their outrage at American blasphemy combined. There’s not much room for “Yeah, OK, we went and overthrew our own government because your sky-head told us to, but it’s really you that we hate with the eternal fire of a thousand suns”.

    • bullseye says:

      Is there any image that Iraqi Muslims would recognize as looking like Allah? I think most people in the West would recognize certain images as depicting God, but only because we’re accustomed to seeing them.

  70. Galle says:

    Did you know: the Bay Area water system includes two Water Temples, the Pulgas Water Temple and Sunol Water System, built to mark crucial points on main aqueducts.

    Oh, good, so whenever anything goes wrong with the Bay Area water system, someone has to spend an hour raising and lowering the water level while looking for that last goddamn key.

  71. LadyJane says:

    Vox: climate change will kill lots of people, but probably will not destroy the human race.

    Well, yes? Isn’t that the general consensus among actual climatologists? Why is Vox even framing this like it’s a real debate? As far as I know, no serious climate scientists actually believe that climate change will cause the extinction of the human race or destroy all life on Earth. That’s something you only hear from millennial activists who like to drum up panic about how we’re all going to die in 12 years unless we do something to stop climate change right now.

    I’m not a denialist, nor a lukewarmist. I think climate change is a real phenomenon, at least mostly anthropogenic, and a serious threat that could very well result in the deaths of millions of people and catastrophic social, political, and economic devastation (albeit in 50-100 years or more, not in the next decade or two). But to the best of my knowledge, most climate scientists aren’t even saying that it will result in the end of modern industrial civilization, let alone the extinction of humanity or the destruction of all life on Earth.

    And if the goal of the doomsayers is simply to scare people into taking action, I’m worried it will have the opposite effect. Yelling about how climate change is going to make the world literally explode in flames by 2030 seems like a good way to make people stop taking the issue seriously at all, it’s just going to make climate activists look ridiculous and cause more people to become outright denialists.

    • tscharf says:

      You don’t have to wait until 2030 to call for accountability to alarmists. This has been going on for decades and some of the deadlines are well behind us already. This is why these predictions are met with yawns and last for about a 24 hour news cycle.

      Advocates know they won’t get media coverage without screaming louder than the last guy who got media coverage. Climate change coverage always reminds of a Spinal Tap scene.

  72. jhertzlinger says:

    What would happen if you trained a neural net on the works of Edward Lear?

  73. “It theorizes that the military is deliberately trying to stoke public interest in UFOs for some reason, possibly because they’ve got some weird new plane designs they want people to avoid connecting to them if spotted. But assuming Russia/China/other rivals are smart enough to figure out what a random defense blogger figured out, why do they care whether Joe Average Citizen who looks up in the skies and sees a weird plane goes to the papers saying “UFO” or goes to the papers saying “new military prototype”? The Russians/Chinese will just read the article and assume it’s a new military prototype either way. I’d be interested in hearing our local defense experts’ thoughts.”

    Not a defense expert, but my assumption is that the random blogger may very well be smarter than Russia and China’s defense experts. Remember how Gorbachev took Bush’s word for it that he wouldn’t expand NATO, didn’t insist in putting it in writing? Or how China continued its one-child policy long after it went to sub-replacement fertility? The behavior of the Great Powers, Russia, China, and the United States, is inconsistent with a group of highly intelligent people who are focused like a laser on winning the Grand Geopolitical Game of Chess. Rather, it’s consistent with sprawling bureaucracies full of people whose specialty is networking.

    • LadyJane says:

      Not a defense expert, but my assumption is that the random blogger may very well be smarter than Russia and China’s defense experts.

      I find that highly doubtful.

      • Nornagest says:

        Smarter might be a bad way to put it. Those guys aren’t idiots. But they’re as vulnerable to groupthink and paranoia and wishful thinking as anyone else. Even when the relevant information is public — the recent announcement of a menagerie of exotic delivery systems for Russian nukes, for example, only makes sense if they think our ABM capabilities are much better than they appear to be from open sources. Those open sources include, for example, the results of GMD tests and the number of silos up in Fort Greely, so I’m fairly confident that they reflect reality pretty well, but evidently the Russians disagree.

        I wouldn’t expect J. Random Blogger to be smarter than your average Russian or Chinese undersecretary or equivalent, but I’d buy that they lack some of their institutional biases. Sometimes that matters.

        • John Schilling says:

          the recent announcement of a menagerie of exotic delivery systems for Russian nukes, for example, only makes sense if they think our ABM capabilities are much better than they appear to be from open sources

          Or if they are lying. And if they are lying, there’s a good chance that bloggers, etc, are the target. Well, the vector to the target, really, but in any case the lie needs to be tailored to something a blogger/tweeter/whatever will find attention-worthy and not to what is the best technical understanding of the subject.

  74. detroitdan says:

    Speaking of Lyme disease, this article makes a good case that it evolved from military germ warfare experiments on Plum Island (off Long Island). The award winning scientist who identified the pathogen even confirms that he was working on putting this pathogen in ticks. Seems conclusive to me.

    • Nornagest says:

      Quoth Wikipedia:

      The 2010 autopsy of Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy, revealed the presence of the DNA sequence of Borrelia burgdorferi making him the earliest known human with Lyme disease.

      So yeah, I don’t think so.

      • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

        Cue the conspiracy theory that CIA injected the DNA into the mummy (or maybe paid somebody to contaminate the specimen in the lab which did the testing) to hide their involvement in creating the disease.

      • abystander says:

        To be fair, the claim wasn’t that the organism was created, but that it was put into ticks. Of course that are other questions such as the fact that it was relatively rare before so how was it first obtained.

  75. Tenacious D says:

    Part two of the Dark Forest article has a succinct statement of the theory:

    A lot of this difference is on me. I’m older. I have more at stake. But it’s not just me that changed. The internet did too. The internet went from a venue for low stakes experimentation to the place with some of the highest stakes of all. With the rise of online bullying, shaming, and swatting, the internet became emotionally, reputationally, and physically dangerous. It became the dark forest. Our digital breadcrumbs became evidence that could and would be used against us. To keep safe we exercised our right to stay silent and moved underground.

    • Viliam says:

      I think a contributing factor is also how online advertisement made various websites insist on using your real name, having only one account, using your photo, etc. And the social networks that publicly list your connections. It is much easier to harass people when you know their real names, their faces, their family members, and their employer; and it requires almost zero effort to find this all.

  76. some fairy says:

    > Megan McArdle: …heating is even more power-hungry than AC… Anyone disagree?

    My objection to american use of AC is that they don’t just make their buildings *cool*, it’s that they make them *uncomfortably cold*. It’s bizarre, and it seems to be consistent across all of the businesses and workplaces I visited during my time there.

    Megan, in true form, despite being fully aware (and acknowledging) that this is the brunt of the objection, goes on writing anyway :/

    • CatCube says:

      I think this might be more a matter of taste. I can’t recall the last time I was in an air-conditioned business that I would describe as “uncomfortable”.

    • Viliam says:

      I just spent a weekend in a house with AC, and this is what I noticed: There is a difference between the temperature that feels right after you came from hot outside, and the temperature that feels right when you spend a few hours in that temperature.

      Specifically, when we came in from outside and set the temperature to 16’C, it felt great at the moment. But a few hours later I noticed that I feel uncomfortable, and kept changing the settings. At about 21’C, I felt okay both at the moment and a few hours later.

      So, one possible explanation is that the optimal temperature is felt differently between people who keep coming and going, and people who stay there for hours. In a typical office, the former would be the management, and the latter would be hoi polloi, so giving the power differential, the official setting of the AC would be “too cold for hoi polloi“.

      But the same can happen even without power differential, when the people coming from outside will complain loudly about the setting being not cold enough (especially when more people come at the same moment), and the people already sitting there and gradually feeling increasingly uncomfortable will miss the coordination mechanism to voice their complaint at the same time.

      Another factor is that some people come by feet or using mass transit, while others came by cars that already use AC. The former will dress lightly, and then freeze in the office; the latter will dress according to typical AC settings, and feel okay the whole day. Again, the latter will likely be higher on the pecking ladder.

      In international offices, there is also the difference that people from different places are used to different temperatures. On a warm summer day, my colleague from the souther part of the continent complains how cold it is.

      • Mary says:

        I keep a sweatshirt on the back of the chair in the office all year round for just such issues.

        However, the heating/cooling in my office is chiefly dictated by a less than perfect system and east/west facing windows.

    • Mary says:

      Many American businesses set their air conditioner to a lower temperature than they set their heating in the winter.

      I think we can all agree that’s lunacy.

    • Jaskologist says:

      This map of America overlaid with Europe at the same latitudes also explains a lot. Much of America is effectively North Africa and the Middle East, minus the moderating effects of the Mediterranean Sea.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        The alignment’s a bit off. Paris and Vienna are both below the 49th parallel.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        I don’t think that explains much. If you think the key is latitude, maps like that reveal problems with your model, but they don’t suggest a replacement model. Paris isn’t on the Mediterranean, but neither does it have Montana weather. Moderation trumps latitude, but I think that the key to moderation is west coast vs east coast, much more than the Mediterranean. LA has Moroccan climate, but Atlanta doesn’t have Lebanese climate.

        But there are a lot more details controlling the climate. The west coast moderation of Eurasia extends far inland, whereas the west coast of North America is bounded by the Rockies, I think (maybe this is where the Mediterranean comes in). The Jet Stream makes Europe even warmer.

  77. Deej says:

    Re Hanson.

    I’m not sure it’s all about assuming rule bending will work for you. People really don’t like it where strict adherence to rules results in wrong outcomes and vslue flexibility to avoid this.

    It’s similar to people being more accepting of bad things that are the result of “emergence”

  78. brad says:

    I still don’t understand what the eco-psyche just-so stories are supposed to be *for*. I mean some pure science you could say knowing is its own justification but given they are on such shaky ground epistemologically you can’t even say that.

  79. rationalist_person says:

    “The rise in social-justice-related terms as a percent of words used in the media over time.”

    That’s not what those graphs show. Almost all of them only show the rise in the total number of articles per year mentioning “social-justice related terms” and do not correct for the fact that the total number of articles written per year has dramatically rose in the social media age. Indeed, every single graph spikes up during 2010, which is the year when Twitter exponentially took off in popularity. Also, y-axis values are different on almost every single graph.

    The one and only graph in that Twitter thread which DOES have a percentage is one showing that the percentage of articles mentioning “racism” in the New York Times increased from 0.5% to a grand… 2%. Funnily enough, someone could publish a thinkpiece saying “98% of articles in the New York Times do not mention racism” and they would be saying the truth! Yet that would impart an entirely different impression upon readers.

    Actually, it would be really interesting to put a question like that on a SSC survey – “what percentage of articles published by the New York Times mention the topic of racism” – I wonder if anyone on the left OR right would correctly predict 2%?

    • Aapje says:

      His newer graphs use percentages of all article, correcting for the increased output. They still show a large increase.

      I don’t see why 0.5% to 2% shouldn’t be seen as a significant increase with consequences for the views of the readership. Newspapers have a great diversity of topics, so even the most common topics are presumably going to be single digit in the percentage of total articles.

      Furthermore, I think that the graphs suggest that on certain topics, a certain framing happens a lot. So the issue is then more that people get told to look at things a certain, culture war, way.

  80. Eponymous says:

    Although successful academics are less likely to have a psychotic disorder compared to the general population, their relatives are more likely, suggesting that psychosis genes are adaptive and maybe creativity-promoting up to some threshold.

    This result only suggests these genes are adaptive if you think academics are better adapted than average. The evidence doesn’t really support this, e.g. academics tend to have fewer kids than average.

    • I W​ri​te ​B​ug​s No​t O​ut​ag​es says:

      When brain science people say “adaptive”, it often isn’t in a strict Darwinian sense. Means more like “good”, or to be a bit more specific, useful in achieving one’s goals.

  81. andrewxstewart says:

    Fake Nous?

    I now know new appreciation of the nuance of the noise of ‘nous’, ‘noose’, ‘news’, and ‘nuance’.

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