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EATS Act may or may not be wise policy, but it doesn't look like a states' rights violation, just a straightforward use of the Commerce Clause.

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15. If you're interested in Anthropic & scaling, I highly recommend https://www.dwarkeshpatel.com/p/dario-amodei#%C2%A7transcript (I suggested several questions.)

31. I think this one turned out to be bogus? They simply changed how they measured it. However, coincidentally, https://arxiv.org/abs/2307.07367 shows a (much smaller) decline and still looks legit.

33. Metaculus is all the way down to 2% now https://www.metaculus.com/questions/18177/room-temp-superconductor-replicated-by-2025/ so looks like there's room to arbitrage fake-internet-points?

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15. Good genealogical work, but I got there first :) I spend a little more time on the extreme improbability of a backcountry antebellum dirt farmer being Jewish in the first place.


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2 „lately he’s been casting kabbalistic death curses on Israeli prime ministers.“

Good empirical test of Kaballa, there.

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30. No idea how to actively study / science this, but my armchair understanding has always been that 'sperm is cheap, eggs are expensive'. Evolution takes more chances with the less necessary part of the procreation pair. Makes plenty of common sense.

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21 - I'm not sure how much of the decline it explains, but Stack Exchange has been working VERY hard to piss off its user base for the last few years. There's too much historical drama to go over it all, but the highlights are:

- Firing a well-liked moderator over confusing pronoun-usage-policy drama in a way that pissed off basically everyone, even those who agreed with the policy that they were trying to push

- Unilaterally, retroactively changing the license that applies to their user-generated content in a way that pissed off a lot of people and may have been illegal

- Firing a bunch of long-tenure, well-liked employees

- Badmouthing their volunteer moderators to the press

- Recently, an extremely aggressive and unpopular push by the CEO to use site content as AI training fodder and encourage the use of AI tools to generate posts, when most of the user base seems to think AI-generated posts should be banned

This has led to two moderator strikes and a lot of drama. Here are some links:

- https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/333965/firing-mods-and-forced-relicensing-is-stack-exchange-still-interested-in-cooper

- https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/342039/firing-community-managers-stack-exchange-is-not-interested-in-cooperating-with

- https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/334575/dear-stack-exchange-a-statement-and-a-letter-from-your-moderators

- https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/388401/new-blog-post-from-our-ceo-prashanth-community-is-the-future-of-ai

- https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/389582/what-is-the-network-policy-regarding-ai-generated-content

These events don't neatly line up with the dates of the graph, so I'm not sure if the decline is really due to this stuff or due to AI usage. But the vibe there has definitely gone from "high community buy-in" to "Stack Exchange is our enemy" in the time I've been on there (~6 years).

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> Same author: why did Mormon fertility drop?

I generally downgraded my credibility prior for all the TFR-obsessed people after they foolishly made a testable prediction (the whole "Ukraine will surrender quickly because their low TFR indicates lack of Vital Spirit or something" meme that was getting passed around in February 2022)

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I don't believe #36 or #37 at all. #36 is so ludicrously on the nose that it reads as a libertarian fever dream. #37 I can barely parse, but seems like one of those triple-bankshot explanations. (Revulsion to Trump infected Mormons with progressive urban values? Right.)

Also probably worth mentioning that even if #36 is absolutely true and you can find dystopian Victorian literature that perfectly describes life in modern Western society, this would be merely amusing and nothing more.

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6- Plot idea (1920s style, in keeping with the time period of the "Murchison Murders"): A writer of mystery novels and his friend are being blackmailed by a ex-convict. The author concocts a "fool-proof" murder method involving the disposal of a body with fire, acid, etc., and makes sure that his blackmailer is known to have heard about it. Shortly afterward, the author's friend disappears, but some of his personal jewelry is found amidst what looks suspiciously like charred animal/human remnants as outlined in the author's "foolproof" body-disposal technique. The blackmailer (an ex-convict, remember, and so already the object of mistrust and suspicion) is arrested, convicted, and hanged. Shortly afterward, the friend reemerges with the excuse (true enough) that he had been on a round-the-world yachting cruise with his new wife after secretly eloping with her.

No, it's not very original. But it's the first thing I thought of when reading that wikipedia article -- how neatly everything was stacked against the man who got hanged in that case!

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The EATS Act is not a power grab. It is only a violation of states rights in the extremely weak sense that it violates Maryland's rights to have to allow people with Virginia driver's licenses to drive in Maryland, or that it violates Texas's rights to have to recognize marriages (even gay ones!) performed in California. It is true that states aren't sovereign nations, being part of the United States means there are some limitations on states rights. One of those limitations is that states don't get to regulate things that happen in other states. California grossly violated that principle. California engaged in an outrageous power grab. California undemocratically used its market power to impose its preferred policy on the rest of the country. That is not how federalism is supposed to work. And Congress is rightly stepping in to correct the problem.

I'll also note that when the republicans talk about banning interstate travel for abortions, liberals are (rightly) happy to rely on this principle that states don't get to regulate activities that occur outside their borders. If you want to toss the principle in the name of animals, you will loose it when it comes to abortions too. And who knows how many other issues? Is this a trade you really want to make?

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Regarding the elimination of advanced math classes for equity reasons, I'm short of time right now so I haven't and am not going to research this much for now, but I've heard discussions of this type of proposal on Glenn Loury's podcast in his conversations with John McWhorter. My (again not at all educated) guess would be that they're singling out math because that's where the starkest performance disparities are and/or that's where the disparities seem to fall most along racial lines. (I can at least attest that there seems to be more of a cultural belief in a line between people who are Good At Math and those who are Bad At Math than for most other subjects.)

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3 envisions congestion pricing as applying only to visitors. But good congestion pricing applies to all drivers. It's a price mechanism for roads, not a tax on visitors. (But congestion pricing is probably more politically feasible if it applies to visitors only, sure.)

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#11 Mother Teresa...

Given: " painkillers were just generally in short supply in India during her era"

It's easy to believe she told her patients: "suffering brought people closer to God"

One wonders how many well-intentioned teachers of historical fact make this kind of mistake...

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To quickly address the other culture war link(s), regarding the London Pride speaker, I see the merits of posting about it because it's certainly disturbing but am kind of bothered that the link to the statement standing by the speaker comes from such a nakedly biased (in the anti-trans direction) journalistic source (going off on a rant about how trans people don't have anything to complain about, deliberately misgendering the controversial speaker, etc.) that I don't know how much to trust any of the facts it's claiming beyond the "punch TERFs in the face" words of the speaker. For instance, the statement issued by the organizers is ambiguous without further context: where the organizers addressing/excusing the violent criminal history, or were they acting unaware of the history and merely addressing the "punch"ing language by saying "we don't condone violence but understand the strong emotions", etc.?

In Scott's defense (possibly), I wouldn't be particularly surprised to find that there aren't any non-anti-trans-biased sources discussing this anywhere to be found, since it looks pretty embarrassing for the London Pride organizers.

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> El Salvador’s murder crackdown claims results of 90% decrease in homicides, 44% decrease in emigration to US, and 90% approval rating for president Nayyib Bukele

The 92% decrease is since the 2015 peak. Bukele has been president since 2019. There was already a 65% decrease from 2015 to 2019 (though the 2019 rate was still near-world-record), and a further 79% from 2019 to 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/696152/homicide-rate-in-el-salvador/ Idk to what extent Bukele's methods were necessary for the further decrease.

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> A commenter corrected me: painkillers were just generally in short supply in India during her era

The link here is broken.

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36. This article includes a lot of claims that I'm not capable of evaluating fully but seem fishy:

"The British Military would force lodge soldiers in the homes of suspected revolutionaries and key persons of colonial America so as to observe all their private interactions and cripple their ability to interact and organize. NSA data centers didn’t exist in Colonial America, so instead of putting Amazon Alexa in your living room, they put Corporal Alexander in your guest room."

I have never heard of this and even an article from, uh, "libertarianism.org" doesn't mention it, instead emphasizing that it was meant as a check on the ability of the federal government to maintain a standing army, since the British had used billeting as a temporary expediency for stationing soldiers in the colonies: https://www.libertarianism.org/columns/historical-context-third-amendment

"The Koran is not a 'Living Text', etc."

It's not clear to me how attentively this guy has read the (interesting!) blog post he kinks to about how Islam is much more resistant to revisionism than other religions. A lot of Islamic jurisprudence hinges not on the Koran, but on hadiths.

Yassine (the other blogger) remarks: "Unlike the Quran, hadiths are not seen as direct guidance from Allah. Instead, their reliability as a guiding lodestar is obsessively assessed in proportion to their authenticity. So some hadiths will be accepted as controlling authorities because they’re heavily corroborated by reliable narrators, while others get dismissed because they’re fourth-hand accounts on a weird topic and with a dodgy chain of transmission."

He mentions the hadiths but doesn't mention that their exact number and contents are subject to dispute: they don't constitute an "an unalterable, unamendable, non-interpretable core text" since they are not even a single undisputed text. (In practice I get the impression there's scholarly consensus, at least within individual jurisprudential schools, about which hadiths are reliable.)

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6- And after emerging from a Wikipedia dive, I now know that the 70s disco band Boney M, of Rasputin fame, is named after a television show about the character Napoleon "Boney" Bonaparte, who is the detective in the mystery novel that came up with the method used in the Murchinson Murders.

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

4. Wow, I assumed that graph had gdp per capita on the Y axis that the Chinese were failing to match us in, but nope, that's just overall GDP level. Damn, score one for democracy and the rule of law.

7. I don't mean this to be insulting or provocative to blue tribe members, but it seems as though there's also been an increase in self-righteousness, intolerance for other points of view, and a sort of quasi-puritanical thinking among young liberals as well during this same time period. I don't know that the there's a causal relationship with the data presented here, but I would bet the correlation is not zero, either.

12. What happened when the pilots had to take a dump? That truck is right beneath them; I hope that tether has a little more length to it.

18. Because certain minority groups basically wouldn't get in at all based on test scores, so you have two different factions arguing against objective measures: not-so-bright or hardworking children of the wealthy, and moderately bright minority students. And then there are useful idiots ( stillbright, but a bit naive, I suppose).

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#3 seems like it fundamentally misunderstands the point of a congestion tax. You're not trying to discourage visitors, you're trying to discourage cars.

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

Can someone find the link for #7? I can't find it on the relevant twitter page but I'm interested in looking into this further.

To be clear, I'm not skeptical of his link or something; it just that spent 20 minutes scrolling through that dudes twitter page and can't find it and I'm sure I'm just not used to using twitter

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Re: #6, Upfield's Bony novels are quite good if you can make it past the racism in the first book, which is the casual kind of days gone by, shocking to present-day sensibilities, that at the time was probably seen as slightly forward thinking, a la Huck Finn.

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#18 All these graphs regarding ivy admissions seem to have the same pattern where there is a decline of admission chance by decile until you reach the top 1% and it jumps back up massively. This seems to confirm more than anything the ol' High&Low vs Middle (HLvM) class divide that various right wingers have identified in recent years.

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The animal rights branch of effective altruism really rubs me the wrong way. All of the other cause areas are at worst a waste of resources, but farm animal suffering legislation makes other people’s lives WORSE. Cheap meat is a massive boost to marginal utility. A middle class American can afford to eat his or her favorite food every day. If you don’t want to eat meat, fine. It’s a free country. Do what you want. But when you start taking other people’s money and happiness away out of some misguided sense of responsibility, backlash is frankly deserved.

Scott is correct that the EATS Act (or some other legislation on the same topic) doesn’t protect state’s rights, but it does protect individual rights, and it’s good interstate commerce policy.

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Reading the link to the Boris Pasternak wikipedia page brings forward the wry realization that we are supposed to be retroactively upset with the CIA for anything it may have done with respect to getting that book disseminated.

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

28. Henry Ward Beecher was basically the living embodiment of the Lecherous Pastor stereotype in his personal life. Given how common that particular foible is, I just assume it's a side-effect of selecting for charismatic, personable religious leaders - Protestant congregations don't have the Catholic or Mormon thing of being able to have boring clergy because they're embedded in a much vaster organization.

Amusingly enough, it might have deep roots. I remember Barbara Tuchman's "Distant Mirror" about the 14th century said that one of the most common complaints about Friars - the wandering preachers of medieval Catholicism - is that they were lecherous.

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37. It's been suggested that the move to more female missionaries had something to do with it:

"Perlich said she doesn't know exactly why Utah's birthrate is declining faster than the national figure, but it may have something to do with the October 2012 decision by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to reduce the minimum age for female missionaries to 19 from 21.

That led to a historic influx of women serving missions and may be prompting them to wait longer to get married and start families, Perlich said. Women serve 18 months on proselyting missions around the world."


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34: This research (and many others concerning LLMs) is a bit dubious http://opensamizdat.com/posts/self_report/

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> 4: H/T @StefanFSchubert: “Forecasts used to say China would quickly overtake US GDP, but that's no longer the case”:

This is real "line goes up" territory. As I pointed out a few years back (I think 2017): If China's current growth trajectory continued then China would be 50% of the world's economy by about 2030. I find this on its face less likely than China experiencing the kind of secular percentage slowing that happens as most economies become more advanced.

Remember, as an economy grows the raw amount of output increase needed to get an 8% growth rate increases. For example, if an economy has $10,000 GDP per capita then to get a 10% rate it needs $1,000 the first year, $1,100 the next year, and so on to maintain the 10%. If it simply maintains the $1,000 per year then the percent increase will slowly decrease. (This is likewise why, despite having a much lower growth rate, the average American gains more wealth each year than the average Chinese person.)

This is without getting into the Middle Income Trap or the structure of the Chinese economy and how much it looks like the other advanced parts of East Asia. Just thirty years behind and much bigger. And the way the rest of East Asia got out of that trap was compromising with their trade partners, opening themselves up to foreign services (especially in finance), and political reform. None of which seems like an option for China.

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> 18: Previous work showed that after adjusting for selection bias, “what college you go to doesn’t matter” for average earnings. I was always skeptical of this - are all those rich people sending their kids to Ivies for no reason? Now Chetty, Deming, and Friedman find that: [...] One of the authors, David Deming, has a Substack here where he explains the study in more depth. Like everyone else, this study also finds that rich people are using “holistic admissions” and the de-emphasis of standardized testing to gain an advantage: [...] H/T Nate Silver, who writes: “Not sure how you can look at this data, ostensibly be interested in either meritocracy or equality, and want to move away from standardized tests. It's the subjective measures that are most slanted in favor of the rich kids.” Cf. Erik Hoel.

The idea college prestige didn't matter was always a lie. If they did not know it was a lie it was because they had motivation to avoid the obvious truth of the matter. More likely, they were just avoiding an unpleasant truth because they benefitted from the hypocrisy.

The "smart" argument for why it doesn't disadvantage people who don't get in is that it's an advantage but only for kids from backgrounds where they wouldn't have those advantages otherwise. In which case they've accidentally admitted that there are advantages that you won't get at other schools. In which case prestige does matter and they are effectively transferring those benefits. It is a simple logical contradiction to say that Ivy admission helps overcome disadvantage but also it's not an advantage. The argument requires literal doublethink.

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> 19: From @data_depot: “In 2002, 48% of Americans said "the govt is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves." 52% said "it is run for the benefit of all people." In 2020, 84% said the govt is run by a few big interests. Only 16% said it is run for the benefit of all people.” [...] Source seems to be here, which reveals 2002 was a local peak in trust in government; maybe because of post-9/11 unity, but even 2000 was 34%, much better than our current 16%. My first instinct is to attribute this to a rise in vulgar Marxism, in the sense of everyone (even conservatives) now being trained to think in terms of an elite class screwing over everyone else (cf my review of Manufacturing Consent). But there was a previous low of 19% in 1994, which doesn’t seem to correspond to anything especially bad going on in the US, so I don’t know.

The trend line needs to go back further to understand what happened. American trust in government was roughly 70-80% for most of the post-war era until Johnson. Then there was a sharp decline to about 50% that continued into the Nixon era (with Watergate causing another dramatic drop).

It then settled into a pattern where it hovered around 20-30% except when a conservative was in power where it could go up to 40% since hardcore conservatives would approve of the government in general when their side was in charge. There was a brief burst of unity and good sentiment which was ruined first by Clinton's scandals then the War on Terror becoming unpopular. And since then we've hovered around 20% with both liberals and conservatives distrusting the government even when their side is in charge.

It's quite clear to see what causes the line to go up or down. When the national leadership is upright in its conduct and doesn't lie to the public it goes up. When they lie, or are perceived to have lied, or they act corrupt or have scandals it goes down. You can very often see specific dips tracking specific scandals even from the already low level. (Interestingly, weaponization and lying seem to matter far more than failures or even material issues like recessions. Probably could do a time series and work that out if I was a researcher.)

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> 24: The Republicans are considering weakening PEPFAR, a program which saved millions of lives by providing cheap anti-AIDS medication to Africa, based on concerns that some of the money might be going to abortions (this doesn’t seem to be happening in a meaningful way).

PEPFAR doesn't fund abortions but does fund organizations that fund abortions. The program was originally started by Bush and, like Bush, was fairly conservative. It promoted abstinence only education and would not touch most people who did abortions. Then Obama came into office and brought PEPFAR in line with his own policy preferences such that, by the 2013 renewal, it was teaching more liberal safe sex standards. As well as partnering with organizations that provide abortions. This included exempting PEPFAR from the Mexico City rule which could have otherwise blocked some cooperation with organizations that provide abortions.

Trump tried to basically cancel the entire program but after he lost that fight kind of shrugged and ignored it. Now Republicans have dug in their heels and want it reformed but, since the Democrats won't return the program to its earlier conservative bent, are willing to just let it die.

Personally, I think that funding contraception and all that is a worthwhile goal and that if you want to fight AIDS you have to go where AIDS is. But I'd appreciate if everyone would stop lying about this. I also understand the political dynamics that encourage lying. But I don't have to like being lied to.

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"I imagine Mormon girls gasping in shock at how not respectable Trump's "grab her by the pussy" take was, and slowly drifting ever outward towards progressivism... buying contraceptive and deciding to do "One more degree" or get just that much more established, or pursue an Urban career just that much further, recoiling in horror at the improper aggression with which Roe v. Wade was overturned, or the vulgarity of conservative politics as she veers further and further left and Mormon birth rates decline further and further below replacement."

Does this guy know any religious women? Because if you're in your early 20s and deciding "Hey, I think I'll go to the doctor for contraceptives and then sleep around like a ho", it's not down to "well really now that politician is not a gentleman!" but because you're young, in a sex-saturated culture, you're horny, and there are people who want to sleep with you and you want to sleep with them. If your religiosity is only that, it's not a strong enough anchor to hold you fast against the current of the world.

I've seen a lot of wacky things pinned on Trump but "Mormons Go Wild" wasn't what I expected on the bingo card, I have to say.

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> 29: Gwern: why hasn’t AI-generated music taken off in the same way as AI-generated art or AI-generated text? He thinks it’s a combination of copyright, low demand, and technical difficulty.

Because there's no money in music. In unit cost terms each song listen gets you roughly a fifth of a cent. That means there's not even that much room for a spread. If you're using ChatGPT to generate lyrics on the fly you're actually losing money since it'd cost about six cents to generate the lyrics. And that's before you generate music or anything else.

I have (and have had since before the AI boom) a utility that generates corporate background music for video presentations. I specifically chose this because the music is so formulaic and because it has an actual use case in those corporate videos. Everyone always says it's a cool idea and I do get some mileage out of it. But it competes with buying stock music. And when push comes to shove they buy the stock music and cut it in.

In gross terms: The cut off to be a top ten earning artist from streams/music sales is like $10 million. Taylor swift only makes about $60 million and she's double the #2 spot. And to be honest, Taylor Swift or Drake don't get people to buy their music because their music is just the greatest music ever. It's because they're celebrities. And no AI model is going to get the kind of loyalty Drake gets from his money giveaways or Taylor gets from her private sessions.

Music really is a celebrity game. I could write about that for a long time honestly.

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> But there was a previous low of 19% in 1994, which doesn’t seem to correspond to anything especially bad going on in the US, so I don’t know.

I just finished listening to a 10+ hour Scott Horton podcast on Waco. There may have been recent, salient reasons for people to be skeptical of government acting in the interests of its people.

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24. PEPFAR was about getting the UN to support invading Iraq and CYA and profits for Big Pharma after American government defended their patents in Africa as Cipla and DWB and various countries decided to break the patents in order to save lives. PEPFAR for years spent $5 billion a year on $500 million worth of HIV medications.

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Regarding LK-99, I'm really wondering what's up with the videos purporting to show flux pinning. Apparently one of them is an admitted fake. Should we just conclude all of them are probably fake...?

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

19. Wouldn't you say it's more likely that the loss of faith is because the US political system seems uniquely suited to ignoring the concerns of everyday Americans? There's a two party system, ineffective Congress, unambitious regulators, widening inequality, loss of economic prospects, and no political will to change any of it.

(Basically, all the reasons Trump *actually* got elected)

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

Growth mindset doesn't replicate... Yet. Growth mindset.

(I just like saying "yet; growth mindset!" even if it's not real. it's funny)

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Growth mindset has hugely benefitted me, personally. But I'm happy to accept that it has a negligible expected impact for others.

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37. As a Mormon myself who recently had two kids to prop up the birthrate, I’ll share my “on-the-ground” impression: the big, palpable, elephant-in-the-room change going on in the last few years is that the population is moving to cheap Utah/Arizona/Texas/Nevada and out of California and other more expensive regions. This change is massive. Probably HALF the Mormons in SoCal have left in the last decade.

Is there some degree to which some fertility is lost by being too “close to the vortex of the progressive-liberal-urban monoculture” in the wake of Trump? Some, sure. But I am much more likely to attribute any drop in birth rates to the easily observable phenomenon of people moving than anything else that I’m not observing en masse. Perhaps they are less settled, they don’t know where their family will be in a few years, uprooting disrupts social connections and impairs new family formation, etc. Plenty of potential causal pathways there.

And as far as I can tell, the whole “Mormon fertility has gone off a cliff in the last 5 years” story is really only based on Utah birth rates dropping. Now, that may be a reasonable proxy in most circumstances, but I haven’t seen any actual numbers that are specifically reflective of Mormons and not Utahns. Given that the makeup of Utah is changing so rapidly at the moment, I think this adds a lot of uncertainty to the use of this proxy.

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sort of disappointing that the only choices given are 'is government run for the benefit of a few big interests...or the benefit of all?' how about 'for the benefit of government regulators?' No one thinks the FDA is run for the benefit of 'a few big interests' or for the benefit of 'all'-- it's run for the benefit of the FDA regulators and managers. Why should we think the case is any different with the State Dept. or 'Health and Human Services'?

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I think Scott’s position on 19 about people thinking government serves the 1% through corruption and why he doesn’t agree with this also explains why I think 18 about ivy league benefits continues to seemingly elude explanation.

The ivies are a recruiting ground for the young upper aristocracy to meet promising recruits in their future roles as heads of this and owners of that. The system is a series of hoops for poodles to jump through and whoever jumps through the hoops the best without touching the edges is considered to have merit.

Those young ambitious hoop jumping commoners who also manage to succeed in the arena of explicitly not taught soft skills of befriending and impressing your ‘betters’ end up doing very woo for themselves. Tim Ferriss is an example of a commoner class man who deeply impressed an older wealthy man and gained sponsorship to start his fraudulently advertised smart protein powder brand which made him a multi millionaire by working 16 hour days 7 days a week for a few years.

Those who fail to gain patronage from the clucking elite pouring over them to select out the ones they want, do indeed end up with only modestly better economic outcomes. It is that simple.

Find a patron, understand the need to read between the lines, or get rejected back into the pool of other commoners to fight it out on your own with a few mild advantages as a thank you for trying.

The merit system has never applied to the aristocracy, they run it is a game, a trial, a selection method to sort out who is good enough to work for them. They want smart, compliant, and socially aware enough o understand the game and their role as prized future servants. It is so simple. Who decides what is meritorious? Who changes this over time? The poodle who is smart enough to see the hand holding the hoops they jump through can be a good boy and get a special treat. The dumb dog who thinks it is smart and rushes through every hoop blindly at top speed with straight As, gets to the end of their degree and finds no masters around to reward them as they failed to comprehend the unspoken purpose of the subtle game. The path to the special track is at the parties and secret circles where the real audition for elite approval occurs.

If we look to the various fairs, competitions, and other get together where the elite found promising lower nobles, children of merchants, and standout talents from the commoners who they could sponsor and act as patrons of…then we would find the same thing, but with fewer exams. China had this far more formalised than Europe with explicit exams for various administrative higher servant roles in ancient times, modern time too. England began to approach this level of formality in their empire.

This is a way to more mechanistically sort out the commoner class and to identity lesser administrative staff without the elite having to work or go over vast numbers of middling servants in detail. But the top servants who do the work for the elites, those are always going to be hand selected.

The easy and non academic selection is partly to ensure their own scions get into these institutions, but is primarily a different sort of selection system focusing on soft skills essential for them. In a way there is a system of competition with merit to a much lesser degree amongst the elite class, but it is around skills they don’t want any commoner to have. It is a measure of how much early investment a child receives which no poor family can emulate.

And like a mother animal tossing out the runts, those elite children who fail in even the most basic task of yachting, lacrosse, equestrian, etc. elite hobbies will not be effective soft skill members of the ruling class.

The elite select to avoid the burnouts and deeply underperforming members of their clans who get shuffled off into lives of luxury and doing nothing, while the commoners have an inverse merit selection process where instead of weeding out only the low quality ones, insets the very best hoop jumpers are selected.

This ensures enough competent servants are around to guide the continued wealth and prosperity of the elite who don’t need to be that good or competent themselves. If anything Ivies are a collective shorthand and a training ground for the young scions to learn about and play out their future roles to spend their entire lives selecting who to hire to work for them. After all, an ownership class needs to ensure quality top servants are selected, such as their CEO workers.

I’m can see why this is not more widely understood. Shifting through merit exam data and averages of earnings isn’t where one will find the answers. Why is it uneducated peasants in the 200s get this more readily than modern commoner in the 2000s? Perhaps our so called education is more indoctrination than not.

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What's the x Axis for the NYT graph in point 18? Wealth by percentile? Income? It's a dramatic increase, so I'm wondering if it is the 1% that gets this bonus or more like the 10% or .1%?

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Aug 9, 2023·edited Aug 9, 2023

30 - I posted this on his blog, but the X-inactivation story still holds up. He estimates that the X is 3.8% of the genome, but that's probably estimated on coding regions. On a basepair comparison, it's more like 4.8%, and standard texts suggest non-coding regions are probably enriched for loci affecting quantitative traits. A 4.8% figure fits the variability data better.

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> 29

My gut intuition was that OAI is probably on some really powerful next-gen jukebox, but it is not good enough to merit an update. I assume that the quality is fairly good and they surpassed the original jukebox in terms of melody, beat, "catching the vibe of a musician." However, since the actual words are not tokens but frequency combinations I imagine the new jukebox achieves even more weird artificial vocals that sort of sound like words, but are actually gibberish. In the original jukebox it already sounded haunting - I guess they don't just want to release an even realer weird sounding machinery.

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7. What I find fishy about this is that it is about 12th graders. When I was a 12th grader in the '80s, I couldn't have told you whether I was a conservative or a liberal. I doubt any of my friends could have either. There must have been a few kids at my school who could have, but I'd bet it was less than 10% of the class. Politics wasn't part of a typical high-schooler's identity in the '80s. Your identity was mostly determined by what music you listened to. So how the hell did they poll kids on this question in the '80s?

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Thomas Dixon, the author of "The Birth of a Nation", wrote a sequel titled "The Fall of a Nation", and directed it as one of the earliest movie sequels. It evolves the Kaiser conquering the US after foolish pacifists like Henry Ford delude the country into letting their guard down. A pro-war Congressman then joins up with a suffragette to overthrow them.

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PEPFAR, like the malaria nets charities seem to me to be a bit of a self-licking ice cream cone. A creepy cycle that ends with a demand for never ending support:

Step 1: Medical intervention in Africa

Step 2: Lives saved

Step 3: Population explodes

Step 4: Need more of the intervention, no progress towards supplying it internally, return to step 1.

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(9) I don't think it's accurate to say that Bush "alone fled" Chichi Jima. He was the pilot of an Avenger torpedo bomber, and attacked the radio station on Chichi Jima, with Ted White as turret gunner and John Delaney as radioman. Bush's plane was hit during the attack, and he told the others to bail out. Then, Bush bailed out, just before his plane exploded. Bush landed in the water about 4 miles from Chichi Jima and was picked up by a submarine. The others didn't survive the evacuation.

Aside from the eight prisoners killed, other flyers had been captured and evacuated to Japan. This incident is well documented in "Flyboys: A True Story of Courage", by James Bradley.

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

(18) "Attending an Ivy-Plus college instead of the average highly selective public flagship institution increases students’ chances of reaching the top 1% of the earnings distribution by 60%, nearly doubles their chances of attending an elite graduate school, and triples their chances of working at a prestigious firm."

I haven't heard whether the study authors try to separate out selection effects in admissions vs. recruiting practices by "prestigious firms" vs. effects of family connections. I expect the causality differs whether we're talking about top 1% earnings, vs. attending an elite graduate school, vs. working at a prestigious firm.

I could tell a story that the people who end up at the top of the earnings distribution, at least in some fields, get there with the help of family or family friends who help open the right doors at the right time, and that these same connections helped them get into the Ivy-Plus college in the first place.

I've read that the professors at elite graduate schools give great weight to performance at a top undergraduate program, and confess themselves unable to evaluate a top graduate from, say, Texas A&M. In these cases, the elite schools are gatekeepers to the elite graduate programs.

Many "prestigious firms" (and, I believe government offices) limit their recruiting to a small number of elite schools. They use the school to screen for "smart enough" - they don't need top scholars, nor do they need the very smartest people. They need people who are significantly smarter than average and can "fit in" to the social milieu - whether company culture or client relations. In these cases, the elite schools are gatekeepers to these firms. But smart people from less elite colleges can perform well and advance to the top of corporate hierarchies. Graduates of elite colleges are not particularly dominant in the top ranks of major corporations.

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EATS is a straight-forward application of the Commerce Clause. It is, in fact, one of the very reasons the Commerce Clause exists. The CA effort is an attempt by California to use its market power to regulate the activities of people in other states. The Commerce Clause was a reaction against tariffs and trade barriers being established by states against each other and foreign nations. The power of the United States was significantly founded on the size and scope of the free trade zone created by the Commerce Clause.

CA could ban pork containing poisons or toxins from being sold in California, as that would directly relate to the status of the pork being sold. But this law doesn't depend on the status of the pork being sold. It depends on how the pig the pork comes from was treated.

California is effectively saying "In order to import pork into the State of California, you must first import the regulations of the State of California into your state." At the time of the Founding, it was laws exactly in this vein that created animosity between states, and why Congress was granted authority over this field.

As for the abortion issue mentioned elsewhere, any state, but let's use Texas, could make it a felony to perform, facilitate or support an abortion and not include a statute of limitations. Then an abortion doctor travels from California to Florida, with a stopover in Dallas. In Dallas, she is arrested for the abortions done in California, because her conduct is criminal in Texas and she entered Texas having committed felonies under Texas law while in California.

In exactly the same way pork producers in Texas are prohibited from selling in California because their farm operations violate California law (and not being allowed to sell is the punishment for not following this law), abortions performed in California violate Texas law and once the Dr. enters Texas she is subject to arrest.

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#5 My understanding of Libertarianism (but I'm not a Libertarian's) is that if you argue practical benefits, you are just another neo Liberal, not a Libertarian. Looks like an interesting discussion.

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#18: I'm interested in understanding the mechanism that could cause such a sudden uptick in ratings for the top 1%. I can easily imagine many mechanisms that would cause a steady increase from left to right, but the sudden uptick surprises me, to the extent that I wonder if it's some kind of statistical artefact.

The only thing I can come up with is that there's some genuinely useful social skills that the upper class understand but the rest of us miss out on. The upper middle class teaches their children to work hard to succeed within the system, while the upper class teaches their children to see through the Matrix, to understand the social dynamics that governs every system, to cultivate people as assets regardless of your own personal feelings about them, and to smoothly climb the ladders that the rest of us can't even see.

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In a victory for inclusivity Elvis was the first Jewish shabbos goy.

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AI music *will* take off as soon as AI human-like robots are performing live. I'll give 5 to 1, 2 years. they'll start as backups for name acts. the problem is establishing a recognized oeuvre.

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

Re (9), I was disappointed that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chichijima_incident didn't say what Tachibana et. al. ate _with_ POW liver. Presumably not "fava beans and a nice chianti". Maybe saké ?

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2. Davidic Dynasty? As likely as finding the descendants of of Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanoff, Grand Duchess of Russia. For much the same reason. Jews have seldom been able to live peaceably in one place for long periods of time. The Holocaust was not the first persecution, just the biggest, most systematic, and most recent.

In those circumstances records are lost, families are broken up, and new identities are assumed. The odds of preserving a genealogy over 2000 years in those circumstances are vanishingly close to zero. Further, the incentives for making stuff up to improve your lot in life are enormous.

The fictional Dr. Gregory House: “It’s a basic truth of the human condition, that everybody lies."

My wife's family fled Vienna in 1939 after Kristalnacht. Her Uncle told his children that they were descended from the Esterházys*. Which is pure nonsense. Kind of sad, but kind of funny. For the record, my wife has documents. They were working class Jews from a Bohemian town east of Prague. We went there. We saw their graves.


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RE: 36 and 37. KulakRevolt has a talent for lurid prose, but his factual accuracy has suffered even as he ascends to Twitter fame. Some Motte discussion of his take on the 3rd Amendment [here](https://www.themotte.org/post/579/teach-a-man-to-revolt-dreams).

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13. "Elvis Was Our Shabbos Goy: Some people lean on neighbors for a cup of sugar. The Fruchters, of Memphis, Tennessee, needed theirs to help them keep the Sabbath". https://www.tabletmag.com/podcasts/vox-tablet/elvis-was-our-shabbos-goy

The second link is correct Elvis was not a Jew. But, he was a Mensch who had a lot of Jewish colleagues and friends. BTW, Louis Armstrong wore a star of David in honor of the Jewish family who took him in as a child and lent him money to buy his first cornet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Armstrong

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In regard to item 22, "Cambridge MA schools decide to stop teaching advanced math, because some students can’t understand it and so it would be “inequitable”", you say "I don’t understand this even on its own terms". Let me squawk like an economist and say that you're not paying attention to the incentives that people face. If the *reported difference* in achievement between white students and black students in Cambridge schools gets too high, the administrators and teachers will feel the heat. And while it may be difficult to raise the achievement of black students, it's not difficult to reduce the achievement of white students.

This general principle shows up in a lot of places because the appearance of fairness is valued a lot more than the absolute value that people receive. That sounds stupid until you realize that people are fundamentally fighting over their place in the the status rankings of society, not their absolute well-being. They're perfectly willing to pay $1 if everybody else loses $2. Of course, in this case, white parents have unfair alternatives, but those alternatives don't show up in the statistics by which school administrators are judged.

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10: El Salvador’s murder crackdown. Some American politician is going to do that and become very popular.

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7. Since the very beginning of leftist radicalism its attraction has been religious in nature. It proposed an apocalypse -- the Revolution -- that would lead to a paradise on earth: communism. They could be optimistic because they thought that the revolution was historically inevitable and that human nature could be reformed and perfected thereafter.

The collapse of the Soviet Union killed that dream. The one they took up after it is the environmental apocalypse, that can only be prevented by reforming humanity. A task that may be impossible. Redemption is no longer inevitable. Now they are becoming despondent.

Conservatives have never believed that humanity could be redeemed by its own actions. They have believed that not strait thing can be made from the crooked timber of humanity. They believe that happy is the man who puts his trust in Jacob's god (Ps. 146:5). They can be happy. They can look at mankind and laugh.

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18 & 22. Are different sides of the same coin.

18: "H/T Nate Silver, who writes: “ ... It's the subjective measures that are most slanted in favor of the rich kids.”

22. "Critics note that Cambridge parents’ only option to give their kids a full education will now be to private-school or home-school them."

You would almost think that it is a vicious strategy to keep the poor people down.

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Perhaps the Chinese GDP trend is explained partially by biased statistics? If growth is 4% each year but you say it is 5%, at first no one will be able to call you on it but after many years it'll be obvious you've been exaggerating, since the gap will grow.

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Wasn’t Ravens the IQ test that autists tended to do better on relative to other tests? I think Michelle Dawson suggested that was the case in her CWT, and that it was especially true for autists that were not very verbal. But I haven’t seen anything else on the topic since then.

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WARNING for the Pequod: almost all its fiction reviews include MAJOR SPOILERS, from revealing one big twist to detailed plot summaries.

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Re 4: Goldman Sachs is not in the economics mainstream, and no growth economist paid attention to what GS said.

The default assumption was always that once its catch-up growth petered out, China would have great difficulty transitioning to a frontier-of-productivity growth regime because of structural factors, demographics, and antiproductive institutions. (Not just counterproductive, antiproductive.)

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Greater variability in whichever gender has dissimilar sex chromosomes could be down to reversed causality: perhaps in species for which one gender would benefit from variability, there's an evolutionary incentive to develop mechanisms to provide such variability, _one_ of which is dissimilar chromosomes.

This would explain why Kierkegaard finds the chromosomes aren't the whole story: they're just one mechanism among several, all of which confer advantage.

(This is pure armchair reasoning though. I can think of lots of plausible stories for why variability would be beneficial, but I don't know if they're true in practice for the species in question).

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The Kaiserist dystopia is provocative in a good way as in making us look at our society from a new angle. However, the dystopia's author perspective is that of a middle- (or even upper-) class person, and people working 12 hours a day or more, starving in Ireland or being driven from the land they had lived on for centuries probably wouldn't have said that that was the time of great liberty.

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

I was never much impressed by Snopes but crikey, they've really gone downhill: uncritically accepting claims that are very dubious:

"Again, names often tell a story and two of Martha’s brothers were given Jewish names, Sidney and Jerome"

Well, gosh: I guess that means Sidney Poitier is Jewish? Jerome K. Jerome must be double-Jewish? And naturally Saint Jerome must be the most Jewish of all!

"According to Max Wallace and Jonathan Goldstein, authors of "Schmelvis: In Search of Elvis Presley's Jewish Roots," Nancy Burdine “probably” came from a family that immigrated from Lithuania around the time of the American Revolution."

That "probably" is doing a lot of work. And they can definitely pin down that the Burdines (whatever the original spelling or form of the name) who emigrated around 1776 are the same family as Nancy Burdine's family, can they? Because two damn seconds looking it up tells me:

"The surname Burdine was first found in Brittany (French: Bretagne), where the family held a family seat from ancient times" and "The most Burdine families were found in USA in 1880. In 1840 there were 6 Burdine families living in South Carolina. This was about 20% of all the recorded Burdines in the USA" and "BURDINE Name Meaning Altered form of French Bourdin. History: This surname is listed along with its original form Bourdin in the (US) National Huguenot Society's register of qualified Huguenot ancestors."

So - Lithuanian Jews or French Huguenots? Your guess is as good as mine, but not for Snopes, apparently.

"So Presley’s maternal great-great grandmother was Jewish"

So we get from "probably" and "had names that could be Jewish if you think of them in that way" to "she was and so he was". *Even* if that was true, and his great-great-grandmother was 100% Jewish, then Gladys would have been one-eighth Jewish and Elvis one-sixteenth. That's "real Cherokee Princess" levels, and we don't even know if Nancy *was* 100% Jewish.

Which I am going to think was not the case because, uh, her dad was a minister:


"Nancy J Burdine


Abt. 1805 - Saltillo, Lee, Mississippi, USA


1860 - Saltillo, Lee, Mississippi, United States


Susannah Tarrant


Reverend John Fletcher Burdine

Born in Saltillo, Lee, Mississippi, USA on Abt. 1805 to Reverend John Fletcher Burdine and Susannah Tarrant. Nancy J Burdine married Abner Hampton Tackett and had 7 children. She passed away on 1860 in Saltillo, Lee, Mississippi, United States."

Reverend Burdine was born in South Carolina, which matches up with what is said above about the Burdines in the USA and I'm going to go out on a limb here and propose that the descendant of French Huguenots is more likely to become a Protestant clergyman than the descendant of Lithuanian Jews, call me crazy, I know, it's a wild guess!

Whatever money Snopes is making, pay me about half of that for twice the accuracy!

EDIT: Genealogy is fascinating; another website says that Abner Tackett was born in South Carolina (so that matches up with the Burdines) and Nancy's daughter Martha was born in Mississippi.


Though that may be wrong, because another site says he was born in 1803 in Kentucky. Given this variance, I'm dubious about "we were able to trace back to 1776" on accuracy of which Burdines (Bourdons, etc.) were which. Because this article claims Abner was never married to Nancy at all, he had two other spouses, so even if Nancy was Jewish, she's not related to Elvis at all!


"I utilized the extensive tools and records available at Ancestry.com and started my search for Elvis’ roots by building a family tree for him. Starting with Elvis’ date of birth and using what information I could find on him; I was able to build the tree out to the point where the rumour about Nancy Burdine starts.

Whether Elvis is Jewish comes down to one critical fact… who was Elvis’ great great grandmother? Was it Nancy J. Burdine or great great grandfather Abner Tackett’s first wife, Celia Ann Butler? Which one was the actual mother of Elvis’ great grandmother Martha Sue Tackett?

...By the 1870 Federal Census Abner is living in Lee County, Mississippi with Sarah Willett, who, according to the Mississippi U.S. Compiled Marriage Index 1776-1935, becomes his second wife in July of 1873. Living with them are the two of the younger Tackett children, Sidney and Jerome and three other children. Of the three other children, one is a 13-year-old boy, who could either be a previous child of Sarah or possibly her much younger sibling, and the other two are younger children, presumably children of Abner and Sarah. Martha married Albert White Mansell in January of 1870 and is living next door to the rest of the family at the time of the 1870 census.

...What I also didn’t find was any record that shows a Nancy J. Burdine in the life of Abner, Celia, or any of the children. I found many Nancy J. Burdine records, but none that had any sourced connection to the Tackett family."

I'm wondering about this cousin Oscar who said he was at school in Tennessee with Nancy and that she was Jewish:

"According to Elvis’ third cousin Oscar Tackett (who shared the same ancestors Abner and Nancy), Nancy was Jewish. She and Abner had met as schoolmates in Tennessee". Was he just embroidering a family story? Was he claiming to be related to the big famous star? Who knows?

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> "Attending an Ivy-Plus college instead of the average highly selective public flagship institution increases students’ chances of reaching the top 1% of the earnings distribution by 60%, nearly doubles their chances of attending an elite graduate school, and triples their chances of working at a prestigious firm. Ivy-Plus colleges have much smaller causal effects on average earnings, reconciling our findings with prior work."

I'm confused here. The authors found no effect on mean incomes between their two cohorts (waitlist admits/rejects), but show that the chances of being in the top 1% of incomes go up substantially. Doesn't this imply that the Ivy-Plus cohort also was overrepresented at the lower end of income (or at least, there must be some range in which the non-Ivy group outperforms the Ivy group for income to make the means the same)? I wasn't able to find any discussion of this from the authors, but it seems peculiar.

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While I generally think it vastly more probably that Eliezer will win his bet than not, I think he discounts a fairly obvious and plausible scenario for how aliens might generally remain hidden but occasionally fly around in big sighted biologically piloted craft that crash: the alien laws specify that they should not interfere with us, but occasionally individual aliens piloting their personal joy-craft disregard the law in favor of skimming by earth so they can freak out the primitives. The law is probably such that outright revealing yourself will get you caught and harshly punished, but UFO style sighting are hard to detect and/or prove in court. Alternatively, the aliens are running a primitive society tour and occasionally the tour boats malfunction because the company is skimping on maintenance costs in a misguided attempt to improve profit margins, thus rendering their craft either temporarily visible or causing them to crash.

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Small possible correction on point 22, near as I can tell from Google, Sarah Jane Baker has not raped anyone, and was in fact raped herself. Possible I missed a story that was buried by Google, but I read a lot of articles to check. Unless you have a source for rapist, I suggest you cross our that word. Everything else is accurate, and imo inexcusable.

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35 Ravens is a TERRIBLE IQ test for a reason not mentioned by Jensen. If you could get a culture-blind test at the expense problems mentioned in the link, that would be a great tradeoff. I assume everyone using it knows these problems and thinks it's a great tradeoff. But the real problem is that it has a huge learning effect. This is particularly bad for cross-cultural comparisons and negates its whole purpose. It is the least culture-blind test and thus good for nothing.

We would like IQ tests to be a measure of what people can learn. But the fact that everyone gets much better at Ravens after taking it, without even seeing the answers, shows that it is about things that are very easy to learn. People who score highly on it are probably people who have been exposed to the kind of problems before. If it were a measure of expensive years of education/exposure, that would be good for something, but it might be just a measure of superficial exposure. In particular, people who do very badly on it, like people in the third world or people in the developed world before the Flynn effect, probably can be quickly brought up to speed.

Jensen mentions test-retest reliability. That should include the learning effect, but particular measurements might not if they just define it as correlation. Moreover, he assumes it away by interpreting the failure of reliability as noise. The first comment on the post, by Emil Kierkegaard, mentions the learning effect as perhaps a bigger problem than the problems Jensen mentions, but I think he really underplays the problem.

"The rule-dependence model explains the commonalities between the

Flynn effect and IQ gains via retesting" by Elijah L. Armstrong and Michael A. Woodley


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Silly observation perhaps, but re: 19, looking at the long-term graph, I find it deeply ironic that the previous local maximum in trust in government being (literally) 1984. TINACBNIEAC

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18. I'm personally skeptical of the interpretation that the Ivy League increasing one's chance of being in the top 1% by 60% is important. I haven't read the full study yet but I've skimmed it and read the earlier Dale & Krueger study that found no result for the average student. This is anecdotal, but the students that I knew who went to Ivy Leagues (this is mostly in the last few years) were treating it as a safety net preventing low incomes or a raise to the median income, not a better chance of getting a high income. Claiming that this result then validates societal preferences feels like moving the goalposts. I'm also skeptical of a few bits of the methodology, although again I need to look into this more and it's on my list of things to read. The big one is that they compare waitlist admits to other people on the waitlist; all the things I read when applying to college a few years ago say that waitlist admits aren't random.

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

Tyler's congestion pricing claim confuses me. I've mostly understood congestion pricing as being a tax on cars, whether they are owned by a resident or not, and usually applied to something like a highway or bridge or tunnel, not a neighborhood. Maybe I haven't been paying attention, but I can't say I've seen a lot of YIMBYs say that locals should be exempted.

edit: his original Bloomberg article (https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2023-07-08/new-york-s-congestion-pricing-plan-is-bad-economics?sref=htOHjx5Y) also seems weird since congestion pricing is a thing primarily applied to cars (trains into NYC from the suburbs already have differential pricing for peak times!) and *encourages* more people to be there, since cars are so bad for a big city and take up so much space.

edit 2: he says that demand curves slope downward, but the capacity of cars is low so the total number of people being discouraged from going in at all isn't that high (the fact that alternatives already exist also make this slop very low). I think this ends up being outweighed by the increased desirability of the city itself.

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Once had a patient walk up to my (pharmacy) consultation window and start with "so I accidentally mixed bleach and ammonia", didn't even let them finish, told them they need to go (literally next door where there was a hospital) to the ER NOW.

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Per #24, on PEPFAR, I looked into it, and my summary of the situation is different from Scott's. Basically, it's not about PEPFAR funds being used for abortions, as far as I can tell -- it's about PEPFAR funds being used for pro-choice advocacy in foreign countries. Republicans are being pressured by pro-life advocacy groups that care about this, and have a lot of sway over Republican voters. Hopefully it's okay for me to repost a comment from a previous thread, since it's relevant here, too:

>> Looks like the pro-life groups object to PEPFAR funds being used to lobby foreign governments to enact pro-choice legislation. That seems like a pretty normal stance for a political advocacy group to take: "We will rate you badly if you vote to give money to groups who lobby against our cause." The specific organizations they accuse of doing this are Population Services International, Village Reach and Pathfinder International. Who knows whether it's true or not. Seems like a screwed-up situation.

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For 35: Raven's, it's important to note the definition of "good IQ test" when you say Raven's is not one. The definition of "good IQ test" is "correlates well with established IQ batteries, which often test vocab and math". It's no surprise that Raven's correlates less well with an IQ battery that tests math and vocab than math and vocab tests do.

As I often remark, there is no such thing as "True Intelligence" and just because all IQ tests correlate it does not follow that you can statistically extract the One True IQ and have it be independent of the choice of battery. The g factor is dependent on the battery choice.

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Aug 10, 2023·edited Aug 10, 2023

Number 6 reminds me of a Dave Barry anecdote. He was staying with his friend, mystery author Ridley Pearson, while he was on a book tour or vacation or something, when the two of them went to the grocery store. While they were grinding coffee at the in-store grinder, Pearson suddenly paused, stared at the grinder, and said something like, "You could put poison in the grinder," (or in the beans, I can't remember), "and later someone would come along, grind some beans, and end up being poisoned. It would be untraceable." Then he went his merry way, leaving Barry standing there thinking about how he was a guest in this man's house.

ETA: found the story! https://www.miamiherald.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/dave-barry/article1937843.html

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37 one more time: It is not necessary to bring in any Mormon-specific cultural theory to explain the drop in their fertility rate, since they are following the same trajectory of other late-starting groups.

It is a characteristic of the demographic transition (the transition from women having many children to having on average 2.1 children or below) that groups which start the transition late, usually move faster to low fertility than groups who started the transition earlier. So if Mormons kept their fertility high longer than other faiths in the US, their transition to low fertility should happen more rapid than among US faiths that started the transition earlier.

We see this pattern also between countries. Fertility decline has been much more rapid in Middle East countries during the last two decades than the earlier, comparable fertility decline in Europe. In short: Start late, and you move faster to low fertility.

The demographic transition is also characterized by hierarchical diffusion: Urban high-educated women reduce their fertility first, rural women and women with lower education reduce their fertility later. But they eventually do.

With regard to Hasidic versus secular Jews in Israel, Hasidic Jews have much higher fertility, but the trend is downward [edit: if takes into consideration that there is net transition out of the Hasidic community]. The most traditional Hasidic communities are losing members to less-traditional forms (that is, quite a lot of young members leave the most traditional communities, and there are few who convert in). This is likely to speed up fertility decline, since less-traditional versions of a faith (almost any faith) is correlated with lower fertility.

I do not know of there is also significant net conversion from Mormonism, at least in its most traditional forms, to more "modern" Mormonism and/or other faiths (including the faith of non-faith). If so, this is an added factor that will speed up fertility decline among people born into the Mormon faith. Could be interesting to know.

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16. "UFOs...it’s unlikely that any civilization advanced enough..."

Based on what I know and don't about all space-faring alien races' psychology and history, I'd say it's just a likely they all pilot saucer-shaped craft with a transparent bubble canopy top(coincidentally like 50s sci-fi).

I mean who wouldn't. : )

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37 Literally the first line seems very dubious.

'The only subcultures that have managed to achieve above replacement fertility at average incomes above 5-10k are Jewish Conservatives and American Conservatives.'

As if they have analysed all subcultures in every country and discounted every one - checking that every group above 10k average income has <2.1 TFR. It's such a transparently made up fact.

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Aug 11, 2023·edited Aug 11, 2023

18: `Ivy plus' seems like a weird grouping to me, because it is three tier. In particular it groups (Harvard, Stanford, MIT, Princeton, Yale), which are clearly super-elite institutions, with (Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth) which, to my mind, are decidedly not. Does the data allow finer grained resolution regarding whether any of the purported `far tail' benefits actually accrue to the lesser Ivies? My mental model says that (Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth) will look no better (and perhaps worse) than (UMichigan, UCBerkeley, UTAustin) with regards to `far right tail.' I'm not sure about (Penn, Columbia, Duke, UChicago) - those to my mind are `more prestigious than the flagship publics, but not THAT much more prestigious.'

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Also 18: Re: `are all those rich people sending their kids to Ivies for no reason' - it is theoretically conceivable that `kid attends Ivy league school' is a status symbol, same as a Rolex watch only more expensive, and that rich people were going it for bragging rights.

I don't believe it though. It may not boost earnings power, but on some level the conclusions about `far right tail' are kinda obvious. e.g. two schools seem to have produced eight of nine justices on the SCOTUS.

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Aug 11, 2023·edited Aug 11, 2023

On point #22, I’d recommend switching the second link to something that doesn’t misgender the activist. From a very quick google search, it seems like this article fits the bill: https://www.gbnews.com/news/trans-activist-arrested-after-telling-rally-of-supporters-to-punch-feminists

It’s a quick fix that, IMO, will make people on the left WAY more likely to listen to what you’re saying and actually stop having such speakers.

For point #30, an even quicker fix is to switch “females” to “women” in the first sentence (or alternatively, switch “men” to “males”). r/menandfemales is a good illustration of how some readers might ding you for it otherwise.

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>London’s Pride parade featured a convicted kidnapper/torturer/rapist/sadist as a speaker, who advocated that anti-trans people should be “punch[ed] in the f**king face” ; the organizers say they stand by her.

The person has now apparently been arrested for making threats.

Also, Scott's description is incorrect. It wasn't a threat against people—it was "TERFs." Isn't it funny how people like this always only want to hurt women?

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I am the author of 31., the post on germicidal far-UVC for air disinfection and pandemic mitigation. If anyone has questions, let me know!

Scott, thanks for the shoutout. Your tl;dr is fairly accurate, I am only confused where you got the “UV air filters would have fewer safety concerns but be less effective.” from. I don't mention UV air filters in the post but make a comparison to indoor air purifiers (with regular HEPA filters). Those are quite common and are fairly cheap and useful, although probably less effective at getting rid of airborne pathogens (depending on the UV dose you are comparing them to).

Fwiw air purifiers with UV also exist but I don't see any reason to use them instead of regular air purifiers with HEPA filters.

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Re: Advanced Math - The program being cut is a parallel math track for talented students that ends with taking Algebra 1 in 8th grade instead of 9th. The reason that advanced math is being cut and not any other advanced subject is that math is the only subject with an advanced track. A voracious reader can't take Advanced English, and history buffs don't have a separate track that gives them an ends with them taking high school history in middles school. Math isn't being restricted compared to other subjects, kids who are talented at math are just no longer being offered a perk that kids who are talented at other subjects were never offered. I still don't support axing the program - I was in a similar program myself and think it was beneficial - but this should provide additional context.

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> Paramedic. Elderly woman complains that her mouth is dry and she felt a bit dizzy climbing the stairs earlier. Go through the whole rigamarole of getting a medical history, vitals, more detail on symptoms. Ask her what she's had to drink today.

> A cup of tea, ten hours ago.

> Any water? No.

> Guess what fixed it within five minutes.

This is something I think more people should be aware of. I once passed out and fell down (two to three) stairs due to dehydration. It is not well known that dizziness (and blacking-out vision) is a symptom of dehydration. (Dry mouth... I think most people are aware that drinking water can help with that.)

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It's misleading to call the event which platformed Sarah Jane Barker "London's pride parade" when it isn't the largest or most notable pride parade there.

London Trans+ Pride is orders of magnitude smaller and younger than Pride in London.

Looks like the story is that a breakaway group of hardliners are willing to platform* unsavoury people. I'm not enormously shocked by this revelation.

*or not deplatform? Looks like she wasn't an official speaker

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The Murchison Murders thing is a bit like what happens in Robert Galbraith's novel The Silkworm, where a writer writes a book where his self insert is murdered in a specific and gruesome way, and then he is murdered in that way. If someone wants to reply to this with a spoiler for the book for some reason, someone should encode it in rot13 cipher.

I mean, I realize it's not as noteworthy when it happens in a book instead of real life.

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"32: Jake Selinger, currently dying of cancer with “a few weeks or months” left to live"

I appreciate the link, but my last name is actually Seliger!

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