Any data set that claims South Korea has only had 2 cults is wildly off. Cults are Korean pasttime.

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Yeah, I grew up in a cult that's still around today (under different management, as they say) in central Virginia. Having lmy formative years lived within the ebbs and flows of flower child hubris, I'd not wish it upon anyone contra Thiele etc.

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Re 38:

> The same study also claims there’s no correlation between “intellectual compatibility” and relationship satisfaction

I presume his is *after* people having self-selected themselves into a relationship (afaict from the abstract. Didn't read the full text because paywall.)

Obligatory reminder that there is no correlation between height and performance in the NBA for similar reasons. If you're short and in the NBA, it means you're exceptional in other ways. If a couple has a 40 point IQ difference, it means they're clicking really well on some other axis.

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With regards to #11, the quote from Paul Krugman is:

"The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in 'Metcalfe's law'–which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants–becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's."

This article (https://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-responds-to-internet-quote-2013-12) has a response from Krugman about it:

"First, look at the whole piece. It was a thing for the Times magazine's 100th anniversary, written as if by someone looking back from 2098, so the point was to be fun and provocative, not to engage in careful forecasting; I mean, there are lines in there about St. Petersburg having more skyscrapers than New York, which was not a prediction, just a thought-provoker.

But the main point is that I don't claim any special expertise in technology -- I almost never make technological forecasts, and the only reason there was stuff like that in the 98 piece was because the assignment required that I do that sort of thing. The issues about Bitcoin, however, are not technological! Everyone agrees that it's technically very sweet. But does it work as money? That's a very different kind of question.

And the fact that people are throwing around my 98 quote actually shows that they don't get this point -- that they're confusing technology with monetary economics."

The tweet Matt Darling had about it being a skeptical point of view and correct does not seem like a reasonable interpretation to me unless there is some aspect to this that I am missing.

"By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's." is not equivalent to being skeptical about the economy doubling as a result of the internet unless you're being way too charitable. "most people have nothing to say to each other!" seems pretty absurd as well.

It would be like if there was a bunch of chatter about AI taking off and reaching a singularity and I said "AI is a completely useless waste of time" and here we are in 2021 without singularity so I was correct.

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What's the logic behind the Chinese merger of vocational and private school diplomas?

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Not sure why you're giving Greenwald credit on the Pulse shooting. The Washington Post had that story back in 2016- https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/no-evidence-so-far-to-suggest-orlando-shooter-targeted-club-because-it-was-gay/2016/07/14/a7528674-4907-11e6-acbc-4d4870a079da_story.html. It just didn't sink in which is fascinating in and of itself.

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Regarding the Last Supper picture:

The black bird on the left is Germany; the frog is Taiwan. There's a link (https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202106/1226050.shtml) in the Steve Hsu blog post that explains it.

Regarding the protester clearing:

I feel like it's less than maximally helpful to just say "this story was false", which could be read in a misleading way (e.g., that the event never happened at all). Better to specify in what way it's false, i.e., that (according to this report, anyway), what's false is that the photo op was the reason for the violent clearing of protesters.

Regarding the Pulse shooting:

I think you've actually left out the most interesting part here, which is that (IIRC) the government actually hid the full transcript of the 911 call for a week, releasing only an abridged version in the meantime, seemingly to hide the shooter's motive as an Islamist. So this isn't, like, different media outlets all independently getting distracted by the possible angle of it as an anti-gay hate crime and ignoring any other possible motive; it's that they didn't know about the real motive when the topic was hottest, because the government covered it up.

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#14 I'm guessing the black bird is the black eagle from the German coat of arms.

Australia and India (the turbaned elephant at right) aren't part of the G7 but they were prominently invited as guests this time around... along with South Korea who don't seem to be depicted. The fact that the G7 has suddenly decided to invite all the medium-sized powers surrounding China on all sides into their exclusive club has not escaped China's notice, I suppose.

No idea about the frogs, nor the gas canisters. The IV drip I guess indicates that someone is unhealthy, but who exactly?

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Very umm... surprised about that Monmouth polling result, because Democrats are quite clearly backing noon the question, and pretty reliably the Democrats taking a position on something ensures that at least a third of the population will agree with them.

I'm so confident about this that I'm going to assume the research (a single poll) is mistaken.

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Re 2: how did they come up with those numbers? Ok, California being California, but there's countries there. They say that there's more cults in Massachusetts (pop. 7 millions) than in all of India (pop. 1366 millions). Or is it per something like 100k?

Re 18: Wait are you saying in English people are not told in schools what a grammatical root is and that words share them?

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#31: A common polyamory talking point is “you wouldn’t be jealous if your friend had other friends”. Now psychologists find that people definitely get jealous if their friends get other friends.

I think that polyamorists lack this sense of jealousy or a strong form of it and monogamists have it. To me, it does not seem like something that could be argued away. If someone said "You wouldn't be jealous if your friend had other friends", I can't imagine someone saying "You're right. This emotion of jealousy has ceased" To me, it does not seem like something that can just go away. I think maybe some polyamorists have some blank slatist type of beliefs. And there is likely some "same-minding" going on. Likewise, non-poly people probably think poly people are lying or suppressing their feelings of jealousy.


24: Related: In addition to all the usual reasons, studies with unwoke conclusions are now being removed from journals because people make “serious and credible threats of personal violence” against the editors of journal editors who keep them up.

Very concerning. Acquiescing to this sort of behavior could make it more common. If you think opposition to unwoke conclusions is bad currently, imagine if instead of a petition it was a credible and serious death threat every time.

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"24: Related: In addition to all the usual reasons, studies with unwoke conclusions are now being removed from journals because people make “serious and credible threats of personal violence” against the editors of journal editors who keep them up."

But Scott, you have also previously censored by posts on this blog for coming to some very politically inconvenient conclusions. It seems weird that you complain about this while also censoring voices on the left such as mine.

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Re Greenwald and gassing the park: The IG report which Greenwald is relying on states that USPP did this at the direction of the Secret Service ,but the report also explicitly states that it did not interview any Secret Service personnel.

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33: About Sci-hub: Opening the torrent links on my browser gives me a 404, but if I open them with Tor I'm able to download the file.

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Re 6 'Also, standard disclaimer that this was done in Scandinavia where poverty works differently.' - yep those Finns are pretty weird but they're still not in Scandinavia - see corrections on last week's post and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scandinavia or ask any Finn, (or Swede, Dane or Norwegian, though they may be too cool to care).

If it helps, I used to think Oakland was in San Francisco, but it turns out there's some water in between. Well, the Baltic Sea is bigger than your Bay, plus a whole different language - Finnish 😁

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"Normal people don’t notice that truth is just true+th, or depth is deep+th, or that horror is related to horrify? I had never even considered the possibility that people might not notice these things. Is the Language Log author crazy, or am I?"

You'd be shocked. Generally, I was surprised what my English native speaker linguist friend hadn't grokked (about English), and she was likewise surprised about some stuff I hadn't realized about my native language (that she was learning at the time).

I think generally stress shifts can do a lot to confound a native speaker (as well as vowel changes I guess). So maybe not exactly true/truth, but the rest of them...

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In Re: Graeber. As noted in the comments (yes) of the article, his claim was that the jobs *are* bullshit, not that the specific individuals think that they are (perhaps due to high prescription rates of drugs causing 5-HT1AR-mediated passive coping...?). This study misread his book.

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Two corrections on the Rutgers link:

1. The story is about Rutgers *Law School*, not Rutgers University. (This was personally a relief to me; I would be much more concerned if this was happening at Rutgers University, which has about 70,000 students (the law school has ~1,000).)

2. The rule was that any student org requesting funding must "plan at least one (1) event that addresses their chosen topics through the lens of Critical Race Theory, diversity and inclusion, or cultural competency." So groups could get away with doing a diversity-and-inclusion thing instead of a CRT thing. Obviously still not great, but IMO less scary than if it had to be specifically CRT.

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How does one distinguish a 'cult' from any other religious group?

I'm inclined to suggest that the usual rule applies: I belong to the true religion; you belong to respectable sect; they belong to a cult.

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Re 20, on how weirdly long it took to optimize 3 point shooting. I've certainly wondered the same thing, but one hypothesis is that defensive rules in the 90s and early 00s were what made 3 point shooting relatively less valuable.

1. Hand checking meant the defense could maul smaller players much more, making it harder for them to get open

2. The requirement on playing man-to-man defense prevented defenders from sagging off their man on the three point lines, both making it easier for the shooter to blow by them and get an easy 2, and also meant that they were covered much more tightly even when far out.

I'm unclear how much this explains, but it is baffling otherwise.

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23: The Rutgers thing is crazy! In college I ran a club where we tutored ELL elementary school students, at their school. We didn't have events beyond taking the kids to a park or doing arts and crafts once a semester. Should we have held events promoting critical race theory? What.

31: Can confirm, I've always been jealous of my friends' other friends. I'm still poly though, so.... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Re 10: post factum this does not seem surprising: after all, object recognition happens in temporal lobe, while visual cortices process low-level features. And when I imagine something, I imagine an object rather than separate lines or blobs of colour.

In fact, it's hard for me to imagine all the lines clearly. I wonder if painters, who are trained to pay more attention to small visual details, activate their visual cortices more than non-painters when imagining things

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“21: Claim: despite its pro-sex-worker image, Sweden actually persecutes sex workers plenty, they just find stupider ways to do it. EG if you (a sex worker) pay half the rent for your two-person apartment, they can arrest your roommate for “profiting from sex work”. Or they can arrest your landlord for the same.”

…Sure they can. But it is not stupid behaviour. Remember it is Swedes you are talking about: the most rational people in the world. It is 100 per cent rational behaviour, if you accept the underlying world view.

…Which is a big if of course, but that’s the case with regard to any rational behaviour – it is only rational relative to some overarching worldview.

So what is the worldview of Swedish legislators?

The worldview is that all sex workers are victims of oppression.

….That not all of them agree with this (including the Swedish sex worker whose rant you link to) is noticed, but not given a large weight. Not all US slaves perceived themselves as oppressed either, right?

You do not legally pursue and punish victims. Therefore, it is not illegal to sell sex in Sweden, and in other countries with similar legislation. The Swedes are not liberal in the sense of “celebrating” sex work; they just do not want to punish victims.

For the record: This legislation is in the process of diffusing worldwide. Sweden is historically known as an important innovator of social legislation more generally. My prediction is that this will happen here as well.

Where there are victims, there are perpetrators. They come in two types: Pimps and customers. Both are regarded as oppressors in this world view.

And you punish oppressors.

That is why both pimping and buying sex is illegal in Sweden.

Making it illegal to buy sex, obviously reduces the market. (I am fairly certain it is illegal for a Swedish citizen to buy sex also outside Sweden, even if it is legal in the country – say the Netherlands – where he/she buys sex. I.e. the customer can be legally pursued in Sweden if this is discovered.)

Then for the main point: how do define “pimping”?

The Swedes go for what can be labelled “the extended pimping-concept”.

Meaning that anyone, and I mean anyone, who earns money interacting with a sex worker, is legally speaking a pimp.

…That is why a landlord, or a boy/girlfriend, or a bank handling the bank account a sex worker, etc. etc., risks being persecuted as a pimp. And therefore all of these – again, very rationally! – try to avoid dealing with sex workers. Which again limits the ability of sex workers to ply their trade.

The combined effect of the above is to keep sex work at a much lower level than it would otherwise be. Furthermore – and this is the beauty & the point of the policy – it is done without having to pursue or punish the sex workers themselves.

In short, it is an anti-oppressive way to deter sex work.

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The claim that the Lafayette Square incident (the violent clearing of the park in front of the church) has nothing to do with the photo op is disputed. The inspector general was reporting on the decisions of one of the several law enforcement agencies present (the US Park Police), and didn't interview a lot of involved figures from other agencies; the report also contains some interesting subtext and redactions. See https://www.nycsouthpaw.com/p/reading-the-park-police-ig-report for a full argument on that.

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Re 19: While I won't dispute the correctness of Greenwald's main points, I'd like to mention he's still quite biased (everyone is). Him being mostly right makes it harder to notice the biased opinions and claims. So if you needed a reminder from a stranger on the internet to be diligent - here it is.

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> Last year, Rutgers University instituted a requirement that all student clubs that they must hold at least one event promoting critical race theory

This is a strengthening of what the FIRE article actually says. It quotes the Student Bar Association amendment as saying "plan at least one (1) event that addresses their chosen topics through the lens of Critical Race Theory, diversity and inclusion, or cultural competency". So as I read the letter of it, you can skip the CRT if you still have an event on either diversity and inclusion or cultural competency, both of which seem like much fuzzier concepts. Of course, this doesn't preclude the idea that the first item will get used as a default interpretation for the latter two and thus close the options down further than a naïve reading of the text would indicate, nor other shenanigans, but I don't see good evidence for those in my quick reading of the FIRE article.

(To be clear, I decline for the moment to present any opinion about how bad or good this would be at either strength; I just wanted to note the discrepancy.)

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#34. Does anyone know whether this is being discussed in the Social Justice community? A little research is pretty much just turning up people who cite the Telegraph article.

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...Sweden has a "pro-sex-worker" reputation? What? Maybe this refers to the Nordic Model for prostitution, but pro-sex-work organizations tend to regard the Nordic Model as anti-sex-worker in practice, and in general, Sweden is one of the most anti-sex-work cultures in existence, period, as far as I know.

There does exist a certain tendency for Americans to assume that since Sweden is "leftist" (a bit dubious claim, currently, considering the strong tendency of neoliberalization in Swedish economic policies in recent years) and secular, it's also socially liberal in all issue that are considered a part of social liberalism within American context, which tends to lead to mixups. I've heard stories of American liberals going to Sweden, being fascinated by the enlightened progressive perspectives of their new Swedish friends, and then toking up and watching their new friends look at them like they just murdered a puppy, unaware of the strongly anti-drug culture in Sweden.

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Editing point: There's two 25's and two 28's in the list.

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The Lafayette Square report specifically vindicated the Park Service in following orders, but does not actually vindicate the other actors - Secret Service and ... unbadged officers from the Bureau of Prison Affairs (??!!?). If anything, if you actually read the damn thing it paints a picture where park service officers were confused and not even told about the visit, and were concerned about what they saw.

Without even saying how poorly advised the entire visit was. Like, no one is denying he used his power to execute the world's worst photo op. Whether the Park Service committed any crimes was kind of a side show.

But I guess Greenwald clearly has his agenda to pursue and can't be expected to inform his readers instead of getting them to blindly trust him on this stuff.

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I find that I dislike greenwald enough to reflexively assume anything he says is some flavor of self aggrandizing bullshit.

This is probably unfair, I think we can all agree.

Why then? We probably agree on 90+% of things, including spitting when we see a lib and making the sign of the cross when see *gasp* a con!

His exit from his last paper was super ugly and public, to the point where someone totally not plugged in like me had an opinion on it, which primed me to dislike him.

Then, I happened to see his interaction on twitter, which sealed the deal.

Goes to show, one iffy first impression and a personality mismatch can create lots of flimsy animosity. Gotta try to normalize to "Dudes a prick, but his articles are probably 1 s/d off fine."

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> 6: No Causal Associations Between Family Income And Subsequent Psychiatric Disorders, Substance Misuse, And Violent Crime Arrests: A Nationwide Finnish Study Of >650,000 Individuals And Their Siblings.

And the related comment seem obviously wrong to me, and I'm leaving this here as a note that I intend to read the papers.

> The same study also claims there’s no correlation between “intellectual compatibility” and relationship satisfaction within relationships; ie you’re not more likely to have a happy relationship if your partner has a similar IQ to you (but see comment here).

I also roll to doubt this.

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Be careful of given Greenwald credibility just because he contradicts the mainstream

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Re #18 - Perhaps not Geoff Pullum's finest moment, but I wonder whether I'm being "whooshed". I also note the post is from 2011. (Not that that changes anything.) I still find the table interesting: only two "~ific"s, and /horror→horrific/ is quite a contrast to /terror→terrific/. The effect of usage on semantics is a terrific thing.

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Regarding Point 14: "Still trying to figure out who the black bird and the frog are supposed to be, or why Australia seems to have replaced Germany in the G7."

See: https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202106/1226050.shtml for a complete explanation.

On two points raised rethorically, above:

1. The frog 1000ntd (New Taiwanese Dollar) bills (https://twitter.com/jtsa18/status/1407567320172597248)

2. I think that the black bird is a black eagle, which is Germany's national animal, i.e., rather than a black hawk, as described in the Global Times article, above (https://whatsanswer.com/what-is-the-national-animal-of-germany/#:~:text=The%20National%20Coat%20of%20Arms,Roman%20Emperor%20Charlemagne%2C%20With%20the%E2%80%A6)

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I loved this post. Informative and amusing! Great to wake up to. Thank you.

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2: “The cult deficit” is the theory that we don’t have as many cults as we used to and this says something important about our society.

I wondered what definition of “cult” they were using and to their credit, they do seem to have tried to distinguish between “religion, sect and cult”. I also agree that the 50s-70s were the prime years for cults in modern times. But I also think that the broader picture is that the impulse for cults is closely related to the same impulse that causes heresies or the swell of increased religious fervour in Great Awakenings (those types of revivals happened in both Britain and America). In the 17th century Commonwealth, a plethora of independent splinter groups sprang up and the official Puritans, after executing the king, beating down the Anglicans, and establishing themselves as the (temporary) authority didn’t much like that and set about squashing them. What differentiates Ranters and Levellers from a cult? Same with the mushrooming of small denominations and non-denominational bodies in American Protestantism: are the Westboro Baptists a cult or a denominational splinter body?

9: Upset that the Atlanta Braves unfairly stereotype Native Americans? Apparently Atlanta is an equal opportunity offensive-sports-team-haver: their team used to be called the Atlanta Crackers (and their Negro League team was the Atlanta Black Crackers!)

I have no dog in this fight but I think that Atlanta absolutely should go back to being the Crackers. Reclaim that slur! 😀 And to be fair to Atlanta, it looks like the problematic team name started off as the Boston Braves, then moved on to be the Milwaukee Braves, and have only now pitched up in Atlanta, so it’s not the fault of the city they have this name.

17: Claim: counties where the seminal pro-KKK movie Birth Of A Nation was played on its five year “tour” had more lynchings and race riots after the showing. Somewhat less believable claim: counties where it played still have more hate crimes today. I bet this turns out to be one of those persistence studies that doesn’t replicate.

Yeah, for this one, I’m going to go with “the places that ‘Birth Of A Nation’ was that kind of a super-hit were like that before it came along, and they’re like that since it left and it was because they were like that it was such a hit, not that it made them be like that”.

19: I’ve really been appreciating Glenn Greenwald lately. I think of myself as a pretty informed news consumer, but as the Garfield meme says, I am not immune to propaganda, and Greenwald has been doing a great job telling me which of the things I believed aren’t true. For example, the story that the police violently cleared a park in front of a DC church last year so Trump could do a photo op there was false (edit: see here for some debate). And apparently there was no link between the Pulse gay nightclub shooting and anti-LGBT hate - it was just an Islamic terrorist randomly choosing a place to shoot up to make his geopolitical point. Weird.

Trying to think of a polite way to put this, but you actually believed the whole “The Pulse shooting was anti-gay” line? From the start, it seemed clear that (a) at the time the media was very twitchy about seeming to push an “all Muslims are terrorists” line (and that was a cogent reason) so they downplayed the shooter’s ethnicity and alleged motivations (b) the LGBT crowd, again for what they perceived as good reasons, didn’t think of this as “anti-American” but “specifically aimed at us, because everyone wants to persecute us and they’d all be shooting us if they could” crime and grabbed the publicity on this and made that the official message. My view at the time, and since, was “this was someone not very well in the head, with a political grudge, attacking what he perceived as a soft target representing the worst of American culture” and not “specifically anti-gay”.

23: Last year, Rutgers Law School instituted a requirement that all student clubs that they must hold at least one event promoting critical race theory or related topics, or else lose most of their funding. After pressure from FIRE, a pro-free-speech-in-education advocacy group, they now appear to have backed down.

Critical Race Theory started off as a legal thing, so at least it makes sense that a law school should be involved. But mandating that every student club has to toe the party line on this topic? Surely that is going beyond what the administration of the school can do? I mean, suppose a Catholic university demanded every student club recited the Angelus before a meeting, there would be no problem telling them where to get off (not that such would ever happen in anyone’s wildest dreams or nightmares).


yesterday i learned that there's a whole millennia-long debate about astrology in judaism and one of the positions is "astrology is true for everyone except jews because god gives jews more free will" and this is my new headcanon now

33: A common polyamory talking point is “you wouldn’t be jealous if your friend had other friends”. Now psychologists find that people definitely get jealous if their friends get other friends.

Again, this for me is another “is anyone surprised to learn this?” Kids get *very* jealous if their best friend seems to be friendly with other kids, they have to be taught to get this kind of possessiveness out of them. And I can’t speak from experience here, but isn’t there something about being in a relationship where one partner tries to cut the other off from their former friends? Or if you break up it gets tough because now you find out how many of the friends you had were their friends, rather than friends of both of you, and now you’ve lost a chunk of acquaintance?

42: The worst infographic ever?

That is really bad. Mind you, it makes me feel like a giantess now as I can tower over my titchy five foot two and shorter sisters, meanwhile I’m up on my tippy-toes trying to reach the top shelves in the kitchen cupboards 😁

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On the Biden thing. It was made by a random artist on the equivalent of deviant art. Not official production. So I wouldn't class it as propoganda.

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Re The Atlanta Crackers - The etymology section of the Wiki page seems to have overlooked what to me is a natural assumption: The name has to do with the “crack of the bat” when a player gets a good hit. That isn’t even mentioned (if only to be discredited as a possibility).

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Was Moldbug inspired by ESR? That seems like the canonical and much more mainstream usage of "cathedral" to represent a form of authority with harmful side-effects, and it would be familiar to anyone programming in the 80s and 90s. Though the spirit of the opposition seems much different, in cathedral and bazaar advocating for decentralization versus centralization. I don't really know much about Moldbug, but that seems quite the opposite of what he wants, as I understand he is an advocate of monarchy, which is as centralized as you can possibly make a government. Ironically, his Urbit project aims to decentralize the allocation of digital address space.

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I wish xHamster published the age ranges of the survey respondents. On the one hand, it feels like people identifying as Antifa and Alt-Right are more likely to be young, and probably more into porn for that reason. On the other hand, actually paying for porn is going to be mitigated by having money, which is more likely to be the case when you're older. Either way, I'd like to see the conflicting possibilities at least explored.

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On the Obesity Wars article, the first paragraph has the usual "As federal employees, we had no outside funding or conflicts of interest", for which my usual response is "you had no *explicitly monetary* conflict of interest, and either you're too naive to recognize other sorts of conflict of interest or you expect the audience will be".

Sure enough, they had a conflict of interest. As cogs in the machinery of the federal bureaucracy, they had an interest not to publish work that conflicted with the preferred narrative of the bureaucracy, because publishing such work will result in your reputation being trashed while publishing work that conforms to the narrative will result (see Mokdad) in your reputation being enhanced. For most humans, that's a powerful incentive, more than sufficient to result in unpopular scientific findings being buried and popular ones being published despite weak evidence and shoddy math.

Flegal being by her own admission naive, she didn't realize the conflict and went ahead with publishing work that wasn't in her own best interest. Then got a front-row seat to the trashing of her own reputation. It's as if a researcher at the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Research Institute published a paper saying that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and was surprised to see their salary suddenly reset to zero.

Most people are better than Flegal at understanding their own non-monetary interests. But often not very good at understanding other people's non-monetary interests, and thus prone to overestimate the dispassionate objectivity of e.g. "senior scientists at the CDC". How can we go about increasing this understanding?

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WRT #32, I note the pessimism about the COVID vaccine, writing last August. "How will we greet the COVID-19 vaccine, when it arrives hopefully in the next year or two?"

Perhaps "during the Trump administration," was difficult for people to fathom, but I can't recall anyone in a position to know who doubted we'd have it by February at the latest.

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Re: The Obesity Wars.

I'm 6", 188lbs, with abs. I was a bit surprised to find out that technically I'm overweight. Same thing for my Gym filled very healthy individuals. I've only done a quick search, but it seems like most studies simply use BMI and therefore will classify many athletes as overweight. I wonder if this partly explains the slightly decreased mortality among the overweight. If you also had a bodyfat % available for classification, how much would the numbers change?

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"Is there some story behind why California has 120 legislators but every interesting proposal I hear about is sponsored by the same guy?"

The status quo necessarily has the support of the majority because that's how it becomes the status quo. If you think California's status quo is boring then the only interesting bills are going to come from a small number of nonconformists.

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Re 36:

I appreciate that you're identifying when links are paywalled. Is there any way you could also identify when the link requires an account to read the article? I'm trying to keep my potential online vulnerabilities to a minimum

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#22: too much of a dichotomy; few jobs are entirely bullshit or entirely free of bullshit. Better to ask what percentage of time spent at work is wasted on bullshit with no societal value (I would say mine is fairly high).

#40: I'm not buying the second half of that at all. In my experience, significant differences in intelligence can cause friction in virtually any relationship, not just romantic ones.

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I love how the hybrid Bison was in the 20,000 year old cave paintings all this time.

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#27 (astrology applying to almost everybody except for the Chosen) is basically the plot of John C. Wright's Somewhither. There's a multiverse that splits off based on choices, but regular human choices don't have enough punch to split off a whole universe - so whenever there's a miracle, another world is created which didn't have that miracle. The main antagonists are headquarted in the completed Tower of Babel and have astrology that really, *really* works, down to the minute with sufficient steampunk calculation power applied to the prediction tasks. The only exception are the Chosen, or people close enough to them to be in the 'shadows' they cast.

But the immunity only lasts so long as you obey your higher nature; if you give into baser instincts, then the astrology is going to retroactively work again, and the bad guys will not just be on your doorstep but will have gotten there even before you did. Fighting somebody with working astrology is...well, like trying to fight Prometheus in Scott's story "A Modern Myth" from a few years back.

It was a weirdly enjoyable sort of book.

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I'm kind of surprised Flegal is only writing about her experiences with the "Obesity Wars" now. Did something prompt this?

I've always been surprised more attention hasn't been given to how weird and frenzied a bunch of the science in this area is. As a layman who got really interested in obesity and nutritional science following an eating disorder, I was shocked at how shaky and poor most of the science is, and how many perverse incentives are tangling up everything. There appears to be a lot of straight lying.

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I downloaded the colonialism paper from SciHub, and fwiw the abstract is horribly written and reeks of that "uninformed freshman uses phrases they think sound sophisticated" style. I was going to read the whole paper because I get a kick out of reading cancelled material, but honestly they've strongly signaled a lack of any real inquisitiveness or insight.

This is how not to write:

> For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is

high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a

general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in

most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those

concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by

and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology

imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart

sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in

many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states

today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance;

by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies

from scratch.


Yeah the Language Log author is crazy.

Are there any proposed causal models for why being slightly overweight would be healthier?

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I don't know if this has been posted yet, but the calories burning while playing chess link reminded me of this cool short story: https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/comments/lom9cb/kindness_to_kin/

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I don't understand the thing where it's definitely true that dog ownership leads to much higher mild and moderate exercise, but that this nonetheless doesn't translate to improvements in physical and mental health.

I thought it was a given that exercise (including mild and moderate) is one of the best things for mental and physical health.

Is the pet article implying that this isn't true?

Also it seems like a lot of correlation being inflated with causation. (e.g. for the claim that pet owners have slightly lower mental health, perhaps sadder people are more likely to get pets in the first place. Maybe for company, or maybe high mental health people have lives that are too full for pet maintenance)

Also, I dislike the grouping of cats and dogs, as I think dogs are more likely to be beneficial (mostly because of the whole exercise and getting out of the house and meeting the neighbors thing)

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Re: people not noticing stuff about language, I hadn't noticed the etymology of "tiramisù" either until my late teens *even though I'm a native Italian speaker*. Likewise for the etymology of "malaria" (Italian for "bad air"). Also, while I've known there's an insect called "cricket" since I was a kid and I've known there's a sport called "cricket" since I was a kid, I've managed to never think about these two facts at the same time and not notice there's a sport called like an insect *until my late twenties*.

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Can someone explain what #37 is saying? Is it basically saying that math problems take a long time to solve?

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How many more instances of this does everybody else need before they really and truly internalize the idea that the news is fundamentally untrustworthy and you cannot default to assuming good faith?

I don't know how to ask this question in a less inflammatory way. Those are two examples of egregious and intentional lies that went uncorrected for months if not years, that all just so happen to slant the story in a direction that is politically convenient for a specific faction. How do you see this happen and then gell-mann your way into thinking "nah the rest of the news is still fine". I don't understand

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Epistemic status: exploratory.

I wonder if this idea ports to another subject. Hypothesize with me for a moment

"When surveyed privately, most Americans support family formation and traditional relationships. But in public they support casual hookup culture because they think everyone else does and want to get dates!"

I bet you there's something there

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Re #34, the testosterone study, it was pretty cool that they included both male and female subjects. We think of testosterone as a male thing, even though women have it too at lower levels, so the effect of different testosterone levels on women doesn't get enough attention.

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"Claim: very high support (80% of Americans) for requiring ID to vote; non-whites more likely to support ID requirements than whites are."

It's not true:



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I think 6 is a very bad study, at last insofar as anyone wants to use it to support the idea that poverty doesn't cause these outcomes. It may of course contain interesting and useful findings that a more nuanced reading would bring to light.

Firsts of all, it says that the correlation between poverty and bad outcomes is attenuated when you control for a set of factors, BUT these factors are themselves clearly caused at last in part by poverty. These include highest parental education (hard for poor parents to get higher ed degrees), urbanicity (poor parent's cant afford houses in the suburbs), and parental psychiatric disorders/antisocial behaviors (if you're studying whether poverty causes these exact things, you can't analyze it as though the existence of these things in poor parents in not caused by poverty - that's begging the question).

Saying that poverty does not cause bad outcomes because they're actually caused by these factors which are (plausibly) themselves caused by poverty, is a bit like saying that jumping out of an airplane without a parachute doesn't cause death, because actually it's hitting the ground that causes death. True as far as it goes, and a good result to highlight if you're trying to convince someone to wear a parachute before they jump, but not really an endorsement of jumping out of airplanes without parachutes (as people may be trying to apply the fining here).

As to the sibling adjustment, I largely disregard it for two reasons, one of which Scott gets at.

The first is that, if I'm reading it correctly, the sibling adjustment is applied after the adjustment for 'confounding factors' I talked about above, which I also reject (in terms of disputing a causal story for poverty). So we're already coming into the sibling adjustment with a data set I find to b wrong, improperly weighted towards a lower correlation and less to explain than it should have.

Second, as Scott gets at, as far as I can tell the sibling adjustment is just done by taking the parent's income when each sibling turned 15, and finding that bad outcomes don't change much if incomes went up or down in between. Although that's good to know in it's own right - it implies poverty-related interventions need to happen earlier than highschool - this seems a very weak measure to dispute a causal role of poverty.

-15 is pretty old in terms of development, one might expect most of the critical phases that determine these outcomes to happen sooner, when poverty may have been the same for each child.

-We just said in the previous analysis that factors which may be caused by poverty, like parental education levels or personality disorders, explain much of the variance. These things are unlikely to change with parental income over the short-term; you don't suddenly retroactively get a diploma or cure your life-long anxiety disorder just because your income went up by $15,000 this year.

-Even to the extent that important factors do change with income, they're unlikely to change very fast. This is partially due to inertia and people staying in familiar situations or needing to pay off debts accrued before changing their material situation. And it's partially because the measure looks at income rather than wealth. The odds that a family that made $30k for 20 years and now has made $45k for the last 2 years will own a house/own a working car/etc is much lower than a family that has made $45k for the last 20 years, but as far as I can tell the analysis treats them as identical.

Overall, I don't begrudge the analysis itself, it teaches us important things about what factors stemming from poverty cause these outcomes, which helps to suggest more targeted interventions in poverty-stricken communities. All true knowledge is useful, and it seems plausible that they got at some true knowledge with the data analysis itself.

However, I hugely begrudge the conclusions they draw, an how they try to narrativize these conclusions improperly. To me, it looks like they're saying 'bad outcomes aren't caused by poverty, they're caused by things that are caused by poverty, and therefore we shouldn't worry about fixing poverty and should use tiny, focused micro-interventions on those things instead, or just wash our hands by assuming those things are genetic and can't be changed/are a matter of personal responsibility.'

In terms of the science of their own analysis, this conclusion seems dangerously wrong/disingenuous. In terms of public policy impact and public education, this conclusion seems very dangerously wrong-headed and misleading, and feels intended to grab headlines and get future funding/speaking fees from rightwing ideological sources.

So yeah, I don't like that part of the paper, and think it should be disregarded as transparently wrong/unfounded.

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Re: 7 - 'Is it ethical to hire baboons to do our drudge work and pay them in booze' is probably a good precursor to ethical debates around the deployment and use of semi-sentient AI in the future.

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Nice Lynx, Thx. Related to 35. Sci-hub (and lone geniuses*) On the referral of the other Scott A. (Aaronson) We watched the documentary "The Internet's Own Boy". Nerd recommended if you haven't seen it. Having a world wide rent seeking scheme, where by publishers hang onto the worlds research papers is a bad idea. (And hey if they give up rights to the world after X-years, there can be no threats of violence to the original publisher. "Sorry, it belongs to the world now."

*lone genius is kinda silly. It's always better to have a group of them riffing off each other.

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Re: 13, I wonder how it would affect support for voter ID if it were given in contrast to the alternatives that are currently in place - having to provide identifying information like full name, address and birthdate, sign an affidavit to your identity, etc. - rather than just being given in a vacuum, especially since most voters may not know about these measures.

Saying 'would you like security measure X' is likely to give a very different result than 'would you like security measure X or security measure Y.' As far as I know, no on is advocating getting rid of voter ID *and* all the security measures currently in place in states that don't require it already, so framing the question without those measures being mentioned feels less relevant to the actual policy question at hand.

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Re: obesity, overweight, not overweight. studies. Did the analysis also pull out an under-weight category? (I'm guessing underweight has higher risk, and lumping with 'not overweight' would pull it down.... and so results are not surprising. A category error?)

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There's so much more worth reading about the baboon-signalman: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/559031/signalman-jack-baboon-worked-railroad-south-africa

The previous signalman lost both his legs in a work accident, so he trained his pet baboon to pull the signal levers instead, as well as push his wheelchair and help around the house.

When a passenger complained about a baboon being in charge of the signals (which are kind of a safety critical part of the railway) the company's solution was to make the baboon an official company employee.

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I wonder what XHamster is going to do with that data now, knowing that their primary paying customers are extremists on either side of the aisle who want to tear each other's heads off.

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Religious cults may be on the downswing, but political and business cults have been on the upswing. There have been several pieces by Andrew Sullivan on Substack about the "woke" cult and certainly the "Trump" cult has an identifiable leader, for example. The segmenting effect of media (and social media) has encouraged this phenomenon, no doubt.

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"SSC’s former sparring partner Mencius Moldbug seems to be doing well"

You mean other than his wife dying?

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My first thought is that the cult graph is just lead exposure.

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We are this long after the links post and nobody has riffed on the fact that supersonic jets are to be manufactured by a company named "Boom?" ACX, you are letting me down.

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Kind of weird that the Obesity article assigns pseudonyms "Professor 1" and "Professor 2" and "Prestigious School of Public Health" only after already stating the full name of the individuals in question. The fact that "PSPH" is actually the "Harvard School of Public Health" (HSPH) is easily googled.

I'm not saying they needed to remain anonymous, I just don't the point of the indirection on "Professor 1", "Professor 2" and PSPH.

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On the ticker-tape parade thing, I kept thinking the obvious event that was left out in recent memory is either December 10/11, 2020 (Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine approved) or December 17/18 (Moderna vaccine approved) or the day a couple days later when the first doses were injected into non-trial patients in the United States.

I guess there's an obvious reason why there were no parades on those dates, but in retrospect, it seems obvious that the Golden Gate Bridge, Freedom Tower, Willis Tower, Gateway Arch, and similar monuments in every city should absolutely have been lit up in special colors that night.

I was a bit confused about the Less Wrong post not having mentioned this as a date that should have been celebrated, but then I saw the Less Wrong post was from August. But still, it should have posited this as a future celebration that we *should* prepare for!

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On 19: So "park cleared" - true, "Trump then does photo op" - true, but "park cleared FOR photo op" - false? Or just not confirmed?

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Oh man, re: chess and calories, I've long had a superstition: I used to powerlift, and as a result I have a pretty finely tuned sense of what I need to eat and when, plus a sense of different types of physical and mental exhaustion. As a programmer I noticed that after particularly challenging days of programming, I felt like I needed to eat a bit more and I felt a similar sensation to the "you have used all up your normal stores of energy" sensation that comes after a high volume lifting day (which is different from the feeling of a lower volume, heavy weight lifting day).

Based on those sensations my superstition was that thinking hard burned calories in a noticeable way plus it used micronutrients in a way that was somehow similar to endurance exercise. Obviously just a casual guess based on my personal experience.

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Re #29, it's because utilitarian thinking in government is incredibly rare, so [a person who's willing to consider what's both important and possible to achieve] will have a lot of interesting proposals relative to the typical politician.

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This is highly speculative and possibly just a side effect of having listened to too many Firesign Theatre albums, but perhaps there are many fewer cults these days because nearly every American is already in a cult, namely the cult of television. TV is in some sense a metacult, the cult that has something for everyone except for the people who somehow figured out how to make themselves resistant to marketing & advertising. When there were only four channels, there were too many gaps through which individual people, who are always irreducibly weird, would get bored, turn off the TV and go do something else. Now the television metacult has infinite plasticity in order to shape many different messages, some combination of which will fit almost everyone's priors and give them the "I knew it!" dopamine boost, which satiates their desire for a satisfactory explanation of just what the hell is going on around here.

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Maybe cults have only seemed to decline because newer ones are less obviously religious. Consider UFO-logy, feminism, environmentalism, "wokeism", the New Atheism and Atheism Plus. Do they not have scriptures, prophets, popes, dogmas, infidels, sinners, heretics and blasphemers? Do they not have inquisitions and witch-hunts? Even Covid-19 seems to follow this pattern, with rituals and true believers.

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There are some strange grammatical mistakes in the post that make it hard to read.

# 23: "...a requirement that all student clubs that they must hold..."

# 24: "...against the editors of journal editors..."

Maybe have an editor look over your blogs before posting?

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:) So what you're saying is that it's high time for us to create a cult? (I realise tone doesn't carry, so let me clarify for the literal readers: I am not serious.)

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On point #18, I think most people notice most of these, but that any given person will miss some. I was shook when I realized that "only" is just "one-ly".

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Setting aside whether it is accurate or not, it's still important to push back on the Lone Genius thing because it counteracts a fundamental bias of fiction. Fiction operates under a number of restrictions that prevent it from accurately reflecting reality, and one of those is that everything has to be done by a small number of characters that the audience can identify with. If the Apollo Program were a movie, there'd be like 5 named engineers who did everything important.

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32: Why did we stop having ticker tape parades? (metaphorically and literally)

1. The windows in modern office buildings cannot be opened. So, you can't throw ticker tape out of them.

2. Ticker tape started to disappear in the 1970s, it is long since dead and gone replaced by Bloomberg terminals. Model 28 and 33 TTYs and their paper tape control mechanisms were replaced by PCs and microcomputers in the 1970s. Their ghost lives on in the innards of Unix systems.

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> 17: Claim: counties where the seminal pro-KKK movie Birth Of A Nation was played on its five year “tour” had more lynchings and race riots after the showing. Somewhat less believable claim: counties where it played still have more hate crimes today. I bet this turns out to be one of those persistence studies that doesn’t replicate.

How do you propose to replicate that one? Make another racist movie, show it in some counties, then wait 100 years and see if there are more hate crimes in those counties?

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Since the crowd here at ACX has a lot of interest in programming, nootropics / hallucinogens, cryptocurrency and polyamory I'm surprised nobody has talked about John McAfee's recent assassination.

The antivirus software company founder had been in Spanish custody pending extradition to the US for his ideological unwillingness to pay federal income tax. During that time, he repeatedly expressed concern that he would be killed in a way meant to look like a suicide and took measures to make his desire to live clear including repeatedly tweeting about his optimism and good prison conditions as well as getting a tattoo to that effect. He was subsequently found hanged in his cell, with Spanish authorities claiming he had committed suicide while in custody.

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I haven't looked into it carefully but from the little I've read the HSPH arguments seemed more convincing than Flegal's arguments: I think their basic point is that people often lose weight from diseases shortly before they die and Flegal's studies don't do anything to adjust for that which sounds plausible to me, and she doesn't seem to have any actually convincing criticisms of their research.

Sociologically this was interesting to read; I previously had only heard the other side of the story so I had cast it in my head as "brave scientists fight to combat the government's shoddy science and misinformation." But I guess the other side of that "it's not The Government, it's a random researcher at the CDC who feels looked down on and bullied by the prestigious scientists at Harvard," and probably both sides feel like they're the underdogs here.

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#17 doesn't seem to implausible at all, but you have to break the assumption of causation. It isn't surprising counties with a lot of lynchings would be places that would be very receptive to a Birth of the Nation tour. It also doesn't seem surprising that high lynching counties in the past would be high hate crime counties today. But it doesn't follow from that showing a film for a few nights nearly 100 years ago was the cause.

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My personal pick for worst infographic ever is the Bicycle of Education: https://i.imgur.com/Unzbc65.jpg

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>The cutest cognitive bias: people overestimate their own IQ by 30 points (!), but overestimate their romantic partner’s IQ by 40. The same study also claims there’s no correlation between “intellectual compatibility” and relationship satisfaction within relationships; ie you’re not more likely to have a happy relationship if your partner has a similar IQ to you (but see comment here).

I saw this on reddit. The study is absolutely horrendous. A commenter broke it down here. https://www.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/o4ooc7/culture_war_roundup_for_the_week_of_june_21_2021/h2sq0d9/

The TLDR is that the study didn't even ask people to estimate IQ. It asked about intelligence on a subjective scale then did a nonsense conversion

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Re: #32 ticker tape parades, the linked hypotheses would be insufficient if no parade happens once COVID is over. That's the outcome I predict.

I suspect there are fewer parades simply because public spending on such things was deprioritized. I'm inclined to add "because of upward transfers of wealth" which we've seen over the past 40+ years; achievements are "privatized/corporatized", regardless of how much public investment went into them. Will Pfizer or AstraZeneca shell out for a parade?

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#40 I know exactly where that 30 comes from. I scored 106 on a paper test in middle school and 135+ on every single online (international? American?) test I've taken since to prove to myself I'm not average.

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And in music recommendations for today, kids, The Hu cover Metallica's Sad But True singing the Mongolian version of the lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpxA_ZxGX_M&t=354s

Metallica are doing a special anniversary release of The Black Album plus there will be a cover version: https://www.nme.com/news/music/metallica-announce-special-reissue-of-the-black-album-and-star-studded-covers-album-2975279

One track of the cover version is Miley Cyrus feat. Elton John, Yo Yo Ma and a bucket load of others on a version of "Nothing Else Matters": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqoQY9bobow&t=34s

History/mythology/Indo-European issues: I'm fascinated with the parallels between Zeus and Indra; here we have the thunderbolt of Zeus/vajra of Indra and the similarities in the depictions between Greek red-figure vase here https://twitter.com/rudolf_eckhardt/status/1184978478363533314 and a painting of Indra here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra#/media/File:Indra_deva.jpg

It's also present in Buddhism called the vajra or, in Tibetan Buddhism, the dorje (but the association with Hinduism and Buddhism is a lot clearer).

Presumably there was influence back and forth, I went down the rabbit hole starting with the Heliodorus Pillar https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliodorus_pillar which then led on to the Indo-Greek Kingdom (came after the Graeco-Bacrtians who came after the Selucids who came after Alexander the Great) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Greek_Kingdom.

One thing to sort of have an idea about "ah yes, Indo-European language family" and another to see the traces of "yep, coming from a common pool of myths and ideas and concepts and imagery".

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I find it very likely that most of the xhamster results are confounded by age. Older people are less likely to identify as alt-right or antifa (and arguably far-right). Note that antifa and alt-right score about the same on basically every item.

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> Is the Language Log author crazy, or am I?

I think what "people don't notice" is that 1. There are these patterns, but 2. not all of the words that seem like they could exist actually do.

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Uh, Yarvin wrote you like 5 novel length love letters a few months ago.

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Any chance you're gonna start writing actual essays again? It seems like you've written about 4 since moving to substack.

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fascinating re CFF and subjective time. i'm surprised by this:

"Toads have a CFF of about 10% of humans, and so might experience the world in fast-forward"

i would have speculated [from cold] the opposite: that life for the toad is slo-mo, compared to mine. the toad, if i get it, has a higher frame-rate than my organic camera. that's why the toad's CFF is one tenth of mine - the flashes seem separate for the Toad because of all those non-lit frames between his lit ones.

since the toad has 10x more filmframes to go thru than i do, life takes longer for the toad - so i would have guessed. but skimming the article, i gather that the contrary interp is: faster frame-rate means a faster brain, so faster life. i likely mangle / oversimplify.

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Might be a bit late on this one, but basketball 2- and 3-point shooting can be predicted by the Matching Law (along with other sports like baseball throws, and all behavior, really). For those not familiar with it, briefly, Matching Law states that behavior allocation among choices is proportional to the reinforcement received from those choices.

Here's a link to that one: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1284234/

Also for baseball: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jaba.381

And chess openings: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7061917/

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For 18, I count myself as one of the normal people who do not (at least consciously) notice the patterns in that table, and find it interesting when such patterns are pointed out.

As a point of pride, I recently noticed after 15 years of being taught 'trigonometry', that the word itself is very logical: trigon = triangle, metry = measurement of, so trigonometry = measurement of triangles!

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> 25: Related: when surveyed privately, most Saudi men support women working outside the home. But in public they oppose it because they think everyone else opposes it and don’t want to get in trouble!

It's not true that they think that "everyone else opposes it". Most people know that a majority is in favor, they just somewhat underestimate the size of that majority. From the article:

> We start by describing the measured misperception about social norms relating to WWOH [women working outside the home]. Thea verage (median) guess is that 63% (67%) of other session participants agree with the pro-WWOH statement. The average level of agreement across all sessions is 87%, a number larger than the guesses of close to 70% of participants.

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Regarding #20, I remember basketball coach Billy Donovan stating this back in 2007, when asked what kind of shots he liked: "Layups, dunks, and Lee Humphrey." (Humphrey was a 3-point specialist.)

At the time that was a novel concept, but it seems that the rest of basketball has embraced this.

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Okay so check this out.

I posted the Average Female Height chart in Slack at work, including the text above it ("The worst infographic ever?"). Someone in engineering complained to HR that it's offensive, it went up the chain to *at least* the VP of tech, came back down the chain to me, and my manager had a conversation with me about it.

Like I know this sounds like some kind of facebook boomer Republican made-up story but it's true.

This is full-on moral panic mode.

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In halcyon days, advertisements would say "SEX! Now that we have your attention..."

Today, porn site xHamster, desperate for advertising that will make it stand out, turns to politics, correctly believing that politics is way more attention-grabbing than porn.

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Re 18: People not noticing the sensible rules of their language is actually one of the key drivers of language change (along with people pronouncing vowels weird and people getting conquered).

The case-in-point is grammatical gender (ever wondered why Spanish forks are boys and spoons are girls?). Linguistic theory says that noun classes start pretty sensibly (e.g. between living and non-living things), but break down over time for reasons covered in "The Categories Were Made for Man, Not Man for the Categories" (1). Also, native speakers make mistakes and mistakes are contagious, especially prior to grammatical standardization and enforcement (aka literacy).

John McWhorter, pop linguist, covers this idea thoroughly in an episode of his podcast Lexicon Valley called "Why Do Languages Have Gender?" (2). He cites experimental evidence that speakers of languages with eroding (but still sensible!) noun classes do not perceive objects with the same grammatical markers as being related by some higher concept. In other words, native speakers see the markers as arbitrary rules. Adult language learners are probably *more* likely to pick up on the underlying significance because they are consciously memorizing rules, not acquiring the language as a child would (as commenter @r0seo36qwkegm2ci pointed out below with their Bulgarian studies).

English has a slew of weird properties that most native speakers never consciously perceive. For example, have you ever thought about the fact that stress is the only difference between many related verbs and nouns? Trees produce produce, drugs addict addicts, advocates advocate and communes commune! (3)

Finally, relationships between words in English might be more obvious on the page than in other languages because we haven't had any significant spelling reform in centuries. This is good fun for historians and wordniks, but terrible for anyone trying to learn how to read. (4)

(1) https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/21/the-categories-were-made-for-man-not-man-for-the-categories/

(2) https://slate.com/podcasts/lexicon-valley/2021/01/language-gender-noun-classes

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Initial-stress-derived_noun

(4) https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/how-the-english-language-is-holding-kids-back/385291/

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