If some populations purportedly have "lower average IQ" how come they all speak multiple languages when the "higher IQ" ones struggle with what they learn at school? Surely learning and being able to communicate in multiple languages requires a modicum of intelligence above the 75-to-90 scores reported by the "national IQ" studies?

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Re: Georgia voting laws, I think the sole good pint made in the comment is about giving out water and food to people on line. A minor point as in who cares.

The rest of the comment seems like a hasty overreaction to the hasty overreaction by Democrats.

By far the most important point in the bill is taking away power form the Sec. of State. To use a purposefully bad pun, that trumps all.

Here's the NYT's point by point analysis. Admittedly, not objective politically, but has the merit of referencing text of the legislation


And here's Derek Thompson in The Atlantic with a "pox on both houses" article.


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I was very happy that Scott mentioned the podcast. Thank you Scott! A lot of the guests do seem to have an ACX connection.

Here is the latest with Bean https://www.buzzsprout.com/207869/8312646-bean-on-battleships-and-much-else-besides

I find my interviewing technique is still pretty poor though I think I did best on the one about the role of plague and climate change in the fall of the Roman Empire. https://www.buzzsprout.com/207869/7554679-the-fate-of-rome-with-kyle-harper

The most popular one so far (by a multiple of 3) was with Alex Tabarrok (Scott has reviewed his book) He wrote a review of the Parasite that went against the standard view. It is a fun read and it is on the Marginal Revolution site here:


If you have time for the podcast it is at:


It doesn't say much more than the review but if you liked the film Burning you might enjoy the podcast too.

By the way if anyone can suggest good guests either with or without an ACX connection (and that I have a chance of reaching!) that would be really nice. Either in the comments or at my email: hogg dot russell at gmail dot com.

Thanks again Scott for the mention.

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Some updates on things I learned since making the Georgia voting law comment:

1) Although you can *vote* absentee with only a SSN, you cannot *request* the absentee ballot with only a SSN. People without an ID can still request an absentee ballot, but they need to upload a photo of a utility bill, paycheck, or some other document that shows their name or address. This is burdensome enough that I now think it is reasonable to summarize the bill as saying you need an ID to vote absentee (even though you technically can get by with just a utility bill, paycheck, etc.).

2) Secretary of State Raffensberger clarified the new law will still permit nonpartisan groups to give unlabeled water bottles to poll workers, who can then distribute them. [1] I now feel more confident calling the claim that the law makes it illegal to distribute water "lacking important context."

3) Some people asked why existing voter intimidation laws didn't already ban political groups from distributing food or water at the polls. I think the answer is that they did, but in practice there were still issues because e.g. poll workers didn't realize this was illegal. See this comment [2] for some information about that.

4) I still overall feel that the law expands voting access, including in urban areas. However, it still might make sense to oppose it if you are very concerned about certain powers being stripped from the SoS and given to the legislature.

[1] https://www.onlineathens.com/story/news/2021/03/30/georgia-gov-kemp-voting-chief-raffensperger-defend-election-overhaul-law/4810602001/

[2] https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/open-thread-166#comment-1666144

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I have several relatives on my dad's side who have been diagnosed with serious mental disorders. Between grandparents, dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, my siblings, and self, we’ve got 6 diagnoses of bipolar or schizoaffective disorder (five of whom have been institutionalized at some point) out of a sample size of 21.

The new Mrs. and I are eager to settle down and having fun family planning talks, so I am curious: What would the Biodeterminist’s Guide to Parenting suggest for reducing the chances that the family propensity for mental disorders materializes in our future kiddoes?

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It might sound kind of redundant to say that I like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocketlab, etc because they actually launch stuff into space, but before them a lot of space startups tended to follow a depressingly predictable pattern: they'd found a company with some minimal seed money, make a big press release saying they were going to do XYZ, and then hope to somehow use that attention to get the funding to see if they could actually do XYZ. It never worked.

There's still a few of those now, but they mostly just get ignored.

I've become a lot more pessimistic about the prospects for nuclear power over the past few years. It just can't seem to get past the burden of too-expensive upfront costs, not even with new reactor designs (the NuScale Power Plant is predictably going into cost overruns and delays, and it's looking like they've got a bootstrap problem with the "modular" idea - they need enough orders to make it profitable to build the module factory to meet those orders). If there is going to be any nuclear renaissance in the US, it will probably have to be built and operated by a US federal agency.

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I think this could confuse matters because some people would be getting more of their vitamin D from sunlight and also getting their nitric oxide, while other people would just be getting their vitamin D from supplements.

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Georgia will be a blue state with or without the law; I don't even understand the hubbub. Rich suburbs used to be bastions of voter ID back in 2012; why do you guys think big companies have switched to opposing it now?

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I saw a lot of comments about the most recent book review writer's style being similar to Scott's. I realize that these comments are meant as compliments, but they are a bit patronizing. This writer had very much his/her own voice and style. There are infinite ways to combine humor, insight, and coherence. Perhaps we can take it easy on the Scott "stan"-ing. (Aside: Love you SA. Huge fan.)

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Noah Smith https://twitter.com/Noahpinion did a post on the "weeb" subculture that would probably be of interest to this community https://noahpinion.substack.com/p/weebs

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As someone who experienced near-zero success in my dating life up until my mid-20s, I recently realized that my problem was in not realizing what date actually entails and how it is structured. For anyone who currently has similar struggles, I attempted to figure out first date workflow using backwards induction here.


I'm new at blogging so I welcome any feedback.

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Which movies deserve to be remade because they had great plots but suffered from poor execution at the hands of directors, actors, or stingy studio execs?

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Someone showed me the Youtube channel "World of Wonder" ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUUUpaMp8DV6KUOfQwoIiLg ) the other day and it reminded me of a video I'm pretty sure was posted on Slate Star Codex, probably in a links post some years ago. I don't remember much about the video but it was a transsexual youtuber doing comedy. Might even have been one of the hosts on that channel. I remember too little to find it by searching, which bugs me. Does anyone now which video this was?

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**Science fiction books thread**

1) Vernor Vinge, despite being probably one of the most influential scifi authors in history, and the originator of the term "singularity" isn't talked about very much these days. I reread A Deepness in The Sky and A Fire Upon the Deep recently and they both hold up extremely well, containing a lot more density of interesting ideas than many modern books. The novella True Names is one of the foundational books of cyberpunk, and has a bit of a case of zeerust, but is quite interesting as a historical artefact.

2) I also recently read A Memory Called Empire and greatly enjoyed it. Its more on the social scifi side than hard scifi, but probably the first book I've read that really gives a good intuitive sense of what is meant by cultural imperialism, and the mixture of positive and negative emotions one feels towards a dominant culture. Also using Mayan cultural tropes in a scifi setting, without it being a gratuitous human sacrifices and scary rituals caricature, is very interesting.

3) Have been thinking a lot about how shared universes deal with inconsistent canon, and the general problems of having multiple authors play in one setting. Some franchises like star wars have responded by very strictly defining what is and isn't canon, and changing that over time as new things come out, leading to fractured canon. Others like star trek or marvel use alternate universes liberally. Or with something like Warhammer 40k they take the attitude that everything is being written from an in universe perspective, so any inaccuracies are the result of unreliable narrators, misinformation, etc. Are there any approaches I've missed? What do people think of the pros and cons of the different approaches.

x) Add your own subthreads about interesting scifi books below

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I first wrote this post in the subreddit where it was really well received and linked to in a number of other places, so I converted it into a blog, which I thought people on here would be interested in as well.


The article describes how a basketball statistic changed how I see the world. It's a meditation on the relationship between optimization and metrics, Goodhart's law and group dynamics.

I hope you enjoy!

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Something I wrote on a peculiar form of OCD. Be warned, it's a fairly intense read.


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Hasn’t ivermectin gotten enough buzz to turn your analytical attention in that direction?

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I'm trying to get more knowledgable about philosophy, but having a tough time, especially with the jargon. Reading the articles on wikipedia makes my brain hurt and my eyes glaze over - that's over my head. I should try Philosophy For Dummies. Having trouble understanding the term 'qualia', maybe because Dennett's argument that the concept is incoherent is correct. Hoping y'all can help with my questions. Here's my thought experiment. It's not like the bogus ones like the Chinese room and the trolley problem - this one could actually be done, but we don't need to. Pluck a guitar string to produce a note, which you hear. The ineffable essence of your perception is a quale, yes? Call it quale 1. Pluck a second time, and you hear the same thing. Do we now have 2 different qualia, or are there 2 instances of the same quale? Now pluck it again, this time lightly touching the string at the halfway point to produce the first harmonic overtone. You hear a tone an octave higher, so that's a different quale, yes? Call it quale 3. Now that higher pitch was contained in the sound from the first pluck, but you didn't perceive it because the fundamental pitch is louder. So is quale 3 contained in quale 1? Now that you've heard that octave higher overtone, you can listen for it and do pluck #4, which is identical to plucks 1 & 2. But being primed and motivated to listen for it, you will now perceive it. So even though the sensory input is the same we have a different quale, yes? Alternate phrasing - are qualia dependent on the perceiver's attitude and intention?

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I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that Marvel put out a Captain America issue where they used Jordan Peterson’s likeness as the “nazi agent Adolf Hitler protege” villain Red Skull. Is this kind of thing typical in comics or is this just a sign of the times and how crazy it’s got?

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What are some productive activities/hobbies that don't require much energy, travel, time, or planning to do?

(That is the real question; if you have an answer, you can feel free to share it and ignore the following convoluted digression. It's sort of "The Straw Vulcan's Case for Trying to be an Extreme Normie.")

That is, (at least it seems to me) activities that have some combination of going outside, taking risks, tangible accomplishments, using practical skills that you can demonstrate to others, physical activity, and developing friendships with other people, like hang gliding, playing tennis, and dancing, are highly valued by society. This in contrast to consumption activities like watching movies and television, reading books, newspapers, and blogs, and playing video games, which are typically solitary, sedentary, indoors, and don't require taking risks or demonstrating skills, and which I think are not highly respected by society.

Now, I, personally, am a nerd and a dork and much prefer the latter sort of activity. But I also recognize that there's, unfortunately, no percentage in being a nerd, unless it's directly related to advancing your job/career. There's usually just no benefit beyond momentary pleasure to using your scarce time and memory to learn about fictional worlds or abstract subjects like politics or science beyond their narrow bearing on your particular life. (Again, unless learning about them is part of your job and thus related to acquiring resources and status.) And there's nothing wrong with pleasure, but presumably it would simply be objectively better, if possible, to do something instead that is both enjoyable *and* advantageous to you, e.g. going bowling with your friends.

However, many of these ceteris paribus superior activities that I can think of involve nontrivial energy, travel, time, and planning to do. And those things are obviously in limited and diminishing supply as you develop a career, get married, and have children. It's thus often easy, after a long day at work, to just collapse onto the sofa and watch TV or play video games. So, I want to develop as habits positive activities that account for this---the fact that in the future I know that I'll often be tired and unwilling/unable to do much traveling/coordination. What are some things that are only, at most, slightly more effortful and complicated than watching TV, but that are still reasonably enjoyable, relaxing, productive, and make your future self glad that you did them?

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I don't understand why you're directly calling for comments on the Georgia voting reform law on an ostensibly no-politics Open Thread.

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"the Bayes factor for my series of ambidexterity experiments is 216"

This is sketchy for a couple reasons. First because the Bayes factor should be between the null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis. In this case Jacob's alternative hypothesis was that ambidextrous people are .2 SD more authoritarian. Second because there's still the issue of multiple comparisons. You can't just multiply the Bayes factors for each trait you looked at (that's called [naive Bayes](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naive_Bayes_classifier)).

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I analyzed a pattern I've seen in communities. I'm sure this is not an original idea, does anyone have a link to someone who has analysed sth similar?

The basic idea is:

There are some communities that doesn't filter who enters, and that has no mechanism for excluding/rehabilitating obnoxious people. This structure often leads to a situation akin to bad workplaces: people with options leave, people without stay.

At first it might be fine, but as soon as one really obnoxious person enters, you will have a gradual brain-drain-esque situation, as increasing levels of obnoxiousness incentivises more and more people to leave. The ones that leave first will be the ones you really want in the community, the people left behind will be comprised of obnoxious people and altruistic people that want to rehabilitate/improve.

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In the last election for the Governor of Georgia (Kemp v Abrams 2018), Brian Kemp was the Secretary of State and oversaw the election that he ran in. This was massively controversial at the time [1-3]. "Secretary of State runs for Governor" isn't that unusual of a thing to happen. It is better to not have such obvious potential for a conflict of interest.

[1] https://apnews.com/article/02bf11f29ada46d0833be6e3091b0c31

[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/georgia-voters-file-lawsuit-seeking-block-kemp-overseeing-election-results-n932566

[3] https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/11/30/18118264/georgia-election-lawsuit-voter-suppression-abrams-kemp-race

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So, a friend of mine has recently been considering seeking ECT (electroconvulsive therapy.) They've definitely been having a hard enough time for a while now to justify it, and they have the record of other treatment methods. But they're also worried about the potential memory loss side effects, particularly because they're currently studying for a degree on scholarship in a foreign country, and can't afford to forget anything important for long enough that it would cause them to lose the scholarship.

Does anyone have the domain knowledge to know how well-founded a worry this is? If the ECT actually works without major side effects, it would definitely make meeting the responsibilities of the scholarship easier rather than harder, along with a major increase in quality of life, but the success of the treatment can't be taken for granted.

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Anyone have a good probiotic that they like? I was using https://www.generalbiotics.com/ but wondering if the hivemind here has researched the topic.

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To me, it seems that all short-term side effects of Covid vaccination are well-covered/studied, and not worth much concern (UK blood clots being a sign in favor there, that such a small reaction was caught).

What should I say to family members who are worried about long-term unknown-unknown problems? E.g. "If I take this vaccine, maybe I get cancer in 30 years." "If I take the vaccine, maybe I'm infertile in 10 years". With other vaccines, there's a long track record to point to, but mRNA (and to a lesser extent, adenovirus) vaccines don't have that.

Is there some mechanism-of-effect information that points to those being implausible outcomes? I struggle to find any info online about this, because any searches are swamped by antivax/provax/short-term information.

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"Looking at the Pfizer graph, the protection level is nearly binary: none, and then all. Day 11 after the first shot seems to be the magic point beyond which you can consider yourself vaccinated."


1. Is this right? If so, 2. What is the mechanism that explains this? 3. Say you contracted Covid 7 days after getting the Pfizer vaccine. Would your vaccination be useless, or would it reduce the severity of the illness?

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A while back on one of the SSC open threads I was involved in a brief discussion (https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/06/03/open-thread-155-25/#comment-907078) over whether or not lowering speed limits a bit (e.g. 70 mph -> 65 mph) in the United States would be a net gain or loss, and I wanted to do a better analysis of the question - ignoring factors like “whether people would follow a lower speed limit” or any complex effects on The Economy - just to see if, under relatively ideal assumptions, it’s something worth looking into.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put out an analysis (https://www.iihs.org/api/datastoredocument/bibliography/2188) which looks at data from 1993 - 2017 and finds that a 5 mph increase on the speed limit led to 13,638 additional fatalities on interstates and freeways. Because we’re just worried about the impact of a 70 mph -> 65 mph change, interstates and freeways are the most relevant places.

Averaging out Farmer’s total death count, the speed increase led to about 545 deaths per year. Using data from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/motor-vehicle/historical-fatality-trends/deaths-by-age-group/ and a weighted average, the average age of a death via car crash is about 40 years old (~42.3). With a life expectancy of 80, that’s about 40 years lost per death, for a total loss of 21.8 thousand years.

Last time someone brought up the good point that slower speeds wouldn’t affect how much time professional drivers like truckers spend driving, since they’re driving ~8 hours per day no matter what. I think “non-professional driver traffic” corresponds well to the “light duty vehicles” section of this table (https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2016/vm1.cfm), so about 676 billion miles were driven on interstates in 2016 by people who could conceivably be doing other things.

It’s safe to assume most travel will be around the speed limit of 70 mph, and so those miles take 1.10 million person-years to drive each year. If we were to drop the speed limit to 65 mph, then they would take 1.19 million person-years instead.

So under fairly ideal assumptions, the tradeoff we’re looking at is 90,000 person-years driving for 21,800 regular person-years. Unfortunately, evaluating how good of a deal this is or isn’t depends on how much worse time spent in a car is than time spent doing other things.

Even ignoring the effects on productivity from time lost (since I’m trying to ignore second-order effects), the question of how much worse the experience of driving a car is compared to something else is both subjective and hard to quantify. I think the best way to evaluate this is to consider whether I would personally trade X years of life for Y years of life that I have to spend driving, and then derive the value of driving-time to regular-time from my answer to that question.

For example, I think at best (if I had very good podcasts) I *might* trade regular-life for driving-life at a 1:3 ratio. This would mean I value a driving year at about 0.33 regular years, and the tradeoff is a net-gain if one driving year is worth more than 0.24 regular years.

Realistically, I don’t think I would take a trade at that ratio (very good podcasts are a scarce resource, and I don’t like driving), and I think this bodes very poorly for the idea of lowering speed limits, at least for these reasons. That said, I’m curious about how much other people would say they value driving-time relative to regular time.

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I think it’s probably not changeable on the platform, but substack masking external links is crazy annoying.

I get why it’s happening — author inserts a link, and then substack routes it through a tracking url before delivering the viewer to the final destination. It’s understandable and not nefarious, but it breaks what turns out for me to be a major piece of usability, which is that I hover over links to see the url tooltip, and a large part of my decision to click is based on what I see. I’m not sure I can fully explicate what I’m looking for, but examples might be that I’m more likely to click a private blog url than I am to click the link to an abstract to a paper I don’t have access to.

But in any case, I can’t do this anymore on substack because all urls are just substack with some some ID hash. It’s aggravating. Am I the only who uses links this way?

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