gbooks   34

Peer review is younger than you think - Marginal REVOLUTION
I’d like to see a detailed look at actual journal practices, but my personal sense is that editorial review was the norm until fairly recently, not review by a team of outside referees.  In 1956, for instance, the American Historical Review asked for only one submission copy, and it seems the same was true as late as 1970.  I doubt they made the photocopies themselves. Schmidt seems to suggest that the practices of government funders nudged the academic professions into more formal peer review with multiple referee reports.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
West of the West: Imagining California : an Anthology - Google Books
Jean Baudrillard:
There is nothing to match flying over Los Angeles by night. A sort of luminous, geometric, incandescent immensity, stretching as far as the eye can see, bursting out from the cracks in the clouds. Only Hieronymus Bosch’s hell can match this inferno effect. The muted fluorescence of all the diagonals: Wilshire, Lincoln, Sunset, Santa Monica. Already, flying over San Fernando Valley, you come upon the horizontal infinite in every direction. But, once you are beyond the mountain, a city ten times larger hits you. You will never have encountered anything that stretches as far as this before. Even the sea cannot match it, since it is not divided up geometrically. The irregular, scattered flickering of European cities does not produce the same parallel lines, the same vanishing points, the same aerial perspectives either. They are medieval cities. This one condenses by night the entire future geometry of the networks of human relations, gleaming in their abstraction, luminous in their extension, astral in their reproduction to infinity. Mulholland Drive by night is an extraterrestrial's vantage point on earth, or conversely, an earth dweller's vantage point on the galactic metropolis.


gbooks  quotes  big-peeps  art  mystic  california  aphorism  gallic  travel  urban  embodied  multi  pic  beauty  urban-rural 
may 2017 by nhaliday
The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry - Suzan Mazur - Google Books
Suzan Mazur: So you think it's premature to be talking about
an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis?

Richard Lewontin: I wouldn’t use the word premature. Why would we want to do that? To say it's premature suggests that one of these days we will have to. l don't know what we’ll have to do in the future.

The so-called Evolutionary Synthesis. These are all very vague terms. And you have to understand as a writer about science - and that’s what l tried to say about Steve Gould - is that scientists are always looking to find some theory or idea that they can push as something that nobody else ever thought of because that’s the way they get their prestige. Do new and different things. So our field - especially evolutionary biology - has been invaded by people like Jerry Fodor and others. People who don't really know the mechanical details down to the last and also people from within the field. And Steve did a certain amount of this. [People] who are always looking to suggest that they have an idea which will overturn our whole View of evolution because otherwise they’re just workers in the factory, so to speak. And the factory was designed by Charles Darwin. You want to become famous, you make a big noise about some of your latest theory.

Suzan Mazur: So you wouldn’t characterize Steve Gould as someone embracing self-organization then.

Richard Lewontin: I don't even know what self-organization is. Self-organization is a very confusing term to me.

Suzan Mazur: To everyone. But they all seem to working in it.

Richard Lewontin: Yeah. I understand. What I’rn trying to tell you is - for me at least that’s not science. If I can't do experiments that relate directly to a very clear and logical hypothesis - I don't want to talk about self-organization. I don't know what it means.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order - Samuel P. Huntington - Google Books
prediction from 1996:
A civilizational paradigm thus sets forth a relatively simple but not too simple map for understanding what is going on in the world as the twentieth century ends. No paradigm, however, is good forever. The Cold War model of world politics was useful and relevant for forty years but became obsolete in the late l980s, and at some point the civilizational paradigm will suffer a similar fate. For the contemporary period, however, it provides a useful guide for distinguishing what is more important from what is less important. Slightly less than half of the forty-eight ethnic conflicts in the world in early 1993, for example, were between groups from different civilizations. The civilizational perspective would lead the UN. Secretary-General and the U.S. Secretary of State to concentrate their peacemaking efforts on these conflicts which have much greater potential than others to escalate into broader wars.

Paradigms also generate predictions, and a crucial test of a paradigms validity and usefulness is the extent to which the predictions derived from it turn out to be more accurate than those from alternative paradigms. A statist paradigm, for instance, leads John Mearsheimer to predict that “the situation between Ukraine and Russia is ripe for the outbreak of security competition between them. Great powers that share a long and unprotected common border, like that between Russia and Ukraine, often lapse into competition driven by security fears. Russia and Ukraine might overcome this dynamic and learn to live together in harmony, but it would be unusual if they do.”"‘ A civilizational approach, on the other hand, emphasizes the close cultural, personal, and historical links between Russia and Ukraine and the intermingling of Russians and Ukrainians in both countries, and focuses instead on the civilizational fault line that divides Orthodox eastern Ukraine from Uniate western Ukraine, a central historical fact of long standing which, in keeping with the “realist” concept of states as unified and self-identified entities, Mearsheimer totally ignores. While a statist approach highlights the possibility of a Russian-Ukrainian war, a civilizational approach minimizes that and instead highlights the possibility of Ukraine splitting in half, a separation which cultural factors would lead one to predict might be more violent than that of Czechoslovakia but far less bloody than that of Yugoslavia. These different predictions, in turn, give rise to different policy priorities. Mearsheimer's statist prediction of possible war and Russian conquest of Ukraine leads him to support Ukraine's having nuclear weapons. A civilizational approach would encourage cooperation between Russia and Ukraine, urge Ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons, promote substantial economic assistance and other measures to help maintain Ukrainian unity and independence, and sponsor contingency planning for the possible breakup of Ukraine.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Essays - William Graham Sumner - Google Books
Now, the achievements of the human race have been accomplished by the élite of the race; there is no ground at all in history for the notion that the masses of mankind have provided the wisdom and done the work. There are, in this whole region of thought, a vast mass of dogmas and superstitious which will have to be corrected either by hard thinking or great suffering. A man is good for something only so far as he thinks, knows, tries, or works. If we put a great many men together, those of them who carry on the society will be those who use reflection and forethought, and exercise industry and self-control. Hence the dogma that all men are equal is the most flagrant falsehood and the most immoral doctrine which men have ever believed; it means that the man who has not done his duty is as good as the one who has done his duty, and it takes away all sense from the teachings of the moralists, when they instruct youth that men who pursue one line of action will go down to loss and shame, and those who pursue another course will go up to honor and success. It is, on the contrary, a doctrine of the first moral and sociological importance that truth, wisdom, and righteousness come only by painstaking, study, and striving. These things are so hard that it is only the few who attain to them. These few carry on human society now as they always have done.

Hence we see that so soon as the exigencies of life are felt, men are differentiated according to their power to cope with them into “better” or “worse” with reference to personal and social value; and as soon as any conquest is achieved which contributes to civilization, the inequality between the men who won it and those who did not win it is established as a positive fact. Men are very unequal in what they get out of life, but they are still more unequal in what they put into it. The most unequal bargain has always been made by the men who have done the world’s thinking for it.

In nothing have we, as yet, made so little progress as in the art of civil government, or, more generally, in our political organization. We have abandoned hereditary government because we regard it as illogical; it affords no guarantees that fit persons will hold power; it is stable, but it is not flexible or plastic. Have we, however, as yet produced political methods under democratic-republican government which afford us any guarantees that fit persons alone will obtain power? It is very certain that we have not done this. We do not fear for the stability of the civil organization. We desire flexibility and plasticity, but if we have lost the notion of fitness altogether, and are irritated by it when it is brought to our notice, we have made no step in advance.

The fact is, that the vague encouragement which has been given, for a century, to impossible dreams and senseless ambitions has produced social problems with which our sociology is in no position to cope. How far we are from it may be judged when we find it asserted that the end of society is justice. To ask what is the end of man, or society, or the earth, is to put a teleological or theological problem. Such a problem has been discussed in regard to man; if it has ever been discussed in regard to society, it is at least new. It is also idle. The scientific view of the matter is that a thing exists for reasons which lie in its antecedents and causes, not in its purposes or destiny. Human society exists because it is, and has come to be on earth because forces which were present must produce it. It is, therefore, utterly unscientific to regard man or society as a means to any further end. The state exists to provide justice, but the state is only one among a number of social organizations. It is parallel with the others, and has its own functions. To confuse the state with society is to produce a variety of errors, not the least of which is to smuggle statecraft into political economy. It is plain that, until such courses of confusion are put entirely beyond the pale of social discussions, our social science cannot make very rapid progress. The sources of confusion lie at the very beginning, and they vitiate our political economy and political science into their remotest developments. An attentive study of any of the current controversies will show that they arise from fundamentally confused or erroneous notions of society, and that they cannot be solved without a rectification, on a scientific basis, of our data and our doctrines about human life on this earth.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 - Charles A. Murray - Google Books
Watching the European Model Implode

The simplest way in which the advanced welfare state will lose attractiveness is the looming bankruptcy of the European welfare states.

The financial bankruptcy is not anything that even the cleverest planner can avoid. As publicly financed benefits grow, so do the populations who find that they need them. The more people who need benefits, the more government bureaucracy is required. The more people who rely on support from the government and the larger the government, the fewer the people in the private sector who pay for the benefits and for the apparatus of the state. The larger the number of people who depend on government either for benefits or for their jobs, the larger the constituency for voting for ever-larger government.

These are arithmetical realities that have become manifest in every advanced Western country. They have brought some European welfare states within sight of bankruptcy as I write. Fertility rates that are far below replacement throughout western Europe ensure that the productive native-born population will fall still more in the years to come.

There is no permanent way out of the self-destructive dynamics of the welfare state, but Europe has a tempting palliative-encouraging large-scale immigration of younger populations who work in the private sector and pay taxes that make up the revenue deficit. It won't work forever-sooner or later, the immigrants, too, will succumb to the incentives that the welfare state sets up. But the more immediate problem is that most of the new workers come from cultures that are radically different from those of western Europe. In some cases, those cultures despise the values that led to the welfare state. The United States will have a chance to watch these events unfold before our own situation becomes as critical, and the sight will be a powerful incentive to avoid going down the same road.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Google Ngram Viewer: "build character,builds character"
- steady rise till a slight dip starting early 2000s, hmm
- dip in early 60s lol
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Can Asians Think? - Kishore Mahbubani - Google Books
Huntington fails to ask one obvious question: If other civilisations have been around for centuries, Why are they posing a challenge only now? A sincere attempt to answer this question reveals a fatal flaw that has recently developed in the Western mind: _an inability to conceive that the West may have developed structural weaknesses in its core value systems and institutions_. This flaw explains, in part, the recent rush to embrace the assumption that history has ended with the triumph of the Western ideal: individual freedom and democracy would always guarantee that Western civilization would stay ahead of the pack.

Only hubris can explain why so many Western societies are trying to defy the economic laws of gravity. Budgetary discipline is disappearing. Expensive social programmes and pork-barrel projects multiply with little heed to costs. The West’s low savings and investment rates lead to declining competitiveness vis-a-vis East Asia. The work ethic is eroding, while politicians delude workers into believing that they can retain high wages despite becoming internationally uncompetitive. Leadership is lacking. Any politician who states hard truths is immediately voted out. Americans freely admit that many of their economic problems arise from the inherent gridlock of American democracy. While the rest of the world is puzzled by these fiscal follies, American politicians and journalists travel around the world preaching the virtues of democracy. It makes for a curious sight.

The same hero-worship is given to the idea of individual freedom. Much good has come from this idea. Slavery ended. Universal franchise followed. But freedom does not only solve problems; it can also cause them. The United States has undertaken a massive social experiment, tearing down social institution after social institution that restrained the individual. The results have been disastrous. Since 1960 the US population has increased 41 per cent while violent crime has risen by 560 per cent, single-mother births by 419 per cent, divorce rates by 300 per cent, and the percentage of children living in single-parent homes by 300 per cent. This is massive social decay. Many a society shudders at the prospect of this happening on its shores. But instead of travelling overseas with humility, Americans confidently preach the virtues of unfettered individual freedom, blithely ignoring the visible social consequences.

The West is still the repository of the greatest assets and achievements of human civilisation. Many Western values explain the spectacular advance of mankind: the belief in scientific inquiry, the search for rational solutions, and the willingness to challenge assumptions. But a belief that a society is practising these values can lead to a unique blindness: the inability to realise that some of the values that come with this package may be harmful. Western values do not form a seamless Web. Some are good. Some are bad. But one has to stand outside the West to see this clearly and to see how the West is bringing about its relative decline by its own hand. Huntington, too, is blind to this.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
"Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character ... - Richard P. Feynman - Google Books
Actually, there was a certain amount of genuine quality to my guesses. I had a scheme, which I still use today when somebody is explaining something that l’m trying to understand: I keep making up examples. For instance, the mathematicians would come in with a terrific theorem, and they’re all excited. As they’re telling me the conditions of the theorem, I construct something which fits all the conditions. You know, you have a set (one ball)—disjoint (two balls). Then the balls tum colors, grow hairs, or whatever, in my head as they put more conditions on. Finally they state the theorem, which is some dumb thing about the ball which isn’t true for my hairy green ball thing, so I say, “False!"
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Epigenetics | West Hunter
It’s not a real theory, like saying that the wet spot on the kitchen floor is caused by a hole in the roof. All the implications of a real theory are taken seriously (like that hole in the roof will make it cold in the winter). In this kind of pseudo-theory, only the implications that you like exist.

Growing Pains for Field of Epigenetics as Some Call for Overhaul:
For transgenerational epigenetic transmission of behaviour to occur in mammals, here's what would have to happen:

Inherited memories:
In a recent paper in Nature Neuroscience, Dias and Ressler trained mice to fear the smell of acetophenone. They claim that this reaction was passed on to their offspring, and to the following generation.

I don’t believe a word of it. It would require a mechanism that takes the epigenetic states of genes in the brain, sends that information down to the testes, and then somehow imprints it on the germ cell precursors. And it would have to do this in a very special way, because many epigenetic changes that are the product of learning wouldn’t be the right thing at all during embryogenesis and development: somehow you’d have to pass timing information as well – info that says “methylate this sucker when you’re three weeks old, but not before”. Genes are like a recipe, but this patch would be more like a program. And it’d take a tnuctipun – or better – to prepare it.

According to the blurb at Nature, Kerry Ressler is a neurobiologist and psychiatrist at Emory University. In other words, he’s already a good deal more likely than average to be a flake. He became “interested in epigenetic inheritance after working with poor people living in inner cities, where cycles of drug addiction, neuropsychiatric illness and other problems often seem to recur in parents and their children. So he’s motivated. He’d like this to be true. Too bad.

We’re going to see more and more articles like this: people want to hear it. Tyler Cowen certainly does, but then he may not really be people. None of this research will ever be replicated by anyone careful and honest, but that has hardly stopped a flood of analogous nonsense in the social sciences – for example, how poverty reduces your IQ, unless your name is Abel or Ramanujan.


There are more things yet to be discovered than are dreamt of in our philosophy – but there’s even more bullshit. And that’s what this is.
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november 2016 by nhaliday

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