Who Does Ross Douthat Think He Is? – Hmm Daily
Much good stuff here, of which I will just highlight two bits:

"Except Ross Douthat is not that kind of Catholic. He is a convert, whose ancestry runs right through the Protestant establishment, including his great-grandfather having been the governor of Connecticut. Calling himself a Catholic in the discussion of historic power and opportunity was a Rachel Dolezal–grade feat of impersonation. To the extent there is a story to be told about the decline of the cultural dominance of the Protestant ruling class, it would be the story of how Ross Douthat came to identify as Catholic, without ceding any power or influence along the way."


"Douthat presents that version of things as a speculative alternative history:
'So it’s possible to imagine adaptation rather than surrender as a different WASP strategy across the 1960s and 1970s. In such a world the establishment would have still admitted more blacks, Jews, Catholics and Hispanics (and more women) to its ranks … but it would have done so as a self-consciously elite-crafting strategy, rather than under the pseudo-democratic auspices of the SAT and the high school resume and the dubious ideal of “merit.” '
"What is the difference between “a self-consciously elite-crafting strategy” and “the SAT and the high school resume and the dubious ideal of ‘merit'”? This is exactly what the Ivies did: they adapted their conception of the elite to include more different demographic groups, whose elite status was to be measured with tests and resumes."
have_read  us_politics  why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_intelligentsia 
6 hours ago
[1706.04290] A general method for lower bounds on fluctuations of random variables
"There are many ways of establishing upper bounds on fluctuations of random variables, but there is no systematic approach for lower bounds. As a result, lower bounds are unknown in many important problems. This paper introduces a general method for lower bounds on fluctuations. The method is used to obtain new results for the stochastic traveling salesman problem, the stochastic minimal matching problem, the random assignment problem, the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses, first-passage percolation and random matrices. A long list of open problems is provided at the end."
to:NB  probability  deviation_inequalities  via:vaguery 
7 hours ago
Confidence intervals for GLMs
For the trick about finding the inverse link function.
regression  R  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  via:kjhealy 
7 hours ago
Scientific cosmology and international orders | International relations and international organisations | Cambridge University Press
"Scientific Cosmology and International Orders shows how scientific ideas have transformed international politics since 1550. Allan argues that cosmological concepts arising from Western science made possible the shift from a sixteenth century order premised upon divine providence to the present order centred on economic growth. As states and other international associations used scientific ideas to solve problems, they slowly reconfigured ideas about how the world works, humanity's place in the universe, and the meaning of progress. The book demonstrates the rise of scientific ideas across three cases: natural philosophy in balance of power politics, 1550–1815; geology and Darwinism in British colonial policy and international colonial orders, 1860–1950; and cybernetic-systems thinking and economics in the World Bank and American liberal order, 1945–2015. Together, the cases trace the emergence of economic growth as a central end of states from its origins in colonial doctrines of development and balance of power thinking about improvement."

--- Oooh.
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  history_of_science  diplomacy  via:henry_farrell  cybernetics  world_bank 
2 days ago
PsyArXiv Preprints | Do smartphone usage scales predict behaviour?
"Understanding how people use technology remains important, particularly when measuring the impact this might have on individuals and society. However, despite recent methodological advances in portable computing and the ability to record digital traces of behaviour, research concerning smartphone use overwhelmingly relies on self-reported assessments, which have yet to convincingly demonstrate an ability to predict objective behaviour. Here, and for the first time, we compare a variety of smartphone use and ‘addiction’ scales with objective behaviours derived from Apple’s Screen Time application. While correlations between psychometric scales and objective behaviour are generally poor, measures that attempt to frame technology use as habitual rather than ‘addictive’ correlate more favourably with subsequent behaviour. We conclude that existing self-report instruments are unlikely to be sensitive enough to accurately predict basic technology use related behaviours. As a result, conclusions regarding the psychological impact of technology are unreliable when relying solely on these measures to quantify typical usage."

--- Tagged "to teach" because this is a great example of the actual foundations of statistics (namely, knowing where the numbers came from and what they mean), but I don't know what class I'd teach this in.
to:NB  to_read  networked_life  social_measurement  psychometrics  to_teach 
2 days ago
Modern Neural Networks Generalize on Small Data Sets
"In this paper, we use a linear program to empirically decompose fitted neural networks into ensembles of low-bias sub-networks. We show that these sub-networks are relatively uncorrelated which leads to an internal regularization process, very much like a random forest, which can explain why a neural network is surprisingly resistant to overfitting. We then demonstrate this in practice by applying large neural networks, with hundreds of parameters per training observation, to a collection of 116 real-world data sets from the UCI Machine Learning Repository. This collection of data sets contains a much smaller number of training examples than the types of image classification tasks generally studied in the deep learning literature, as well as non-trivial label noise. We show that even in this setting deep neural nets are capable of achieving superior classification accuracy without overfitting."

--- If this has all just been an elaborate rediscovery of Krogh and Vedelsby (NIPS 1994), I may explode with exasperation/schadenfreude/delight.
to:NB  learning_theory  neural_networks  via:arsyed 
2 days ago
Friending the Past: The Sense of History in the Digital Age, Liu
"Can today’s society, increasingly captivated by a constant flow of information, share a sense of history? How did our media-making forebears balance the tension between the present and the absent, the individual and the collective, the static and the dynamic—and how do our current digital networks disrupt these same balances? Can our social media, with its fleeting nature, even be considered social at all?   
"In Friending the Past, Alan Liu proposes fresh answers to these innovative questions of connection. He explores how we can learn from the relationship between past societies whose media forms fostered a communal and self-aware sense of history—such as prehistorical oral societies with robust storytelling cultures, or the great print works of nineteenth-century historicism—and our own instantaneous present. He concludes with a surprising look at how the sense of history exemplified in today’s JavaScript timelines compares to the temporality found in Romantic poetry.
"Interlaced among these inquiries, Liu shows how extensive “network archaeologies” can be constructed as novel ways of thinking about our affiliations with time and with each other. These conceptual architectures of period and age are also always media structures, scaffolded with the outlines of what we mean by history. Thinking about our own time, Liu wonders if the digital, networked future can sustain a similar sense of history."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  uses_of_the_past 
3 days ago
America, Compromised, Lessig
"“There is not a single American awake to the world who is comfortable with the way things are.”
"So begins Lawrence Lessig's sweeping indictment of contemporary American institutions and the corruption that besets them. We can all see it—from the selling of Congress to special interests to the corporate capture of the academy. Something is wrong. It’s getting worse.
"And it’s our fault. What Lessig shows, brilliantly and persuasively, is that we can’t blame the problems of contemporary American life on bad people, as our discourse all too often tends to do. Rather, he explains, “We have allowed core institutions of America’s economic, social, and political life to become corrupted. Not by evil souls, but by good souls. Not through crime, but through compromise.” Every one of us, every day, making the modest compromises that seem necessary to keep moving along, is contributing to the rot at the core of American civic life. Through case studies of Congress, finance, the academy, the media, and the law, Lessig shows how institutions are drawn away from higher purposes and toward money, power, quick rewards—the first steps to corruption.
"Lessig knows that a charge so broad should not be levied lightly, and that our instinct will be to resist it. So he brings copious, damning detail gleaned from years of research, building a case that is all but incontrovertible: America is on the wrong path. If we don’t acknowledge our own part in that, and act now to change it, we will hand our children a less perfect union than we were given. It will be a long struggle. This book represents the first steps."
to:NB  books:noted  our_decrepit_institutions  lessig.lawrence  us_politics 
3 days ago
Islam and World History: The Ventures of Marshall Hodgson, Burke, Mankin
"Published in 1974, Marshall Hodgson’s The Venture of Islam was a watershed moment in the study of Islam. By locating the history of Islamic societies in a global perspective, Hodgson challenged the orientalist paradigms that had stunted the development of Islamic studies and provided an alternative approach to world history. Edited by Edmund Burke III and Robert Mankin, Islam and World History explores the complexity of Hodgson’s thought, the daring of his ideas, and the global context of his world historical insights into, among other themes, Islam and world history, gender in Islam, and the problem of Muslim universality.
"In our post-9/11 world, Hodgson’s historical vision and moral engagement have never been more relevant. A towering achievement, Islam and World History will prove to be the definitive statement on Hodgson’s relevance in the twenty-first century and will introduce his influential work to a new generation of readers."

--- Hodgson is magnificent, and this might be good.
to:NB  books:noted  world_history  islamic_civilization  islam  hodgson.marshall.g.s.  lives_of_the_scholars 
3 days ago
Dinomania: Why We Love, Fear and Are Utterly Enchanted by Dinosaurs, Sax
"From Jurassic Park to Sue the T-Rex and Barney, our dino love affair is as real, as astonishing, and as incomprehensible as the gargantuan beasts themselves. At once reptilian and avian, dinosaurs enable us to imagine a world far beyond the usual boundaries of time, culture, and physiology. We envision them in diverse and contradictory ways, from purple friends to toothy terrors—reflecting, in part, our changing conceptions of ourselves. Not unlike humans today, dinosaurs seem at once powerful, almost godly, and helpless in the face of cosmic forces even more powerful than themselves.
"In Dinomania, Boria Sax, a leading authority on human-animal relations, tells the story of our unlikely romance with the titanic saurians, from the discovery of their enormous bones—relics of an ancient world—to the dinosaur theme parks of today. That discovery, around the start of the nineteenth century, was intimately tied to our growing awareness of geological time and the dawn of the industrial era. Dinosaurs’ vast size and power called to mind railroads, battleships, and factories, making them, paradoxically, emblems of modernity. But at the same time, their world was nature at its most pristine and unsullied, the perfect symbol of childhood innocence and wonder. Sax concludes that in our imaginations dinosaurs essentially are, and always have been, dragons; and as we enter a new era of environmental threats in which dinos provide us a way to confront indirectly the possibility of human extinction, their representation is again blending with the myth and legend from which it emerged at the start of the modern age."
to:NB  books:noted  dinosaurs  history_of_ideas  history_of_art  the_present_before_it_was_widely_distributed 
3 days ago
Javanmardi: The Ethics and Practice of Persianate Perfection, Ridgeon
"Javanmardi is one of those Persian terms that is frequently mentions in discussions of Persian identity, and yet its precise meaning is difficult to comprehend. A number of equivalents have been offered, including chivalry and manliness, and while these terms are not incorrect, javanmardi transcends them. The concept encompasses character traits of generosity, selflessness, hospitality, bravery, courage, honesty, truthfulness and justice--and yet there are occasions when the exact opposite of these is required for one to be a javanmard. At times it would seem that being a javanmard is about knowing and doing the right thing, although this definition, too, falls short of the term's full meaning.
"The present collection is the product of a three-year project financed by the British Institute of Persian Studies on the theme of "Javanmardi in the Persianate world." The articles in this volume represent the sheer range, influence, and importance that the concept has had in creating and contributing to Persianate identities over the past one hundred and fifty years. The contributions are intentionally broad in scope. Rather than focus, for example, on medieval Sufi manifestations of javanmardi, both medieval and modern studies were encouraged, as were literary, artistic, archaeological, and sociological studies among others. The opening essays examine the concept’s origin in medieval history and legends throughout a geographical background that spans from modern Iran to Turkey, Armenia, and Bosnia, among both Muslim and Christian communities. Subsequent articles explore modern implications of javanmardi within such contexts as sportsmanship, political heroism, gender fluidity, cinematic representations, and the advent of digitalization."
to:NB  books:noted  persianate_culture  history_of_morals 
3 days ago
[1802.00211] Hoeffding's lemma for Markov Chains and its applications to statistical learning
"We extend Hoeffding's lemma to general-state-space and not necessarily reversible Markov chains. Let {Xi}i≥1 be a stationary Markov chain with invariant measure π and absolute spectral gap 1−λ, where λ is defined as the operator norm of the transition kernel acting on mean zero and square-integrable functions with respect to π. Then, for any bounded functions fi:x↦[ai,bi], the sum of fi(Xi) is sub-Gaussian with variance proxy 1+λ1−λ⋅∑i(bi−ai)24. This result differs from the classical Hoeffding's lemma by a multiplicative coefficient of (1+λ)/(1−λ), and simplifies to the latter when λ=0. The counterpart of Hoeffding's inequality for Markov chains immediately follows. Our results assume none of countable state space, reversibility and time-homogeneity of Markov chains and cover time-dependent functions with various ranges. We illustrate the utility of these results by applying them to six problems in statistics and machine learning."
in_NB  deviation_inequalities  probability  stochastic_processes  markov_models 
4 days ago
[1805.10721] Bernstein's inequality for general Markov chains
"We prove a sharp Bernstein inequality for general-state-space and not necessarily reversible Markov chains. It is sharp in the sense that the variance proxy term is optimal. Our result covers the classical Bernstein's inequality for independent random variables as a special case."
in_NB  deviation_inequalities  probability  stochastic_processes  markov_models  re:almost_none 
4 days ago
The Effect of Media Coverage on Mass Shootings | IZA - Institute of Labor Economics
"Can media coverage of shooters encourage future mass shootings? We explore the link between the day-to-day prime time television news coverage of shootings on ABC World News Tonight and subsequent mass shootings in the US from January 1, 2013 to June 23, 2016. To circumvent latent endogeneity concerns, we employ an instrumental variable strategy: worldwide disaster deaths provide an exogenous variation that systematically crowds out shooting-related coverage. Our findings consistently suggest a positive and statistically significant effect of coverage on the number of subsequent shootings, lasting for 4-10 days. At its mean, news coverage is suggested to cause approximately three mass shootings in the following week, which would explain 55 percent of all mass shootings in our sample. Results are qualitatively consistent when using (i) additional keywords to capture shooting-related news coverage, (ii) alternative definitions of mass shootings, (iii) the number of injured or killed people as the dependent variable, and (iv) an alternative, longer data source for mass shootings from 2006-2016."
to:NB  to_read  contagion  causal_inference  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  previous_tag_was_in_poor_taste 
4 days ago
Solving Differential Equations in R: Package deSolve | Soetaert | Journal of Statistical Software
"In this paper we present the R package deSolve to solve initial value problems (IVP) written as ordinary differential equations (ODE), differential algebraic equations (DAE) of index 0 or 1 and partial differential equations (PDE), the latter solved using the method of lines approach. The differential equations can be represented in R code or as compiled code. In the latter case, R is used as a tool to trigger the integration and post-process the results, which facilitates model development and application, whilst the compiled code significantly increases simulation speed. The methods implemented are efficient, robust, and well documented public-domain Fortran routines. They include four integrators from the ODEPACK package (LSODE, LSODES, LSODA, LSODAR), DVODE and DASPK2.0. In addition, a suite of Runge-Kutta integrators and special-purpose solvers to efficiently integrate 1-, 2- and 3-dimensional partial differential equations are available. The routines solve both stiff and non-stiff systems, and include many options, e.g., to deal in an efficient way with the sparsity of the Jacobian matrix, or finding the root of equations. In this article, our objectives are threefold: (1) to demonstrate the potential of using R for dynamic modeling, (2) to highlight typical uses of the different methods implemented and (3) to compare the performance of models specified in R code and in compiled code for a number of test cases. These comparisons demonstrate that, if the use of loops is avoided, R code can efficiently integrate problems comprising several thousands of state variables. Nevertheless, the same problem may be solved from 2 to more than 50 times faster by using compiled code compared to an implementation using only R code. Still, amongst the benefits of R are a more flexible and interactive implementation, better readability of the code, and access to R’s high-level procedures. deSolve is the successor of package odesolve which will be deprecated in the future; it is free software and distributed under the GNU General Public License, as part of the R software project."
to:NB  dynamical_systems  computational_statistics  R  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
4 days ago
Demographic Models for Projecting Population and Migration: Methods for African Historical Analysis | Manning | Journal of World-Historical Information
"This study presents methods for projecting population and migration over time in cases were empirical data are missing or undependable. The methods are useful for cases in which the researcher has details of population size and structure for a limited period of time (most obviously, the end point), with scattered evidence on other times. It enables estimation of population size, including its structure in age, sex, and status, either forward or backward in time. The program keeps track of all the details. The calculated data can be reported or sampled and compared to empirical findings at various times and places to expected values based on other procedures of estimation.
"The application of these general methods that is developed here is the projection of African populations backwards in time from 1950, since 1950 is the first date for which consistently strong demographic estimates are available for national-level populations all over the African continent. The models give particular attention to migration through enslavement, which was highly important in Africa from 1650 to 1900. Details include a sensitivity analysis showing relative significance of input variables and techniques for calibrating various dimensions of the projection with each other. These same methods may be applicable to quite different historical situations, as long as the data conform in structure to those considered here."

--- The final for the Kids.
to:NB  have_read  demography  history  africa  imperialism  slavery  great_transformation  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time  simulation  manning.patrick 
7 days ago
[1808.04739] Simulating Markov random fields with a conclique-based Gibbs sampler
"For spatial and network data, we consider models formed from a Markov random field (MRF) structure and the specification of a conditional distribution for each observation. At issue, fast simulation from such MRF models is often an important consideration, particularly when repeated generation of large numbers of data sets is required (e.g., for approximating sampling distributions). However, a standard Gibbs strategy for simulating from MRF models involves single-updates, performed with the conditional distribution of each observation in a sequential manner, whereby a Gibbs iteration may become computationally involved even for relatively small samples. As an alternative, we describe a general way to simulate from MRF models using Gibbs sampling with "concliques" (i.e., groups of non-neighboring observations). Compared to standard Gibbs sampling, this simulation scheme can be much faster by reducing Gibbs steps and by independently updating all observations per conclique at once. We detail the simulation method, establish its validity, and assess its computational performance through numerical studies, where speed advantages are shown for several spatial and network examples."

--- Slides: http://andeekaplan.com/phd-thesis/slides/public.pdf
--- There's an R package on Github but I couldn't get it to compile...
to:NB  random_fields  simulation  stochastic_processes  spatial_statistics  network_data_analysis  markov_models  statistics  computational_statistics  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time  have_read 
10 days ago
Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity, Mason
"Political polarization in America is at an all-time high, and the conflict has moved beyond disagreements about matters of policy. For the first time in more than twenty years, research has shown that members of both parties hold strongly unfavorable views of their opponents. This is polarization rooted in social identity, and it is growing. The campaign and election of Donald Trump laid bare this fact of the American electorate, its successful rhetoric of “us versus them” tapping into a powerful current of anger and resentment.
"With Uncivil Agreement, Lilliana Mason looks at the growing social gulf across racial, religious, and cultural lines, which have recently come to divide neatly between the two major political parties. She argues that group identifications have changed the way we think and feel about ourselves and our opponents. Even when Democrats and Republicans can agree on policy outcomes, they tend to view one other with distrust and to work for party victory over all else. Although the polarizing effects of social divisions have simplified our electoral choices and increased political engagement, they have not been a force that is, on balance, helpful for American democracy. Bringing together theory from political science and social psychology, Uncivil Agreement clearly describes this increasingly “social” type of polarization in American politics and will add much to our understanding of contemporary politics."
in_NB  books:noted  us_politics  political_parties 
16 days ago
Nicholas Shea, Representation in Cognitive Science - PhilArchive
"How can we think about things in the outside world? There is still no widely accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. In light of pioneering research, Nicholas Shea develops a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation with a firm focus on the subpersonal representations that pervade the cognitive sciences."
to:NB  books:noted  cognitive_science  representation  philosophy_of_mind 
4 weeks ago
Uncertainty Quantification of Stochastic Simulation for Black-box Computer Experiments | SpringerLink
"Stochastic simulations applied to black-box computer experiments are becoming more widely used to evaluate the reliability of systems. Yet, the reliability evaluation or computer experiments involving many replications of simulations can take significant computational resources as simulators become more realistic. To speed up, importance sampling coupled with near-optimal sampling allocation for these experiments is recently proposed to efficiently estimate the probability associated with the stochastic system output. In this study, we establish the central limit theorem for the probability estimator from such procedure and construct an asymptotically valid confidence interval to quantify estimation uncertainty. We apply the proposed approach to a numerical example and present a case study for evaluating the structural reliability of a wind turbine."
to:NB  simulation  monte_carlo 
4 weeks ago
Detection and Analysis of Spikes in a Random Sequence | SpringerLink
"Motivated by the more frequent natural and anthropogenic hazards, we revisit the problem of assessing whether an apparent temporal clustering in a sequence of randomly occurring events is a genuine surprise and should call for an examination. We study the problem in both discrete and continuous time formulation. In the discrete formulation, the problem reduces to deriving the probability that p independent people all have birthdays within d days of each other. We provide an analytical expression for a warning limit such that if a subset of p people among n are observed to have birthdays within d days of each other and d is smaller than our warning limit, then it should be treated as a surprising cluster. In the continuous time framework, three different sets of results are given. First, we provide an asymptotic analysis of the problem by embedding it into an extreme value problem for high order spacings of iid samples from the U[0, 1] density. Second, a novel analytical nonasymptotic bound is derived by using certain tools of empirical process theory. Finally, the required probability is approximated by using various bounds and asymptotic results on the supremum of the scanning process of a one dimensional stationary Poisson process. We apply the theories to climate change related datasets, datasets on temperatures, and mass shooting records in the United States. These real data applications of our theoretical methods lead to supporting evidence for climate change and recent spikes in gun violence."

--- Let's just say that I am really curious to see exactly what they have to assume about (e.g.,) mass shootings to reduce it to a birthday problem.
to:NB  stochastic_processes  probability  statistics  time_series  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
4 weeks ago
Even now Sithrak oils the spit
Cf. Ezar Vorbarra: "I am an atheist, myself --- a simple faith, but a great comfort to me".
funny:pointed  theodicy  cartoons 
4 weeks ago
Mimesis, Violence, and Facebook: Peter Thiel’s French Connection (Full Essay) - Cyborgology
The ending is formulaic and unsatisfying. The more interesting conclusion might be to run with the observation that, from this perspective, online abuse is a feature rather than a bug --- so there is a _reason_ companies do so little to contain it...
philosophy  barely-comprehensible_metaphysics  networked_life  the_wired_ideology 
4 weeks ago
The Human Condition: Second Edition, Arendt, Canovan, Allen
"The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, “the theorist of beginnings,” whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations—from totalitarianism to revolution.
"A work of striking originality, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then—diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions—continue to confront us today. This new edition, published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of its original publication, contains Margaret Canovan’s 1998 introduction and a new foreword by Danielle Allen."
to:NB  books:noted  barely-comprehensible_metaphysics  political_philosophy 
4 weeks ago
How to Save a Constitutional Democracy, Ginsburg, Huq
"Democracies are in danger. Around the world, a rising wave of populist leaders threatens to erode the core structures of democratic self rule. In the United States, the election of Donald Trump marked a decisive turning point for many. What kind of president calls the news media the “enemy of the American people,” or sees a moral equivalence between violent neo-Nazi protesters in paramilitary formation and residents of a college town defending the racial and ethnic diversity of their homes? Yet, whatever our concerns about the current president, we can be assured that the Constitution offers safeguards to protect against lasting damage—or can we?
"How to Save a Constitutional Democracy mounts an urgent argument that we can no longer afford to be complacent. Drawing on a rich array of other countries’ experiences with democratic backsliding, Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Z. Huq show how constitutional rules can either hinder or hasten the decline of democratic institutions. The checks and balances of the federal government, a robust civil society and media, and individual rights—such as those enshrined in the First Amendment—do not necessarily succeed as bulwarks against democratic decline. Rather, Ginsburg and Huq contend, the sobering reality for the United States is that, to a much greater extent than is commonly realized, the Constitution’s design makes democratic erosion more, not less, likely. Its structural rigidity has had the unforeseen consequence of empowering the Supreme Court to fill in some details—often with doctrines that ultimately facilitate rather than inhibit the infringement of rights. Even the bright spots in the Constitution—the First Amendment, for example—may have perverse consequences in the hands of a deft communicator, who can degrade the public sphere by wielding hateful language that would be banned in many other democracies. But we—and the rest of the world—can do better. The authors conclude by laying out practical steps for how laws and constitutional design can play a more positive role in managing the risk of democratic decline."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  our_decrepit_institutions  democracy 
4 weeks ago
Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission: The International Buddhist Art Style in East Asia, ca. 645-770, Wong
"In the mid-seventh century, a class of Buddhist pilgrim-monks disseminated an art style in China, Japan, and Korea that was uniform in both iconography and formal properties. Traveling between the courts and religious centers of the region, these pilgrim-monks played a powerful role in this proto-cosmopolitanism, promulgating what came to be known as the International Buddhist Art Style.       
"In Buddhist Pilgrim-Monks as Agents of Cultural and Artistic Transmission, Dorothy C. Wong argues that the visual expression found in this robust new art style  arose alongside the ascendant theory of the Buddhist state, and directly influenced it.  Aided by lavish illustrations, Wong’s book shows that the visual language transmitted and circulated by these pilgrim-monks served as a key agent in shaping the cultural landscape of Northeast Asia. 
"This is the first major study of the vital role played by Buddhist pilgrim-monks in conveying the notions of Buddhist kingship via artistic communication. Wong’s interdisciplinary analysis will attract scholars in Asian art history and religious studies."
to:NB  books:noted  art_history  cultural_exchange  buddhism 
4 weeks ago
The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, Lewis-Jones, Pullman
"t’s one of the first things we discover as children, reading and drawing: Maps have a unique power to transport us to distant lands on wondrous travels. Put a map at the start of a book, and we know an adventure is going to follow. Displaying this truth with beautiful full-color illustrations, The Writer’s Map is an atlas of the journeys that our most creative storytellers have made throughout their lives. This magnificent collection encompasses not only the maps that appear in their books but also the many maps that have inspired them, the sketches that they used while writing, and others that simply sparked their curiosity.
"Philip Pullman recounts the experience of drawing a map as he set out on one of his early novels, The Tin Princess. Miraphora Mina recalls the creative challenge of drawing up ”The Marauder’s Map” for the Harry Potter films. David Mitchell leads us to the Mappa Mundi by way of Cloud Atlas and his own sketch maps. Robert Macfarlane reflects on the cartophilia that has informed his evocative nature writing, which was set off by Robert Louis Stevenson and his map of Treasure Island. Joanne Harris tells of her fascination with Norse maps of the universe. Reif Larsen writes about our dependence on GPS and the impulse to map our experience. Daniel Reeve describes drawing maps and charts for The Hobbit film trilogy. This exquisitely crafted and illustrated atlas explores these and so many more of the maps writers create and are inspired by—some real, some imagined—in both words and images.
"Amid a cornucopia of 167 full-color images, we find here maps of the world as envisaged in medieval times, as well as maps of adventure, sci-fi and fantasy, nursery rhymes, literary classics, and collectible comics. An enchanting visual and verbal journey, The Writer’s Map will be irresistible for lovers of maps, literature, and memories—and anyone prone to flights of the imagination."
to:NB  books:noted  literary_criticism  literary_history  fantasy  maps 
4 weeks ago
Why the Wheel Is Round: Muscles, Technology, and How We Make Things Move, Vogel
"There is no part of our bodies that fully rotates—be it a wrist or ankle or arm in a shoulder socket, we are made to twist only so far. And yet there is no more fundamental human invention than the wheel—a rotational mechanism that accomplishes what our physical form cannot. Throughout history, humans have developed technologies powered by human strength, complementing the physical abilities we have while overcoming our weaknesses. Providing a unique history of the wheel and other rotational devices—like cranks, cranes, carts, and capstans—Why the Wheel Is Round examines the contraptions and tricks we have devised in order to more efficiently move—and move through—the physical world.
"Steven Vogel combines his engineering expertise with his remarkable curiosity about how things work to explore how wheels and other mechanisms were, until very recently, powered by the push and pull of the muscles and skeletal systems of humans and other animals. Why the Wheel Is Round explores all manner of treadwheels, hand-spikes, gears, and more, as well as how these technologies diversified into such things as hand-held drills and hurdy-gurdies.  Surprisingly, a number of these devices can be built out of everyday components and materials, and Vogel’s accessible and expansive book includes instructions and models so that inspired readers can even attempt to make their own muscle-powered technologies, like trebuchets and ballista.
"Appealing to anyone fascinated by the history of mechanics and technology as well as to hobbyists with home workshops, Why the Wheel Is Round offers a captivating exploration of our common technological heritage based on the simple concept of rotation. From our leg muscles powering the gears of a bicycle to our hands manipulating a mouse on a roller ball, it will be impossible to overlook the amazing feats of innovation behind our daily devices."
to:NB  books:noted  popular_science  biology  biophysics  engineering  how_stuff_works 
4 weeks ago
Savages, Romans, and Despots: Thinking about Others from Montaigne to Herder, Launay
"From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, Europeans struggled to understand their identity in the same way we do as individuals: by comparing themselves to others. In Savages, Romans, and Despots, Robert Launay takes us on a fascinating tour of early modern and modern history in an attempt to untangle how various depictions of “foreign” cultures and civilizations saturated debates about religion, morality, politics, and art.
 "Beginning with Mandeville and Montaigne, and working through Montesquieu, Diderot, Gibbon, Herder, and others, Launay traces how Europeans both admired and disdained unfamiliar societies in their attempts to work through the inner conflicts of their own social worlds. Some of these writers drew caricatures of “savages,” “Oriental despots,” and “ancient” Greeks and Romans. Others earnestly attempted to understand them. But, throughout this history, comparative thinking opened a space for critical reflection. At its worst, such space could give rise to a sense of European superiority. At its best, however, it could prompt awareness of the value of other ways of being in the world. Launay’s masterful survey of some of the Western tradition’s finest minds offers a keen exploration of the genesis of the notion of “civilization,” as well as an engaging portrait of the promises and perils of cross-cultural comparison."
to:NB  books:noted  early_modern_european_history  history_of_ideas  history_of_morals  diversity  uses_of_the_past 
4 weeks ago
The Politics of Petulance: America in an Age of Immaturity, Wolfe
"How did we get into this mess? Every morning, many Americans ask this as, with a cringe, they pick up their phones and look to see what terrible thing President Trump has just said or done. Regardless of what he’s complaining about or whom he’s attacking, a second question comes hard on the heels of the first: How on earth do we get out of this?
"Alan Wolfe has an answer. In The Politics of Petulance he argues that the core of our problem isn’t Trump himself—it’s that we are mired in an age of political immaturity. That immaturity is not grounded in any one ideology, nor is it a function of age or education. It’s in an abdication of valuing the character of would-be leaders; it’s in a failure to acknowledge, even welcome the complexity of government and society; and it’s in a loss of the ability to be skeptical without being suspicious. In 2016, many Americans were offered tantalizingly simple answers to complicated problems, and, like children being offered a lunch of Pop Rocks and Coke, they reflexively—and mindlessly—accepted.
"The good news, such as it is, is that we’ve been here before. Wolfe reminds us that we know how to grow up and face down Trump and other demagogues. Wolfe reinvigorates the tradition of public engagement exemplified by midcentury intellectuals such as Richard Hofstadter, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Lionel Trilling—and he draws lessons from their battles with McCarthyism and conspiratorial paranoia. Wolfe mounts a powerful case that we can learn from them to forge a new path for political intervention today.
"Wolfe has been thinking and writing about American life and politics for decades. He sees this moment as one of real risk. But he’s not throwing up his hands; he’s bracing us. We’ve faced demagogues before. We can find the intellectual maturity to fight back. Yes we can."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  our_decrepit_institutions  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
4 weeks ago
The Silk Road: Art and History
"Celebrating the cultural heritage of the countries along the Silk Route, this text explores the ancient trade route between Europe and the Far East, more specifically between Rome and the old Chinese capital of Xian. It examines the beautiful works of art discovered in each country, and sets them in their historical and geographical context. The author provides a comprehensive history of the Silk Road, drawing freely on anecdotes and literary and historical sources he examines the lives of the merchants and other travellers who used this route. Vignettes and poems from the heydey of the great trading route punctuate a lively and colourful text, which also features Antonia Tozer's evocative photographs."
to:NB  books:noted  silk_road  central_asia  pretty_pictures 
4 weeks ago
"It has roots beneath consciousness and is expressed in moods, rhythms, tones and textures of experience that are as much mental as physiological. In his new book, a sequel to the earlier Unbelievable, one of Britain's most exciting writers on religion here presents a nuanced and many-dimensional portrait of the mystery and creativity of the human imagination. Discussing the likes of William Wordsworth, William Turner, Samuel Palmer and Ralph Vaughan Williams, so as to assess the true meanings of originality and memory, and drawing on his own rich encounters with belief, Graham Ward asks why it is that the imagination is so fundamental to who and what we are. Using metaphor and story to unpeel the hidden motivations and architecture of the mind, the author grapples with profound questions of ultimacy and transcendence. He reveals that, in understanding what it really means to be human, what cannot be imagined invariably means as much as what can."
to:NB  books:noted  imagination  psychology  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
4 weeks ago
The Power of the Multitude: Answering Epistemic Challenges to Democracy | American Political Science Review | Cambridge Core
"Recent years have witnessed growing controversy over the “wisdom of the multitude.” As epistemic critics drawing on vast empirical evidence have cast doubt on the political competence of ordinary citizens, epistemic democrats have offered a defense of democracy grounded largely in analogies and formal results. So far, I argue, the critics have been more convincing. Nevertheless, democracy can be defended on instrumental grounds, and this article demonstrates an alternative approach. Instead of implausibly upholding the epistemic reliability of average voters, I observe that competitive elections, universal suffrage, and discretionary state power disable certain potent mechanisms of elite entrenchment. By reserving particular forms of power for the multitude of ordinary citizens, they make democratic states more resistant to dangerous forms of capture than non-democratic alternatives. My approach thus offers a robust defense of electoral democracy, yet cautions against expecting too much from it—motivating a thicker conception of democracy, writ large."
in_NB  democracy  political_economy  re:democratic_cognition  via:henry_farrell 
5 weeks ago
Epistemic Democracy and Its Challenges | Annual Review of Political Science
"Epistemic democracy defends the capacity of “the many” to make correct decisions and seeks to justify democracy by reference to this ability. Epistemic democrats marshal substantial evidence from the history of political thought and a set of models to support their claims. The essay assesses this evidence and argues in favor of more empirical testing. It also cautions against using the contextually limited evidence of wise decisions as a basis for justifying democratic decision making. Instead, the article sketches a “deflationary model” that relies on neither an independent standard of correctness nor the more ambitious assertions of the reliability of the mechanisms. That model, termed judgment democracy, retains epistemic democracy's attractive respect for individual judgments and concern with institutional design, while eschewing its least plausible features."
in_NB  democracy  political_philosophy  collective_cognition  re:democratic_cognition  kith_and_kin 
5 weeks ago
Twilight of the Racist Uncles | Ed Burmila
OK, this is an enjoyable rant, and it gets at something real

"Facebook didn’t invent Boomers’ susceptibility to naked racial fearmongering or their yearning for a bygone America that never was. It did offer them a convenient meeting room where they could gather to share their own delusions and learn new ones. Social media connects the like-minded. Now we see the consequences no one paused to consider—what would happen if we created a single, self-sustaining Galaxy Brain of all of humanity’s worst impulses"

--- but does nothing to explain why this is particularly an issue for right-wing boomers, as opposed to everyone.
facebook  social_life_of_the_mind  social_media  networked_life  natural_history_of_truthiness  epidemiology_of_representations  re:democratic_cognition  via:? 
5 weeks ago
Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment of Hybrid and Traditional Lecture Formats in Economics
"We test whether students in a hybrid format of introductory microeconomics, which met once per week, performed as well as students in a traditional lecture format of the same class, which met twice per week. We randomized 725 students at a large, urban public university into the two formats, and unlike past studies, had a very high participation rate of 96 percent. Two experienced professors taught one section of each format, and students in both formats had access to the same online materials. We find that students in the traditional format scored 2.3 percentage points more on a 100-point scale on the combined midterm and final. There were no differences between formats in non-cognitive effort (attendance, time spent with online materials) nor in withdrawal from the class. Comparing our experimental estimates of the effect of attendance with non-experimental estimates using only students in the traditional format, we find that the non-experimental were 2.5 times larger, suggesting that the large effects of attending lectures found in the previous literature are likely due to selection bias. Overall our results suggest that hybrid classes may offer a cost effective alternative to traditional lectures while having a small impact on student performance."
to:NB  pedagogy 
5 weeks ago
The flipped classroom and cooperative learning: Evidence from a randomised experiment - Njål Foldnes, 2016
"This article describes a study which compares the effectiveness of the flipped classroom relative to the traditional lecture-based classroom. We investigated two implementations of the flipped classroom. The first implementation did not actively encourage cooperative learning, with students progressing through the course at their own pace. With this implementation, student examination scores did not differ between the lecture classes and the flipped classroom. The second implementation was organised with cooperative learning activities. In a randomised control-group pretest-posttest experiment, student scores on a post-test and on the final examination were significantly higher for the flipped classroom group than for the control group receiving traditional lectures. This demonstrates that the classroom flip, if properly implemented with cooperative learning, can lead to increased academic performance."

--- Err, so no experimental condition with cooperative activities AND traditional lectures?
to:NB  pedagogy  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
5 weeks ago
[1710.05013] A Case Study Competition Among Methods for Analyzing Large Spatial Data
"The Gaussian process is an indispensable tool for spatial data analysts. The onset of the "big data" era, however, has lead to the traditional Gaussian process being computationally infeasible for modern spatial data. As such, various alternatives to the full Gaussian process that are more amenable to handling big spatial data have been proposed. These modern methods often exploit low rank structures and/or multi-core and multi-threaded computing environments to facilitate computation. This study provides, first, an introductory overview of several methods for analyzing large spatial data. Second, this study describes the results of a predictive competition among the described methods as implemented by different groups with strong expertise in the methodology. Specifically, each research group was provided with two training datasets (one simulated and one observed) along with a set of prediction locations. Each group then wrote their own implementation of their method to produce predictions at the given location and each which was subsequently run on a common computing environment. The methods were then compared in terms of various predictive diagnostics. Supplementary materials regarding implementation details of the methods and code are available for this article online."
to:NB  spatial_statistics  prediction  computational_statistics  statistics  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
5 weeks ago
Comparing continual task learning in minds and machines | PNAS
"Humans can learn to perform multiple tasks in succession over the lifespan (“continual” learning), whereas current machine learning systems fail. Here, we investigated the cognitive mechanisms that permit successful continual learning in humans and harnessed our behavioral findings for neural network design. Humans categorized naturalistic images of trees according to one of two orthogonal task rules that were learned by trial and error. Training regimes that focused on individual rules for prolonged periods (blocked training) improved human performance on a later test involving randomly interleaved rules, compared with control regimes that trained in an interleaved fashion. Analysis of human error patterns suggested that blocked training encouraged humans to form “factorized” representation that optimally segregated the tasks, especially for those individuals with a strong prior bias to represent the stimulus space in a well-structured way. By contrast, standard supervised deep neural networks trained on the same tasks suffered catastrophic forgetting under blocked training, due to representational interference in the deeper layers. However, augmenting deep networks with an unsupervised generative model that allowed it to first learn a good embedding of the stimulus space (similar to that observed in humans) reduced catastrophic forgetting under blocked training. Building artificial agents that first learn a model of the world may be one promising route to solving continual task performance in artificial intelligence research."
to:NB  machine_learning  neural_networks  cognitive_science  experimental_psychology 
6 weeks ago
Collective decision making by rational individuals | PNAS
"The patterns and mechanisms of collective decision making in humans and animals have attracted both empirical and theoretical attention. Of particular interest has been the variety of social feedback rules and the extent to which these behavioral rules can be explained and predicted from theories of rational estimation and decision making. However, models that aim to model the full range of social information use have incorporated ad hoc departures from rational decision-making theory to explain the apparent stochasticity and variability of behavior. In this paper I develop a model of social information use and collective decision making by fully rational agents that reveals how a wide range of apparently stochastic social decision rules emerge from fundamental information asymmetries both between individuals and between the decision makers and the observer of those decisions. As well as showing that rational decision making is consistent with empirical observations of collective behavior, this model makes several testable predictions about how individuals make decisions in groups and offers a valuable perspective on how we view sources of variability in animal, and human, behavior."
in_NB  collective_cognition  collective_action  decision_theory  re:democratic_cognition 
6 weeks ago
Permanent Revolution — James Simpson | Harvard University Press
"The English Reformation began as an evangelical movement driven by an unyielding belief in predestination, intolerance, stringent literalism, political quietism, and destructive iconoclasm. Yet by 1688, this illiberal early modern upheaval would deliver the foundations of liberalism: free will, liberty of conscience, religious toleration, readerly freedom, constitutionalism, and aesthetic liberty. How did a movement with such illiberal beginnings lay the groundwork for the Enlightenment? James Simpson provocatively rewrites the history of liberalism and uncovers its unexpected debt to evangelical religion.
"Sixteenth-century Protestantism ushered in a culture of permanent revolution, ceaselessly repudiating its own prior forms. Its rejection of tradition was divisive, violent, and unsustainable. The proto-liberalism of the later seventeenth century emerged as a cultural package designed to stabilize the social chaos brought about by this evangelical revolution. A brilliant assault on many of our deepest assumptions, Permanent Revolution argues that far from being driven by a new strain of secular philosophy, the British Enlightenment is a story of transformation and reversal of the Protestant tradition from within. The gains of liberalism were the unintended results of the violent early Reformation.
"Today those gains are increasingly under threat, in part because liberals do not understand their own history. They fail to grasp that liberalism is less the secular opponent of religious fundamentalism than its dissident younger sibling, uncertain how to confront its older evangelical competitor."

--- This seems like a _very_ familiar story!
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  liberalism 
6 weeks ago
A Perspective on the Accuracy of Economic Observations on JSTOR
"In 1950 appeared the first edition of Oskar Morgenstern's famous book, The Accuracy of Economic Observations. Nearly half a century later it is timely to return to Morgenstern's diagnosis and to contemplate his therapeutic recommendations. Morgenstern's vision can and should inform the consideration of the topic today because of the continued validity of many of his findings. His work still provides stimuli for studying the general problems of measurement, the varying requirements for accuracy, the issues of aggregate macroeconomic measures, and the prospects for economic and social measurement. This is so even if some of the bleaker assessments by Morgenstern, notwithstanding their technical merits, provide little or no practical guidance for statistical activities. In this context it is enlightening to recall the different practical attitudes adopted by Keynes and by some of his contemporaries in Germany regarding theoretical difficulties with aggregate macroeconomic data."
to:NB  to_read  social_measurement  social_science_methodology  economics  econometrics  on_the_accuracy_of_economic_observations 
6 weeks ago
Object-oriented Computation of Sandwich Estimators | Zeileis | Journal of Statistical Software
"Sandwich covariance matrix estimators are a popular tool in applied regression modeling for performing inference that is robust to certain types of model misspecification. Suitable implementations are available in the R system for statistical computing for certain model fitting functions only (in particular lm()), but not for other standard regression functions, such as glm(), nls(), or survreg(). Therefore, conceptual tools and their translation to computational tools in the package sandwich are discussed, enabling the computation of sandwich estimators in general parametric models. Object orientation can be achieved by providing a few extractor functions' most importantly for the empirical estimating functions' from which various types of sandwich estimators can be computed."
to:NB  computational_statistics  R  estimation  regression  statistics  to_teach 
6 weeks ago
5601 Notes: The Sandwich Estimator
I believe the subscript in n inside the sums defining V_n and J_n should be i. Otherwise, this is terrific (unsurprisingly).
to:NB  to_teach  have_read  statistics  estimation  fisher_information  misspecification  geyer.charles 
6 weeks ago
Quantile Regression
"Quantile regression, as introduced by Koenker and Bassett (1978), may be viewed as an extension of classical least squares estimation of conditional mean models to the estimation of an ensemble of models for several conditional quantile functions. The central special case is the median regression estimator which minimizes a sum of absolute errors. Other conditional quantile functions are estimated by minimizing an asymmetrically weighted sum of absolute errors. Quantile regression methods are illustrated with applications to models for CEO pay, food expenditure, and infant birthweight."
to:NB  have_read  regression  statistics  econometrics 
6 weeks ago
The Networks and Time Seminar - The Materiality of Ideology | Science and Society
"Political identity in America dates to the turn of the 19th century, when divisions over finance and the ideal structure of governance led to bitter battles between the first political parties. Mark Hoffman use the reading patterns of America’s earliest political and economic elites, including a significant portion of the founding fathers, who checked out books from the New York Society Library, to reveal the shifting meaning of political identity in the years between the ratification of the Constitution and the War of 1812. The reading data come from two charging ledgers spanning two periods –1789 to 1792 and 1799 to 1806 – during which a new country was built, relations with foreign nations defined, and contestation over the character of a new democracy was intense. Using novel combinations of text and network analysis, he explores the political nature of reading and the extent to which social, economic, and political positions overlapped with what people read. Mark Hoffman identifies the key intellectual and social dimensions on which New York, and by extension, American, elite society was politically stratified in its early years. In the process, he provides a framework for a material text analysis, one which embeds texts and ideas in the social processes that make them available to groups of people who exist in relation. This talk shows how this framework can help us understand the co-evolution and co-constitution of culture and social structure and the formation of identities over the long durée."
track_down_references  american_history  ideology  network_data_analysis  text_mining  via:aeo 
7 weeks ago
Genes, Race, and Ancestry: The Meanderings of Two Sociologists in the Weeds of Genetic Methods | Science and Society
"Sociologists understand race as a social construct, and assumed that this was the accepted position in genetics as well after the Human Genome Project was completed in 2000.  But to their surprise, the notion of race as a genetic construct has witnessed a strong resurgence. Indeed, it is considered an ethical issue to include members of underrepresented minority groups in medical studies to ensure that we don’t overlook “their genes.” In response, Profs. Bates and Schwartz examined the methods and the state of the evidence about these conclusions to come to some informed judgments. This presentation reports their journey to date and provides an opportunity for input from attendees about any wrong turns or unseen vistas. "
track_down_references  race  racism  sociology  human_genetics 
7 weeks ago
The Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Implications of Big Data | Annual Review of Law and Social Science
"Law enforcement agencies increasingly use big data analytics in their daily operations. This review outlines how police departments leverage big data and new surveillant technologies in patrol and investigations. It distinguishes between directed surveillance—which involves the surveillance of individuals and places under suspicion—and dragnet surveillance—which involves suspicionless, unparticularized data collection. Law enforcement's adoption of big data analytics far outpaces legal responses to the new surveillant landscape. Therefore, this review highlights open legal questions about data collection, suspicion requirements, and police discretion. It concludes by offering suggestions for future directions for researchers and practitioners."
to:NB  to_read  data_mining  statistics  law  crime  police  via:kjhealy 
7 weeks ago
Communicating Uncertainty in Official Economic Statistics: An Appraisal Fifty Years after Morgenstern
"Federal statistical agencies in the United States and analogous agencies elsewhere commonly report official economic statistics as point estimates, without accompanying measures of error. Users of the statistics may incorrectly view them as error free or may incorrectly conjecture error magnitudes. This paper discusses strategies to mitigate misinterpretation of official statistics by communicating uncertainty to the public. Sampling error can be measured using established statistical principles. The challenge is to satisfactorily measure the various forms of nonsampling error. I find it useful to distinguish transitory statistical uncertainty, permanent statistical uncertainty, and conceptual uncertainty. I illustrate how each arises as the Bureau of Economic Analysis periodically revises GDP estimates, the Census Bureau generates household income statistics from surveys with nonresponse, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics seasonally adjusts employment statistics. I anchor my discussion of communication of uncertainty in the contribution of Oskar Morgenstern (1963a), who argued forcefully for agency publication of error estimates for official economic statistics."
to:NB  to_read  statistics  econometrics  manski.charles  via:arsyed 
7 weeks ago
Breaking ground with Grace
Some amusing stories, but also a very strong impression that the writer didn't actually understand Wahba's work at all.
wahba.grace  statistics  splines  lives_of_the_scientists 
7 weeks ago
[1806.01261] Relational inductive biases, deep learning, and graph networks
"Artificial intelligence (AI) has undergone a renaissance recently, making major progress in key domains such as vision, language, control, and decision-making. This has been due, in part, to cheap data and cheap compute resources, which have fit the natural strengths of deep learning. However, many defining characteristics of human intelligence, which developed under much different pressures, remain out of reach for current approaches. In particular, generalizing beyond one's experiences--a hallmark of human intelligence from infancy--remains a formidable challenge for modern AI.
"The following is part position paper, part review, and part unification. We argue that combinatorial generalization must be a top priority for AI to achieve human-like abilities, and that structured representations and computations are key to realizing this objective. Just as biology uses nature and nurture cooperatively, we reject the false choice between "hand-engineering" and "end-to-end" learning, and instead advocate for an approach which benefits from their complementary strengths. We explore how using relational inductive biases within deep learning architectures can facilitate learning about entities, relations, and rules for composing them. We present a new building block for the AI toolkit with a strong relational inductive bias--the graph network--which generalizes and extends various approaches for neural networks that operate on graphs, and provides a straightforward interface for manipulating structured knowledge and producing structured behaviors. We discuss how graph networks can support relational reasoning and combinatorial generalization, laying the foundation for more sophisticated, interpretable, and flexible patterns of reasoning. As a companion to this paper, we have released an open-source software library for building graph networks, with demonstrations of how to use them in practice."
to:NB  relational_learning  neural_networks 
7 weeks ago
I Mastered Xi Jinping Thought, and I Have the Certificate to Prove It – Foreign Policy
"There is a fundamental incompatibility between these two goals: One cannot simultaneously have world-class universities and rigid ideological servitude. Nowhere is this contradiction more glaring than in this course on Xi Jinping Thought, which gives a global community of learners an unprecedented opportunity to observe the poverty of China’s state-enforced ideology. It comes across as a cash-rich North Korea. Yet some committee decided that this particular course would be an appropriate way to introduce Tsinghua’s “world-class” education to the world. Perhaps, most likely, once the idea of offering such a course on a global platform was raised, no one at Tsinghua had the courage to raise any questions or doubts.
"Nor, of course, did edX see any problem with this. Assuming that edX has quality controls, someone there also greenlighted this empty paean to a dictator who has overseen the arrest of hundreds of human rights lawyers, the destruction of civil society, and the arbitrary and indefinite detention of more than a million Muslims in internment camps."
china  china:prc  ideology  academia  moocs 
7 weeks ago
Feke, J.: Ptolemy's Philosophy: Mathematics as a Way of Life (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"The Greco-Roman mathematician Claudius Ptolemy is one of the most significant figures in the history of science. He is remembered today for his astronomy, but his philosophy is almost entirely lost to history. This groundbreaking book is the first to reconstruct Ptolemy’s general philosophical system—including his metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics—and to explore its relationship to astronomy, harmonics, element theory, astrology, cosmology, psychology, and theology.
"In this stimulating intellectual history, Jacqueline Feke uncovers references to a complex and sophisticated philosophical agenda scattered among Ptolemy’s technical studies in the physical and mathematical sciences. She shows how he developed a philosophy that was radical and even subversive, appropriating ideas and turning them against the very philosophers from whom he drew influence. Feke reveals how Ptolemy’s unique system is at once a critique of prevailing philosophical trends and a conception of the world in which mathematics reigns supreme.
"A compelling work of scholarship, Ptolemy’s Philosophy demonstrates how Ptolemy situated mathematics at the very foundation of all philosophy—theoretical and practical—and advanced the mathematical way of life as the true path to human perfection."
to:NB  books:noted  ptolemy  history_of_science  history_of_philosophy  ancient_history 
7 weeks ago
Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options | The National Academies Press
"Data science is emerging as a field that is revolutionizing science and industries alike. Work across nearly all domains is becoming more data driven, affecting both the jobs that are available and the skills that are required. As more data and ways of analyzing them become available, more aspects of the economy, society, and daily life will become dependent on data. It is imperative that educators, administrators, and students begin today to consider how to best prepare for and keep pace with this data-driven era of tomorrow. Undergraduate teaching, in particular, offers a critical link in offering more data science exposure to students and expanding the supply of data science talent.
"Data Science for Undergraduates: Opportunities and Options offers a vision for the emerging discipline of data science at the undergraduate level. This report outlines some considerations and approaches for academic institutions and others in the broader data science communities to help guide the ongoing transformation of this field."
to:NB  books:noted  statistics  pedagogy 
7 weeks ago
[1805.06826] The Blessings of Multiple Causes
"Causal inference from observational data often assumes "strong ignorability," that all confounders are observed. This assumption is standard yet untestable. However, many scientific studies involve multiple causes, different variables whose effects are simultaneously of interest. We propose the deconfounder, an algorithm that combines unsupervised machine learning and predictive model checking to perform causal inference in multiple-cause settings. The deconfounder infers a latent variable as a substitute for unobserved confounders and then uses that substitute to perform causal inference. We develop theory for when the deconfounder leads to unbiased causal estimates, and show that it requires weaker assumptions than classical causal inference. We analyze its performance in three types of studies: semi-simulated data around smoking and lung cancer, semi-simulated data around genomewide association studies, and a real dataset about actors and movie revenue. The deconfounder provides a checkable approach to estimating close-to-truth causal effects."

--- ETA after skimming: This is a very cool idea, but I don't see how it could work. If we had an adequate set of controls $X$ for estimating the effect of the action $A$ on the response $Y$, we'd have $A \indep Y(a) | X$ (using the potential-outcome notation that the paper does). What they very ingeniously do is construct a _latent_ variable $Z$ s.t. $A \indep Y(a) | Z$. But we can't actually condition on $Z$, we can only condition on an _estimate_ of $Z$, say $\hat{Z}$. Since $\hat{Z}$ is a statistic and therefore a function of the observables, i.e., $A$ and $X$, its sigma-algebra is a coarsening of the sigma-algebra of the observables, $\sigma(hat(Z)) \subset \sigma(A, X)$. Hence $A \indep Y(a) | \hat{Z}$ only if $A \indep Y(a) | (A,X)$, i.e., we'd seem to need no-unmeasured-confounding to begin with. (Exception: if we've got a consistent estimator, we could make claims about _asymptotic_ de-confounding, as in https://arxiv.org/abs/1607.06565 .)
David is _much_ smarter than I am, so I am sure there is something I am missing here. I should just ask him...
to:NB  causal_inference  causal_discovery  blei.david  statistics  to_read 
8 weeks ago
Do the Low WHRs and BMIs Judged Most Attractive Indicate Higher Fertility? - William D. Lassek, Steven J. C. Gaulin, 2018
"We examine the widely accepted view that very low waist–hip ratios and low body mass indices (BMIs) in women in well-nourished populations are judged attractive by men because these features reliably indicate superior fertility. In both subsistence and well-nourished populations, relevant studies of fertility do not support this view. Rather studies indicate lower fertility in women with anthropometric values associated with high attractiveness. Moreover, low maternal BMI predisposes to conditions that compromise infant survival. Consistent with these findings from the literature, new data from a large U.S. sample of women past reproductive age show that women with lower BMIs in the late teens had fewer live births, controlling for education, marital history, and race. They also had later menarche and earlier menopause compared with women with higher youth BMIs. In addition, data from the 2013 U.S. natality database show that mothers with lower prepregnancy BMIs have an increased risk of producing both low-birth-weight and preterm infants controlling for other relevant variables—conditions that would have adversely affected fitness over almost all of human evolution. Thus, a review of the relevant literature and three new tests fail to support the view that highly attractive women are more fertile."
in_NB  evolutionary_psychology  practices_relating_to_the_transmission_of_genetic_information 
8 weeks ago
Climatic Impacts of Wind Power | The Keith Group
"We find that generating today’s US electricity demand (0.5 TWe) with wind power would warm Continental US surface temperatures by 0.24C. Warming arises, in part, from turbines redistributing heat by mixing the boundary layer. Modeled diurnal and seasonal temperature differences are roughly consistent with recent observations of warming at wind farms, reflecting a coherent mechanistic understanding for how wind turbines alter climate. The warming effect is: small compared with projections of 21st century warming, approximately equivalent to the reduced warming achieved by decarbonizing global electricity generation, and large compared with the reduced warming achieved by decarbonizing US electricity with wind. For the same generation rate, the climatic impacts from solar photovoltaic systems are about ten times smaller than wind systems. Wind’s overall environmental impacts are surely less than fossil energy. Yet, as the energy system is decarbonized, decisions between wind and solar should be informed by estimates of their climate impacts."

--- Via a student's answer to the midterm exam!
to:NB  climate_change 
8 weeks ago
[1810.03579] Long ties accelerate noisy threshold-based contagions
"Changes to network structure can substantially affect when and how widely new ideas, products, and conventions are adopted. In models of biological contagion, interventions that randomly rewire edges (making them "longer") accelerate spread. However, there are other models relevant to social contagion, such as those motivated by myopic best-response in games with strategic complements, in which individual's behavior is described by a threshold number of adopting neighbors above which adoption occurs (i.e., complex contagions). Recent work has argued that highly clustered, rather than random, networks facilitate spread of these complex contagions. Here we show that minor modifications of prior analyses, which make them more realistic, reverse this result. The modification is that we allow very rarely below threshold adoption, i.e., very rarely adoption occurs, where there is only one adopting neighbor. To model the trade-off between long and short edges we consider networks that are the union of cycle-power-k graphs and random graphs on n nodes. We study how the time to global spread changes as we replace the cycle edges with (random) long ties. Allowing adoptions below threshold to occur with order 1/n‾√ probability is enough to ensure that random rewiring accelerates spread. Simulations illustrate the robustness of these results to other commonly-posited models for noisy best-response behavior. We then examine empirical social networks, where we find that hypothetical interventions that (a) randomly rewire existing edges or (b) add random edges reduce time to spread compared with the original network or addition of "short", triad-closing edges, respectively. This substantially revises conclusions about how interventions change the spread of behavior, suggesting that those wanting to increase spread should induce formation of long ties, rather than triad-closing ties."
to:NB  networks  social_influence  re:do-institutions-evolve  eckles.dean  to_read 
8 weeks ago
Prediction Interval for Autoregressive Time Series via Oracally Efficient Estimation of Multi‐Step‐Ahead Innovation Distribution Function - Kong - 2018 - Journal of Time Series Analysis - Wiley Online Library
"A kernel distribution estimator (KDE) is proposed for multi‐step‐ahead prediction error distribution of autoregressive time series, based on prediction residuals. Under general assumptions, the KDE is proved to be oracally efficient as the infeasible KDE and the empirical cumulative distribution function (cdf) based on unobserved prediction errors. Quantile estimator is obtained from the oracally efficient KDE, and prediction interval for multi‐step‐ahead future observation is constructed using the estimated quantiles and shown to achieve asymptotically the nominal confidence levels. Simulation examples corroborate the asymptotic theory."
in_NB  prediction  time_series  statistics  kernel_estimators 
8 weeks ago
A Locally Optimal Algorithm for Estimating a Generating Partition from an Observed Time Series and Its Application to Anomaly Detection | Neural Computation | MIT Press Journals
"Estimation of a generating partition is critical for symbolization of measurements from discrete-time dynamical systems, where a sequence of symbols from a (finite-cardinality) alphabet may uniquely specify the underlying time series. Such symbolization is useful for computing measures (e.g., Kolmogorov-Sinai entropy) to identify or characterize the (possibly unknown) dynamical system. It is also useful for time series classification and anomaly detection. The seminal work of Hirata, Judd, and Kilminster (2004) derives a novel objective function, akin to a clustering objective, that measures the discrepancy between a set of reconstruction values and the points from the time series. They cast estimation of a generating partition via the minimization of their objective function. Unfortunately, their proposed algorithm is nonconvergent, with no guarantee of finding even locally optimal solutions with respect to their objective. The difficulty is a heuristic nearest neighbor symbol assignment step. Alternatively, we develop a novel, locally optimal algorithm for their objective. We apply iterative nearest-neighbor symbol assignments with guaranteed discrepancy descent, by which joint, locally optimal symbolization of the entire time series is achieved. While most previous approaches frame generating partition estimation as a state-space partitioning problem, we recognize that minimizing the Hirata et al. (2004) objective function does not induce an explicit partitioning of the state space, but rather the space consisting of the entire time series (effectively, clustering in a (countably) infinite-dimensional space). Our approach also amounts to a novel type of sliding block lossy source coding. Improvement, with respect to several measures, is demonstrated over popular methods for symbolizing chaotic maps. We also apply our approach to time-series anomaly detection, considering both chaotic maps and failure application in a polycrystalline alloy material."
in_NB  time_series  symbolic_dynamics  information_theory  re:AoS_project 
8 weeks ago
Fragmentation promotes accumulation | Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
"Identifying the determinants of cumulative cultural evolution is a key issue in the interdisciplinary field of cultural evolution. A widely held view is that large and well-connected social networks facilitate cumulative cultural evolution because they promote the spread of useful cultural traits and prevent the loss of cultural knowledge through factors such as drift. This view stems from models that focus on the transmission of cultural information, without considering how new cultural traits actually arise. In this paper, we review the literature from various fields that suggest that, under some circumstances, increased connectedness can decrease cultural diversity and reduce innovation rates. Incorporating this idea into an agent-based model, we explore the effect of population fragmentation on cumulative culture and show that, for a given population size, there exists an intermediate level of population fragmentation that maximizes the rate of cumulative cultural evolution. This result is explained by the fact that fully connected, non-fragmented populations are able to maintain complex cultural traits but produce insufficient variation and so lack the cultural diversity required to produce highly complex cultural traits. Conversely, highly fragmented populations produce a variety of cultural traits but cannot maintain complex ones. In populations with intermediate levels of fragmentation, cultural loss and cultural diversity are balanced in a way that maximizes cultural complexity. Our results suggest that population structure needs to be taken into account when investigating the relationship between demography and cumulative culture."
to:NB  to_read  cultural_evolution  diversity  social_networks  re:democratic_cognition  re:do-institutions-evolve  via:hugo_mercier 
8 weeks ago
Tunnel Visions: The Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Super Collider, Riordan, Hoddeson, Kolb
"Starting in the 1950s, US physicists dominated the search for elementary particles; aided by the association of this research with national security, they held this position for decades. In an effort to maintain their hegemony and track down the elusive Higgs boson, they convinced President Reagan and Congress to support construction of the multibillion-dollar Superconducting Super Collider project in Texas—the largest basic-science project ever attempted. But after the Cold War ended and the estimated SSC cost surpassed ten billion dollars, Congress terminated the project in October 1993.
"Drawing on extensive archival research, contemporaneous press accounts, and over one hundred interviews with scientists, engineers, government officials, and others involved, Tunnel Visions tells the riveting story of the aborted SSC project. The authors examine the complex, interrelated causes for its demise, including problems of large-project management, continuing cost overruns, and lack of foreign contributions. In doing so, they ask whether Big Science has become too large and expensive, including whether academic scientists and their government overseers can effectively manage such an enormous undertaking."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  history_of_physics  particle_physics 
8 weeks ago
Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics, Oliver, Wood
"America is in civic chaos, its politics rife with conspiracy theories and false information.  Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, while scientists, universities, and news organizations are viewed with increasing mistrust. Its citizens reject scientific evidence on climate change and vaccinations while embracing myths of impending apocalypse. And then there is Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who won the support of millions of conservative Christians despite having no moral or political convictions. What is going on?
"The answer, according to J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, can be found in the most important force shaping American politics today: human intuition. Much of what seems to be irrational in American politics arises from the growing divide in how its citizens make sense of the world. On one side are rationalists. They use science and reason to understand reality. On the other side are intuitionists. They rely on gut feelings and instincts as their guide to the world. Intuitionists believe in ghosts and End Times prophecies. They embrace conspiracy theories, disbelieve experts, and distrust the media.  They are stridently nationalistic and deeply authoritarian in their outlook. And they are the most enthusiastic supporters of Donald Trump. The primary reason why Trump captured the presidency was that he spoke about politics in a way that resonated with how Intuitionists perceive the world. The Intuitionist divide has also become a threat to the American way of life. A generation ago, intuitionists were dispersed across the political spectrum, when most Americans believed in both God and science. Today, intuitionism is ideologically tilted toward the political right. Modern conservatism has become an Intuitionist movement, defined by conspiracy theories, strident nationalism, and hostility to basic civic norms. 
"Enchanted America is a clarion call to rationalists of all political persuasions to reach beyond the minority and speak to intuitionists in a way they understand.  The values and principles that define American democracy are at stake. "

--- I am _a priori_ skeptical about the thesis that "intuitionists" are ideologically concentrated. (Also, that's not _intuition_, which would be individual and not socially shared...)
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  our_decrepit_institutions  anti-intellectualism_in_american_life  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
8 weeks ago
Helmholtz: A Life in Science, Cahan
"Hermann von Helmholtz was a towering figure of nineteenth-century scientific and intellectual life. Best known for his achievements in physiology and physics, he also contributed to other disciplines such as ophthalmology, psychology, mathematics, chemical thermodynamics, and meteorology. With Helmholtz: A Life in Science, David Cahan has written a definitive biography, one that brings to light the dynamic relationship between Helmholtz’s private life, his professional pursuits, and the larger world in which he lived.
​"Utilizing all of Helmholtz’s scientific and philosophical writings, as well as previously unknown letters, this book reveals the forces that drove his life—a passion to unite the sciences, vigilant attention to the sources and methods of knowledge, and a deep appreciation of the ways in which the arts and sciences could benefit each other. By placing the overall structure and development of his scientific work and philosophy within the greater context of nineteenth-century Germany, Helmholtz also serves as cultural biography of the construction of the scientific community: its laboratories, institutes, journals, disciplinary organizations, and national and international meetings. Helmholtz’s life is a shining example of what can happen when the sciences and the humanities become interwoven in the life of one highly motivated, energetic, and gifted person."
to:NB  books:noted  lives_of_the_scientists  history_of_science  helmholtz.hermann 
8 weeks ago
[1809.05651] Omitted and Included Variable Bias in Tests for Disparate Impact
"Policymakers often seek to gauge discrimination against groups defined by race, gender, and other protected attributes. One popular strategy is to estimate disparities after controlling for observed covariates, typically with a regression model. This approach, however, suffers from two statistical challenges. First, omitted-variable bias can skew results if the model does not control for all relevant factors; second, and conversely, included-variable bias can skew results if the set of controls includes irrelevant factors. Here we introduce a simple three-step strategy---which we call risk-adjusted regression---that addresses both concerns in settings where decision makers have clearly measurable objectives. In the first step, we use all available covariates to estimate the utility of possible decisions. In the second step, we measure disparities after controlling for these utility estimates alone, mitigating the problem of included-variable bias. Finally, in the third step, we examine the sensitivity of results to unmeasured confounding, addressing concerns about omitted-variable bias. We demonstrate this method on a detailed dataset of 2.2 million police stops of pedestrians in New York City, and show that traditional statistical tests of discrimination can yield misleading results. We conclude by discussing implications of our statistical approach for questions of law and policy."
to:NB  to_read  discrimination  racism  regression  statistics  goel.sharad 
8 weeks ago
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