Warfare wealth military origins urban prosperity europe | Political economy | Cambridge University Press
"The economic rise of Europe over the past millennium represents a major human breakthrough. To explain this phenomenon, this book highlights a counterintuitive yet central feature of Europe's historical landscape: warfare. Historical warfare inflicted numerous costs on rural populations. Security was a traditional function of the city. To mitigate the high costs of conflict in the countryside, rural populations migrated to urban centers. Over time, the city's historical role as a safe harbor translated into local economic development through several channels, including urban political freedoms and human capital accumulation. To make this argument, the book performs a wide-ranging analysis of a novel quantitative database that spans more than one thousand years, from the fall of the Carolingian Empire to today. The book's study of urban Europe's historical path from warfare to wealth provides a new way to think about the process of long-run economic and political development."

--- I'm sure to read this, but I can't begin to see how a data set about _one_ region (i.e., Europe) can answer a question that's inherently about comparisons _across_ regions (i.e., the whole of the "Old World Oecumene").
to:NB  books:noted  economic_history  war  history  early_modern_european_history  great_transformation  mother_courage_raises_the_west  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
18 hours ago
Models mathematics and methodology in economic explanation | History of economic thought and methodology | Cambridge University Press
"This book provides a practitioner's foundation for the process of explanatory model building, breaking down that process into five stages. Donald W. Katzner presents a concrete example with unquantified variable values to show how the five-stage procedure works. He describes what is involved in explanatory model building for those interested in this practice, while simultaneously providing a guide for those actually engaged in it. The combination of Katzner's focus on modeling and on mathematics, along with his focus on the explanatory performance of modeling, promises to become an important contribution to the field."
to:NB  books:noted  social_science_methodology  modeling  economics  philosophy_of_science 
19 hours ago
Understanding explanation and scientific knowledge | Philosophy of science | Cambridge University Press
"From antiquity to the end of the twentieth century, philosophical discussions of understanding remained undeveloped, guided by a 'received view' that takes understanding to be nothing more than knowledge of an explanation. More recently, however, this received view has been criticized, and bold new philosophical proposals about understanding have emerged in its place. In this book, Kareem Khalifa argues that the received view should be revised but not abandoned. In doing so, he clarifies and answers the most central questions in this burgeoning field of philosophical research: what kinds of cognitive abilities are involved in understanding? What is the relationship between the understanding that explanations provide and the understanding that experts have of broader subject matters? Can there be understanding without explanation? How can one understand something on the basis of falsehoods? Is understanding a species of knowledge? What is the value of understanding?"
to:NB  books:noted  philosophy_of_science  explanation 
19 hours ago
Conservative not republican paradox party identification and ideology among african americans | American government, politics and policy | Cambridge University Press
"Conservative but Not Republican provides a clear and comprehensive framework for understanding the formation and structure of ideological self-identification and its relationship to party identification in the United States. Exploring why the increase in Black conservatives has not met with a corresponding rise in the number of Black Republicans, the book bridges the literature from a number of different research areas to paint a detailed portrait of African-American ideological self-identification. It also provides insight into a contemporary electoral puzzle facing party strategists, while addressing gaps in the current literature on public opinion and voting behavior. Further, it offers original research from previously untapped data. The book is primarily designed for political science, but is also relevant to African-American studies, communication studies, and psychology. Including easy-to-read tables and figures, it is accessible not only to academic audiences but also to journalists and practitioners."
to:NB  us_politics  the_american_dilemma 
19 hours ago
The Origins and Consequences of Affective Polarization in the United States | Annual Review of Political Science
"While previously polarization was primarily seen only in issue-based terms, a new type of division has emerged in the mass public in recent years: Ordinary Americans increasingly dislike and distrust those from the other party. Democrats and Republicans both say that the other party’s members are hypocritical, selfish, and closed-minded, and they are unwilling to socialize across party lines. This phenomenon of animosity between the parties is known as affective polarization. We trace its origins to the power of partisanship as a social identity, and explain the factors that intensify partisan animus. We also explore the consequences of affective polarization, highlighting how partisan affect influences attitudes and behaviors well outside the political sphere. Finally, we discuss strategies that might mitigate partisan discord and conclude with suggestions for future work."
to:NB  us_politics  partisanship  whats_gone_wrong_with_america  via:henry_farrell 
[1811.11888] Reality Inspired Voter Models: A Mini-review
"This mini-review presents extensions of the voter model that incorporate a number of plausible features of real decision-making processes of individuals. Although these generalizations are not calibrated by empirical data, the resulting dynamics are suggestive of real collective social behaviors."
to:NB  voter_model  redner.sidney 
The World Is Not Yet Flat: Transport Costs Matter! | The Review of Economics and Statistics | MIT Press Journals
"Using microlevel commodity flow data and microgeographic plant-level data, we construct industry-specific ad valorem trucking rate series and measures of geographic concentration to provide evidence on the relationship between transport costs and agglomeration. We find that low-transport-cost industries display significantly more geographic concentration in the cross-sectional dimension and that falling transport costs agglomerate industries in the panel dimension. The effects are large: the fall in trucking rates between 1992 and 2008 implied a 20% increase in geographic concentration on average, all else equal."
to:NB  economics  economic_geography  logistics 
2 days ago
Learning with Misspecified Models
"We consider Bayesian learning about a stable environment when the learner’s entertained probability
distributions (likelihoods) are all misspecified. We evaluate likelihoods according to the long-run average
payoff of the policy function they induce. We then show that, generically, the value that the Bayesian
learner attains in the long run is lower than what would be achievable with her misspecified set of likelihoods.
We introduce two kinds of indifference curves over the learner’s set: one based on the likelihoods’
induced long-run average payoff, and another capturing their statistical similarity. In case of misspecification,
we show that misalignment of these curves can lead the Bayesian learner to focus on payoff-irrelevant
features of the environment. On the other hand, under correct specification this misalignment has no bite.
We provide conditions under which it is feasible to construct an exponential family that allows the learner
to implement the best attainable policy in the long-run irrespective of misspecification. We demonstrate
applications of the introduced concepts through examples."
to:NB  to_read  bayesian_consistency  decision_theory  statistics 
2 days ago
Why They Can't Write
"There seems to be widespread agreement that—when it comes to the writing skills of college students—we are in the midst of a crisis. In Why They Can’t Write, John Warner, who taught writing at the college level for two decades, argues that the problem isn’t caused by a lack of rigor, or smartphones, or some generational character defect. Instead, he asserts, we’re teaching writing wrong.
"Warner blames this on decades of educational reform rooted in standardization, assessments, and accountability. We have done no more, Warner argues, than conditioned students to perform "writing-related simulations," which pass temporary muster but do little to help students develop their writing abilities. This style of teaching has made students passive and disengaged. Worse yet, it hasn’t prepared them for writing in the college classroom. Rather than making choices and thinking critically, as writers must, undergraduates simply follow the rules—such as the five-paragraph essay—designed to help them pass these high-stakes assessments.
"In Why They Can’t Write, Warner has crafted both a diagnosis for what ails us and a blueprint for fixing a broken system. Combining current knowledge of what works in teaching and learning with the most enduring philosophies of classical education, this book challenges readers to develop the skills, attitudes, knowledge, and habits of mind of strong writers."
to:NB  books:noted  writing_advice  pedagogy 
2 days ago
The Policy State — Karen Orren, Stephen Skowronek | Harvard University Press
"Policy is government’s ready response to changing times, the key to its successful adaptation. It tackles problems as they arise, from foreign relations and economic affairs to race relations and family affairs. Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek take a closer look at this well-known reality of modern governance. In The Policy State they point out that policy is not the only way in which America was governed historically, and they describe the transformation that occurred as policy took over more and more of the work of government, emerging as the raison d’être of the state’s operation.
"Rather than analyze individual policies to document this change, Orren and Skowronek examine policy’s effect on legal rights and the formal structure of policy-making authority. Rights and structure are the principal elements of government that historically constrained policy and protected other forms of rule. The authors assess the emergence of a new “policy state,” in which rights and structure shed their distinctive characteristics and take on the attributes of policy.
"Orren and Skowronek address the political controversies swirling around American government as a consequence of policy’s expanded domain. On the one hand, the policy state has rendered government more flexible, responsive, and inclusive. On the other, it has mangled government’s form, polarized its politics, and sowed deep distrust of its institutions. The policy state frames an American predicament: policy has eroded the foundations of government, even as the policy imperative pushes us ever forward, into an uncertain future."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  regulation  public_policy  our_decrepit_institutions 
2 days ago
Skewed Wealth Distributions: Theory and Empirics
"Invariably across a cross-section of countries and time periods, wealth distributions are skewed to the right displaying thick upper tails, that is, large and slowly declining top wealth shares. In this survey we categorize the theoretical studies on the distribution of wealth in terms of the underlying economic mechanisms generating skewness and thick tails. Further, we show how these mechanisms can be micro-founded by the consumption-saving decisions of rational agents in specific economic and demographic environments. Finally we map the large empirical work on the wealth distribution to its theoretical underpinnings."
to:NB  heavy_tails  inequality  economics 
2 days ago
How to train your oracle: The Delphi method and its turbulent youth in operations research and the policy sciences - Christian Dayé, 2018
"Delphi is a procedure that produces forecasts on technological and social developments. This article traces the history of Delphi’s development to the early 1950s, where a group of logicians and mathematicians working at the RAND Corporation carried out experiments to assess the predictive capacities of groups of experts. While Delphi now has a rather stable methodological shape, this was not so in its early years. The vision that Delphi’s creators had for their brainchild changed considerably. While they had initially seen it as a technique, a few years later they reconfigured it as a scientific method. After some more years, however, they conceived of Delphi as a tool. This turbulent youth of Delphi can be explained by parallel changes in the fields that were deemed relevant audiences for the technique, operations research and the policy sciences. While changing the shape of Delphi led to some success, it had severe, yet unrecognized methodological consequences. The core assumption of Delphi that the convergence of expert opinions observed over the iterative stages of the procedure can be interpreted as consensus, appears not to be justified for the third shape of Delphi as a tool that continues to be the most prominent one."
to:NB  collective_cognition  science_as_a_social_process  cold_war  social_life_of_the_mind  re:democratic_cognition 
3 days ago
‘Civil skepticism’ and the social construction of knowledge: A case in dendroclimatology - Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé, 2018
"Early Science and Technology Studies (STS) scholars recognized that the social construction of knowledge depends on skepticism’s parasitic relationship to background expectations and trust. Subsequent generations have paid less empirical attention to skepticism in science and its relationship with trust. I seek to rehabilitate skepticism in STS – particularly, Merton’s view of skepticism as a scientific norm sustained by trust among status peers – with a study of what I call ‘civil skepticism’. The empirical grounding is a case in contemporary dendroclimatology and the development of a method (‘Blue Intensity’) for generating knowledge about climate change from trees. I present a sequence of four instances of civil skepticism involved in making Blue Intensity more resistant to critique, and hence credible (in laboratory experiments, workshops, conferences, and peer-review of articles). These skeptical interactions depended upon maintaining communal notions of civility among an increasingly extended network of mutually trusted peers through a variety of means: by making Blue Intensity complementary to existing methods used to study a diverse natural world (tree-ring patterns) and by contributing to a shared professional goal (the study of global climate change). I conclude with a sociological theory about the role of civil skepticism in constituting knowledge-claims of greater generality and relevance."
in_NB  climatology  science_as_a_social_process 
3 days ago
Hall of Mirrors: Corporate Philanthropy and Strategic Advocacy
"Politicians and regulators rely on feedback from the public when setting policies. For-profit corporations and non-pro t entities are active in this process and are arguably expected to provide independent viewpoints. Policymakers (and the public at large), however, may be unaware of the financial ties between some firms and non-profits - ties that are legal and tax-exempt, but difficult to trace. We identify these ties using IRS forms submitted by the charitable arms of large U.S. corporations, which list all grants awarded to non-pro fits. We document three patterns in a comprehensive sample of public commentary made by firms and non-profits within U.S. federal rulemaking between 2003 and 2015. First, we show that, shortly after a firm donates to a non-profit, the grantee is more likely to comment on rules for which the firm has also provided a comment. Second, when a firm comments on a rule, the comments by non-profits that recently received grants from the firm's foundation are systematically closer in content similarity to the firm's own comments than to those submitted by other non-profits commenting on that rule. This content similarity does not result from similarly-worded comments that express divergent sentiment. Third, when a firm comments on a new rule, the discussion of the final rule is more similar to the firm's comments when the firm's recent grantees also comment on that rule. These patterns, taken together, suggest that corporations strategically deploy charitable grants to induce non-pro fit grantees to make comments that favor their benefactors, and that this translates into regulatory discussion that is closer to the firm's own comments."
to:NB  corruption  deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  us_politics  regulation  corporations  via:rvenkat 
3 days ago
Parameters as interacting particles: long time convergence and asymptotic error scaling of neural networks
"The performance of neural networks on high-dimensional data distributions suggests that it may be possible to parameterize a representation of a given high-dimensional function with controllably small errors, potentially outperforming standard interpolation methods. We demonstrate, both theoretically and numerically, that this is indeed the case. We map the parameters of a neural network to a system of particles relaxing with an interaction potential determined by the loss function. We show that in the limit that the number of parameters n is large, the landscape of the mean-squared error becomes convex and the representation error in the function scales as O(n−1). In this limit, we prove a dynamical variant of the universal approximation theorem showing that the optimal representation can be attained by stochastic gradient descent, the algorithm ubiquitously used for parameter optimization in machine learning. In the asymptotic regime, we study the fluctuations around the optimal representation and show that they arise at a scale O(n−1). These fluctuations in the landscape identify the natural scale for the noise in stochastic gradient descent. Our results apply to both single and multi-layer neural networks, as well as standard kernel methods like radial basis functions."

to:NB  to_read  neural_networks  approximation  learning_theory  via:rvenkat 
3 days ago
[1812.00681] Numerical computation of rare events via large deviation theory
"An overview of rare events algorithms based on large deviation theory (LDT) is presented. It covers a range of numerical schemes to compute the large deviation minimizer in various setups, and discusses best practices, common pitfalls, and implementation trade-offs. Generalizations, extensions, and improvements of the minimum action methods are proposed. These algorithms are tested on example problems which illustrate several common difficulties which arise e.g. when the forcing is degenerate or multiplicative, or the systems are infinite-dimensional. Generalizations to processes driven by non-Gaussian noises or random initial data and parameters are also discussed, along with the connection between the LDT-based approach reviewed here and other methods, such as stochastic field theory and optimal control. Finally, the integration of this approach in importance sampling methods using e.g. genealogical algorithms is explored."
to:NB  large_deviations  rar  rare-event_simulation  simulation  computational_statistics  probability  via:rvenkat 
3 days ago
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 
3 days 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 
3 days ago
Confidence intervals for GLMs
For the trick about finding the inverse link function.
regression  R  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  via:kjhealy 
3 days 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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 
7 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 
7 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 
7 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 
8 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 
11 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 
13 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 
19 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  books:owned 
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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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 
5 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:? 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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 
6 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
Multistability of model and real dryland ecosystems through spatial self-organization | PNAS
"Spatial self-organization of dryland vegetation constitutes one of the most promising indicators for an ecosystem’s proximity to desertification. This insight is based on studies of reaction–diffusion models that reproduce visual characteristics of vegetation patterns observed on aerial photographs. However, until now, the development of reliable early warning systems has been hampered by the lack of more in-depth comparisons between model predictions and real ecosystem patterns. In this paper, we combined topographical data, (remotely sensed) optical data, and in situ biomass measurements from two sites in Somalia to generate a multilevel description of dryland vegetation patterns. We performed an in-depth comparison between these observed vegetation pattern characteristics and predictions made by the extended-Klausmeier model for dryland vegetation patterning. Consistent with model predictions, we found that for a given topography, there is multistability of ecosystem states with different pattern wavenumbers. Furthermore, observations corroborated model predictions regarding the relationships between pattern wavenumber, total biomass, and maximum biomass. In contrast, model predictions regarding the role of slope angles were not corroborated by the empirical data, suggesting that inclusion of small-scale topographical heterogeneity is a promising avenue for future model development. Our findings suggest that patterned dryland ecosystems may be more resilient to environmental change than previously anticipated, but this enhanced resilience crucially depends on the adaptive capacity of vegetation patterns."
to:NB  ecology  spatio-temporal_statistics  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
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
The Public Option — Ganesh Sitaraman, Anne L. Alstott | Harvard University Press
"A solution to inequalities wherever we look—in health care, secure retirement, education—is as close as the public library. Or the post office, community pool, or local elementary school. Public options—reasonably priced government-provided services that coexist with private options—are all around us, ready to increase opportunity, expand freedom, and reawaken civic engagement if we will only let them.
"Whenever you go to your local public library, send mail via the post office, or visit Yosemite, you are taking advantage of a longstanding American tradition: the public option. Some of the most useful and beloved institutions in American life are public options—yet they are seldom celebrated as such. These government-supported opportunities coexist peaceably alongside private options, ensuring equal access and expanding opportunity for all.
"Ganesh Sitaraman and Anne Alstott challenge decades of received wisdom about the proper role of government and consider the vast improvements that could come from the expansion of public options. Far from illustrating the impossibility of effective government services, as their critics claim, public options hold the potential to transform American civic life, offering a wealth of solutions to seemingly intractable problems, from housing shortages to the escalating cost of health care.
"Imagine a low-cost, high-quality public option for child care. Or an extension of the excellent Thrift Savings Plan for federal employees to all Americans. Or every person having access to an account at the Federal Reserve Bank, with no fees and no minimums. From broadband internet to higher education, The Public Option reveals smart new ways to meet pressing public needs while spurring healthy competition. More effective than vouchers or tax credits, public options could offer us all fairer choices and greater security."
to:NB  books:noted  progressive_forces  institutions  economics  political_economy 
6 weeks ago
Rosenblatt, H.: The Lost History of Liberalism: From Ancient Rome to the Twenty-First Century (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"The Lost History of Liberalism challenges our most basic assumptions about a political creed that has become a rallying cry—and a term of derision—in today’s increasingly divided public square. Taking readers from ancient Rome to today, Helena Rosenblatt traces the evolution of the words “liberal” and “liberalism,” revealing the heated debates that have taken place over their meaning.
"In this timely and provocative book, Rosenblatt debunks the popular myth of liberalism as a uniquely Anglo-American tradition centered on individual rights. She shows that it was the French Revolution that gave birth to liberalism and Germans who transformed it. Only in the mid-twentieth century did the concept become widely known in the United States—and then, as now, its meaning was hotly debated. Liberals were originally moralists at heart. They believed in the power of religion to reform society, emphasized the sanctity of the family, and never spoke of rights without speaking of duties. It was only during the Cold War and America’s growing world hegemony that liberalism was refashioned into an American ideology focused so strongly on individual freedoms.
"Today, we still can’t seem to agree on liberalism’s meaning. In the United States, a “liberal” is someone who advocates big government, while in France, big government is contrary to “liberalism.” Political debates become befuddled because of semantic and conceptual confusion. The Lost History of Liberalism sets the record straight on a core tenet of today’s political conversation and lays the foundations for a more constructive discussion about the future of liberal democracy."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  liberalism 
6 weeks ago
Hindman, M.: The Internet Trap: How the Digital Economy Builds Monopolies and Undermines Democracy (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"The internet was supposed to fragment audiences and make media monopolies impossible. Instead, behemoths like Google and Facebook now dominate the time we spend online—and grab all the profits from the attention economy. The Internet Trap explains how this happened. This provocative and timely book sheds light on the stunning rise of the digital giants and the online struggles of nearly everyone else—and reveals what small players can do to survive in a game that is rigged against them.
"Matthew Hindman shows how seemingly tiny advantages in attracting users can snowball over time. The internet has not reduced the cost of reaching audiences—it has merely shifted who pays and how. Challenging some of the most enduring myths of digital life, Hindman explains why the internet is not the postindustrial technology that has been sold to the public, how it has become mathematically impossible for grad students in a garage to beat Google, and why net neutrality alone is no guarantee of an open internet. He also explains why the challenges for local digital news outlets and other small players are worse than they appear and demonstrates what it really takes to grow a digital audience and stay alive in today’s online economy."
to:NB  books:noted  internet  advertising  journalism  market_failures_in_everything  imperfect_competition  networked_life 
6 weeks ago
Research Universities and the Public Good: Discovery for an Uncertain Future | Jason Owen-Smith
"In a political climate that is skeptical of hard-to-measure outcomes, public funding for research universities is under threat. But if we scale back support for these institutions, we also cut off a key source of value creation in our economy and society. Research Universities and the Public Good offers a unique view of how universities work, what their purpose is, and why they are important.
"Countering recent arguments that we should "unbundle" or "disrupt" higher education, Jason Owen-Smith argues that research universities are valuable gems that deserve support. While they are complex and costly, their enduring value is threefold: they simultaneously act as sources of new knowledge, anchors for regional and national communities, and hubs that connect disparate parts of society. These distinctive features allow them, more than any other institution, to innovate in response to new problems and opportunities. Presenting numerous case studies that show how research universities play these three roles and why they matter, this book offers a fresh and stirring defense of the research university."
to:NB  books:noted  economics  academia  education  science_as_a_social_process  innovation 
6 weeks ago
Romanland: Ethnicity and Empire in Byzantium
"Was there ever such a thing as Byzantium? Certainly no emperor ever called himself “Byzantine.” And while the identities of minorities in the eastern empire are clear—contemporaries speak of Slavs, Bulgarians, Armenians, Jews, and Muslims—that of the ruling majority remains obscured behind a name made up by later generations.
"Historical evidence tells us unequivocally that Byzantium’s ethnic majority, no less than the ruler of Constantinople, would have identified as Roman. It was an identity so strong in the eastern empire that even the conquering Ottomans would eventually adopt it. But Western scholarship has a long tradition of denying the Romanness of Byzantium. In Romanland, Anthony Kaldellis investigates why and argues that it is time for the Romanness of these so-called Byzantines to be taken seriously.
"In the Middle Ages, he explains, people of the eastern empire were labeled “Greeks,” and by the nineteenth century they were shorn of their distorted Greekness and became “Byzantine.” Only when we understand that the Greek-speaking population of Byzantium was actually Roman will we fully appreciate the nature of Roman ethnic identity. We will also better understand the processes of assimilation that led to the absorption of foreign and minority groups into the dominant ethnic group, the Romans who presided over the vast multiethnic empire of the east."
to:NB  books:noted  ethnicity  roman_empire  byzantium 
6 weeks ago
The Revolution That Wasn’t — Jen Schradie | Harvard University Press
"The internet has been hailed as a leveling force that is reshaping activism. From the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, digital activism seemed cheap, fast, and open to all. Now this celebratory narrative finds itself competing with an increasingly sinister story as platforms like Facebook and Twitter—once the darlings of digital democracy—are on the defensive for their role in promoting fake news. While hashtag activism captures headlines, conservative digital activism is proving more effective on the ground.
"In this sharp-eyed and counterintuitive study, Jen Schradie shows how the web has become another weapon in the arsenal of the powerful. She zeroes in on workers’ rights advocacy in North Carolina and finds a case study with broad implications. North Carolina’s hard-right turn in the early 2010s should have alerted political analysts to the web’s antidemocratic potential: amid booming online organizing, one of the country’s most closely contested states elected the most conservative government in North Carolina’s history.
"The Revolution That Wasn’t identifies the reasons behind this previously undiagnosed digital-activism gap. Large hierarchical political organizations with professional staff can amplify their digital impact, while horizontally organized volunteer groups tend to be less effective at translating online goodwill into meaningful action. Not only does technology fail to level the playing field, it tilts it further, so that only the most sophisticated and well-funded players can compete."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  networked_life 
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 
7 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 
7 weeks ago
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