nhaliday + 2016   70

Race, Religion, and Immigration in… | Democracy Fund Voter Study Group
Figure 2 The Relationship between 2011 Attitudes and Vote Choices in 2012

Third, although perceptions of the economy are related to vote choice in both years—unsurprisingly, people who believed the economy was doing worse were more likely to vote for the out-party Republicans—its effect is similar in both years. This suggests that the 2016 vote choice was not uniquely about “economic anxiety.”

The results also show that certain factors were less strongly related to voters’ choice in 2016 than they were in 2012: social issue attitudes, economic issue attitudes, and, more notably, party identification. The smaller impact of party identification reflects the larger number of defections in 2016, as compared to 2012.

What stands out most, however, is the attitudes that became more strongly related to the vote in 2016: attitudes about immigration, feelings toward black people, and feelings toward Muslims. This pattern fits the prevailing discourse of the two campaigns and the increased attention to issues involving ethnic, racial, and religious minorities in 2016.(v)
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Logic | West Hunter
All the time I hear some public figure saying that if we ban or allow X, then logically we have to ban or allow Y, even though there are obvious practical reasons for X and obvious practical reasons against Y.

No, we don’t.

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/005864.html
http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/002053.html

compare: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:190b299cf04a

Small Change Good, Big Change Bad?: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/02/small-change-good-big-change-bad.html
And on reflection it occurs to me that this is actually THE standard debate about change: some see small changes and either like them or aren’t bothered enough to advocate what it would take to reverse them, while others imagine such trends continuing long enough to result in very large and disturbing changes, and then suggest stronger responses.

For example, on increased immigration some point to the many concrete benefits immigrants now provide. Others imagine that large cumulative immigration eventually results in big changes in culture and political equilibria. On fertility, some wonder if civilization can survive in the long run with declining population, while others point out that population should rise for many decades, and few endorse the policies needed to greatly increase fertility. On genetic modification of humans, some ask why not let doctors correct obvious defects, while others imagine parents eventually editing kid genes mainly to max kid career potential. On oil some say that we should start preparing for the fact that we will eventually run out, while others say that we keep finding new reserves to replace the ones we use.

...

If we consider any parameter, such as typical degree of mind wandering, we are unlikely to see the current value as exactly optimal. So if we give people the benefit of the doubt to make local changes in their interest, we may accept that this may result in a recent net total change we don’t like. We may figure this is the price we pay to get other things we value more, and we we know that it can be very expensive to limit choices severely.

But even though we don’t see the current value as optimal, we also usually see the optimal value as not terribly far from the current value. So if we can imagine current changes as part of a long term trend that eventually produces very large changes, we can become more alarmed and willing to restrict current changes. The key question is: when is that a reasonable response?

First, big concerns about big long term changes only make sense if one actually cares a lot about the long run. Given the usual high rates of return on investment, it is cheap to buy influence on the long term, compared to influence on the short term. Yet few actually devote much of their income to long term investments. This raises doubts about the sincerity of expressed long term concerns.

Second, in our simplest models of the world good local choices also produce good long term choices. So if we presume good local choices, bad long term outcomes require non-simple elements, such as coordination, commitment, or myopia problems. Of course many such problems do exist. Even so, someone who claims to see a long term problem should be expected to identify specifically which such complexities they see at play. It shouldn’t be sufficient to just point to the possibility of such problems.

...

Fourth, many more processes and factors limit big changes, compared to small changes. For example, in software small changes are often trivial, while larger changes are nearly impossible, at least without starting again from scratch. Similarly, modest changes in mind wandering can be accomplished with minor attitude and habit changes, while extreme changes may require big brain restructuring, which is much harder because brains are complex and opaque. Recent changes in market structure may reduce the number of firms in each industry, but that doesn’t make it remotely plausible that one firm will eventually take over the entire economy. Projections of small changes into large changes need to consider the possibility of many such factors limiting large changes.

Fifth, while it can be reasonably safe to identify short term changes empirically, the longer term a forecast the more one needs to rely on theory, and the more different areas of expertise one must consider when constructing a relevant model of the situation. Beware a mere empirical projection into the long run, or a theory-based projection that relies on theories in only one area.

We should very much be open to the possibility of big bad long term changes, even in areas where we are okay with short term changes, or at least reluctant to sufficiently resist them. But we should also try to hold those who argue for the existence of such problems to relatively high standards. Their analysis should be about future times that we actually care about, and can at least roughly foresee. It should be based on our best theories of relevant subjects, and it should consider the possibility of factors that limit larger changes.

And instead of suggesting big ways to counter short term changes that might lead to long term problems, it is often better to identify markers to warn of larger problems. Then instead of acting in big ways now, we can make sure to track these warning markers, and ready ourselves to act more strongly if they appear.

Growth Is Change. So Is Death.: https://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/03/growth-is-change-so-is-death.html
I see the same pattern when people consider long term futures. People can be quite philosophical about the extinction of humanity, as long as this is due to natural causes. Every species dies; why should humans be different? And few get bothered by humans making modest small-scale short-term modifications to their own lives or environment. We are mostly okay with people using umbrellas when it rains, moving to new towns to take new jobs, etc., digging a flood ditch after our yard floods, and so on. And the net social effect of many small changes is technological progress, economic growth, new fashions, and new social attitudes, all of which we tend to endorse in the short run.

Even regarding big human-caused changes, most don’t worry if changes happen far enough in the future. Few actually care much about the future past the lives of people they’ll meet in their own life. But for changes that happen within someone’s time horizon of caring, the bigger that changes get, and the longer they are expected to last, the more that people worry. And when we get to huge changes, such as taking apart the sun, a population of trillions, lifetimes of millennia, massive genetic modification of humans, robots replacing people, a complete loss of privacy, or revolutions in social attitudes, few are blasé, and most are quite wary.

This differing attitude regarding small local changes versus large global changes makes sense for parameters that tend to revert back to a mean. Extreme values then do justify extra caution, while changes within the usual range don’t merit much notice, and can be safely left to local choice. But many parameters of our world do not mostly revert back to a mean. They drift long distances over long times, in hard to predict ways that can be reasonably modeled as a basic trend plus a random walk.

This different attitude can also make sense for parameters that have two or more very different causes of change, one which creates frequent small changes, and another which creates rare huge changes. (Or perhaps a continuum between such extremes.) If larger sudden changes tend to cause more problems, it can make sense to be more wary of them. However, for most parameters most change results from many small changes, and even then many are quite wary of this accumulating into big change.

For people with a sharp time horizon of caring, they should be more wary of long-drifting parameters the larger the changes that would happen within their horizon time. This perspective predicts that the people who are most wary of big future changes are those with the longest time horizons, and who more expect lumpier change processes. This prediction doesn’t seem to fit well with my experience, however.

Those who most worry about big long term changes usually seem okay with small short term changes. Even when they accept that most change is small and that it accumulates into big change. This seems incoherent to me. It seems like many other near versus far incoherences, like expecting things to be simpler when you are far away from them, and more complex when you are closer. You should either become more wary of short term changes, knowing that this is how big longer term change happens, or you should be more okay with big long term change, seeing that as the legitimate result of the small short term changes you accept.

https://www.overcomingbias.com/2018/03/growth-is-change-so-is-death.html#comment-3794966996
The point here is the gradual shifts of in-group beliefs are both natural and no big deal. Humans are built to readily do this, and forget they do this. But ultimately it is not a worry or concern.

But radical shifts that are big, whether near or far, portend strife and conflict. Either between groups or within them. If the shift is big enough, our intuition tells us our in-group will be in a fight. Alarms go off.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Liberalism's Future by R. R. Reno | Articles | First Things
The survey was designed to expose two ranges of preferences. The first concerns how individuals rank their self-interest as compared to the interests of others. A fair-minded person sees them as equal. A selfish person is more likely to prefer his own interests. An “intermediate” person (the term the research paper uses) falls in between. The second preference concerns the relative importance of equality as compared to efficiency. A person who favors equality is willing to accept lower efficiency, while those who favor efficiency focus on growing the pie rather than cutting it evenly.

About half the Yale Law students are intermediates, people who give themselves a bit of a preference. The other half tilts strongly in the direction of the selfish. When it comes to equality or efficiency, which is to say, pie growing, the Yale Law students overwhelmingly opt for the latter.

To illuminate these results, the researchers did some comparative work. They mined data about under­graduates from the University of California at Berkeley. Then they looked at Americans in general.

The comparative results are fascinating. Under­graduates at the University of California at Berkeley tilt even more strongly in the selfish direction than the Yale Law students. They’re also efficiency-focused, though less so. The general population, by contrast, shows markedly different preferences. They’re significantly more likely to be fair-minded than selfish. They’re also more likely to favor cutting the pie equally rather than emphasizing efficiency to grow the pie.

...

The remarkable preference for efficiency we see in the overwhelmingly Democratic student body at Yale Law School also sheds light on today’s progressive priorities, which focus on identity politics, especially sexual identity. Gay rights are favored by rich liberals in large part because they’re seen as a cost-free way toward greater equality. There are lots of well-educated gays and les­bians who look, act, and think just like other elites. Sexual ­orientation “diversity” requires no bending of meritocratic rules, no set-asides, and no expensive, large-scale government programs.

...

I regret that places like Yale now use young people in such transparent ways: minorities bring “diversity,” rich kids keep the money flowing, foreign students facilitate the formation of a new global network, and meritocratic winners ensure “excellence.” There’s something intrinsically ugly about engineered “communities,” especially ones engineered for the purpose of maintaining and extending power. (Why would anyone concerned about the future of our society give money to these universities?)

So I wish Yale President Peter Salovey the worst. May the universities continue on their trajectory toward becoming rigid, mechanical, and artificial communities dominated by rent-seeking faculty, populated by alienated students, and governed by feckless administrators. Such institutions cannot attract loyalty, and they cannot create a culture for the future.

https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/chris-eisgruber-and-the-inversion-of-power/
In some ways, this is a natural evolution of the increasing importance that racial inclusion has taken on in academic environments. Since the civil rights movement, racial inclusion has in the United States been the central measure of whether an institution has stood by its ethical commitments. Universities and academics were, more than any other institutions, the ones that pursued and promoted that measure of legitimacy, as it was meanwhile incorporated into law in the form of disparate impact legislation and a large portion of federal regulations; clearly their commitment to that ideology extends beyond affirmative action in admissions. Universities seemingly sincerely believe that their role in the world would diminish if they were seen to be non-inclusive institutions. (Seen to be is perhaps the operative term here, since visible diversity is what is most important.) When that ideology turns against the institution itself, what can a college president do but bow before it?

But there probably is still one more source of the inversion of power. Colleges and Universities garner an increasing portion of their donations not from the ordinary millionaires of old, but from the mega-rich created by our New Gilded Age. While the merely rich probably swing conservative in their political beliefs, this is not at all clear of the very richest people in the world; Carlos Slim, for example, #2 on the 2014 list, is the largest shareholder in the New York Times whose editorial board endorsed the protesters, and speakers aligned with the Black Lives Matters protests are have been regular guests at Aspen Ideas, Davos, and similar gatherings of the global rich. Whether Eisgruber is bowing before an impassioned undergraduate– or before the Davos Set’s priorities– is hard to know.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Interview Greg Cochran by Future Strategist
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/interview/

- IQ enhancement (somewhat apprehensive, wonder why?)
- ~20 years to CRISPR enhancement (very ballpark)
- cloning as an alternative strategy
- environmental effects on IQ, what matters (iodine, getting hit in the head), what doesn't (schools, etc.), and toss-ups (childhood/embryonic near-starvation, disease besides direct CNS-affecting ones [!])
- malnutrition did cause more schizophrenia in Netherlands (WW2) and China (Great Leap Forward) though
- story about New Mexico schools and his children (mostly grad students in physics now)
- clever sillies, weird geniuses, and clueless elites
- life-extension and accidents, half-life ~ a few hundred years for a typical American
- Pinker on Harvard faculty adoptions (always Chinese girls)
- parabiosis, organ harvesting
- Chicago economics talk
- Catholic Church, cousin marriage, and the rise of the West
- Gregory Clark and Farewell to Alms
- retinoblastoma cancer, mutational load, and how to deal w/ it ("something will turn up")
- Tularemia and Stalingrad (ex-Soviet scientist literally mentioned his father doing it)
- germ warfare, nuclear weapons, and testing each
- poison gas, Haber, nerve gas, terrorists, Japan, Syria, and Turkey
- nukes at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incirlik_Air_Base
- IQ of ancient Greeks
- history of China and the Mongols, cloning Genghis Khan
- Alexander the Great vs. Napoleon, Russian army being late for meetup w/ Austrians
- the reason why to go into Iraq: to find and clone Genghis Khan!
- efficacy of torture
- monogamy, polygamy, and infidelity, the Aboriginal system (reverse aging wives)
- education and twin studies
- errors: passing white, female infanticide, interdisciplinary social science/economic imperialism, the slavery and salt story
- Jewish optimism about environmental interventions, Rabbi didn't want people to know, Israelis don't want people to know about group differences between Ashkenazim and other groups in Israel
- NASA spewing crap on extraterrestrial life (eg, thermodynamic gradient too weak for life in oceans of ice moons)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Chip Away At Hard Problems
One of the most common ways that wannabe academics fail is by failing to sufficiently focus on a few topics of interest to academia. Many of them become amateur intellectuals, people who think and write more as a hobby, and less to gain professional rewards via institutions like academia, media, and business. Such amateurs are often just as smart and hard-working as professionals, and they can more directly address the topics that interest them. Professionals, in contrast, must specialize more, have less freedom to pick topics, and must try harder to impress others, which encourages the use of more difficult robust/rigorous methods.

You might think their added freedom would result in amateurs contributing more to intellectual progress, but in fact they contribute less. Yes, amateurs can and do make more initial progress when new topics arise suddenly far from topics where established expert institutions have specialized. But then over time amateurs blow their lead by focusing less and relying on easier more direct methods. They rely more on informal conversation as analysis method, they prefer personal connections over open competitions in choosing people, and they rely more on a perceived consensus among a smaller group of fellow enthusiasts. As a result, their contributions just don’t appeal as widely or as long.
ratty  postrat  culture  academia  science  epistemic  hanson  frontier  contrarianism  thick-thin  long-term  regularizer  strategy  impact  essay  subculture  meta:rhetoric  aversion  discipline  curiosity  rigor  rationality  rat-pack  🤖  success  2016  farmers-and-foragers  exploration-exploitation  low-hanging  clarity  vague  🦉  optimate  systematic-ad-hoc  metameta  s:***  discovery  focus  info-dynamics  hari-seldon 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Books, 2016 | West Hunter
1. The Peloponnesian War
2 The Empire of the Steppes
3. The Columbian Exchange
4. Breaking the Maya Code
5. War Before Civilization
6. The Discourses (Machiavelli)
7. Introduction to Algorithms
8. Rare Earth
9. The Wizard War
10. Night comes to the Cretaceous
11. Microbe Hunters
12. The Youngest Science
13. Plagues and Peoples
14. Project Orion
15. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
16. Godstalk, P. C. Hodgell
17. Footfall, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
18. On Stranger Tides, Tim Powers
19. His Share of Glory, Cyril Kornbluth
20. Herodotus
21. The Secret History, Procopius

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/12/04/books-2016/#comment-85575
Mukherjee is a moron. Next question?

He’s suggested that gene interactions are real important in IQ [epistatic rather than additive effects] but he is incorrect. If new to the field, it could take as much as an afternoon to find that out.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Fact Posts: How and Why
The most useful thinking skill I've taught myself, which I think should be more widely practiced, is writing what I call "fact posts." I write a bunch of these on my blog. (I write fact posts about pregnancy and childbirth here.)

To write a fact post, you start with an empirical question, or a general topic. Something like "How common are hate crimes?" or "Are epidurals really dangerous?" or "What causes manufacturing job loss?"

It's okay if this is a topic you know very little about. This is an exercise in original seeing and showing your reasoning, not finding the official last word on a topic or doing the best analysis in the world.

Then you open up a Google doc and start taking notes.

You look for quantitative data from conventionally reliable sources. CDC data for incidences of diseases and other health risks in the US; WHO data for global health issues; Bureau of Labor Statistics data for US employment; and so on. Published scientific journal articles, especially from reputable journals and large randomized studies.

You explicitly do not look for opinion, even expert opinion. You avoid news, and you're wary of think-tank white papers. You're looking for raw information. You are taking a sola scriptura approach, for better and for worse.

And then you start letting the data show you things.

You see things that are surprising or odd, and you note that.

You see facts that seem to be inconsistent with each other, and you look into the data sources and methodology until you clear up the mystery.

You orient towards the random, the unfamiliar, the things that are totally unfamiliar to your experience. One of the major exports of Germany is valves? When was the last time I even thought about valves? Why valves, what do you use valves in? OK, show me a list of all the different kinds of machine parts, by percent of total exports.

And so, you dig in a little bit, to this part of the world that you hadn't looked at before. You cultivate the ability to spin up a lightweight sort of fannish obsessive curiosity when something seems like it might be a big deal.

And you take casual notes and impressions (though keeping track of all the numbers and their sources in your notes).

You do a little bit of arithmetic to compare things to familiar reference points. How does this source of risk compare to the risk of smoking or going horseback riding? How does the effect size of this drug compare to the effect size of psychotherapy?

You don't really want to do statistics. You might take percents, means, standard deviations, maybe a Cohen's d here and there, but nothing fancy. You're just trying to figure out what's going on.

It's often a good idea to rank things by raw scale. What is responsible for the bulk of deaths, the bulk of money moved, etc? What is big? Then pay attention more to things, and ask more questions about things, that are big. (Or disproportionately high-impact.)

You may find that this process gives you contrarian beliefs, but often you won't, you'll just have a strongly fact-based assessment of why you believe the usual thing.
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december 2016 by nhaliday
Edge.org: 2016 : WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST INTERESTING RECENT [SCIENTIFIC] NEWS? WHAT MAKES IT IMPORTANT?
highlights:
- quantum supremacy [Scott Aaronson]
- gene drive
- gene editing/CRISPR
- carcinogen may be entropy
- differentiable programming
- quantitative biology
soft:
- antisocial punishment of pro-social cooperators
- "strongest prejudice" (politics) [Haidt]
- Europeans' origins [Cochran]
- "Anthropic Capitalism And The New Gimmick Economy" [Eric Weinstein]

https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/986253381344907265
https://archive.is/gNGDJ
There's an underdiscussed contradiction between the idea that our society would make almost all knowledge available freely and instantaneously to almost everyone and that almost everyone would find gainful employment as knowledge workers. Value is in scarcity not abundance.
--
You’d need to turn reputational-based systems into an income stream
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Trump, Political Innovator
Many have expressed great anxiety about Trump’s win, saying that he is is bad overall because he induces greater global and domestic uncertainly. In their mind, this includes a higher chances of wars, coups, riots, collapse of democracy, and so on. But overall these seem to be generic consequences of political innovation. Innovation in general is disruptive and costly in the short run, but can aide adaptation in the long run.

So you can dislike Trump for two very different reasons, First, you can dislike innovation on the other side of the political spectrum, as you see that coming at the expense of your side. Or, or you can dislike political innovation in general. But if innovation is the process of adapting to changing conditions, it must be mostly a question of when, not if. And less frequent innovations are probably bigger changes, which is probably more disruptive overall.

So what you should really be asking is: what were the obstacles to smaller past innovations in Trump’s new direction? And how can we reduce such obstacles?

https://www.overcomingbias.com/2016/11/dial-it-back.html
In a repeated game, where the same people play the same game over and over, cooperation can more easily arise than in a one-shot version of the game, where such people play only once and then never interact again. This sort of cooperation gets easier the more that players care about the many future iterations of the game, compared to the current iteration.

When a group repeats the same game, but some iterations count much more than others, then defection from cooperation is most likely at a big “endgame” iteration.

https://www.overcomingbias.com/2016/11/careful-who-you-call-racist.html
https://www.overcomingbias.com/2016/11/get-a-grip-theres-a-much-bigger-picture.html
past and future contextualize present
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Needed: Social Innovation Adaptation
Long ago when I was a physicist turned computer researcher who started to study economics, I noticed that it seemed far easier to design new better social institutions than to design new better computer algorithms or physical devices. This helped inspire me to switch to economics.

Once I was in graduate program with a thesis advisor who specialized in institution/mechanism design, I seemed to see a well established path for social innovations, from vague intuitions to theoretical analysis to lab experiments to simplified field experiments to complex practice. Of course as with most innovation paths, as costs rose along the path most candidates fell by the wayside. And yes, designing social institutions was harder that it looked at first, though it still seems easier than for computers and physical devices.

But it took me a long time to learn that this path is seriously broken near the end. Organizations with real problems do in fact sometimes allow simplified field trials of institutional alternatives that social scientists have proposed, but only in a very limited range of areas. And usually they mainly just do this to affiliate with prestigious academics; most aren’t actually much interested in adopting better institutions. (Firms mostly outsource social innovation to management consultants, who don’t actually endorse much. Yes startups explore some innovations, but relatively few.)
hanson  government  polisci  institutions  alt-inst  reflection  innovation  2016  mechanism-design  metameta  ideas  questions  ratty  organizing 
november 2016 by nhaliday
A Bad Carver
decondensation and its malcontents
- condensation provided plausible deniability (so some people benefited from it)
- some recondensation happening, partially facilitated by technology

good take: https://twitter.com/lumenphosphor/status/794554089728249857
Personal image for the dangers of decondensation is "hidden micronutrients" - what if Soylent doesn't *really* contain everything you need?
postrat  carcinisation  essay  culture  society  trends  insight  things  aesthetics  vgr  meaningness  history  antiquity  🦀  water  unintended-consequences  2016  minimalism  multi  twitter  social  commentary 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Lognormal Jobs
could be the case that exponential tech improvement -> linear job replacement, as long as distribution of jobs across automatability is log-normal (I don't entirely follow the argument)

Paul Christiano has objection (to premise not argument) in the comments
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Ra | Otium
Ra = smooth, blank, prestigeful (or maybe just statusful) authority

--

Vagueness, mental fog, “underconfidence”, avoidance, evasion, blanking out, etc. are hallmarks of Ra. If cornered, a person embodying Ra will abruptly switch from blurry vagueness to anger and nihilism.

Ra is involved in the sense of “everyone but me is in on the joke, there is a Thing that I don’t understand myself but is the most important Thing, and I must approximate or imitate or cargo-cult the Thing, and anybody who doesn’t is bad.”

Ra causes persistent brain fog or confusion, especially around economic thinking or cost-benefit analysis or quantitative estimates.

Ra causes a disinclination to express oneself. An impression that a person who is unknown or mysterious is more attractive or favorably received than a person who is an “open book.”

Ra is fake Horus.
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october 2016 by nhaliday
Do Immigrants Import Their Economic Destiny? - Evonomics
How do immigrants change the countries they move to? Immigration has become a big political issue in the U.S., the UK, Germany, and beyond, and experts and pundits alike have tried answering this question. At least among economists, almost all the debate has focused on the short run, and most of that has focused on lower-skilled immigrants. The overall answer is fairly clear: low-skilled immigrants don’t have a major effect on the rest of the economy one way or the other. That means that in the short run, the most important effect of low-skilled immigration is that it helps low-skilled migrants themselves.

But what happens in the very long run? As immigrants shape the culture of their new homelands, will they import more than just new ethnic cuisines? Will they also import attitudes and policies that wound the golden goose of first-world prosperity? Ultimately, will migrants make the countries they move to a lot like the countries they came from?

This is one of the great policy questions in our new age of mass migration, and it’s related to one of the great questions of social science: Why do some countries have relatively liberal, pro-market institutions while others are plagued by corruption, statism, and incompetence? Three lines of research point the way to a substantial answer:

- The Deep Roots literature on how ancestry predicts modern economic development,
- The Attitude Migration literature, which shows that migrants tend to bring a lot of their worldview with them when they move from one country to another,
- The New Voters-New Policies literature, which shows that expanding the franchise to new voters really does change the nature of government.

Together, these three data-driven literatures suggest that if you want to predict how a nation’s economic rules and norms are likely to change over the next few decades, you’ll want to keep an eye on where that country’s recent immigrants hail from.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Democracy does not cause growth | Brookings Institution
64-page paper
Democracy & Growth: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4909
The favorable effects on growth include maintenance of the rule of law, free markets, small government consumption, and high human capital. Once these kinds of variables and the initial level of real per-capita GDP are held constant, the overall effect of democracy on growth is weakly negative. There is a suggestion of a nonlinear relationship in which democracy enhances growth at low levels of political freedom but depresses growth when a moderate level of freedom has already been attained.

The growth effect of democracy: Is it heterogenous and how can it be estimated∗: http://perseus.iies.su.se/~tpers/papers/cifar_paper_may16_07.pdf
In particular, we find an average negative effect on growth of leaving democracy on the order of −2 percentage points implying effects on income per capita as large as 45 percent over the 1960-2000 panel. Heterogenous characteristics of reforming and non-reforming countries appear to play an important role in driving these results.

Does democracy cause innovation? An empirical test of the popper hypothesis: http://www.sciencedirect.com.sci-hub.cc/science/article/pii/S0048733317300975
The results from the difference-in-differences method show that democracy itself has no direct positive effect on innovation measured with patent counts, patent citations and patent originality.

Benevolent Autocrats: https://williameasterly.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/benevolent-autocrats-easterly-draft.pdf
A large literature attributes this to the higher variance of growth rates under autocracy than under democracy. The literature offers alternative explanations for this stylized fact: (1) leaders don’t matter under democracy, but good and bad leaders under autocracy cause high and low growth, (2) leaders don’t matter under autocracy either, but good and bad autocratic systems cause greater extremes of high and low growth, or (3) democracy does better than autocracy at reducing variance from shocks from outside the political system. This paper details further the stylized facts to test these distinctions. Inconsistent with (1), the variance of growth within the terms of leaders swamps the variance across leaders, and more so under autocracy than under democracy. Country effects under autocracy are also overwhelmed by within-country variance, inconsistent with (2). Explanation (3) fits the stylized facts the best of the three alternatives.

Political Institutions, Size of Government and Redistribution: An empirical investigation: http://www.lse.ac.uk/internationalDevelopment/pdf/WP/WP89.pdf
Results show that the stronger democratic institutions are, the lower is government size and the higher the redistributional capacity of the state. Political competition exercises the strongest and most robust effect on the two variables.

https://twitter.com/GarettJones/status/899466295170801664
https://archive.is/sPFII
Fits the high-variance theory of autocracies:
More miracles, more disasters. And there's a lot of demand for miracles.

Measuring the ups and downs of governance: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2017/09/22/measuring-the-ups-and-downs-of-governance/
Figure 2: Voice and Accountability and Government Effectiveness, 2016
https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/917444456386666497
https://archive.is/EBQlD
Georgia, Japan, Rwanda, and Serbia ↑ Gov Effectiveness; Indonesia, Tunisia, Liberia, Serbia, and Nigeria ↑ Voice and Accountability.

The logic of hereditary rule: theory and evidence: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/69615/
Hereditary leadership has been an important feature of the political landscape throughout history. This paper argues that hereditary leadership is like a relational contract which improves policy incentives. We assemble a unique dataset on leaders between 1874 and 2004 in which we classify them as hereditary leaders based on their family history. The core empirical finding is that economic growth is higher in polities with hereditary leaders but only if executive constraints are weak. Moreover, this holds across of a range of specifications. The finding is also mirrored in policy outcomes which affect growth. In addition, we find that hereditary leadership is more likely to come to an end when the growth performance under the incumbent leader is poor.

I noted this when the paper was a working paper, but non-hereditary polities with strong contraints have higher growth rates.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
The Rise and Fall of the Bourgeois Era – spottedtoad
That is, the Bourgeois Era allowed and required men (and then women) to work within the market system to support their families, but a changing technology of production means we are more in need of consumers than producers now. The Bourgeois Era benefited from people who were in some ways “bred for capitalism,” by the combination of Malthusian circumstances and strong states that punished violence with violence and starved the children of those who couldn’t make a living with market labor. But the majority of the people on the planet did not go through that same, centuries-long process, which was only partially effective in the places it operated in any case.

Just in time, however, the “need” for bourgeois lives has dissipated.
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august 2016 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Evidence for (very) recent natural selection in humans
height (+), infant head circumference (+), some biomolecular stuff, female hip size (+), male BMI (-), age of menarche (+, !!), and birth weight (+)

Strong selection in the recent past can cause allele frequencies to change significantly. Consider two different SNPs, which today have equal minor allele frequency (for simplicity, let this be equal to one half). Assume that one SNP was subject to strong recent selection, and another (neutral) has had approximately zero effect on fitness. The advantageous version of the first SNP was less common in the far past, and rose in frequency recently (e.g., over the last 2k years). In contrast, the two versions of the neutral SNP have been present in roughly the same proportion (up to fluctuations) for a long time. Consequently, in the total past breeding population (i.e., going back tens of thousands of years) there have been many more copies of the neutral alleles (and the chunks of DNA surrounding them) than of the positively selected allele. Each of the chunks of DNA around the SNPs we are considering is subject to a roughly constant rate of mutation.

Looking at the current population, one would then expect a larger variety of mutations in the DNA region surrounding the neutral allele (both versions) than near the favored selected allele (which was rarer in the population until very recently, and whose surrounding region had fewer chances to accumulate mutations). By comparing the difference in local mutational diversity between the two versions of the neutral allele (should be zero modulo fluctuations, for the case MAF = 0.5), and between the (+) and (-) versions of the selected allele (nonzero, due to relative change in frequency), one obtains a sensitive signal for recent selection. See figure at bottom for more detail. In the paper what I call mutational diversity is measured by looking at distance distribution of singletons, which are rare variants found in only one individual in the sample under study.

The 2,000 year selection of the British: http://www.unz.com/gnxp/the-2000-year-selection-of-the-british/

Detection of human adaptation during the past 2,000 years: http://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2016/05/07/052084

The key idea is that recent selection distorts the ancestral genealogy of sampled haplotypes at a selected site. In particular, the terminal (tip) branches of the genealogy tend to be shorter for the favored allele than for the disfavored allele, and hence, haplotypes carrying the favored allele will tend to carry fewer singleton mutations (Fig. 1A-C and SOM).

To capture this effect, we use the sum of distances to the nearest singleton in each direction from a test SNP as a summary statistic (Fig. 1D).

Figure 1. Illustration of the SDS method.

Figure 2. Properties of SDS.

Based on a recent model of European demography [25], we estimate that the mean tip length for a neutral sample of 3,000 individuals is 75 generations, or roughly 2,000 years (Fig. 2A). Since SDS aims to measure changes in tip lengths of the genealogy, we conjectured that it would be most likely to detect selection approximately within this timeframe.

Indeed, in simulated sweep models with samples of 3,000 individuals (Fig. 2B,C and fig. S2), we find that SDS focuses specifically on very recent time scales, and has equal power for hard and soft sweeps within this timeframe. At individual loci, SDS is powered to detect ~2% selection over 100 generations. Moreover, SDS has essentially no power to detect older selection events that stopped >100 generations before the present. In contrast, a commonly-used test for hard sweeps, iHS [12], integrates signal over much longer timescales (>1,000 generations), has no specificity to the more recent history, and has essentially no power for the soft sweep scenarios.

Catching evolution in the act with the Singleton Density Score: http://www.molecularecologist.com/2016/05/catching-evolution-in-the-act-with-the-singleton-density-score/
The Singleton Density Score (SDS) is a measure based on the idea that changes in allele frequencies induced by recent selection can be observed in a sample’s genealogy as differences in the branch length distribution.

You don’t need a weatherman: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/
You can do a million cool things with this method. Since the effective time scale goes inversely with sample size, you could look at evolution in England over the past 1000 years or the past 500. Differencing, over the period 1-1000 AD. Since you can look at polygenic traits, you can see whether the alleles favoring higher IQs have increased or decreased in frequency over various stretches of time. You can see if Greg Clark’s proposed mechanism really happened. You can (soon) tell if creeping Pinkerization is genetic, or partly genetic.

You could probably find out if the Middle Easterners really have gotten slower, and when it happened.

Looking at IQ alleles, you could not only show whether the Ashkenazi Jews really are biologically smarter but if so, when it happened, which would give you strong hints as to how it happened.

We know that IQ-favoring alleles are going down (slowly) right now (not counting immigration, which of course drastically speeds it up). Soon we will know if this was true while Russia was under the Mongol yoke – we’ll know how smart Periclean Athenians were and when that boost occurred. And so on. And on!

...

“The pace has been so rapid that humans have changed significantly in body and mind over recorded history."

bicameral mind: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/#comment-78934

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/#comment-78939
Chinese, Koreans, Japanese and Ashkenazi Jews all have high levels of myopia. Australian Aborigines have almost none, I think.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/you-dont-need-a-weatherman/#comment-79094
I expect that the fall of all great empires is based on long term dysgenic trends. There is no logical reason why so many empires and civilizations throughout history could grow so big and then not simply keep growing, except for dysgenics.
--
I can think of about twenty other possible explanations off the top of my head, but dysgenics is a possible cause.
--
I agree with DataExplorer. The largest factor in the decay of civilizations is dysgenics. The discussion by R. A. Fisher 1930 p. 193 is very cogent on this matter. Soon we will know for sure.
--
Sometimes it can be rapid. Assume that the upper classes are mostly urban, and somewhat sharper than average. Then the Mongols arrive.
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august 2016 by nhaliday
Why Does Software Rot?
from one of the comments on HN:
Note, article is not talking about bit rot, I think that's confusing a lot of people.
The point might be clearer as:
"Adaptability and efficiency are opposing priorities."
Ecosystems face this too. A stable environment will lead to adaptations that improve efficiency, while creating new dependencies on everything staying the same. In a sense, species are constantly competing to make the ecosystem more fragile.
If this holds, there are broad impacts to information systems outside of software. broader impact of this. We like to fantasize about the mind being immortal. Maybe we could fix the telemere thing, figure out cancer, hop our brain to a clone, or upload our consciousness to some cloud.
But in my experience, being mentally alive involves some mix of plasticity and progressive refinement. You can't have both forever.
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june 2016 by nhaliday
What is up with carbon dioxide and cognition? An offer - Less Wrong Discussion
study: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1104789/
n=22, p-values < .001 generally, no multiple comparisons or anything, right?
chart: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/ehp.1104789.g002.png
- note it's CO2 not oxygen that's relevant
- some interesting debate in comments about whether you would find similar effects for similar levels of variation in oxygen, implications for high-altitude living, etc.
- CO2 levels can range quite to quite high levels indoors (~1500, and even ~7000 in some of Gwern's experiments); this seems to be enough to impact cognition to a significant degree
- outdoor air quality often better than indoor even in urban areas (see other studies)

the solution: houseplants, http://lesswrong.com/lw/nk0/what_is_up_with_carbon_dioxide_and_cognition_an/d956

https://twitter.com/menangahela/status/965167009083379712
https://archive.is/k0I0U
except that environmental instability tends to be harder on more 'complex' adaptations and co2 ppm directly correlates with decreased effectiveness of cognition-enhancing traits vis chronic low-grade acidosis
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may 2016 by nhaliday
Goodreads | Gwern's review of Don't Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
- book about the Pirahã and their language/culture
- reminds me of julian jaynes
- some interesting analysis in comment

They seem to need relatively little sleep, mature quickly, never plan ahead or make long-term investments (such as making wicker rather than palm leave baskets) or talk about the distant future/past (and will very rarely talk about anything they learned from someone now dead: "generally only the most experienced language teachers will do this, those who have developed an ability to abstract from the subjective use of their language and who are able to comment on it from an objective perspective"), and will casually throw away tools or things they will need soon. They know how to preserve meat, but never both unless intending to trade it; food is eaten whenever it's available, and since they fish at all hours, everyone might wake up at 3AM for fish.

...

They have difficulty understanding foreigners are like them, and can understand language, in a bizarre echo of the Chinese room:

Then I noticed another bemusing fact. The Pirahãs would converse with me and then turn to one another, in my presence, to talk about me, as though I was not even there.

...

Their language, in their view, emerges from their lives as Pirahãs and from their relationships to other Pirahãs. If I could utter appropriate responses to their questions, this was no more evidence that I spoke their language than a recorded message is to me evidence that my telephone is a native speaker of English. I was like one of the bright macaws or parrots so abundant along the Maici. My "speaking" was just some cute trick to some of them. It was not really speaking.

All of this is part of Everett's case that the Pirahã are, like Luria's peasant, ruled by an "immediacy of experience principle" and this yields an extraordinarily conservative culture on which new ideas and concepts roll off like so much water off a duck's back.

Their supernatural beliefs are particularly fascinating: dreams are simply interpreted literally and discussed as supernatural events that happened, and any random thing can be a 'spirit', with regular theatrical performances of 'spirits' who are obviously tribe men (but when asked, Pirahã deny that there is any connection between particular men and spirits, part of their weak grasp on personal identity (I was particularly amused by the Heraclitean tone of one anecdote: "Pirahãs occasionally talked about me, when I emerged from the river in the evenings after my bath. I heard them ask one another, 'Is this the same one who entered the river or is it kapioxiai [a dangerous spirit]?'"), where names change regularly and are considered new people). Some of the spirit appearances are group hallucinations or consensus, and Everett opens Don't Sleep with the anecdote of being part of a group of Pirahã staring at an empty sand bank where they see the spirit Xigagai saying he will kill anyone going into the forest that day. This example is a bit perplexing: what could possibly be the use of this and why would they either perceive it or go along with it? Similarly, it's hard to see how the spirit outside the village talking all night about how he wanted to have sex with specific women of the village is serving any role, and the tribesman reaction when Everett walks up and asks to record his ranting is hilariously deadpan: "'Sure, go ahead', he answered immediately in his normal voice". Other spirits make more sense:

Pirahãs listen carefully and often follow the exhortations of the kaoaib6gi. A spirit might say something like "Don't want Jesus. He is not Pirahã", or "Don't hunt downriver tomorrow", or things that are commonly shared values, such as "Don't eat snakes." Through spirits, ostracism, food-sharing regulation, and so on, Pirahã society disciplines itself.
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april 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : School Is To Submit
Forager children aren’t told what to do; they just wander around and do what they like. But they get bored and want to be respected like adults, so eventually they follow some adults around and ask to be shown how to do things. In this process they sometimes have to take orders, but only until they are no longer novices. They don’t have a single random boss they don’t respect, but can instead be trained by many adults, can select them to be the most prestigious adults around, and can stop training with each when they like.

Schools work best when they set up an apparently similar process wherein students practice modern workplaces habits. Start with prestigious teachers, like the researchers who also teach at leading universities. Have students take several classes at at a time, so they have no single “boss” who personally benefits from their following his or her orders. Make class attendance optional, and let students pick their classes. Have teachers continually give students complex assignments with new ambiguous instructions, using the excuse of helping students to learn new things. Have lots of students per teacher, to lower costs, to create excuses for having students arrive and turn in assignments on time, and to create social proof that other students accept all of this. Frequently and publicly rank student performance, using the excuse of helping students to learn and decide which classes and jobs to take later. And continue the whole process well into adulthood, so that these habits become deeply ingrained.
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april 2016 by nhaliday
The Ideology Is Not The Movement | Slate Star Codex
reflections on ethnogenesis

"It seems like we’re also getting a 'protestant rationalist' tribe that’s based around the belief that Scott Alexander is the rightful caliph, in the sense that whenever I meet people who read this blog IRL I get a really strong shared-tribal-bond feeling (which is somewhat discomfiting, since I’m not used to strong feelings of tribal bonds)." - Pku in comment
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april 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : propsstars

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