nhaliday + signal-noise   81

Altruism in a volatile world | Nature
The evolution of altruism—costly self-sacrifice in the service of others—has puzzled biologists1 since The Origin of Species. For half a century, attempts to understand altruism have developed around the concept that altruists may help relatives to have extra offspring in order to spread shared genes2. This theory—known as inclusive fitness—is founded on a simple inequality termed Hamilton’s rule2. However, explanations of altruism have typically not considered the stochasticity of natural environments, which will not necessarily favour genotypes that produce the greatest average reproductive success3,4. Moreover, empirical data across many taxa reveal associations between altruism and environmental stochasticity5,6,7,8, a pattern not predicted by standard interpretations of Hamilton’s rule. Here we derive Hamilton’s rule with explicit stochasticity, leading to new predictions about the evolution of altruism. We show that altruists can increase the long-term success of their genotype by reducing the temporal variability in the number of offspring produced by their relatives. Consequently, costly altruism can evolve even if it has a net negative effect on the average reproductive success of related recipients. The selective pressure on volatility-suppressing altruism is proportional to the coefficient of variation in population fitness, and is therefore diminished by its own success. Our results formalize the hitherto elusive link between bet-hedging and altruism4,9,10,11, and reveal missing fitness effects in the evolution of animal societies.
study  bio  evolution  altruism  kinship  stylized-facts  models  intricacy  random  signal-noise  time  order-disorder  org:nat  EGT  cooperate-defect  population-genetics  moments  expectancy  multiplicative  additive 
march 2018 by nhaliday
The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective - American Affairs Journal
I don’t claim to be a modern-day Alexis de Tocqueville, nor do I have much in common with this famous observer of American life. He grew up in Paris, a city renowned for its culture and architecture. I grew up in Shijiazhuang, a city renowned for being the headquarters of the company that produced toxic infant formula. He was a child of aristocrats; I am the child of modest workers.

Nevertheless, I hope my candid observations can provide some insights into the elite institutions of the West. Certain beliefs are as ubiquitous among the people I went to school with as smog was in Shijiazhuang. The doctrines that shape the worldviews and cultural assumptions at elite Western institutions like Cambridge, Stanford, and Goldman Sachs have become almost religious. Nevertheless, I hope that the perspective of a candid Chinese atheist can be of some instruction to them.


So I came to the UK in 2001, when I was 16 years old. Much to my surprise, I found the UK’s exam-focused educational system very similar to the one in China. What is more, in both countries, going to the “right schools” and getting the “right job” are seen as very important by a large group of eager parents. As a result, scoring well on exams and doing well in school interviews—or even the play session for the nursery or pre-prep school—become the most important things in the world. Even at the university level, the undergraduate degree from the University of Cambridge depends on nothing else but an exam at the end of the last year.

On the other hand, although the UK’s university system is considered superior to China’s, with a population that is only one-twentieth the size of my native country, competition, while tough, is less intimidating. For example, about one in ten applicants gets into Oxbridge in the UK, and Stanford and Harvard accept about one in twenty-five applicants. But in Hebei province in China, where I am from, only one in fifteen hundred applicants gets into Peking or Qinghua University.

Still, I found it hard to believe how much easier everything became. I scored first nationwide in the GCSE (high school) math exam, and my photo was printed in a national newspaper. I was admitted into Trinity College, University of Cambridge, once the home of Sir Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon, and Prince Charles.

I studied economics at Cambridge, a field which has become more and more mathematical since the 1970s. The goal is always to use a mathematical model to find a closed-form solution to a real-world problem. Looking back, I’m not sure why my professors were so focused on these models. I have since found that the mistake of blindly relying on models is quite widespread in both trading and investing—often with disastrous results, such as the infamous collapse of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management. Years later, I discovered the teaching of Warren Buffett: it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong. But our professors taught us to think of the real world as a math problem.

The culture of Cambridge followed the dogmas of the classroom: a fervent adherence to rules and models established by tradition. For example, at Cambridge, students are forbidden to walk on grass. This right is reserved for professors only. The only exception is for those who achieve first class honors in exams; they are allowed to walk on one area of grass on one day of the year.

The behavior of my British classmates demonstrated an even greater herd mentality than what is often mocked in American MBAs. For example, out of the thirteen economists in my year at Trinity, twelve would go on to join investment banks, and five of us went to work for Goldman Sachs.


To me, Costco represents the best of American capitalism. It is a corporation known for having its customers and employees in mind, while at the same time it has compensated its shareholders handsomely over the years. To the customers, it offers the best combination of quality and low cost. Whenever it manages to reduce costs, it passes the savings on to customers immediately. Achieving a 10 percent gross margin with prices below Amazon’s is truly incredible. After I had been there once, I found it hard to shop elsewhere.

Meanwhile, its salaries are much higher than similar retail jobs. When the recession hit in 2008, the company increased salaries to help employees cope with the difficult environment. From the name tags the staff wear, I have seen that frontline employees work there for decades, something hard to imagine elsewhere.

Stanford was for me a distant second to Costco in terms of the American capitalist experience. Overall, I enjoyed the curriculum at the GSB. Inevitably I found some classes less interesting, but the professors all seemed to be quite understanding, even when they saw me reading my kindle during class.

One class was about strategy. It focused on how corporate mottos and logos could inspire employees. Many of the students had worked for nonprofits or health care or tech companies, all of which had mottos about changing the world, saving lives, saving the planet, etc. The professor seemed to like these mottos. I told him that at Goldman our motto was “be long-term greedy.” The professor couldn’t understand this motto or why it was inspiring. I explained to him that everyone else in the market was short-term greedy and, as a result, we took all their money. Since traders like money, this was inspiring. He asked if perhaps there was another motto or logo that my other classmates might connect with. I told him about the black swan I kept on my desk as a reminder that low probability events happen with high frequency. He didn’t like that motto either and decided to call on another student, who had worked at Pfizer. Their motto was “all people deserve to live healthy lives.” The professor thought this was much better. I didn’t understand how it would motivate employees, but this was exactly why I had come to Stanford: to learn the key lessons of interpersonal communication and leadership.

On the communication and leadership front, I came to the GSB knowing I was not good and hoped to get better. My favorite class was called “Interpersonal Dynamics” or, as students referred to it, “Touchy Feely.” In “Touchy Feely,” students get very candid feedback on how their words and actions affect others in a small group that meets several hours per week for a whole quarter.

We talked about microaggressions and feelings and empathy and listening. Sometimes in class the professor would say things to me like “Puzhong, when Mary said that, I could see you were really feeling something,” or “Puzhong, I could see in your eyes that Peter’s story affected you.” And I would tell them I didn’t feel anything. I was quite confused.

One of the papers we studied mentioned that subjects are often not conscious of their own feelings when fully immersed in a situation. But body indicators such as heart rate would show whether the person is experiencing strong emotions. I thought that I generally didn’t have a lot of emotions and decided that this might be a good way for me to discover my hidden emotions that the professor kept asking about.

So I bought a heart rate monitor and checked my resting heart rate. Right around 78. And when the professor said to me in class “Puzhong, I can see that story brought up some emotions in you,” I rolled up my sleeve and checked my heart rate. It was about 77. And so I said, “nope, no emotion.” The experiment seemed to confirm my prior belief: my heart rate hardly moved, even when I was criticized, though it did jump when I became excited or laughed.

This didn’t land well on some of my classmates. They felt I was not treating these matters with the seriousness that they deserved. The professor was very angry. My takeaway was that my interpersonal skills were so bad that I could easily offend people unintentionally, so I concluded that after graduation I should do something that involved as little human interaction as possible.

Therefore, I decided I needed to return to work in financial markets rather than attempting something else. I went to the career service office and told them that my primary goal after the MBA was to make money. I told them that $500,000 sounded like a good number. They were very confused, though, as they said their goal was to help me find my passion and my calling. I told them that my calling was to make money for my family. They were trying to be helpful, but in my case, their advice didn’t turn out to be very helpful.

Eventually I was able to meet the chief financial officer of my favorite company, Costco. He told me that they don’t hire any MBAs. Everyone starts by pushing trolleys. (I have seriously thought about doing just that. But my wife is strongly against it.) Maybe, I thought, that is why the company is so successful—no MBAs!


Warren Buffett has said that the moment one was born in the United States or another Western country, that person has essentially won a lottery. If someone is born a U.S. citizen, he or she enjoys a huge advantage in almost every aspect of life, including expected wealth, education, health care, environment, safety, etc., when compared to someone born in developing countries. For someone foreign to “purchase” these privileges, the price tag at the moment is $1 million dollars (the rough value of the EB-5 investment visa). Even at this price level, the demand from certain countries routinely exceeds the annual allocated quota, resulting in long waiting times. In that sense, American citizens were born millionaires!

Yet one wonders how long such luck will last. This brings me back to the title of Rubin’s book, his “uncertain world.” In such a world, the vast majority things are outside our control, determined by God or luck. After we have given our best and once the final card is drawn, we should neither become too excited by what we have achieved nor too depressed by what we failed to … [more]
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january 2018 by nhaliday
light - Why doesn't the moon twinkle? - Astronomy Stack Exchange
As you mention, when light enters our atmosphere, it goes through several parcels of gas with varying density, temperature, pressure, and humidity. These differences make the refractive index of the parcels different, and since they move around (the scientific term for air moving around is "wind"), the light rays take slightly different paths through the atmosphere.

Stars are point sources
…the Moon is not
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december 2017 by nhaliday
What are the Laws of Biology?
The core finding of systems biology is that only a very small subset of possible network motifs is actually used and that these motifs recur in all kinds of different systems, from transcriptional to biochemical to neural networks. This is because only those arrangements of interactions effectively perform some useful operation, which underlies some necessary function at a cellular or organismal level. There are different arrangements for input summation, input comparison, integration over time, high-pass or low-pass filtering, negative auto-regulation, coincidence detection, periodic oscillation, bistability, rapid onset response, rapid offset response, turning a graded signal into a sharp pulse or boundary, and so on, and so on.

These are all familiar concepts and designs in engineering and computing, with well-known properties. In living organisms there is one other general property that the designs must satisfy: robustness. They have to work with noisy components, at a scale that’s highly susceptible to thermal noise and environmental perturbations. Of the subset of designs that perform some operation, only a much smaller subset will do it robustly enough to be useful in a living organism. That is, they can still perform their particular functions in the face of noisy or fluctuating inputs or variation in the number of components constituting the elements of the network itself.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
What Does a “Normal” Human Genome Look Like? | Science
So, what have our first glimpses of variation in the genomes of generally healthy people taught us? First, balancing selection, the evolutionary process that favors genetic diversification rather than the fixation of a single “best” variant, appears to play a minor role outside the immune system. Local adaptation, which accounts for variation in traits such as pigmentation, dietary specialization, and susceptibility to particular pathogens is also a second-tier player. What is on the top tier? Increasingly, the answer appears to be mutations that are “deleterious” by biochemical or standard evolutionary criteria. These mutations, as has long been appreciated, overwhelmingly make up the most abundant form of nonneutral variation in all genomes. A model for human genetic individuality is emerging in which there actually is a “wild-type” human genome—one in which most genes exist in an evolutionarily optimized form. There just are no “wild-type” humans: We each fall short of this Platonic ideal in our own distinctive ways.
article  essay  org:nat  🌞  bio  biodet  genetics  genomics  mutation  genetic-load  QTL  evolution  sapiens  survey  summary  coding-theory  enhancement  signal-noise  egalitarianism-hierarchy  selection  tradeoffs  immune  recent-selection  perturbation  nibble  ideas  forms-instances 
november 2017 by nhaliday
If Quantum Computers are not Possible Why are Classical Computers Possible? | Combinatorics and more
As most of my readers know, I regard quantum computing as unrealistic. You can read more about it in my Notices AMS paper and its extended version (see also this post) and in the discussion of Puzzle 4 from my recent puzzles paper (see also this post). The amazing progress and huge investment in quantum computing (that I presented and update  routinely in this post) will put my analysis to test in the next few years.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Global Evidence on Economic Preferences
- Benjamin Enke et al

This paper studies the global variation in economic preferences. For this purpose, we present the Global Preference Survey (GPS), an experimentally validated survey dataset of time preference, risk preference, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust from 80,000 individuals in 76 countries. The data reveal substantial heterogeneity in preferences across countries, but even larger within-country heterogeneity. Across individuals, preferences vary with age, gender, and cognitive ability, yet these relationships appear partly country specific. At the country level, the data reveal correlations between preferences and bio-geographic and cultural variables such as agricultural suitability, language structure, and religion. Variation in preferences is also correlated with economic outcomes and behaviors. Within countries and subnational regions, preferences are linked to individual savings decisions, labor market choices, and prosocial behaviors. Across countries, preferences vary with aggregate outcomes ranging from per capita income, to entrepreneurial activities, to the frequency of armed conflicts.


This paper explores these questions by making use of the core features of the GPS: (i) coverage of 76 countries that represent approximately 90 percent of the world population; (ii) representative population samples within each country for a total of 80,000 respondents, (iii) measures designed to capture time preference, risk preference, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity, and trust, based on an ex ante experimental validation procedure (Falk et al., 2016) as well as pre-tests in culturally heterogeneous countries, (iv) standardized elicitation and translation techniques through the pre-existing infrastructure of a global polling institute, Gallup. Upon publication, the data will be made publicly available online. The data on individual preferences are complemented by a comprehensive set of covariates provided by the Gallup World Poll 2012.


The GPS preference measures are based on twelve survey items, which were selected in an initial survey validation study (see Falk et al., 2016, for details). The validation procedure involved conducting multiple incentivized choice experiments for each preference, and testing the relative abilities of a wide range of different question wordings and formats to predict behavior in these choice experiments. The particular items used to construct the GPS preference measures were selected based on optimal performance out of menus of alternative items (for details see Falk et al., 2016). Experiments provide a valuable benchmark for selecting survey items, because they can approximate the ideal choice situations, specified in economic theory, in which individuals make choices in controlled decision contexts. Experimental measures are very costly, however, to implement in a globally representative sample, whereas survey measures are much less costly.⁴ Selecting survey measures that can stand in for incentivized revealed preference measures leverages the strengths of both approaches.

The Preference Survey Module: A Validated Instrument for Measuring Risk, Time, and Social Preferences: http://ftp.iza.org/dp9674.pdf

Table 1: Survey items of the GPS

Figure 1: World maps of patience, risk taking, and positive reciprocity.
Figure 2: World maps of negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust.

Figure 3: Gender coefficients by country. For each country, we regress the respective preference on gender, age and its square, and subjective math skills, and plot the resulting gender coefficients as well as their significance level. In order to make countries comparable, each preference was standardized (z-scores) within each country before computing the coefficients.

Figure 4: Cognitive ability coefficients by country. For each country, we regress the respective preference on gender, age and its square, and subjective math skills, and plot the resulting coefficients on subjective math skills as well as their significance level. In order to make countries comparable, each preference was standardized (z-scores) within each country before computing the coefficients.

Figure 5: Age profiles by OECD membership.

Table 6: Pairwise correlations between preferences and geographic and cultural variables

Figure 10: Distribution of preferences at individual level.
Figure 11: Distribution of preferences at country level.

interesting digression:
D Discussion of Measurement Error and Within- versus Between-Country Variation
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Why are children in the same family so different from one another? - PubMed - NCBI
- Plomin et al

The article has three goals: (1) To describe quantitative genetic methods and research that lead to the conclusion that nonshared environment is responsible for most environmental variation relevant to psychological development, (2) to discuss specific nonshared environmental influences that have been studied to date, and (3) to consider relationships between nonshared environmental influences and behavioral differences between children in the same family. The reason for presenting this article in BBS is to draw attention to the far-reaching implications of finding that psychologically relevant environmental influences make children in a family different from, not similar to, one another.
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Does Learning to Read Improve Intelligence? A Longitudinal Multivariate Analysis in Identical Twins From Age 7 to 16
Stuart Richie, Bates, Plomin

SEM: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4354297/figure/fig03/

The variance explained by each path in the diagrams included here can be calculated by squaring its path weight. To take one example, reading differences at age 12 in the model shown in Figure​Figure33 explain 7% of intelligence differences at age 16 (.262). However, since our measures are of differences, they are likely to include substantial amounts of noise: Measurement error may produce spurious differences. To remove this error variance, we can take an estimate of the reliability of the measures (generally high, since our measures are normed, standardized tests), which indicates the variance expected purely by the reliability of the measure, and subtract it from the observed variance between twins in our sample. Correcting for reliability in this way, the effect size estimates are somewhat larger; to take the above example, the reliability-corrected effect size of age 12 reading differences on age 16 intelligence differences is around 13% of the “signal” variance. It should be noted that the age 12 reading differences themselves are influenced by many previous paths from both reading and intelligence, as illustrated in Figure​Figure33.


The present study provided compelling evidence that improvements in reading ability, themselves caused purely by the nonshared environment, may result in improvements in both verbal and nonverbal cognitive ability, and may thus be a factor increasing cognitive diversity within families (Plomin, 2011). These associations are present at least as early as age 7, and are not—to the extent we were able to test this possibility—driven by differences in reading exposure. Since reading is a potentially remediable ability, these findings have implications for reading instruction: Early remediation of reading problems might not only aid in the growth of literacy, but may also improve more general cognitive abilities that are of critical importance across the life span.

Does Reading Cause Later Intelligence? Accounting for Stability in Models of Change: http://sci-hub.tw/10.1111/cdev.12669
Results from a state–trait model suggest that reported effects of reading ability on later intelligence may be artifacts of previously uncontrolled factors, both environmental in origin and stable during this developmental period, influencing both constructs throughout development.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning | Quanta Magazine
A new idea called the “information bottleneck” is helping to explain the puzzling success of today’s artificial-intelligence algorithms — and might also explain how human brains learn.

sounds like he's just talking about autoencoders?
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september 2017 by nhaliday
My Old Boss | West Hunter
Back in those days, there was interest in finding better ways to communicate with a submerged submarine.  One method under consideration used an orbiting laser to send pulses of light over the ocean, using a special wavelength, for which there was a very good detector.  Since even the people running the laser might not know the boomer’s exact location, while weather and such might also interfere,  my old boss was trying to figure out methods of reliably transmitting messages when some pulses were randomly lost – which is of course a well-developed subject,  error-correcting codes. But he didn’t know that.  Hadn’t even heard of it.

Around this time, my old boss was flying from LA to Washington, and started talking with his seatmate about this  submarine communication problem.  His seatmate – Irving S. Reed – politely said that he had done a little work on some similar problems.  During this conversation, my informant, a fellow minion sitting behind my old boss, was doggedly choking back hysterical laughter, not wanting to interrupt this very special conversation.
west-hunter  scitariat  stories  reflection  working-stiff  engineering  dirty-hands  electromag  communication  coding-theory  giants  bits  management  signal-noise 
september 2017 by nhaliday
key fact: cognitive ability is not growing in importance, but non-cognitive ability is

The labor market increasingly rewards social skills. Between 1980 and 2012, jobs requiring high levels of social interaction grew by nearly 12 percentage points as a share of the U.S. labor force. Math-intensive but less social jobs—including many STEM occupations—shrank by 3.3 percentage points over the same period. Employment and wage growth was particularly strong for jobs requiring high levels of both math skill and social skill. To understand these patterns, I develop a model of team production where workers “trade tasks” to exploit their comparative advantage. In the model, social skills reduce coordination costs, allowing workers to specialize and work together more efficiently. The model generates predictions about sorting and the relative returns to skill across occupations, which I investigate using data from the NLSY79 and the NLSY97. Using a comparable set of skill measures and covariates across survey waves, I find that the labor market return to social skills was much greater in the 2000s than in the mid 1980s and 1990s. JEL Codes: I20, I24, J01, J23, J24, J31

The Increasing Complementarity between Cognitive and Social Skills: http://econ.ucsb.edu/~weinberg/MathSocialWeinberger.pdf

The Changing Roles of Education and Ability in Wage Determination: http://business.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@commerce/@research/documents/doc/uow130116.pdf

Intelligence and socioeconomic success: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal research: http://www.emilkirkegaard.dk/en/wp-content/uploads/Intelligence-and-socioeconomic-success-A-meta-analytic-review-of-longitudinal-research.pdf
Moderator analyses showed that the relationship between intelligence and success is dependent on the age of the sample but there is little evidence of any historical trend in the relationship.

that feelio when america has crossed an inflection point and EQ is obviously more important for success in todays society than IQ
I think this is how to understand a lot of "corporate commitment to diversity" stuff.Not the only reason ofc, but reason it's so impregnable
compare: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:e9ac3d38e7a1
and: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:a38f5756170d

g-reliant skills seem most susceptible to automation: https://fredrikdeboer.com/2017/06/14/g-reliant-skills-seem-most-susceptible-to-automation/

THE ERROR TERM: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2018/02/19/the-error-term/
Imagine an objective function- something you want to maximize or minimize- with both a deterministic and a random component.


Part of y is rules-based and rational, part is random and outside rational control. Obviously, the ascent of civilization has, to the extent it has taken place, been based on focusing energies on those parts of the world that are responsive to rational interpretation and control.

But an interesting thing happens once automated processes are able to take over the mapping of patterns onto rules. The portion of the world that is responsive to algorithmic interpretation is also the rational, rules-based portion, almost tautologically. But in terms of our actual objective functions- the real portions of the world that we are trying to affect or influence- subtracting out the portion susceptible to algorithms does not eliminate the variation or make it unimportant. It simply makes it much more purely random rather than only partially so.

The interesting thing, to me, is that economic returns accumulate to the random portion of variation just as to the deterministic portion. In fact, if everybody has access to the same algorithms, the returns may well be largely to the random portion. The efficient market hypothesis in action, more or less.


But more generally, as more and more of the society comes under algorithmic control, as various forms of automated intelligence become ubiquitous, the remaining portion, and the portion for which individual workers are rewarded, might well become more irrational, more random, less satisfying, less intelligent.

Golden age for team players: https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/10/social-skills-increasingly-valuable-to-employers-harvard-economist-finds/
Strong social skills increasingly valuable to employers, study finds

Number of available jobs by skill set (over time)

Changes in hourly wages by skill set (over time)

A resolution for the new year: Remember that intelligence is a predictor of social intelligence!
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august 2017 by nhaliday
10 million DTC dense marker genotypes by end of 2017? – Gene Expression
Ultimately I do wonder if I was a bit too optimistic that 50% of the US population will be sequenced at 30x by 2025. But the dynamic is quite likely to change rapidly because of a technological shift as the sector goes through a productivity uptick. We’re talking about exponential growth, which humans have weak intuition about….
gnxp  scitariat  commentary  biotech  scaling-up  genetics  genomics  scale  bioinformatics  multi  toys  measurement  duplication  signal-noise  coding-theory 
june 2017 by nhaliday
Why China Cannot Rise Peacefully - YouTube
- unexpected accent/tone lol
- principles: states as unit of action/global anarchy, uncertainty (fog-of-war), states as rational, selfish actors
- consequences: need to become as powerful as possible, regional hegemon, prevent peer competitors (no other regional hegemon in world, eg, China)
- future: China as giant Hong Kong
- future coalition: India, Japan, Russia, Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, and the USA
- does he actually think Brazil coulda gotten as powerful as the US? lol.
- his summary of American grand strategy (lol):
1. Europe (great powers)
2. NE Asia (great powers)
3. Persian Gulf (oil)
- "Europe will become distant 3rd, Europe is a museum, lotta old people." lol
- "not gonna help us with Asia, got their own problems, bankrupting themselves"
- counterarguments: "not gonna grow, China's a Confucian culture (don't pay attention to those), economic interdependence." doesn't buy the last either.
- best counterarguments: nuclear deterrence, economic interdependence, "age of nationalism"
- mass-murder usually strategic (eg, maintaining power) not ideological

debate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd-1LymXXX0

interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXSkY4QKDlA
- Clinton's a realist
- plenty of economic independence prior to world wars
- nukes makes WW3 unlikely, but do not rule out limited war (eg, over East/South China Sea)
- Confucian pacifism argument is ahistorical
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Intersection of diverse neuronal genomes and neuropsychiatric disease: The Brain Somatic Mosaicism Network
Towards explaining non-shared-environment effects on intelligence, psychiatric disorders, and other cognitive traits - developmental noise such as post-conception mutations in individual cells or groups of cells
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Educational Romanticism & Economic Development | pseudoerasmus


Did Nations that Boosted Education Grow Faster?: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/10/did_nations_tha.html
On average, no relationship. The trendline points down slightly, but for the time being let's just call it a draw. It's a well-known fact that countries that started the 1960's with high education levels grew faster (example), but this graph is about something different. This graph shows that countries that increased their education levels did not grow faster.

Where has all the education gone?: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=




The Case Against Education: What's Taking So Long, Bryan Caplan: http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2015/03/the_case_agains_9.html

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/01/whats-college-good-for/546590/
Students don't seem to be getting much out of higher education.
- Bryan Caplan

College: Capital or Signal?: http://www.economicmanblog.com/2017/02/25/college-capital-or-signal/
After his review of the literature, Caplan concludes that roughly 80% of the earnings effect from college comes from signalling, with only 20% the result of skill building. Put this together with his earlier observations about the private returns to college education, along with its exploding cost, and Caplan thinks that the social returns are negative. The policy implications of this will come as very bitter medicine for friends of Bernie Sanders.

Doubting the Null Hypothesis: http://www.arnoldkling.com/blog/doubting-the-null-hypothesis/

Is higher education/college in the US more about skill-building or about signaling?: https://www.quora.com/Is-higher-education-college-in-the-US-more-about-skill-building-or-about-signaling
ballpark: 50% signaling, 30% selection, 20% addition to human capital
more signaling in art history, more human capital in engineering, more selection in philosophy

Econ Duel! Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/03/econ-duel-is-education-signaling-or-skill-building.html
Marginal Revolution University has a brand new feature, Econ Duel! Our first Econ Duel features Tyler and me debating the question, Is education more about signaling or skill building?

Against Tulip Subsidies: https://slatestarcodex.com/2015/06/06/against-tulip-subsidies/




Most American public school kids are low-income; about half are non-white; most are fairly low skilled academically. For most American kids, the majority of the waking hours they spend not engaged with electronic media are at school; the majority of their in-person relationships are at school; the most important relationships they have with an adult who is not their parent is with their teacher. For their parents, the most important in-person source of community is also their kids’ school. Young people need adult mirrors, models, mentors, and in an earlier era these might have been provided by extended families, but in our own era this all falls upon schools.

Caplan gestures towards work and earlier labor force participation as alternatives to school for many if not all kids. And I empathize: the years that I would point to as making me who I am were ones where I was working, not studying. But they were years spent working in schools, as a teacher or assistant. If schools did not exist, is there an alternative that we genuinely believe would arise to draw young people into the life of their community?


It is not an accident that the state that spends the least on education is Utah, where the LDS church can take up some of the slack for schools, while next door Wyoming spends almost the most of any state at $16,000 per student. Education is now the one surviving binding principle of the society as a whole, the one black box everyone will agree to, and so while you can press for less subsidization of education by government, and for privatization of costs, as Caplan does, there’s really nothing people can substitute for it. This is partially about signaling, sure, but it’s also because outside of schools and a few religious enclaves our society is but a darkling plain beset by winds.

This doesn’t mean that we should leave Caplan’s critique on the shelf. Much of education is focused on an insane, zero-sum race for finite rewards. Much of schooling does push kids, parents, schools, and school systems towards a solution ad absurdum, where anything less than 100 percent of kids headed to a doctorate and the big coding job in the sky is a sign of failure of everyone concerned.

But let’s approach this with an eye towards the limits of the possible and the reality of diminishing returns.

The real reason the left would support Moander: the usual reason. because he’s an enemy.

I have a problem in thinking about education, since my preferences and personal educational experience are atypical, so I can’t just gut it out. On the other hand, knowing that puts me ahead of a lot of people that seem convinced that all real people, including all Arab cabdrivers, think and feel just as they do.

One important fact, relevant to this review. I don’t like Caplan. I think he doesn’t understand – can’t understand – human nature, and although that sometimes confers a different and interesting perspective, it’s not a royal road to truth. Nor would I want to share a foxhole with him: I don’t trust him. So if I say that I agree with some parts of this book, you should believe me.


Caplan doesn’t talk about possible ways of improving knowledge acquisition and retention. Maybe he thinks that’s impossible, and he may be right, at least within a conventional universe of possibilities. That’s a bit outside of his thesis, anyhow. Me it interests.

He dismisses objections from educational psychologists who claim that studying a subject improves you in subtle ways even after you forget all of it. I too find that hard to believe. On the other hand, it looks to me as if poorly-digested fragments of information picked up in college have some effect on public policy later in life: it is no coincidence that most prominent people in public life (at a given moment) share a lot of the same ideas. People are vaguely remembering the same crap from the same sources, or related sources. It’s correlated crap, which has a much stronger effect than random crap.

These widespread new ideas are usually wrong. They come from somewhere – in part, from higher education. Along this line, Caplan thinks that college has only a weak ideological effect on students. I don’t believe he is correct. In part, this is because most people use a shifting standard: what’s liberal or conservative gets redefined over time. At any given time a population is roughly half left and half right – but the content of those labels changes a lot. There’s a shift.

I put it this way, a while ago: “When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong.”
You just explained the Credo quia absurdum doctrine. I always wondered if it was nonsense. It is not.
Someone on twitter caught it first – got all the way to “sliding down the razor blade of life”. Which I explained is now called “transitioning”

What Catholics believe: https://theweek.com/articles/781925/what-catholics-believe
We believe all of these things, fantastical as they may sound, and we believe them for what we consider good reasons, well attested by history, consistent with the most exacting standards of logic. We will profess them in this place of wrath and tears until the extraordinary event referenced above, for which men and women have hoped and prayed for nearly 2,000 years, comes to pass.

According to Caplan, employers are looking for conformity, conscientiousness, and intelligence. They use completion of high school, or completion of college as a sign of conformity and conscientiousness. College certainly looks as if it’s mostly signaling, and it’s hugely expensive signaling, in terms of college costs and foregone earnings.

But inserting conformity into the merit function is tricky: things become important signals… because they’re important signals. Otherwise useful actions are contraindicated because they’re “not done”. For example, test scores convey useful information. They could help show that an applicant is smart even though he attended a mediocre school – the same role they play in college admissions. But employers seldom request test scores, and although applicants may provide them, few do. Caplan says ” The word on the street… [more]
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Epidemiology, epigenetics and the ‘Gloomy Prospect’: embracing randomness in population health research and practice | International Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic
Despite successes in identifying causes, it is often claimed that there are missing additional causes for even reasonably well-understood conditions such as lung cancer and coronary heart disease. Several lines of evidence suggest that largely chance events, from the biographical down to the sub-cellular, contribute an important stochastic element to disease risk that is not epidemiologically tractable at the individual level. Epigenetic influences provide a fashionable contemporary explanation for such seemingly random processes. Chance events—such as a particular lifelong smoker living unharmed to 100 years—are averaged out at the group level. As a consequence population-level differences (for example, secular trends or differences between administrative areas) can be entirely explicable by causal factors that appear to account for only a small proportion of individual-level risk. In public health terms, a modifiable cause of the large majority of cases of a disease may have been identified, with a wild goose chase continuing in an attempt to discipline the random nature of the world with respect to which particular individuals will succumb.

choice quote:
"With the perception (in my view exaggerated) that genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have failed to deliver on initial expectations,5 the next phase of enhanced risk prediction will certainly shift to ‘epigenetics’6,7—the currently fashionable response to any question to which you do not know the answer."
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Arthur Schopenhauer: Chapter XXIV, On Reading and Books
Ignorance degrades a man only when it is found in company with wealth. A poor man is subdued by his poverty and distress; with him his work takes the place of knowledge and occupies his thoughts. On the other hand, the wealthy who are ignorant live merely for their pleasures and are like animals, as can be seen every day. Moreover, there is the reproach that wealth and leisure have not been used for that which bestows on them the greatest possible value.

When we read, someone else thinks for us; we repeat merely his mental process. It is like the pupil who, when learning to write, goes over with his pen the strokes made in pencil by the teacher. Accordingly, when we read, the work of thinking is for the most part taken away from us. Hence the noticeable relief when from preoccupation with our thoughts we pass to reading. But while we are reading our mind is really only the playground of other people’s ideas; and when these finally depart, what remains? The result is that, whoever reads very much and almost the entire day but at intervals amuses himself with thoughtless pastime, gradually loses the ability to think for himself; just as a man who always rides ultimately forgets how to walk. But such is the case with very many scholars; they have read themselves stupid. [...]
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Neurodiversity | West Hunter
Having an accurate evaluation of a syndrome as a generally bad thing isn’t equivalent to attacking those with that syndrome. Being a leper is a bad thing, not just another wonderful flavor of humanity [insert hot tub joke] , but that doesn’t mean that we have to spend our spare time playing practical jokes on lepers, tempting though that is.. Leper hockey. We can cure leprosy, and we are right to do so. Preventing deafness through rubella vaccination was the right thing too – deafness sucks. And so on. As we get better at treating and preventing, humans are going to get more uniform – and that’s a good thing. Back to normalcy!

focus: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/neurodiversity/#comment-88691
interesting discussion of mutational load: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/02/22/neurodiversity/#comment-88793

I was thinking again about the consequences of having more small-effect deleterious mutations than average. I don’t think that they would push hard in a particular direction in phenotype space – I don’t believe they would make you look weird, but by definition they would be bad for you, reduce fitness. I remembered a passage in a book by Steve Stirling, in which our heroine felt as if her brain ‘was moving like a mechanism of jewels and steel precisely formed.’ It strikes me that a person with an extra dollop of this kind of genetic load wouldn’t feel like that. And of course that heroine did have low genetic load, being the product of millennia of selective breeding, not to mention an extra boost from the Invisible Crown.

Well, what does the distribution of fitness burden by frequency look like for deleterious mutations of a given fitness penalty?
It’s proportional to the mutation rate for that class. There is reason to believe that there are more ways to moderately or slightly screw up a protein than to really ruin it, which indicates that mild mutations make up most load in protein-coding sequences. More of the genome is made up of conserved regulatory sequences, but mutations there probably have even milder effects, since few mutations in non-coding sequences cause a serious Mendelian disease.

I have wondered if there was some sort of evolutionary tradeoff between muscles and brains over the past hundred thousand years through dystrophin’s dual role. There is some evidence of recent positive selection among proteins that interact with dystrophin, such as DTNBP1 and DTNA.

Any novel environment where higher intelligence can accrue more caloric energy than brute strength alone (see: the invention of the bow) should relax the selection pressure for muscularity. The Neanderthals didn’t fare so well with the brute strength strategy.
Sure: that’s what you might call an inevitable tradeoff, a consequence of the laws of physics. Just as big guys need more food. But because of the way our biochemistry is wired, there can be tradeoffs that exist but are not inevitable consequences of the laws of physics – particularly likely when a gene has two fairly different functions, as they often do.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Measurement error and the replication crisis | Science
In a low-noise setting, the theoretical results of Hausman and others correctly show that measurement error will attenuate coefficient estimates. But we can demonstrate with a simple exercise that the opposite occurs in the presence of high noise and selection on statistical significance.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Learn to solve every problem that has been solved
While it may be impossible to achieve Feynman's goal, I'm surprised that more people don't attempt the importance threshold-modified version. Suppose we set the importance bar really, really high: what are the most important results that everyone should try to understand? Here's a very biased partial list: basic physics and mathematics (e.g., to the level of the Feynman Lectures); quantitative theory of genetics and evolution; information, entropy and probability; basic ideas about logic and computation (Godel and Turing?); ... What else? Dynamics of markets? Complex Systems? Psychometrics? Descriptive biology? Organic chemistry?
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february 2017 by nhaliday
What is the relationship between information theory and Coding theory? - Quora
- finite vs. asymptotic
- combinatorial vs. probabilistic (lotsa overlap their)
- worst-case (Hamming) vs. distributional (Shannon)

Information and coding theory most often appear together in the subject of error correction over noisy channels. Historically, they were born at almost exactly the same time - both Richard Hamming and Claude Shannon were working at Bell Labs when this happened. Information theory tends to heavily use tools from probability theory (together with an "asymptotic" way of thinking about the world), while traditional "algebraic" coding theory tends to employ mathematics that are much more finite sequence length/combinatorial in nature, including linear algebra over Galois Fields. The emergence in the late 90s and first decade of 2000 of codes over graphs blurred this distinction though, as code classes such as low density parity check codes employ both asymptotic analysis and random code selection techniques which have counterparts in information theory.

They do not subsume each other. Information theory touches on many other aspects that coding theory does not, and vice-versa. Information theory also touches on compression (lossy & lossless), statistics (e.g. large deviations), modeling (e.g. Minimum Description Length). Coding theory pays a lot of attention to sphere packing and coverings for finite length sequences - information theory addresses these problems (channel & lossy source coding) only in an asymptotic/approximate sense.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Success, Ability, and all that
Better to be Lucky than Good?: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/03/better-to-be-lucky-than-good.html
The arXiv paper below looks at stochastic dynamical models that can transform initial (e.g., Gaussian) talent distributions into power law outcomes (e.g., observed wealth distributions in modern societies). While the models themselves may not be entirely realistic, they illustrate the potentially large role of luck relative to ability in real life outcomes.


Of course, it might be the case that better measurements would uncover a power law distribution of individual talents. But it's far more plausible to me that random fluctuations + nonlinear amplifications transform, over time, normally distributed talents into power law outcomes.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
A Rejection of 'Broken Windows Policing' Over Race Actually Hurts Minority Neighborhoods | Manhattan Institute
Late-night slightly controversial criminal justice thread:

Proactive policing and crime control: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0227-x
Evidence that curtailing proactive policing can reduce major crime: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0211-5

Is Racial Profiling a Legitimate Strategy in the Fight against Violent Crime?: https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s11406-018-9945-1?author_access_token=nDM1xCesybebx7yUX2BxZ_e4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY6py69jTlOiEGDIgqW0Vv2HrAor6wlMLH695I2ykTiKUxf1RBnu1u_6gjXU-6vgh2gIy6CX2npHD9GR350T20x_TbCcq4MmJUPrxAqsJSe1QA%3D%3D
- Neven Sesardić

Are U.S. Cities Underpoliced?: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/08/u-s-cities-underpoliced.html
Chalfin and McCrary acknowledge the endogeneity problem but they suggest that a more important reason why ordinary regression gives you poor results is that the number of police is poorly measured. Suppose the number of police jumps up and down in the data even when the true number stays constant. Fake variation obviously can’t influence real crime so when your regression “sees” a lot of (fake) variation in police which is not associated with variation in crime it’s naturally going to conclude that the effect of police on crime is small, i.e. attenuation bias.

By comparing two different measures of the number of police, Chalfin and McCrary show that a surprising amount of the ups and downs in the number of police is measurement error. Using their two measures, however, Chalfin and McCrary produce a third measure which is better than either alone. Using this cleaned-up estimate, they find that ordinary regression (with controls) gives you estimates of the effect of police on crime which are plausible and similar to those found using other techniques like natural experiments. Chalfin and McCrary’s estimates, however, are more precise since they use much more of the variation in the data.

Using these new estimates of the effect of police and crime along with estimates of the social cost of crime they conclude (as I have argued before) that U.S. cities are substantially under-policed.

Crime Imprisons and Kills: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/01/crime-imprisons-kills.html
…The everyday lived experience of urban poverty has also been transformed. Analyzing rates of violent victimization over time, I found that the poorest Americans today are victimized at about the same rate as the richest Americans were at the start of the 1990s. That means that a poor, unemployed city resident walking the streets of an average city today has about the same chance of being robbed, beaten up, stabbed or shot as a well-off urbanite in 1993. Living in poverty used to mean living with the constant threat of violence. In most of the country, that is no longer true.

Do parole abolition and Truth-in-Sentencing deter violent crimes in Virginia?: http://link.springer.com.sci-hub.cc/article/10.1007/s00181-017-1332-4

Death penalty: https://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2011/09/death-penalty.html
And so I revise: the death penalty is wrong, and it also likely has little measurable deterrent effect. There may still be a deterrent effect; we just can't show one given available data.

The effects of DNA databases on the deterrence and detection of offenders: http://jenniferdoleac.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DNA_Denmark.pdf
We exploit a large expansion of Denmark’s DNA database in 2005 to measure the effect of DNA registration on criminal behavior. Using a regression discontinuity strategy, we find that DNA registration reduces recidivism by 43%. Using rich data on the timing of subsequent charges to separate the deterrence and detection effects of DNA databases, we also find that DNA registration increases the probability that repeat offenders get caught, by 4%. We estimate an elasticity of criminal behavior with respect to the probability of detection to be -1.7. We also find suggestive evidence that DNA profiling changes non-criminal behavior: offenders added to the DNA database are more likely to get married, remain in a stable relationship, and live with their children.

Short- and long-term effects of imprisonment on future felony convictions and prison admissions: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/09/26/1701544114.short
Prison isn't criminogenic—offenders have higher rates of re-incarceration because of technical parole violations
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The Promises and Pitfalls of Genoeconomics*
This estimator suggests that heritability increases from 0.37 to 0.58 in men as we move from single-year income to a 20-year average. The corresponding figures for women are 0.28 and 0.46. These findings suggest that permanent income is more heritable than single-year income. This conclusion partly seems to reflect the fact that measurement error and transitory shocks generate a downward bias in estimates of heritability (Solon 1992, Zimmerman 1992, Mazumder 2005), consistent with our earlier conjecture that the heritability estimates of many other economic outcomes are downward biased.

Heritability of Lifetime Income: https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/46326.html
Using 15 years of data on Finnish twins, we find that 24% (54%) of the variance of women’s (men’s) lifetime income is due to genetic factors and that the contribution of the shared environment is negligible. We link these figures to policy by showing that controlling for education reduces the variance share of genetics by 5-8 percentage points; by demonstrating that income uncertainty has a genetic component half the size of its variance share in lifetime income; and by exploring how the genetic heritability of lifetime income is related to the macroeconomic environment, as measured by GDP growth and the Gini-coefficient of income inequality.

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Household Financial Distress: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268117302251
- Financial behaviors are genetically influenced especially at the extremes of SES.
- Personality and cognition are linked to financial distress genetically.
- Within-family factors also link personality and cognition to financial distress.
- Neuroticism is a more important predictor of financial distress at low SES.
- Cognitive ability is a more important predictor of financial distress at high SES.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Competent Elites - Less Wrong

Cochran: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:d8fc1403ad19

How to Become a C.E.O.? The Quickest Path Is a Winding One: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/11/upshot/how-to-become-a-ceo-the-quickest-path-is-a-winding-one.html
New evidence shows that a mix of skills, especially technology skills, counts more than simply long experience in one specialty.

What Does a C.E.O. Actually Do?: http://freakonomics.com/podcast/c-e-o-actually/

On empathy: psychopaths, sociopaths and aspies: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/06/on-empathy-psychopaths-sociopaths-and.html
Last week a startup CTO, who didn't know my background, characterized all CEOs as "warm sociopaths" :-) He is at least partly right: many business and political leaders are good at reading other people's thoughts and emotions, but lack genuine concern for their well being. On the other hand, many geeks are very bad at mind reading or emotional perception, yet adhere to a strict moral code.

East Asian sociopaths?: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2011/06/east-asian-sociopaths.html
Some would assert that CEOs and other people in leadership positions are often warm sociopaths. Interestingly, it is claimed that there is a huge variation between groups in the rate of sociopathy. Perhaps this is related to the under-representation of E. Asians in leadership positions in the West, despite their high educational achievements? (Instead of sociopathy other factors like aggressiveness in interpersonal relationships might play a role.)

THE ILLUSION OF ASIAN SUCCESS: Scant Progress for Minorities in Cracking the Glass Ceiling from 2007–2015: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.ascendleadership.org/resource/resmgr/research/TheIllusionofAsianSuccess.pdf
Asians are not making it into top ranks at tech firms.
EPI = %exec / %professionals
MPI = %managers / %professionals

CEOs really are worth more than they used to be: https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/economics/ceos-really-are-worth-more-than-they-used-to-be
more: https://twitter.com/s8mb/status/762711050437419008
More silliness on executive pay: https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/yes-chief-executives-really-do-matter
ratty  lesswrong  hmm  impro  high-variance  impact  business  rhetoric  reflection  power  optimate  success  big-yud  multi  hsu  scitariat  signal-noise  leadership  humility  elite  entrepreneurialism  s-factor  organizing  stereotypes  iq  personality  discipline  ability-competence  management  class  strategy  career  planning  data  idk  jobs  long-term  tactics  org:rec  empirical  working-stiff  org:data  progression  knowledge  org:lite  brands  economics  labor  industrial-org  study  summary  audio  podcast  interview  albion  econotariat  nl-and-so-can-you  econometrics  natural-experiment  randy-ayndy  links  twitter  social  discussion  wonkish  chart  winner-take-all  trends  inequality  wealth  compensation  article  org:ngo  org:anglo  random  pdf  white-paper  race  demographics  asia  analysis  visualization  time-series  diversity  commentary  gnon  unaffiliated  right-wing  sv  tech  usa  the-west  california  corporation  psychiatry  socs-and-mops  pop-diff  speculation  psychology  morality  cooperate-defect  explanans  n-factor  disease  self-interest  crooked  vampi 
january 2017 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Random microworlds: the mystery of nonshared environment
Nonshared environmental contributions to development, which are the largest environmental contributions, are effectively random. They are not amenable to control, either by parents or policy makers. Note, this picture -- that each child creates their own environment, or experiences an effectively random one -- does not seem to support the hypothesis that observed group differences in cognitive ability are primarily of non-genetic origin. Nor does it suggest that any simple intervention (for example, equalizing average SES levels) will eliminate group differences. However, it's fair to say our understanding of these complex questions is limited.

Technical remark: if n is large, and factors uncorrelated, the observed environmental variation in a population will be suppressed as n^{-1/2} relative to the maximum environmental effect. That means that the best or worst case scenarios for environmental effect, although hard to achieve, could be surprisingly large. In other words, if the environment is perfectly suited to the child, there could be an anomalously large non-genetic effect, relative to the variance observed in the population as a whole. Of course, for large n these perfect conditions are also harder to arrange. (As a super-high investment parent I am actually involved in attempting to fine tune n-vectors ;-)

Environmental effects cause regression to the mean of a child relative to the parental midpoint. Parents who are well above average likely benefited from a good match between their environment and individual proclivities, as well as from good genes. This match is difficult to replicate for their children -- only genes are passed on with certainty.
hsu  methodology  variance-components  speculation  parenting  thinking  🌞  frontier  environmental-effects  models  developmental  scitariat  signal-noise  biodet  nibble  s:*  roots  genetics  behavioral-gen  random  volo-avolo  composition-decomposition  systematic-ad-hoc 
november 2016 by nhaliday
The genetic basis of social mobility | EVOLVING ECONOMICS
In 2007’s A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, Gregory Clark argued that the higher fertility of the rich in pre-industrial England sowed the seeds for the Industrial Revolution. As children resemble their parents, the increased number of prudent, productive people made possible the modern economic era.

Part of the controversy underlying Clark’s argument – made stark by Clark in articles and speeches following A Farewell to Alm’s publication – was that he considered there may be a genetic basis to the transmitted traits. The higher fertility of the rich and changing character of the population was natural selection at work.

Clark’s new book The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility, also makes a new and unique argument. And like A Farewell to Alms, there is a genetic underlay.

Clark’s primary argument is that across a range of societies and eras – from pre-Industrial to modern England, from pre- to post-revolution China, and across the centuries in the United States, Sweden and India – social mobility is low. The correlation in social status between one generation and the next is around 0.7 to 0.8, meaning we can find the echoes of high status 10 or more generations later. Status does “regress to the mean”, but it does so slowly.
books  review  summary  status  class  mobility  history  econotariat  🌞  🎩  regression-to-mean  c:**  2014  spearhead  gregory-clark  britain  latent-variables  biodet  signal-noise  legacy  sociology  broad-econ  s-factor  microfoundations 
november 2016 by nhaliday
What’s the catch? | West Hunter
Neanderthals and the Wrath of Khan

if someone were to try to create a Neanderthal a few years from now, starting with ancient DNA, they’d have to have worry a lot about data errors, because such errors would translate into mutations, which might be harmful or even lethal. Assume that we have figured out how to get the gene expression right, have all the proper methylation etc: we have modern humans as a template and you know there isn’t that much difference.

They might try consensus averaging – take three high-quality Neanderthal genomes and make your synthetic genome by majority rule: we ignore a nucleotide change in one genome if it’s not there in the other two. ‘tell me three times’, a simple form of error-correcting code.

But doing this would cause a problem. Can you see what the problem is?
west-hunter  sapiens  speculation  enhancement  archaics  discussion  genetics  genetic-load  🌞  gedanken  unintended-consequences  cocktail  error  aDNA  signal-noise  coding-theory  scitariat  wild-ideas  ideas  archaeology  perturbation  iteration-recursion  duplication  forms-instances 
november 2016 by nhaliday
The Son Also Rises | West Hunter
It turns out that you can predict a kid’s social status better if you take into account the grandparents as well as the parents – and the nieces/nephews, cousins, etc. Which means that you’re estimating the breeding value for moxie – which means that Clark needs to read Falconer right now. I’d guess that taking into account grandparents that the kids never even met, ones that died before their birth, will improve prediction. Let the sociologists chew on that.


If culture was the driver, a group could just adopt a different culture (it happens) and decide to be the new upper class by doing all that shit Amy Chua pushes, or possibly by playing cricket. I don’t believe that this ever actually occurs. Although with genetic engineering on the horizon, it may be possible. Of course that would be cheating.

It is hard to change these patterns very much. Universal public education, fluoridation, democracy, haven’t made much difference. I do think that shooting enough people would. Or a massive application of droit de seigneur, or its opposite.


If moxie is genetic, most economists must be wrong about human capital formation. Having fewer kids and spending more money on their education has only a modest effect: this must be the case, given slow long-run social mobility. It seems that social status is transmitted within families largely independently of the resources available to parents. Which is why Ashkenazi Jews could show up at Ellis Island flat broke, with no English, and have so many kids in the Ivy League by the 1920s that they imposed quotas. I’ve never understood why economists ever believed in this.

Moxie is not the same thing as IQ, although IQ must be a component. It is also worth remembering that this trait helps you acquire status – it is probably not quite the same thing as being saintly, honest, or incredibly competent at doing your damn job.

books  summary  west-hunter  review  mobility  🌞  c:**  🎩  2014  spearhead  gregory-clark  biodet  legacy  assortative-mating  long-short-run  signal-noise  latent-variables  age-generation  scitariat  broad-econ  s-factor  flux-stasis  multi  models  microfoundations  honor  integrity  ability-competence  impact  regression-to-mean  agri-mindset  alt-inst  economics  human-capital  interdisciplinary  social-science  sociology  sports  analogy  examples  class  inequality  britain  europe  nordic  japan  korea  china  asia  latin-america 
november 2016 by nhaliday
The Third Sex | West Hunter
- eusociality and humans
- chromosome morphs
- green-beards and asabiya
- MHC/HLA and mating
- white-throated sparrows

Strategies: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/strategies/
There is a qualitative difference between being XY and X0 (Turner’s syndrome). Being XY, a guy, is the physical embodiment of an evolutionary strategy: a certain genetic pattern that has a way of making more copies of itself. It’s a complex strategy, but that’s what it is. X0 people are sterile: they don’t generate more X0 individuals. Not every XY individual succeeds in reproducing, any more than every maple seed starts a new maple tree – but on average, it works. An X0 individual is the result of noise, errors in meiosis: Turner’s syndrome isn’t a strategy. In the same way, someone with Down’s syndrome isn’t Nature’s way of producing more people with Down’s syndrome.

Parenthetically, being a guy that tries to reproduce is a strategy. Actually reproducing is a successful outcome of that strategy. Similarly, being an alpha dude in a polygynous species like elephant seals is not a strategy: trying to be an alpha dude is the strategy. I see people confuse those two things all the time.


Natural selection tends to make physical embodiments of a successful reproductive strategy common. So stuff like Down’s syndrome, Turner’s syndrome, androgen insensitivity, etc, are all rare. Successful evolutionary strategies usually involve actually getting things done: so there is a tendency for natural selection to develop and optimize various useful abilities, like walking and talking and thinking. All part of the strategy. Many non-strategies [like Downs or Fragile X] mess up those abilities


So, is sex a spectrum in humans? No: obviously not. Two basic strategies, plus errors.

Why would a geneticist be unable to make the distinction between an evolutionary strategy and an error of development (i.e. caused by replication errors of pathogens)? Well, the average geneticist doesn’t know much evolutionary biology. And being embedded in a university, the current replacement for old-fashioned booby hatches, he’s subject to pressures that reward him for saying stupid things. and of course some people are pre-adapted to saying stupid things.

My whole point was that you can explain the qualitative difference without being in any way teleological. You’d do better to think about positive igon-values than Aristotle.
bio  sapiens  speculation  evolution  society  insight  west-hunter  🌞  big-picture  sexuality  sex  immune  scitariat  ideas  s:*  cohesion  CRISPR  genetics  genomics  parasites-microbiome  deep-materialism  scifi-fantasy  tribalism  us-them  organizing  multi  signal-noise  error  sanctity-degradation  aphorism  rant  higher-ed  academia  social-science  westminster  truth  equilibrium  strategy  disease  psychiatry  genetic-load  QTL  poast  volo-avolo  explanation  philosophy  the-classics  big-peeps  thinking  clarity  distribution  selection  intricacy  conceptual-vocab  biotech  enhancement  new-religion  coordination  cooperate-defect  axelrod  EGT  population-genetics  interests  darwinian  telos-atelos  sociality  metabuch  essence-existence  forms-instances  game-theory 
october 2016 by nhaliday
Noise: dinosaurs, syphilis, and all that | West Hunter
Generally speaking, I thought the paleontologists were a waste of space: innumerate, ignorant about evolution, and simply not very smart.

None of them seemed to understand that a sharp, short unpleasant event is better at causing a mass extinction, since it doesn’t give flora and fauna time to adapt.

Most seemed to think that gradual change caused by slow geological and erosion forces was ‘natural’, while extraterrestrial impact was not. But if you look at the Moon, or Mars, or the Kirkwood gaps in the asteroids, or think about the KAM theorem, it is apparent that Newtonian dynamics implies that orbits will be perturbed, and that sometimes there will be catastrophic cosmic collisions. Newtonian dynamics is as ‘natural’ as it gets: paleontologists not studying it in school and not having much math hardly makes it ‘unnatural’.

One of the more interesting general errors was not understanding how to to deal with noise – incorrect observations. There’s a lot of noise in the paleontological record. Dinosaur bones can be eroded and redeposited well after their life times – well after the extinction of all dinosaurs. The fossil record is patchy: if a species is rare, it can easily look as if it went extinct well before it actually did. This means that the data we have is never going to agree with a perfectly correct hypothesis – because some of the data is always wrong. Particularly true if the hypothesis is specific and falsifiable. If your hypothesis is vague and imprecise – not even wrong – it isn’t nearly as susceptible to noise. As far as I can tell, a lot of paleontologists [ along with everyone in the social sciences] think of of unfalsifiability as a strength.

Done Quickly: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/done-quickly/
I’ve never seen anyone talk about it much, but when you think about mass extinctions, you also have to think about rates of change

You can think of a species occupying a point in a many-dimensional space, where each dimension represents some parameter that influences survival and/or reproduction: temperature, insolation, nutrient concentrations, oxygen partial pressure, toxin levels, yada yada yada. That point lies within a zone of habitability – the set of environmental conditions that the species can survive. Mass extinction occurs when environmental changes are so large that many species are outside their comfort zone.

The key point is that, with gradual change, species adapt. In just a few generations, you can see significant heritable responses to a new environment. Frogs have evolved much greater tolerance of acidification in 40 years (about 15 generations). Some plants in California have evolved much greater tolerance of copper in just 70 years.

As this happens, the boundaries of the comfort zone move. Extinctions occur when the rate of environmental change is greater than the rate of adaptation, or when the amount of environmental change exceeds the limit of feasible adaptation. There are such limits: bar-headed geese fly over Mt. Everest, where the oxygen partial pressure is about a third of that at sea level, but I’m pretty sure that no bird could survive on the Moon.


Paleontologists prefer gradualist explanations for mass extinctions, but they must be wrong, for the most part.
disease  science  critique  rant  history  thinking  regularizer  len:long  west-hunter  thick-thin  occam  social-science  robust  parasites-microbiome  early-modern  parsimony  the-trenches  bounded-cognition  noise-structure  signal-noise  scitariat  age-of-discovery  sex  sexuality  info-dynamics  alt-inst  map-territory  no-go  contradiction  dynamical  math.DS  space  physics  mechanics  archaeology  multi  speed  flux-stasis  smoothness  evolution  environment  time  shift  death  nihil  inference  apollonian-dionysian  error  explanation  spatial  discrete  visual-understanding  consilience 
september 2016 by nhaliday
On Refusing to Read - The Chronicle of Higher Education
The activity of nonreading is something that scholars rarely discuss. When they — or others whose identities are bound up with books — do so, the discussions tend to have a shamefaced quality. Blame "cultural capital" — the sense of superiority associated with laying claim to books that mark one’s high social status. More entertainingly, blame Humiliation, the delicious game that a diabolical English professor invents in David Lodge’s 1975 academic satire, Changing Places. In a game of Humiliation, players win points for not having read canonical books that everyone else in the game has read. One hapless junior faculty member in the novel wins a departmental round but loses his tenure case. In real life, the game has been most happily played by the tenured professor secure in his reputation. Changing Places had apparently inspired my adviser’s confession to someone at some point, and the information then wound through the gossip mill to reach me, standing around in the mid-1990s with a beer, trying to hide my own growing list of unread books.

Consider, however, the fact that, as Matthew Wilkens points out, in 2011 more than 50,000 new novels were published in the United States alone. "The problem of abundance" is a problem for every person who has an internet connection, and it is a professional problem in every corner of literary study. Nonreading, seen in this light, is not a badge of shame, but the way of the future. Franco Moretti has been making this point for years about the literary production of the 18th and 19th centuries, inspiring a few labs-worth of scholars to turn to machine reading — for example, using algorithms to find patterns in a particular era’s literary works. This is a form of not reading that holds tight to the dream that our literary scholarship should be based on the activity of reading as much as humanly or inhumanly possible.
academia  literature  learning  attention  contrarianism  essay  rhetoric  len:long  org:mag  org:edu  minimalism  news  signal-noise  serene  culture  time-use  inhibition  info-foraging  prioritizing  explore-exploit 
september 2016 by nhaliday
Why Information Grows – Paul Romer
thinking like a physicist:

The key element in thinking like a physicist is being willing to push simultaneously to extreme levels of abstraction and specificity. This sounds paradoxical until you see it in action. Then it seems obvious. Abstraction means that you strip away inessential detail. Specificity means that you take very seriously the things that remain.

Abstraction vs. Radical Specificity: https://paulromer.net/abstraction-vs-radical-specificity/
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september 2016 by nhaliday
natural language processing blog: Debugging machine learning
I've been thinking, mostly in the context of teaching, about how to specifically teach debugging of machine learning. Personally I find it very helpful to break things down in terms of the usual error terms: Bayes error (how much error is there in the best possible classifier), approximation error (how much do you pay for restricting to some hypothesis class), estimation error (how much do you pay because you only have finite samples), optimization error (how much do you pay because you didn't find a global optimum to your optimization problem). I've generally found that trying to isolate errors to one of these pieces, and then debugging that piece in particular (eg., pick a better optimizer versus pick a better hypothesis class) has been useful.
machine-learning  debugging  checklists  best-practices  pragmatic  expert  init  system-design  data-science  acmtariat  error  engineering  clarity  intricacy  model-selection  org:bleg  nibble  noise-structure  signal-noise  knowledge  accuracy  expert-experience 
september 2016 by nhaliday
Bias, precision and heritability of self-reported and clinically measured height in Australian twins. - PubMed - NCBI
Self-report height measurements are shown to be more variable than clinical measures. This has led to lowered estimates of heritability in many previous studies of stature.

basically measurement error of any kind can reduce heritability estimates
study  genetics  science  variance-components  twin-study  environmental-effects  anglo  embodied  biodet  self-report  signal-noise  missing-heritability 
july 2016 by nhaliday
When does Robert Cottrell just stop reading? (from the comments) - Marginal REVOLUTION
I read full-time to edit The Browser, and I abandon a hundred articles for every one that I finish. I generally stop if I hit “eponymous”, or “toxic”, or “trigger warning”, or “make no mistake”. Summary labelling of anything in an article as “complex” means that the writer does not understand or cannot explain the material. I don’t often read beyond headlines that use the words “surprising”, “secret”, “really”, “not” or “… and why it matters”. Any headline ending in a question mark is a bad sign. I know writers don’t usually write their own headlines, but the headline represents a best effort to say what is useful in the article by a sympathetic person who has been paid to read it.
thinking  learning  internet  lifehack  advice  hmm  econotariat  cracker-econ  marginal-rev  attention  🎩  priors-posteriors  signal-noise  info-foraging  prioritizing 
may 2016 by nhaliday
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