Relatedness disequilibrium regression explained
Cute. (But why isn't "genetic nurture" just "genes as indicators of endogamous social class"?)
track_down_references  human_genetics  heritability  re:g_paper 
The Anti-Fascist Boomerang
"Well-meaning laws that vest the authorities with the power to cleanse public discourse of speech we don’t care for have a way of coming back to bite us. Hate speech laws around the world are used to criminalize legitimate dissent and criticism. Anti-fake news measures have in many cases silenced marginal voices, including even those combating bigotry.
"And more often than not, the voices silenced end up being those on the Left. It figures — after all, left-wing viewpoints and activism tend to be anti-authority and challenge deep-seated power structures, making them a clear target for repression.
"Fascism and bigotry are ugly, violent, and at their worst, murderous. But vesting authorities with more power to suppress these movements today all but guarantees they’ll be used against the Left tomorrow."

--- It is very depressing that this needs saying.
progressive_forces  us_politics  us_history  defenses_of_liberalism 
The Recent Unpleasantness: Understanding the Cycles of Constitutional Time by Jack M. Balkin :: SSRN
"This article, originally given as the 2017 Addison C. Harris Lecture at Indiana University, analyzes recent events in terms of three great cycles of change in American constitutional history. The first is the cycle of the rise and fall of political regimes. The second is the cycle of polarization and depolarization. The third is the cycle of the decay and renewal of republican government--the cycle of constitutional rot. Each of these cycles operates on a different time scale. Their interaction generates "constitutional time."
"Many commentators worry that the United States is in a period of constitutional crisis, or that American democracy is doomed. These fears, although understandable, are overstated. America is not in a constitutional crisis, although it is suffering from a fairly severe case of constitutional rot, connected to rising polarization and economic inequality. Our current difficulties are a temporary condition. They stem from the fact that the Reagan regime that has structured American politics since the 1980s is dying, but a new regime has yet to be born.
"This is a difficult, agonizing, and humbling transition; and its difficulty is enhanced by the fact that, unlike the last transition, it occurs at the peak of a cycle of polarization and at the low point of a cycle of constitutional rot. For that reason, the transition to a new political regime is likely to be especially difficult. But we will get through it. And when we get through it, about five to ten years from now, American politics will look quite different.
"Political renewal is hardly foreordained: it will require persistence and political effort. The point of this lecture is to offer a bit of hope in difficult times. If people misunderstand our situation, and conclude that American decline is inevitable, they may unwittingly help to make that fate a reality; but if they understand the cycles of constitutional time, they may come to believe that their democracy can be redeemed, and do their part to realize that worthy goal."

--- Balkin can be somewhat insane (he wrote a book about the I Ching, and has absorbed way more than the LD50 of French post-structuralist theory), but he can also be absolutely brilliant (as in his book _Cultural Software_), so who knows about this?
law  us_politics  our_decrepit_institutions  balkin.jack  via:?  to_read  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
A re-replication of a psychological classic provides a cautionary tale about overhyped science – Research Digest
Ummm. If the effects being studied are this fragile, why on Earth would we think they have real-world importance? Even very fragile, hard-to-elicit effects _can_ illuminate deep theoretical questions (I started out as a high-energy particle physicist!), but what are those questions, here exactly? I half-suspect the problem with social psychology (et al.) isn't bad social/experimental protocols, or bad statistics, but a failure to really theorize. Back to the blackboard!
track_down_references  have_read  replication  psychology  to:blog 
How three conspiracy theorists took 'Q' and sparked Qanon
I read stuff like this, and I think about a favorite quotation from a favorite historian

> [I]t is a great mistake to suppose that the only writers who matter are those whom the educated in their saner moments can take seriously. There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures, and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history. [Norman Cohn, _Warrant for Genocide: the Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 1st ed., p. 18]

and I realize that I never really _felt_ the force of this before.
conspiracy_theories  natural_history_of_truthiness  epidemiology_of_ideas  networked_life  deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  via:henry_farrell  psychoceramics 
Neuroforensics: Exploring the Legal Implications of Emerging Neurotechnologies: Proceedings of a Workshop | The National Academies Press
"Discussions around the intersection between neuroscience and the law began decades ago. Originally used mostly in death penalty cases, the role of neuroscience has extended to cases involving drugs, assault, burglary, child abuse, rape, fraud, theft, and kidnapping. Neuroscience has also begun to play an increasingly important role in making policy, particularly where the law is unclear or ambiguous.
"In March 2018, the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine organized a workshop in order to explore the current uses of neuroscience and bring stakeholders from neuroscience and legal societies together in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Participants worked together to advance an understanding of neurotechnologies that could impact the legal system and the state of readiness to consider these technologies and where appropriate, to integrate them into the legal system. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop."
to:NB  books:noted  neuroscience  law  moral_responsibility 
2 days ago
Injustice: Political Theory for the Real World - Paperback - Michael Goodhart - Oxford University Press
"This book challenges the conventional approach to problems of injustice in global normative theory. It offers a radical alternative designed to transform our thinking about what kind of problem injustice is and to show how political theorists might do better in understanding and addressing it. Michael Goodhart argues that the dominant paradigm, ideal moral theory (IMT), takes a fundamentally wrong-headed approach to injustice. At the same time, leading alternatives to IMT struggle to make sense of the role values play in politics and abandon political theory's critical and prescriptive aspirations. Goodhart treats justice claims as ideological and develops an innovative bifocal theoretical framework for making sense of them. This framework reconciles realistic political analysis with substantive normative commitments, enabling theorists to come to grips with injustice as a political rather than a philosophical problem. The book describes the work that political theory and political theorists can do to combat injustice and illustrates its key arguments through a novel reconceptualization of responsibility for injustice"
to:NB  books:noted  political_philosophy  moral_philosophy  moral_responsibility  going_to_hear_the_talk 
2 days ago
Mendelberg, T. and Karpowitz, C.: The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, and Institutions (Paperback and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"Do women participate in and influence meetings equally with men? Does gender shape how a meeting is run and whose voices are heard? The Silent Sex shows how the gender composition and rules of a deliberative body dramatically affect who speaks, how the group interacts, the kinds of issues the group takes up, whose voices prevail, and what the group ultimately decides. It argues that efforts to improve the representation of women will fall short unless they address institutional rules that impede women's voices.
"Using groundbreaking experimental research supplemented with analysis of school boards, Christopher Karpowitz and Tali Mendelberg demonstrate how the effects of rules depend on women’s numbers, so that small numbers are not fatal with a consensus process, but consensus is not always beneficial when there are large numbers of women. Men and women enter deliberative settings facing different expectations about their influence and authority. Karpowitz and Mendelberg reveal how the wrong institutional rules can exacerbate women’s deficit of authority while the right rules can close it, and, in the process, establish more cooperative norms of group behavior and more generous policies for the disadvantaged. Rules and numbers have far-reaching implications for the representation of women and their interests."
to:NB  books:noted  sexism  institutions  democracy  re:democratic_cognition 
2 days ago
[1705.02801] Graph Embedding Techniques, Applications, and Performance: A Survey
"Graphs, such as social networks, word co-occurrence networks, and communication networks, occur naturally in various real-world applications. Analyzing them yields insight into the structure of society, language, and different patterns of communication. Many approaches have been proposed to perform the analysis. Recently, methods which use the representation of graph nodes in vector space have gained traction from the research community. In this survey, we provide a comprehensive and structured analysis of various graph embedding techniques proposed in the literature. We first introduce the embedding task and its challenges such as scalability, choice of dimensionality, and features to be preserved, and their possible solutions. We then present three categories of approaches based on factorization methods, random walks, and deep learning, with examples of representative algorithms in each category and analysis of their performance on various tasks. We evaluate these state-of-the-art methods on a few common datasets and compare their performance against one another. Our analysis concludes by suggesting some potential applications and future directions. We finally present the open-source Python library we developed, named GEM (Graph Embedding Methods, available at this https URL), which provides all presented algorithms within a unified interface to foster and facilitate research on the topic."
to:NB  graph_theory  network_data_analysis  visual_display_of_quantitative_information  geometry  re:hyperbolic_networks  via:rvenkat 
2 days ago
[1801.01239] How to Beat Science and Influence People: Policy Makers and Propaganda in Epistemic Networks
"In their recent book Merchants of Doubt [New York:Bloomsbury 2010], Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe the "tobacco strategy", which was used by the tobacco industry to influence policy makers regarding the health risks of tobacco products. The strategy involved two parts, consisting of (1) promoting and sharing independent research supporting the industry's preferred position and (2) funding additional research, but selectively publishing the results. We introduce a model of the Tobacco Strategy, and use it to argue that both prongs of the strategy can be extremely effective--even when policy makers rationally update on all evidence available to them. As we elaborate, this model helps illustrate the conditions under which the Tobacco Strategy is particularly successful. In addition, we show how journalists engaged in "fair" reporting can inadvertently mimic the effects of industry on public belief."
to:NB  to_read  collective_cognition  science_as_a_social_process  deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  re:democratic_cognition  via:henry_farrell 
3 days ago
Local causal states and discrete coherent structures (Rupe and Crutchfield, 2018)
"Coherent structures form spontaneously in nonlinear spatiotemporal systems and are found at all spatial scales in natural phenomena from laboratory hydrodynamic flows and chemical reactions to ocean, atmosphere, and planetary climate dynamics. Phenomenologically, they appear as key components that organize the macroscopic behaviors in such systems. Despite a century of effort, they have eluded rigorous analysis and empirical prediction, with progress being made only recently. As a step in this, we present a formal theory of coherent structures in fully discrete dynamical field theories. It builds on the notion of structure introduced by computational mechanics, generalizing it to a local spatiotemporal setting. The analysis’ main tool employs the local causal states, which are used to uncover a system’s hidden spatiotemporal symmetries and which identify coherent structures as spatially localized deviations from those symmetries. The approach is behavior-driven in the sense that it does not rely on directly analyzing spatiotemporal equations of motion, rather it considers only the spatiotemporal fields a system generates. As such, it offers an unsupervised approach to discover and describe coherent structures. We illustrate the approach by analyzing coherent structures generated by elementary cellular automata, comparing the results with an earlier, dynamic-invariant-set approach that decomposes fields into domains, particles, and particle interactions."

--- *ahem* *cough* https://arxiv.org/abs/nlin/0508001 *ahem*
to:NB  have_read  pattern_formation  complexity  prediction  stochastic_processes  spatio-temporal_statistics  cellular_automata  crutchfield.james_p.  modesty_forbids_further_comment 
7 days ago
Shen Gua’s Empiricism — Ya Zuo | Harvard University Press
"Shen Gua (1031–1095) is a household name in China, known as a distinguished renaissance man and the author of Brush Talks from Dream Brook, an old text whose remarkable “scientific” discoveries make it appear curiously ahead of its time. In this first book-length study of Shen in English, Ya Zuo reveals the connection between Shen’s life as an active statesman and his ideas, specifically the empirical stance manifested through his wide-ranging inquiries. She places Shen on the broad horizon of premodern Chinese thought, and presents his empiricism within an extensive narrative of Chinese epistemology.
"Relying on Shen as a searchlight, Zuo focuses in on how an individual thinker summoned conditions and concepts from the vast Chinese intellectual tradition to build a singular way of knowing. Moreover, her study of Shen provides insights into the complex dynamics in play at the dawn of the age of Neo-Confucianism and compels readers to achieve a deeper appreciation of the diversity in Chinese thinking."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  song_dynasty  china  empiricism  confucianism  philosophy  epistemology 
7 days ago
Spatial Simulation | Wiley Online Books
"Across broad areas of the environmental and social sciences, simulation models are  an important way to study systems inaccessible to scientific experimental and observational methods, and also an essential complement to those more conventional approaches.  The contemporary research literature is teeming with abstract simulation models whose presentation is mathematically demanding and requires a high level of knowledge of quantitative and computational methods and approaches.  Furthermore, simulation models designed to represent specific systems and phenomena are often complicated, and, as a result, difficult to reconstruct from their descriptions in the literature.  This book aims to provide a practical and accessible account of dynamic spatial modelling, while also equipping readers with a sound conceptual foundation in the subject, and a useful introduction to the wide-ranging literature.
"Spatial Simulation: Exploring Pattern and Process is organised around the idea that a small number of spatial processes underlie the wide variety of dynamic spatial models. Its central focus on three ‘building-blocks’ of dynamic spatial models – forces of attraction and segregation, individual mobile entities, and processes of spread – guides the reader to an understanding of the basis of many of the complicated models found in the research literature. The three building block models are presented in their simplest form and are progressively elaborated and related to real world process that can be represented using them.  Introductory chapters cover essential background topics, particularly the relationships between pattern, process and spatiotemporal scale.  Additional chapters consider how time and space can be represented in more complicated models, and methods for the analysis and evaluation of models. Finally, the three building block models are woven together in a more elaborate example to show how a complicated model can be assembled from relatively simple components.
"To aid understanding, more than 50 specific models described in the book are available online at patternandprocess.org for exploration in the freely available Netlogo platform.  This book encourages readers to develop intuition for the abstract types of model that are likely to be appropriate for application in any specific context.  Spatial Simulation: Exploring Pattern and Process will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in environmental, social, ecological and geographical disciplines.  Researchers and professionals who require a non-specialist introduction will also find this book an invaluable guide to dynamic spatial simulation."

--- This looks cool, but it'd kind of blow the kids minds, so the last tag is really more "to mine for examples" than "to teach".
to:NB  books:noted  simulation  modeling  cellular_automata  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
9 days ago
[1705.08105] FRK: An R Package for Spatial and Spatio-Temporal Prediction with Large Datasets
"FRK is an R software package for spatial/spatio-temporal modelling and prediction with large datasets. It facilitates optimal spatial prediction (kriging) on the most commonly used manifolds (in Euclidean space and on the surface of the sphere), for both spatial and spatio-temporal fields. It differs from many of the packages for spatial modelling and prediction by avoiding stationary and isotropic covariance and variogram models, instead constructing a spatial random effects (SRE) model on a fine-resolution discretised spatial domain. The discrete element is known as a basic areal unit (BAU), whose introduction in the software leads to several practical advantages. The software can be used to (i) integrate multiple observations with different supports with relative ease; (ii) obtain exact predictions at millions of prediction locations (without conditional simulation); and (iii) distinguish between measurement error and fine-scale variation at the resolution of the BAU, thereby allowing for reliable uncertainty quantification. The temporal component is included by adding another dimension. A key component of the SRE model is the specification of spatial or spatio-temporal basis functions; in the package, they can be generated automatically or by the user. The package also offers automatic BAU construction, an expectation-maximisation (EM) algorithm for parameter estimation, and functionality for prediction over any user-specified polygons or BAUs. Use of the package is illustrated on several spatial and spatio-temporal datasets, and its predictions and the model it implements are extensively compared to others commonly used for spatial prediction and modelling."
to:NB  to_read  R  heard_the_talk  prediction  spatial_statistics  spatio-temporal_statistics  to_teach:data_over_space_and_time 
9 days ago
Dembo , Peres : A Topological Criterion for Hypothesis Testing
"A simple topological criterion is given for the existence of a sequence of tests for composite hypothesis testing problems, such that almost surely only finitely many errors are made."
to:NB  hypothesis_testing  mathematics  statistics  dembo.amir  peres.yuval  topology  via:genin.konstantin 
10 days ago
Mine the Gap: Bitcoin and the Maintenance of Trustlessness by Gili Vidan, Vili Lehdonvirta :: SSRN
"Subscribing to a techno-utopian discourse replacing institutions and experts with “trust in code,” digital alternative currency Bitcoin is pitched as a “math-based money” governed by incorruptible code rather than human regulators. In three cases, which occurred between 2013 and 2015, we examine this system at moments of breakdown. In contrast to the discourse, we find that power is concentrated to critical sites and individuals who manage the system through ad hoc negotiations, and who users must therefore implicitly trust—a contrast we call Bitcoin’s “promissory gap.” But even in the face of such contradictions between premise and reality, the discourse is maintained. We identify four authorizing strategies used in this work: conflating people with devices, assuming actors conform to notions of economic rationality, appealing to technical expertise, and explaining contradictions as temporary bugs. We contend that these strategies are mobilized widely to legitimize a variety of applications of algorithmic regulation and peer production projects."
to:NB  institutions  rhetoric  bitcoin  via:? 
10 days ago
Archive ouverte HAL - The Great Regression. Machine Learning, Econometrics, and the Future of Quantitative Social Sciences
"What can machine learning do for (social) scientific analysis, and what can it do to it? A contribution to the emerging debate on the role of machine learning for the social sciences, this article offers an introduction to this class of statistical techniques. It details its premises, logic, and the challenges it faces. This is done by comparing machine learning to more classical approaches to quantification – most notably parametric regression– both at a general level and in practice. The article is thus an intervention in the contentious debates about the role and possible consequences of adopting statistical learning in science. We claim that the revolution announced by many and feared by others will not happen any time soon, at least not in the terms that both proponents and critics of the technique have spelled out. The growing use of machine learning is not so much ushering in a radically new quantitative era as it is fostering an increased competition between the newly termed classic method and the learning approach. This, in turn, results in more uncertainty with respect to quantified results. Surprisingly enough, this may be good news for knowledge overall."

--- The correct line here is that 90%+ of "machine learning" is rebranded non-parametric regression, which is what the social sciences should have been doing all along anyway, because they have no good theories which suggest particular parametric forms. (Partial exceptions: demography and epidemiology.) If the resulting confidence sets are bigger than they'd like, that's still the actual range of uncertainty they need to live with, until they can reduce it with more and better empirical information, or additional constraints from well-supported theories. (Arguably, this was all in Haavelmo.) I look forward to seeing whether this paper grasps these obvious truths.
to:NB  to_read  regression  social_science_methodology  machine_learning  via:phnk  econometrics  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
10 days ago
QAnon: How I got sucked into its alternative universe.
Since about mid-2016, I feel like I have been living in one of Walter Jon Williams' "This Is Not A Game" novels, and _I wish he'd make it stop_.
utter_stupidity  conspiracy_theories  us_politics  networked_life 
10 days ago
Beyond anarchy: logics of political organization, hierarchy, and international structure
"Many scholars now argue for deemphasizing the importance of international anarchy in favor of focusing on hierarchy – patterns of super- and subordination – in world politics. We argue that only one kind of vertical stratification, governance hierarchy, actually challenges the states-under-anarchy framework. But the existence of such hierarchies overturns a number of standard ways of studying world politics. In order to theorize, and identify, variation in governance structures in world politics, we advocate a relational approach that focuses on three dimensions of hierarchy: the heterogeneity of contracting, the degree of autonomy enjoyed by central authorities, and the balance of investiture between segments and the center. This generates eight ideal-typical forms: national-states and empires, as well as symmetric and asymmetric variants of federations, confederations, and conciliar systems. We argue that political formations – governance assemblages – with elements of these ideal types are likely ubiquitous at multiple scales of world politics, including within, across, and among sovereign states. Our framework suggests that world politics is marked by a heterarchy of nested and overlapping political structures. We discuss broad implications for international-relations theory and comparative politics, and illustrate our approach through an analysis of contemporary China and the evolution of the British ‘Empire’ in the 19th and 20th centuries."
to:NB  political_science 
12 days ago
Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil | The Splendid Table

1 pint [320 g] cherry or grape tomatoes, preferably mixed colors, halved
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Four 6-oz [170-g] skinless Pacific halibut fillets
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil


If you don’t have access to fresh halibut, another mild white fish like haddock, mahi mahi, sea bass, tilapia, or cod may be substituted.



1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

2. Season the halibut all over with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12‑in [30.5‑cm] nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Place the fish, presentation-side down, in the pan and cook, without touching, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and lower the heat to medium; continue cooking until the halibut is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked halibut to a plate or serving platter.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the cherry tomato mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices, a few minutes. Stir in the basil, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

5. Serve the halibut fillets with the tomatoes spooned over the top and alongside.
food  recipes  have_made 
12 days ago
Jobs, Bullshit, and the Bureaucratization of the World | The Brooklyn Rail
Appropriately scathing, though I think leaving the point about how few jobs there really are in finance to the footnotes was a mistake.
economics  class_struggles_in_america  evisceration  graeber.david  whats_gone_wrong_with_america  financialization  via:kjhealy 
13 days ago
General Resampling Infrastructure • rsample
"rsample contains a set of functions that can create different types of resamples and corresponding classes for their analysis. The goal is to have a modular set of methods that can be used across different R packages for:
"traditional resampling techniques for estimating the sampling distribution of a statistic and
"estimating model performance using a holdout set
"The scope of rsample is to provide the basic building blocks for creating and analyzing resamples of a data set but does not include code for modeling or calculating statistics. The “Working with Resample Sets” vignette gives demonstrations of how rsample tools can be used."
to:NB  R  computational_statistics  to_teach:statcomp  to_teach:undergrad-ADA  via:? 
13 days ago
Network structure and influence of the climate change counter-movement | Nature Climate Change
"Anthropogenic climate change represents a global threat to human well-being1,2,3 and ecosystem functioning4. Yet despite its importance for science and policy, our understanding of the causes of widespread uncertainty and doubt found among the general public remains limited. The political and social processes driving such doubt and uncertainty are difficult to rigorously analyse, and research has tended to focus on the individual-level, rather than the larger institutions and social networks that produce and disseminate contrarian information. This study presents a new approach by using network science to uncover the institutional and corporate structure of the climate change counter-movement, and machine-learning text analysis to show its influence in the news media and bureaucratic politics. The data include a new social network of all known organizations and individuals promoting contrarian viewpoints, as well as the entirety of all written and verbal texts about climate change from 1993–2013 from every organization, three major news outlets, all US presidents, and every occurrence on the floor of the US Congress. Using network and computational text analysis, I find that the organizational power within the contrarian network, and the magnitude of semantic similarity, are both predicted by ties to elite corporate benefactors."
to:NB  to_read  vast_right-wing_conspiracy  deceiving_us_has_become_an_industrial_process  network_data_analysis  text_mining  climate_change  via:? 
13 days ago
The Advent Of Netwar | RAND
"The information revolution is leading to the rise of network forms of organization, with unusual implications for how societies are organized and conflicts are conducted. "Netwar" is an emerging consequence. The term refers to societal conflict and crime, short of war, in which the antagonists are organized more as sprawling "leaderless" networks than as tight-knit hierarchies. Many terrorists, criminals, fundamentalists, and ethno-nationalists are developing netwar capabilities. A new generation of revolutionaries and militant radicals is also emerging, with new doctrines, strategies, and technologies that support their reliance on network forms of organization. Netwar may be the dominant mode of societal conflict in the 21st century. These conclusions are implied by the evolution of societies, according to a framework presented in this RAND study. The emergence of netwar raises the need to rethink strategy and doctrine to conduct counternetwar. Traditional notions of war and low-intensity conflict as a sequential process based on massing, maneuvering, and fighting will likely prove inadequate to cope with nonlinear, swarm-like, information-age conflicts in which societal and military elements are closely intermingled."

--- I remember being somewhat scornful of such ideas c. 2000, but they may merit revisiting.
to:NB  social_networks  the_continuing_crises  via:? 
14 days ago
Mind Is Flat: The Remarkable Shallowness of the Improvising Brain | Yale University Press
"In a radical reinterpretation of how the mind works, an eminent behavioral scientist reveals the illusion of mental depth
"Psychologists and neuroscientists struggle with how best to interpret human motivation and decision making. The assumption is that below a mental “surface” of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values, and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas, and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves.
"In this profoundly original book, behavioral scientist Nick Chater contends just the opposite: rather than being the plaything of unconscious currents, the brain generates behaviors in the moment based entirely on our past experiences. Engaging the reader with eye-opening experiments and visual examples, the author first demolishes our intuitive sense of how our mind works, then argues for a positive interpretation of the brain as a ceaseless and creative improviser."

--- I wonder how much of this will turn out to rely on priming studies.
to:NB  books:noted  psychology  cognitive_science  decision-making  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
14 days ago
Why Sociology Needs Science Fiction - Daniel Hirschman, Philip Schwadel, Rick Searle, Erica Deadman, Ijlal Naqvi, 2018
"Using sci-fi’s metaphors, ideal types, and counterfactuals to consider our real-world problems, old and new."
to:NB  to_read  sociology  science_fiction 
14 days ago
Phys. Rev. A 38, 2066 (1988) - Thermally induced escape: The principle of minimum available noise energy
"The average time required for thermally induced escape from a basin of attraction increases exponentially with inverse temperature in proportion to exp(E_A/kT) in the limit of low temperature. A minimum principle states that the activation energy E_A is the minimum available noise energy required to execute a state-space trajectory which takes the system from the attractor of the noise-free system to the boundary of its basin of attraction and that the minimizing trajectory is the most probable low-temperature escape path. This principle is applied to the problem of thermally induced escape from two attractors of the dc-biased Josephson junction, the zero-voltage state and the voltage state, to determine activation energies and most probable escape paths. These two escape problems exemplify the classical case of escape from a potential well and the more general case of escape from an attractor of a nonequilibrium system. Monte Carlo simulations are used to verify the accuracy of the activation energies and most probable escape paths derived from the minimum principle."
to:NB  have_read  large_deviations  stochastic_processes  dynamical_systems  non-equilibrium  statistical_mechanics  re:do-institutions-evolve  re:almost_none 
14 days ago
Activation energy for thermally induced escape from a basin of attraction - ScienceDirect
"In the limit of low temperature the most probable path for escape from a basin of attraction is the path which minimizes the available thermal noise energy required for escape. This minimum energy is the activation energy of escape."
to:NB  have_read  large_deviations  non-equilibrium  statistical_mechanics  dynamical_systems  stochastic_processes  re:do-institutions-evolve  re:almost_none 
14 days ago
Neo-darwinian evolution implies punctuated equilibria | Nature [1985]
"The two central elements of neo-darwinian evolution are small random variations and natural selection. In Wright's view, these lead to random drift of mean population characters in a fixed, multiply peaked ‘adaptive landscape’, with long periods spent near fitness peaks. Using recent theoretical results5, we show here that transitions between peaks are rapid and unidirectional even though (indeed, because) random variations are small and transitions initially require movement against selection. Thus, punctuated equilibrium, the palaeontological pattern of rapid transitions between morphological equlibria, is a natural manifestation of the standard wrightian evolutionary theory and requires no special developmental, genetic or ecological mechanisms."
to:NB  have_read  evolutionary_biology  large_deviations  stochastic_processes  re:do-institutions-evolve  evolution 
14 days ago
[1804.03277] Identifiability for graphexes and the weak kernel metric
"In two recent papers by Veitch and Roy and by Borgs, Chayes, Cohn, and Holden, a new class of sparse random graph processes based on the concept of graphexes over σ-finite measure spaces has been introduced. In this paper, we introduce a metric for graphexes that generalizes the cut metric for the graphons of the dense theory of graph convergence. We show that a sequence of graphexes converges in this metric if and only if the sequence of graph processes generated by the graphexes converges in distribution. In the course of the proof, we establish a regularity lemma and determine which sets of graphexes are precompact under our metric. Finally, we establish an identifiability theorem, characterizing when two graphexes are equivalent in the sense that they lead to the same process of random graphs."
to:NB  graph_limits  stochastic_processes  chayes.jennifer  borgs.christian  lovasz.laszo  re:projective_sparse_graph_models  cohn.henry 
14 days ago
Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire — Paul J. Kosmin | Harvard University Press
"In this eye-opening book, Paul J. Kosmin explains how the Seleucid Empire’s invention of a new kind of time—and the rebellions against this worldview—transformed the way we organize our thoughts about the past, present, and future.
"In the aftermath of Alexander the Great’s conquests, the Seleucid kings ruled a vast territory stretching from Central Asia to Anatolia, Armenia to the Persian Gulf. In a radical move to impose unity and regulate behavior, this Graeco-Macedonian imperial power introduced a linear and transcendent conception of time. Under Seleucid rule, time no longer restarted with each new monarch. Instead, progressively numbered years, identical to the system we use today—continuous, irreversible, accumulating—became the de facto measure of historical duration. This new temporality, propagated throughout the empire, changed how people did business, recorded events, and oriented themselves to the larger world. Challenging this order, however, were rebellious subjects who resurrected their pre-Hellenistic pasts and created apocalyptic time frames that predicted the total end of history. The interaction of these complex and competing temporalities, Kosmin argues, led to far-reaching religious, intellectual, and political developments."
to:NB  ancient_history  time  millenarianism  books:noted 
14 days ago
Lord Cornwallis Is Dead — Nico Slate | Harvard University Press
"Do democratic states bring about greater social and economic equality among their citizens? Modern India embraced universal suffrage from the moment it was free of British imperial rule in 1947—a historical rarity in the West—and yet Indian citizens are far from realizing equality today. The United States, the first British colony to gain independence, continues to struggle with intolerance and the consequences of growing inequality in the twenty-first century.
"From Boston Brahmins to Mohandas Gandhi, from Hollywood to Bollywood, Nico Slate traces the continuous transmission of democratic ideas between two former colonies of the British Empire. Gandhian nonviolence lay at the heart of the American civil rights movement. Key Indian freedom fighters sharpened their political thought while studying and working in the United States. And the Indian American community fought its own battle for civil rights.
"Spanning three centuries and two continents, Lord Cornwallis Is Dead offers a new look at the struggle for freedom that linked two nations. While the United States remains the world’s most powerful democracy, India—the world’s most populous democracy—is growing in wealth and influence. Together, the United States and India will play a predominant role in shaping the future of democracy."
to:NB  books:noted  comparative_history  democracy  american_history  india 
14 days ago
Zocchi, G.: Molecular Machines: A Materials Science Approach (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
"Molecular Machines presents a dynamic new approach to the physics of enzymes and DNA from the perspective of materials science. Unified around the concept of molecular deformability—how proteins and DNA stretch, fold, and change shape—this book describes the complex molecules of life from the innovative perspective of materials properties and dynamics, in contrast to structural or purely chemical approaches. It covers a wealth of topics, including nonlinear deformability of enzymes and DNA; the chemo-dynamic cycle of enzymes; supra-molecular constructions with internal stress; nano-rheology and viscoelasticity; and chemical kinetics, Brownian motion, and barrier crossing. Essential reading for researchers in materials science, engineering, and nanotechnology, the book also describes the landmark experiments that have established the materials properties and energy landscape of large biological molecules.
"Molecular Machines is also ideal for the classroom. It gives graduate students a working knowledge of model building in statistical mechanics, making it an essential resource for tomorrow's experimentalists in this cutting-edge field. In addition, mathematical methods are introduced in the bio-molecular context—for example, DNA conformational transitions are used to illustrate the transfer matrix formalism. The result is a generalized approach to mathematical problem solving that enables students to apply their findings more broadly."
to:NB  books:noted  biophysics  molecular_biology 
15 days ago
Open Science by Design: Realizing a Vision for 21st Century Research | The National Academies Press
"Openness and sharing of information are fundamental to the progress of science and to the effective functioning of the research enterprise. The advent of scientific journals in the 17th century helped power the Scientific Revolution by allowing researchers to communicate across time and space, using the technologies of that era to generate reliable knowledge more quickly and efficiently. Harnessing today’s stunning, ongoing advances in information technologies, the global research enterprise and its stakeholders are moving toward a new open science ecosystem. Open science aims to ensure the free availability and usability of scholarly publications, the data that result from scholarly research, and the methodologies, including code or algorithms, that were used to generate those data.
"Open Science by Design is aimed at overcoming barriers and moving toward open science as the default approach across the research enterprise. This report explores specific examples of open science and discusses a range of challenges, focusing on stakeholder perspectives. It is meant to provide guidance to the research enterprise and its stakeholders as they build strategies for achieving open science and take the next steps."
to:NB  books:noted  why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_academic_publishing_system 
15 days ago
Evolution of Modern Business Cycle Models: Accounting for the Great Recession
"Modern business cycle theory focuses on the study of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models that generate aggregate fluctuations similar to those experienced by actual economies. We discuss how these modern business cycle models have evolved across three generations, from their roots in the early real business cycle models of the late 1970s through the turmoil of the Great Recession four decades later. The first generation models were real (that is, without a monetary sector) business cycle models that primarily explored whether a small number of shocks, often one or two, could generate fluctuations similar to those observed in aggregate variables such as output, consumption, investment, and hours. These basic models disciplined their key parameters with micro evidence and were remarkably successful in matching these aggregate variables. A second generation of these models incorporated frictions such as sticky prices and wages; these models were primarily developed to be used in central banks for short-term forecasting purposes and for performing counterfactual policy experiments. A third generation of business cycle models incorporate the rich heterogeneity of patterns from the micro data. A defining characteristic of these models is not the heterogeneity among model agents they accommodate nor the micro-level evidence they rely on (although both are common), but rather the insistence that any new parameters or feature included be explicitly disciplined by direct evidence. We show how two versions of this latest generation of modern business cycle models, which are real business cycle models with frictions in labor and financial markets, can account, respectively, for the aggregate and the cross-regional fluctuations observed in the United States during the Great Recession."
to:NB  macroeconomics  re:your_favorite_dsge_sucks  financial_crisis_of_2007--  economics 
15 days ago
On DSGE Models
"The outcome of any important macroeconomic policy change is the net effect of forces operating on different parts of the economy. A central challenge facing policymakers is how to assess the relative strength of those forces. Economists have a range of tools that can be used to make such assessments. Dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models are the leading tool for making such assessments in an open and transparent manner. We review the state of mainstream DSGE models before the financial crisis and the Great Recession. We then describe how DSGE models are estimated and evaluated. We address the question of why DSGE modelers—like most other economists and policymakers—failed to predict the financial crisis and the Great Recession, and how DSGE modelers responded to the financial crisis and its aftermath. We discuss how current DSGE models are actually used by policymakers. We then provide a brief response to some criticisms of DSGE models, with special emphasis on criticism by Joseph Stiglitz, and offer some concluding remarks."
to:NB  macroeconomics  re:your_favorite_dsge_sucks 
15 days ago
Identification in Macroeconomics
"This paper discusses empirical approaches macroeconomists use to answer questions like: What does monetary policy do? How large are the effects of fiscal stimulus? What caused the Great Recession? Why do some countries grow faster than others? Identification of causal effects plays two roles in this process. In certain cases, progress can be made using the direct approach of identifying plausibly exogenous variation in a policy and using this variation to assess the effect of the policy. However, external validity concerns limit what can be learned in this way. Carefully identified causal effects estimates can also be used as moments in a structural moment matching exercise. We use the term "identified moments" as a short-hand for "estimates of responses to identified structural shocks," or what applied microeconomists would call "causal effects." We argue that such identified moments are often powerful diagnostic tools for distinguishing between important classes of models (and thereby learning about the effects of policy). To illustrate these notions we discuss the growing use of cross-sectional evidence in macroeconomics and consider what the best existing evidence is on the effects of monetary policy."
to:NB  causal_inference  macroeconomics  economics  re:your_favorite_dsge_sucks 
15 days ago
‘The sun without a permit’: Serbian solar politics, informational risk cascades, and the Great Disappearing Act of August 1999 - Vladimir Jankovic, 2018
"In the summer of 1999, the Serbian Ministry of Health issued a public health warning about the environmental risks associated with the total solar eclipse to took place on 11 August. The warning contained a list of phantom symptoms unknown to medical profession. Some of these included severe itching, hypertension, cardiac palpitation and frequent urination. Despite the warning’s patent absurdity, the Serbian public widely observed it by seeking indoor and underground shelter from the lunar shadow, participating in what I term a ‘great public disappearing act’. By contrast, the rest of Europe and the Middle East embraced the event as a public spectacle, with millions thronging the streets and observation posts. This paper raises two key questions: Why did the Serbian government issue the odd warning? And why did the Serbian public observe it? In contrast to the conventional readings of the event as a compound effect of a political manipulation and a lack of public scientific education, I argue that the public behavior on the eclipse day was a meaningful response to the social, political and environmental circumstances in the worn-torn Serbia. Using insights from the social amplification of risk framework, I demonstrate that the great disappearing act was a paradigmatic example of herd behavior governed by the media-driven informational cascades. I further argue that the actors involved in the production and reproduction of phantom ecliptic risks – doctors, journalists, government officials, ordinary citizens – jointly enhanced their plausibility in a way that eventually eliminated the possibility of any behavior not mediated by the cascading processes of risk production."
to:NB  information_cascades  epidemiology_of_representations  psychoceramics  post-soviet_life  yes_i_know_serbia_was_never_part_of_the_ussr 
16 days ago
[1608.00060] Double/Debiased Machine Learning for Treatment and Causal Parameters
"Most modern supervised statistical/machine learning (ML) methods are explicitly designed to solve prediction problems very well. Achieving this goal does not imply that these methods automatically deliver good estimators of causal parameters. Examples of such parameters include individual regression coefficients, average treatment effects, average lifts, and demand or supply elasticities. In fact, estimates of such causal parameters obtained via naively plugging ML estimators into estimating equations for such parameters can behave very poorly due to the regularization bias. Fortunately, this regularization bias can be removed by solving auxiliary prediction problems via ML tools. Specifically, we can form an orthogonal score for the target low-dimensional parameter by combining auxiliary and main ML predictions. The score is then used to build a de-biased estimator of the target parameter which typically will converge at the fastest possible 1/root(n) rate and be approximately unbiased and normal, and from which valid confidence intervals for these parameters of interest may be constructed. The resulting method thus could be called a "double ML" method because it relies on estimating primary and auxiliary predictive models. In order to avoid overfitting, our construction also makes use of the K-fold sample splitting, which we call cross-fitting. This allows us to use a very broad set of ML predictive methods in solving the auxiliary and main prediction problems, such as random forest, lasso, ridge, deep neural nets, boosted trees, as well as various hybrids and aggregators of these methods."
to:NB  statistics  estimation  high-dimensional_statistics  robins.james  via:jbdelong 
16 days ago
Case, H.: The Age of Questions: Or, A First Attempt at an Aggregate History of the Eastern, Social, Woman, American, Jewish, Polish, Bullion, Tuberculosis, and Many Other Questions over the Nineteenth Century, and Beyond (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton
"In the early nineteenth century, a new age began: the age of questions. In the Eastern and Belgian questions, as much as in the slavery, worker, social, woman, and Jewish questions, contemporaries saw not interrogatives to be answered but problems to be solved. Alexis de Tocqueville, Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Frederick Douglass, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and Adolf Hitler were among the many who put their pens to the task. The Age of Questions asks how the question form arose, what trajectory it followed, and why it provoked such feverish excitement for over a century. Was there a family resemblance between questions? Have they disappeared, or are they on the rise again in our time?
"In this pioneering book, Holly Case undertakes a stunningly original analysis, presenting, chapter by chapter, seven distinct arguments and frameworks for understanding the age. She considers whether it was marked by a progressive quest for emancipation (of women, slaves, Jews, laborers, and others); a steady, inexorable march toward genocide and the "Final Solution"; or a movement toward federation and the dissolution of boundaries. Or was it simply a farce, a false frenzy dreamed up by publicists eager to sell subscriptions? As the arguments clash, patterns emerge and sharpen until the age reveals its full and peculiar nature."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  19th_century_history  history 
17 days ago
Becoming Human — Michael Tomasello | Harvard University Press
"Virtually all theories of how humans have become such a distinctive species focus on evolution. Here, Michael Tomasello proposes a complementary theory of human uniqueness, focused on development. Building on the seminal ideas of Vygotsky, his data-driven model explains how those things that make us most human are constructed during the first years of a child’s life.
"Tomasello assembles nearly three decades of experimental work with chimpanzees, bonobos, and human children to propose a new framework for psychological growth between birth and seven years of age. He identifies eight pathways that starkly differentiate humans from their closest primate relatives: social cognition, communication, cultural learning, cooperative thinking, collaboration, prosociality, social norms, and moral identity. In each of these, great apes possess rudimentary abilities. But then, Tomasello argues, the maturation of humans’ evolved capacities for shared intentionality transform these abilities—through the new forms of sociocultural interaction they enable—into uniquely human cognition and sociality. The first step occurs around nine months, with the emergence of joint intentionality, exercised mostly with caregiving adults. The second step occurs around three years, with the emergence of collective intentionality involving both authoritative adults, who convey cultural knowledge, and coequal peers, who elicit collaboration and communication. Finally, by age six or seven, children become responsible for self-regulating their beliefs and actions so that they comport with cultural norms."
to:NB  books:noted  cognitive_development  cognitive_science  human_evolution  cultural_transmission_of_cognitive_tools  vygotsky.lev  tomasello.michael 
17 days ago
Not All Dead White Men — Donna Zuckerberg | Harvard University Press
"A virulent strain of antifeminism is thriving online that treats women’s empowerment as a mortal threat to men and to the integrity of Western civilization. Its proponents cite ancient Greek and Latin texts to support their claims—arguing that they articulate a model of masculinity that sustained generations but is now under siege.
"Donna Zuckerberg dives deep into the virtual communities of the far right, where men lament their loss of power and privilege and strategize about how to reclaim them. She finds, mixed in with weightlifting tips and misogynistic vitriol, the words of the Stoics deployed to support an ideal vision of masculine life. On other sites, pickup artists quote Ovid’s Ars Amatoria to justify ignoring women’s boundaries. By appropriating the Classics, these men lend a veneer of intellectual authority and ancient wisdom to their project of patriarchal white supremacy. In defense or retaliation, feminists have also taken up the Classics online, to counter the sanctioning of violence against women.
"Not All Dead White Men reveals that some of the most controversial and consequential debates about the legacy of the ancients are raging not in universities but online."
to:NB  books:noted  sexist_idiocy  us_culture_wars  reception_history_of_classical_antiquity 
17 days ago
The Story of Myth — Sarah Iles Johnston | Harvard University Press
"Greek myths have long been admired as beautiful, thrilling stories but dismissed as serious objects of belief. For centuries scholars have held that Greek epics, tragedies, and the other compelling works handed down to us obscure the “real” myths that supposedly inspired them. Instead of joining in this pursuit of hidden meanings, Sarah Iles Johnston argues that the very nature of myths as stories—as gripping tales starring vivid characters—enabled them to do their most important work: to create and sustain belief in the gods and heroes who formed the basis of Greek religion.
"By drawing on work in narratology, sociology, and folklore studies, and by comparing Greek myths not only to the myths of other cultures but also to fairy tales, ghost stories, fantasy works, modern novels, and television series, The Story of Myth reveals the subtle yet powerful ways in which these ancient Greek tales forged enduring bonds between their characters and their audiences, created coherent story-worlds, and made it possible to believe in extraordinary gods. Johnston captures what makes Greek myths distinctively Greek, but simultaneously brings these myths into a broader conversation about how the stories told by all cultures affect our shared view of the cosmos and the creatures who inhabit it."
to:NB  books:noted  mythology  ancient_history 
17 days ago
Critique of Forms of Life — Rahel Jaeggi | Harvard University Press
"For many liberals, the question “Do others live rightly?” feels inappropriate. Liberalism seems to demand a follow-up question: “Who am I to judge?” Peaceful coexistence, in this view, is predicated on restraint from morally evaluating our peers. But Rahel Jaeggi sees the situation differently. Criticizing is not only valid but also useful, she argues. Moral judgment is no error; the error lies in how we go about judging.
"One way to judge is external, based on universal standards derived from ideas about God or human nature. The other is internal, relying on standards peculiar to a given society. Both approaches have serious flaws and detractors. In Critique of Forms of Life, Jaeggi offers a third way, which she calls “immanent” critique. Inspired by Hegelian social philosophy and engaged with Anglo-American theorists such as John Dewey, Michael Walzer, and Alasdair MacIntyre, immanent critique begins with the recognition that ways of life are inherently normative because they assert their own goodness and rightness. They also have a consistent purpose: to solve basic social problems and advance social goods, most of which are common across cultures. Jaeggi argues that we can judge the validity of a society’s moral claims by evaluating how well the society adapts to crisis—whether it is able to overcome contradictions that arise from within and continue to fulfill its purpose.
"Jaeggi enlivens her ideas through concrete, contemporary examples. Against both relativistic and absolutist accounts, she shows that rational social critique is possible."

--- I detect a question being begged. Suppose you can show, to anyone's satisfaction, that a given form of life fails at "solv[ing] basic social problems and advanc[ing] social goods" in some crisis. Will not its adherents just retort "who cares about that, we're talking about right and wrong here, about basic decency rather than mere expedience?" And it's hard to see how one could prove they were _wrong_, rather than just _doomed_.
to:NB  books:noted  moral_philosophy  political_philosophy  fiat_justia_ruat_coelum  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
17 days ago
When Police Kill — Franklin E. Zimring | Harvard University Press
"Deaths of civilians at the hands of on-duty police are in the national spotlight as never before. How many killings by police occur annually? What circumstances provoke police to shoot to kill? Who dies? The lack of answers to these basic questions points to a crisis in American government that urgently requires the attention of policy experts. When Police Kill is a groundbreaking analysis of the use of lethal force by police in the United States and how its death toll can be reduced.
"Franklin Zimring compiles data from federal records, crowdsourced research, and investigative journalism to provide a comprehensive, fact-based picture of how, when, where, and why police resort to deadly force. Of the 1,100 killings by police in the United States in 2015, he shows, 85 percent were fatal shootings and 95 percent of victims were male. The death rates for African Americans and Native Americans are twice their share of the population.
"Civilian deaths from shootings and other police actions are vastly higher in the United States than in other developed nations, but American police also confront an unusually high risk of fatal assault. Zimring offers policy prescriptions for how federal, state, and local governments can reduce killings by police without risking the lives of officers. Criminal prosecution of police officers involved in killings is rare and only necessary in extreme cases. But clear administrative rules could save hundreds of lives without endangering police officers."
to:NB  books:noted  police  violence  whats_gone_wrong_with_america 
17 days ago
Slavery and Social Death — Orlando Patterson | Harvard University Press
"This is the first full-scale comparative study of the nature of slavery. In a work of prodigious scholarship and enormous breadth, which draws on the tribal, ancient, premodern, and modern worlds, Orlando Patterson discusses the internal dynamics of slavery in 66 societies over time. These include Greece and Rome, medieval Europe, China, Korea, the Islamic kingdoms, Africa, the Caribbean islands, and the American South. Slavery is shown to be a parasitic relationship between master and slave, invariably entailing the violent domination of a natally alienated, or socially dead, person. The phenomenon of slavery as an institution, the author argues, is a single process of recruitment, incorporation on the margin of society, and eventual manumission or death.
"Distinctions abound in this work. Beyond the reconceptualization of the basic master–slave relationship and the redefinition of slavery as an institution with universal attributes, Patterson rejects the legalistic Roman concept that places the “slave as property” at the core of the system. Rather, he emphasizes the centrality of sociological, symbolic, and ideological factors interwoven within the slavery system. Along the whole continuum of slavery, the cultural milieu is stressed, as well as political and psychological elements. Materialistic and racial factors are deemphasized. The author is thus able, for example, to deal with “elite” slaves, or even eunuchs, in the same framework of understanding as fieldhands; to uncover previously hidden principles of inheritance of slave and free status; and to show the tight relationship between slavery and freedom.
"Interdisciplinary in its methods, this study employs qualitative and quantitative techniques from all the social sciences to demonstrate the universality of structures and processes in slave systems and to reveal cross-cultural variations in the slave trade and in slavery, in rates of manumission, and in the status of freedmen. Slavery and Social Death lays out a vast new corpus of research that underpins an original and provocative thesis."
to:NB  books:noted  history  comparative_history  sociology  slavery 
17 days ago
Education, Smoking, and Cohort Change: Forwarding a Multidimensional Theory of the Environmental Moderation of Genetic Effects - Robbee Wedow, Meghan Zacher, Brooke M. Huibregtse, Kathleen Mullan Harris, Benjamin W. Domingue, Jason D. Boardman, 2018
"Sociologists interested in the effects of genes on complex social outcomes claim environmental conditions structure when and how genes matter, but they have only studied environmental moderation of genetic effects on single traits at a time (gene-by-environment interactions). In this article, we propose that the social environment can also transform the genetic link between two traits. Taking the relationship between educational attainment and smoking as an exemplary case, we use genome-wide methods to examine whether genetic variants linked to education are also linked to smoking, and whether the strength of this relationship varies across birth cohorts. Results suggest that the genetic relationship between education and smoking is stronger among U.S. adults born between 1974 and 1983 than among those born between 1920 and 1959. These results are supported by replication in additional data from the United Kingdom. Environmental conditions that differ across birth cohorts may result in the bundling of genetic effects on multiple outcomes, as anticipated by classic cohort theory. We introduce genetic correlation-by-environment interaction [(rG)xE] as a sociologically-informed model that will become especially useful as data for more well-powered analyses become available."
to:NB  human_genetics  sociology  via:gabriel_rossman 
17 days ago
Gene discovery and polygenic prediction from a genome-wide association study of educational attainment in 1.1 million individuals | Nature Genetics
"Here we conducted a large-scale genetic association analysis of educational attainment in a sample of approximately 1.1 million individuals and identify 1,271 independent genome-wide-significant SNPs. For the SNPs taken together, we found evidence of heterogeneous effects across environments. The SNPs implicate genes involved in brain-development processes and neuron-to-neuron communication. In a separate analysis of the X chromosome, we identify 10 independent genome-wide-significant SNPs and estimate a SNP heritability of around 0.3% in both men and women, consistent with partial dosage compensation. A joint (multi-phenotype) analysis of educational attainment and three related cognitive phenotypes generates polygenic scores that explain 11–13% of the variance in educational attainment and 7–10% of the variance in cognitive performance. This prediction accuracy substantially increases the utility of polygenic scores as tools in research."

--- No apparent recognition that genes predict (parents') social status and (sub-)cultural traditions, so that we'd expect results like this _even in_ a blank-slate world. (Which, for the record, we don't inhabit.)
human_genetics  heritability  re:g_paper 
21 days ago
Faithfulness of Probability Distributions and Graphs
"A main question in graphical models and causal inference is whether, given a probability distribution PP (which is usually an underlying distribution of data), there is a graph (or graphs) to which PP is faithful. The main goal of this paper is to provide a theoretical answer to this problem. We work with general independence models, which contain probabilistic independence models as a special case. We exploit a generalization of ordering, called preordering, of the nodes of (mixed) graphs. This allows us to provide sufficient conditions for a given independence model to be Markov to a graph with the minimum possible number of edges, and more importantly, necessary and sufficient conditions for a given probability distribution to be faithful to a graph. We present our results for the general case of mixed graphs, but specialize the definitions and results to the better-known subclasses of undirected (concentration) and bidirected (covariance) graphs as well as directed acyclic graphs."
to:NB  graphical_models  causal_inference  statistics  probability  sadeghi.kayvan 
22 days ago
The joy of ruling: an experimental investigation on collective giving | SpringerLink
"We analyse team dictator games with different voting mechanisms in the laboratory. Individuals vote to select a donation for all group members. Standard Bayesian analysis makes the same prediction for all three mechanisms: participants should cast the same vote regardless of the voting mechanism used to determine the common donation level. Our experimental results show that subjects fail to choose the same vote. We show that their behaviour is consistent with a joy of ruling: individuals get an extra utility when they determine the voting outcome."
to:NB  experimental_psychology  moral_psychology 
23 days ago
One Hundred Years of Futurism: Aesthetics, Politics and Performance, London
"More than one hundred years after Futurism exploded onto the European stage with its unique brand of art and literature, there is a need to reassess the whole movement, from its Italian roots to its international ramifications. In wide-ranging essays based on fresh research, the contributors to this collection examine both the original context and the cultural legacy of Futurism. Chapters touch on topics such as Futurism and Fascism, the geopolitics of Futurism, the Futurist woman, and translating Futurist texts. A large portion of the book is devoted to the practical aspects of performing Futurist theatrical ideas in the twenty-first century."
to:NB  books:noted  futurism 
24 days ago
Hayek and the Evolution of Capitalism, Beck
"Few economists can claim the influence—or fame—of F. A. Hayek. Winner of the Nobel Prize, Hayek was one of the most consequential thinkers of the twentieth century, his views on the free market echoed by such major figures as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
"Yet even among those who study his work in depth, few have looked closely at his use of ideas from evolutionary science to advance his vision of markets and society. With this book Naomi Beck offers the first full-length engagement with Hayek’s thought from this perspective. Hayek argued that the capitalism we see in advanced civilizations is an unintended consequence of group selection—groups that adopted free market behavior expanded more successfully than others. But this attempt at a scientific grounding for Hayek’s principles, Beck shows, fails to hold water, plagued by incoherencies, misinterpretations of the underlying science, and lack of evidence. As crises around the globe lead to reconsiderations of the place of capitalism, Beck’s excavation of this little-known strand of Hayek’s thought—and its failure—is timely and instructive."
to:NB  books:noted  hayek.f.a._von  cultural_evolution 
24 days ago
Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands, Kinzley
"China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang has experienced escalating cycles of violence, interethnic strife, and state repression since the 1990s. In their search for the roots of these growing tensions, scholars have tended to focus on ethnic clashes and political disputes. In Natural Resources and the New Frontier, historian Judd C. Kinzley takes a different approach—one that works from the ground up to explore the infrastructural and material foundation of state power in the region.
"As Kinzley argues, Xinjiang’s role in producing various natural resources for regional powers has been an important but largely overlooked factor in fueling unrest. He carefully traces the buildup to this unstable situation over the course of the twentieth century by focusing on the shifting priorities of Chinese, Soviet, and provincial officials regarding the production of various resources, including gold, furs, and oil among others. Through his archival work, Kinzley offers a new way of viewing Xinjiang that will shape the conversation about this important region and offer a model for understanding the development of other frontier zones in China as well as across the global south."
to:NB  books:noted  imperialism  china:prc  xinjiang  central_asia 
24 days ago
Marx’s Dream: From Capitalism to Communism, Rockmore
"Two centuries after his birth, Karl Marx is read almost solely through the lens of Marxism, his works examined for how they fit into the doctrine that was developed from them after his death.
"With Marx’s Dream, Tom Rockmore offers a much-needed alternative view, distinguishing rigorously between Marx and Marxism. Rockmore breaks with the Marxist view of Marx in three key ways. First, he shows that the concern with the relation of theory to practice—reflected in Marx’s famous claim that philosophers only interpret the world, while the point is to change it—arose as early as Socrates, and has been central to philosophy in its best moments. Second, he seeks to free Marx from his unsolicited Marxist embrace in order to consider his theory on its own merits. And, crucially, Rockmore relies on the normal standards of philosophical debate, without the special pleading to which Marxist accounts too often resort. Marx’s failures as a thinker, Rockmore shows, lie less in his diagnosis of industrial capitalism’s problems than in the suggested remedies, which are often unsound.
"Only a philosopher of Rockmore’s stature could tackle a project this substantial, and the results are remarkable: a fresh Marx, unencumbered by doctrine and full of insights that remain salient today."
to:NB  marx.karl  marxism  history_of_ideas  political_philosophy  books:noted 
24 days ago
The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century, Csiszar
"Not since the printing press has a media object been as celebrated for its role in the advancement of knowledge as the scientific journal. From open communication to peer review, the scientific journal has long been central both to the identity of academic scientists and to the public legitimacy of scientific knowledge. But that was not always the case. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, academies and societies dominated elite study of the natural world.  Journals were a relatively marginal feature of this world, and sometimes even an object of outright suspicion.
"The Scientific Journal tells the story of how that changed. Alex Csiszar takes readers deep into nineteenth-century London and Paris, where savants struggled to reshape scientific life in the light of rapidly changing political mores and the growing importance of the press in public life. The scientific journal did not arise as a natural solution to the problem of communicating scientific discoveries. Rather, as Csiszar shows, its dominance was a hard-won compromise born of political exigencies, shifting epistemic values, intellectual property debates, and the demands of commerce. Many of the tensions and problems that plague scholarly publishing today are rooted in these tangled beginnings. As we seek to make sense of our own moment of intense experimentation in publishing platforms, peer review, and information curation, Csiszar argues powerfully that a better understanding of the journal’s past will be crucial to imagining future forms for the expression and organization of knowledge."
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science  why_oh_why_cant_we_have_a_better_academic_publishing_system 
24 days ago
Density Estimation in Infinite Dimensional Exponential Families
"In this paper, we consider an infinite dimensional exponential family P of probability densities, which are parametrized by functions in a reproducing kernel Hilbert space H, and show it to be quite rich in the sense that a broad class of densities on ℝdRd can be approximated arbitrarily well in Kullback-Leibler (KL) divergence by elements in P. Motivated by this approximation property, the paper addresses the question of estimating an unknown density p0p0 through an element in P. Standard techniques like maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) or pseudo MLE (based on the method of sieves), which are based on minimizing the KL divergence between p0p0 and P, do not yield practically useful estimators because of their inability to efficiently handle the log-partition function. We propose an estimator p̂ np^n based on minimizing the Fisher divergence, J(p0‖p)J(p0‖p) between p0p0 and p∈p∈P, which involves solving a simple finite-dimensional linear system. When p0∈p0∈P, we show that the proposed estimator is consistent, and provide a convergence rate of n−min{23,2β+12β+2}n−min{23,2β+12β+2} in Fisher divergence under the smoothness assumption that logp0∈(Cβ)log⁡p0∈R(Cβ) for some β≥0β≥0, where CC is a certain Hilbert-Schmidt operator on H and (Cβ)R(Cβ) denotes the image of CβCβ. We also investigate the misspecified case of p0∉p0∉P and show that J(p0‖p̂ n)→infp∈J(p0‖p)J(p0‖p^n)→infp∈PJ(p0‖p) as n→∞n→∞, and provide a rate for this convergence under a similar smoothness condition as above. Through numerical simulations we demonstrate that the proposed estimator outperforms the non- parametric kernel density estimator, and that the advantage of the proposed estimator grows as dd increases."
to:NB  density_estimation  exponential_families  statistics  via:? 
24 days ago
[1807.06732] Motivating the Rules of the Game for Adversarial Example Research
"Advances in machine learning have led to broad deployment of systems with impressive performance on important problems. Nonetheless, these systems can be induced to make errors on data that are surprisingly similar to examples the learned system handles correctly. The existence of these errors raises a variety of questions about out-of-sample generalization and whether bad actors might use such examples to abuse deployed systems. As a result of these security concerns, there has been a flurry of recent papers proposing algorithms to defend against such malicious perturbations of correctly handled examples. It is unclear how such misclassifications represent a different kind of security problem than other errors, or even other attacker-produced examples that have no specific relationship to an uncorrupted input. In this paper, we argue that adversarial example defense papers have, to date, mostly considered abstract, toy games that do not relate to any specific security concern. Furthermore, defense papers have not yet precisely described all the abilities and limitations of attackers that would be relevant in practical security. Towards this end, we establish a taxonomy of motivations, constraints, and abilities for more plausible adversaries. Finally, we provide a series of recommendations outlining a path forward for future work to more clearly articulate the threat model and perform more meaningful evaluation."

--- Not sure how important this is to me, since I don't really care about the security side of adversarial examples...
to:NB  adversarial_examples  neural_networks 
24 days ago
Dark Star Rising by Gary Lachman | PenguinRandomHouse.com
"Within the concentric circles of Trump’s regime lies an unseen culture of occultists, power-seekers, and mind-magicians whose influence is on the rise. In this unparalleled account, historian Gary Lachman examines the influence of occult and esoteric philosophy on the unexpected rise of the alt-right.
"Did positive thinking and mental science help put Donald Trump in the White House? And are there any other hidden powers of the mind and thought at work in today’s world politics? In Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, historian and cultural critic Gary Lachman takes a close look at the various magical and esoteric ideas that are impacting political events across the globe. From New Thought and Chaos Magick to the far-right esotericism of Julius Evola and the Traditionalists, Lachman follows a trail of mystic clues that involve, among others, Norman Vincent Peale, domineering gurus and demagogues, Ayn Rand, Pepe the Frog, Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, synarchy, the Alt-Right, meme magic, and Vladimir Putin and his postmodern Rasputin. Come take a drop down the rabbit hole of occult politics in the twenty-first century and find out the post-truths and alternative facts surrounding the 45th President of the United States with one of the leading writers on esotericism and its influence on modern culture."
to:NB  books:noted  us_politics  occultism  traditionalism  trump.donald  psychoceramics  psychoceramica  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
25 days ago
Power, Pleasure, and Profit — David Wootton | Harvard University Press
"We pursue power, pleasure, and profit. We want as much as we can get, and we deploy instrumental reasoning—cost-benefit analysis—to get it. We judge ourselves and others by how well we succeed. It is a way of life and thought that seems natural, inevitable, and inescapable. As David Wootton shows, it is anything but. In Power, Pleasure, and Profit, he traces an intellectual and cultural revolution that replaced the older systems of Aristotelian ethics and Christian morality with the iron cage of instrumental reasoning that now gives shape and purpose to our lives.
"Wootton guides us through four centuries of Western thought—from Machiavelli to Madison—to show how new ideas about politics, ethics, and economics stepped into a gap opened up by religious conflict and the Scientific Revolution. As ideas about godliness and Aristotelian virtue faded, theories about the rational pursuit of power, pleasure, and profit moved to the fore in the work of writers both obscure and as famous as Hobbes, Locke, and Adam Smith. The new instrumental reasoning cut through old codes of status and rank, enabling the emergence of movements for liberty and equality. But it also helped to create a world in which virtue, honor, shame, and guilt count for almost nothing, and what matters is success.
"Is our world better for the rise of instrumental reasoning? To answer that question, Wootton writes, we must first recognize that we live in its grip."

--- Wotton's book on the scientific revolution is fantastic, so I'm looking forward to this.
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  history_of_morals  great_transformation  wootton.david  enlightment  rationality  via:mraginsky 
25 days ago
The Dispute Between Radical Feminism and Transgenderism | The New Yorker
The views expressed in the last paragraph seem like a very clear assertion of categorical, hierarchical privilege.
feminism  gender 
29 days ago
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