[1705.07349] $left( beta, varpi right)$-stability for cross-validation and the choice of the number of folds
"In this paper, we introduce a new concept of stability for cross-validation, called the (β,ϖ)-stability, and use it as a new perspective to build the general theory for cross-validation. The (β,ϖ)-stability mathematically connects the generalization ability and the stability of the cross-validated model via the Rademacher complexity. Our result reveals mathematically the effect of cross-validation from two sides: on one hand, cross-validation picks the model with the best empirical generalization ability by validating all the alternatives on test sets; on the other hand, cross-validation may compromise the stability of the model selection by causing subsampling error. Moreover, the difference between training and test errors in q\textsuperscript{th} round, sometimes referred to as the generalization error, might be autocorrelated on q. Guided by the ideas above, the (β,ϖ)-stability help us derivd a new class of Rademacher bounds, referred to as the one-round/convoluted Rademacher bounds, for the stability of cross-validation in both the i.i.d.\ and non-i.i.d.\ cases. For both light-tail and heavy-tail losses, the new bounds quantify the stability of the one-round/average test error of the cross-validated model in terms of its one-round/average training error, the sample sizes n, number of folds K, the tail property of the loss (encoded as Orlicz-Ψν norms) and the Rademacher complexity of the model class Λ. The new class of bounds not only quantitatively reveals the stability of the generalization ability of the cross-validated model, it also shows empirically the optimal choice for number of folds K, at which the upper bound of the one-round/average test error is lowest, or, to put it in another way, where the test error is most stable."
to:NB  to_read  cross-validation  stability_of_learning  model_selection  statistics 
Transparency and Conspiracy | Duke University Press
"Transparency has, in recent years, become a watchword for good governance. Policymakers and analysts alike evaluate political and economic institutions—courts, corporations, nation-states—according to the transparency of their operating procedures. With the dawn of the New World Order and the “mutual veil dropping” of the post–Cold War era, many have asserted that power in our contemporary world is more transparent than ever. Yet from the perspective of the relatively less privileged, the operation of power often appears opaque and unpredictable. Through vivid ethnographic analyses, Transparency and Conspiracy examines a vast range of expressions of the popular suspicion of power—including forms of shamanism, sorcery, conspiracy theory, and urban legends—illuminating them as ways of making sense of the world in the midst of tumultuous and uneven processes of modernization.
"In this collection leading anthropologists reveal the variations and commonalities in conspiratorial thinking or occult cosmologies around the globe—in Korea, Tanzania, Mozambique, New York City, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Orange County, California. The contributors chronicle how people express profound suspicions of the United Nations, the state, political parties, police, courts, international financial institutions, banks, traders and shopkeepers, media, churches, intellectuals, and the wealthy. Rather than focusing on the veracity of these convictions, Transparency and Conspiracy investigates who believes what and why. It makes a compelling argument against the dismissal of conspiracy theories and occult cosmologies as antimodern, irrational oversimplifications, showing how these beliefs render the world more complex by calling attention to its contradictions and proposing alternative ways of understanding it. "
to:NB  books:noted  conspiracy_theories  anthropology 
The Social Life of Numbers A Quechua Ontology of Numbers and Philosophy of Arithmetic By Gary Urton
"Unraveling all the mysteries of the khipu—the knotted string device used by the Inka to record both statistical data and narrative accounts of myths, histories, and genealogies—will require an understanding of how number values and relations may have been used to encode information on social, familial, and political relationships and structures. This is the problem Gary Urton tackles in his pathfinding study of the origin, meaning, and significance of numbers and the philosophical principles underlying the practice of arithmetic among Quechua-speaking peoples of the Andes.
"Based on fieldwork in communities around Sucre, in south-central Bolivia, Urton argues that the origin and meaning of numbers were and are conceived of by Quechua-speaking peoples in ways similar to their ideas about, and formulations of, gender, age, and social relations. He also demonstrates that their practice of arithmetic is based on a well-articulated body of philosophical principles and values that reflects a continuous attempt to maintain balance, harmony, and equilibrium in the material, social, and moral spheres of community life."
to:NB  books:noted  mathematics  anthropology 
From a logical point of view … — Crooked Timber
"My contention is that the true underlying distributions of computer programming ability for men, women, liberals, conservatives and any other demographic slices of the population are a) more or less totally unknown, and b) not worth the time and effort to estimate with any precision at all, because c) they are totally irrelevant to the practical questions which anyone interested in them might actually want to solve. This is true whether we’re interested in “get the best engineers for Google” or whether we’re interested in “get fair representation for minority groups and women in the workplace”.
"The true underlying distributions would be useful if Google’s hiring process was to select people at random from the population, put them through a standard test of the single “quality” variable of interest, then take the ones who passed the test and discard the ones who failed. As a description of how recruitment processes don’t work, this is pretty spot on. Google (like any other company – I first started making this argument in the 1990s when McKinsey were publishing their incredibly influential, amazingly wrong and massively destructive “War For Talent” series) fills jobs by advertising for vacancies or encouraging through word of mouth and recruiters, using interview questions and tests which might have unknown biases, and recruiting people for their suitability for the roles currently vacant (which is not the same thing as “quality” because companies change all the time but keep the same employees. Each one of these stages is enough of a departure from the random sampling model to mean that the population distributions are not relevant.
"The male/female ratio at Google is not the outcome of a neutral process; it’s a variable under Google’s control. And when you think of the male/female ratio as an input rather than an output, you can start thinking about recruitment as a quality control process and everything becomes much simpler.
"Think of recruitment as a production process. It’s aim is to produce an output of employees of adequate quality, and its failure mode is to recruit inadequate employees[1]. Under very general assumptions, we can say that if the recruitment process is “fair” with respect to male versus female employees (or any other groups), the defect rate in the groups will be identical. It’s an argument similar to marginal cost optimisation."

--- This is correct and endorsed in its entirety. (My _one_ caveat is that the math-ed up version of the argument seems to me to posit an effectively infinite pool of candidates of all categories, but I should work that through carefully.) . The application to graduate admissions and faculty hiring, the next time I have anything to do with them, is left very much as an exercise for this reader...
quality_control  statistics  sexist_idiocy  organizations  dsquared 
7 days ago
Radical Book Club: the Decentralized Left | Status 451
Good review of some recent left-ish books on organizing by a self-proclaimed "Righty".
us_politics  political_organizing  book_reviews  have_read  via:vaguery  social_movements 
11 days ago
Evolution human co operation ritual and social complexity stateless societies | Social and cultural anthropology | Cambridge University Press
"How do people living in small groups without money, markets, police and rigid social classes develop norms of economic and social cooperation that are sustainable over time? This book addresses this fundamental question and explains the origin, structure and spread of stateless societies. Using insights from game theory, ethnography and archaeology, Stanish shows how ritual - broadly defined - is the key. Ritual practices encode elaborate rules of behavior and are ingenious mechanisms of organizing society in the absence of coercive states. As well as asking why and how people choose to co-operate, Stanish also provides the theoretical framework to understand this collective action problem. He goes on to highlight the evolution of cooperation with ethnographic and archaeological data from around of the world. Merging evolutionary game theory concepts with cultural evolutionary theory, this book will appeal to those seeking a transdisciplinary approach to one of the greatest problems in human evolution."
to:NB  books:noted  evolution_of_cooperation  human_evolution  ritual  anthropology  evolutionary_game_theory 
12 days ago
A million variables and more: the Fast Greedy Equivalence Search algorithm for learning high-dimensional graphical causal models, with an application to functional magnetic resonance images | SpringerLink
"We describe two modifications that parallelize and reorganize caching in the well-known Greedy Equivalence Search algorithm for discovering directed acyclic graphs on random variables from sample values. We apply one of these modifications, the Fast Greedy Equivalence Search (fGES) assuming faithfulness, to an i.i.d. sample of 1000 units to recover with high precision and good recall an average degree 2 directed acyclic graph with one million Gaussian variables. We describe a modification of the algorithm to rapidly find the Markov Blanket of any variable in a high dimensional system. Using 51,000 voxels that parcellate an entire human cortex, we apply the fGES algorithm to blood oxygenation level-dependent time series obtained from resting state fMRI."
to:NB  to_read  causal_discovery  graphical_models  statistics  glymour.clark 
12 days ago
Additive Component Analysis – Calvin Murdock
"Principal component analysis (PCA) is one of the most versatile tools for unsupervised learning with applications ranging from dimensionality reduction to exploratory data analysis and visualization. While much effort has been devoted to encouraging meaningful representations through regularization (e.g. non-negativity or sparsity), underlying linearity assumptions can limit their effectiveness. To address this issue, we propose Additive Component Analysis (ACA), a novel nonlinear extension of PCA. Inspired by multivariate nonparametric regression with additive models, ACA fits a smooth manifold to data by learning an explicit mapping from a low-dimensional latent space to the input space, which trivially enables applications like denoising. Furthermore, ACA can be used as a drop-in replacement in many algorithms that use linear component analysis methods as a subroutine via the local tangent space of the learned manifold. Unlike many other nonlinear dimensionality reduction techniques, ACA can be efficiently applied to large datasets since it does not require computing pairwise similarities or storing training data during testing. Multiple ACA layers can also be composed and learned jointly with essentially the same procedure for improved representational power, demonstrating the encouraging potential of nonparametric deep learning. We evaluate ACA on a variety of datasets, showing improved robustness, reconstruction performance, and interpretability."
to:NB  dimension_reduction  manifold_learning  additive_models  principal_components  statistics  to_read  re:ADAfaEPoV 
12 days ago
The Pitfalls of Protection - Torunn Wimpelmann - Paperback - University of California Press
"Since the 2001 overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan, violence against women has emerged as the single most important issue for Afghan gender politics. The Pitfalls of Protection, based on research conducted in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2015, locates the struggles over gender violence in local and global power configurations. The author finds that aid flows and geopolitics have served as both opportunities and obstacles to feminist politics in Afghanistan. Showing why Afghan activists often chose to use the leverage of Western powers instead of entering into either protracted negotiations with powerful national actors or broad political mobilization, the book examines both the achievements and the limits of this strategy. "
to:NB  books:noted  afghanistan  the_continuing_crises  feminism 
12 days ago
High-Dimensional Data Analysis: The Curses and Blessings of Dimensionality (Donoho)
"The coming century is surely the century of data. A combination of blind faith and
serious purpose makes our society invest massively in the collection and processing of data of all kinds, on scales unimaginable until recently. Hyperspectral Imagery, Internet Portals, Financial tick-by-tick data, and DNA Microarrays are just a few of the better-known sources, feeding data in torrential streams into scientific and business databases worldwide.
"In traditional statistical data analysis, we think of observations of instances of particular phenomena (e.g. instance ↔ human being), these observations being a vector of values we measured on several variables (e.g. blood pressure, weight, height, ...). In traditional statistical methodology, we assumed many observations and a few, well-chosen variables. The trend today is towards more observations but even more so, to radically larger numbers of variables – voracious, automatic, systematic collection of hyper-informative detail about each observed instance. We are seeing examples where the observations gathered on individual instances are curves, or spectra, or images, or even movies, so that a single observation has dimensions in the thousands or billions, while there are only tens or hundreds of instances available for study. Classical methods are simply not designed to cope with this kind of explosive growth of dimensionality of the observation vector. We can say with complete confidence that in the coming century, high-dimensional data analysis will be a very significant activity, and completely new methods of high-dimensional data analysis will be developed; we just don’t know what they are yet.
"Mathematicians are ideally prepared for appreciating the abstract issues involved
in finding patterns in such high-dimensional data. Two of the most influential principles in the coming century will be principles originally discovered and cultivated by mathematicians: the blessings of dimensionality and the curse of dimensionality.
"The curse of dimensionality is a phrase used by several subfields in the mathematical sciences; I use it here to refer to the apparent intractability of systematically searching through a high-dimensional space, the apparent intractability of accurately approximating a general high-dimensional function, the apparent intractability of integrating a high-dimensional function.
"The blessings of dimensionality are less widely noted, but they include the concentration of measure phenomenon (so-called in the geometry of Banach spaces), which means that certain random fluctuations are very well controlled in high dimensions and the success of asymptotic methods, used widely in mathematical statistics and statistical physics, which suggest that statements about very high-dimensional settings may be made where moderate dimensions would be too complicated.
"There is a large body of interesting work going on in the mathematical sciences,
both to attack the curse of dimensionality in specific ways, and to extend the benefits of dimensionality. I will mention work in high-dimensional approximation theory, in probability theory, and in mathematical statistics. I expect to see in the coming decades many further mathematical elaborations to our inventory of Blessings and Curses, and I expect such contributions to have a broad impact on society’s ability to extract meaning from the massive datasets it has decided to compile.
"At the end of my talk, I will also draw on my personal research experiences. This
suggest to me (1) ongoing developments in high-dimensional data analysis may lead mathematicians to study new problems in for example harmonic analysis; and (2) that many of the problems of low dimensional data analysis are unsolved and are similar to problems in harmonic analysis which have only recently been attacked, and for which only the merest beginnings have been made. Both fields can progress together."
to:NB  to_read  data_analysis  statistics  mathematics  high-dimensional_statistics  high-dimensional_probability  donoho.david 
12 days ago
Blumenberg, Lewitscharoff, Hoban
"One night, German philosopher Hans Blumenberg returns to his study to find a shocking sight—a lion lying on the floor as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. The lion stretches comfortably on the Turkmen rug, eyes resting on Blumenberg. The philosopher with some effort retains his composure, even when the next day during his lecture the lion makes another appearance, ambling slowly down the center aisle. Blumenberg glances around; the seats are full, but none of his students seem to see the lion. What is going on here?
"Blumenberg is the captivating and witty fictional tale of this likable philosopher and the handful of students who come under the spell of the supernatural lion—including skinny Gerhard Optatus Baur, a promising young Blumenbergian, and the delicate, haughty Isa, who falls head over heels in love with the wrong man. Written by Sibylle Lewitscharoff, whom Die Welt called the “most dazzling stylist of contemporary German literature,” Blumenberg will delight English readers."

--- Any inspiration from the great Durer print of _St. Jerome in His Study_?
to:NB  books:noted  novels 
12 days ago
Large numbers of explanatory variables, a semi-descriptive analysis
"Data with a relatively small number of study individuals and a very large number of potential explanatory features arise particularly, but by no means only, in genomics. A powerful method of analysis, the lasso [Tibshirani R (1996) J Roy Stat Soc B 58:267–288], takes account of an assumed sparsity of effects, that is, that most of the features are nugatory. Standard criteria for model fitting, such as the method of least squares, are modified by imposing a penalty for each explanatory variable used. There results a single model, leaving open the possibility that other sparse choices of explanatory features fit virtually equally well. The method suggested in this paper aims to specify simple models that are essentially equally effective, leaving detailed interpretation to the specifics of the particular study. The method hinges on the ability to make initially a very large number of separate analyses, allowing each explanatory feature to be assessed in combination with many other such features. Further stages allow the assessment of more complex patterns such as nonlinear and interactive dependences. The method has formal similarities to so-called partially balanced incomplete block designs introduced 80 years ago [Yates F (1936) J Agric Sci 26:424–455] for the study of large-scale plant breeding trials. The emphasis in this paper is strongly on exploratory analysis; the more formal statistical properties obtained under idealized assumptions will be reported separately."

--- Contributed, which is a bad sign, but by Cox, so...
to:NB  statistics  regression  sparsity  lasso  high-dimensional_statistics  cox.d.r. 
12 days ago
Optimal decision making and matching are tied through diminishing returns
"How individuals make decisions has been a matter of long-standing debate among economists and researchers in the life sciences. In economics, subjects are viewed as optimal decision makers who maximize their overall reward income. This framework has been widely influential, but requires a complete knowledge of the reward contingencies associated with a given choice situation. Psychologists and ecologists have observed that individuals tend to use a simpler “matching” strategy, distributing their behavior in proportion to relative rewards associated with their options. This article demonstrates that the two dominant frameworks of choice behavior are linked through the law of diminishing returns. The relatively simple matching can in fact provide maximal reward when the rewards associated with decision makers’ options saturate with the invested effort. Such saturating relationships between reward and effort are hallmarks of the law of diminishing returns. Given the prevalence of diminishing returns in nature and social settings, this finding can explain why humans and animals so commonly behave according to the matching law. The article underscores the importance of the law of diminishing returns in choice behavior."
to:NB  decision-making  decision_theory 
12 days ago
Nature does not rely on long-lived electronic quantum coherence for photosynthetic energy transfer
"During the first steps of photosynthesis, the energy of impinging solar photons is transformed into electronic excitation energy of the light-harvesting biomolecular complexes. The subsequent energy transfer to the reaction center is commonly rationalized in terms of excitons moving on a grid of biomolecular chromophores on typical timescales <<100 fs. Today’s understanding of the energy transfer includes the fact that the excitons are delocalized over a few neighboring sites, but the role of quantum coherence is considered as irrelevant for the transfer dynamics because it typically decays within a few tens of femtoseconds. This orthodox picture of incoherent energy transfer between clusters of a few pigments sharing delocalized excitons has been challenged by ultrafast optical spectroscopy experiments with the Fenna–Matthews–Olson protein, in which interference oscillatory signals up to 1.5 ps were reported and interpreted as direct evidence of exceptionally long-lived electronic quantum coherence. Here, we show that the optical 2D photon echo spectra of this complex at ambient temperature in aqueous solution do not provide evidence of any long-lived electronic quantum coherence, but confirm the orthodox view of rapidly decaying electronic quantum coherence on a timescale of 60 fs. Our results can be considered as generic and give no hint that electronic quantum coherence plays any biofunctional role in real photoactive biomolecular complexes. Because in this structurally well-defined protein the distances between bacteriochlorophylls are comparable to those of other light-harvesting complexes, we anticipate that this finding is general and directly applies to even larger photoactive biomolecular complexes."

--- Shorter: No, photosynthesis does not depend on quantum weirdness.
to:NB  biophysics  physics  photosynthesis  quantum_mechanics 
12 days ago
Hitler's Monsters | Yale University Press
"The definitive history of the supernatural in Nazi Germany, exploring the occult ideas, esoteric sciences, and pagan religions touted by the Third Reich in the service of power
"The Nazi fascination with the occult is legendary, yet today it is often dismissed as Himmler’s personal obsession or wildly overstated for its novelty. Preposterous though it was, however, supernatural thinking was inextricable from the Nazi project. The regime enlisted astrology and the paranormal, paganism, Indo-Aryan mythology, witchcraft, miracle weapons, and the lost kingdom of Atlantis in reimagining German politics and society and recasting German science and religion. In this eye-opening history, Eric Kurlander reveals how the Third Reich’s relationship to the supernatural was far from straightforward. Even as popular occultism and superstition were intermittently rooted out, suppressed, and outlawed, the Nazis drew upon a wide variety of occult practices and esoteric sciences to gain power, shape propaganda and policy, and pursue their dreams of racial utopia and empire."
to:NB  books:noted  fascism  psychoceramics  20th_century_history 
12 days ago
Principles of Data Management and Presentation - John P. Hoffmann - Paperback - University of California Press
"The world is saturated with data. We are regularly presented with data in words, tables, and graphics. Students from many academic fields are now expected to be educated about data in one form or another. Yet the typical sequence of courses—introductory statistics and research methods—does not provide sufficient information about how to focus in on a research question, how to access data and work with datasets, or how to present data to various audiences.
"Principles of Data Management and Presentation addresses this gap. Assuming only that students have some familiarity with basic statistics and research methods, it provides a comprehensive set of principles for understanding and using data as part of a research project, including:
"• how to narrow a research topic to a specific research question
"• how to access and organize data that are useful for answering a research question
"• how to use software such as Stata, SPSS, and SAS to manage data
"• how to present data so that they convey a clear and effective message
 "A companion website includes material to enhance the learning experience—specifically statistical software code and the datasets used in the examples, in text format as well as Stata, SPSS, and SAS formats. "

--- The appearance of a radar plot on the cover is not a good sign, but ...
to:NB  books:noted  data_analysis  to_teach 
12 days ago
Lawrence, B.B.,: The Koran in English: A Biography. (eBook and Hardcover)
:For millions of Muslims, the Qur'an is sacred only in Arabic, the original Arabic in which it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century; to many Arab and non-Arab believers alike, the book literally defies translation. Yet English translations exist and are growing, in both number and importance. Bruce Lawrence tells the remarkable story of the ongoing struggle to render the Qur'an's lyrical verses into English—and to make English itself an Islamic language.
"The "Koran" in English revisits the life of Muhammad and the origins of the Qur'an before recounting the first translation of the book into Latin by a non-Muslim: Robert of Ketton's twelfth-century version paved the way for later ones in German and French, but it was not until the eighteenth century that George Sale's influential English version appeared. Lawrence explains how many of these early translations, while part of a Christian agenda to "know the enemy," often revealed grudging respect for their Abrahamic rival. British expansion in the modern era produced an anomaly: fresh English translations—from the original Arabic—not by Arabs or non-Muslims but by South Asian Muslim scholars.
"The first book to explore the complexities of this translation saga, The "Koran" in English also looks at cyber Korans, versions by feminist translators, and now a graphic Koran, the American Qur'an created by the acclaimed visual artist Sandow Birk."
to:NB  books:noted  islam  islamic_civilization  cultural_exchange  translation  epidemiology_of_representations 
12 days ago
Reading _Orientalism_: Said and the Unsaid
"The late Edward Said remains one of the most influential critics and public intellectuals of our time, with lasting contributions to many disciplines. Much of his reputation derives from the phenomenal multidisciplinary influence of his 1978 book Orientalism. Said's seminal polemic analyzes novels, travelogues, and academic texts to argue that a dominant discourse of West over East has warped virtually all past European and American representation of the Near East. But despite the book's wide acclaim, no systematic critical survey of the rhetoric in Said's representation of Orientalism and the resulting impact on intellectual culture has appeared until today.
"Drawing on the extensive discussion of Said's work in more than 600 bibliographic entries, Daniel Martin Varisco has written an ambitious intellectual history of the debates that Said's work has sparked in several disciplines, highlighting in particular its reception among Arab and European scholars. While pointing out Said's tendency to essentialize and privilege certain texts at the expense of those that do not comfortably it his theoretical framework, Varisco analyzes the extensive commentary the book has engendered in Oriental studies, literary and cultural studies, feminist scholarship, history, political science, and anthropology. He employs "critical satire" to parody the exaggerated and pedantic aspects of post-colonial discourse, including Said's profound underappreciation of the role of irony and reform in many of the texts he cites. The end result is a companion volume to Orientalism and the vast research it inspired. Rather than contribute to dueling essentialisms, Varisco provides a path to move beyond the binary of East versus West and the polemics of blame."
to:NB  books:noted  literary_criticism  cultural_criticism  said.edward  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  orientalism 
12 days ago
Simonton, M.: Classical Greek Oligarchy: A Political History. (eBook and Hardcover)
"Classical Greek Oligarchy thoroughly reassesses an important but neglected form of ancient Greek government, the "rule of the few." Matthew Simonton challenges scholarly orthodoxy by showing that oligarchy was not the default mode of politics from time immemorial, but instead emerged alongside, and in reaction to, democracy. He establishes for the first time how oligarchies maintained power in the face of potential citizen resistance. The book argues that oligarchs designed distinctive political institutions—such as intra-oligarchic power sharing, targeted repression, and rewards for informants—to prevent collective action among the majority population while sustaining cooperation within their own ranks.
"To clarify the workings of oligarchic institutions, Simonton draws on recent social science research on authoritarianism. Like modern authoritarian regimes, ancient Greek oligarchies had to balance coercion with co-optation in order to keep their subjects disorganized and powerless. The book investigates topics such as control of public space, the manipulation of information, and the establishment of patron-client relations, frequently citing parallels with contemporary nondemocratic regimes. Simonton also traces changes over time in antiquity, revealing the processes through which oligarchy lost the ideological battle with democracy for legitimacy.
"Classical Greek Oligarchy represents a major new development in the study of ancient politics. It fills a longstanding gap in our knowledge of nondemocratic government while greatly improving our understanding of forms of power that continue to affect us today."
to:NB  books:noted  ancient_history  political_science  oligarchy  institutions 
12 days ago
STS as science or politics? Social Studies of Science - Harry Collins, Robert Evans, Martin Weinel, 2017
"In a recent editorial for this journal, Sergio Sismondo makes two claims. First, he states that STS bears no responsibility for the emergence of post-truth politics. Second, he claims that debates about the nature of expertise that take place within STS are irrelevant in this context. In contrast, we argue that, whether or not STS had a causal influence on the emergence of post-truth politics, there is a clear resonance between the two positions and that the current political climate makes the empirically informed and scientific analysis of expertise and the form of life of science more important than ever. We argue that treating the contribution of STS to these matters as essentially political rather than scientific surrenders any special role we have as experts on the organization and values of science and leaves STS as just one political actor among others."

--- I appreciate what they're trying to do here, but I wish that the Collins who now doesn't like the idea of a community of academic specialists being "[left] ... as just one political actor among others" could be introduced to the Collins who wrote _The Golem_, "The Empirical Program of Relativism", and other full-throated endorsements of the "Strong Programme".
to:NB  sociology_of_science  natural_history_of_truthiness  collins.harry  science_as_a_social_process 
12 days ago
Getting New Things Done: Networks, Brokerage, and the Assembly of Innovative Action | David Obstfeld
"Our networks—and how we work them—create vital ties that bind. Organizations recognize and reward this fact by leaning ever more heavily on collaboration, particularly when it comes to getting new things done. This book offers a framework that explains how innovators use network processes to broker knowledge and mobilize action.
"How well they do so directly influences the outcome of attempts to innovate, especially when a project is not tied to prescribed organizational routines. An entrepreneur launches a business. A company rolls out a new product line. Two firms form a partnership. These instances and many more like them dot today's business landscape. And yet, we understand little about the social dimension of these undertakings. Disentangling brokerage from network structure and building on his theoretical work regarding tertius iungens, David Obstfeld explains how actors with diverse interests, expertise, and skills leverage their personal and intellectual connections to create new ventures and products with extraordinary results."
to:NB  books:noted  social_networks  innovation  social_life_of_the_mind 
12 days ago
Epinets: The Epistemic Structure and Dynamics of Social Networks | Mihnea C. Moldoveanu and Joel A.C. Baum
"Epinets presents a new way to think about social networks, which focuses on the knowledge that underlies our social interactions. Guiding readers through the web of beliefs that networked individuals have about each other and probing into what others think, this book illuminates the deeper character and influence of relationships among social network participants.
"Drawing on artificial intelligence, the philosophy of language, and epistemic game theory, Moldoveanu and Baum formulate a lexicon and array of conceptual tools that enable readers to explain, predict, and shape the fabric and behavior of social networks. With an innovative and strategically-minded look at the assumptions that enable and clog our networks, this book lays the groundwork for a leap forward in our understanding of human relations."
in_NB  books:noted  social_networks  social_life_of_the_mind  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
12 days ago
Professors and politics: Noam Chomsky’s contested reputation in the United States and Canada | SpringerLink
"There is an extensive literature comparing the politics, sociology and economics of the United States and Canada, but very little work comparing the role that public intellectuals play in the space of public opinion and how their ideas are received in both nations simultaneously. Noam Chomsky provides a theoretically useful example of an established academic and public intellectual whose reputation is deeply contested in both countries. Our comparative case study offers leverage to contribute to debates on the sociology of knowledge, reputations, intellectuals, and the politics of professors using data from six major Canadian and American newspapers from 1995–2009 and an innovative coding of media portrayal. Earlier work has demonstrated that Chomsky is discussed as a public intellectual more prominently in Canada than in the United States (McLaughlin and Townsley in Canadian Review of Sociology, 48(4):341–368, 2011). Here we examine the comparative construction of a “public intellectual” reputation in the context of significant political change. We document small differences between the Canadian and American receptions of Chomsky, show change in the patterns of portrayal and number of publications over time, and offer an analysis of differences between political attacks and consecrations. We demonstrate more engagement with Chomsky’s political view in Canada than in the United States, a rise in Chomsky’s fame post 9/11, and illustrate clear political patterns in attempts to marginalize him."
to:NB  sociology  intellectuals  chomsky.noam 
12 days ago
Financialization and Its Entrepreneurial Consequences by Paul Kedrosky, Dane Stangler :: SSRN
"The U.S. financial sector expanded dramatically over the last hundred years in both relative and absolute terms. This expansion has had a number of causes and consequences, most of which can be lumped broadly under the heading of increased 'financialization' of the economy. This led, in part, to the financial crisis of 2008/2009. In this paper, however, we consider the implications of financialization for the structure of the U.S. economy, in particular for entrepreneurship."
to:NB  financialization  economics 
13 days ago
The distributed human neural system for face perception. - PubMed - NCBI
"Face perception, perhaps the most highly developed visual skill in humans, is mediated by a distributed neural system in humans that is comprised of multiple, bilateral regions. We propose a model for the organization of this system that emphasizes a distinction between the representation of invariant and changeable aspects of faces. The representation of invariant aspects of faces underlies the recognition of individuals, whereas the representation of changeable aspects of faces, such as eye gaze, expression, and lip movement, underlies the perception of information that facilitates social communication. The model is also hierarchical insofar as it is divided into a core system and an extended system. The core system is comprised of occipitotemporal regions in extrastriate visual cortex that mediate the visual analysis of faces. In the core system, the representation of invariant aspects is mediated more by the face-responsive region in the fusiform gyrus, whereas the representation of changeable aspects is mediated more by the face-responsive region in the superior temporal sulcus. The extended system is comprised of regions from neural systems for other cognitive functions that can be recruited to act in concert with the regions in the core system to extract meaning from faces."
to:NB  neuroscience  perception  face_perception 
13 days ago
Mechanisms of Face Perception | Annual Review of Neuroscience
"Faces are among the most informative stimuli we ever perceive: Even a split-second glimpse of a person's face tells us his identity, sex, mood, age, race, and direction of attention. The specialness of face processing is acknowledged in the artificial vision community, where contests for face-recognition algorithms abound. Neurological evidence strongly implicates a dedicated machinery for face processing in the human brain to explain the double dissociability of face- and object-recognition deficits. Furthermore, recent evidence shows that macaques too have specialized neural machinery for processing faces. Here we propose a unifying hypothesis, deduced from computational, neurological, fMRI, and single-unit experiments: that what makes face processing special is that it is gated by an obligatory detection process. We clarify this idea in concrete algorithmic terms and show how it can explain a variety of phenomena associated with face processing."
to:NB  neuroscience  neuropsychology  face_perception  perception  modularity 
13 days ago
Adversarial Risk Analysis: Journal of the American Statistical Association: Vol 104, No 486
"Applications in counterterrorism and corporate competition have led to the development of new methods for the analysis of decision making when there are intelligent opponents and uncertain outcomes. This field represents a combination of statistical risk analysis and game theory, and is sometimes called adversarial risk analysis. In this article, we describe several formulations of adversarial risk problems, and provide a framework that extends traditional risk analysis tools, such as influence diagrams and probabilistic reasoning, to adversarial problems. We also discuss the research challenges that arise when dealing with these models, illustrate the ideas with examples from business, and point out relevance to national defense."
to:NB  to_read  risk_assessment  risk_vs_uncertainty  statistics  game_theory 
13 days ago
Empirical prediction intervals improve energy forecasting
"Hundreds of organizations and analysts use energy projections, such as those contained in the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO), for investment and policy decisions. Retrospective analyses of past AEO projections have shown that observed values can differ from the projection by several hundred percent, and thus a thorough treatment of uncertainty is essential. We evaluate the out-of-sample forecasting performance of several empirical density forecasting methods, using the continuous ranked probability score (CRPS). The analysis confirms that a Gaussian density, estimated on past forecasting errors, gives comparatively accurate uncertainty estimates over a variety of energy quantities in the AEO, in particular outperforming scenario projections provided in the AEO. We report probabilistic uncertainties for 18 core quantities of the AEO 2016 projections. Our work frames how to produce, evaluate, and rank probabilistic forecasts in this setting. We propose a log transformation of forecast errors for price projections and a modified nonparametric empirical density forecasting method. Our findings give guidance on how to evaluate and communicate uncertainty in future energy outlooks."

--- It's probably presumptuous of me, but I am a bit proud, because the first author learned a lot of these methods from my class...
to:NB  to_read  heard_the_talk  energy  prediction  statistics  to_teach:undergrad-ADA 
13 days ago
now publishers - Kernel Mean Embedding of Distributions: A Review and Beyond
"A Hilbert space embedding of a distribution—in short, a kernel mean embedding—has recently emerged as a powerful tool for machine learning and statistical inference. The basic idea behind this framework is to map distributions into a reproducing kernel Hilbert space (RKHS) in which the whole arsenal of kernel methods can be extended to probability measures. It can be viewed as a generalization of the original “feature map” common to support vector machines (SVMs) and other kernel methods. In addition to the classical applications of kernel methods, the kernel mean embedding has found novel applications in fields ranging from probabilistic modeling to statistical inference, causal discovery, and deep learning. This survey aims to give a comprehensive review of existing work and recent advances in this research area, and to discuss challenging issues and open problems that could potentially lead to new research directions. The survey begins with a brief introduction to the RKHS and positive definite kernels which forms the backbone of this survey, followed by a thorough discussion of the Hilbert space embedding of marginal distributions, theoretical guarantees, and a review of its applications. The embedding of distributions enables us to apply RKHS methods to probability measures which prompts a wide range of applications such as kernel two-sample testing, independent testing, and learning on distributional data. Next, we discuss the Hilbert space embedding for conditional distributions, give theoretical insights, and review some applications. The conditional mean embedding enables us to perform sum, product, and Bayes’ rules—which are ubiquitous in graphical model, probabilistic inference, and reinforcement learning— in a non-parametric way using this new representation of distributions. We then discuss relationships between this framework and other related areas. Lastly, we give some suggestions on future research directions."
to:NB  to_read  hilbert_space  probability  statistics  kernel_methods 
13 days ago
Population Vectors Can Provide Near Optimal Integration of Information | Neural Computation | MIT Press Journals
"Much attention has been paid to the question of how Bayesian integration of information could be implemented by a simple neural mechanism. We show that population vectors based on point-process inputs combine evidence in a form that closely resembles Bayesian inference, with each input spike carrying information about the tuning of the input neuron. We also show that population vectors can combine information relatively accurately in the presence of noisy synaptic encoding of tuning curves."
to:NB  neural_coding_and_decoding  kass.robert  rodu.jordan  kith_and_kin  neuroscience  statistics 
13 days ago
Marginality and Problem-Solving Effectiveness in Broadcast Search | Organization Science
"We examine who the winners are in science problem-solving contests characterized by open broadcast of problem information, self-selection of external solvers to discrete problems from the laboratories of large research and development intensive companies, and blind review of solution submissions. Analyzing a unique data set of 166 science challenges involving over 12,000 scientists revealed that technical and social marginality, being a source of different perspectives and heuristics, plays an important role in explaining individual success in problem solving. The provision of a winning solution was positively related to increasing distance between the solver's field of technical expertise and the focal field of the problem. Female solvers—known to be in the “outer circle” of the scientific establishment—performed significantly better than men in developing successful solutions. Our findings contribute to the emerging literature on open and distributed innovation by demonstrating the value of openness, at least narrowly defined by disclosing problems, in removing barriers to entry to nonobvious individuals. We also contribute to the knowledge-based theory of the firm by showing the effectiveness of a market mechanism to draw out knowledge from diverse external sources to solve internal problems."
to:NB  economics  re:democratic_cognition 
13 days ago
Groups Make Better Self-Interested Decisions
"In this paper, we describe what economists have learned about differences between group and individual decision-making. This literature is still young, and in this paper, we will mostly draw on experimental work (mainly in the laboratory) that has compared individual decision-making to group decision-making, and to individual decision-making in situations with salient group membership. The bottom line emerging from economic research on group decision-making is that groups are more likely to make choices that follow standard game-theoretic predictions, while individuals are more likely to be influenced by biases, cognitive limitations, and social considerations. In this sense, groups are generally less "behavioral" than individuals. An immediate implication of this result is that individual decisions in isolation cannot necessarily be assumed to be good predictors of the decisions made by groups. More broadly, the evidence casts doubts on traditional approaches that model economic behavior as if individuals were making decisions in isolation."
to:NB  economics  collective_cognition  re:democratic_cognition 
13 days ago
The Best Answer to Fanaticism--Liberalism; Its calm search for truth, viewed as dangerous in many places, remains the hope of humanity. - The New York Times
"It is not necessary to the liberal outlook to maintain that discussion will always lead to the prevalence of the best opinion. What is necessary to maintain is that absence of discussion will usually lead to the prevalence of the worse opinion."
russell.bertrand  liberalism  defenses_of_liberalism  via:?  have_read 
13 days ago
The Peregrine Returns: The Art and Architecture of an Urban Raptor Recovery, Hennen, Macnamara, Ware
"Peregrine falcons have their share of claims to fame. With a diving speed of over two hundred miles per hour, these birds of prey are the fastest animals on earth or in the sky, and they are now well known for adapting from life on rocky cliffs to a different kind of mountain: modern skyscrapers. But adaptability only helps so much. In 1951, there were no peregrines left in Illinois, for instance, and it looked as if the species would be wiped out entirely in North America. Today, however, peregrines are flourishing.
"In The Peregrine Returns, Mary Hennen gives wings to this extraordinary conservation success story. Drawing on the beautiful watercolors of Field Museum artist-in-residence Peggy Macnamara and photos by Field Museum research assistant Stephanie Ware, as well as her own decades of work with peregrines, Hennen uses a program in Chicago as a case study for the peregrines’ journey from their devastating decline to the discovery of its cause (a thinning of eggshells caused by a by-product of DDT), through to recovery, revealing how the urban landscape has played an essential role in enabling falcons to return to the wild—and how people are now learning to live in close proximity to these captivating raptors.
"Both a model for conservation programs across the country and an eye-opening look at the many creatures with which we share our homes, this richly illustrated story is an inspiring example of how urban architecture can serve not only our cities’ human inhabitants, but also their wild ones."
books:noted  cities  birds  environmental_management 
17 days ago
Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream, Goldrick-Rab
"If you are a young person, and you work hard enough, you can get a college degree and set yourself on the path to a good life, right?
"Not necessarily, says Sara Goldrick-Rab, and with Paying the Price, she shows in damning detail exactly why. Quite simply, college is far too expensive for many people today, and the confusing mix of federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid leaves countless students without the resources they need to pay for it.
"Drawing on an unprecedented study of 3,000 young adults who entered public colleges and universities in Wisconsin in 2008 with the support of federal aid and Pell Grants, Goldrick-Rab reveals the devastating effect of these shortfalls. Half the students in the study left college without a degree, while less than 20 percent finished within five years. The cause of their problems, time and again, was lack of money. Unable to afford tuition, books, and living expenses, they worked too many hours at outside jobs, dropped classes, took time off to save money, and even went without adequate food or housing. In many heartbreaking cases, they simply left school—not with a degree, but with crippling debt. Goldrick-Rab combines that shocking data with devastating stories of six individual students, whose struggles make clear the horrifying human and financial costs of our convoluted financial aid policies.
"America can fix this problem. In the final section of the book, Goldrick-Rab offers a range of possible solutions, from technical improvements to the financial aid application process, to a bold, public sector–focused “first degree free” program. What’s not an option, this powerful book shows, is doing nothing, and continuing to crush the college dreams of a generation of young people."
to:NB  books:noted  education  academia  class_struggles_in_america  inequality  wisconsin 
17 days ago
Evidence, Becker
"Becker has for seventy years been mulling over the problem of evidence. He argues that social scientists don’t take questions about the usefulness of their data as evidence for their ideas seriously enough. For example, researchers have long used the occupation of a person’s father as evidence of the family’s social class, but studies have shown this to be a flawed measure—for one thing, a lot of people answer that question too vaguely to make the reasoning plausible. The book is filled with examples like this, and Becker uses them to expose a series of errors, suggesting ways to avoid them, or even to turn them into research topics in their own right. He argues strongly that because no data-gathering method produces totally reliable information, a big part of the research job consists of getting rid of error. Readers will find Becker’s newest guidebook a valuable tool, useful for social scientists of every variety."
to:NB  books:noted  social_science_methodology  data_analysis  methodological_advice  data_cleaning  to_teach:undergrad-research 
17 days ago
The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia - Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought | Columbia University Press
"n this rich intellectual history, Cemil Aydin challenges the notion that anti-Westernism in the Muslim world is a political and religious reaction to the liberal and democratic values of the West. Nor is anti-Westernism a natural response to Western imperialism. Instead, by focusing on the agency and achievements of non-Western intellectuals, Aydin demonstrates that modern anti-Western discourse grew out of the legitimacy crisis of a single, Eurocentric global polity in the age of high imperialism.
"Aydin compares Ottoman Pan-Islamic and Japanese Pan-Asian visions of world order from the middle of the nineteenth century to the end of World War II. He looks at when the idea of a universal "West" first took root in the minds of Asian intellectuals and reformers and how it became essential in criticizing the West for violating its own "standards of civilization." Aydin also illustrates why these anti-Western visions contributed to the decolonization process and considers their influence on the international relations of both the Ottoman and Japanese Empires during WWI and WWII.
"The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia offers a rare, global perspective on how religious tradition and the experience of European colonialism interacted with Muslim and non-Muslim discontent with globalization, the international order, and modernization. Aydin's approach reveals the epistemological limitations of Orientalist knowledge categories, especially the idea of Eastern and Western civilizations, and the way in which these limitations have shaped not only the contradictions and political complicities of anti-Western discourses but also contemporary interpretations of anti-Western trends. In moving beyond essentialist readings of this history, Aydin provides a fresh understanding of the history of contemporary anti-Americanism as well as the ongoing struggle to establish a legitimate and inclusive international society."
in_NB  books:noted  history_of_ideas  imperialism 
17 days ago
Twitter Introduces Red X Mark To Verify Users It’s Okay To Harass - The Onion - America's Finest News Source
"In an effort to reduce the number of unprovoked hostile communications on the social media platform, Twitter announced Monday that it had added a red X-mark feature verifying users who are in fact perfectly okay to harass. “This new verification system offers users a simple, efficient way to determine which accounts belong to total pieces of shit whom you should have no qualms about tormenting to your heart’s desire,” said spokesperson Elizabeth James, adding that the small red symbol signifies that Twitter has officially confirmed the identity of a loathsome person who deserves the worst abuse imaginable and who will deliberately have their Mute, Block, and Report options disabled. “When a user sees this symbol, they know they’re dealing with a real asshole who has richly earned whatever mistreatment they receive, including profanity, body-shaming, leaking of personal information, and relentless goading to commit suicide. It’s really just a helpful way of saying to our users, ‘This fuck has it coming, so do your worst with a clear conscience and without fear of having your account suspended.’” At press time, Twitter reassuredly clarified that the red X was just a suggestion and that all users could still be bullied with as little recourse as they are now."
funny:malicious  funny:pointed  social_media  networked_life  twitter 
17 days ago
Demarcating Fringe Science for Policy | Perspectives on Science | MIT Press Journals
"Here we try to characterize the fringe of science as opposed to the mainstream. We want to do this in order to provide some theory of the difference that can be used by policy-makers and other decision-makers but without violating the principles of what has been called ‘Wave Two of Science Studies’. Therefore our demarcation criteria rest on differences in the forms of life of the two activities rather than questions of rationality or rightness; we try to show the ways in which the fringe differs from the mainstream in terms of the way they think about and practice the institution of science. Along the way we provide descriptions of fringe institutions and sciences and their outlets. We concentrate mostly on physics."

--- Collins's heart is in the right place, but I can't help thinking of a man who has enthusiastically and over many decades painted himself into a corner, and is now being determinedly cheerful about his ability to help clean the house.
to:NB  sociology_of_science  science_as_a_social_process  sociology  psychoceramics  collins.harry 
19 days ago
Phys. Rev. X 7, 031021 (2017) - Quantum Common Causes and Quantum Causal Models
"Reichenbach’s principle asserts that if two observed variables are found to be correlated, then there should be a causal explanation of these correlations. Furthermore, if the explanation is in terms of a common cause, then the conditional probability distribution over the variables given the complete common cause should factorize. The principle is generalized by the formalism of causal models, in which the causal relationships among variables constrain the form of their joint probability distribution. In the quantum case, however, the observed correlations in Bell experiments cannot be explained in the manner Reichenbach’s principle would seem to demand. Motivated by this, we introduce a quantum counterpart to the principle. We demonstrate that under the assumption that quantum dynamics is fundamentally unitary, if a quantum channel with input $A$ and outputs $B$ and $C$ is compatible with $A$ being a complete common cause of $B$ and $C$, then it must factorize in a particular way. Finally, we show how to generalize our quantum version of Reichenbach’s principle to a formalism for quantum causal models and provide examples of how the formalism works."
to:NB  causality  quantum_mechanics 
19 days ago
How generalizable is good judgment? A multi-task, multi-benchmark study
"Good judgment is often gauged against two gold standards – coherence and correspondence. Judgments are coherent if they demonstrate consistency with the axioms of probability theory or propositional logic. Judgments are correspondent if they agree with ground truth. When gold standards are unavailable, silver standards such as consistency and discrimination can be used to evaluate judgment quality. Individuals are consistent if they assign similar judgments to comparable stimuli, and they discriminate if they assign different judgments to dissimilar stimuli. We ask whether “superforecasters”, individuals with noteworthy correspondence skills (see Mellers et al., 2014) show superior performance on laboratory tasks assessing other standards of good judgment. Results showed that superforecasters either tied or out-performed less correspondent forecasters and undergraduates with no forecasting experience on tests of consistency, discrimination, and coherence. While multifaceted, good judgment may be a more unified than concept than previously thought."
to:NB  decision-making  psychology  tetlock.philip 
19 days ago
FFTrees: A toolbox to create, visualize, and evaluate fast-and-frugal decision trees
"Fast-and-frugal trees (FFTs) are simple algorithms that facilitate efficient and accurate decisions based on limited information. But despite their successful use in many applied domains, there is no widely available toolbox that allows anyone to easily create, visualize, and evaluate FFTs. We fill this gap by introducing the R package FFTrees. In this paper, we explain how FFTs work, introduce a new class of algorithms called fan for constructing FFTs, and provide a tutorial for using the FFTrees package. We then conduct a simulation across ten real-world datasets to test how well FFTs created by FFTrees can predict data. Simulation results show that FFTs created by FFTrees can predict data as well as popular classification algorithms such as regression and random forests, while remaining simple enough for anyone to understand and use."

--- I am skeptical about that "simple enough for anyone to understand and use"
to:NB  to_read  decision_trees  heuristics  cognitive_science  R 
19 days ago
The relationship between crowd majority and accuracy for binary decisions
"We consider the wisdom of the crowd situation in which individuals make binary decisions, and the majority answer is used as the group decision. Using data sets from nine different domains, we examine the relationship between the size of the majority and the accuracy of the crowd decisions. We find empirically that these calibration curves take many different forms for different domains, and the distribution of majority sizes over decisions in a domain also varies widely. We develop a growth model for inferring and interpreting the calibration curve in a domain, and apply it to the same nine data sets using Bayesian methods. The modeling approach is able to infer important qualitative properties of a domain, such as whether it involves decisions that have ground truths or are inherently uncertain. It is also able to make inferences about important quantitative properties of a domain, such as how quickly the crowd accuracy increases as the size of the majority increases. We discuss potential applications of the measurement model, and the need to develop a psychological account of the variety of calibration curves that evidently exist."
to:NB  collective_cognition  psychology  experimental_psychology  re:democratic_cognition 
19 days ago
Optimize, satisfice, or choose without deliberation? A simple minimax-regret assessment | SpringerLink
"Simon (Q J Econ 69:99–118, 1955) introduced satisficing, but he did not provide a precise definition or analysis. Other researchers have subsequently interpreted satisficing in various ways, but a consensus perspective still has not emerged. This paper interprets satisficing as a class of decision strategies that a person might use when seeking to optimize in a setting where deliberation is costly. Costly deliberation lies at the heart of Simon’s motivation of satisficing, but he did not formalize the idea. I do so here, studying decision making as a problem of minimax-regret planning in which costly deliberation enables a person to reduce ambiguity. I report simple specific findings on how the magnitude of deliberation costs may affect choice of a decision strategy."
to:NB  decision-making  decision_theory  bounded_rationality  manski.charles 
20 days ago
[1707.00044] Learning Fair Classifiers: A Regularization-Inspired Approach
"We present a regularization-inspired approach for reducing bias in learned classifiers. In particular, we focus on binary classification tasks over individuals from two populations, where, as our criterion for fairness, we wish to achieve similar false positive rates in both populations, and similar false negative rates in both populations. As a proof of concept, we implement our approach and empirically evaluate its ability to achieve both fairness and accuracy, using the COMPAS scores data for prediction of recidivism."

--- Last tag is tentative, until I've read this.
to:NB  to_read  classifiers  data_mining  to_teach:data-mining 
20 days ago
Cohort of birth modifies the association between FTO genotype and BMI
"A substantial body of research has explored the relative roles of genetic and environmental factors on phenotype expression in humans. Recent research has also sought to identify gene–environment (or g-by-e) interactions, with mixed success. One potential reason for these mixed results may relate to the fact that genetic effects might be modified by changes in the environment over time. For example, the noted rise of obesity in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century might reflect an interaction between genetic variation and changing environmental conditions that together affect the penetrance of genetic influences. To evaluate this hypothesis, we use longitudinal data from the Framingham Heart Study collected over 30 y from a geographically relatively localized sample to test whether the well-documented association between the rs993609 variant of the FTO (fat mass and obesity associated) gene and body mass index (BMI) varies across birth cohorts, time period, and the lifecycle. Such cohort and period effects integrate many potential environmental factors, and this gene-by-environment analysis examines interactions with both time-varying contemporaneous and historical environmental influences. Using constrained linear age–period–cohort models that include family controls, we find that there is a robust relationship between birth cohort and the genotype–phenotype correlation between the FTO risk allele and BMI, with an observed inflection point for those born after 1942. These results suggest genetic influences on complex traits like obesity can vary over time, presumably because of global environmental changes that modify allelic penetrance."
to:NB  human_genetics  statistics 
23 days ago
Demopolis democracy liberalism theory and practice | History of ideas and intellectual history | Cambridge University Press
"What did democracy mean before liberalism? What are the consequences for our lives today? Combining history with political theory, this book restores the core meaning of democracy as collective and limited self-government by citizens. That, rather than majority tyranny, is what democracy meant in ancient Athens, before liberalism. Participatory self-government is the basis of political practice in 'Demopolis', a hypothetical modern state powerfully imagined by award-winning historian and political scientist Josiah Ober. Demopolis' residents aim to establish a secure, prosperous, and non-tyrannical community, where citizens govern as a collective, both directly and through representatives, and willingly assume the costs of self-government because doing so benefits them, both as a group and individually. Basic democracy, as exemplified in real Athens and imagined Demopolis, can provide a stable foundation for a liberal state. It also offers a possible way forward for religious societies seeking a realistic alternative to autocracy."
to:NB  books:noted  political_philosophy  democracy  re:democratic_cognition  coveted 
23 days ago
What Socialism Means | Current Affairs | Culture & Politics
Sentences I never thought I'd write: I think this is slightly unfair to the general line of _Jacobin_.
socialism  deboer.frederik  us_politics  have_read 
24 days ago
[1706.08440] Challenges to estimating contagion effects from observational data
"A growing body of literature attempts to learn about contagion using observational (i.e. non-experimental) data collected from a single social network. While the conclusions of these studies may be correct, the methods rely on assumptions that are likely--and sometimes guaranteed to be--false, and therefore the evidence for the conclusions is often weaker than it seems. Developing methods that do not need to rely on implausible assumptions is an incredibly challenging and important open problem in statistics. Appropriate methods don't (yet!) exist, so researchers hoping to learn about contagion from observational social network data are sometimes faced with a dilemma: they can abandon their research program, or they can use inappropriate methods. This chapter will focus on the challenges and the open problems and will not weigh in on that dilemma, except to mention here that the most responsible way to use any statistical method, especially when it is well-known that the assumptions on which it rests do not hold, is with a healthy dose of skepticism, with honest acknowledgment and deep understanding of the limitations, and with copious caveats about how to interpret the results."
to:NB  have_read  ogburn.elizabeth  contagion  homophily  social_influence  social_networks  causal_inference  statistics  re:homophily_and_confounding 
24 days ago
Slezkine, Y.: The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution. (eBook and Hardcover)
"The House of Government is unlike any other book about the Russian Revolution and the Soviet experiment. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace, Grossman’s Life and Fate, and Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Yuri Slezkine’s gripping narrative tells the true story of the residents of an enormous Moscow apartment building where top Communist officials and their families lived before they were destroyed in Stalin’s purges. A vivid account of the personal and public lives of Bolshevik true believers, the book begins with their conversion to Communism and ends with their children’s loss of faith and the fall of the Soviet Union.
"Completed in 1931, the House of Government, later known as the House on the Embankment, was located across the Moscow River from the Kremlin. The largest residential building in Europe, it combined 505 furnished apartments with public spaces that included everything from a movie theater and a library to a tennis court and a shooting range. Slezkine tells the chilling story of how the building’s residents lived in their apartments and ruled the Soviet state until some eight hundred of them were evicted from the House and led, one by one, to prison or their deaths.
"Drawing on letters, diaries, and interviews, and featuring hundreds of rare photographs, The House of Government weaves together biography, literary criticism, architectural history, and fascinating new theories of revolutions, millennial prophecies, and reigns of terror. The result is an unforgettable human saga of a building that, like the Soviet Union itself, became a haunted house, forever disturbed by the ghosts of the disappeared."

Review by Sheila Fitzpatrick: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n15/sheila-fitzpatrick/good-communist-homes
to:NB  books:noted  ussr  communism  20th_century_history  via:auerbach 
24 days ago
Binder, A.J. and Wood, K.: Becoming Right: How Campuses Shape Young Conservatives. (eBook and Paperback)
"Conservative pundits allege that the pervasive liberalism of America's colleges and universities has detrimental effects on undergraduates, most particularly right-leaning ones. Yet not enough attention has actually been paid to young conservatives to test these claims—until now. In Becoming Right, Amy Binder and Kate Wood carefully explore who conservative students are, and how their beliefs and political activism relate to their university experiences.
"Rich in interviews and insight, Becoming Right illustrates that the diverse conservative movement evolving among today’s college students holds important implications for the direction of American politics."
to:NB  books:noted  ethnography  academia  running_dogs_of_reaction  us_politics 
24 days ago
von Plato, J.: The Great Formal Machinery Works: Theories of Deduction and Computation at the Origins of the Digital Age. (eBook and Hardcover)
"The information age owes its existence to a little-known but crucial development, the theoretical study of logic and the foundations of mathematics. The Great Formal Machinery Works draws on original sources and rare archival materials to trace the history of the theories of deduction and computation that laid the logical foundations for the digital revolution.
"Jan von Plato examines the contributions of figures such as Aristotle; the nineteenth-century German polymath Hermann Grassmann; George Boole, whose Boolean logic would prove essential to programming languages and computing; Ernst Schröder, best known for his work on algebraic logic; and Giuseppe Peano, cofounder of mathematical logic. Von Plato shows how the idea of a formal proof in mathematics emerged gradually in the second half of the nineteenth century, hand in hand with the notion of a formal process of computation. A turning point was reached by 1930, when Kurt Gödel conceived his celebrated incompleteness theorems. They were an enormous boost to the study of formal languages and computability, which were brought to perfection by the end of the 1930s with precise theories of formal languages and formal deduction and parallel theories of algorithmic computability. Von Plato describes how the first theoretical ideas of a computer soon emerged in the work of Alan Turing in 1936 and John von Neumann some years later."
books:noted  history_of_mathematics  computation  in_NB 
4 weeks ago
Nadler, S. and Nadler, B.: Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy. (eBook and Paperback)
"This entertaining and enlightening graphic narrative tells the exciting story of the seventeenth-century thinkers who challenged authority—sometimes risking excommunication, prison, and even death—to lay the foundations of modern philosophy and science and help usher in a new world. With masterful storytelling and color illustrations, Heretics! offers a unique introduction to the birth of modern thought in comics form—smart, charming, and often funny.
"These contentious and controversial philosophers—from Galileo and Descartes to Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Newton—fundamentally changed the way we look at the world, society, and ourselves, overturning everything from the idea that the Earth is the center of the cosmos to the notion that kings have a divine right to rule. More devoted to reason than to faith, these thinkers defended scandalous new views of nature, religion, politics, knowledge, and the human mind.
"Heretics! tells the story of their ideas, lives, and times in a vivid new way. Crisscrossing Europe as it follows them in their travels and exiles, the narrative describes their meetings and clashes with each other—as well as their confrontations with religious and royal authority. It recounts key moments in the history of modern philosophy, including the burning of Giordano Bruno for heresy, Galileo's house arrest for defending Copernicanism, Descartes's proclaiming cogito ergo sum, Hobbes's vision of the "nasty and brutish" state of nature, and Spinoza's shocking Theological-Political Treatise."
to:NB  books:noted  early_modern_european_history  philosophy  history_of_ideas  modernity  the_present_before_it_was_widely_distributed  comics 
4 weeks ago
Currid-Halkett, E.: The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class. (eBook and Hardcover)
"How the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite, and how their consumer habits affect us all
"In today’s world, the leisure class has been replaced by a new elite. Highly educated and defined by cultural capital rather than income bracket, these individuals earnestly buy organic, carry NPR tote bags, and breast-feed their babies. They care about discreet, inconspicuous consumption—like eating free-range chicken and heirloom tomatoes, wearing organic cotton shirts and TOMS shoes, and listening to the Serial podcast. They use their purchasing power to hire nannies and housekeepers, to cultivate their children’s growth, and to practice yoga and Pilates. In The Sum of Small Things, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett dubs this segment of society “the aspirational class” and discusses how, through deft decisions about education, health, parenting, and retirement, the aspirational class reproduces wealth and upward mobility, deepening the ever-wider class divide.
"Exploring the rise of the aspirational class, Currid-Halkett considers how much has changed since the 1899 publication of Thorstein Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class. In that inflammatory classic, which coined the phrase “conspicuous consumption,” Veblen described upper-class frivolities: men who used walking sticks for show, and women who bought silver flatware despite the effectiveness of cheaper aluminum utensils. Now, Currid-Halkett argues, the power of material goods as symbols of social position has diminished due to their accessibility. As a result, the aspirational class has altered its consumer habits away from overt materialism to more subtle expenditures that reveal status and knowledge. And these transformations influence how we all make choices."
to:NB  books:noted  economics  class_struggles_in_america 
4 weeks ago
Our Latest Longest War: Losing Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan, O'Connell
"The first rule of warfare is to know one’s enemy. The second is to know thyself. More than fifteen years and three quarters of a trillion dollars after the US invasion of Afghanistan, it’s clear that the United States followed neither rule well.
"America’s goals in Afghanistan were lofty to begin with: dismantle al Qaeda, remove the Taliban from power, remake the country into a democracy. But not only did the mission come completely unmoored from reality, the United States wasted billions of dollars, and thousands of lives were lost. Our Latest Longest War is a chronicle of how, why, and in what ways the war in Afghanistan failed. Edited by historian and Marine lieutenant colonel Aaron B. O’Connell, the essays collected here represent nine different perspectives on the war—all from veterans of the conflict, both American and Afghan. Together, they paint a picture of a war in which problems of culture and an unbridgeable rural-urban divide derailed nearly every field of endeavor. The authors also draw troubling parallels to the Vietnam War, arguing that deep-running ideological currents in American life explain why the US government has repeatedly used armed nation-building to try to transform failing states into modern, liberal democracies. In Afghanistan, as in Vietnam, this created a dramatic mismatch of means and ends that neither money, technology, nor the force of arms could overcome.
"The war in Afghanistan has been the longest in US history, and in many ways, the most confounding.  Few who fought in it think it has been worthwhile.  These are difficult topics for any American or Afghan to consider, especially those who lost friends or family in it. This sobering history—written by the very people who have been fighting the war—is impossible to ignore."
to:NB  books:noted  afghanistan  us_military  the_continuing_crises 
4 weeks ago
A Perfect Mess: The Unlikely Ascendancy of American Higher Education, Labaree
"Read the news about America’s colleges and universities—rising student debt, affirmative action debates, and conflicts between faculty and administrators—and it’s clear that higher education in this country is a total mess. But as David F. Labaree reminds us in this book, it’s always been that way. And that’s exactly why it has become the most successful and sought-after source of learning in the world. Detailing American higher education’s unusual struggle for survival in a free market that never guaranteed its place in society—a fact that seemed to doom it in its early days in the nineteenth century—he tells a lively story of the entrepreneurial spirit that drove American higher education to become the best.
"And the best it is: today America’s universities and colleges produce the most scholarship, earn the most Nobel prizes, hold the largest endowments, and attract the most esteemed students and scholars from around the world. But this was not an inevitability. Weakly funded by the state, American schools in their early years had to rely on student tuition and alumni donations in order to survive. This gave them tremendous autonomy to seek out sources of financial support and pursue unconventional opportunities to ensure their success. As Labaree shows, by striving as much as possible to meet social needs and fulfill individual ambitions, they developed a broad base of political and financial support that, grounded by large undergraduate programs, allowed for the most cutting-edge research and advanced graduate study ever conducted. As a result, American higher education eventually managed to combine a unique mix of the populist, the practical, and the elite in a single complex system.
"The answers to today’s problems in higher education are not easy, but as this book shows, they shouldn’t be: no single person or institution can determine higher education’s future. It is something that faculty, administrators, and students—adapting to society’s needs—will determine together, just as they have always done."
to:NB  books:noted  education  academia  american_history 
4 weeks ago
Rural Economies and College Towns - The Atlantic
This really misses issues of endogeneity (towns don't attract colleges randomly) and limited demand for higher education.
economics  education  class_struggles_in_america  rural_decay  have_read  academia  cities 
4 weeks ago
Tough Enough: Arbus, Arendt, Didion, McCarthy, Sontag, Weil, Nelson
"This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches.
"Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness. As Deborah Nelson shows, this stance offers an important counter-tradition to the familiar postwar poles of emotional expressivity on the one hand and cool irony on the other. Ultimately, in its insistence on facing reality without consolation or compensation, this austere “school of the unsentimental” offers new ways to approach suffering in both its spectacular forms and all of its ordinariness."
to:NB  books:noted  moral_psychology  moral_philosophy  literary_criticism  lives_of_the_artists 
4 weeks ago
Association of Facebook Use With Compromised Well-Being: A Longitudinal Study | American Journal of Epidemiology | Oxford Academic
"Face-to-face social interactions enhance well-being. With the ubiquity of social media, important questions have arisen about the impact of online social interactions. In the present study, we assessed the associations of both online and offline social networks with several subjective measures of well-being. We used 3 waves (2013, 2014, and 2015) of data from 5,208 subjects in the nationally representative Gallup Panel Social Network Study survey, including social network measures, in combination with objective measures of Facebook use. We investigated the associations of Facebook activity and real-world social network activity with self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and body mass index. Our results showed that overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being. For example, a 1-standard-deviation increase in “likes clicked” (clicking “like” on someone else's content), “links clicked” (clicking a link to another site or article), or “status updates” (updating one's own Facebook status) was associated with a decrease of 5%–8% of a standard deviation in self-reported mental health. These associations were robust to multivariate cross-sectional analyses, as well as to 2-wave prospective analyses. The negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions, which suggests a possible tradeoff between offline and online relationships."

--- Self-report is problematic here...
to:NB  to_read  christakis.nicholas  social_networks  social_media  psychology  networked_life 
4 weeks ago
Cooking the books: Bureaucratic politicization and policy knowledge - Boräng - 2017 - Governance - Wiley Online Library
"Accurate knowledge about societal conditions and public policies is an important public good in any polity, yet governments across the world differ dramatically in the extent to which they collect and publish such knowledge. This article develops and tests the argument that this variation to some extent can be traced to the degree of bureaucratic politicization in a polity. A politicized bureaucracy offers politicians greater opportunities to demand from bureaucrats—and raises incentives for bureaucrats to supply—public policy knowledge that is strategically biased or suppressed in a manner that benefits incumbents reputationally. Due to electoral competition, we suggest that the link between bureaucratic politicization and politicized policy knowledge will be stronger in democracies than in autocracies. A case analysis of Argentina's statistical agency lends credence to the underlying causal mechanism. Time-series cross-sectional analyses confirm the broader validity of the expectations and show that the relationship is present only in democracies."
to:NB  to_read  statistics  science_as_a_social_process  political_science  science_policy  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
4 weeks ago
Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures, Daston
"Archives bring to mind rooms filled with old papers and dusty artifacts. But for scientists, the detritus of the past can be a treasure trove of material vital to present and future research: fossils collected by geologists; data banks assembled by geneticists; weather diaries trawled by climate scientists; libraries visited by historians. These are the vital collections, assembled and maintained over decades, centuries, and even millennia, which define the sciences of the archives.
"With Science in the Archives, Lorraine Daston and her co-authors offer the first study of the important role that these archives play in the natural and human sciences. Reaching across disciplines and centuries, contributors cover episodes in the history of astronomy, geology, genetics, philology, climatology, medicine, and more—as well as fundamental practices such as collecting, retrieval, and data mining. Chapters cover topics ranging from doxology in Greco-Roman Antiquity to NSA surveillance techniques of the twenty-first century. Thoroughly exploring the practices, politics, economics, and potential of the sciences of the archives, this volume reveals the essential historical dimension of the sciences, while also adding a much-needed long­-term perspective to contemporary debates over the uses of Big Data in science. "
to:NB  books:noted  history_of_science 
4 weeks ago
Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism, de Angelis
"In Omnia Sunt Communia, Massimo de Angelis offers a radical political economy, illuminating the steps necessary to arrive at a post-capitalist world. By conceptualizing the idea of commons not just as common goods but as a set of social systems, de Angelis shows their pervasive presence in everyday life, and he maps out a strategy for total social transformation.
"From the micro to the macro, de Angelis unveils the commons as fields of power relations—shared space, objects, and subjects—that explode the limits of daily life under capitalism. He exposes attempts to co-opt the commons, through the use of seemingly innocuous words such as “participation” and “governance,” and he reveals the potential for radical transformation rooted in the social reproduction of our communities, life, work, and society as a whole."
to:NB  books:noted  political_economy  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial  progressive_forces 
4 weeks ago
Unthought: The Power of the Cognitive Nonconscious, Hayles
"N. Katherine Hayles is known for breaking new ground at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities. In Unthought, she once again bridges disciplines by revealing how we think without thinking—how we use cognitive processes that are inaccessible to consciousness yet necessary for it to function.
"Marshalling fresh insights from neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive biology, and literature, Hayles expands our understanding of cognition and demonstrates that it involves more than consciousness alone. Cognition, as Hayles defines it, is applicable not only to nonconscious processes in humans but to all forms of life, including unicellular organisms and plants. Startlingly, she also shows that cognition operates in the sophisticated information-processing abilities of technical systems: when humans and cognitive technical systems interact, they form “cognitive assemblages”—as found in urban traffic control, drones, and the trading algorithms of finance capital, for instance—and these assemblages are transforming life on earth. The result is what Hayles calls a “planetary cognitive ecology,” which includes both human and technical actors and which poses urgent questions to humanists and social scientists alike.
"At a time when scientific and technological advances are bringing far-reaching aspects of cognition into the public eye, Unthought reflects deeply on our contemporary situation and moves us toward a more sustainable and flourishing environment for all beings"
to:NB  books:noted  cognitive_science  literary_criticism  to_be_shot_after_a_fair_trial 
4 weeks ago
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