nhaliday + slippery-slope   33

Biopolitics | West Hunter
I have said before that no currently popular ideology acknowledges well-established results of behavioral genetics, quantitative genetics, or psychometrics. Or evolutionary psychology.

What if some ideology or political tradition did? what could they do? What problems could they solve, what capabilities would they have?

Various past societies knew a few things along these lines. They knew that there were significant physical and behavioral differences between the sexes, which is forbidden knowledge in modern academia. Some knew that close inbreeding had negative consequences, which knowledge is on its way to the forbidden zone as I speak. Some cultures with wide enough geographical experience had realistic notions of average cognitive differences between populations. Some people had a rough idea about regression to the mean [ in dynasties], and the Ottomans came up with a highly unpleasant solution – the law of fratricide. The Romans, during the Principate, dealt with the same problem through imperial adoption. The Chinese exam system is in part aimed at the same problem.


At least some past societies avoided the social patterns leading to the nasty dysgenic trends we are experiencing today, but for the most part that is due to the anthropic principle: if they’d done something else you wouldn’t be reading this. Also to between-group competition: if you fuck your self up when others don’t, you may be well be replaced. Which is still the case.

If you were designing an ideology from scratch you could make use of all of these facts – not that thinking about genetics and selection hands you the solution to every problem, but you’d have more strings to your bow. And, off the top of your head, you’d understand certain trends that are behind the mountains of Estcarp, for our current ruling classes : invisible and unthinkable, That Which Must Not Be Named. .

“The closest…s the sort of libertarianism promulgated by Charles Murray”
Not very close..
A government that was fully aware of the implications and possibilities of human genetics, one that had the usual kind of state goals [ like persistence and increased power] , would not necessarily be particularly libertarian.

And giving tax breaks to college-educated liberals to have babies wouldn’t appeal much to Trump voters, methinks.

It might be worth making a reasonably comprehensive of the facts and preferences that a good liberal is supposed to embrace and seem to believe. You would have to be fairly quick about it, before it changes. Then you could evaluate about the social impact of having more of them.

Rise and Fall: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/rise-and-fall/
Every society selects for something: generally it looks as if the direction of selection pressue is more or less an accident. Although nations and empires in the past could have decided to select men for bravery or intelligence, there’s not much sign that anyone actually did this. I mean, they would have known how, if they’d wanted to, just as they knew how to select for destriers, coursers, and palfreys. It was still possible to know such things in the Middle Ages, because Harvard did not yet exist.

A rising empire needs quality human capital, which implies that at minimum that budding imperial society must not have been strongly dysgenic. At least not in the beginning. But winning changes many things, possibly including selective pressures. Imagine an empire with substantial urbanization, one in which talented guys routinely end up living in cities – cities that were demographic sinks. That might change things. Or try to imagine an empire in which survival challenges are greatly reduced, at least for elites, so that people have nothing to keep their minds off their minds and up worshiping Magna Mater. Imagine that an empire that conquers a rival with interesting local pathogens and brings some of them home. Or one that uses up a lot of its manpower conquering less-talented subjects and importing masses of those losers into the imperial heartland.

If any of those scenarios happened valid, they might eventually result in imperial decline – decline due to decreased biological capital.

Right now this is speculation. If we knew enough about the GWAS hits for intelligence, and had enough ancient DNA, we might be able to observe that rise and fall, just as we see dysgenic trends in contemporary populations. But that won’t happen for a long time. Say, a year.

hmm: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/rise-and-fall/#comment-100350
“Although nations and empires in the past could have decided to select men for bravery or intelligence, there’s not much sign that anyone actually did this.”

Maybe the Chinese imperial examination could effectively have been a selection for intelligence.
Nope. I’ve modelled it: the fraction of winners is far too small to have much effect, while there were likely fitness costs from the arduous preparation. Moreover, there’s a recent
paper [Detecting polygenic adaptation in admixture graphs] that looks for indications of when selection for IQ hit northeast Asia: quite a while ago. Obvious though, since Japan has similar scores without ever having had that kind of examination system.

decline of British Empire and utility of different components: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/rise-and-fall/#comment-100390
Once upon a time, India was a money maker for the British, mainly because they appropriate Bengali tax revenue, rather than trade. The rest of the Empire was not worth much: it didn’t materially boost British per-capita income or military potential. Silesia was worth more to Germany, conferred more war-making power, than Africa was to Britain.
If you get even a little local opposition, a colony won’t pay for itself. I seem to remember that there was some, in Palestine.
Angels from on high paid for the Boer War.

You know, someone in the 50’s asked for the numbers – how much various colonies cost and how much they paid.

Turned out that no one had ever asked. The Colonial Office had no idea.
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october 2017 by nhaliday
Autocratic Rule and Social Capital: Evidence from Imperial China by Melanie Meng Xue, Mark Koyama :: SSRN
This paper studies how autocratic rule affects social capital. Between 1660-1788, individuals in imperial China were persecuted if they were suspected of holding subversive attitudes towards the state. A difference-in-differences approach suggests that these persecutions led to a decline of 38% in social capital, as measured by the number of charitable organizations, in each subsequent decade. Investigating the long-run effect of autocratic rule, we show that persecutions are associated with lower levels of trust, political engagement, and the under provision of local public goods. These results indicate a possible vicious cycle in which autocratic rule becomes self-reinforcing through a permanent decline in social capital.
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september 2017 by nhaliday
Trust in Large Organizations
We argue that trust should be particularly important for the performance of large organizations. In a cross-section of countries, evidence on government performance, participation in civic and professional societies, importance of large firms, and the performance of social institutions more generally supports this hypothesis. Moreover, trust is lower in countries with dominant hierarchical religions, which may have deterred networks of cooperation trust hold up remarkably well on a cross-section of countries.

The Importance of Trust for Investment: Evidence from Venture Capital: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16923
We examine the effect of trust on financial investment and contracting decisions in a micro-economic environment where trust is exogenous. Using hand-collected data on European venture capital, we show that the Eurobarometer measure of trust among nations significantly affects investment decisions. This holds even after controlling for investor and company fixed effects, geographic distance, information and transaction costs. The national identity of venture capital firms' individual partners further contributes to the effect of trust. Education and work experience reduce the effect of trust but do not eliminate it. We also examine the relationship between trust and sophisticated contracts involving contingent control rights and find that, even after controlling for endogeneity, they are complements, not substitutes.

Breach of Trust in Hostile Takeovers: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2342
The paper questions the common view that share price increases of firms involved in hostile takeovers measure efficiency gains from acquisitions. Even if such gains exist, most of the increase in the combined value of the target and the acquirer is likely to come from stakeholder wealth losses, such as declines in value of subcontractors' firm-specific capital or employees' human capital. The use of event studies to gauge wealth creation in takeovers is unjustified. The paper also suggests a theory of managerial behavior, in which hiring and entrenching trustworthy managers enables shareholders to commit to upholding implicit contracts with stakeholders. Hostile takeovers are an innovation allowing shareholders to renege on such contracts ex post, against managers' will. On this view, shareholder gains are redistributions from stakeholders, and can in the long run result in deterioration of trust necessary for the functioning of the corporation.

Trust in Public Finance: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9187
Using data on trust and trustworthiness from the 1990 wave of the World Values Survey, I first investigate a model of the extent of tax cheating and the size of government that recognizes the interdependence of the two. The results reveal that tax cheating is lower in countries that exhibit more (not-government-related) trustworthiness. However, holding that constant, tax cheating becomes more acceptable as government grows. All in all, there is some weak evidence that the strong positive cross-country correlation between the size of government and tax cheating masks the fact that big government induces tax cheating while, at the same time, tax cheating constrains big government. I then add to the structural model an equation determining the level of prosperity, allowing prosperity to depend, inter alia, on the level of government and on trust in others. I find some evidence that both prosperity and government involvement are higher in more trusting societies. Moreover, holding these measures of trust constant, the association of government size with prosperity is positive until a level of government spending somewhere between 31% and 38% of GDP, after which its marginal effect is negative. Thus, although a trusting citizenry allows larger government, the tax burden this entails erodes the rule obedience taxpayers exhibit toward government.

Tax cheating among whites: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2017/04/tax-cheating-among-whites.html
The masses still more or less assume that “against the law” is a synonym for “wrong.” It is known that the criminal law is harsh and full of anomalies and that litigation is so expensive as always to favour the rich against the poor: but there is a general feeling that the law, such as it is, will be scrupulously administered … An Englishman does not believe in his bones, as a Spanish or Italian peasant does, that the law is simply a racket.

The English People, Collins, 1947

WEIRDO societies require WEIRDOs to make them work. The less WEIRDO a society becomes, the more being a WEIRDO--characterized by high social trust, reciprocity, political compromise, generosity to those in need, isonomy, etc--switches from being an advantage to being a disadvantage. Social trust declines, reciprocity disappears, political compromise is replaced by a winner-take-all ethnic spoils system, generosity is exploited to the point that it is seen as an entitlement, and the legal system gets hijacked by racial grievance concepts like "social justice". It's a vicious circle.

Theodore Roosevelt
Third Annual Message
December 7, 1903

The consistent policy of the National Government, so far as it has the power, is to hold in check the unscrupulous man, whether employer or employee; but to refuse to weaken individual initiative or to hamper or cramp the industrial development of the country. We recognize that this is an era of federation and combination, in which great capitalistic corporations and labor unions have become factors of tremendous importance in all industrial centers. Hearty recognition is given the far-reaching, beneficent work which has been accomplished through both corporations and unions, and the line as between different corporations, as between different unions, is drawn as it is between different individuals; that is, it is drawn on conduct, the effort being to treat both organized capital and organized labor alike; asking nothing save that the interest of each shall be brought into harmony with the interest of the general public, and that the conduct of each shall conform to the fundamental rules of obedience to law, of individual freedom, and of justice and fair dealing towards all. Whenever either corporation, labor union, or individual disregards the law or acts in a spirit of arbitrary and tyrannous interference with the rights of others, whether corporations or individuals, then where the Federal Government has jurisdiction, it will see to it that the misconduct is stopped, paying not the slightest heed to the position or power of the corporation, the union or the individual, but only to one vital fact--that is, the question whether or not the conduct of the individual or aggregate of individuals is in accordance with the law of the land. Every man must be guaranteed his liberty and his right to do as he likes with his property or his labor, so long as he does not infringe the rights of others. _No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor._
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Edward Feser: Conservatism, populism, and snobbery
feser is good on this: chief task of conservative intellectuals is to defend epistemic credentials of mere prejudice

The Right vindicates common sense distinctions: https://bonald.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/the-right-vindicates-common-sense-distinctions/
In some ways, we’re already there. One of the core intellectual tasks of the Right has been, and will continue to be, the analysis and rehabilitation of categories found useful by pre-modern humanity but rejected by moderns in their fits of ideologically-driven oversimplification.
Consider these three:
1. Friend vs. Enemy. Carl Schmitt famously put this distinction at the core of his political theory in explicit defiance of the liberal humanitarianism of his day that wanted to reduce all questions to abstract morality and economic efficiency. The friend vs. enemy distinction, Schmitt insisted, is independent of these. To identify a threatening nation as the enemy does not necessarily make any statement about its moral, aesthetic, or economic qualities. Schmitt observed that the liberal nations (for him, the victors of WWI) in fact do mobilize against threats and competitors; forbidding themselves the vocabulary of “friend” and “enemy” means they recast their hostilities in terms of moral absolutes. The nation they attack cannot be called their own enemy, so it must be demonized as the enemy of all humanity. This will be a reoccurring conservative argument. Eliminating a needed category doesn’t eliminate hostility between peoples; it only forces them to be incorrectly conceptualized along moral lines, which actually diminishes our ability to empathize with our opponent.
2. Native vs. Foreigner. Much of what Schmitt said about the distinction between friend and enemy applies to the more basic categorization of people as belonging to “us” or as being alien. I argued recently in the Orthosphere, concerning the topic of Muslim immigration, that we can actually be more sympathetic to Muslims among us if we acknowledge that our concern is not that their ways are objectionable in some absolute (moral/philosophical) sense, but that they are alien to the culture we wish to preserve as dominant in our nation. Reflections about the “universal person” are also quite relevant to this.
3. Masculine vs. feminine. Conservatives have found little to recommend the liberals’ distinction between biological “sex” and socially constructed “gender”. However, pre-modern peoples had intriguing intuitions of masculinity and femininity as essences or principles that can be considered beyond the strict context of sexual reproduction. Largely defined by relation to each other (so that, for example, a woman relates in a feminine way to other people more than to wild animals or inanimate objects), even things other than sexually reproducing animals can participate in these principles to some extent. For example, the sun is masculine while Luna is feminine, at least in how they present themselves to us. Masculinity and femininity seem to represent poles in the structure of relationality itself, and so even the more mythical attributions of these essences were not necessarily intended metaphorically.

The liberal critique of these categories, and others not accommodated by their ideology, comes down to the following
1. Imperialism of the moral. The category in question is recognized as nonmoral, and the critic asserts that it is morally superior to use only moral categories. (“Wouldn’t it be better to judge someone based on whether he’s a good person than on where he was born?”) Alternatively, the critic presumes that other categories actually are reducible to moral categories, and other categories are condemned for being inaccurate in their presumed implicit moral evaluations. (“He’s a good person. How can you call him an ‘alien’ as if he were some kind of monster?!”)
2. Appeal to boundary cases. Sometimes the boundaries of the criticized category are fuzzy. Perhaps a particular person is like “us” in some ways but unlike “us” in others. From this, conclude that the category is arbitrary and meaningless.
3. Emotivism. Claim that the criticized category is actually a sub-rational emotional response. It must be because it has no place in liberal ideology, which the liberal presumes to be coextensive with reason itself. And in fact, when certain ways of thinking are made socially unacceptable, they will likely only pop out in emergencies and moments of distress. It would be no different with moral categories–if the concepts “evil” and “unfair” were socially disfavored, people would only resort to them when intolerably provoked and undoubtedly emotional.
4. Imputation of sinister social motives. The critic points out that the categorization promotes some established social structure; therefore, it must be an illusion.

Why the Republican Party Is Falling Apart: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-the-republican-party-falling-apart-22491?page=show
Moore and a great many of his voters subscribe to a simplistic and exaggerated view of the world and the conflicts it contains. Moore has voiced the belief that Christian communities in Illinois or Indiana, or somewhere “up north,” are under Sharia law. That’s absurd. But why does he believe it, and why do voters trust him despite such beliefs? Because on the other side is another falsehood, more sophisticated but patently false: the notion that unlimited Islamic immigration to Europe, for example, is utterly harmless, or the notion that Iran is an implacable fundamentalist threat while good Sunni extremists in Saudi Arabia are our true and faithful friends. Each of the apocalyptic beliefs held by a Roy Moore or his supporters contains a fragment of truth—or at least amounts to a rejection of some falsehood that has become an article of faith among America’s elite. The liberal view of the world to which Democrats and elite Republicans alike subscribe is false, but the resources for showing its falsehood in a nuanced way are lacking. Even the more intellectual sort of right-winger who makes it through the cultural indoctrination of his college and peer class tends to be mutilated by the experience. He—most often a he—comes out of it embittered and reactionary or else addicted to opium dreams of neo-medievalism or platonic republics. Since there are few nonliberal institutions of political thought, the right that recognizes the falsehood of liberalism and rejects it tends to be a force of feeling rather than reflection. Moore, of course, has a legal education, and he assuredly reads the Bible. He’s not unintelligent, but he cannot lean upon a well-balanced and subtle right because such a thing hardly exists in our environment. Yet there is a need for a right nonetheless, and so a Roy Moore or a Donald Trump fills the gap. There is only one thing the Republican establishment can do if it doesn’t like that: reform itself from stem to stern.

Who Are ‘The People’ Anyway?: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/who-are-the-people-anyway/
Beware of those who claim to speak for today's populist audience.
- Paul Gottfried

Gottfried's got a real chip on his shoulder about the Straussians
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july 2017 by nhaliday
history and progressive virtue: moral technology, moral fashion, and ancestor-memorial retro-trauma chic – ideologjammin'
A terrific point. The rapidity with which good liberals suddenly internalize and enforce novel norms is striking in itself, content apart.

The rapid shift in moral norms in our society should worry us. We are being conditioned to adapt rather than to hold to our principles.

A thread on the psychology of liberalism, which replaces historical memory by a stereotyped darkness of the past, to be eternally overcome

losing a battle to push something new forward is understandable. having something repealed? going BACK? this is quite incomprehensible to us

i think it's instinctual, not conscious.

Almost everybody today is a Whig: ie think in terms of 'moral progress', 'forwards' vs 'backwards' thinking, 'stuck in the past', and so on

the slope is "progress". we slide down every single one eventually. just read some history; recent history will do; it will become obvious.

The real problem is that America has already ceased to be a tolerant society. It has, instead, become a celebratory one.
In a truly surreal display, NFL great Brett Favre is being denounced by the left’s new cultural commissars for not clapping long and hard enough at ESPN’s ESPY awards, as Bruce/“Caitlyn” Jenner received a “Courage” award for his efforts to become a woman. Oddly, Favre did applaud – not doing so would have been a grave heresy to America’s new church of progressive inquisitors. His sin was not applauding enthusiastically enough.


In fact, it all smacks of the gulag – literally. On my shelf at my office is Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s classic, The Gulag Archipelago. There, on page 69 of volume 1, is a chilling account of a Stalinist Soviet Union where men were actually penalized for not clapping ardently enough.

Transgenderism Is Propaganda Designed To Humiliate And Compel Submission: https://www.socialmatter.net/2017/09/26/transgenderism-is-propaganda-designed-to-humiliate-and-compel-submission/
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Cultural group selection plays an essential role in explaining human cooperation: A sketch of the evidence
Pursuing Darwin’s curious parallel: Prospects for a science of cultural evolution: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/18/1620741114.full

Axelrod model: http://ncase.me/trust/

Peer punishment promotes enforcement of bad social norms: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-017-00731-0
Social norms are an important element in explaining how humans achieve very high levels of cooperative activity. It is widely observed that, when norms can be enforced by peer punishment, groups are able to resolve social dilemmas in prosocial, cooperative ways. Here we show that punishment can also encourage participation in destructive behaviours that are harmful to group welfare, and that this phenomenon is mediated by a social norm. In a variation of a public goods game, in which the return to investment is negative for both group and individual, we find that the opportunity to punish led to higher levels of contribution, thereby harming collective payoffs. A second experiment confirmed that, independently of whether punishment is available, a majority of subjects regard the efficient behaviour of non-contribution as socially inappropriate. The results show that simply providing a punishment opportunity does not guarantee that punishment will be used for socially beneficial ends, because the social norms that influence punishment behaviour may themselves be destructive.

Peer punishment can stabilize anything, both good and bad norms. This is why you need group selection to select good social norms.
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june 2017 by nhaliday
Logic | West Hunter
All the time I hear some public figure saying that if we ban or allow X, then logically we have to ban or allow Y, even though there are obvious practical reasons for X and obvious practical reasons against Y.

No, we don’t.


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The point here is the gradual shifts of in-group beliefs are both natural and no big deal. Humans are built to readily do this, and forget they do this. But ultimately it is not a worry or concern.

But radical shifts that are big, whether near or far, portend strife and conflict. Either between groups or within them. If the shift is big enough, our intuition tells us our in-group will be in a fight. Alarms go off.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
- the genetic book of the dead [Dawkins]
- complementarity [Frank Wilczek]
- relative information
- effective theory [Lisa Randall]
- affordances [Dennett]
- spontaneous symmetry breaking
- relatedly, equipoise [Nicholas Christakis]
- case-based reasoning
- population reasoning (eg, common law)
- criticality [Cesar Hidalgo]
- Haldan's law of the right size (!SCALE!)
- polygenic scores
- non-ergodic
- ansatz
- state [Aaronson]: http://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3075
- transfer learning
- effect size
- satisficing
- scaling
- the breeder's equation [Greg Cochran]
- impedance matching

- reciprocal altruism
- life history [Plomin]
- intellectual honesty [Sam Harris]
- coalitional instinct (interesting claim: building coalitions around "rationality" actually makes it more difficult to update on new evidence as it makes you look like a bad person, eg, the Cathedral)
basically same: https://twitter.com/ortoiseortoise/status/903682354367143936

more: https://www.edge.org/conversation/john_tooby-coalitional-instincts

interesting timing. how woke is this dude?
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Why Have Marriage Rates Declined – spottedtoad
Oh, the Times they are a-Changin: https://spottedtoad.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/oh-the-times-they-are-a-changin/
Is this really because of Tinderpocalypse, or porn, or a second sexual revolution, or the alleged ability of desirable men to avoid commitment because another girl is always a swipe away?

Whatever it is, it seems distinctive and troubling that the marriage rate has generally been dropping more quickly even as the economy has recovered.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 - Charles A. Murray - Google Books
Watching the European Model Implode

The simplest way in which the advanced welfare state will lose attractiveness is the looming bankruptcy of the European welfare states.

The financial bankruptcy is not anything that even the cleverest planner can avoid. As publicly financed benefits grow, so do the populations who find that they need them. The more people who need benefits, the more government bureaucracy is required. The more people who rely on support from the government and the larger the government, the fewer the people in the private sector who pay for the benefits and for the apparatus of the state. The larger the number of people who depend on government either for benefits or for their jobs, the larger the constituency for voting for ever-larger government.

These are arithmetical realities that have become manifest in every advanced Western country. They have brought some European welfare states within sight of bankruptcy as I write. Fertility rates that are far below replacement throughout western Europe ensure that the productive native-born population will fall still more in the years to come.

There is no permanent way out of the self-destructive dynamics of the welfare state, but Europe has a tempting palliative-encouraging large-scale immigration of younger populations who work in the private sector and pay taxes that make up the revenue deficit. It won't work forever-sooner or later, the immigrants, too, will succumb to the incentives that the welfare state sets up. But the more immediate problem is that most of the new workers come from cultures that are radically different from those of western Europe. In some cases, those cultures despise the values that led to the welfare state. The United States will have a chance to watch these events unfold before our own situation becomes as critical, and the sight will be a powerful incentive to avoid going down the same road.
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march 2017 by nhaliday
I Don’t Think it Means What You Think it Means – spottedtoad
Clearly, there’s a “How a Bill Becomes a Law” quality about all of this; now that Congress is more-or-less a vestigial organ of government and almost all policymaking is done by the Executive Branch, contained intermittently by the courts, carried out by contractors, and acting on plans conceived largely by think tanks and academia, how much democratic accountability do we even expect?

There’s something irritating as well, of course, about newspapers acquiring breathless naivete about the influence of institutions they’ve spent decades decrying. Much like the “new-found respect” for the CIA or for George W. Bush, it leads one to suspect that either they are the world’s worst liars, or as Obama’s adviser Ben Rhodes bragged to the Times last year, “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Social Epistasis Amplifies the Fitness Costs of Deleterious Mutations, Engendering Rapid Fitness Decline Among Modernized Populations | SpringerLink
- Michael A. Woodley

We argue that in social species, interorganismal gene-gene interactions, which in previous literatures have been termed social epistasis, allow genomes carrying deleterious mutations to reduce via group-level pleiotropy the fitness of others, including noncarriers. This fitness reduction occurs by way of degradation of group-level processes that optimize the reproductive ecology of a population for intergroup competition through, among other mechanisms, suppression of free-riding.


Fitness indicators theory (Houle 2000; Miller 2000) predicts that the behavioral and physiological condition of prospective partners strongly influences female mate choice in particular, as these constitute honest indicators of underlying genetic quality. Furthermore, as deleterious mutations are pleiotropic (i.e., they can influence the development of multiple traits simultaneously), they are a source of genetic correlation among diverse behavioral and physiological domains, yielding a latent general fitness factor( f ). This optimizes the efficiency of sexual selection, as selection for quality with respect to one domain will increase the probability of selection for quality “across the board” (Houle 2000; Miller 2000). If purifying selection is primarily cryptic—working by virtue of those lower in f simply being less successful in competition for mates and therefore producing fewer offspring relative to those higher in the factor—then considerably less reproductive failure is needed to solve the mutation load paradox (19% instead of 88% based on simulations in Leseque et al. 2012).


Theoretical work involving humans suggests a loss of intrinsic fitness of around 1% per generation in the populations of modernized countries (Lynch 2016; Muller 1950). Thus, these might yet be undergoing mutational meltdown, albeit very gradually (i.e., over the course of centuries)


An interesting observation is that the fitness of the populations of modernized nations does appear to be rapidly decreasing—although not in a manner consonant with the direct action of deleterious mutations on the fitness of individuals (as per the mutation load paradox).


Increased education has furthermore encouraged individuals to trade fertility against opportunities to enhance their social status and earning power, with the largest fitness losses occurring among those with high status who potentially carry fewer deleterious mutations (i.e., by virtue of possessing higher levels of traits that exhibit some sensitivity to mutation load, such as general intelligence; Spain et al. 2015; Woodley of Menie et al. 2016a). Hitherto not considered is the possibility that the demographic transition represents a potential change in the fitness characteristics of the group-level extended phenotype of modernized populations, indicating that there might exist pathways through which deleterious mutations that accumulate due to ecological mildness could pathologically alter fertility tradeoffs in ways that might account for the maladaptive aspects of the fertility transition (e.g., subreplacement fertility; Basten, Lutz and Scherbov, 2013).


Cooperation, though offering significant fitness benefits to individual organisms and groups, involves some costs for cooperators in order to realize mutual gains for all parties. Free riders are individuals that benefit from cooperation without suffering any of the costs needed to sustain it. Hence, free riders enjoy a fitness advantage relative to cooperators via the former’s parasitism on the latter.


The balance of selection can alternate between the different levels depending on the sorts of selective challenges that a population encounters. For example, group selection may operate on human populations during times of intergroup conflict (i.e., warfare), whereas during times of peace, selection may tend to favor the fitness of individuals instead (Woodley and Figueredo 2013; Wilson 2002). A major factor that seems to permit group-level selection to be viable under certain ecological regimes is the existence of free-rider controls, i.e., features of the group’s social ecology that curb the reproductive fitness of the carriers of “selfish” genetic variants (MacDonald 1994; Wilson 2002).


High-status individuals participate in the generation and vertical cultural transmission of free-rider controls—these take the form of religious and ideological systems which make a virtue out of behaviors that overtly benefit the group, and a vice out of those that only favor individual-level fitness, via the promotion of ethnocentrism, martyrdom, and displays of commitment (MacDonald 1994, 2009, 2010; Wilson 2002). Humans are furthermore equipped with specialized mental adaptations for coordinating as part of a group, such as effortful control—the ability to override implicit behavioral drives via the use of explicit processing systems, which allow them to regulate their behavior based on what is optimal for the group (MacDonald 2008). The interaction between individuals of different degrees of status, i.e., those that generate and maintain cultural norms and those who are merely subject to them, therefore constitutes a form of social epistasis, as the complex patterns of interactions among genomes that characterize human culture have the effect of regulating both individual- and group-level (via the curbing of free-riding) fitness (MacDonald 2009, 2010).

Mutations that push the behavior of high-status individuals away from the promotion of group-selected norms may promote a breakdown of or otherwise alter these social epistatic interactions, causing dysregulation of the group’s reproductive ecology. Behavioral changes are furthermore a highly likely consequence of mutation accumulation, as “behavior” (construed broadly) is a large potential target for new mutations (Miller 2000; Lynch 2016) 1 owing to the fact that approximately 84% of all genes in the human genome are involved in some aspect of brain development and/or maintenance (Hawrylycz et al. 2012).

Consistent with the theorized role of group-level (cultural) regulatory processes in the maintenance of fitness optima, positive correlations exist between religiosity (a major freerider control; MacDonald 1994; Wilson 2002) and fertility, both at the individual differences and cross-cultural levels (Meisenberg 2011). Religiosity has declined in modernized nations—a process that has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of a values system called postmaterialism (Inglehart 1977), which is characterized by the proliferation of individualistic, secular, and antihierarchical values (Welzel 2013). The holding of these values is negatively associated with fertility, both at the individual level (when measured as political liberalism; Goldstone et al. 2011) and across time and cultures (Inglehart and Appel 1989). The rise of postmaterialist values is also associated with increasingly delayed onset of reproduction (Klien 1990) which directly increases the (population) mutation load.

Pathological Altruism

Some of the values embodied in postmaterialism have been linked to the pathological altruism phenomenon, i.e., forms of altruism that damage the intended recipients or givers of largesse (Oakley et al. 2012; Oakley 2013). Virtues associated with altruism such as kindness, fidelity, magnanimity, and heroism, along with quasi-moral traits associated with personality and mental health, may be under sexual selection and might therefore be sensitive, through the f factor, to the deleterious effects of accumulating mutations (Miller 2007).


Another form of pathologically altruistic behavior that Oakley (2013) documents is self-righteousness, which may be increasing, consistent with secular trend data indicating elevated levels of self-regarding behavior among Western populations (sometimes called the narcissism epidemic; Twenge and Campbell 2009). This sort of behavior constitutes a key component of the clever silly phenomenon in which the embrace of counterfactual beliefs is used to leverage social status via virtue signaling (e.g., the conflation of moral equality among individuals, sexes, and populations with biological equality) (Dutton and van der Linden 2015; Charlton 2009; Woodley 2010). There may be a greater number of influential persons inclined to disseminate such beliefs, in that the prevalence of phenotypes disposed toward egoistic behaviors may have increased in Western populations (per Twenge and coworkers’ research), and because egoists, specifically Machiavellians and narcissists, appear advantaged in the acquisition of elite societal stations (Spurk et al. 2015).

[Do Bad Guys Get Ahead or Fall Behind? Relationships of the Dark Triad of Personality With Objective and Subjective Career Success: http://sci-hub.tw/http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1948550615609735

After controlling for other relevant variables (i.e., gender, age, job tenure, organization size, education, and work hours), narcissism was positively related to salary, Machiavellianism was positively related to leadership position and career satisfaction, and psychopathy was negatively related to all analyzed outcomes.]


By altering cultural norms, elite egoists may encourage the efflorescence of selfish behaviors against which some older and once highly influential cultural systems acted. For example, Christianity in various forms strongly promoted personal sacrifice for the good of groups and proscribed egoistic behaviors (Rubin 2015), but has declined significantly in terms of cultural power following modernization (Inglehart 1977). Thus, it is possible that a feedback loop exists wherein deleterious mutation accumulation raises population levels of egoism, either directly or indirectly, via the breakdown of developmental constraints on personality canalization; the resultantly greater number of egoists are then able to exploit relevant personality traits to attain positions of sociocultural influence; and through these … [more]
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, by James Fitzjames Stephen

ὲδύ τι θαραλέαιξ
τὸν μακρὸν τείνειν βίον έλπίσι, φαγαɩ̑ξ
θνμὸν ὰλδαίνονσαν εύφροσύναιξ
φρίσσω δέ σε δερκομέγ’α
μνρίοιξ& μόθοιξ& διακναιόμενον.
Ζε͂να γὰρ ού& τρομέων
ένίδία γνώμη σέβει
θνατοὺξ ἄγαν, Προμηθεῠ
Prom. Vinct. 535–542

Sweet is the life that lengthens,
While joyous hope still strengthens,
And glad, bright thought sustain;
But shuddering I behold thee,
The sorrows that enfold thee
And all thine endless pain.
For Zeus thou has despised;
Thy fearless heart misprized
All that his vengeance can,
The wayward will obeying,
Excess of honour paying,
Prometheus, unto man.
Prometheus Bound (translated by G. M. Cookson)


I. The Doctrine of Liberty in General

II. The Liberty of Thought and Discussion

III. The Distinction Between the Temporal and Spiritual Power

IV. The Doctrine of Liberty in Its Application to Morals

V. Equality

VI. Fraternity

The general result of all this is, that fraternity, mere love for the human race, is not fitted in itself to be a religion. That is to say, it is not fitted to take command of the human faculties, to give them their direction, and to assign to one faculty a rank in comparison with others which but for such interference it would not have.

I might have arrived at this result by a shorter road, for I might have pointed out that the most elementary notions of religion imply that no one human faculty or passion can ever in itself be a religion. It can but be one among many competitors. If human beings are left to themselves, their faculties, their wishes, and their passions will find a level of some sort or other. They will produce some common course of life and some social arrangement. Alter the relative strength of particular passions, and you will alter the social result, but religion means a great deal more than this. It means the establishment and general recognition of some theory about human life in general, about the relation of men to each other and to the world, by which their conduct may be determined. Every religion must contain an element of fact, real or supposed, as well as an element of feeling, and the element of fact is the one which in the long run will determine the nature and importance of the element of feeling. The following are specimens of religions, stated as generally as possible, but still with sufficient exactness to show my meaning.
I. The statements made in the Apostles' Creed are true. Believe them, and govern yourselves accordingly.
2. There is one God, and Mahomet is the prophet of God. Do as Mahomet tells you.
3. All existence is an evil, from which, if you knew your own mind, you would wish to be delivered. Such and such a course of life will deliver you most speedily from the misery of existence.
4. An infinitely powerful supreme God arranged all of you whom I address in castes, each with its own rule of life. You will be fearfully punished in all sorts of ways if you do not live according to your caste rules. Also all nature is full of invisible powers more or 1ess connected with natural objects, which must be worshipped and propitiated.

All these are religions in the proper sense of the word. Each of the four theories expressed in these few words is complete in itself. It states propositions which are either true or false, but which, if true, furnish a complete practical guide for life. No such statement of what Mr. Mill calls the ultimate sanction of the morals of utility is possible. You cannot get more than this out of it: "Love all mankind." "Influences are at work which at some remote time will make men love each other." These are respectively a piece pf advice and a prophecy, but they are not religions. If a man does not take the advice or believe in the prophecy, they pass by him idly. They have no power at all in invitos, and the great mass of men have always been inviti, or at the very least indifferent, with respect to all religions whatever. In order to make such maxims as these into religions, they must be coupled with some statement of fact about mankind and human life, which those who accept them as religions must be prepared to affirm to be true.

What statement of the sort is it possible to make? "The human race is an enormous agglomeration of bubbles which are continually bursting and ceasing to be. No one made it or knows anything worth knowlhg about it. Love it dearly, oh ye bubbles." This is a sort of religion, no doubt, but it seems to me a very silly one. "Eat and drink, for to-morrow ye die;" "Be not righteous overmuch, why shouldest thou destroy thyself?"

Huc vina et unguenta et nimiurn brevis
Flores amoenos ferre jube rosae,
Dum res et aetas et Sororum
Fila trium patiuntur atra.
Omnes eodem cogimur.

These are also religions, and, if true, they are, I think, infinitely more rational than the bubble theory.


As a matter of historical fact, no really considerable body of men either is, ever has been, or ever has professed to be Christian in the sense of taking the philanthropic passages of the four Gospels as the sole, exclusive, and complete guide of their lives. If they did, they would in sober earnest turn the world upside down. They would be a set of passionate Communists, breaking down every approved maxim of conduct and every human institution. In one word, if Christianity really is what much of the language which we often hear used implies, it is false and mischievous. Nothing can be more monstrous than a sweeping condemnation of mankind for not conforming their conduct to an ideal which they do not really acknowledge. When, for instance, we are told that it is dreadful to think that a nation pretending to believe the Sermon on the Mount should employ so many millions sterling per annum on military expenditure, the answer is that no sane nation ever did or ever will pretend to believe the Sermon on the Mount in any sense which is inconsistent with the maintenance to the very utmost by force of arms of the national independence, honour, and interest. If the Sermon on the Mount really means to forbid this, it ought to be disregarded.

VII. Conclusion

Note on Utilitarianism

"Some people profess that the Sermon on the Mount is the only part of Christianity which they can accept. It is to me the hardest part to accept."

—James Fitzjames Stephen

This distinguished philosopher was one day passing along a narrow footpath which formerly winded through a boggy piece of ground at the back of Edinburgh Castle, when he had the misfortune to tumble in, and stick fast in the mud. Observing a woman approaching, he civilly requested her to lend him a helping hand out of his disagreeable situation; but she, casting one hurried glance at his abbreviated figure, passed on, without regarding his request. He then shouted lustily after her; and she was at last prevailed upon by his cries to approach. “Are na ye Hume the Deist?” inquired she, in a tone which implied that an answer in the affirmative would decide her against lending him her assistance. “Well, well,” said Mr Hume, “no matter: you know, good woman, Christian charity commands you to do good, even to your enemies.” “Christian charity here, Christian charity there,” replied the woman, “I’ll do naething for ye till ye tum a Christian yoursell: ye maun first repeat baith the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, or faith I’ll let ye groffle there as I faund ye.” The sceptic was actually obliged to accede to the woman’s terms, ere she would give him her help. He himself used to tell the story with great relish.

A counterfactual world in which Mill is taught only as a foil for J.F. Stephen, Hart as a foil for Devlin, and Kelsen as a foil for Schmitt.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
Scalia’s compact case for originalism | Marginal Restoration
How do you control your judges? You know what? Think about it. There is no other possible criterion except “what did this text mean, what did the people understand it to mean, when it was adopted.” You either adopt that or you tell your judges — wise, wonderful judges who went to Harvard, Stanford, and maybe even Yale Law School — you must know the answers to all these profound moral questions like homosexuality, abortion, suicide. … You either use originalism or you tell your judges: “You govern us, whatever you think is good is okay. Whatever you think is bad is bad.”
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december 2016 by nhaliday
The intelligent inheriting the earth | EVOLVING ECONOMICS
Will the intelligent inherit the earth? IQ and time preference in the global economy: http://mason.gmu.edu/~gjonesb/IITE.pdf
IQ in the Utility Function: Cognitive skills, time preference, and cross-country differences in savings rates: http://mason.gmu.edu/~gjonesb/IQsavings.pdf

"Thus, all countries except the most patient have negative net worth and negative holdings of net foreign assets: the most patient country holds title to all capital flows from the less patient. Consumption per unit of effective labor approaches zero (kept from zero consumption only by the Inada condition) because income flows are devoted to debt repayment. Indeed, in steady state all but the most patient country have savings rates near 100%—but these savings are mere debt repayments to the most patient country. In this steady state, the most patient country (or more realistically, countries) would continue to consume a non-negligible amount and would have the lowest savings rate(s) in the world."

China’s Creditor Imperialism: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/china-sri-lanka-hambantota-port-debt-by-brahma-chellaney-2017-12
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november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : Beware General Visible Prey
So, bottom line, the future great filter scenario that most concerns me is one where our solar-system-bound descendants have killed most of nature, can’t yet colonize other stars, are general predators and prey of each other, and have fallen into a short-term-predatory-focus equilibrium where predators can easily see and travel to most all prey. Yes there are about a hundred billion comets way out there circling the sun, but even that seems a small enough number for predators to careful map and track all of them.
hanson  risk  prediction  futurism  speculation  pessimism  war  ratty  space  big-picture  fermi  threat-modeling  equilibrium  slippery-slope  anthropic  chart  deep-materialism  new-religion  ideas  bio  nature  plots  expansionism  malthus  marginal  convexity-curvature  humanity  farmers-and-foragers  diversity  entropy-like  homo-hetero  existence  volo-avolo  technology  frontier  intel  travel  time-preference  communication  civilization  egalitarianism-hierarchy  peace-violence  ecology  cooperate-defect  dimensionality  whole-partial-many  temperance  patience  thinking  long-short-run  prepping  offense-defense 
october 2016 by nhaliday
The Future of Genetic Enhancement is Not in the West | Quillette

If it becomes possible to safely genetically increase babies’ IQ, it will become inevitable: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/07/14/if-it-becomes-possible-to-safely-genetically-increase-babies-iq-it-will-become-inevitable/

Baby Genome Sequencing for Sale in China: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/608086/baby-genome-sequencing-for-sale-in-china/
Chinese parents can now decode the genomes of their healthy newborns, revealing disease risks as well as the likelihood of physical traits like male-pattern baldness.

China launches massive genome research initiative: https://news.cgtn.com/news/7767544e34637a6333566d54/share_p.html

research ethics:
First results of CRISPR gene editing of normal embryos released: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2123973-first-results-of-crispr-gene-editing-of-normal-embryos-released/
caveats: https://ipscell.com/2017/08/4-reasons-mitalipov-paper-doesnt-herald-safe-crispr-human-genetic-modification/

So this title is a bit misleading; something like, "cells edited with CRISPR injected into a person for the first time" would be better. While CRISPR is promising for topological treatments, that's not what happened here.
China sprints ahead in CRISPR therapy race: http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6359/20
China, Unhampered by Rules, Races Ahead in Gene-Editing Trials: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-unhampered-by-rules-races-ahead-in-gene-editing-trials-1516562360
U.S. scientists helped devise the Crispr biotechnology tool. First to test it in humans are Chinese doctors



lol: http://www.theonion.com/infographic/pros-and-cons-gene-editing-56740

Japan set to allow gene editing in human embryos [ed.: (for research)]: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-06847-7
Draft guidelines permit gene-editing tools for research into early human development.
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august 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : abstractpatterns

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