nhaliday + spreading   92

T. Greer on Twitter: "Genesis 1st half of Exodus Basic passages of the Deuteronomic Covenant Select scenes from Numbers-Judges Samuel I-II Job Ecclesiastes Proverbs Select Psalms Select passages of Isiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel Jonah 4 Gospels+Acts Romans
https://archive.is/YtwVb
I would pair letters from Paul with Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

I designed a hero's journey course that included Gilgamesh, Odyssey, and Gawain and the Green Knight. Before reading Gawain you'd read the Sermon on the Mount + few parts of gospels.
The idea with that last one being that Gawain was an attempt to make a hero who (unlike Odysseus) accorded with Christian ethics. As one of its discussion points, the class can debate over how well it actually did that.
...
So I would preface Lord of the Flies with a stylized account of Hobbes and Rosseau, and we would read a great deal of Genesis alongside LOTF.

Same approach was taken to Greece and Rome. Classical myths would be paired with poems from the 1600s-1900s that alluded to them.
...
Genesis
1st half of Exodus
Basic passages of the Deuteronomic Covenant
Select scenes from Numbers-Judges
Samuel I-II
Job
Ecclesiastes
Proverbs
Select Psalms
Select passages of Isiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel
Jonah
4 Gospels+Acts
Romans
1 Corinthians
Hebrews
Revelation
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february 2019 by nhaliday
WHO | Priority environment and health risks
also: http://www.who.int/heli/risks/vectors/vector/en/

Environmental factors are a root cause of a significant disease burden, particularly in developing countries. An estimated 25% of death and disease globally, and nearly 35% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, is linked to environmental hazards. Some key areas of risk include the following:

- Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene kill an estimated 1.7 million people annually, particularly as a result of diarrhoeal disease.
- Indoor smoke from solid fuels kills an estimated 1.6 million people annually due to respiratory diseases.
- Malaria kills over 1.2 million people annually, mostly African children under the age of five. Poorly designed irrigation and water systems, inadequate housing, poor waste disposal and water storage, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, all may be contributing factors to the most common vector-borne diseases including malaria, dengue and leishmaniasis.
- Urban air pollution generated by vehicles, industries and energy production kills approximately 800 000 people annually.
- Unintentional acute poisonings kill 355 000 people globally each year. In developing countries, where two-thirds of these deaths occur, such poisonings are associated strongly with excessive exposure to, and inappropriate use of, toxic chemicals and pesticides present in occupational and/or domestic environments.
- Climate change impacts including more extreme weather events, changed patterns of disease and effects on agricultural production, are estimated to cause over 150 000 deaths annually.

ed.:
Note the high point at human origin (Africa, Middle East) and Asia. Low points in New World and Europe/Russia. Probably key factor in explaining human psychological variation (Haidt axes, individualism-collectivism, kinship structure, etc.). E.g., compare Islam/Judaism (circumcision, food preparation/hygiene rules) and Christianity (orthodoxy more than orthopraxy, no arbitrary practices for group-marking).

I wonder if the dietary and hygiene laws of Christianity get up-regulated in higher parasite load places (the US South, Middle Eastern Christianity, etc.)?

Also the reason for this variation probably basically boils down how long local microbes have had time to adapt to the human immune system.

obv. correlation: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:074ecdf30c50

Tropical disease: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_disease
Tropical diseases are diseases that are prevalent in or unique to tropical and subtropical regions.[1] The diseases are less prevalent in temperate climates, due in part to the occurrence of a cold season, which controls the insect population by forcing hibernation. However, many were present in northern Europe and northern America in the 17th and 18th centuries before modern understanding of disease causation. The initial impetus for tropical medicine was to protect the health of colonialists, notably in India under the British Raj.[2] Insects such as mosquitoes and flies are by far the most common disease carrier, or vector. These insects may carry a parasite, bacterium or virus that is infectious to humans and animals. Most often disease is transmitted by an insect "bite", which causes transmission of the infectious agent through subcutaneous blood exchange. Vaccines are not available for most of the diseases listed here, and many do not have cures.

cf. Galton: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:f72f8e03e729
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july 2018 by nhaliday
Ultimate fate of the universe - Wikipedia
The fate of the universe is determined by its density. The preponderance of evidence to date, based on measurements of the rate of expansion and the mass density, favors a universe that will continue to expand indefinitely, resulting in the "Big Freeze" scenario below.[8] However, observations are not conclusive, and alternative models are still possible.[9]

Big Freeze or heat death
Main articles: Future of an expanding universe and Heat death of the universe
The Big Freeze is a scenario under which continued expansion results in a universe that asymptotically approaches absolute zero temperature.[10] This scenario, in combination with the Big Rip scenario, is currently gaining ground as the most important hypothesis.[11] It could, in the absence of dark energy, occur only under a flat or hyperbolic geometry. With a positive cosmological constant, it could also occur in a closed universe. In this scenario, stars are expected to form normally for 1012 to 1014 (1–100 trillion) years, but eventually the supply of gas needed for star formation will be exhausted. As existing stars run out of fuel and cease to shine, the universe will slowly and inexorably grow darker. Eventually black holes will dominate the universe, which themselves will disappear over time as they emit Hawking radiation.[12] Over infinite time, there would be a spontaneous entropy decrease by the Poincaré recurrence theorem, thermal fluctuations,[13][14] and the fluctuation theorem.[15][16]

A related scenario is heat death, which states that the universe goes to a state of maximum entropy in which everything is evenly distributed and there are no gradients—which are needed to sustain information processing, one form of which is life. The heat death scenario is compatible with any of the three spatial models, but requires that the universe reach an eventual temperature minimum.[17]
physics  big-picture  world  space  long-short-run  futurism  singularity  wiki  reference  article  nibble  thermo  temperature  entropy-like  order-disorder  death  nihil  bio  complex-systems  cybernetics  increase-decrease  trends  computation  local-global  prediction  time  spatial  spreading  density  distribution  manifolds  geometry  janus 
april 2018 by nhaliday
Eternity in six hours: intergalactic spreading of intelligent life and sharpening the Fermi paradox
We do this by demonstrating that traveling between galaxies – indeed even launching a colonisation project for the entire reachable universe – is a relatively simple task for a star-spanning civilization, requiring modest amounts of energy and resources. We start by demonstrating that humanity itself could likely accomplish such a colonisation project in the foreseeable future, should we want to, and then demonstrate that there are millions of galaxies that could have reached us by now, using similar methods. This results in a considerable sharpening of the Fermi paradox.
pdf  study  article  essay  anthropic  fermi  space  expansionism  bostrom  ratty  philosophy  xenobio  ideas  threat-modeling  intricacy  time  civilization  🔬  futurism  questions  paradox  risk  physics  engineering  interdisciplinary  frontier  technology  volo-avolo  dirty-hands  ai  automation  robotics  duplication  iteration-recursion  von-neumann  data  scale  magnitude  skunkworks  the-world-is-just-atoms  hard-tech  ems  bio  bits  speedometer  nature  model-organism  mechanics  phys-energy  relativity  electromag  analysis  spock  nitty-gritty  spreading  hanson  street-fighting  speed  gedanken  nibble 
march 2018 by nhaliday
Plague of Frogs | West Hunter
For a few years the herpetologists were concerned yet happy. Concerned, because many frog populations were crashing and some were going extinct. Happy, because confused puppies in Washington were giving them money, something that hardly ever happens to frogmen. The theory was that amphibians were ‘canaries in a coal mine’, uniquely sensitive to environmental degradation.

...

It took some time for herpetologists to admit that this chytrid fungus is the main culprit – some are still resisting. First, it was a lot like how doctors resisted Semmelweiss’ discoveries about the cause of puerperal fever – since doctors were the main method of transmission. How did this fungus get to the cloud forests of Costa Rica? On the boots of herpetologists, of course.

The second problem is Occam’s butterknife: even though this chytrid fungus is the main culprit, it’s just got to be more complicated than that. Even if it isn’t. People in the life sciences – biology and medicine – routinely reject simple hypotheses that do a good job of explaining the data for more complex hypotheses that don’t. College taught them to think – unwisely.
west-hunter  scitariat  reflection  stories  troll  lol  science  low-hanging  occam  parsimony  bio  medicine  meta:medicine  ability-competence  explanans  disease  parasites-microbiome  spreading  world  nature  environment  climate-change  hypochondria  academia  questions  epidemiology  incentives  interests 
february 2018 by nhaliday
Sacred text as cultural genome: an inheritance mechanism and method for studying cultural evolution: Religion, Brain & Behavior: Vol 7, No 3
Yasha M. Hartberg & David Sloan Wilson

Any process of evolution requires a mechanism of inheritance for the transmission of information across generations and the expression of phenotypes during each generation. Genetic inheritance mechanisms have been studied for over a century but mechanisms of inheritance for human cultural evolution are far less well understood. Sacred religious texts have the properties required for an inheritance system. They are replicated across generations with high fidelity and are transcribed into action every generation by the invocation and interpretation of selected passages. In this article we borrow concepts and methods from genetics and epigenetics to study the “expressed phenotypes” of six Christian churches that differ along a conservative–progressive axis. Their phenotypic differences, despite drawing upon the same sacred text, can be explained in part by differential expression of the sacred text. Since the invocation and interpretation of sacred texts are often well preserved, our methods allow the expressed phenotypes of religious groups to be studied at any time and place in history.
study  interdisciplinary  bio  sociology  cultural-dynamics  anthropology  religion  christianity  theos  protestant-catholic  politics  ideology  correlation  organizing  institutions  analogy  genetics  genomics  epigenetics  comparison  culture  pdf  piracy  density  flexibility  noble-lie  deep-materialism  new-religion  universalism-particularism  homo-hetero  hypocrisy  group-selection  models  coordination  info-dynamics  evolution  impact  left-wing  right-wing  time  tradition  spreading  sanctity-degradation  coalitions  trees  usa  social-capital  hari-seldon  wisdom  the-basilisk  frequency  sociality  ecology  analytical-holistic 
january 2018 by nhaliday
Christianity in China | Council on Foreign Relations
projected to outpace CCP membership soon

This fascinating map shows the new religious breakdown in China: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-religious-breakdown-in-china-14

Map Showing the Distribution of Christians in China: http://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Oct/18/map-showing-distribution-christians-china/

Christianity in China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_China
Accurate data on Chinese Christians is hard to access. According to the most recent internal surveys there are approximately 31 million Christians in China today (2.3% of the total population).[5] On the other hand, some international Christian organizations estimate there are tens of millions more, which choose not to publicly identify as such.[6] The practice of religion continues to be tightly controlled by government authorities.[7] Chinese over the age of 18 are only permitted to join officially sanctioned Christian groups registered with the government-approved Protestant Three-Self Church and China Christian Council and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church.[8]

In Xi we trust - Is China cracking down on Christianity?: http://www.dw.com/en/in-xi-we-trust-is-china-cracking-down-on-christianity/a-42224752A

In China, Unregistered Churches Are Driving a Religious Revolution: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/china-unregistered-churches-driving-religious-revolution/521544/

Cracks in the atheist edifice: https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21629218-rapid-spread-christianity-forcing-official-rethink-religion-cracks

Jesus won’t save you — President Xi Jinping will, Chinese Christians told: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/11/14/jesus-wont-save-you-president-xi-jinping-will-chinese-christians-told/

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1001611/noodles-for-the-messiah-chinas-creative-christian-hymns

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-china-exclusive/exclusive-china-vatican-deal-on-bishops-ready-for-signing-source-idUSKBN1FL67U
Catholics in China are split between those in “underground” communities that recognize the pope and those belonging to a state-controlled Catholic Patriotic Association where bishops are appointed by the government in collaboration with local Church communities.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42914029
The underground churches recognise only the Vatican's authority, whereas the Chinese state churches refuse to accept the authority of the Pope.

There are currently about 100 Catholic bishops in China, with some approved by Beijing, some approved by the Vatican and, informally, many now approved by both.

...

Under the agreement, the Vatican would be given a say in the appointment of future bishops in China, a Vatican source told news agency Reuters.

For Beijing, an agreement with the Vatican could allow them more control over the country's underground churches.

Globally, it would also enhance China's prestige - to have the world's rising superpower engaging with one of the world's major religions.

Symbolically, it would the first sign of rapprochement between China and the Catholic church in more than half a century.

The Vatican is the only European state that maintains formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It is currently unclear if an agreement between China and the Vatican would affect this in any way.

What will this mean for the country's Catholics?

There are currently around 10 million Roman Catholics in China.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-vatican-deal-on-bishops-reportedly-ready-for-signing/2018/02/01/2adfc6b2-0786-11e8-b48c-b07fea957bd5_story.html

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/02/06/china-is-the-best-implementer-of-catholic-social-doctrine-says-vatican-bishop/
The chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences praised the 'extraordinary' Communist state

“Right now, those who are best implementing the social doctrine of the Church are the Chinese,” a senior Vatican official has said.

Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, praised the Communist state as “extraordinary”, saying: “You do not have shantytowns, you do not have drugs, young people do not take drugs”. Instead, there is a “positive national conscience”.

The bishop told the Spanish-language edition of Vatican Insider that in China “the economy does not dominate politics, as happens in the United States, something Americans themselves would say.”

Bishop Sánchez Sorondo said that China was implementing Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ better than many other countries and praised it for defending Paris Climate Accord. “In that, it is assuming a moral leadership that others have abandoned”, he added.

...

As part of the diplomacy efforts, Bishop Sánchez Sorondo visited the country. “What I found was an extraordinary China,” he said. “What people don’t realise is that the central value in China is work, work, work. There’s no other way, fundamentally it is like St Paul said: he who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat.”

China reveals plan to remove ‘foreign influence’ from Catholic Church: http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/06/02/china-reveals-plan-to-remove-foreign-influence-from-catholic-church1/

China, A Fourth Rome?: http://thermidormag.com/china-a-fourth-rome/
As a Chinaman born in the United States, I find myself able to speak to both places and neither. By accidents of fortune, however – or of providence, rather – I have identified more with China even as I have lived my whole life in the West. English is my third language, after Cantonese and Mandarin, even if I use it to express my intellectually most complex thoughts; and though my best of the three in writing, trained by the use of Latin, it is the vehicle of a Chinese soul. So it is in English that for the past year I have memed an idea as unconventional as it is ambitious, unto the Europæans a stumbling-block, and unto the Chinese foolishness: #China4thRome.

This idea I do not attempt to defend rigorously, between various powers’ conflicting claims to carrying on the Roman heritage; neither do I intend to claim that Moscow, which has seen itself as a Third Rome after the original Rome and then Constantinople, is fallen. Instead, I think back to the division of the Roman empire, first under Diocletian’s Tetrarchy and then at the death of Theodosius I, the last ruler of the undivided Roman empire. In the second partition, at the death of Theodosius, Arcadius became emperor of the East, with his capital in Constantinople, and Honorius emperor of the West, with his capital in Milan and then Ravenna. That the Roman empire did not stay uniformly strong under a plurality of emperors is not the point. What is significant about the administrative division of the Roman empire among several emperors is that the idea of Rome can be one even while its administration is diverse.

By divine providence, the Christian religion – and through it, Rome – has spread even through the bourgeois imperialism of the 19th and 20th centuries. Across the world, the civil calendar of common use is that of Rome, reckoned from 1 January; few places has Roman law left wholly untouched. Nevertheless, never have we observed in the world of Roman culture an ethnogenetic pattern like that of the Chinese empire as described by the prologue of Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三國演義: ‘The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.’1 According to classical Chinese cosmology, the phrase rendered the empire is more literally all under heaven 天下, the Chinese œcumene being its ‘all under heaven’ much as a Persian proverb speaks of the old Persian capital of Isfahan: ‘Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast,’ Isfahan is half the world. As sociologist Fei Xiaotong describes it in his 1988 Tanner Lecture ‘Plurality and Unity in the Configuration of the Chinese People’,

...

And this Chinese œcumene has united and divided for centuries, even as those who live in it have recognized a fundamental unity. But Rome, unlike the Chinese empire, has lived on in multiple successor polities, sometimes several at once, without ever coming back together as one empire administered as one. Perhaps something of its character has instead uniquely suited it to being the spirit of a kind of broader world empire. As Dante says in De Monarchia, ‘As the human race, then, has an end, and this end is a means necessary to the universal end of nature, it follows that nature must have the means in view.’ He continues,

If these things are true, there is no doubt but that nature set apart in the world a place and a people for universal sovereignty; otherwise she would be deficient in herself, which is impossible. What was this place, and who this people, moreover, is sufficiently obvious in what has been said above, and in what shall be added further on. They were Rome and her citizens or people. On this subject our Poet [Vergil] has touched very subtly in his sixth book [of the Æneid], where he brings forward Anchises prophesying in these words to Aeneas, father of the Romans: ‘Verily, that others shall beat out the breathing bronze more finely, I grant you; they shall carve the living feature in the marble, plead causes with more eloquence, and trace the movements of the heavens with a rod, and name the rising stars: thine, O Roman, be the care to rule the peoples with authority; be thy arts these, to teach men the way of peace, to show mercy to the subject, and to overcome the proud.’ And the disposition of place he touches upon lightly in the fourth book, when he introduces Jupiter speaking of Aeneas to Mercury in this fashion: ‘Not such a one did his most beautiful mother promise to us, nor for this twice rescue him from Grecian arms; rather was he to be the man to govern Italy teeming with empire and tumultuous with war.’ Proof enough has been given that the Romans were by nature ordained for sovereignty. Therefore the Roman … [more]
org:ngo  trends  foreign-policy  china  asia  hmm  idk  religion  christianity  theos  anomie  meaningness  community  egalitarianism-hierarchy  protestant-catholic  demographics  time-series  government  leadership  nationalism-globalism  org:data  comparison  sinosphere  civic  the-bones  power  great-powers  thucydides  multi  maps  data  visualization  pro-rata  distribution  geography  within-group  wiki  reference  article  news  org:lite  org:biz  islam  buddhism  org:euro  authoritarianism  antidemos  leviathan  regulation  civil-liberty  chart  absolute-relative  org:mag  org:rec  org:anglo  org:foreign  music  culture  gnon  org:popup  🐸  memes(ew)  essay  rhetoric  conquest-empire  flux-stasis  spreading  paradox  analytical-holistic  tradeoffs  solzhenitsyn  spengler  nietzschean  europe  the-great-west-whale  occident  orient  literature  big-peeps  history  medieval  mediterranean  enlightenment-renaissance-restoration-reformation  expansionism  early-modern  society  civilization  world  MENA  capital  capitalism  innovation  race  alien-character  optimat 
january 2018 by nhaliday
The Evil Dead | West Hunter
Someone asked me to go over a chapter he wrote, about the impact of certain customs on human health. One of them was the health advantages of quick burial: the problem is, usually there aren’t any.   People seem to think that the organisms causing decomposition are pathogenic, but they’re not.  People killed by trauma (earthquakes,  floods, bullets) are dead enough, but not a threat.  Sometimes, the body of someone that died of an infectious disease is contagious – smallpox scabs have been known to remain infectious for a long, long time – but most causative agents are unable to survive for long after the host’s death. Now if you’re dissecting someone,  especially if they’re fresh, you probably don’t want to nick yourself with the scalpel – but if you just walk past the corpse and refrain from playing with it, you’re usually OK.
west-hunter  scitariat  ideas  trivia  death  embodied  disease  parasites-microbiome  spreading  public-health  epidemiology  medicine  sanctity-degradation 
november 2017 by nhaliday
Bouncing Off the Bottom | West Hunter
Actually going extinct would seem to be a bad thing, but a close call can, in principle, be a good thing.

Pathogens can be a heavy burden on a species, worse than a 50-lb sack of cement. Lifting that burden can have a big effect: we know that many species flourish madly once they escape their typical parasites. That’s often the case with invasive species. It’s also a major strategy in agriculture: crops often do best in a country far away from their place of origin – where the climate is familiar, but most parasites have been left behind. For example, rubber trees originated in South America, but they’re a lot easier to grow in Liberia or Malaysia.

Consider a situation with a really burdensome pathogen – one that specializes in and depends on a single host species. That pathogen has to find new host individuals every so often in order to survive, and in order for that to happen, the host population has to exceed a certain number, usually called the critical community size. That size depends on the parasite’s persistence and mode of propagation: it can vary over a huge range. CCS is something like a quarter of a million for measles, ~300 for chickenpox, surely smaller than that for Epstein-Barr.

A brush with extinction- say from an asteroid strike – might well take a species below the CCS for a number of its pathogens. If those pathogens were limited to that species, they’d go extinct: no more burden. That alone might be enough to generate a rapid recovery from the population bottleneck. Or a single, highly virulent pathogen might cause a population crash that resulted in the extinction of several of that species’s major pathogens – quite possibly including the virulent pathogen itself. It’s a bottleneck in time, rather than one in space as you often see in colonization.

Such positive effects could last a long time – things need not go back to the old normal. The flea-unbitten species might be able to survive and prosper in ecological niches that it couldn’t before. You might see a range expansion. New evolutionary paths could open up. That brush with extinction could be the making of them.

When you add it all up, you begin to wonder if a population crash isn’t just what the doctor ordered. Sure, it wouldn’t be fun to be one of the billions of casualties, but just think how much better off the billions living after the bottleneck will be. Don’t be selfish.
west-hunter  scitariat  ideas  speculation  discussion  parasites-microbiome  spreading  disease  scale  population  density  bio  nature  long-short-run  nihil  equilibrium  death  unintended-consequences  red-queen  tradeoffs  cost-benefit  gedanken 
november 2017 by nhaliday
[1709.01149] Biotechnology and the lifetime of technical civilizations
The number of people able to end Earth's technical civilization has heretofore been small. Emerging dual-use technologies, such as biotechnology, may give similar power to thousands or millions of individuals. To quantitatively investigate the ramifications of such a marked shift on the survival of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial technical civilizations, this paper presents a two-parameter model for civilizational lifespans, i.e. the quantity L in Drake's equation for the number of communicating extraterrestrial civilizations. One parameter characterizes the population lethality of a civilization's biotechnology and the other characterizes the civilization's psychosociology. L is demonstrated to be less than the inverse of the product of these two parameters. Using empiric data from Pubmed to inform the biotechnology parameter, the model predicts human civilization's median survival time as decades to centuries, even with optimistic psychosociological parameter values, thereby positioning biotechnology as a proximate threat to human civilization. For an ensemble of civilizations having some median calculated survival time, the model predicts that, after 80 times that duration, only one in 1024 civilizations will survive -- a tempo and degree of winnowing compatible with Hanson's "Great Filter." Thus, assuming that civilizations universally develop advanced biotechnology, before they become vigorous interstellar colonizers, the model provides a resolution to the Fermi paradox.
preprint  article  gedanken  threat-modeling  risk  biotech  anthropic  fermi  ratty  hanson  models  xenobio  space  civilization  frontier  hmm  speedometer  society  psychology  social-psych  anthropology  cultural-dynamics  disease  parasites-microbiome  maxim-gun  prepping  science-anxiety  technology  magnitude  scale  data  prediction  speculation  ideas  🌞  org:mat  study  offense-defense  arms  unintended-consequences  spreading  explanans  sociality  cybernetics 
october 2017 by nhaliday
The Water-Crossers | West Hunter
One interesting and puzzling question is when and how humans developed the ability to make ocean crossings.

Baby Steps: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/baby-steps/
west-hunter  scitariat  discussion  ideas  sapiens  migration  spreading  world  oceans  anglo  history  antiquity  time  multi  usa  discovery  innovation  roots  archaeology  speculation 
october 2017 by nhaliday
Resonance in a Pendulum - YouTube
The vibration of any given washer is able to transmit its energy only to another washer with exactly the same frequency. Since the length of a pendulum determines its frequency of vibration, each pendulum can only set another pendulum vibrating if it has the same length.
nibble  video  social  physics  mechanics  waves  oscillation  synchrony  flux-stasis  increase-decrease  concrete  ground-up  dirty-hands  phys-energy  frequency  spreading 
september 2017 by nhaliday
Resonance - Wikipedia
Resonance occurs when a system is able to store and easily transfer energy between two or more different storage modes (such as kinetic energy and potential energy in the case of a simple pendulum). However, there are some losses from cycle to cycle, called damping. When damping is small, the resonant frequency is approximately equal to the natural frequency of the system, which is a frequency of unforced vibrations. Some systems have multiple, distinct, resonant frequencies.
nibble  physics  mechanics  waves  oscillation  synchrony  wiki  reference  article  flux-stasis  increase-decrease  frequency  spreading 
september 2017 by nhaliday
Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990
The nonrivalry of technology, as modeled in the endogenous growth literature, implies that high population spurs technological change. This paper constructs and empirically tests a model of long-run world population growth combining this implication with the Malthusian assumption that technology limits population. The model predicts that over most of history, the growth rate of population will be proportional to its level. Empirical tests support this prediction and show that historically, among societies with no possibility for technological contact, those with larger initial populations have had faster technological change and population growth.

Table I gives the gist (population growth rate scales w/ tech innovation). Note how the Mongol invasions + reverberations stand out.

https://jasoncollins.org/2011/08/15/more-people-more-ideas-in-the-long-run/
pdf  study  economics  growth-econ  broad-econ  cliometrics  anthropology  cjones-like  population  demographics  scale  innovation  technology  ideas  deep-materialism  stylized-facts  correlation  speed  flux-stasis  history  antiquity  iron-age  medieval  early-modern  mostly-modern  piracy  garett-jones  spearhead  big-picture  density  iteration-recursion  magnitude  econotariat  multi  commentary  summary  🎩  path-dependence  pop-diff  malthus  time-series  data  world  microfoundations  hari-seldon  conquest-empire  disease  parasites-microbiome  spreading  gavisti  asia  war  death  nihil  trends 
august 2017 by nhaliday
Blind men and an elephant - Wikipedia
A group of blind men heard that a strange animal, called an elephant, had been brought to the town, but none of them were aware of its shape and form. Out of curiosity, they said: "We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable". So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it. In the case of the first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said "This being is like a thick snake". For another one whose hand reached its ear, it seemed like a kind of fan. As for another person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, the elephant is a pillar like a tree-trunk. The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, "elephant is a wall". Another who felt its tail, described it as a rope. The last felt its tusk, stating the elephant is that which is hard, smooth and like a spear.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Human Self as Information Agent: Functioning in a Social Environment Based on Shared Meanings — Experts@Minnesota
https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/874624254951776256
A neglected aspect of human selfhood is that people are information agents .... We initially assumed that accuracy would be the paramount concern for the information agent... But there are other considerations. Groups benefit from collective action, and so consensual agreement may be a high priority. Consensus may be needed in many situations when the means to verify information’s accuracy are beyond reach... Even if dissenters tum out to have more accurate information, disobedience is punished... Why might evolution have made people willing to sacrifice accuracy in favor of consensus, at least sometimes? Here we speculate that desire for consensus may derive from an innate social motive, whereas accuracy is an epistemic motive that would need to be acquired, and is therefore less deeply rooted and perhaps weaker. There may not be an innate motive to evaluate the truth value of assertions or to appreciate the meaningful difference between truth and falsehood. Hence it may be necessary to leam from experience that accuracy is an informational virtue that confers benefits, whereas consensus may be more closely tied to innate motivations .... The human mind discovers early in life that other minds have different information, which is something most other animals never discover. The desire to share attention and thoughts with others could thus be innate (or innately prepared) whereas the desire to sort truth from fiction may only come along later...The group first builds consensus and only after that is done seeks novel, idiosyncratic input that might increase accuracy. In an important sense, information shared by the group is valued more and perceived as more accurate than unshared information

When shared information coalesces into a collective worldview that includes values, it often has sociopolitical implications. Many groups are committed to particular ideologies or agenda, and information that impugns shared beliefs could be especially unwelcome. Political and religious ideologies have often sustained their power by asserting and enforcing views of questionable truthfulness. Hence individuals and groups may seek to exert control over the shared reality so as to benefit themselves. Thus many individuals will find it more important to get the group to agree with their favored view than to help it reach an objectively correct view. One fascinating question about official falsehoods is whether the ruling elites who propagate such views believe them or not... As an example close to home, psychology today is dominated by a political viewpoint that is progressively liberal, but it seems unlikely that many researchers knowingly assert falsehoods as scientific facts. They do however make publication of some findings much easier than others. The selective critique enables them to believe that the field’s body of knowledge supports their political views more than it does, because contrary facts and findings are suppressed.

Assessing relationships between conformity and meta-traits in an Asch-like paradigm: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15534510.2017.1371639
https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/902511106823999490
Replication of unflattering psychology classic: People bow to conformity pressure, mostly independent of personality

Smart Conformists: Children and Adolescents Associate Conformity With Intelligence Across Cultures: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12935/abstract
https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/902398709228609536
Across cultures, children and adolescents viewed high conformity as a sign of intelligence and good behavior.
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august 2017 by nhaliday
Clans, Guilds, and Markets: Apprenticeship Institutions and Growth in the Pre-Industrial Economy* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
We argue that medieval European institutions such as guilds, and specific features such as journeymanship, can explain the rise of Europe relative to regions that relied on the transmission of knowledge within closed kinship systems (extended families or clans).
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july 2017 by nhaliday
Corrupting cooperation and how anti-corruption strategies may backfire | Nature Human Behaviour
https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nathumbehav/2017/s41562-017-0138/extref/s41562-017-0138-s1.pdf
Exposure to Norms: https://images.nature.com/original/nature-assets/nathumbehav/2017/s41562-017-0138/extref/s41562-017-0138-s1.pdf#page=114
Here we test how exposure to corruption norms affect behavior in our game. We do so by using our exposure score (a mean of the corruption perceptions of the countries the participant has lived in) and the heritage corruption score (a mean of the corruption perceptions of the countries the participant has an ethnic heritage). Since there is no incentive to offer bribes or contribute, except when compelled to do so by punishment, we predict that exposure to norms should primarily affect Leader decisions. Nonetheless, internalized norms may also affect the behavior of players in contributing and bribing.

...

The correlation between the direct exposure and heritage measures of corruption is r = 0.67, p < .001.

...

Then we see that direct exposure to corruption norms results in increased corrupt behavior—i.e. in our Canadian sample, those who have lived in corrupt countries from which they do not derive their heritage behave in more corrupt ways.

hard to interpret

https://twitter.com/Evolving_Moloch/status/884477414100697092
http://psych.ubc.ca/when-less-is-best/

I don't think the solution is to just do nothing. Should look to history for ideas; process of "getting to Denmark" took centuries in NW Euro. Try to replicate and don't expect fast results.

Trust and Bribery: The Role of the Quid Pro Quo and the Link with Crime: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10510
I study data on bribes actually paid by individuals to public officials, viewing the results through a theoretical lens that considers the implications of trust networks. A bond of trust may permit an implicit quid pro quo to substitute for a bribe, which reduces corruption. Appropriate networks are more easily established in small towns, by long-term residents of areas with many other long-term residents, and by individuals in regions with many residents their own age. I confirm that the prevalence of bribery is lower under these circumstances, using the International Crime Victim Surveys. I also find that older people, who have had time to develop a network, bribe less. These results highlight the uphill nature of the battle against corruption faced by policy-makers in rapidly urbanizing countries with high fertility. I show that victims of (other) crimes bribe all types of public officials more than non-victims, and argue that both their victimization and bribery stem from a distrustful environment.

Kinship, Fractionalization and Corruption: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2847222
The theory of kin selection provides a straightforward justification for norms of nepotism and favoritism among relatives; more subtly, it also implies that the returns to such norms may be influenced by mating practices. Specifically, in societies with high levels of sub-ethnic fractionalization, where endogamous (and consanguineous) mating within kin-group, clan and tribe increases the local relatedness of individuals, the relative returns to norms of nepotism and favoritism are high. In societies with exogamous marriage practices, the relative returns to norms of impartial cooperation with non-relatives and strangers are increased. Using cross-country and within-country regression analyses and a cross-country lab experiment, we provide evidence for this account.

Ethnic favouritism: Not just an African phenomenon: http://voxeu.org/article/ethnic-favouritism-not-just-african-phenomenon
Ethnic favouritism is a global phenomenon
We find robust evidence for ethnic favouritism – ethnographic regions that are the current political leader’s ethnic homeland enjoy 7%-10% more intense night-time light, corresponding to 2%-3% higher regional GDP. Furthermore, we show that ethnic favouritism extends to ethnic groups that are linguistically close to the political leader.

Most significantly, these effects are as strong outside of Africa as they are within, challenging the preconception that ethnic favouritism is mainly or even entirely a sub-Saharan African phenomenon. For example, Bolivian presidents tended to favour areas populated by European descendants and Criollos, largely at the expense of the indigenous population. After the election of Evo Morales, a member of the indigenous Ayamara ethnic group, luminosity in indigenous areas grew substantially. Notably, critics suggest Morales gave special attention to the interests and values of the Ayamara at the expense of other indigenous peoples (e.g. Albro 2010, Postero 2010).

Democratisation is not a panacea
Our results further suggest that, while democratic institutions have a weak tendency to reduce ethnic favouritism, their effect is limited. In particular, a change from autocratic regimes to weak democracies does not seem to reduce ethnic favouritism (and may even increase it).

This result could in part be explained by political leaders’ motivations for engaging in ethnic favouritism. We find that the practice intensifies around election years in which the political leader's office is contested, suggesting that leaders may target policies towards their ethnic homelands to improve their re-election prospects, and not solely out of co-ethnic altruism. To the extent that political leaders engage in ethnic favouritism for electoral purposes, democratisation is not likely to be effective in curbing the practice.

Facebook’s war on free will: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/19/facebooks-war-on-free-will
Though Facebook will occasionally talk about the transparency of governments and corporations, what it really wants to advance is the transparency of individuals – or what it has called, at various moments, “radical transparency” or “ultimate transparency”. The theory holds that the sunshine of sharing our intimate details will disinfect the moral mess of our lives. With the looming threat that our embarrassing information will be broadcast, we’ll behave better. And perhaps the ubiquity of incriminating photos and damning revelations will prod us to become more tolerant of one another’s sins. “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly,” Zuckerberg has said. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”

The point is that Facebook has a strong, paternalistic view on what’s best for you, and it’s trying to transport you there. “To get people to this point where there’s more openness – that’s a big challenge. But I think we’ll do it,” Zuckerberg has said. He has reason to believe that he will achieve that goal. With its size, Facebook has amassed outsized powers. “In a lot of ways Facebook is more like a government than a traditional company,” Zuckerberg has said. “We have this large community of people, and more than other technology companies we’re really setting policies.”

Facebook and the Destruction of Private Life: http://www.socialmatter.net/2014/12/30/facebook-and-the-destruction-of-private-life/
- HENRY DAMPIER

The key value of privacy, which tends to be lost amid all the technological babble about the concept, is that it makes social cooperation more feasible among people who disagree, share different tastes, or fundamental points of view.

...

This is especially an issue with democracy. The reason why the United States has anonymous voting laws is because without them, people are persecuted for their party affiliations by people with rival party loyalties. This being forgotten, the age of Facebook and similar technologies has opened up ordinary people to this sort of ordinary political persecution. Moderating influences like that of the respect for privacy put a brake on some of the more rapacious, violent aspects of party politics.

...

The impulse for this comes less from the availability of the technology, and more because of the preexisting social trends. When there is a family life, there is communication and closeness within the family.

With more people living without a family life, they go to the public square to get their needs for social validation met. This doesn’t work so well, because strangers have no skin in the life of the atomized individual that only exists as an image on their screens.
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july 2017 by nhaliday
An Economic Analysis of the Protestant Reformation
- Ekelund, Hébert, Tollison

This paper seeks to explain the initial successes and failures of Protestantism on economic grounds. It argues that the medieval Roman Catholic Church, through doctrinal manipulation, the exclusion of rivals, and various forms of price discrimination, ultimately placed members seeking the Z good "spiritual services" on the margin of defection. These monopolistic practices encouraged entry by rival firms, some of which were aligned with civil governments. The paper hypothesizes that Protestant entry was facilitated in emergent entrepreneurial societies characterized by the decline of feudalism and relatively unstable distribution of wealth and repressed in more homogeneous, rent-seeking societies that were mostly dissipating rather than creating wealth. In these societies the Roman Church was more able to continue the practice of price discrimination. Informal tests of this proposition are conducted by considering primogeniture and urban growth as proxies for wealth stability.

Causes and Consequences of the Protestant Reformation: https://pseudoerasmus.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/becker-pfaff-rubin-2016.pdf
- Sascha O. Becker, Steven Pfaff, Jared Rubin

The Protestant Reformation is one of the defining events of the last millennium. Nearly 500 years after the Reformation, its causes and consequences have seen a renewed interest in the social sciences. Research in economics, sociology, and political science increasingly uses detailed individual-level, city-level, and regional-level data to identify drivers of the adoption of the Reformation, its diffusion pattern, and its socioeconomic consequences. We take stock of this research, pointing out what we know and what we do not know and suggesting the most promising areas for future research.

Table 1: Studies of the Supply and Demand-Side Factors of the Reformation
Table 2: Studies on the Consequences of the Reformation: Human Capital
Table 3: Studies on the Consequences of the Reformation: Work and Work Ethic
Table 4: Studies on the Consequences of the Reformation: Economic Development
Table 5: Studies on the Consequences of the Reformation: Governance
Table 6: Studies on the “Dark” Consequences of the Reformation

LUTHER AND SULEYMAN: http://www.jstor.org.sci-hub.tw/stable/40506214
- Murat Iyigun

Various historical accounts have suggested that the Ottomans' rise helped the Protestant Reformation as well as its offshoots, such as Zwinglianism, Anabaptism, and Calvinism, survive their infancy and mature. Utilizing a comprehensive data set on violent confrontations for the interval between 1401 and 1700 CE, I show that the incidence of military engagements between the Protestant Reformers and the Counter-Reformation forces between the 1520s and 1650s depended negatively on the Ottomans' military activities in Europe. Furthermore, I document that the impact of the Ottomans on Europe went beyond suppressing ecclesiastical conflicts only: at the turn of the sixteenth century, Ottoman conquests lowered the number of all newly initiated conflicts among the Europeans roughly by 25 percent, while they dampened all longer-running feuds by more than 15 percent. The Ottomans' military activities influenced the length of intra-European feuds too, with each Ottoman-European military engagement shortening the duration of intra-European conflicts by more than 50 percent. Thus, while the Protestant Reformation might have benefited from - and perhaps even capitalized on - the Ottoman advances in Europe, the latter seems to have played some role in reducing conflicts within Europe more generally.

Religious Competition and Reallocation: The Political Economy of Secularization in the Protestant Reformation: http://www.jeremiahdittmar.com/files/RRR_20170919.pdf
- Davide Cantoni, Jeremiah Dittmar, Noam Yuchtman*

Using novel microdata, we document an unintended, first-order consequence of the Protestant Reformation: a massive reallocation of resources from religious to secular purposes. To understand this process, we propose a conceptual framework in which the introduction of religious competition shifts political markets where religious authorities provide legitimacy to rulers in exchange for control over resources. Consistent with our framework, religious competition changed the balance of power between secular and religious elites: secular authorities acquired enormous amounts of wealth from monasteries closed during the Reformation, particularly in Protestant regions. This transfer of resources had important consequences. First, it shifted the allocation of upper-tail human capital. Graduates of Protestant universities increasingly took secular, especially administrative, occupations. Protestant university students increasingly studied secular subjects, especially degrees that prepared students for public sector jobs, rather than church sector-specific theology. Second, it affected the sectoral composition of fixed investment. Particularly in Protestant regions, new construction from religious toward secular purposes, especially the building of palaces and administrative buildings, which reflected the increased wealth and power of secular lords. Reallocation was not driven by pre-existing economic or cultural differences. Our findings indicate that the Reformation played an important causal role in the secularization of the West.

look at Figure 4, holy shit

History: Science and the Reformation: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v550/n7677/full/550454a.html?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews&sf126429621=1
The scientific and religious revolutions that began 500 years ago were not causally related, but were both stimulated by printing, argues David Wootton.
https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/923940525673103360
https://archive.is/JElPv
No, the Reformation did not cause the scientific revolution. Nice brief article. 👍

No RCT = No causal claims, for or against ;)
Though I'm open to a regression discontinuity design! cc: @pseudoerasmus
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may 2017 by nhaliday
[1705.03394] That is not dead which can eternal lie: the aestivation hypothesis for resolving Fermi's paradox
If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature environment: this can produce a 10^30 multiplier of achievable computation. We hence suggest the "aestivation hypothesis": the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras. This paper analyzes the assumptions going into the hypothesis and how physical law and observational evidence constrain the motivations of aliens compatible with the hypothesis.

http://aleph.se/andart2/space/the-aestivation-hypothesis-popular-outline-and-faq/

simpler explanation (just different math for Drake equation):
Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/media/eps/jodrell-bank-centre-for-astrophysics/news-and-events/2017/uksrn-slides/Anders-Sandberg---Dissolving-Fermi-Paradox-UKSRN.pdf
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/07/fermi-paradox-resolved.html
Overall the argument is that point estimates should not be shoved into a Drake equation and then multiplied by each, as that requires excess certainty and masks much of the ambiguity of our knowledge about the distributions. Instead, a Bayesian approach should be used, after which the fate of humanity looks much better. Here is one part of the presentation:

Life Versus Dark Energy: How An Advanced Civilization Could Resist the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe: https://arxiv.org/abs/1806.05203
The presence of dark energy in our universe is causing space to expand at an accelerating rate. As a result, over the next approximately 100 billion years, all stars residing beyond the Local Group will fall beyond the cosmic horizon and become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible, thus limiting how much energy could one day be extracted from them. Here, we consider the likely response of a highly advanced civilization to this situation. In particular, we argue that in order to maximize its access to useable energy, a sufficiently advanced civilization would chose to expand rapidly outward, build Dyson Spheres or similar structures around encountered stars, and use the energy that is harnessed to accelerate those stars away from the approaching horizon and toward the center of the civilization. We find that such efforts will be most effective for stars with masses in the range of M∼(0.2−1)M⊙, and could lead to the harvesting of stars within a region extending out to several tens of Mpc in radius, potentially increasing the total amount of energy that is available to a future civilization by a factor of several thousand. We also discuss the observable signatures of a civilization elsewhere in the universe that is currently in this state of stellar harvesting.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Who Defects? Unpacking a Defection Cascade from Russia's Dominant Party 2008–12 | American Political Science Review | Cambridge Core
Accordingly, we find that early and eager movers in such a cascade tend to come from less socially vulnerable segments of the population, to have greater need to rely on other people for interpreting events, to believe the regime has lower levels of popular support, and to come from more heterogeneous communities. We find little role for mass media (including social media) or democratizing zeal in driving Russia's regime defection cascade.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Rheumatoid Arthritis | West Hunter
It causes characteristic changes in the bones.  Key point:  it is vanishingly rare in Old World skeletons before the 17th century.  Those changes, however, been seen in some pre-Columbian Amerindian skeletons [work by Bruce Rothschild].

The obvious explanation is that RA is caused by some pathogen that originated in the Americas and later spread to the rest of the world.  Like the French disease.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/montezumas-revenge/
Everybody knows that the Amerindians were devastated by new infectious diseases after Columbus discovered America and made it stick. Smallpox, falciparum malaria, yellow fever, bubonic plague, cholera, measles, whooping cough, etc : by some estimates, the Amerindian population dropped by about 90%, worse than the Black Plague, which only killed off half of Europe. Naturally, you wonder what ailments the Americas exported to the rest of the world.

We know of two for sure. First, syphilis: the first known epidemic was in 1495, in Naples, during a French invasion. By 1520 it had reached Africa and China.

From the timing of the first epidemic, and the apparent newness of the disease, many have suspected that it was an import from the New World. Some, like Bartolome de las Casas, had direct knowledge: Las Casas was in Seville in 1493, his father and uncle sailed with Columbus on the second voyage, and he himself traveled to the New World in 1502, where he spent most of the rest of his life working with the Amerindians. Ruiz Diaz de Isla, a Spanish physician, reported treating some of Columbus’s crew for syphilis, and that he had observed its rapid spread in Barcelona.

I have seen someone object to this scenario, on the grounds that the two years after Columbus’s return surely couldn’t have been long enough to generate a major outbreak. I think maybe that guy doesn’t get out much. It has always looked plausible, considering paleopathological evidence (bone changes) and the timing of the first epidemic. Recent analysis shows that some American strains of pinta (a treponemal skin disease) are genetically closest to the venereal strains. I’d say the Colombian theory is pretty well established, at this point.

Interestingly, before the genetic evidence, this was one of the longest-running disputes among historians. As far as I can tell, part of the problem was (and is) that many in the social sciences routinely apply Ockham’s razor in reverse. Simple explanations are bad, even when they fit all the facts. You see this in medicine, too.

...

There are two other diseases that are suspected of originating in the Americas. The first is typhus, gaol fever, caused by a Rickettsial organism and usually spread by lice. Sometimes it recurs after many years, in a mild form called Brill’s disease, rather like chickenpox and shingles. This means that typhus is always waiting in the wings: if the world gets sufficiently messed up, it will reappear.

Typhus shows up most often in war, usually in cool countries. There is a claim that there was a clear epidemic in Granada in 1489, which would definitely predate Columbus, but descriptions of disease symptoms by premodern physicians are amazingly unreliable. The first really reliable description seems to have been by Fracastoro, in 1546 (according to Hans Zinsser in Rats, Lice, and History). The key hint is the existence of a very closely related organism in American flying squirrels.

Thinking about it, I have the impression that the legions of the Roman Republic didn’t have high casualties due to infectious disease, while that was the dominant cause of death in more recent European armies, up until the 20tth century. If smallpox, measles, syphilis, bubonic plague, perhaps typhus, simply hadn’t arrived yet, this makes sense. Falciparum malaria wasn’t much of a factor in northern Italy until Imperial times…

The second possibly American disease is rheumatoid arthritis. We don’t even know that it has an infectious cause – but we do know that it causes characteristic skeletal changes, and that no clear-cut pre-Columbian rheumatoid skeletons are known from the Old World, while a number have been found in the lower South. To me, this makes some infectious cause seem likely: it would very much be worth following this up with the latest molecular genetic methods.

American crops like maize and potatoes more than canceled the demographic impact of syphilis and typhus. But although the Old World produced more dangerous pathogens than the Americas, due to size, longer time depth of agriculture, and more domesticated animals, luck played a role, too. Something as virulent as smallpox or falciparum malaria could have existed in the Americas, and if it had, Europe would have been devastated.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/montezumas-revenge/#comment-2910
Malaria came from Africa, probably. There are old primate versions. Smallpox, dunno: I have heard people suggest viral infections of cows and monkeys as ancestral. Measles is derived from rinderpest, probably less than two thousand years ago.

Falciparum malaria has been around for a while, but wasn’t found near Rome during the Republic. It seems to have gradually moved north in Italy during classical times, maybe because the range of the key mosquito species was increasing. By early medieval times it was a big problem around Rome.

Smallpox probably did not exist in classical Greece: there is no clear description in the literature of the time. It may have arrived in the Greco-Roman world in 165 AD, as the Antonine plague.

The Pathogenesis of Rheumatoid Arthritis: http://sci-hub.cc/http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1004965

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/age-of-discovery-pandora/
In the Age of Discovery, Europeans were playing with fire. Every voyage of exploration risked bring back some new plague. From the New World, syphilis, probably typhus and rheumatoid arthritis. From India, cholera. HIV, recently, from Africa. Comparably important new pests attacking important crops and domesticated animals also arrived, such as grape phylloxera (which wiped out most of the vineyards of Europe) and potato blight ( an oomycete or ‘water mold’, from central Mexico).

If one of those plagues had been as potent as smallpox or falciparum malaria, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Germ theory of disease - Wikipedia
The germ theory was proposed by Girolamo Fracastoro in 1546, and expanded upon by Marcus von Plenciz in 1762. Such views were held in disdain, however, and Galen's miasma theory remained dominant among scientists and doctors. The nature of this doctrine prevented them from understanding how diseases actually progressed, with predictable consequences. By the early nineteenth century, smallpox vaccination was commonplace in Europe, though doctors were unaware of how it worked or how to extend the principle to other diseases. Similar treatments had been prevalent in India from just before 1000 A.D.[2] [N 1] A transitional period began in the late 1850s as the work of Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch provided convincing evidence; by 1880, miasma theory was struggling to compete with the germ theory of disease. Eventually, a "golden era" of bacteriology ensued, in which the theory quickly led to the identification of the actual organisms that cause many diseases.[3][4] Viruses were discovered in the 1890s.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Advent of Cholera | West Hunter
Two main factors interfered with an effective policy response to cholera (not counting ever-present human stupidity and obstinacy): bad science and 19th century liberalism.

Scientists at the time had convinced themselves that the germ theory of disease was just wrong. Yellow fever’s decimation of the French force in Haiti made it important, and when yellow fever hit Barcelona in 1822, French scientists were all over it. They concluded that there was no possibility of contact between yellow fever victims in Barcelona, and ruled out contagion. Mosquito transmission didn’t occur to them.

Worse yet, they generalized their error: they concluded that contagion was never the answer, and accepted miasmas as the cause, a theory which is too stupid to be interesting. Sheesh, they taught the kids in medical school that measles wasn’t catching – while ordinary people knew perfectly well that it was. You know, esoteric, non-intuitive truths have a certain appeal – once initiated, you’re no longer one of the rubes. Of course, the simplest and most common way of producing an esoteric truth is to just make it up.

On the other hand, 19th century liberals (somewhat like modern libertarians, but way less crazy) knew that trade and individual freedom were always good things, by definition, so they also opposed quarantines – worse than wrong, old-fashioned ! And more common in southern, Catholic, Europe: enough said! So, between wrong science and classical liberalism, medical reformers spent many years trying to eliminate the reactionary quarantine rules that still existed in Mediterranean ports.

some history: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3559034/
In some countries, the suspension of personal liberty provided the opportunity—using special laws—to stop political opposition. However, the cultural and social context differed from that in previous centuries. For example, the increasing use of quarantine and isolation conflicted with the affirmation of citizens’ rights and growing sentiments of personal freedom fostered by the French Revolution of 1789. In England, liberal reformers contested both quarantine and compulsory vaccination against smallpox. Social and political tensions created an explosive mixture, culminating in popular rebellions and uprisings, a phenomenon that affected numerous European countries (29). In the Italian states, in which revolutionary groups had taken the cause of unification and republicanism (27), cholera epidemics provided a justification (i.e., the enforcement of sanitary measures) for increasing police power.

...

Anticontagionists, who disbelieved the communicability of cholera, contested quarantine and alleged that the practice was a relic of the past, useless, and damaging to commerce. They complained that the free movement of travelers was hindered by sanitary cordons and by controls at border crossings, which included fumigation and disinfection of clothes (Figures 1,​,22,​,3).3). In addition, quarantine inspired a false sense of security, which was dangerous to public health because it diverted persons from taking the correct precautions. International cooperation and coordination was stymied by the lack of agreement regarding the use of quarantine. The discussion among scientists, health administrators, diplomatic bureaucracies, and governments dragged on for decades, as demonstrated in the debates in the International Sanitary Conferences (31), particularly after the opening, in 1869, of the Suez Canal, which was perceived as a gate for the diseases of the Orient (32). Despite pervasive doubts regarding the effectiveness of quarantine, local authorities were reluctant to abandon the protection of the traditional strategies that provided an antidote to population panic, which, during a serious epidemic, could produce chaos and disrupt public order (33).
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Lost and Found | West Hunter
I get the distinct impression that someone (probably someone other than Varro) came up with an approximation of germ theory 1500 years before Girolamo Fracastoro. But his work was lost.

Everybody knows, or should know, that the vast majority of Classical literature has not been preserved. Those lost works contained facts and ideas that might have value today – certainly there are topics that we understand much better because of insights from Classical literature. For example, Reich and Patterson find that some of the Indian castes have existed for something like three thousand years: this is easier to believe when you consider that Megasthenes wrote about the caste system as early as 300 BC.

We don’t put much effort into recovering lost Classical literature. But there are ways in which we could push harder – by increased funding for work on the Herculaneum scrolls, or the Oxyrhynchus papyri collection, for example. Some old-fashioned motivated archaeology might get lucky and find another set of Amarna cuneiform letters, or a new Antikythera mechanism.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/spontaneous-generation/
Here we have yet another case in which a discovery was possible for a long time before it was actually accepted. Aristotle is the villain here: he clearly endorses spontaneous generation of many plants and animals. On the other hand, I don’t remember him saying that people should accept all of his conclusions uncritically and without further experimentation for the next couple of thousand years, which is what happened. So maybe we’re all guilty.

...

Part of the funny here (not even counting practical experience) is that almost every educated man over these two millennia had read, and indeed studied deeply, a work with a fairly clear statement of the actual fly->egg->maggot->fly process. As I as I can tell, only one person (Redi) seems to have picked up on this.

“But the more Achilles gazed, the greater rose his desire for vengeance, and his eyes flashed terribly, like coals beneath his lids, as he lifted the god’s marvellous gifts and exulted. When he had looked his fill on their splendour, he spoke to Thetis winged words; ‘Mother, the god grants me a gift fit for the immortals, such as no mortal smith could fashion. Now I shall arm myself for war. Yet I fear lest flies infest the wounds the bronze blades made, and maggots breed in the corpse of brave Patroclus, and now his life is fled, rot the flesh, and disfigure all his body.’ ”

You’d think a blind man would have noticed this.

Anyhow, the lesson is clear. Low hanging fruit can persist for a long time if the conventional wisdom is wrong – and sometimes it is.

http://www.bede.org.uk/literature.htm

Transmission of the Greek Classics: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_of_the_Greek_Classics
https://www.quora.com/How-much-writing-from-ancient-Greece-is-preserved-Is-it-a-finite-amount-that-someone-could-potentially-read

By way of comparison, the complete Loeb Classical Library (which includes all the important classical texts) has 337 volumes for Ancient Greek --- and those aren't 100,000 word-long door-stoppers.
https://www.loebclassics.com/
$65/year for individuals (I wonder if public libraries have subscriptions?)

http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2009/10/26/reference-for-the-claim-that-only-1-of-ancient-literature-survives/
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2015/01/finding-the-lost-texts-of-classical-antiquity/
http://www.historyofinformation.com/narrative/loss-of-information.php
http://www.bede.org.uk/literature.htm

https://twitter.com/futurepundit/status/927344648154112000
https://archive.is/w86uL
1/ Thinking about what Steven Greenblatt described in The Swerve as a mass extinction of ancient books (we have little of what they wrote)
2/ If I could go back in time to, say, 100 AD or 200 AD I would go with simple tech for making books last for a thousand years. Possible?

https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2018/01/28/the-rapid-fading-of-information/
I’ve put a lot of content out there over the years. Probably on the order of 5 million words across my blogs. Some publications here and there. Lots of tweets. But very little of it will persist into future generations. Digital is evanescent.

But so is paper. I believe that even good hardcover books probably won’t last more than a few hundred years.

Perhaps we should go back to some form of cuneiform? Stone and metal will last thousands of years.

How long does a paperback book last?: https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-a-paperback-book-last

A 500 years vault for books?: https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/137583/a-500-years-vault-for-books
There are about four solutions that have actually worked in history

1. The desert method
2. Give them to an institution which will preserve them
3. The opposite of secrecy: duplicate them extensively

4. Transcribe them to durable materials

It is hard to keep books for a really long time because paper, parchment and papyrus are easily destroyed. However books have been produced on much more durable materials. Nowadays a holographic copy can be laser etched into stainless steel. In Sumer, 5300 years ago they pressed them into clay tablets. If the document was important, they fired the clay; otherwise they just let it dry. The fired versions are close to indestructible.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The curious rise of the ‘white left’ as a Chinese internet insult | openDemocracy
baizuo
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/05/baizuo-libtard.html
https://twitter.com/menangahela/status/863840301785526273
this is the right wing intellectual equivalent of getting off to bbc porn
big asian iq/temperament shaped by thousands of years of malthusian capitalism & intensive agriculture DESTROYS white enlightenment morality
https://twitter.com/dkpseudo/status/864391296911163392
http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1000477/white-left-the-internet-insult-the-west-has-gotten-wrong
One of the key texts of the anti-white left is an online essay by a Weibo user named “Fantasy Lover Mr. Liu,” titled “The Road to Spiritual Plague: The History of the Evolution of the White Left.” The abrasive text begins: “Trump’s victory is only a small stone flung from humanity’s sling against the giant we face: the spiritual plague.”

Liu’s essay is, essentially, a somewhat unhinged history of the white left. He identifies several waves of the white left, the third wave coming with thinkers like Michel Foucault and the Frankfurt School, whom, he writes, were so traumatized by the horrors of the Second World War that they sought to deconstruct Western culture without actually considering an alternative.

The fourth and final wave, Liu says, was led by the students of the professors who had staged protests against the Vietnam War and had succeeded in ousting established academics on both the left and the right. He argues that academic curiosity was lost as the New Left demanded ideological purity on the questions of identity politics. To Liu, intellectual shallowness, isolation, and violence constitute the main features of the modern white left. Its advocates created a hive-mind in academia, which allowed them to spread white left values through Western society. The riots and protests that followed the election of Trump are the best evidence of this.

Chinese Social Media Notices US Cultural Revolution: http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/08/chinese-social-media-notices-us.html
http://thefederalist.com/2017/08/23/american-anarchy-parallels-chinas-cultural-revolution/

Air China magazine warns London visitors to avoid ethnic minority areas: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/07/air-chinas-safety-tips-for-london-visitors-may-raise-eyebrows.html

Sinic culture warring:
Singapore: https://medium.com/chinese-privilege/to-my-dear-fellow-singapore-chinese-shut-up-when-a-minority-is-talking-about-race-48e00d7c7073
https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/871821559215923200
https://archive.is/Uxco6
The virus has reached Hong Kong (April 2017).
http://www.soh.hku.hk/docs/SOH_Inclusive_Language.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singaporean_Chinese_privilege

https://twitter.com/menangahela/status/914915192873644032
https://archive.is/ECBS6
china will beat us because making money reliably gets you pussy there
this is what Nick Land was trying to get at with the whole 'libidinal materialism' idea
So you're saying James Damore is the harbinger of the failure of "capitalism with American characteristics" for this reason.

https://twitter.com/menangahela/status/914905587489607680
https://archive.is/KftzV
people dont really make money for explicitly instrumental reasons anymore

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/elon-musk-inventors-plans-for-outer-space-cars-finding-love-w511747
https://twitter.com/NoamJStein/status/930884963657957376
https://archive.is/yw0j8
Surreal to read several paragraphs of “tfw no gf” from a guy worth 10 figures

https://bloodyshovel.wordpress.com/2017/05/15/the-white-left/

https://twitter.com/RoundSqrCupola/status/952378865606938624
https://archive.is/a3zAH
Saving the Baizuo from his own stupidity is a important task. But very difficult and thankless.

https://twitter.com/RoundSqrCupola/status/952685733847949313
https://archive.is/PKcOz
I feel like I can predict how the Baizuo will behave, and the arguments he will give. But for the life of me I can’t understand his perspective.

https://twitter.com/RoundSqrCupola/status/952755125969354752
https://archive.is/6Jv31
The best places to live are inhabited by the Baizuo. The Baizuo makes for a good friend. And yet... he is a Baizuo. 😓

https://twitter.com/RoundSqrCupola/status/952687872557092864
https://archive.is/0hznI
Can the Baizuo be saved from his own stupidity?

83% too far gone...:(

https://twitter.com/HappyHectares/status/954396128111247361
https://archive.is/aEi0B
Multicultural America
I'm privy to a Chinese family having a meltdown because father was assigned an Indian doctor - eldest son is flying in - they want "a white doctor", not an affirmative-action doctor - a matter of honor & duty
--
Do Chinese see whites as dumb or misguided or both? I've heard mixed comments on this?
--
They see us as "too nice" - a beautiful but short-lived flower
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Syphilis in Renaissance Europe: rapid evolution of an introduced sexually transmitted disease?
When syphilis first appeared in Europe in 1495, it was an acute and extremely unpleasant disease. After only a few years it was less severe than it once was, and it changed over the next 50 years into a milder, chronic disease. The severe early symptoms may have been the result of the disease being introduced into a new host population without any resistance mechanisms, but the change in virulence is most likely to have happened because of selection favouring milder strains of the pathogen.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Toxoplasma gondii: from animals to humans
Horizontal transmission of T. gondii may involve three life-cycle stages, i.e. ingesting infectious oocysts from the environment or ingesting tissue cysts or tachyzoites which are contained in meat or primary offal (viscera) of many different animals. Transmission may also occur via tachyzoites contained in blood products, tissue transplants, or unpasteurised milk. However, it is not known which of these routes is more important epidemiologically. In the past, the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, in particular of pigs and sheep, has been regarded as a major route of transmission to humans. However, recent studies showed that the prevalence of T. gondii in meat-producing animals decreased considerably over the past 20 years in areas with intensive farm management.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
How Innovation Accelerated in Britain 1651-1851
another possible explanation for this...?:
After staring at my data for long enough, I began to notice a pattern. People went on to innovate if inventors had been among their teachers, colleagues, employers, employees, neighbours, friends, family, and acquaintances. And the more I looked, the more examples I found. Of the hundreds of inventors I studied, nearly all of them began to innovate after meeting inventors. Inspiration mattered - inventing seemed to spread from person to person.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
In a handbasket | West Hunter
It strikes me that in many ways, life was gradually getting harder in the Old World, especially in the cradles of civilization.

slavery and Rome/early US: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/in-a-handbasket/#comment-80503
Rome and innovation: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/in-a-handbasket/#comment-80505
"Culture’s have flavors and the Roman flavor was unfavorable to being clever. The Greeks were clever but not interested in utility. While the central American civilizations liked to cut people’s hearts out and stick cactus spines through their penis in public. Let us all act according to national customs."
https://twitter.com/Evolving_Moloch/status/881652804900671489
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodletting_in_Mesoamerica

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/let-no-new-thing-arise/
It helps to think about critical community size (CCS). Consider a disease like measles, one that doesn’t last long and confers lifelong immunity. The virus needs fresh, never-infected hosts (we call them children) all the time, else it will go extinct. The critical community size for measles is probably more than half a million – which means that before agriculture, measles as we know it today couldn’t and didn’t exist. In fact, it looks as if split off from rinderpest within the last two thousand years. Mumps was around in Classical times (Hippocrates gives a good description), but it too has a large CCS and must be relatively new. Rubella can’t be ancient. Whooping cough has a smaller CCS, maybe only 100,000, but it too must postdate agriculture.

"let no new thing arise":
http://www.theseeker.org/cgi-bin/bulletin/show.pl?Todd%20Collier/Que%20no%20hayan%20novedades.
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/003347.html
http://www.bradwarthen.com/2010/02/que-no-haya-novedad-may-no-new-thing-arise/

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/legionnaires-disease/
Before 1900, armies usually lost more men from infectious disease than combat, particularly in extended campaigns.  At least that seems to have been the case in modern Western history.

There are indications that infectious disease was qualitatively different – less important –  in  the Roman legions.  For one thing, camps were placed near good supplies of fresh water. The legions had good camp sanitation, at least by the time of the Principate. They used latrines flushed with running water in permanent camps  and deep slit trenches with wooden covers and removable buckets in the field.  Using those latrines would have protected soldiers from diseases like typhoid and dysentery, major killers in recent armies.  Romans armies were mobile, often shifting their camps.  They seldom quartered their soldiers in urban areas –  they feared that city luxuries would corrupt their men, but this habit helped them avoid infectious agents, regardless of their reasons.

They managed to avoid a lot of serious illnesses because the causative organisms  simply weren’t there yet. Smallpox, and maybe measles, didn’t show up until the middle Empire. Falciparum malaria was around, but hadn’t reached Rome itself, during the Republic. It definitely had by the time of the Empire. Bubonic plague doesn’t seem to have caused trouble before Justinian.  Syphilis for sure, and typhus probably,  originated in the Americas, while cholera didn’t arrive until after 1800.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Disaster in the South Pacific | West Hunter
Washington didn’t micro-manage American Samoa, not being all that interested. A policy of benign neglect was interpreted by Poyer as an opportunity to act on his best judgment, in the finest traditions of the US Navy. He imposed quarantine. That was harder that it sounds, because of the frequent family visits between West Samoa and American Samoa – but Poyer also had the support of the local chiefs, who understood how serious imported epidemics could be. The people of American Samoa self-blockaded, on top of official quarantine: they sent out canoes to stop any and all visitors. They never had a single case.

Of course there was a disaster. Some people will think that it occurred in West Samoa. Others will think that the real disaster was in American Samoa.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
Annotating Greg Cochran’s interview with James Miller
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/
opinion of Scott and Hanson: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90238
Greg's methodist: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90256
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/interview-2/#comment-90299
You have to consider the relative strengths of Japan and the USA. USA was ~10x stronger, industrially, which is what mattered. Technically superior (radar, Manhattan project). Almost entirely self-sufficient in natural resources. Japan was sure to lose, and too crazy to quit, which meant that they would lose after being smashed flat.
--
There’s a fairly common way of looking at things in which the bad guys are not at fault because they’re bad guys, born that way, and thus can’t help it. Well, we can’t help it either, so the hell with them. I don’t think we had to respect Japan’s innate need to fuck everybody in China to death.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/25/ramble-on/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/topics/
https://soundcloud.com/user-519115521/greg-cochran-part-1
2nd part: https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:9ab84243b967

some additional things:
- political correctness, the Cathedral and the left (personnel continuity but not ideology/value) at start
- joke: KT impact = asteroid mining, every mass extinction = intelligent life destroying itself
- Alawites: not really Muslim, women liberated because "they don't have souls", ended up running shit in Syria because they were only ones that wanted to help the British during colonial era
- solution to Syria: "put the Alawites in NYC"
- Zimbabwe was OK for a while, if South Africa goes sour, just "put the Boers in NYC" (Miller: left would probably say they are "culturally incompatible", lol)
- story about Lincoln and his great-great-great-grandfather
- skepticism of free speech
- free speech, authoritarianism, and defending against the Mongols
- Scott crazy (not in a terrible way), LW crazy (genetics), ex.: polyamory
- TFP or microbio are better investments than stereotypical EA stuff
- just ban AI worldwide (bully other countries to enforce)
- bit of a back-and-forth about macroeconomics
- not sure climate change will be huge issue. world's been much warmer before and still had a lot of mammals, etc.
- he quite likes Pseudoerasmus
- shits on modern conservatism/Bret Stephens a bit

- mentions Japan having industrial base a tenth the size of the US's and no chance of winning WW2 around 11m mark
- describes himself as "fairly religious" around 20m mark
- 27m30s: Eisenhower was smart, read Carlyle, classical history, etc.

but was Nixon smarter?: https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2019/03/18/open-thread-03-18-2019/
The Scandals of Meritocracy. Virtue vs. competence. Would you rather have a boss who is evil but competent, or good but incompetent? The reality is you have to balance the two. Richard Nixon was probably smarter that Dwight Eisenhower in raw g, but Eisenhower was probably a better person.
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april 2017 by nhaliday
So you’re thinking of being a traitor | West Hunter
I was just reading something by Freeman Dyson, a review of a biography of Bruno Pontecorvo. He explains that technical spies, like Pontecorvo or Klaus Fuchs or Ted Hall, are unimportant because the Soviet Union had plenty of first-rate scientists already, people like Yuri Khariton and Zeldovich and Sakharov, and would have eventually gotten to the same place anyhow. He thinks that people like Hall only accelerated the Soviet bomb program by two or three years. But tactical spies, people like Aldrich Ames or Kim Philby , who burned fellow agents and got them killed – they’re quite naughty.

So I guess being a atomic spy in the service of the Soviet Union was almost a peccadillo. Right-thinking people certainly want to think that, since so many of them were sympathetic to Uncle Joe (‘ he rolls the executions on his tongue like berries’ ) and his antics. Of course, right-thinking people are always wrong.

Gee, what happened in those two or three years? Anything bad? Anything that wouldn’t have happened if Stalin was Bombless? The Korean War, certainly. Heard of it? Moreover, those technical spies saved the Soviets money as well as time – we explored all the possible approaches to manufacturing fissionables in the Manhattan Project, most of which were expensive failures, but the Soviets didn’t have to. Their resources were limited: this helped. Their first bomb was made from Los Alamos engineering blueprints (thanks, Ted Hall !)

Usually, you have to be careful not to be too hard on public intellectuals, since they’re not very smart and don’t know jack about anything. You really can’t expect anything from them. Dyson, however, is smart – very smart – actually knows some things, and has accomplished a lot. But he’s still utterly full of shit, when it comes to making excuses for ‘his kind of people’.

Let me make a few suggestions for the next crop of foolish scientists considering aiding the next noxious ism. I think there’s a ‘due diligence’ principle – maybe, just maybe, before changing sides, you really need to check if the guys you’re aiding are tyrants and mass murderers, And if they are, that’s a bad thing, not a proof of how serious they are. Check before you defect. Pontecorvo didn’t check: I think he was a a damn fool, worse than stupid. He came to agree: “The simple explanation is this: I was a cretin,’ he said. ‘The fact that I could be so stupid, and many people close to me should have been quite so stupid . . .’ The sentence was left unfinished. Communism, he went on, was ‘like a religion, a revealed religion . . . with myths or rites to explain it. It was the absolute absence of logic.’ ”

I know that means reading something other than Nature or Phys Rev. It might even mean listening to the Lithuanians in the neighborhood bar as they complain about their cousins being shot – but I don’t think that’s asking too much. Parenthetically, why is it that intellectuals feel attracted to monsters like Stalin or Lenin, but hardly ever become agents/disciples of Switzerland or Canada or Uruguay? Nice countries finish last?

Perhaps nothing can really be done: it may be that a high fraction of the psychological types that produce scientific advances are just silly people, without a bit of common sense. Born that way. Maybe we could work hard at making executions more certain, frequent and terrifying: in a better world, Ted Hall would have shit in his pants at the mere thought of committing treason.
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february 2017 by nhaliday
INFECTIOUS CAUSATION OF DISEASE: AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
A New Germ Theory: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1999/02/a-new-germ-theory/377430/
The dictates of evolution virtually demand that the causes of some of humanity's chronic and most baffling "noninfectious" illnesses will turn out to be pathogens -- that is the radical view of a prominent evolutionary biologist

A LATE-SEPTEMBER heat wave enveloped Amherst College, and young people milled about in shorts or sleeveless summer frocks, or read books on the grass. Inside the red-brick buildings framing the leafy quadrangle students listened to lectures on Ellison and Emerson, on Paul Verlaine and the Holy Roman Empire. Few suspected that strains of the organism that causes cholera were growing nearby, in the Life Sciences Building. If they had known, they would probably not have grasped the implications. But these particular strains of cholera make Paul Ewald smile; they are strong evidence that he is on the right track. Knowing the rules of evolutionary biology, he believes, can change the course of infectious disease.

https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99feb/germ2.htm
I HAVE a motto," Gregory Cochran told me recently. "'Big old diseases are infectious.' If it's common, higher than one in a thousand, I get suspicious. And if it's old, if it has been around for a while, I get suspicious."

https://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/99feb/germ3.htm
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february 2017 by nhaliday
The Experts | West Hunter
It seems to me that not all people called experts actually are. In fact, there are whole fields in which none of the experts are experts. But let’s try to define terms.

...

Along these lines, I’ve read Tetlock’s book, Expert Political Judgment. A funny, funny, book. I will have more to say on that later.

USSR: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60760
iraq war:
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60653
Of course it is how Bush sold the war. Selling the war involving statements to the press, leaks, etc, not a Congressional resolution, which is the product of that selling job. Leaks to that lying slut at the New York Times, Judith Miller, for example.

Actively seeking a nuclear weapons capacity would have meant making fissionables, or building facilities to make fissionables. That hadn’t happened, and it was impossible for Iraq to have done so, given that any such effort had to be undetectable (because we hadn’t detected it with our ‘national technical means’, spy satellites and such) and given their limited resources in men, money, and materiel. Iraq had done nothing along these lines. Absolutely nothing.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60674
You don’t even know what yellow cake is. It is true that Saddam had had a nuclear program before the Gulf War, although it had not come too close to a weapon – but that program had been destroyed, and could not be rebuilt A. in a way invisible to our spy satellites and B with no money, because of sanctions.

The 550 tons of uranium oxide- unenriched uranium oxide – was a leftover from the earlier program. Under UN seal, and those seals had not been broken. Without enrichment, and without a means of enrichment, it was useless.

What’s the point of pushing this nonsense? somebody paying you?

The President was a moron, the Government of the United States proved itself a pack of fools,as did the New York Times, the Washington Post, Congress, virtually all of the pundits, etc. etc. And undoubtedly you were a fool as well: you might as well deal with it, because the truth is not going to go away.

interesting discussion of battle fatigue and desertion: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60709
Actually, I don’t know how Freudian those Army psychologists were in 1944: they may have been useless in some other way. The gist is that in the European theater, for example in the Normandy campaign, the US had a much higher rate of psychological casualties than the Germans. “Both British and American psychiatrists were struck by the ‘apparently few cases of psychoneurosis’ among German prisoners of war. ” They were lower in the Red Army, as well.

In the Pacific theater, combat fatigue was even worse for US soldiers, but rare among the Japanese.

...

The infantry took most of the casualties – it was a very dangerous, unpleasant job. People didn’t like being in the infantry. In the American Army, and to a lesser extent, the British Army, getting into medical evacuation channels was a way to avoid getting killed. Not so much in the German Army: suspected malingerers were shot. In the American Army, they weren’t. That’s the most importance difference between the Germans and Americans affecting the ‘combat fatigue’ rate – the Germans didn’t put up with it. They did have some procedures, but they all ended up putting the guy back in combat fairly rapidly.

Even for desertion, only ONE American soldier was executed. In the Germany Army, 20,000. It makes a difference. We ran a soft war: since we ended up with whole divisions out of the fight, we probably would have done better (won faster, lost fewer guys) if we had been harsher on malingerers and deserters.

more on emdees: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60697
As for your idea that doctors improve with age, I doubt it. So do some other people: for example, in this article in Annals of Internal Medicine (Systematic review: the relationship between clinical experience and quality of health care), they say “Overall, 32 of the 62 (52%) evaluations reported decreasing performance with increasing years in practice for all outcomes assessed; 13 (21%) reported decreasing performance with increasing experience for some outcomes but no association for others; 2 (3%) reported that performance initially increased with increasing experience, peaked, and then decreased (concave relationship); 13 (21%) reported no association; 1 (2%) reported increasing performance with increasing years in practice for some outcomes but no association for others; and 1 (2%) reported increasing performance with increasing years in practice for all outcomes. Results did not change substantially when the analysis was restricted to studies that used the most objective outcome measures.

I don’t how well that 25-year old doctor with an IQ of 160 would do, never having met anyone like that. I do know a mathematician who has an IQ around 160 and was married to a doctor, but she* dumped him after he put her through med school and came down with lymphoma.

And that libertarian friend I mentioned, who said that although quarantine would have worked against AIDS, better that we didn’t, despite the extra hundreds of thousands of deaths that resulted – why, he’s a doctor.

*all the other fifth-years in her program also dumped their spouses. Catching?

climate change: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/the-experts/#comment-60787
I think that predicting climate is difficult, considering the complex feedback loops, but I know that almost every right-wing thing said about it that I have checked out turned out to be false.
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january 2017 by nhaliday
China invents the digital totalitarian state | The Economist
PROGRAMMING CHINA: The Communist Party’s autonomic approach to managing state security: https://www.merics.org/sites/default/files/2017-12/171212_China_Monitor_44_Programming_China_EN__0.pdf
- The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has developed a form of authoritarianism that cannot be measured through traditional political scales like reform versus retrenchment. This version of authoritarianism involves both “hard” and “soft” authoritarian methods that constantly act together.
...
- To describe the social management process, this paper introduces a new analytical framework called China’s “Autonomic Nervous System” (ANS). This approach explains China’s social management process through a complex systems engineering framework. This framework mirrors the CCP’s Leninist way of thinking.
- The framework describes four key parts of social management, visualized through ANS’s “self-configuring,” “self-healing,” “self-optimizing” and “self-protecting” objectives.

China's Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3175792

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12771302
https://twitter.com/Aelkus/status/873584698655735808
http://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/06/face-recognition-applied-at-scale-in.html
The Chinese government is not the only entity that has access to millions of faces + identifying information. So do Google, Facebook, Instagram, and anyone who has scraped information from similar social networks (e.g., US security services, hackers, etc.).

In light of such ML capabilities it seems clear that anti-ship ballistic missiles can easily target a carrier during the final maneuver phase of descent, using optical or infrared sensors (let alone radar).

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-all-seeing-surveillance-state-feared-in-the-west-is-a-reality-in-china-1498493020
https://twitter.com/0xa59a2d/status/880098750009659392
https://archive.is/zHmmE
China goes all-in on technology the US is afraid to do right.
US won't learn its lesson in time for CRISPR or AI.

https://www.acast.com/theeconomistasks/theeconomistasks-howdoyouwintheairace-
Artificial intelligence is developing fast in China. But is it likely to enable the suppression of freedoms? One of China's most successful investors, Neil Shen, has a short answer to that question. Also, Chinese AI companies now have the potential to overtake their Western rivals -- we explain why. Anne McElvoy hosts with The Economist's AI expert, Tom Standage

the dude just stonewalls when asked at 7:50, completely zipped lips

http://www.indiatimes.com/technology/science-and-future/this-scary-chinese-surveillance-video-is-serious-cause-for-concern-but-just-not-why-you-think-330530.html
What you’re looking at above is the work of SenseTime, a Chinese computer vision startup. The software in question, called SenseVideo, is a visual scenario analytics system. Basically, it can analyse video footage to pinpoint whether moving objects are humans, cars, or other entities. It’s even sophisticated enough to detect gender, clothing, and the type of vehicle it’s looking at, all in real time.

https://streamable.com/iyi3z

Even China’s Backwater Cities Are Going Smart: http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1001452/even-chinas-backwater-cities-are-going-smart

https://twitter.com/ctbeiser/status/913054318869217282
https://archive.is/IiZiP
remember that tweet with the ML readout of Chinese surveilance cameras? Get ready for the future (via @triviumchina)

XI praised the organization and promised to help it beef up its operations (China
Daily):
- "China will 'help ... 100 developing countries build or upgrade communication systems and crime labs in the next five years'"
- "The Chinese government will establish an international law enforcement institute under the Ministry of Public Security which will train 20,000 police for developing nations in the coming five years"

The Chinese connection to the Zimbabwe 'coup': http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/17/africa/china-zimbabwe-mugabe-diplomacy/index.html

China to create national name-and-shame system for ‘deadbeat borrowers’: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/economy/article/2114768/china-create-national-name-and-shame-system-deadbeat-borrowers
Anyone who fails to repay a bank loan will be blacklisted and have their personal details made public

China Snares Innocent and Guilty Alike to Build World’s Biggest DNA Database: https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-snares-innocent-and-guilty-alike-to-build-worlds-biggest-dna-database-1514310353
Police gather blood and saliva samples from many who aren’t criminals, including those who forget ID cards, write critically of the state or are just in the wrong place

Many of the ways Chinese police are collecting samples are impermissible in the U.S. In China, DNA saliva swabs or blood samples are routinely gathered from people detained for violations such as forgetting to carry identity cards or writing blogs critical of the state, according to documents from a national police DNA conference in September and official forensic journals.

Others aren’t suspected of any crime. Police target certain groups considered a higher risk to social stability. These include migrant workers and, in one city, coal miners and home renters, the documents show.

...

In parts of the country, law enforcement has stored DNA profiles with a subject’s other biometric information, including fingerprints, portraits and voice prints, the heads of the DNA program wrote in the Chinese journal Forensic Science and Technology last year. One provincial police force has floated plans to link the data to a person’s information such as online shopping records and entertainment habits, according to a paper presented at the national police DNA conference. Such high-tech files would create more sophisticated versions of paper dossiers that police have long relied on to keep tabs on citizens.

Marrying DNA profiles with real-time surveillance tools, such as monitoring online activity and cameras hooked to facial-recognition software, would help China’s ruling Communist Party develop an all-encompassing “digital totalitarian state,” says Xiao Qiang, adjunct professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information.

...

A teenage boy studying in one of the county’s high schools recalled that a policeman came into his class after lunch one day this spring and passed out the collection boxes. Male students were told to clean their mouths, spit into the boxes and place them into envelopes on which they had written their names.

...

Chinese police sometimes try to draw connections between ethnic background or place of origin and propensity for crime. Police officers in northwestern China’s Ningxia region studied data on local prisoners and noticed that a large number came from three towns. They decided to collect genetic material from boys and men from every clan to bolster the local DNA database, police said at the law-enforcement DNA conference in September.

https://twitter.com/nils_gilman/status/945820396615483392
China is certainly in the lead in the arena of digital-biometric monitoring. Particularly “interesting” is the proposal to merge DNA info with online behavioral profiling.

https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/949730145195233280
https://archive.is/OCsxs

https://www.techinasia.com/china-citizen-scores-credit-system-orwellian
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/amp/news/world/chinese-blacklist-an-early-glimpse-of-sweeping-new-social-credit-control/article37493300/

https://twitter.com/mr_scientism/status/952263056662384640
https://archive.is/tGErH
This is the thing I find the most disenchanting about the current political spectrum. It's all reheated ideas that are a century old, at least. Everyone wants to run our iPhone society with power structures dating to the abacus.
--
Thank God for the forward-thinking Chinese Communist Party and its high-tech social credit system!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System

INSIDE CHINA'S VAST NEW EXPERIMENT IN SOCIAL RANKING: https://www.wired.com/story/age-of-social-credit/
http://www.wired.co.uk/article/chinese-government-social-credit-score-privacy-invasion

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/05/24/chinese-citizens-want-the-government-to-rank-them/
The government thinks "social credit" will fix the country's lack of trust — and the public agrees.

To be Chinese today is to live in a society of distrust, where every opportunity is a potential con and every act of generosity a risk of exploitation. When old people fall on the street, it’s common that no one offers to help them up, afraid that they might be accused of pushing them in the first place and sued. The problem has grown steadily since the start of the country’s economic boom in the 1980s. But only recently has the deficit of social trust started to threaten not just individual lives, but the country’s economy and system of politics as a whole. The less people trust each other, the more the social pact that the government has with its citizens — of social stability and harmony in exchange for a lack of political rights — disintegrates.

All of which explains why Chinese state media has recently started to acknowledge the phenomenon — and why the government has started searching for solutions. But rather than promoting the organic return of traditional morality to reduce the gulf of distrust, the Chinese government has preferred to invest its energy in technological fixes. It’s now rolling out systems of data-driven “social credit” that will purportedly address the problem by tracking “good” and “bad” behavior, with rewards and punishments meted out accordingly. In the West, plans of this sort have tended to spark fears about the reach of the surveillance state. Yet in China, it’s being welcomed by a public fed up of not knowing who to trust.

It’s unsurprising that a system that promises to place a check on unfiltered power has proven popular — although it’s… [more]
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january 2017 by nhaliday
The deleterious mutation load is insensitive to recent population history : Nature Genetics : Nature Research
contrary:
Distance from sub-Saharan Africa predicts mutational load in diverse human genomes: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/4/E440.abstract
“Out Of Africa” Bottleneck Is What Really Matters For Mutations: https://www.gnxp.com/WordPress/2017/04/26/out-of-africa-bottleneck-is-what-really-matters-for-mutations/
But there is also a lot of archaeological and some ancient genetic DNA now that indicates that the vast majority of non-African ancestry began to expand rapidly around 50-60,000 years ago. This is tens of thousands of years after the lowest value given above. Therefore, again we have to make recourse to a long period of separation before the expansion. This is not implausible on the face of it, but we could do something else: just assume there’s an artifact with their methods and the inferred date of divergence is too old. That would solve many of the issues.

I really don’t know if the above quibbles have any ramification for the site frequency spectrum of deleterious mutations. My own hunch is that no, it doesn’t impact the qualitative results at all.

Figure 3 clearly shows that Europeans are enriched for weak and moderately deleterious mutations (the last category produces weird results, and I wish they’d talked about this more, but they observe that strong deleterious mutations have issues getting detected). Ne is just the effective population size and s is the selection coefficient (bigger number, stronger selection).

Too Much Diversity: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/11/30/too-much-diversity/
There’s a new paper out in Nature, by Wenqing Fu and many other people, about the recent origin of most variants in protein-coding genes. They conclude that most are less than 5-10,000 year old – younger in Europeans than in Africans. This is a natural consequence of the shape of human demographic history – there was a huge population increase with the advent of agriculture, and more people meant more mutations. That agricultural expansion happened somewhat earlier in the Middle East and Europe than in Africa.

...

A very few mutations are beneficial, some are neutral and many are deleterious, although the degree of harm inflicted varies widely. So the population expansion also increased the number of bad mutations – but unless selection also relaxed, it would not have changed the per-capita number of deleterious mutations, or the distribution of their effects (what fraction had large, medium, or small effects on fitness). It increased the diversity of deleterious mutations – they are more motley, not more common. The article never talks about that per-capita number, or, if it did , I was unable to winkle it out. It talks about ages and numbers of mutations – but not the mean number, in either of the two populations studied (European Americans and African Americans) . I think it would been a lot clearer, confused fewer reporters, if it had made that distinction. On the other hand, depending on the facts on the ground, talking about mutational load might be a grant-killer. There was a paper earlier this year (with many of the same authors) that used about half of the same data and did mention per-capita numbers. I’ve discussed it.

...

The paper says that there may be an excess of weakly deleterious mutations in Europeans due to bottlenecks back in the Ice Age. The idea works like this: selection is less efficient in small populations. Deleterious mutations with an effect s < 1/Ne drift freely and are not efficiently removed by selection. This effect takes on the order of Ne generations – so a population reduced to an effective size of of 10,000 for 10,000 generations ( ~250,000 years) would accumulate a large-than-usual number of deleterious mutations of effect size ~10-4. Lohmueller et al wrote about this back in 2008: the scenario they used had a European ancestral bottleneck 200,000 years long, which is A. what you need to make this scenario work and B. impossible, since it’s way before anatomically modern humans left Africa. Back to the drawing board.

disease alleles:
Ascertainment bias can create the illusion of genetic health disparities: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/09/28/195768
study  genetics  regularizer  genetic-load  sapiens  europe  africa  comparison  world  recent-selection  org:nat  pop-structure  null-result  pop-diff  multi  evolution  roots  gnxp  scitariat  commentary  summary  migration  gene-drift  long-short-run  bio  preprint  🌞  debate  hmm  idk  disease  genomics  bioinformatics  spreading  west-hunter  antiquity  eden 
january 2017 by nhaliday
Timing the Wave | West Hunter
A recent paper in PNAS talks about ancient DNA results in Ireland. The story is getting to be a familiar one: 5000 years ago Ireland was inhabited by a Sardinian-like population, 4000 years ago by people pretty similar to the Irish today. Looks like near-total replacement. Since the Corded Ware culture was in place by 4900 years ago, we know that the replacement process in northern Europe took less than 900 years, maybe a lot less. Ongoing ancient DNA investigations should give us a pretty good chronology in the next few years.

Some questions are going to be harder to answer. Why near-replacement in northern Europe, but not in southern Europe? Obviously Indo-Europeans imposed their languages, lots of Y-chromosomes, and made an autosomal contribution to southern Europe, but it doesn’t look like replacement. Sometimes these things boil down to choices, as when the Mongols started taxing the southern Chinese rather pursuing extermination. Maybe a prehistoric Yelü Chucai convinced the invaders that the EEF population was good for something (pizza?), or on the other hand, maybe some of those southern populations put up stronger resistance. Yet the G2a Y chromosomes, once dominant, are very much reduced in number.
west-hunter  study  summary  sapiens  europe  gavisti  britain  mediterranean  commentary  migration  antiquity  org:nat  anglo  aDNA  gene-flow  scitariat  archaeology  conquest-empire  genetics  genomics  spreading  traces 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Building momentum | West Hunter
When people started farming, at first they were not biologically different from their immediate hunter-gatherer ancestors. Eventually they would be different: better adapted to the new diet, the increased crowding, the psychological demands of a very different way of life – but that took at least some time. After they were adapted to farming, the tendency towards farmers expanding, rather than the idea of farming being transmitted, would increase: the biological edge shows up. But at first, before much adaptation, idea transmission might have more competitive with demography. I throw this out as a possible partial explanation of the pattern we are seeing: first the idea of farming spreading through core populations in the Middle East (possibly combined with independent invention or stimulus diffusion), while a little later those core populations themselves begin spreading outward. In fact, on the ball really got rolling, those populations should have been adapting to expansion itself, just like cane toads.

Surfing the Wave: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/surfing-the-wave/
Cane toads, to general dismay, have been spreading rapidly in Australia. And in the course of that spread, they have evolved. This is particularly true at the front of the wave of toads. Those leading-edge toads have longer legs, are more active at night, and have higher reproductive rates.

Something similar has happened in Quebec, where a few thousand French colonists grew more than a thousandfold over three centuries. A research team led by Damian Labuda, Helene Vezina, and Laurent Excoffier (lead author, Claudia Moreau) found that people living near the wavefront contributed significantly more ancestry to the modern Quebec population than those from the central regions. Moreover, fitness was heritable on that wavefront – so life-history traits measurably evolved during the Quebec expansion. Just as they have in cane toads.

...

The paper is also notable in that we see Laurent Excoffier saying that there has been noticeable recent evolutionary change in a human population – a change that has not occurred in all human populations. I had gotten the impression that he really did not like that kind of conclusion, which is too bad for him, because such change is ubiquitous. Maybe we’ll hear more such results from him: once you accept it, the dark side is with you forever.
west-hunter  agriculture  farmers-and-foragers  sapiens  antiquity  frontier  evolution  migration  competition  gene-flow  scitariat  spreading  cultural-dynamics  multi  nature  canada  anglo  recent-selection  natural-experiment  archaeology  similarity  life-history  fertility  waves  agri-mindset  eden 
november 2016 by nhaliday
First-Mover Advantage | West Hunter
Increasingly, it looks as if the hunter-gatherers who lived in Europe at the end of the ice age have been largely replaced. Judging from all those U5 mtdna results from ancient skeletons, I’d say that the hunters don’t account for more than 10% of the ancestry of modern Europeans. It looks as if something similar happened in the Bantu expansion: modern Africans are mostly not descended from the hunter-gatherers who lived in those same places a few thousand years ago. The same could be said for south-east Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Farmers spread, more than knowledge of farming.

In part, this may be explained by a kind of first-mover advantage. If a population has already farmed for a couple of thousand years, they should already be more adapted to that ecological niche: in terms of metabolism, immune system, and psychology. So if a few boatloads of Anatolian farmers land in a hunter-gatherer Italy, they will be better at farming than the locals _can_ be. They will be less prone to alcoholism, will have more resistance to crowd diseases, will be better at living a relatively boring way of life. Their population will grow faster than that of the local hunters, even if the hunters are trying agriculture. Extrapolate that trend for a few centuries and they dominate.
west-hunter  sapiens  speculation  agriculture  farmers-and-foragers  technology  antiquity  evolution  recent-selection  EEA  immune  competition  aDNA  scitariat  pop-diff  spreading  cultural-dynamics  roots  eden  agri-mindset  population  density  scale 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Faster than Fisher | West Hunter
There’s a simple model of the spread of an advantageous allele:  You take σ, the typical  distance people move in one generation, and s,  the selective advantage: the advantageous allele spreads as a nonlinear wave at speed  σ * √(2s).  The problem is, that’s slow.   Suppose that s = 0.10 (a large advantage), σ = 10 kilometers, and a generation time of 30 years: the allele would take almost 7,000 years to expand out 1000 kilometers.

...

This big expansion didn’t just happen from peasants marrying the girl next door: it required migrations and conquests. This one looks as if it rode with the Indo-European expansion: I’ll bet it started out in a group that had domesticated only horses.

The same processes, migration and conquest, must explain the wide distribution of many geographically widespread selective sweeps and partial sweeps. They were adaptive, all right, but expanded much faster than possible from purely local diffusion. We already have reason to think that SLC24A5 was carried to Europe by Middle Eastern farmers; the same is probably true for the haplotype that carries the high-activity ergothioniene transporter and the 35delG connexin-26/GJB2 deafness mutation. The Indo-Europeans probably introduced the T-13910 LCT mutation and the delta-F508 cystic fibrosis mutation, so we should see delta-F508 in northwest India and Pakistan – and we do !

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/faster-than-fisher/#comment-63067
To entertain a (possibly mistaken) physical analogy, it sounds like you’re suggested a sort genetic convection through space, as opposed to conduction. I.e. Entire masses of folks, carrying a new selected variant, are displacing others – as opposed to the slow gene flow process of “girl-next-door.” Is that about right? (Hopefully I haven’t revealed my ignorance of basic thermodynamics here…)

Has there been any attempt to estimate sigma from these time periods?

Genetic Convection: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/genetic-convection/
People are sometimes interested in estimating the point of origin of a sweeping allele: this is probably effectively impossible even if diffusion were the only spread mechanism, since the selective advantage might well vary in both time and space. But that’s ok, since population movements – genetic convection – are real and very important. This means that the difficulties in estimating the origin of a Fisher wave are totally insignificant, compared to the difficulties of estimating the effects of past colonizations, conquests and Völkerwanderungs. So when Yuval Itan and Mark Thomas estimated that 13,910 T LCT allele originated in central Europe, in the early Neolithic, they didn’t just go wrong because of failing to notice that the same allele is fairly common in northern India: no, their whole notion was unsound in the first place. We’re talking turbulence on steroids. Hari Seldon couldn’t figure this one out from the existing geographic distribution.
west-hunter  genetics  population-genetics  street-fighting  levers  evolution  gavisti  🌞  selection  giants  nibble  fisher  speed  gene-flow  scitariat  stylized-facts  methodology  archaeology  waves  frontier  agri-mindset  analogy  visual-understanding  physics  thermo  interdisciplinary  spreading  spatial  geography  poast  multi  volo-avolo  accuracy  estimate  order-disorder  time  homo-hetero  branches  trees  distribution  data  hari-seldon  aphorism  cliometrics  aDNA  mutation  lexical 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Megafaunal Extinctions | West Hunter
When competent human hunters encountered naive fauna, the biggest animals, things like mammoths and toxodons and diprotodons, all went extinct. It is not hard to see why this occurred. Large animals are more worth hunting than rabbits, and easier to catch, while having a far lower reproductive rate. Moreover, humans are not naturally narrow specialists on any one species, so are not limited by the abundance of that species in the way that the lynx population depends on the hare population. Being omnivores, they could manage even when the megafauna as a whole were becoming rare.

There were subtle factors at work as well: the first human colonists in a new land probably didn’t develop ethnic/language splits for some time, which meant that the no-mans-land zones between tribes that can act as natural game preserves didn’t exist in that crucial early period. Such game preserves might have allowed the megafauna to evolve better defenses against humans – but they never got the chance.

It happened in the Americas, in Australia, in New Zealand, in Madagascar, and in sundry islands. There is no reason to think that climate had much to do with it, except in the sense that climatic change may sometimes have helped open up a path to those virgin lands in which the hand of man had never set foot, via melting glaciers or low sea level.

I don’t know the numbers, but certainly a large fraction of archeologists and paleontologists, perhaps a majority, don’t believe that human hunters were responsible, or believe that hunting was only one of several factors. Donald Grayson and David Meltzer, for example. Why do they think this? In part I think it is an aversion to simple explanations, a reversal of Ockham’s razor, which is common in these fields. Of course then I have to explain why they would do such a silly thing, and I can’t. Probably some with these opinions are specialists in a particular geographic area, and do not appreciate the power of looking at multiple extinction events: it’s pretty hard to argue that the climate just happened to change whenever people showed when it happens five or six times.

It might be that belief in specialization is even more of a problem than specialization itself. Lots of time you have to gather insights and information from several fields to make progress on a puzzle. It seems to me that many researchers aren’t willing to learn much outside their field, even when it’s the only route to the answer. But then, maybe they can’t. I remember an anthropologist who could believe in humans rapidly filling up New Zealand, which is about the size of Colorado, but just couldn’t see how they could have managed to fill up a whole continent in a couple of thousand years. Evidently she didn’t understand geometric growth. She is not alone. I have see anthropologists argue [The revolution that wasn’t] that increased human density in ancient Africa was driven by the continent ‘finally getting full’, rather than increased intellectual abilities and resulting greater technological sophistication. That’s truly silly. Look, back in those days, technology changed slowly: you would hardly notice significant change over 50k years. Human populations grow far faster than that, given the chance. Imagine a population with three surviving children per couple, which is nothing special: it would grow by a factor of ten million in a thousand years. The average long-term growth rate was very low, but that is because the rate of increase in human capabilities, which determine the carrying capacity, was very slow – not because rapid population growth is difficult or impossible.

I could explain this to my 11-year old twins in five minutes, but I don’t know that I could ever explain it to Brooks and McBrearty.

various comments about climate change

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/megafaunal-extinctions/#comment-3039
Why do people act as if a slightly more habitable Greenland a millennium ago somehow disproves the statement that the world as a whole was cooler then than now? Motivated reasoning: they want a certain conclusion real bad. At this point it’s become an identifying tribal marker, like left-wingers believing in the innocence of Alger Hiss. And of course they’re mostly just repeating nonsense that some flack dreamed up. Many of the same people will mouth drivel about how a Finn and a Zulu could easily be genetically closer two each other than to other co-ethnics, which is never, ever, true.

When you think about it, falsehoods, stupid crap, make the best group identifiers, because anyone might agree with you when you’re obviously right. Signing up to clear nonsense is a better test of group loyalty. A true friend is with you when you’re wrong. Ideally, not just wrong, but barking mad, rolling around in your own vomit wrong. Movement conservatives have learned this lesson well.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/younger-dryas-meteorite/
It has been suggested that a large meteorite was responsible for an odd climatic twitch from about 12,800 to 11,500 years ago (the Younger Dryas , a temporary return to glacial conditions in the Northern Hemisphere) and for the extinction of the large mammals of North America. They hypothesize air bursts or impact of a swarm of meteors , centered around the Great Lakes. Probably this is all nonsense.

The topic of the Holocene extinction of megafauna seems to bring out the crazy in people. In my opinion, the people supporting this Younger Dryas impact hypothesis are nuts, and half of their opponents are nuts as well.

...

The problem for that meteorite explanation of North Ammerican megafaunal extinction is that South America had an even more varied set of megafauna (gomphotheriums, toxodonts, macrauchenia, glyptodonts, giant sloths, etc) and they went extinct around the same time (probably a few hundred years later). There’s no way for a hit around the Great Lakes to wipe out stuff in Patagonia, barring a huge, dinosaur-killer type hit that throws tremendous amount of debris into suborbital trajectories. But that would have hit the entire world… Didn’t happen.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/05/26/redlining/
If you take too many chances in the process of making a living, you’ll get yourself killed before you manage to raise a family. Therefore there is a maximum sustainable risk per calorie acquired from hunting *. If the average member of the species incurs too much risk, more than that sustainable maximum, the species goes extinct. The Neanderthals must have come closer to that red line than anatomically modern humans in Africa, judging from their beat-up skeletons, which resemble those of rodeo riders. They were almost entirely carnivorous, judging from isotopic studies, and that helps us understand all those fractures: they apparently had limited access to edible plants, which entail far lower risks. Tubers and berries seldom break your ribs.

...

Risk per calorie was particularly high among the Neanderthals because they seem to have had no way of storing meat – they had no drying racks or storage pits in frozen ground like those used by their successors. Think of it this way: storage allow more complete usage of a large carcass such as a bison, that might weigh over a thousand pounds – it wouldn’t be easy to eat all of that before it went bad. Higher utilization – using all of the buffalo – drops the risk per calorie.

You might think that they could have chased rabbits or whatever, but that is relatively unrewarding. It works a lot better if you can use nets or snares, but no evidence of such devices has been found among the Neanderthals.

It looks as if the Neanderthals had health insurance: surely someone else fed them while they were recovering from being hurt. You see the same pattern, to a degree, in lions, and it probably existed in sabertooths as well, since they often exhibit significant healed injuries.

...

So we can often understand the pattern, but why were mammoths rapidly wiped out in the Americas while elephants survived in Africa and south Asia? I offer several possible explanations. First, North American mammoths had no evolved behavioral defenses against man – while Old World elephants had had time to acquire such adaptations. That may have made hunting old world elephants far more dangerous, and therefore less attractive. Second, there are areas in Africa that are almost uninhabitable, due to the tsetse fly. They may have acted as natural game preserves, and there are no equivalents in the Americas. Third, the Babel effect: in the early days, paleoIndians likely had not yet split into different ethnic groups with different languages: with less fighting among the early Indians, animals would not have had relatively border regions acting as refugia. Also, with fewer human-caused casualties, paleoindians could have taken more risks in hunting.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/hunter-gatherer-fish-and-game-laws/
I don’t think that there are any. But then how did they manage to be one-with-the-land custodians of wildlife? Uh….

Conservation is hard. Even if the population as a whole would be better off if a given prey species persisted in fair numbers, any single individual would benefit from cheating – even from eating the very last mammoth.

More complicated societies, with private property and draconian laws against poaching, do better, but even they don’t show much success in preserving a tasty prey species over the long haul. Considers the aurochs, the wild ancestor of the cow. The Indian version seems to have been wiped out 4-5,000 years ago. The Eurasian version was still common in Roman times, but was rare by the 13th century, surviving only in Poland. Theoretically, only members of the Piast dynasty could hunt aurochsen – but they still went extinct in 1627.

How then did edible species survive in pre-state societies? I can think of several ways in which some species managed to survive … [more]
west-hunter  sapiens  antiquity  rant  nature  occam  thick-thin  migration  scitariat  info-dynamics  multi  archaics  nihil  archaeology  kumbaya-kult  the-trenches  discussion  speculation  ideas  environment  food  energy-resources  farmers-and-foragers  history  bio  malthus  cooperate-defect  property-rights  free-riding  public-goodish  alt-inst  population  density  multiplicative  technology  iteration-recursion  magnitude  quantitative-qualitative  study  contradiction  no-go  spreading  death  interests  climate-change  epistemic  truth  coalitions  left-wing  right-wing  science  poast  europe  nordic  agriculture  efficiency  tribalism  signaling  us-them  leviathan  duty  cohesion  organizing  axelrod  westminster  preference-falsification  illusion  inference  apollonian-dionysian 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Diamond on domestication | West Hunter
Jared Diamond, in discussing animal domestication, claims that the local availability of species with the right qualities for domestication was key, rather than anything special about the biology or culture of the humans living there. In some cases that may be true: there aren’t many large mammals left in Australia, and they’re all marsupials anyway. Stupid marsupials. He claims that since Africans and Amerindians were happy to adopt Eurasian domesticated animals when they became available, it must be that that suitable local animals just didn’t exist. But that’s a non sequitur: making use of an already-domesticated species is not at all the same thing as the original act of domestication. That’s like equating using a cell phone with inventing one. He also says that people have had only mixed success in recent domestication attempts – but the big problem there is that a newly domesticated species doesn’t just have to be good, it has to be better than already-existing domestic animals.

...

In fact, in my mind the real question is not why various peoples didn’t domesticate animals that we know were domesticable, but rather how anyone ever managed to domesticate the aurochs. At least twice. Imagine a longhorn on roids: they were big and aggressive, favorites in the Roman arena.

Let me throw out an idea originated by an old friend, Ivy Smith. Consider mice, cats, and toxoplasma. Toxoplasma is a protozoan with a two stage life cycle: one in an intermediate host (mice and rats, among others) and a definitive host (some feline). Toxoplasma only reproduces sexually in the definitive host, and it ‘wants’ to end up there. It manipulates the behavior of the intermediate host in ways that increase the probability of transmission to the definitive host. For one thing, it makes mice like the smell of cat urine, which elicits fear in uninfected mice. In fact, it seems that toxoplasma-infected mice are sexually excited by cat urine. How weird – a parasite rechanneling sexual interest…

The idea is that at least some individual aurochs were not as hostile and fearful of humans as they ought to have been, because they were being manipulated by some parasite. The parasite might have caused a general reduction of fear or aggression without infecting or aiming at humans – or, maybe, humans really were the definitive host, and the parasite knew exactly what it was doing. The beef tape worm – which we originally acquired from lions or hyenas back in Africa a couple of million years ago – might have gained from making infected bovines quiet, passive, maybe even overly friendly in the presence of humans. This would have made domestication a hell of a lot easier.

Parenthetically, such host manipulation may play a really important ecological role. For all we know, if canids and felids had to rely purely on their own abilities, they’d starve.

The beef tape worm may not have made it through Beringia. More generally, there were probably no parasites in the Americas that had some large mammal as intermediate host and Amerindians as the traditional definite host. Amerindians simply hadn’t been there very long. Domesticating bison may have too hard for unaided humans, back in the day.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/i-will-reread-and-review-jared-diamonds-book-guns-germs-and-steel/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/category/ggs/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/why-the-aurochs-could-not-be-domesticated/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/buffalo-gourds-and-josephson-junctions/
Every technique is in competition with rival techniques. This inhibits the development of new techniques, even if they have high potential in the long run. To succeed, they have to beat out existing techniques in the short run.

For example, there are potential advantages for superconducting electronics for computing, but CMOS keeps improving. It’s a moving target: it’s not enough to be good, or interesting, you have to be better. Soon, not in 50 years. This is particularly difficult considering the enormous amount of resources currently invested in improving semiconductor computing technology.

In the same way, one successful domestication tends to inhibit other domestications. Several crops were domesticated in the eastern United States, but with the advent of maize and beans, most were abandoned. Maybe if those Amerindians had continued to selectively breed sumpweed for a few thousand years, it would have been competitive: but nobody is that crazy. Pretty crazy, but not that crazy.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/the-masters-of-the-future/
In Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond argues that all human groups have equal mental capabilities – except for the inhabitants of New Guinea, who are clearly smarter than the human norm.

If this is the case, there’s money to be made. Good performance in a lot of high-paying jobs requires intelligence above some fairly high threshold. Such people are scarce [outside of New Guinea], and that means that their labor is expensive. The fraction of individuals above a high threshold increases dramatically with a higher mean, and since people in PNG don’t have high incomes, there is a fantastic arbitrage opportunity here. You could locate some of the many geniuses that must exist in PNG, rapidly and inexpensively teach them high-tech skills (which they would learn easily, since they’re geniuses, natch), apply for H1B visas, and them resell them to the highest Silicon Valley bidder. This wouldn’t last, of course – these guys would not stay peons forever. They’d be generating their own start-ups in a few years, founding hedge funds, dominating the Vegas poker tournaments, etc. Some, less materialistic, would become grandmasters, win Fields medals, or write seminal books about the attractions of cannibalism. Still, you could make a lot of money in the short run, and if you were careful to build good relationships with your employees, they might let you in on the ground floor of an IPO later.

Poul Anderson, always a visionary, foresaw this. A character in one his books put it thusly:” I am a racist – a dedicated, fanatical racist – who maintains, and can scientifically prove, that his own race is inferior. The only true humans on earth, my friends, the main line of evolution, the masters of the future, are the lordly Melanesians. ”

Of course that character was feigning insanity, but still.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/world-without-stars/#comment-63613
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/08/png-data/
PNG = Papua New Guinea
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/png-uber-alles/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/persistence/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/something-changed/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/21/psychometrics/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/22/regional-change/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/domesticated-animals-and-human-disease/
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/not-without-honor/

final review:
Guns, Germs, and Steel revisited: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/guns-germs-and-steel-revisited/

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/guns-germs-and-steel-revisited/#comment-95596
He never says he was willing to wave the point, so how do you know that?

Next, europeans and Chinese ( northeast Asians) test smarter than anyone else. Noticeably so. And they act it, more or less. kinda sorta. More complicated mistakes.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/guns-germs-and-steel-revisited/#comment-95761
lower genetic diversity in Amerindians+possibility that fast mutating viruses might adapt to their host and hit relatives harder
west-hunter  technology  antiquity  sapiens  nature  speculation  parasites-microbiome  🌞  farmers-and-foragers  domestication  scitariat  ideas  questions  toxo-gondii  multi  books  review  critique  africa  agriculture  agri-mindset  long-short-run  incentives  info-dynamics  group-selection  gwern  india  asia  red-queen  pop-diff  poast  aphorism  developing-world  oceans  arbitrage  race  scifi-fantasy  psychometrics  psychology  cog-psych  iq  intelligence  psych-architecture  paying-rent  realness  disease  scale  civilization  population  density  prudence  marginal  novelty  earth  direction  geography  path-dependence  china  europe  immune  spreading  diversity  galor-like  genetics  genomics  alt-inst  competition  capitalism  cost-benefit  tradeoffs  big-peeps  sex  sexuality 
november 2016 by nhaliday
More than can be imagined in your models - The Unz Review
These results strong indicate that the original Lapita migration did not mix with Melanesians. And, the ancient samples share common ancestry with modern Polynesians, so that their heritage persists down to the present. Looking at the distribution of Melanesian ancestry they concluded this admixture occurred on the order of ~1,500 years before the present (their intervals were wide, but the ancient samples serve as a boundary). Additionally, in line with the Y and mtDNA the X chromosome indicated more of the ancient ancestry than the autosome. The authors conclude that “it is also possible that some of these patterns reflect a scenario in which the later movement of Papuan ancestry into Remote Oceania was largely mediated by males
who then mixed with resident females.”
antiquity  sapiens  asia  world  oceans  gnxp  scitariat  migration  pop-structure  aDNA  archaeology  spreading 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Transmission Between Archaic and Modern Human Ancestors During the Evolution of the Oncogenic Human Papillomavirus 16
The most explanatory scenario suggests that ancestral HPV16 already infected ancestral human populations and that viral lineages co-diverged with the hosts in parallel with the split between archaic Neanderthal-Denisovans and ancestral modern human populations, generating the ancestral HPV16A and HPV16BCD viral lineages, respectively. We propose that after out-of-Africa migration of modern human ancestors, sexual transmission between human populations introduced HPV16A into modern human ancestor populations. We hypothesize that differential coevolution of HPV16 lineages with different but closely related ancestral human populations and subsequent host-switch events in parallel with introgression of archaic alleles into the genomes of modern human ancestors may be largely responsible for the present-day differential prevalence and association with cancers for HPV16 variants.
study  sapiens  evolution  sex  disease  genetics  antiquity  🐸  trivia  parasites-microbiome  sexuality  spreading 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Overcoming Bias : In Praise of Low Needs
We humans have come a long way since we first became human; we’ve innovated and grown our ability to achieve human ends by perhaps a factor of ten million. Not at all shabby, even though it may be small compared to the total factor of growth and innovation that life achieved before humans arrived. But even if humanity’s leap is a great achievement, I fear that we have much further to go than we have come.

The universe seems almost entirely dead out there. There’s a chance it will eventually be densely filled with life, and that our descendants may help to make that happen. Some worry about the quality of that life filling the universe, and yes there are issues there. But I worry mostly about the difference between life and death. Our descendants may kill themselves or stop growing, and fail to fill the universe with life. Any life.

To fill the universe with life requires that we grow far more than our previous leap factor of ten million. More like three to ten factors that big still to go. (See Added below.) So think of all the obstacles we’ve overcome so far, obstacles that appeared when we reached new scales of size and levels of ability. If we were lucky to make it this far, we’ll have to be much more lucky to make it all the way.

...

Added 28Oct: Assume humanity’s leap factor is 107. Three of those is 1021. As there are 1024 stars in observable universe, that much growth could come from filling one in a thousand of those stars with as many rich humans as Earth now has. Ten of humanity’s leap is 1070, and there are now about 1010 humans on Earth. As there are about 1080 atoms in the observable universe, that much growth could come from finding a way to implement one human like creature per atom.
hanson  contrarianism  stagnation  trends  values  farmers-and-foragers  essay  rhetoric  new-religion  ratty  spreading  phalanges  malthus  formal-values  flux-stasis  economics  growth-econ  status  fashun  signaling  anthropic  fermi  nihil  death  risk  futurism  hierarchy  ranking  discipline  temperance  threat-modeling  existence  wealth  singularity  smoothness  discrete  scale  magnitude  population  physics  estimate  uncertainty  flexibility  rigidity  capitalism  heavy-industry  the-world-is-just-atoms  nature  corporation  institutions  coarse-fine 
october 2016 by nhaliday
Encephalitis lethargica - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Between 1915 and 1926, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread around the world. Nearly five million people were affected, a third of whom died in the acute stages. Many of those who survived never returned to their pre-existing "aliveness". "They would be conscious and aware - yet not fully awake; they would sit motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire; they registered what went on about them without active attention, and with profound indifference. They neither conveyed nor felt the feeling of life; they were as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive as zombies."
disease  hmm  wiki  neuro  history  world  spreading 
october 2016 by nhaliday
weaponizing smallpox | West Hunter
As I have said before, it seems likely to me that the Soviet Union put so much effort into treaty-violating biological warfare because the guys at the top believed in it – because they had seen it work, the same reason that they were such tank enthusiasts. One more point on the likely use of tularemia at Stalingrad: in the summer of ’42 the Germans had occupied regions holding 40% of the Soviet Union’s population. The Soviets had a tularemia program: if not then [“Not One Step Back!”], when would they have used it? When would Stalin have used it? Imagine that someone intent on the destruction of the American republic and the extermination of its people [remember the Hunger Plan?] had taken over everything west of the Mississippi: would be that too early to pull out all the stops? Reminds me of of an old Mr Boffo cartoon: you see a monster, taller than skyscrapers, stomping his way through the city. That’s trouble. But then you notice that he’s a hand puppet: that’s serious trouble. Perhaps Stalin was waiting for serious trouble, for example if the Norse Gods had come in on the side of the Nazis.

Anyhow, the Soviets had a big smallpox program. In some ways smallpox is almost the ultimate biological weapon – very contagious, while some strains are highly lethal. And it’s controllable – you can easily shield your own guys via vaccination. Of course back in the 1970s, almost everyone was vaccinated, so it was also completely useless.

We kept vaccinating people as long as smallpox was still running around in the Third World. But when it was eradicated in 1978, people stopped. There seemed to be no reason – and so, as new unvaccinated generations arose, the military efficacy of smallpox has gone up and up and up. It got to the point where the World Health organization threw away its stockpile of vaccine, a couple hundred million units, just to save on the electric bill for the refrigerators.

Consider that the Soviet Union was always the strongest proponent of worldwide eradication of smallpox, dating back to the 1950s. Successful eradication would eventually make smallpox a superweapon: does it seem possible that the people running the Soviet Union had this in mind as a long term-goal ? Potentiation through ‘eradication’? Did the left hand know what the strangling hand had in mind, and shape policies accordingly? Of course.

D.A. Henderson, the man that led the eradication campaign, died just a few days ago. He was aware of this possibility.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/da-henderson-disease-detective-who-eradicated-smallpox-dies-at-87/2016/08/20/b270406e-63dd-11e6-96c0-37533479f3f5_story.html
Dr. Henderson strenuously argued that the samples should be destroyed because, in his view, any amount of smallpox was too dangerous to tolerate. A side effect of the eradication program — and one of the “horrendous ironies of history,” said “Hot Zone” author Preston — is that since no one in generations has been exposed to the virus, most of the world’s population would be vulnerable to it in the event of an outbreak.

“I feel very — what should we say? — dispirited,” Dr. Henderson told the Times in 2002. “Here we are, regressing to defend against something we thought was permanently defeated. We shouldn’t have to be doing this.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/pox_weapon_01.shtml#four
Ken Alibek believes that, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, unemployed or badly-paid scientists are likely to have sold samples of smallpox clandestinely and gone to work in rogue states engaged in illicit biological weapons development. DA Henderson agrees that this is a plausible scenario and is upset by the legacy it leaves. 'If the [Russian bio-weapons] programme had not taken place we would not I think be worrying about smallpox in the same way. One can feel extremely bitter and extremely angry about this because I think they've subjected the entire world to a risk which was totally unnecessary.'

also:
War in the East: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/war-in-the-east/
The books generally say that biological warfare is ineffective, but then they would say that, wouldn’t they? There is reason to think it has worked, and it may have made a difference.

...

We know of course that this offensive eventually turned into a disaster in which the German Sixth Army was lost. But nobody knew that then. The Germans were moving forward with little to stop them: they were scary SOBs. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The Soviet leadership was frightened, enough so that they sent out a general backs-to-the-wall, no-retreat order that told the real scale of losses. That was the Soviet mood in the summer of 42.

That’s the historical background. Now for the clues. First, Ken Alibek was a bioweapons scientist back in the USSR. In his book, Biohazard, he tells how, as a student, he was given the assignment of explaining a mysterious pattern of tularemia epidemics back in the war. To him, it looked artificial, whereupon his instructor said something to the effect of “you never thought that, you never said that. Do you want a job?” Second, Antony Beevor mentions the mysteriously poor health of German troops at Stalingrad – well before being surrounded (p210-211). Third, the fact that there were large tularemia epidemics in the Soviet Union during the war – particularly in the ‘oblasts temporarily occupied by the Fascist invaders’, described in History and Incidence of Tularemia in the Soviet Union, by Robert Pollitzer.

Fourth, personal communications from a friend who once worked at Los Alamos. Back in the 90’s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, there was a time when you could hire a whole team of decent ex-Soviet physicists for the price of a single American. My friend was having a drink with one of his Russian contractors, son of a famous ace, who started talking about how his dad had dropped tularemia here, here, and here near Leningrad (sketching it out on a napkin) during the Great Patriotic War. Not that many people spontaneously bring up stories like that in dinner conversation…

Fifth, the huge Soviet investment in biowarfare throughout the Cold War is a hint: they really, truly, believed in it, and what better reason could there be than decisive past successes? In much the same way, our lavish funding of the NSA strongly suggested that cryptanalysis and sigint must have paid off handsomely for the Allies in WWII – far more so than publicly acknowledged, until the revelations about Enigma in the 1970s and later.

We know that tularemia is an effective biological agent: many countries have worked with it, including the Soviet Union. If the Russians had had this capability in the summer of ’42 (and they had sufficient technology: basically just fermentation) , it is hard to imagine them not using it. I mean, we’re talking about Stalin. You think he had moral qualms? But we too would have used germ warfare if our situation had been desperate.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/war-in-the-east/#comment-1330
Sean, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Anybody exposed to an aerosol form of tularemia is likely to get it: 10-50 bacteria are enough to give a 50% probability of infection. You do not need to be sickly, starved, or immunosuppressed in order to contract it, although those factors probably influence its lethality. The same is true of anthrax: if it starts growing in your lungs, you get sick. You’re not born immune. There are in fact some diseases that you _are_ born immune to (most strains of sleeping sickness, for example), or at least have built-in defenses against (Epstein-Barr, cf TLRs).

A few other facts I’ve just found: First, the Soviets had a tularemia vaccine, which was used to an unclear extent at Stalingrad. At the time nobody else did.

Next, as far as I can tell, the Stalingrad epidemic is the only large-scale pneumonic tularemia epidemic that has ever occurred.

Next cool fact: during the Cold War, the Soviets were somewhat more interested in tularemia than other powers. At the height of the US biowarfare program, we produced less than two tons per year. The Soviets produced over one thousand tons of F. tularensis per year in that period.

Next question, one which deserves a serious, extended treatment. Why are so many people so very very good at coming up with wrong answers? Why do they apply Occam’s razor backwards? This is particularly common in biology. I’m not talking about Croddy in Military Medicine: he probably had orders to lie, and you can see hints of that if you read carefully.

https://twitter.com/gcochran99/status/952248214576443393
https://archive.is/tEcgK
Joining the Army might work. In general not available to private individuals, for reasons that are largely bullshit.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Personnel decision | West Hunter
https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/personnel-decision/#comment-83814
I think we are about due for a career civil servant within the agency or relatively recently retired from it (ideally to academia), with a PhD or M.D. and probably a pay grade of either GS-15 or Senior Executive Service (SES), who has a reputation for integrity, for intelligence, and for getting things done bureaucratically, with some low profile political connections (at least to the ruling party but ideally to both political parties) in private life as well (e.g. through friendships made at a top college, a politician or top political aide parent, or friendships made while attending a top D.C. private school like Sidwell Friends or St. Albion’s or National Cathedral School).

Few federal agencies call for more subject-matter competence to understand its functions well enough to run it well.
--
The problem is that the typical member of the set you describe is nuts. Members have a lot of incorrect ideas in their heads: in fact, you have to express support of those ideas or you are expelled. So, that means that every educational improvement plan pushed by the Feds fails: you can’t do anything realistic, or you would be a bad person. Every intervention in the Middle East fails: same reason. AIDs shows up, so we abandon quarantine: Fidel Castro deals with the situation 50 times better than we did.

The Aztecs thought that the world would end if they didn’t keep cutting people’s hearts out on an industrial scale. They were crazy. But were they crazier than we are?
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september 2016 by nhaliday
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