nhaliday + stress   79

Geoff Greer's site: Burnout is in the Mind
I sometimes wonder if burnout is the western version of fan death. When you think about it, burnout makes little sense. People get depressed and tired from… what, exactly? Working too much? Working too hard? Excessive drudgery? Bull. We are working less than ever before. Just over a century ago, the average work week exceeded 60 hours. Today, it’s 33.[1] Past occupations also involved toil and danger far greater than any employment today. Yet burnout is a modern phenomenon. Strange, eh?

...

I’m not saying those who claim to be burnt-out are faking. I don’t doubt that burnout describes a real phenomenon. What I do doubt is the accepted cause (work) and the accepted cure (time off from work). It seems much more likely that burnout is a form of depression[3], which has a myriad of causes and cures.

It is only after making all this noise about burnout that I feel comfortable suggesting the following: Don’t worry about working too much. The important thing is to avoid depression. People more knowledgable than I have written on that subject, but to sum up their advice: Get out. Exercise. Try to form healthy habits. And stay the hell away from negative media such as cable news and Tumblr.
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27 days ago by nhaliday
Sci-Hub | The genetics of human fertility. Current Opinion in Psychology, 27, 41–45 | 10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.07.011
very short

Overall, there is a suggestion of two different reproductive strategies proving to be successful in modern Western societies: (1) a strategy associated with socially conservative values, including a high commitment to the bearing of children within marriage; and(2) a strategy associated with antisocial behavior, early sexual experimentation, a variety of sexual partners, low educational attainment, low commitment to marriage, haphazard pregnancies, and indifference to politics. This notion of distinct lifestyles characterized in common by relatively high fertility deserves further empirical and theoretical study.
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march 2019 by nhaliday
Lateralization of brain function - Wikipedia
Language
Language functions such as grammar, vocabulary and literal meaning are typically lateralized to the left hemisphere, especially in right handed individuals.[3] While language production is left-lateralized in up to 90% of right-handers, it is more bilateral, or even right-lateralized, in approximately 50% of left-handers.[4]

Broca's area and Wernicke's area, two areas associated with the production of speech, are located in the left cerebral hemisphere for about 95% of right-handers, but about 70% of left-handers.[5]:69

Auditory and visual processing
The processing of visual and auditory stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception, and artistic ability are represented bilaterally.[4] Numerical estimation, comparison and online calculation depend on bilateral parietal regions[6][7] while exact calculation and fact retrieval are associated with left parietal regions, perhaps due to their ties to linguistic processing.[6][7]

...

Depression is linked with a hyperactive right hemisphere, with evidence of selective involvement in "processing negative emotions, pessimistic thoughts and unconstructive thinking styles", as well as vigilance, arousal and self-reflection, and a relatively hypoactive left hemisphere, "specifically involved in processing pleasurable experiences" and "relatively more involved in decision-making processes".

Chaos and Order; the right and left hemispheres: https://orthosphere.wordpress.com/2018/05/23/chaos-and-order-the-right-and-left-hemispheres/
In The Master and His Emissary, Iain McGilchrist writes that a creature like a bird needs two types of consciousness simultaneously. It needs to be able to focus on something specific, such as pecking at food, while it also needs to keep an eye out for predators which requires a more general awareness of environment.

These are quite different activities. The Left Hemisphere (LH) is adapted for a narrow focus. The Right Hemisphere (RH) for the broad. The brains of human beings have the same division of function.

The LH governs the right side of the body, the RH, the left side. With birds, the left eye (RH) looks for predators, the right eye (LH) focuses on food and specifics. Since danger can take many forms and is unpredictable, the RH has to be very open-minded.

The LH is for narrow focus, the explicit, the familiar, the literal, tools, mechanism/machines and the man-made. The broad focus of the RH is necessarily more vague and intuitive and handles the anomalous, novel, metaphorical, the living and organic. The LH is high resolution but narrow, the RH low resolution but broad.

The LH exhibits unrealistic optimism and self-belief. The RH has a tendency towards depression and is much more realistic about a person’s own abilities. LH has trouble following narratives because it has a poor sense of “wholes.” In art it favors flatness, abstract and conceptual art, black and white rather than color, simple geometric shapes and multiple perspectives all shoved together, e.g., cubism. Particularly RH paintings emphasize vistas with great depth of field and thus space and time,[1] emotion, figurative painting and scenes related to the life world. In music, LH likes simple, repetitive rhythms. The RH favors melody, harmony and complex rhythms.

...

Schizophrenia is a disease of extreme LH emphasis. Since empathy is RH and the ability to notice emotional nuance facially, vocally and bodily expressed, schizophrenics tend to be paranoid and are often convinced that the real people they know have been replaced by robotic imposters. This is at least partly because they lose the ability to intuit what other people are thinking and feeling – hence they seem robotic and suspicious.

Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West as well as McGilchrist characterize the West as awash in phenomena associated with an extreme LH emphasis. Spengler argues that Western civilization was originally much more RH (to use McGilchrist’s categories) and that all its most significant artistic (in the broadest sense) achievements were triumphs of RH accentuation.

The RH is where novel experiences and the anomalous are processed and where mathematical, and other, problems are solved. The RH is involved with the natural, the unfamiliar, the unique, emotions, the embodied, music, humor, understanding intonation and emotional nuance of speech, the metaphorical, nuance, and social relations. It has very little speech, but the RH is necessary for processing all the nonlinguistic aspects of speaking, including body language. Understanding what someone means by vocal inflection and facial expressions is an intuitive RH process rather than explicit.

...

RH is very much the center of lived experience; of the life world with all its depth and richness. The RH is “the master” from the title of McGilchrist’s book. The LH ought to be no more than the emissary; the valued servant of the RH. However, in the last few centuries, the LH, which has tyrannical tendencies, has tried to become the master. The LH is where the ego is predominantly located. In split brain patients where the LH and the RH are surgically divided (this is done sometimes in the case of epileptic patients) one hand will sometimes fight with the other. In one man’s case, one hand would reach out to hug his wife while the other pushed her away. One hand reached for one shirt, the other another shirt. Or a patient will be driving a car and one hand will try to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. In these cases, the “naughty” hand is usually the left hand (RH), while the patient tends to identify herself with the right hand governed by the LH. The two hemispheres have quite different personalities.

The connection between LH and ego can also be seen in the fact that the LH is competitive, contentious, and agonistic. It wants to win. It is the part of you that hates to lose arguments.

Using the metaphor of Chaos and Order, the RH deals with Chaos – the unknown, the unfamiliar, the implicit, the emotional, the dark, danger, mystery. The LH is connected with Order – the known, the familiar, the rule-driven, the explicit, and light of day. Learning something means to take something unfamiliar and making it familiar. Since the RH deals with the novel, it is the problem-solving part. Once understood, the results are dealt with by the LH. When learning a new piece on the piano, the RH is involved. Once mastered, the result becomes a LH affair. The muscle memory developed by repetition is processed by the LH. If errors are made, the activity returns to the RH to figure out what went wrong; the activity is repeated until the correct muscle memory is developed in which case it becomes part of the familiar LH.

Science is an attempt to find Order. It would not be necessary if people lived in an entirely orderly, explicit, known world. The lived context of science implies Chaos. Theories are reductive and simplifying and help to pick out salient features of a phenomenon. They are always partial truths, though some are more partial than others. The alternative to a certain level of reductionism or partialness would be to simply reproduce the world which of course would be both impossible and unproductive. The test for whether a theory is sufficiently non-partial is whether it is fit for purpose and whether it contributes to human flourishing.

...

Analytic philosophers pride themselves on trying to do away with vagueness. To do so, they tend to jettison context which cannot be brought into fine focus. However, in order to understand things and discern their meaning, it is necessary to have the big picture, the overview, as well as the details. There is no point in having details if the subject does not know what they are details of. Such philosophers also tend to leave themselves out of the picture even when what they are thinking about has reflexive implications. John Locke, for instance, tried to banish the RH from reality. All phenomena having to do with subjective experience he deemed unreal and once remarked about metaphors, a RH phenomenon, that they are “perfect cheats.” Analytic philosophers tend to check the logic of the words on the page and not to think about what those words might say about them. The trick is for them to recognize that they and their theories, which exist in minds, are part of reality too.

The RH test for whether someone actually believes something can be found by examining his actions. If he finds that he must regard his own actions as free, and, in order to get along with other people, must also attribute free will to them and treat them as free agents, then he effectively believes in free will – no matter his LH theoretical commitments.

...

We do not know the origin of life. We do not know how or even if consciousness can emerge from matter. We do not know the nature of 96% of the matter of the universe. Clearly all these things exist. They can provide the subject matter of theories but they continue to exist as theorizing ceases or theories change. Not knowing how something is possible is irrelevant to its actual existence. An inability to explain something is ultimately neither here nor there.

If thought begins and ends with the LH, then thinking has no content – content being provided by experience (RH), and skepticism and nihilism ensue. The LH spins its wheels self-referentially, never referring back to experience. Theory assumes such primacy that it will simply outlaw experiences and data inconsistent with it; a profoundly wrong-headed approach.

...

Gödel’s Theorem proves that not everything true can be proven to be true. This means there is an ineradicable role for faith, hope and intuition in every moderately complex human intellectual endeavor. There is no one set of consistent axioms from which all other truths can be derived.

Alan Turing’s proof of the halting problem proves that there is no effective procedure for finding effective procedures. Without a mechanical decision procedure, (LH), when it comes to … [more]
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september 2018 by nhaliday
The Politics of Mate Choice
TABLE 1 Spousal Concordance on 16 Traits Pearson’s r (n)

Church attendance .714 (4950)
W-P Index (28 items) .647 (3984)
Drinking frequency .599 (4984)
Political party support .596 (4547)
Education .498 (4957)
Height .227 (4964)
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december 2017 by nhaliday
THE BIG FIVE PERSONALITY TRAITS AND PARTISANSHIP IN ENGLAND
We find that supporters of the major parties (Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats) have substantively different personality traits. Moreover, we show that those not identifying with any party, who are close to holding the majority, are similar to those identifying with the Conservatives. We show that these results are robust to controlling for cognitive skills and parental party preferences, and to estimation on a subsample of siblings. The relationship between personality traits and party identification is stable across birth cohorts.

Table 2: Big Five Personality Traits: Predictions.
Figure 3: Relationship between personality traits and stable party identification

Conservative core supporters are antagonistic towards others (low Agreeableness), they are closed to new experiences (low Openness), they are energetic and enthusiastic (high Extraversion), they are goal-orientated (high Conscientiousness), and they are even-tempered (low Neuroticism).

In contrast, the core supporters of the Labour Party have a pro-social and communal attitude (high Agreeableness), they are open to new experiences and ideas (high Openness), but they are more anxious, tense and discontented (high Neuroticism) and less prone to goal-directed behavior (low Conscientiousness). The core supporters of the Liberal Democrats have similar traits to the typical Labour supporters with two exceptions. First, they do not show any particular tendency towards pro-social and communal attitudes (insignificant Agreeableness). Second, they are more reserved and introverted than the more extraverted supporters of either the Conservatives or Labour (low Extraversion).

Psychological and Personality Profiles of Political Extremists: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1704.00119.pdf
We revisit the debate over the appeal of extremism in the U.S. context by comparing publicly available Twitter messages written by over 355,000 political extremist followers with messages written by non-extremist U.S. users. Analysis of text-based psychological indicators supports the moral foundation theory which identifies emotion as a critical factor in determining political orientation of individuals. Extremist followers also differ from others in four of the Big Five personality traits.

Fig. 2. Comparing psychological profiles of the followers of moderate and extremist single-issue groups, compared to random users.

Overall, the differences in psychological profile between followers of extremist and moderate groups is much larger for left-wing extremists (environmentalists) than right-wing (anti-abortion and anti-immigrant).

Fig. 3. Big Five Personality Profiles.

Results show that extremist followers (whether left or right) are less agreeable, less neurotic, and more open than nonextremists.

Ideology as Motivated Cultural Cognition: How Culture Translates Personality into Policy Preferences: https://www.psa.ac.uk/sites/default/files/conference/papers/2017/Ideology%20as%20Motivated%20Cultural%20Cognition.pdf
This paper summarises the results of a quantitative analysis testing the theory that culture acts as an intermediary in the relationship between individual perceptual tendencies and political orientation. Political psychologists have long observed that more “left-wing” individuals tend to be more comfortable than “right-wing” individuals with ambiguity, disorder, and uncertainty, to equivocate more readily between conflicting viewpoints, and to be more willing to change their opinions. These traits are often summarised under the blanket term of “open-mindedness”. A recent increase in cross-cultural studies, however, has indicated that these relationships are far less robust, and even reversed, in social contexts outside of North America and Western Europe. The sociological concept of culture may provide an answer to this inconsistency: emergent idea-networks, irreducible to individuals, which nonetheless condition psychological motivations, so that perceptual factors resulting in left-wing preferences in one culture may result in opposing preferences in another. The key is that open-mindedness leads individuals to attack the dominant ideas which they encounter: if prevailing orthodoxies happen to be left-wing, then open minded individuals may become right-wing in protest. Using conditional process analysis of the British Election Study, I find evidence for three specific mechanisms whereby culture interferes with perceptual influences on politics. Conformity to the locally dominant culture mediates these influences, in the sense that open-minded people in Britain are only more left-wing because they are less culturally conformal. This relationship is itself moderated both by cultural group membership and by Philip Converse’s notion of “constraint”, individual-level connectivity between ideas, such that the strength of perceptual influence differs significantly between cultural groups and between levels of constraint to the idea of the political spectrum. Overall, I find compelling evidence for the importance of culture in shaping perceptions of policy choices.
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november 2017 by nhaliday
Links 6/17: Silinks Is Golden | Slate Star Codex
Vox tries its hand at an explainer about the Sam Harris / Charles Murray interview. Some criticism from Gene Expression, The Misrepresentation Of Genetic Science In The Vox Piece On Race And IQ. From Elan, The Cherry-Picked Science In Vox’s Charles Murray Article. From Sam Harris, an accusation that the article just blatantly lies about the contents of the publicly available podcast (one of the authors later apologizes for this, but Vox hasn’t changed the article). From Professor Emeritus Richard Haier, who called it a “junk science piece” and tried to write a counterpiece for Vox (they refused to publish it, but it’s now up on Quillette). And even from other Vox reporters who thought it was journalistically shoddy. As for me, I think the article was as good as it could be under the circumstances – while it does get some things wrong and is personally unfair to Murray, from a scientific point of view I’m just really glad that the piece admits that IQ is real, meaningful, and mostly hereditary. This was the main flashpoint of the original debate twenty-five years ago, it’s more important than the stuff on the achievement gap, and the piece gets it entirely right. I think this sort of shift from debating the very existence of intelligence to debating the details is important, very productive, and worth praising even when the details are kind of dubious. This should be read in the context of similar recent articles like NYMag’s Yes, There Is A Genetic Component To Intelligence and Nature’s Intelligence Research Should Not Be Held Back By Its Past.

interesting comment thread on media treatment of HBD and effect on alt-right: http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/06/14/links-617-silinks-is-golden/#comment-510641

AskHistorians: Did Roman legionnaires get PTSD? “For the Romans, people experiencing intrusive memories were said to be haunted by ghosts…those haunted by ghosts are constantly depicted showing many symptoms which would be familiar to the modern PTSD sufferer.”

The best new blog I’ve come across recently is Sam[]zdat, which among other things has been reviewing various great books. Their Seeing Like A State review is admittedly better than mine, but I most appreciated The Meridian Of Her Greatness, based on a review of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation. Go for the really incisive look at important ideas and social trends, stay for the writing style.

What lesson should we draw about Democrats’ prospects from the Republicans’ 7 point win in the Montana special election? (point, counterpoint).

An analysis showing Donald Trump’s speech patterns getting less fluent and more bizarre over the past few years – might he be suffering from mild age-related cognitive impairment? Also, given that this can be pretty subtle (cue joke about Trump) and affect emotional stability in complicated ways, should we be more worried about electing seventy-plus year old people to the presidency?

PNAS has a good (albeit kind of silly) article on claims that scientific progress has slowed.

New study finds that growth mindset is not associated with scholastic aptitude in a large sample of university applicants. Particularly excited about this one because an author said that my blog posts about growth mindset inspired the study. I’m honored to have been able to help the progress of science!
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june 2017 by nhaliday
The Audacious Epigone: White despair in the General Social Survey
1/4 WWC report having been depressed, rates still a bit higher for whites among upper classes
Prevalence of Depression by Race/Ethnicity: Findings From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1449298/
A Cross-Ethnic Comparison of Lifetime Prevalence Rates of Anxiety Disorders: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931265/

Racial-Ethnic Differences in Psychiatric Diagnoses and Treatment Across 11 Health Care Systems in the Mental Health Research Network: https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ps.201500217
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Links 5/17: Rip Van Linkle | Slate Star Codex
More on Low-Trust Russia: Do Russian Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestants avoid asking the audience because they expect audience members to deliberately mislead them?

Xenocrypt on the math of economic geography: “A party’s voters should get more or less seats based on the shape of the monotonic curve with integral one they can be arranged in” might sound like a very silly belief, but it is equivalent to the common mantra that you deserve to lose if your voters are ‘too clustered’”

Okay, look, I went way too long between writing up links posts this time, so you’re getting completely dated obsolete stuff like Actually, Neil Gorsuch Is A Champion Of The Little Guy. But aside from the Gorsuch reference this is actually pretty timeless – basically an argument for strict constructionism on the grounds that “a flexible, living, bendable law will always tend to be bent in the direction of the powerful.”

Otium: Are Adult Developmental Stages Real? Looks at Kohlberg, Kegan, etc.

I mentioned the debate over 5-HTTLPR, a gene supposedly linked to various mental health outcomes, in my review of pharmacogenomics. Now a very complete meta-analysis finds that a lot of the hype around it isn’t true. This is pretty impressive since there are dozens of papers claiming otherwise, and maybe the most striking example yet of how apparently well-replicated a finding can be and still fail to pan out.

Rootclaim describes itself as a crowd-sourced argument mapper. See for example its page on who launched the chemical attack in Syria.

Apparently if you just kill off all the cells that are growing too old, you can partly reverse organisms’ aging (paper, popular article)

The Politics Of The Gene: “Contrary to expectations, however, we find little evidence that it is more common for whites, the socioeconomically advantaged, or political conservatives to believe that genetics are important for health and social outcomes.”

Siberian Fox linked me to two studies that somewhat contradicted my minimalist interpretation of childhood trauma here: Alemany on psychosis and Turkheimer on harsh punishment.

Lyrebird is an AI project which, if fed samples of a person’s voice, can read off any text you want in the same voice. See their demo with Obama, Trump, and Hillary (I find them instantly recognizable but not at all Turing-passing). They say making this available is ethical because it raises awareness of the potential risk, which a Facebook friend compared to “selling nukes to ISIS in order to raise awareness of the risk of someone selling nukes to ISIS.”

Freddie deBoer gives lots of evidence that there is no shortage of qualified STEM workers relative to other fields and the industry is actually pretty saturated. But Wall Street Journal seems to think they have evidence for the opposite? Curious what all of the tech workers here think.

Scott Sumner: How Can There Be A Shortage Of Construction Workers? That is, is it at all plausible that (as help wanted ads would suggest) there are areas where construction companies can’t find unskilled laborers willing to work for $90,000/year? Sumner splits this question in two – first, an economics question of why an efficient market wouldn’t cause salaries to rise to a level that guarantees all jobs get filled. And second, a political question of how this could happen in a country where we’re constantly told that unskilled men are desperate because there are no job opportunities for them anymore. The answers seem to be “there’s a neat but complicated economics reason for the apparent inefficiency” and “the $90,000 number is really misleading but there may still be okay-paying construction jobs going unfilled and that’s still pretty strange”.

Study which is so delightfully contrarian I choose to reblog it before reading it all the way through: mandatory class attendance policies in college decrease grades by preventing students from making rational decisions about when and how to study.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence
We focus on the results of a United Kingdom-wide examination, the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which is administered at the end of compulsory education at age 16. GCSE scores were obtained for 13,306 twins at age 16, whom we also assessed contemporaneously on 83 scales that were condensed to nine broad psychological domains, including intelligence, self-efficacy, personality, well-being, and behavior problems. The mean of GCSE core subjects (English, mathematics, science) is more heritable (62%) than the nine predictor domains (35–58%). Each of the domains correlates significantly with GCSE results, and these correlations are largely mediated genetically. The main finding is that, although intelligence accounts for more of the heritability of GCSE than any other single domain, the other domains collectively account for about as much GCSE heritability as intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE. We conclude that the high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
Secular decline in testosterone levels - Rogue Health and Fitness
A Population-Level Decline in Serum Testosterone Levels in American Men: http://sci-hub.tw/10.1210/jc.2006-1375
Secular trends in sex hormones and fractures in men and women: http://www.eje-online.org/content/166/5/887.full.pdf
https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/984543033285898246
https://archive.is/dcruu
Small n and older sample, but interesting that while testosterone decreases have been large for men they’ve been even larger (in % terms) for women; wonder if this contributes to declining pregnancy and sexual frequency, rising depression.

https://www.labcorp.com/assets/11476
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/sperm-killers-and-rising-male-infertility/
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/25/sperm-counts-among-western-men-have-halved-in-last-40-years-study
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/08/most-men-in-the-us-and-europe-could-be-infertile-by-2060
Strangelove: https://youtu.be/N1KvgtEnABY?t=67

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sperm-count-dropping-in-western-world/
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14855796
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14857588
People offering human-centric explanations like cell phones: Note also that the sperm quality of dogs has decreased 30% since 1988.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/august-3-2019-science-of-awe-blue-whales-and-sonar-chromosomes-and-sleep-and-more-1.5047142/man-and-man-s-best-friend-have-both-been-experiencing-declines-in-sperm-quality-1.5047150
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20636757

mendelian rand.:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28448539
1 SD genetically instrumented increase in BMI was associated with a 0.25 SD decrease in serum testosterone
https://twitter.com/SilverVVulpes/status/857902555489341441

Ibuprofen linked to male infertility: study: https://nypost.com/2018/01/08/ibuprofen-linked-to-male-infertility-study/
http://www.pnas.org/content/115/4/E715.full

Tucker Carlson: "Men Seem To Be Becoming Less Male": https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/03/08/tucker_carlson_men_seem_to_be_becoming_less_male.html
Carlson interviewed Dr. Jordan Peterson who blamed the "insidious" movement being driven by the "radical left" that teaches there a problem of "toxic masculinity." He said ideological policies focus on "de-emphasizing masculinity may be part of the problem."

...

Those are the numbers. They paint a very clear picture: American men are failing, in body, mind and spirit. This is a crisis. Yet our leaders pretend it’s not happening. They tell us the opposite is true: Women are victims, men are oppressors. To question that assumption is to risk punishment. Even as women far outpace men in higher education, virtually every college campus supports a women’s studies department, whose core goal is to attack male power. Our politicians and business leaders internalize and amplify that message. Men are privileged. Women are oppressed. Hire and promote and reward accordingly.

https://pinboard.in/u:nhaliday/b:bd7b0a50d741
But it also hints at an almost opposite take: average testosterone levels have been falling for decades, so at this point these businessmen would be the only “normal” (by 1950s standards) men out there, and everyone else would be unprecedently risk-averse and boring.
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may 2017 by nhaliday
The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences in Personality
something other than Big Five

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20161011-do-men-and-women-really-have-different-personalities
In an email, Del Giudice explained his approach to me with an analogy. “Gender differences in personality are very much like gender differences in facial appearance,” he said. “Each individual trait (nose length, eye size, etc) shows small differences between men and women, but once you put them all together... differences become clear and you can distinguish between male and female faces with more than 95% accuracy.”

Gender Differences in Personality across the Ten Aspects of the Big Five: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/
Replicating previous findings, women reported higher Big Five Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism scores than men. However, more extensive gender differences were found at the level of the aspects, with significant gender differences appearing in both aspects of every Big Five trait. For Extraversion, Openness, and Conscientiousness, the gender differences were found to diverge at the aspect level, rendering them either small or undetectable at the Big Five level.

some moderation by ethnicity and aging
study  psychology  cog-psych  personality  data  gender  gender-diff  psych-architecture  multi  news  org:rec  summary  evopsych  org:anglo  similarity  comparison  dimensionality  effect-size  degrees-of-freedom  race  aging  canada  anglo  self-report  discipline  extra-introversion  pop-diff  chart  stress 
april 2017 by nhaliday
The paradox of declining female happiness - Journalist's Resource
The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness: https://www.nber.org/papers/w14969
- Betsey Stevenson, Justin Wolfers

https://twitter.com/toad_spotted/status/1173955574347771904
https://archive.is/xYGoi
https://archive.is/jOC6z
The recent wild increase in teenage girl depression+anxiety has implication that damage feminism does has little to do w:working or promiscuity (now absent among teenagers)but that in absence of male status identity collapses into sterile hysterical competition+self-directed rage
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Links 6/15: URLing Toward Freedom | Slate Star Codex
Why do some schools produce a disproportionate share of math competition winners? May not just be student characteristics.

My post The Control Group Is Out Of Control, as well as some of the Less Wrong posts that inspired it, has gotten cited in a recent preprint article, A Skeptical Eye On Psi, on what psi can teach us about the replication crisis. One of the authors is someone I previously yelled at, so I like to think all of that yelling is having a positive effect.

A study from Sweden (it’s always Sweden) does really good work examining the effect of education on IQ. It takes an increase in mandatory Swedish schooling length which was rolled out randomly at different times in different districts, and finds that the districts where people got more schooling have higher IQ; in particular, an extra year of education increases permanent IQ by 0.75 points. I was previously ambivalent about this, but this is a really strong study and I guess I have to endorse it now (though it’s hard to say how g-loaded it is or how linear it is). Also of note; the extra schooling permanently harmed emotional control ability by 0.5 points on a scale identical to IQ (mean 100, SD 15). This is of course the opposite of past studies suggest that education does not improve IQ but does help non-cognitive factors. But this study was an extra year tacked on to the end of education, whereas earlier ones have been measuring extra education tacked on to the beginning, or just making the whole educational process more efficient. Still weird, but again, this is a good experiment (EDIT: This might not be on g)
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march 2017 by nhaliday
Who delays childbearing? The relationships between fertility, education and personality traits
Given that nowadays women’s fertility reflects, to a greater extent, their basic preferences and that personality traits are intimately related to individual’s preferences, we expect to find an association between personality traits and fertility. Indeed, we find that whereas high levels of Agreeableness, Extroversion and Neuroticism accelerate childbirth, high levels of Conscientiousness and Openness are associated with childbirth postponement.

The nature of the relationship between education and postponement of fertility is far less clear. We explore two possible ways through which personality traits might help explain the fertility timing gap between more and less educated women: one is that some of the personality traits that drive some women to study more also influence their fertility behaviour; the other one is that individual differences in personality traits translate into variation in time to first birth especially among more educated women. Our results support both hypotheses i.e. on the one hand, personality traits influence both education and fertility decisions; on the other hand, more educated women do not equally delay childbirth compared with less educated women: the more “open-minded” ones postpone childbearing for longer.
pdf  study  demographics  fertility  trends  sociology  gender  correlation  personality  education  psych-architecture  discipline  extra-introversion  stress  creative  dysgenics  behavioral-gen  modernity  white-paper  open-closed  age-generation 
march 2017 by nhaliday
It's Beyond My Control: A Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of Increasing Externality in Locus of Control, 1960-2002 - Dec 21, 2016
Two meta-analyses found that young Americans increasingly believe their lives are controlled by outside forces rather than their own efforts. Locus of control scores became substantially more external (about .80 standard deviations) in college student and child samples between 1960 and 2002. The average college student in 2002 had a more external locus of control than 80% of college students in the early 1960s. Birth cohort/time period explains 14% of the variance in locus of control scores. The data included 97 samples of college students (n = 18,310) and 41 samples of children ages 9 to 14 (n = 6,554) gathered from dissertation research. The results are consistent with an alienation model positing increases in cynicism, individualism, and the self-serving bias. The implications are almost uniformly negative, as externality is correlated with poor school achievement, helplessness, ineffective stress management, decreased self-control, and depression.

cultural or biological?
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march 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
Heritability of the Big Five Personality Dimensions and Their Facets: A Twin Study - Jang - 1996 - Journal of Personality - Wiley Online Library
Broad genetic influence on the five dimensions of Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness was estimated at 41%, 53%, 61%, 41%, and 44%, respectively. The facet scales also showed substantial heritability, although for several facets the genetic influence was largely nonadditive. The influence of the environment was consistent across all dimensions and facets. Shared environmental influences accounted for a negligible proportion of the variance in most scales, whereas nonshared environmental influences accounted for the majority of the environmental variance in all scales.
study  psychology  cog-psych  personality  data  variance-components  🌞  discipline  biodet  twin-study  self-report  behavioral-gen  psych-architecture  stress  extra-introversion  creative  open-closed 
january 2017 by nhaliday
A Systematic Review of Personality Trait Change Through Intervention
gwern: https://plus.google.com/103530621949492999968/posts/6kFWRkUTXSV
Messy (noticeable levels of publication bias, high heterogeneity), but results look plausible: 8-week+ interventions can improve emotional stability and neuroticism, change Openness and Extraversion somewhat, but leave Conscientiousness largely unaffected.

hbd chick/murray: https://twitter.com/hbdchick/status/818138228553302017

- 8-week intervention -> d=.37 after (an average of) 24 weeks
- after 8 weeks, strong diminishing returns
- pretty much entirely self-report
- good page-length discussion of limitations at end
- there was actually a nonzero effect for conscientiousness (~.2). not sure it would remain w/o publication bias.
- what's the difference between Table 2 and 3? I guess RCT vs. something else? why highlight Table 2 in abstract then?
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january 2017 by nhaliday
PTSD: The War Disorder That Goes Far Beyond the Battlefield | Vanity Fair
This is an old problem, and today’s vets are not the first Americans to balk at coming home. A source of continual embarrassment along the American frontier—from the late 1600s until the end of the Indian Wars, in the 1890s—was a phenomenon known as “the White Indians.” The term referred to white settlers who were kidnapped by Indians—or simply ran off to them—and became so enamored of that life that they refused to leave. According to many writers of the time, including Benjamin Franklin, the reverse never happened: Indians never ran off to join white society. And if a peace treaty required that a tribe give up their adopted members, these members would often have to be put under guard and returned home by force. Inevitably, many would escape to rejoin their Indian families. “Thousands of Europeans are Indians, and we have no examples of even one of those aborigines having from choice become European,” wrote a French-born writer in America named Michel-Guillaume-Saint-Jean de Crèvecoeur in an essay published in 1782.

One could say that combat vets are the White Indians of today, and that they miss the war because it was, finally, an experience of human closeness that they can’t easily find back home. Not the closeness of family, which is rare enough, but the closeness of community and tribe. The kind of closeness that gets endlessly venerated in Hollywood movies but only actually shows up in contemporary society when something goes wrong—when tornados obliterate towns or planes are flown into skyscrapers. Those events briefly give us a reason to act communally, and most of us do. “There is something to be said for using risk to forge social bonds,” Abramowitz pointed out. “Having something to fight for, and fight through, is a good and important thing.”
news  org:mag  longform  military  psychiatry  psychology  farmers-and-foragers  history  mena4  🐸  war  primitivism  martial  meta:war  domestication  nihil  peace-violence  psycho-atoms  stress  disease 
january 2017 by nhaliday
How Social Isolation Is Killing Us | Hacker News
But more structured programs are arising, too. For example, Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation started a program called linkAges, a cross-generational service exchange inspired by the idea that everyone has something to offer.

The program works by allowing members to post online something they want help with: guitar lessons, a Scrabble partner, a ride to the doctor’s office. Others can then volunteer their time and skills to fill these needs and “bank” hours for when they need something themselves.
news  org:rec  urban  society  trends  stress  commentary  hn  anthropology  urban-rural 
december 2016 by nhaliday
Information Processing: Earnings effects of personality, education and IQ for the gifted
Of the personality factors, Conscientiousness and Extraversion had the largest (positive) effect on lifetime earnings: the most conscientious or extraverted individuals earned, on average, about 50% more than the least (see figures below).

- low agreeableness and low openness (!) relevant too
- as noted, restricted range of IQ, so would be more impactful in real world

The role of personality in individual differences in yearly earnings: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886917305962
Men reported they earned modestly more money than women did, as did married and fully employed people, but these three factors did not interact. Narcissism, psychopathy, extraversion, conscientiousness, and limited neuroticism predicted self-reported higher earnings; associations that differed little by participant's sex, although a slight pattern suggests women may pay a higher pay penalty for neuroticism but benefit more from conscientiousness than men do. Narcissism and neuroticism mediated sex differences in self-reported income suggesting men who were more narcissistic and women who were less neurotic reported more yearly earnings.
education  higher-ed  hsu  personality  iq  compensation  long-term  data  study  summary  longitudinal  scitariat  biodet  extra-introversion  wealth  behavioral-gen  correlation  psych-architecture  creative  discipline  multi  humility  stress  psychology  social-psych  open-closed 
november 2016 by nhaliday
Evo and Proud: Genetic pacification in medieval Europe
resulting paper:
Western Europe, State Formation, and Genetic Pacification: http://evp.sagepub.com/content/13/1/147470491501300114.full.pdf
- Henry Harpending
Genetics and the Historical Decline of Violence?: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/genetics-and-the-historical-decline-of-violence/
In the present case we need a response of 1/28 of a standard deviation per generation. Assuming an additive heritability of 0.5 (the true value is probably 0.8 or so from literature on the heritability of aggressive behavior in children) the selective differential must be about 1/14 or .07 standard deviations per generation. In terms of IQ this would correspond to a one point IQ advantage of parents over the population average and in terms of stature parents with a mean stature 0.2 inches greater than the population average. This would occur if the most homicidal 1.5% of the population were to fail to reproduce each generation.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2015/03/politically-incorrect-paper-of-the-day-death-penalty-eugenics.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Maid_Freed_from_the_Gallows

Spoiling for a fight: https://aeon.co/essays/why-has-england-lost-its-medieval-taste-for-violence
https://twitter.com/whyvert/status/914315865109041154
The author of this article seems unaware of the possibility that there could be selection for less violent traits in a population

Behavioral genetics and the judicial system: https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/10/22/behavioral-genetics-and-the-judicial-system/
I have no reason to believe that this was planned. If you look at the trend today, you might get the impression that the powers that be are actively trying to increase the fitness of assholes, but I doubt if that is the case. Sure, that’s the effect, but they don’t know enough to do it on purpose.

For example, when the Supremes decided that being sufficiently stupid is a get-out-of-execution card, they weren’t thinking about long-term biological implications. I doubt if they ever do, or can.

A thought experiment: in the light of behavioral genetics, what should you do when it’s clear that one of a pair of identical twins has committed a truly heinous crime – but you don’t know which one?

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2017/10/22/behavioral-genetics-and-the-judicial-system/#comment-96980
Even modern societies need violent men. Who is going to wage war if soldiers going to refuse to shoot and/or quickly develop PTSD?
--
I can think of people that might describe: people like Paddy Mayne, perhaps. But in general, it is possible to find whole countries that produce excellent soldiers and are at the same time internally very peaceful and orderly.

As for PTSD, funny how there used to be high-intensity wars where it wasn’t much of a problem.

Criminal offending as part of an alternative reproductive strategy: Investigating evolutionary hypotheses using Swedish total population data: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263281358_Criminal_offending_as_part_of_an_alternative_reproductive_strategy_Investigating_evolutionary_hypotheses_using_Swedish_total_population_data
- criminals have higher reproductive fitness in Sweden
- not limited to men, so maybe just stems from impulsiveness

Exploring the genetic correlations of antisocial behavior and life history traits: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/08/23/247411
Our genetic correlation analyses demonstrate that alleles associated with higher reproductive output (number of children ever born, rg=0.50, p=.0065) were positively correlated with alleles associated with antisocial behavior, whereas alleles associated with more delayed reproductive onset (age of first birth, rg=-.64, p=.0008) were negatively associated with alleles linked to antisocial behavior.

https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/5tlovw/criminal_offending_as_part_of_an_alternative/
nice: http://www.newschannel5.com/news/inmates-given-reduced-jail-time-if-they-get-a-vasectomy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buck_v._Bell

Are per-incident rape-pregnancy rates higher than per-incident consensual pregnancy rates?: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12110-003-1014-0
Our analysis suggests that per-incident rape-pregnancy rates exceed per-incident consensual pregnancy rates by a sizable margin, even before adjusting for the use of relevant forms of birth control. Possible explanations for this phenomenon are discussed, as are its implications to ongoing debates over the ultimate causes of rape.

https://twitter.com/Neoabsolutism/status/877188094201548801
High-low versus the middle is so pervasive, and so explanatory, it is astounding. We have a genuine law of social organisation.
https://twitter.com/ad_captandum/status/854724390763626496
Solzhenitsyn on the Gulags and the lumpenproletariat: https://twitter.com/TheIllegit/status/883797665128919040
https://archive.is/QoZKC

Raise the Crime Rate: https://nplusonemag.com/issue-13/politics/raise-the-crime-rate/

turnstile jumping/fair cheating in DC Metro:
https://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Metro-Fare-Evasion-Could-Be-Decriminalized-Under-New-DC-Council-Bill-433855543.html
http://baconsrebellion.com/thats-end-donald-trump-turnstile-jumping-edition/

https://medium.com/@icelevel/whos-left-mariame-26ed2237ada6
"What about bad people? What about racists?"
I don't answer those questions anymore.
https://twitter.com/NoamJStein/status/946422138231185408
https://archive.is/dm4mV

People who want to do anything except confront evil men: http://www.isegoria.net/2018/03/people-who-want-to-do-anything-except-confront-evil-men/
This really is a matter of chickens coming home to roost. There has been a tension since the 60’s about what we want police to do. We no longer have fit men with a strong capacity for violence occupying the majority of patrol cars in this country. What we have been slipping towards for decades are a mass of armed social workers with a small force of violent proficient SWAT guys who are supposed to save the day when bad things really, really need to happen but are never there when you really need them.

...

Finally, our society needs to adjust its attitudes towards violence. There is the recently coined term “pro-social violence” which is used to describe “lawful, moral violence in the service of good.” We need to restore the idea that when violent things happen to bad people, it’s OK and society is better as a whole.
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september 2016 by nhaliday
Haidt-Love Relationship | Otium
Jonathan Haidt has an ideology. In his academic life, he poses positive questions, but he definitely has a normative position as well. And you can see this most clearly in his speeches to young people, which are sermons on Haidtism.

Here is an example.

In it, he contrasts “Coddle U” with “Strengthen U,” two archetypal colleges. He’s clearly arguing in favor of psychological resilience, and against fragility. Let’s leave aside the question of whether feminists and other activists are actually oversensitive weenies, and whether trigger warnings are actually coddling, and engage with his main point, that it is better not to be an oversensitive weenie.

Haidt seems to see this as self-evident. The emotionally weak are to be mocked; the emotionally strong are to be respected.

I don’t find it as obvious.
haidt  critique  regularizer  society  psychology  stress  core-rats  ratty  ideology  values  serene  emotion 
august 2016 by nhaliday
Divorce and children’s long-term outcomes | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal
It has been widely demonstrated that parental divorce is associated with negative outcomes for affected children. However, the degree of causality in this relationship is not as clear. This column tackles this problem by using the level of gender integration in fathers’ workplaces as an instrument for divorce. The results suggest a causal link between divorce and worse economic outcomes that persists into early adulthood.
http://ftp.iza.org/dp9928.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904543/
The literature on father absence is frequently criticized for its use of cross-sectional data and methods that fail to take account of possible omitted variable bias and reverse causality. We review studies that have responded to this critique by employing a variety of innovative research designs to identify the causal effect of father absence, including studies using lagged dependent variable models, growth curve models, individual fixed effects models, sibling fixed effects models, natural experiments, and propensity score matching models. Our assessment is that studies using more rigorous designs continue to find negative effects of father absence on offspring well-being, although the magnitude of these effects is smaller than what is found using traditional cross-sectional designs. The evidence is strongest and most consistent for outcomes such as high school graduation, children’s social-emotional adjustment, and adult mental health.

Genetics, the Rearing Environment, and the Intergenerational Transmission of Divorce: A Swedish National Adoption Study: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797617734864
There was stronger resemblance to lived-with mothers, providing indirect evidence of rearing-environment influences on the intergenerational transmission of divorce. The heritability of divorce assessed across generations was 0.13. We attempted to replicate our findings using within-generation data from adoptive and biological siblings (ns = 8,523–53,097). Adoptees resembled their biological, not adoptive, siblings in their history of divorce. Thus, there was consistent evidence that genetic factors contributed to the intergenerational transmission of divorce but weaker evidence for a rearing-environment effect of divorce. Within-generation data from siblings supported these conclusions.

The Long-Term Effects of Legalizing Divorce on Children: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/obes.12200/abstract
We find that women who grew up under legal divorce have lower earnings and income and worse health as adults compared with women who grew up under illegal divorce. These negative effects are not found for men.

Father Absence and Reproductive Strategy: An Evolutionary Perspective: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1037&context=anthropologyfacpub
interesting fact: father-absent childhood raises verbal and lowers math/spatial aptitude

Relation of Type and Onset of Father Absence to Cognitive Development: http://sci-hub.tw/http://www.jstor.org/stable/1127548
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august 2016 by nhaliday
23andMe Pulls Off Massive Crowdsourced Depression Study | Hacker News
nice discussion of GWASes, related statistical issues, and sequencing hardware in the comments
commentary  hn  genetics  stress  neuro  psychology  health  announcement  news  gwern  biohacking  GWAS  genomics  org:mag  scaling-up  org:biz  org:sci  brands 
august 2016 by nhaliday
What if PTSD Is More Physical Than Psychological? - The New York Times
A new study supports what a small group of military researchers has suspected for decades: that modern warfare destroys the brain.

https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2018/08/18/ptsd/
You know, it shouldn’t exist. Human history and prehistory is crammed with all kind of mayhem and trauma: infant mortality, infanticide, genocidal fights with neighboring tribes. You routinely lost family and routinely killed enemies. Childbirth hurts a lot. What’s the adaptive strategy, in all of these situations? ? Get over it.

...

But in WWI, we heard a lot about ‘shell shock’. Later, in WWII, ‘combat fatigue’ or ‘battle neurosis’. Artillery wars. I would guess that what actually happened was a combination of people finding a way to avoid getting killed, and brain damage due to nearby explosions. After experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus football and boxing, people are thinking seriously about those explosions as a cause of PTSD.

Psychology in the 20th century looked for environmental causes of mental problems – toilet training, ‘refrigerator mothers’, ‘absent father/overprotective mother’, ‘double binds’. And of other social problems: school could make you smart or dumb, kids were ‘depraved because they were deprived’, blah blah.

As far as I can tell they were entirely wrong. Genetics and physical trauma ( which includes iodine shortages). No real sign that they were right about those other problems either: certainly interesting that the programs designed to ameliorate those problems, based on the standard environmental assumptions, never, ever work.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/25/sports/football/nfl-cte.html
A neuropathologist has examined the brains of 111 N.F.L. players — and 110 were found to have C.T.E., the degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head.
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june 2016 by nhaliday
What the hell is going on? - Marginal REVOLUTION
https://twitter.com/tcjfs/status/735473776947802112
The Straussian reading of this post is that naive single young women are the real problem.

https://twitter.com/anjiecast/status/735473924268535811
I think this is key: perhaps men more adapted for tech w/out globalization than globalization w/out tech progress.

Thursday:
It’s important to note that female happiness has been stagnant for a long while now, so I’m doubtful that the “improvements” of the past 2 – 3 decades have much accrued to women either. But they’re less likely to rock the boat, so to speak.

Doug:
Here’s a modest proposal. Highly subsidized, huge volume, semi-professional athletics. Try to channel a sizable proportion of males between 18 and 35 into some sort of sporting team. Imagine 30 million part-time minor league ball players. Have the government pay them a modicum of compensation for their time and effort, with increasingly larger prizes the higher teams and players rise. Strongly encourage the media to extensively cover their hyper-local teams. (The small-p promise of large rewards gives the stories a human interest side).

straight-to-the-point comment by Chip:
Doesn’t Trump do well with white women?

But I don’t think gender is really the point. Despite the media smokescreen it has been a poor decade for America. The economy is sluggish, full time job creation low, debt is soaring, the government increasingly weak abroad and coercive at home, and people really are not happy with the record rate of immigration from low-skilled countries into an expanding welfare state.

The GOP were given a chance to fix things with the mid term landslide. But they didn’t. Now people are turning to something else.

https://twitter.com/roreiy/status/735430411703230465
https://twitter.com/s8mb/status/735386533323214850
https://twitter.com/kadhimshubber/status/735384734705029122
https://twitter.com/tylercowen/status/735376150143336448
https://twitter.com/BDSixsmith/status/735388057034166272
https://twitter.com/InquisitiveMarg/status/735472189068173312
https://twitter.com/sanderwagner/status/735747026214752259
https://twitter.com/kausmickey/status/735768485427445762

lol: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/06/can-happen-authoritarianism-america.html
That is a forthcoming volume edited by Cass Sunstein. The contributors include Cass, myself, Timur Kuran, Duncan Watts, Martha Minow, Bruce Ackerman, Jack Goldsmith, Geoffrey Stone, and Noah Feldman, among others. Self-recommending, if anything ever was…

My essay, by the way, says no, it cannot happen here. Counterintuitively, American government is too bureaucratized and too feminized to be captured and turned toward old-style fascism. I encourage you to pre-order.

longer excerpt:
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/03/no-american-fascism-cant-happen.html
My argument is pretty simple: American fascism cannot happen anymore because the American government is so large and unwieldy. It is simply too hard for the fascists, or for that matter other radical groups, to seize control of. No matter who is elected, the fascists cannot control the bureaucracy, they cannot control all the branches of American government, they cannot control the judiciary, they cannot control semi-independent institutions such as the Federal Reserve, and they cannot control what is sometimes called “the deep state.” The net result is they simply can’t control enough of the modern state to steer it in a fascist direction.

…Surely it ought to give us pause that the major instances of Western fascism came right after a time when government was relatively small, and not too long after the heyday of classical liberalism in Europe, namely the late 19th century. No, I am not blaming classical liberalism for Nazism, but it is simply a fact that it is easier to take over a smaller and simpler state than it is to commandeer one of today’s sprawling bureaucracies.

…the greater focus of the night watchman state, for all its virtues, is part of the reason why it is easy to take over. There is a clearly defined center of power and a clearly defined set of lines of authority; furthermore, the main activity of the state is to enforce property rights through violence or the threat of violence. That means such a state will predominantly comprise policemen, soldiers, possibly border authorities, Coast Guard employees and others in related support services. The culture and ethos of such a state is likely to be relatively masculine and also relatively martial and tolerant of a certain amount of risk, and indeed violence. The state will be full of people who are used to the idea of applying force to achieve social ends, even if, under night watchman assumptions, those deployments of force are for the most part justified.

http://peterturchin.com/cliodynamica/can-fascism-happen-here/
Returning to the question of whether a tyrant can arise in the United States in the near future, my analysis suggests, most emphatically, “no.” A tyrant-wannabe lacks most elements on which to base his or her power. We haven’t experienced a long civil war (at least, not yet), or a catastrophic defeat in an external war. The established elites, while fragmenting, are still very strong. Here I agree with much of what Tyler says in the paragraph I quoted above. An aspiring tyrant has to deal with the deeply entrenched bureaucracy, the powerful judicial system, and the mighty coercive apparatus of the American state (the FBI, the CIA, the military). Also important is that the frustrated elite aspirants are not organized in any coherent social movements. Tyrants never rule alone, they need an organization stuffed by dedicated cadres (a desirable feature of which is the animosity towards the old-order elites).

In my opinion, the greatest danger for us today (and into the 2020s) is not the rise of a Hitler, but rather a Second American Civil War.

A simple theory of baseline mood: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/10/simple-theory-baseline-mood.html
We are not used to feeling as much stress as we do today. Yet even in the optimistic scenarios in my predictions, the level of stress today is relatively low compared to what we can rationally expect for the next few decades.

snowflakes picture
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may 2016 by nhaliday

bundles : growthsoft

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