Watch Full Episodes Online of FRONTLINE on PBS | Arjun Srinivasan Interview - Anti-microbial resistance #70 o
Short video. Talks about antibiotic ressistance as a policy priority compared to AIDS.
13 hours ago
Dr. Arjun Srinivasan: We've Reached "The End of Antibiotics, Period" | Hunting the Nightmare Bacteria | FRONTLINE | PBS
Has some great quotes about AIDS activism etc. about pharmaceutical companies pulling off from drug development.
13 hours ago
The Gift of Death – George Monbiot
Refers to a movie about how stuff is made and discarded; could be useful for class.
4 days ago
newfield, the great mistake
On Chris Newfield's new book about the public university. Newfield argues that unless we start saying that higher education is a public good, it's going ot continue the vicious cycle of cut funds, parents looking for vocational training, more cut funds, and on and on. andrew perrin critiques some aspects of the book but overall finds it very rigorous.
5 days ago
I Don’t Want to Be Right - The New Yorker
Analysis of Brendan Nyhan's work and links it to claude steele's work on stereotype threat
Motivatedreasoning  toblog 
7 days ago
What Do Economists Actually Know?
The journalist got annoyed. “You’re a professional economist. You’re ducking my question.” I disgreed. I am answering your question, I told him. You just don’t like the answer.
A lot of professional economists have a different attitude. They will tell you how many jobs will be lost because of an increase in the minimum wage or that an increase in the minimum wage will create jobs. They will tell you how many jobs have been lost because of increased trade with China and the amount that wages fell for workers with a particular level of education because of that trade. They will tell you that inequality lowers health or that trade with China reduces the marriage rate or encourages suicide among manufacturing workers. They will tell you whether smaller classrooms improve test scores and by how much. And they will tell you things that are much more complex — what caused the financial crisis and why its aftermath led to a lower level of employment and by how much.
8 days ago
The Death Of Expertise
Meh. But useful to blogwith.
9 days ago
How does jailing the statisticians fix Greece’s financial crisis? It doesn’t.
The authors argue that public data benefits smaller actors; bigger actors like banks have their own sources of data; so destroying the credibility of data-making bodies only ends up making already big actors stronger
9 days ago
No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism
Good article to use to illustrate the pluralist theory of democracy; that it's not just politicians who mismanage or mislead voters; rather voters have systematic preferences themselves (often racist) and those shape what kinds of policies get passed...
teaching  politics  research 
9 days ago
The Congressional Budget Office, explained
Could be used in ISF 100G as a history of a political objective government agency; and also as an example of a looping effect: as the CBO became more influential, bills were tailored to have particular scores.
9 days ago
James Scott and Friedrich Hayek
Brad DeLong reviews Seeing Like a State; this could be usefully coupled with two of Henry Farrell's posts on Crooked Timber, as well as another post dealing with a book called Sinews of Power.
teaching  economics  history 
9 days ago
Seeing Like “Seeing Like a State” — Crooked Timber
NB that this isn’t one of the later chapters that deals with the specific phenomenon of ‘high modernism’ – as I read it, this is a generalized claim about how increases in legibility enhance the power of the state (or of whoever the eye-in-the-pyramid/dude at the center of the Panopticon) is. But it’s also wrong. There’s no necessary reason to believe that legibility implies a central viewer with a synoptic vision, or that it enhances the power of those with authority vis-a-vis those who don’t have it, or at least, if there is, Scott doesn’t tell us what it is. Rather, he assumes it. And here, John Brewer’s The Sinews of Power, an account of the development of the British state in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, is very helpful in illustrating the things that Seeing Like a State doesn’t see.

Brewer’s account doesn’t completely undermine Scott’s. After all, Brewer’s main theme is the importance of state fiscal institutions to Britain’s power capabilities over the relevant period. The British excise office had extraordinary powers of inspection and control – chandlers and soapmakers couldn’t “legally ply their trade without first being inspected by the [excise] officer who kept their vats, moulds and utensils under lock and key.”(Brewer, p.215). The government was also the most important actor by far gathering quantitative information. Manufacturers tried to stop the government from taxing their commodities by withholding details of how they were produced; the leather trade for example did this to stop any leather duty being imposed until 1697, when a rogue London leather dealer helped the excise service devise a new tax, and found himself driven out of business for his efforts. All of this is what Scott would predict – the state seeking to create quantifiable and systematizable information, and affected social parties trying to stop it.

But what Scott’s argument doesn’t capture is that quantifiable information constrains the state as well as enabling it. Brewer describes how lobbyists created a new public sphere, using statistics to argue for their own particular notions of the public good. As government departments could usually produce statistics to support proposed measures, lobbyists started to gather their own statistics, drawing not only on their own sources, but on governmental statistics too. Wire drawers, for example, argued for the repeal of the gold and silver duty by drawing on poor law statistics. Initially, lobbyists relied on private contacts within government for this information; later, they began more and more to use parliament. Thus, it was precisely the creation of a government statistics, together with the broader creation of a mathematically literate sphere of public debate (which itself was shaped in important ways by the state) that allowed private actors to universalize their specific interests and to argue against further state intrusion.

Dealing with the state became one important way in which specifically defined groups sought to gain advantages over their rivals. There was … no homogeneous business interest. There were commercial and industrial interests whose very variety owed much to the government’s imposition of a complex system of regulation. The state’s intrusion upon civil society created sophisticated ‘interests’ whose political conduct was, in turn, informed by the open and accountable political system in which they operated.(Brewer, p.249)
Brewer’s lesson, then, is that the politics of legibility are much more complicated than Scott’s focus on state and hierarchy might suggest.
teaching  research 
9 days ago
The problem with facts
Tim Harford brings the whole shebang to facts -- again, it's a rehash of motivated reasoning etc.

We need some agreement about facts or the situation is hopeless. And yet: will this sudden focus on facts actually lead to a more informed electorate, better decisions, a renewed respect for the truth? The history of tobacco suggests not. The link between cigarettes and cancer was supported by the world’s leading medical scientists and, in 1964, the US surgeon general himself. The story was covered by well-trained journalists committed to the values of objectivity. Yet the tobacco lobbyists ran rings round them.
trump  polarization  teaching 
10 days ago
Utopian thinking: the easy way to eradicate poverty | Rutger Bregman | Opinion | The Guardian
It all started when I accidently stumbled on a paper by a few American psychologists. They had travelled 8,000 miles, to India, to carry out an experiment with sugar cane farmers. These farmers collect about 60% of their annual income all at once, right after the harvest. This means they are relatively poor one part of the year and rich the other. The researchers asked the farmers to do an IQ test before and after the harvest. What they discovered blew my mind. The farmers scored much worse on the tests before the harvest. The effects of living in poverty, it turns out, correspond to losing 14 points of IQ. That’s comparable to losing a night’s sleep, or the effects of alcoholism.

A few months later I discussed the theory with Eldar Shafir, a professor of behavioural science and public policy at Princeton University and one of the authors of this study. The reason, put simply: it’s the context, stupid. People behave differently when they perceive a thing to be scarce. What that thing is doesn’t much matter; whether it’s time, money or food, it all contributes to a “scarcity mentality”. This narrows your focus to your immediate deficiency. The long-term perspective goes out of the window. Poor people aren’t making dumb decisions because they are dumb, but because they’re living in a context in which anyone would make dumb decisions.
10 days ago
The Troubling Appeal of Education at For-Profit Schools - The New York Times
There are other books, like “Degrees of Inequality,” by the political scientist Suzanne Mettler, that better explain the lobbying and legislating that empowered this industry and allowed it to expand far beyond its humble roots as a provider of certificates in fields like hairdressing and auto mechanics. But Cottom has written the best book yet on the complex lives and choices of for-profit students, who, she shows, are often quite savvy about the trade-off they’re making by attending a low-prestige, high-cost institution. Unlike many traditional colleges, for-profits seek to accommodate the needs of busy working parents like London. Enrollment officers are available by phone and in person virtually around the clock. Classes begin throughout the year and meet at night.

Continue reading the main story
Part of Cottom’s wisdom comes from personal experience. Before she earned her Ph.D., she worked for two for-profit colleges. Some of the most disturbing parts of “Lower Ed” concern her training to become an enrollment officer at a technical school, where she was taught how to “close” students, meaning sign them up at any cost. Officers were encouraged to isolate potential students from loved ones, like parents, who might urge caution before taking on debt. They presented recruits with misleading data on the number of jobs available in fields like cosmetology or tech support.

Cottom also conducted fascinating field research. She interviewed for-profit college executives and over 100 students who enrolled in degree programs. She argues persuasively that the growth of the for-profit sector is a rational response to a service economy in which there are fewer living-wage jobs, and employers invest less and less in training their work forces. Panicked workers, having absorbed America’s “educational gospel,” believe the only way to ascend into the middle class is to engage in “credentialing,” returning again and again to school in an often fruitless quest to find stable work.
10 days ago
The Trouble With Discrimination In Online Advertising - The Atlantic
“Even defining fairness is complex,” Dwork said. She gave an example about choosing a set of applicants for a job interview. To make the selection of that group fair, she said, one might say that the group must reflect the demographics of the country at large. But if the company were to have a search process not fully attuned to the diversity of talent and select only weak applicants from certain minority groups, it would ensure that they don’t get the position. In that instance, the fairness exists in appearance only. That’s why culturally aware systems are necessary, she says—better understandings of actual, fair similarities can be deduced. She gives another example to illustrate this point: Smart minority children might be steered towards studying math, while smart white kids might be steered specifically toward finance. If an algorithm looking for promising students isn’t aware that a similarity in aptitude but a difference in culture, and thus field of study, exists, it might miss an entire group of students. A smarter algorithm would take this into consideration and view both groups of students similarly.

“Without a mathematics to capture values of interest to society, such as fairness, we quite literally do not know what we are building,” she told me. Dwork says that’s why she’s worried about getting it right, but there’s also a need to move quickly. “I’m concerned that the theory will be too late to influence practice, and that ‘values’ will too often be viewed as ‘getting in the way’ of science or profit,” she said.
platformization  sharing_economy  Teaching 
10 days ago
Ingrid Burrington: Amazon Web Services Downtime Is a Warning
The answer to this dilemma, according to the companies fighting to be Top Stratocumulus, is mostly more redundancy for their own systems — not a more diverse array of systems (or, say, the possibility that not every object in the world needs an IP address). When Jeff Bezos previously compared AWS to the development of the electric power grid, he wasn’t really evoking the democratic potential of rural electrification, so much as establishing himself, and AWS, as a new locus of power shaping and facilitating large aspects of networked life.

(Ironically, in recent years AWS has had to start acting more like an actual power company — in 2015, AWS began investing in and developing wind and solar projects throughout the United States to support the growing energy needs of its data centers, and to meet a renewable-energy goal the company announced in November 2014, following years of criticism from Greenpeace over AWS’s use of coal-powered electricity. Private renewable-power grids are, in addition to being a good PR move, also an effective way of improving data-center efficiency and, well, making tech companies look even more like sovereigns. It sort of seems like a natural final evolution of the cloud — having achieved total self-sufficiency while rendering internet users completely dependent on their services, data centers make appealing fortification sites for a cyberpunk civil war between corporate overlords and a kleptocratic fascist regime. That is, maybe, a future in which we all lose unless we’re Neal Stephenson.)
infrastructure  amazon  platformization 
11 days ago
Study: Breitbart-led right-wing media ecosystem altered broader media agenda - Columbia Journalism Review
We have a less exotic, but perhaps more disconcerting explanation: Our own study of over 1.25 million stories published online between April 1, 2015 and Election Day shows that a right-wing media network anchored around Breitbart developed as a distinct and insulated media system, using social media as a backbone to transmit a hyper-partisan perspective to the world. This pro-Trump media sphere appears to have not only successfully set the agenda for the conservative media sphere, but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.
journalism  polarization  trump 
11 days ago
‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless - The Atlantic
how not to talk about AI although he makes some good points at the end
artificial_intelligence  toblog 
11 days ago
Five AI Startup Predictions for 2017 — Bradford Cross
Machine Learning as a Service is an idea we’ve been seeing for nearly 10 years and it’s been failing the whole time. The bottom line on why it doesn’t work: the people that know what they’re doing just use open source, and the people that don’t will not get anything to work, ever, even with APIs. Many very smart friends have fallen into this tarpit. Those who’ve been gobbled up by bigcos as a way to beef up ML teams include Alchemy API by IBM, Saffron by Intel, and Metamind by Salesforce. Nevertheless, the allure of easy money from sticking an ML model up behind an API function doesn’t fail to continue attracting lost souls. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are all trying to sell a MLaaS layer as a component of their cloud strategy. I’ve yet to see startups or bigcos using these APIs in the wild, and I see a lot of AI usage in the wild so its doubtful that its due to the small sample size of my observations.
Machinelearning  artificial_intelligence 
16 days ago
Fake news. It's complicated.
A typology of fake news with an emphasis on motivation. Good stuff
trump  polarization 
16 days ago
Thinking About Writing Literary Fiction?
As his elegant book demonstrates, the current model — big-name writers sharing wealth with unknown counterparts who enjoy the prospect of MFA employment — is a more cooperative arrangement that, while not ideal, has a better chance of ushering into existence quality literature by writers who have a shot at being able to change our lives with words.
17 days ago
'Angry white men': the sociologist who studied Trump's base before Trump | World news | The Guardian
Let me give you two examples. The first: how come men use a biological argument when they are angry and they beat up someone smaller or older than they are or they beat their wives – yet they don’t beat their bosses? I mean, my boss would likely piss me off more than my wife would, right? Why don’t I beat him up? Because you have to feel like you have permission. You have to believe that the target of your violence is “legitimate
Trump  research  teaching 
17 days ago
What Is a Populist? - The Atlantic
The definition of populism feels too vague. Who isn't s populist in this definition? But the shift in how trump started invoking the people once bannon got involved in his campaign is interesting.
Trump  polarization 
17 days ago
How Brain Scientists Forgot That Brains Have Owners - The Atlantic
John Krakaeur, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has been asked to BRAIN Initiative meetings before, and describes it like “Maleficent being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s birthday.” That’s because he and four like-minded friends have become increasingly disenchanted by their colleagues’ obsession with their toys. And in a new paper that’s part philosophical treatise and part shot across the bow, they argue that this technological fetish is leading the field astray. “People think technology + big data + machine learning = science,” says Krakauer. “And it’s not.”
18 days ago
Corporations like Exxon are using spurious free speech claims to fend off regulation
Corporate free speech has more harmful effects than just money in politics
5 weeks ago
A little-known California law is Silicon Valley's secret weapon
The California law that allows hopping between companies.
google  automation 
5 weeks ago
When Social Media Are the News | Anthropology-News
Jordan Kraemer on three shifts in social media that tied it closer to news. First, it emerged as a way for teens to make friends of a similar cultural life-style- people who shared taste. Then with mobile phones and social media, they were tagging each other. And now in 2016, it's become all about news to share political identity.
platformization  socialmedia 
5 weeks ago
Disunited Kingdom : Democracy Journal
Great piece on the problems in the UK. Farrell argues that the parties in the UK have become disconnected from their voters; they are ruled by elites and Brexit is what happened when elites in both parties who agreed on the necessity of Europe kept the issue away from democratic politics; lots of stuff to chew on here; can this analysis be applied to the US? It seems like at least for the Republican party it could...
polarization  trump 
5 weeks ago
When the Media Become the Opposition – Culture Digitally
What happens when there is persistent antagonism between government and mainstream media? The case from Argentina.

Far from certain, these scenarios are but three among many possible outcomes, which could also include an intensification of partisanship, a rising tension in public discourse, and an increased alienation among the ideologically uncommitted members of the public. What seems more certain is that the next four years will likely see a shift in the nexus linking government, media, and the public in the United States which, judging by the Argentine case, is poised to have lasting consequences not only for politicians and journalists, but also for society at large.
polarization  platformization 
6 weeks ago
How a former Clinton aide is rewriting Silicon Valley’s political playbook - The Washington Post
Still, Lehane’s deals are evidence that Silicon Valley — a region once known for eschewing in-the-trenches warfare — has thoroughly embraced the real­politik. In a mere 17 months on the job, his team has persuaded officials in more than 100 localities to retreat from rules that would have been crippling for Airbnb, largely by borrowing tactics from the world of politics. Lehane, who had cut his teeth deflecting the controversies of the Clinton White House, has been campaigning city by city, striking compromises to get the company out of hot water.
airbnb  sharing_economy 
6 weeks ago
What Clicks From 70,000 Courses Reveal About Student Learning - The Chronicle of Higher Education
But it’s hard to know what to make of the click patterns. Take the finding about grade-checking: Is it an existential victory for grade-grubbers, proving that obsessing over grades leads to high marks? Or does it simply confirm the common-sense notion that the best students are the most savvy at using things like course-management systems?

Of course, the research shows only that there’s a correlation between checking grades and getting good ones. "I’m not saying anything that implies causality," says John Whitmer, director of learning analytics and research at Blackboard. Still, he does see the finding as an opportunity to improve course-management tools. For instance, Blackboard could add an option that lets professors send email reminders to students who haven’t checked in recently and put grade information in front of them so they know where they stand.

"It could be that does nothing," Mr. Whitmer concedes, "but it could be it has a slight positive impact." That’s a relatively new mentality toward designing courses and tools — applying an engineering approach.
6 weeks ago
Yes, politics can make us stupid. But there’s an important exception to that rule. - Vox
More Dan Kahan research showing that the "curious" tend to be less partisan
7 weeks ago
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