Stuff I've found interesting in December
This study showing that fears that young men are having less sex could be unfounded.
This incredible photo of a 2-headed dog created by a Soviet scientist. The dog managed to survive for four days.
Julia Galef interviewing Phil Tetlock on superforecasters for the Ezra Klein show.
A cool use of AI, where you can type any prompt you can think of and it will generate a piece of art using your prompt. See above for the image generated from the prompt “A Christmas Mess”.
There is a correlation between the polygenic score capturing an individual’s propensity to get a good education and voter turnout - possible reason that educated people vote more?
Meta-analysis showing that education might have a causal effect on IQ, with each additional year of education resulting in an IQ 1 to 5 points higher. Yes, they know about reverse causality and endogeneity!
This tweet about a study on how surnames affect academic careers:Top Chinese econ PhDs in the US with last names at the end of the alphabet are 20% more likely than others to return to China rather than land a job in a US econ department. Authors on econ papers are listed in alphabetical order & being listed last lowers perceived contribution!
A quick note on this tweet: the guy who tweeted this, Ethan Mollick, is absolutely worth a follow. He probably reads more interesting social science in a day than I do in a month! I still don’t know how he’s such a voracious reader and manages to consume so much stuff, but it’s very impressive and you should definitely follow him.
This nice piece by Amia Srinivasan on Derek Parfit.
And another little quote on Parfit (if you couldn’t tell, I’ve been reading a lot of Parfit and things about Parfit recently), this time from Larissa MacFarquhar:
“As for his various eccentricities, I don’t think they add anything to an understanding of his philosophy, but I find him very moving as a person. When I was interviewing him for the first time, for instance, we were in the middle of a conversation and suddenly he burst into tears. It was completely unexpected, because we were not talking about anything emotional or personal, as I would define those things. I was quite startled, and as he cried I sat there rewinding our conversation in my head, trying to figure out what had upset him. Later, I asked him about it. It turned out that what had made him cry was the idea of suffering. We had been talking about suffering in the abstract. I found that very striking”.
Tyler Cowen on Paul McCartney as an example of an incredible managerial talent in the vein of Gates or Bezos.
This Economist article on the power of changing demographics in shifting public opinion (see above).
This video about people who look white but consider themselves black.
An old Scott Alexander post thinking about how harmful cannabis is and the benefits and costs of it being legalised.
Here’s a study that confirms (okay, it’s social science, so maybe it wouldn’t replicate) one of my suspicions - investors really like pitches with lots of jargon. They also like pitches without much jargon, but less so. They don’t like pitches with middling readability. See above.
A tweet from me on ‘mount stupid’:
The paper can be found here.
Nice Twitter thread about the first unionised Starbucks:
Guzey’s blog just has a lot of cool stuff on it that’s worth reading, and I hadn’t encountered it before.
This post on the EA forums about how non-violent protest could potentially be a more cost-effective way to reducing carbon emissions than many recommended interventions.
This study showing that forecasters were able to predict the causal effects of policy interventions in Kenya with fairly decent accuracy:
Average predicted effects track experimental results well: average absolute error from the mean academic forecast is only 0.11 standard deviations, and the average correlation between predicted and observed effects is 0.75. Recipient types are less accurate than academics on average, but are at least as accurate for interventions and outcomes that are likely to be more familiar to them. The mean forecast of each group outperforms more than 75% of the com- prising individuals, and averaging just five forecasts substantially reduces error, indicating strong “wisdom-of-crowds” effects.
For fun: a guy in a famous meme tells the story behind it.
Scott Alexander on the reasons doctors aren’t prescribing Luvox for COVID despite the evidence that it is effective
Why you shouldn’t f*ck with big sugar, from Tabarrok on MR
Eric Topol on the potential for vaccines that work against every variant of COVID.