1: History of the belief that garlic and magnets are natural enemies.
2: Jacob Wood’s Graph Of The Blogosphere. ACX’s neighborhood:
You can also see Jacob’s description of how he made it here. It looks like it starts with some index blogs, follows them to blogs they link, and so on. I don’t know how much this captures “the whole blogosphere” vs. “blogs X degrees or fewer away from the starting blog”. It looks like a pretty complete selection of big politics/econ blogs to me, but I don’t know if there are fashion blogs or movie blogs in a totally separate universe bigger than any of us. Also, Marginal Revolution confirmed as center of the blogosphere.
3: Wondering why so many Russian and Ukrainian cities have Greek names (eg Sebastopol)? Catherine the Great had a secret plan to resurrect Byzantium and install her appropriately-named grandson Constantine as New Roman Emperor. Step 1 was to found a lot of new cities with Greek names. Step 2 was to ally with the Austrian Empire. Then the Austrians got distracted with other things and they never reached Step 3.
4: Congratulations to last year’s book review contest winner Lars Doucet, who was interviewed by Jerusalem Demsas in a Vox article on Georgism (the article prefers the term “land value tax” and never mentions George by name, which is a surprising but I think defensible choice).
5: Data from amitheasshole.reddit.com - “Posters were 64% female; post subjects (the person with whom the poster had a dispute) were 62% female. Posters had average age 31, subjects averaged 33. Male posters were significantly more likely to be the assholes…” H/T worldoptimization
6: Chris Beiser on the 10th anniversary of KONY 2012, and what it meant for activism.
7: Nostalgebraist explains the new language model scaling result.
8: US States by number of Nobel laureates born there (h/t Malcolm Collins)
9: Scholars in Early 21st Century Studies: “Donald Trump is not a historical figure, but is actually a compilation of four distinct sources”.
10: Beyond Micromarriages: “Micromarriages aren't fully analogous to micromorts, which makes it tricky to define them satisfactorily. I introduce an alternative unit: QAWYs - Quality-Adjusted Wife Years.” (yes, this is April Fools)
11: Why did Rome (and not someone else) take over the Mediterranean? Erich Grunewald says the secret ingredient was their concept of citizenship, which turned conquered peoples from enemies who might revolt into active participants in the “Roman project” who would help them take over new lands. This turned imperial expansion into a positive feedback loop!
12: Bean @ Naval Gazing: Early Lesson From The War In Ukraine. One of them is to build more missile defense.
13: Kazakh President Proposes Reforms To Limit His Powers. I know nothing about Kazakhstan, so let me know if this is just meaningless propaganda, but at least superficially it looks like a combination of the protests this year and (speculatively?) the loss of Russia’s credibility have done some good here.
14: Go Big Or Stay Home: Small Neuroimaging Studies Just Generate Noise. Most neuroimaging studies have samples in the the 2-3 digits, but would need to be in the 4-5 digits to have enough power to detect real effects. I was really excited and happy to see this paper, because I had always secretly assumed this - too many neuroimaging studies were getting too many convenient but hard-to-replicate results - and now I can feel good about my mistrust (also, maybe neuroimaging can try to do better). Hopefully this will mirror the progress of genetics, when - after a decade or two of genetics papers that were basically always wrong - scientists cleaned up their act and now produce genetics papers that are only sometimes wrong.
15: Ivermectin updates: the big Brazilian study that showed ivermectin doesn’t work was officially released. This doesn’t update my analysis because I had included a preliminary version of it. See Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz’s take on some objections here. Another big study from Malaysia also came out; the headline result is “doesn’t work” but Meyerowitz-Katz thinks it’s more complicated (although still leans negative). Avi Bitterman et al formally published their “ivermectin efficacy only in areas with parasitic worms” paper in JAMA. Alexandros Marinos still thinks it works.
16: Related: very large and impressive RCT shows no effect for Vitamin D on COVID.
17: Metaculus: will plant-based meat pass a “Turing test” (where people can’t distinguish it from real meat) by 2023? Currently at 55%
18: History Of Bachelor Taxes: “A bachelor tax existed in Argentina around 1900. Men who could prove that they had asked a woman to marry them and had been rebuffed were exempt from the tax. In 1900, this gave rise to the phenomenon of "professional lady rejectors", women who for a fee would swear to the authorities that a man had proposed to them and they had refused.” (h/t _femb0t)
19: Zhou Enlai famously said of the effects of the French Revolution that it was “too early to say”. But a diplomat who was there at the time says this wasn’t some kind of wise utterance about history - Zhou thought the question was about the French protests of 1968, which really were too recent to have an opinion on. (h/t Dylan Matthews)
20: Claim: trying to spell the Spanish informal second person singular affirmative imperative of ‘salirle” causes a grammatical paradox, and so the Royal Spanish Academy advises that, while this word may be spoken, it must not be written down.
21: Investment in space startups over time (h/t Aleph):
22: Who wrote up Banach’s thesis?:
There is a curious story how Banach got his Ph.D. He was being forced to write a Ph.D. paper and take the examinations, as he very quickly obtained many important results, but he kept saying that he was not ready and perhaps he would invent something more interesting. At last the university authorities became nervous. Somebody wrote down Banach’s remarks on some problems, and this was accepted as an excellent Ph.D. dissertation. But an exam was also required. One day Banach was accosted in the corridor and asked to go to a Dean’s room, as “some people have come and they want to know some mathematical details, and you will certainly be able to answer their questions”. Banach willingly answered the questions, not realising that he was just being examined by a special commission that had come to Lvov for this purpose.
23: Alexey Guzey argues for getting less sleep as a productivity and mental health intervention (sort of), or at the very least that all the scientists saying getting 7-8+ hours of sleep is important don’t know what they’re talking about. Natalia Mendonca disagrees and says the evidence for more sleep is pretty good. You can find some further discussion between the two of them in the comments of Natalia’s post.
24: Ten Years Of Nukemap. Alex Wellerstein writes about what he’s learned in ten years running the Internet’s premier site for “how bad would it be if my city got nuked?”
25: Related: Bean on DSL: Nuclear Weapons Are Not As Destructive As You Think. A full nuclear exchange between US and Russia would involve 4,000 warheads. Most would hit military and industrial centers. Many of those would be in cities, which would mean a very bad time for people in those cities - but destroying cities wouldn’t be the primary goal, and many cities / parts of cities might remain un-destroyed. Second order effects like fallout and nuclear winter would be relatively minor (on a civilizational scale). Also related: Finan Adamson’s Nuclear Preparedness Guide.
26: Gauromydas heros is the world’s largest fly. Don’t click on that link unless you want to see a picture of the world’s largest fly, I am very serious about this.
27: I know “post on the Sam Harris subreddit about the black-white gap” might be self-anti-recommending, but I still appreciated Many black-white disparities in important life outcomes are mostly eliminated after controlling for youth standardized test scores . Black men/women who score X on a military IQ test make (only 9% less / somewhat more) per hour, and (24% less / somewhat more) per year than white men/women with the same score; the remaining difference disappears or reverses at higher incomes and education levels. This fits my expectation that most of the direct job market prejudice black people face focuses on low-income black men in particular. See the comments for caveats.
28: The Neural Code For Face Cells Is Not Face-Specific. Attempt by the author to explain further here. I don’t really understand this but people are saying it’s an argument against modularity in the brain? Maybe someone can explain to me.
29: Marcus v. Search Warrant was a 1961 court case where a magazine seller, unable to sue the police who confiscated his magazines, hit on a novel legal strategy: sue the search warrant. He made it to the Supreme Court and won. Related: US vs. Tyrannosaurus.
30: Pro-crypto manifesto: “There are no constitutional rights in substance without freedom to transact […] Freedom of speech might require pamplets, advertisements, or websites. Freedom of assembly might require taking a train to Washington DC or booking a hotel room…the exercise of rights costs money…In the United States (and EU) banks and payment processors have been pressured to cut off accounts to gun shops, adult businesses, crypto businesses and other perfectly legal businesses….Some aspiring dictator will censor their opponents' spending during a election period and they won't be able to buy a tomato, let alone run a campaign.”
31: I’ve previously expressed doubt about NLP-based science search/aggregation methods here, but Consensus argues I am wrong and they will be great.
32: Adrian D’Souza, on Singapore’s successful anti-child-obesity program. But see the subreddit for some skeptical comments.
33: I know the AI-generated art community has moved on to being impressed by DALL-E2, but let’s take a second to appreciate this work by CLIP, from the prompt “the god of Twitter” (h/t Ryan Moulton):
Links For April