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More adventurous than the average bear

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Links - 17th May 2018 (1)

The futility of gender-neutral parenting - "A large and long-standing body of research literature shows that toy preferences, for example, are innate, not socially constructed or shaped by parental feedback. Most girls will gravitate toward socially interesting toys, like dolls, that help social and verbal abilities develop. Most boys will gravitate toward toys that are mechanically interesting, like cars and trucks, fostering visuo-spatial skills. One recent study, published in Infant and Child Development, showed that these preferences emerge as early as nine months of age — before children are developmentally aware that gender differences exist, at around 18 months. Another piece of evidence comes from studying girls who were exposed to high levels of testosterone prenatally, in the case of a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH... We also see the same trend in our primate cousins, including rhesus and vervet monkeys... an immense body of neuroimaging research has shown brain differences between the sexes. One meta-analysis of 126 studies found that men have larger total brain volumes than women. Men also show greater white matter connectivity running from the front to the back of the brain, while women have more of these connections running between the two hemispheres. Additionally, when researchers reanalyzed the same brain data from the “no sex differences” study, they found that it was possible to correctly identify whether a given brain was male or female 73% of the time. But this discovery did not receive much attention from the media, and as a result, the initial study’s misinformation continues to spread."

Infants prefer toys typed to their gender, says study - "Stereotypical toy preferences were found for boys and girls in each of the age groups, demonstrating that sex differences in toy preference appear early in development. Both boys and girls showed a trend for an increasing preference with age for toys stereotyped for boys... “Biological differences give boys an aptitude for mental rotation and more interest and ability in spatial processing, while girls are more interested in looking at faces and better at fine motor skills and manipulating objects. When we studied toy preference in a familiar nursery setting with parents absent, the differences we saw were consistent with these aptitudes. Although there was variability between individual children, we found that, in general, boys played with male-typed toys more than female-typed toys and girls played with female-typed toys more than male-typed toys. “Our results show that there are significant sex differences across all three age groups, with the finding that children in the youngest group, who were aged between 9–17 months when infants are able to crawl or walk and therefore make independent selections, being particularly interesting; the ball was a favourite choice for the youngest boys and the youngest girls favoured the cooking pot.”"

What Japanese women want: a Western husband - "some seem so enthralled with the idea that they are willing to spend thousands of dollars to inspect the wares personally. Of the more than 2,000 women on the books at one large matchmaking agency, about 200 travel to the US or Europe each month to meet prospects. Sentimental projections have recently been extended to Korean men also, due to romantic Korean soap operas"

Choosing between Pompeii and Herculaneum - "Herculaneum was the richer of the two cities, which is obvious after a tour of the ruins: there are more expansive houses, more impressive mosaics, and more lavish marble in the remains. Although a much smaller city, its ruins are also more dense, better preserved, and offer more complete homes and mosaics."

"Judicial Protection of Minorities" by Terrance Sandalow - "it has never been clear precisely how the fact that legislation bears heavily upon a minority connects with the conclusion that it ought to be subjected to close judicial scrutiny. Except as frequency of repetition may have made it seem so, after all, the connection is not self-evident. "Democracy" means government by the people, either directly or through representation. Although a commitment to it does not entail acceptance of simplistic majoritarianism, there remains the question why, in a nation generally committed to democratic values, a minority should have a special claim to promote its interests outside the political process. The belief that there are grounds for such a claim is the most frequent manifestation of an older and, very likely, still a more commonly held view, that judicial review is a necessary safeguard of the rights of minorities"

Why Some Wild Animals Are Becoming Nicer - "Certain creatures may be domesticating themselves."

Miss Israel: Iraqi contestant's family forced to flee country over joint selfie - "Relatives of the Iraqi contestant in the Miss Universe Pageant were forced to flee the Middle Eastern country over photos with her Israeli counterpart and Miss Iraq’s modeling in a bikini... Gandelsman, who said she has been in contact with Idan since the competition, relayed that her friend does not regret the decision to post the photos. “She did it to so that people can understand that it’s possible to live together,” she said. Last month, Idan defended her decision to pose with Gandelsman following criticism she received back home, saying it was an expression of a desire for peace and not a show of support for the government of Israel. “I want to stress that the purpose of the picture was only to express hope and desire for peace between the two countries,” wrote Miss Iraq (in Arabic) in an Instagram post."
This suggests that many Arabs don't actually want peace

Twitter Thread Lists 100 Reasons Why 'Star Wars' Prequels Were Good - "there are also a number of poignant assessments of Anakin’s alienating personality that likely contributed to his turn to the Dark side. Luke had friends. Anakin did not. “He’s good with machines and animals, not people,” partially because he’s basically “a teen monk.” My wife once said to me, maybe his dialogue is cringey because he has zero models of how to speak romantically to someone... There’s also the visual representation of the Republic’s sophistication, as communicated through their elegant architecture, which is all but eroded by the end of the prequel trilogy... One of the most blatant things that the prequels do better than the original trilogy is characterizing Boba Fett’s spiritual predecessor and father, Jango. We’re meant to think Boba Fett is cool somehow, despite the fact that he does almost nothing. But the prequels offer daring action sequences where Jango fights Obi-Wan to a standstill, and his closest analog is actually Han Solo... doing less exposition and characterization with Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace makes him that much more terrifying as a villain. He’s “scarier as a relentless nightmare.”"

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Has a Point but Larry Summers Is Still Right - "Summers was right about this. Unfortunately, he has been misrepresented over and over again as having presented just one (rather than three) explanations for the gender gap; as having claimed that discrimination no longer exists; and for having said that there’s a difference in average ability. (If only we had accountability in journalism!)... there isn’t an aggregate gender divide that is replicated across all the sciences. –there isn’t some massive prejudicial force that prevents women from entering science in general... Why is the percentage of women somewhat proportional to the “socialness” of the science? And why don’t women choose academic careers after they finish graduate school?... this is Pinker’s summary of the psychological differences between men and women:
1. Men, on average, prioritize status, while women weigh status and family equally.
2. Women, on average, are more interested in people; men are more interested in things and abstract rule systems.
3. Men are by far the more reckless sex.
4. Men, on average, have a superior ability to do three-dimensional mental transformations.
5. Men, on average, are superior at mathematical reasoning.
6. Men have more variability than women across traits, which means that men are over-represented in the upper and lower tails of ability distributions."
It is telling that the thoughtcrime of posting this and another article (below) necessitated a followup and mea culpa: A Response to Recent Criticism - Scientific American Blog Network. Tellingly both were published by Ashutosh Jogalekar, an Indian Indian (and thus perhaps unaware of, or mistakenly thinking that would isolate him from, the OB markers). Curiously, 9 days after the mea culpa was published in july 2014, Jogalekar posted his final post on his Scientific American blog The Curious Wavefunction

Genes and Race: The Distant Footfalls of Evidence - "A review of Nicholas Wade's book, "A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History". In this book NYT science writer Nicholas Wade advances two simple premises: firstly, that we should stop looking only toward culture as a determinant of differences between populations and individuals, and secondly, that those who claim that race is only a social construct are ignoring increasingly important findings from modern genetics and science. The guiding thread throughout the book is that "human evolution is recent, copious and regional" and that this has led to the genesis of distinct differences and classifications between human groups. What we do with this evidence should always be up for social debate, but the evidence itself cannot be ignored. That is basically the gist of the book. It's worth noting at the outset that at no point does Wade downplay the effects of culture and environment in dictating social, cognitive or behavioral differences - in fact he mentions culture as an important factor at least ten times by my count - but all he is saying is that, based on a variety of scientific studies enabled by the explosive recent growth of genomics and sequencing, we need to now recognize a strong genetic component to these differences... even small differences between populations can translate to large differences in physical, mental and social features depending on what alleles are involved; Lewontin and his followers' frequent plea that inter-group differences are "only 15%" thus ends up essentially translating to obfuscation through numbers... the real lesson of the book should not be lost on us: A scientific topic cannot be declared off limits or whitewashed because its findings can be socially or politically controversial; as Wade notes, "Whether or not a thesis might be politically incendiary should have no bearing on the estimate of its scientific validity."... He admonishes some of the critics - especially some liberal academics and the American Anthropological Association - for espousing a "culture only" philosophy that is increasingly at odds with scientific facts and designed mainly for political correctness and a straitjacketed worldview.
Liberal paradox: evolutionary psychology is pseudoscience because we have evolved from the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptation, yet race is pseudoscience because we are all the same

The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon - "“Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”"

The Rustic Bistro: Singapore Restaurant Review - "Rustic Bistro is definitely worth a visit, with its unpretentious yet innovative fare, coupled with a homely vibe."
Can you really serve Truffle Fries and Spaghetti Laksa and be unpretentious?
This place was keyword pasta: "Rustic. Bistro. Modern. Inspired. Western."

Facebook failed to remove sexualised images of children - "the BBC reported dozens of photos to Facebook, but more than 80% were not removed... When provided with examples of the images, Facebook reported the BBC journalists involved to the police and cancelled plans for an interview. It subsequently issued a statement: "It is against the law for anyone to distribute images of child exploitation." Mr Collins said it was extraordinary that the BBC had been reported to the authorities when it was trying to "help clean up the network"... The social network's director of policy Simon Milner agreed to be interviewed last week, on condition the BBC provided examples of the material that it had reported, but had not been removed by moderators. The BBC did so, but was reported to the UK's National Crime Agency as a consequence."

Comedian sued for turning men with tickets away from her women-only show - "St. George allegedly also compared his experience being turned away to the Montgomery City Lines bus boycott, sparked by Rosa Parks in Alabama in 1955. He also questioned how the show was different from a “Caucasian Night” or “Heterosexual Night.”"

Why George Lucas Is the Greatest Artist of Our Time - ""My films are basically in the graphics": "Everything is visual." He views dialogue as merely "a sound effect, a rhythm, a vocal chorus in the overall soundtrack." In structure, Star Wars unfolds as dynamic action sequences alternating with grand panoramic tableaux, including breathtaking cityscapes stacked with traffic skylanes. Lucas declares, "I'm not really interested in plots." And elsewhere: "To me, the script is just a sketchbook, just a list of notes""

Jo Johnson to tell universities to stop 'no-platforming' speakers - "at some universities students had insisted on extensive lists of “trigger words” that should not be used and had demanded the removal of books from their libraries... most university students (63%) are in favour of the NUS having a no-platforming policy"
It started with trigger warnings. And we are now at the book banning stage

Former Maxim model Kim Miso to become a police officer in South Korea - "Kim Miso has become known as the 'most beautiful policewoman' after her new law enforcing role in Seoul, South Korea, was revealed"

Facebook stops putting "Disputed Flags" on fake news because it doesn't work - "the flags don't work, and they often have the reverse effect of making people want to click even more. Related articles give people more context about what's fake or not, according to Facebook"

Condiments from Around the World - "Thais tend to customize their food once it arrives on the table. While we would think it offensive to receive a dish and then start liberally adding new tastes, such is the norm in most of Thailand"

Shit Testing – P.S. I Love You - "Shit tests are always meant to provoke a response in a man but the source of the problem is always an inner conflict that I haven’t acknowledged yet... Many of these feelings are buried and they come out in surprising, often unproductive ways. One of these ways is the shit test in part because we’ve been told that the origin of our suffering is men (a newer phenomenon) and also because we look to the men in our lives to resolve our problems, even our emotional problems (likely a tendency since the beginning of time)... The shit test is an emotional outburst to gauge if our problem is caused by or can be resolved by the man. However, the shit test is not the problem. It is a symptom of the problem"

Psychopathy and Victim Selection - "Previous research has shown that victims display characteristic body language, specifically in their walking style (Grayson & Stein, 1981). Individuals scoring higher on the interpersonal/affective aspects of psychopathy (Factor 1) are more accurate at judging victim vulnerability simply from viewing targets walking (Wheeler, Book, & Costello, 2009). The present study examines the relation between psychopathy and accuracy in assessing victim vulnerability in a sample of inmates from a maximum security penitentiary in Ontario, Canada. Forty-seven inmates viewed short video clips of targets walking and judged how vulnerable each target was to victimization. Higher Factor 1 psychopathy scores (as measured by the PCL-R; Hare 2003) were positively related to accuracy in judging victim vulnerability"
More victim blaming!

A Five Minute Field Guide - The Data Journalism Handbook - "Mailing lists combine the wisdom of a whole community on a particular topic. For data journalists, the Data Driven Journalism List and the NICAR-L lists are excellent starting points. Both of these lists are filled with data journalists and Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) geeks, who work on all kinds of projects. Chances are that someone may have done a story like yours, and may have an idea of where to start, if not a link to the data itself. You could also try Project Wombat (“a discussion list for difficult reference questions”), the Open Knowledge Foundation’s many mailing lists, mailing lists at theInfo, or searching for mailing lists on the topic, or in the region that you are interested in."
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