"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Links - 8th March 2019 (2)

London Underground bans dating app ad featuring topless man, 58, for ' sexual objectification' - "AN advert featuring a topless model in his fifties has been banned from the London Underground over claims it sexually objectified him. The advert, for an over-50s dating app, showed 58-year-old Paul Orchard wearing just braces, holding a phone with the tagline: “Pull a cracker this Christmas.” However Transport for London’s advertising agent, Exterion Media, has demanded that it be changed to feature a clothed model with a “less suggestive” tagline.It claimed the advert for Lumen, the first dating app exclusively for the over-fifties, was “not compliant” with Committee of Advertising Practice guidelines and said it “could be seen as objectifying the man and his physique”.The Committee of Advertising Practice declined to comment on the advert. From June next year it will ban adverts which reinforce gender stereotypes, like men struggling with household tasks or women as bad drivers. The Lumen advert will now appear as a toned down version on the Tube, with the man fully clothed in a red suit and the tag line "Santa, Baby".It comes amid a wider clamp down on body shaming adverts by tube bosses following furore over Protein World's "Are you beach body ready?" campaign... "Our app is all about anti-ageism, body confidence and being yourself, so to have this banned is a bit depressing. It’s ridiculous and absurd.”Mr Orchard, who appears as the model in the adverts, said: “I’m surprised these ads have been banned, especially when you consider the other images you regularly see on the Underground of younger people wearing much less than I am. "We worked hard to ensure the photographs were tasteful as well as fun, and it’s a shame TfL don’t see it that way.”"

Dreaming of a World More Like Wakanda - "@KamalaHarris: “We know that if we want to live in a world that looks more like Wakanda, the first step is you invest in some women and girls.”...
I mean, look, the real lesson of Wakanda is "find a giant magical space rock and keep it hidden from the rest of the world while you advance your technology" but I guess "be nice to girls" is a close second. That being said, does Harris really want a world that looks like Wakanda?... It's a society that allowed its African neighbors to be ravaged by the rest of the world while it hid behind its walls. Imagine being a nation on a continent where the people are being enslaved and where the resources are being strip mined and doing nothing to stop this oppression by foreign hordes even though you had the military might to do so. Imagine further watching this negligence and thinking "yes, that's a model society, we should be more like them." That's bananas. Emulating Wakanda would be bananas."

'Europe is finished,' leading lawyer says as he leaves UK for Israel - "A top British lawyer and his partner immigrated to Israel this week, citing rising anti-Semitism in Europe. “Europe in my view is finished. Every day you see people being attacked in one way or another across Europe,” Mark Lewis told Israel’s Channel 10 news, which accompanied his arrival, together with partner Mandy Blumenthal, at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport... Lewis, 54, one of the UK’s leading libel lawyers, said he has been increasingly subjected to hate speech and threats for being Jewish, including being subjected to regular abuse and death threats online... “We’ve accelerated our decision of moving to go to Israel because of anti-Semitism being so institutional and accepted in mainstream life""

Lena Dunham has apologised for disbelieving a rape allegation – and made matters worse - "you can’t blame all your cock-ups on the patriarchy. You can’t slander a woman, spin the situation into PR for yourself, use it as evidence of how you have grown and matured, and then blame the dominant male agenda. You have to take some responsibility for what you did wrong – and taking meaningful responsibility seems something Dunham is incapable of doing."

Starbucks bathrooms are free, but good luck finding an open stall - "Finding a usable Starbucks toilet in the Big Apple might actually have gotten harder since last spring’s announcement — and not just for non-customers... A half-dozen toilets were locked or barricaded for no clear reason. Others were closed for prolonged “cleaning,” which an insider said was needed after extreme soiling caused by drug-using, incontinent vagrants.“Letting everybody in has resulted in nobody getting in,” an employee at one branch fumed... A rope and traffic cones barred the way at 38 Park Row. When a desperate visitor asked if the loo would reopen any time soon, a barista directed him to a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby."

WALSH: Remember When Starbucks Caved And Opened Their Bathrooms To Non-Customers? Here's How That Worked Out. - "a Starbucks manager at a location in Philadelphia came under heavy fire last spring after refusing restroom privileges to two non-customers. The men, who happened to be black, asked to use the restroom... Certain Starbucks locations, less than a year after announcing this enlightened new restroom philosophy, now must install special disposal boxes for used heroin needles. They'll also be removing regular trashcans from some bathrooms after employees expressed concern about getting pricked with needles while changing out the bags. There have been reports of condoms, alcohol bottles, and blood stains on the floors... It may be fairly pointed out that Starbucks probably had many of these problems even before the new policy. Yes, and that's exactly the point. That's why the policy existed in the first place. A spacious, private, single-stall bathroom at a Starbucks in an urban area is an attractive place for drug addicts, drunks, vagrants, and other assorted characters. Most businesses are not interested in becoming de facto homeless shelters or halfway homes. Historically, that's why they reserve their bathrooms and their tables for people who are actually interested in purchasing their products. It's not a fail-proof plan, but it's relatively effective. There's a reason why these needle disposal boxes only became necessary after they changed the policy."

The scientists persuading terrorists to spill their secrets - "High-stakes interrogations take place in secret, and have rarely been available to objective researchers. In place of cool analysis, colourful but unreliable stories of vital secrets wrenched from fearful suspects have prevailed. In reality, well-run interrogations are rarely dramatic: drama thrives on conflict – something professional interrogators strive to avoid... Watching and coding all the interviews took eight months. When the process was complete, Laurence passed on the data to Paul Christiansen, a colleague at Liverpool University, who performed a statistical analysis of the results. The most important relationship he measured was between “yield” – information elicited from the suspect – and “rapport” – the quality of the relationship between interviewer and interviewee. For the first time, a secure, empirical basis was established for what had, until then, been something between a hypothesis and an insider secret: rapport is the closest thing interrogators have to a truth serum... Moran’s premise was that even the most implacable prisoner had a story that he wanted to tell; the interrogator’s job was to create an atmosphere in which he felt willing and able to tell it. The surest way to do that is to treat him as a fellow human being, rather than an enemy... Today, most experienced interrogators agree... Today, interrogations still get framed as accusatory moral dramas, and not just on TV. American police officers are trained in the Reid Technique, developed in the 1950s by John Reid, a former Chicago cop. In a pre-interrogation interview, the detective assesses a suspect’s credibility by observing his body language, such as fidgeting or eye movements. (There is no evidence these are reliable cues to deceit.) Once he decides that a suspect is lying, the interrogator moves into confrontational mode, in an effort to break the suspect’s resistance. The technique has been consistently associated with false confessions. It survives, at least in part, because it makes the interrogator feel in control, positioning him as a heroic protagonist... Studies of interrogation are often preoccupied with the question of how to detect deception, but even a lie is information; the hard problem for an interrogator is a suspect who says nothing... children know exactly which buttons to press. “I tell (the police), if you can deal with teenagers you can deal with terrorists”"
The fact that many people cheer when terrorists are shot demonstrates that they are not interested in investigation and deeper causes of the problem - just retribution

Women’s groups: Cancel law charging women with rape! - "The Knesset Law Committee on Tuesday decided to postpone a vote on second and third reading of a bill to add the crime of rape by a woman to the statute book after women’s organizations warned that it would lead to a situation where women would be afraid to charge men with rape... representatives of women’s organizations unanimously opposed it."
Feminism means that women can't rape men

Do Higher Salaries Lead to Higher Performance? Evidence from State Politicians by Mitchell Hoffman, Elizabeth Lyons - "Higher salary is associated with statistically significant, but economically small, increases in electoral competitiveness and legislative productivity, the latter proxied with bill-passing and missed roll call votes. Salary has no effect on politician quality, corruption, or fiscal policy... Despite small impacts on performance, higher salary is significantly correlated with behavior on another margin, namely time-use; time-use data suggests that politicians in higher wage states spend greater time on fund-raising and on constituent services, but no more time on legislative activities. Our results lend caution to common claims that increasing politician salary would significantly increase the quality of U.S. state government"

Scientists engineer shortcut for photosynthetic glitch, boost crop growth by 40 percent

Young Girls Creeped Out By Older Scientists Constantly Trying To Lure Them Into STEM - "“They’re always hanging around our classrooms and sending us targeted messages online—they sometimes even offer us money if we’re into their sort of thing. It’s so desperate,” said 13-year-old Tessa Levin, recounting the several times she and her friends had been approached by the type of much older chemical engineers or web developers who frequent science fairs with the hopes of involving girls in non-profit mentorship programs or computer programming sleepaway camps. “They always try to treat us like we’re special, but the truth is, they’ll go after pretty much any girl under 18 who can draw a simple parallel circuit diagram. They’re clearly trying to groom girls for their weird lifestyle from a young age. At first it was kind of funny, but the more we learn, the more it just seems gross.” The poll also revealed that some scientists also seem to have a thing for young black and latino boys."

Scientists invent a wearable testicle-chilling device to try and boost men's fertility - "The CoolMen gadget is attached to a belt and should be worn for 12-16 hours a day for up to a month to boost men's sperm count, its manufacturers say."

Beekeepers Sick Of Vegan Diet Hypocrisy Shut Them Down With Facts - "All the fruits and vegetables that vegans *do* eat couldn't exist without bees"

Still just 1 g: Consistent results from five test batteries - "In a recent paper, Johnson, Bouchard, Krueger, McGue, and Gottesman (2004) addressed a long-standing debate in psychology by demonstrating that the g factors derived from three test batteries administered to a single group of individuals were completely correlated. This finding provided evidence for the existence of a unitary higher-level general intelligence construct whose measurement is not dependent on the specific abilities assessed. In the current study we constructively replicated this finding utilizing five test batteries. The replication is important because there were substantial differences in both the sample and the batteries administered from those in the original study. The current sample consisted of 500 Dutch seamen of very similar age and somewhat truncated range of ability. The batteries they completed included many tests of perceptual ability and dexterity, and few verbally oriented tests. With the exception of the g correlations involving the Cattell Culture Fair Test, which consists of just four matrix reasoning tasks of very similar methodology, all of the g correlations were at least .95. The lowest g correlation was .77. We discuss the implications of this finding."
The "myth" of IQ

The power of cognitive ability in explaining educational test performance, relative to other ostensible contenders - "The paper examines the relationship between cognitive ability at thirteen years of age and children's academic performance assessments at aged nine. Alongside cognitive ability, other variables considered predictive of academic success were assessed including personality measures, birthweight, handedness, socio-economic background, parental education, home language, and child-rearing practices such as breast-feeding and access to video-games... Linear multiple regression identified five variables which significantly explained both reading and mathematics test scores: two cognitive ability measures, birthweight, wealthier households, and high attendance at parent-teacher meetings. Gender, parental education, and home language also made a contribution to reading test scores, while a general factor of personality was significant for mathematics. Overall the cognitive ability measures accounted for almost all of the explained variance, and other factors, while sometimes statistically significant, were of relatively minor importance."

Germany in World War II / History and National Identity

BBC Radio 4 - Best of Today, Andrew Roberts guest edits Today

"The 10th of May 1940, Winston Churchill was appointed Prime Minister. He nearly died of pneumonia when he was 10 years old. He took part in the last great cavalry charge of the British Empire. On that occasion the doctors administered brandy to him both orally and rectally… You might have thought that that would have put you off brandy for life. But it certainly didn't in Winston Churchill’s case...

‘There were actually calls notably for France for far more of German territory to be taken.’

‘Yes, the French had been invaded twice by Germany in the living memory of most people, including Georges Clemenceau the Prime Minister. In 1870, the French had been invaded by the German Confederation and lost the war and lost two provinces of Alsace and Lorraine, and then of course, they were invaded again in 1914.

I mean when people talk about France being vindictive at the peace conference I think we have to remember that the French didn't start the war, they were invaded by Germany. And they looked across the border and they saw Germany that was still pretty large… Germany where the birth rate was higher than the French birth rate. So more soldiers in the pipeline coming along, and they wanted to protect themselves. And what they did seriously contemplate, many of the French leadership, was dividing Germany up into its components again, or taking a piece, another piece of Germany, that the Rhineland which was the part of Germany west of the Rhine River and making that part of France. And so I think there really was a fear of a resurgent Germany, which, as it turned out, was quite right’...

‘Increasingly most Germans came to think that they hadn't actually lost the war... increasingly in the 1920s and 1930s, the Germans and others also began to argue that Germany hadn't started the war. And so if Germany wasn't to blame for starting the war, if it had just happened, which came to be a sort of common view in the English speaking countries, it was just an accident waiting to happen, if Germany hadn't started the war, if it hadn't lost the war, why should it pay any penalty?’...

The historian Harold James made the observation that paradoxically Versailles was one of those things that held Germany together. Remember, Germany was a Revolutionary Republic at the time that the treaty was being signed. The one thing Germans agreed on after 1919 was that they hated the Treaty of Versailles. And it was only when the treaty unraveled completely and the reparations were abandoned - in 1932, Germany defaulted on its payments - that Hitler's regime, Hitler’s movement really gained massive political traction. So I don't think that could have been a radically different peace in 1919 that would somehow avoided Hitler's coming to power, that didn't happen until 1933, after all...

‘Why is it do you think if you agree with Jeremy Black that we all in a sense want to claim that whatever we believe now is in line with our country's history, recent or much further distant?’

‘Because human beings now that they're no longer believing God have to find some way of legitimating what they do. And that's perfectly understandable. You see what I think is the most fundamental problem that we've got, if you go back to Henry the Eighth, if you go back to and British politicians throughout the great periods that Jeremy is familiar with. You know when Britain stood against Napoleon, when Britain stood against Hitler, there was a clear sense of a national interest.

The great problem with postwar Britain, Britain having lost an empire and not found a role is we've had no definition of a national interest. The very notion is regarded as being something dirty, especially by remainers, especially by the Foreign Office, by much of business. And this distinguishes us from the French and the Germans, you know the French fight their corner brutally within the EU. The Germans you know, look at how they defended their car industry to the extent of cheating. What did we do we? We decided out of virtue we were getting to have diesel. And then we've decided equally out of diesel that we're going to bugger the British car industry-’...

Churchill would have been fantastic on Twitter, many of Churchill's most punchy lines would have easily fit it into 280 characters… He was very good with hecklers for example, he would put down hecklers at public meetings. He gave 1000 public speeches before he became prime minister. And so he would have been great on Twitter"

Links - 8th March 2019 (1)

Nate Silver Dismantles 'Russian Disinformation Stole The Election' Narrative In Tweet Thread - ""If you wrote out a list of the most important factors in the 2016 election, I'm not sure that Russian social media memes would be among the top 100," he added in a follow-up tweet. "The scale was quite small and there's not much evidence that they were effective."... Fake Russian profiles and Facebook pages didn't just promote pro-Trump rhetoric, they promoted anti-Trump rhetoric, Black Lives Matter events, and other left-wing causes. Their impact is unclear but almost certainly overstated, as Silver argues. As for Cambridge Analytica, which became the scapegoat for Facebook data mining problems, the hype surrounding the firm was proven to be overblown early on."

Report: Parrot Used Alexa to Order Snacks from Amazon

Oxford ends women-only fellowship after university rules that it breaches equality law - "The Joanna Randall-MacIver junior research fellowship, established in the 1930s for women studying fine arts, music or literature, was deemed to be “discriminatory on the grounds of gender” by Oxford’s Council.This is the first time that the university has opened up a historically female-only fellowship to male applicants, and the move has prompted a backlash from previous recipients.The decision means that other research fellowships could be under threat, including those run by Cambridge's female-only college Newnham"
Women don't really want equality?

America Is Losing Its Grip - "the idea of a loss in human strength, expressed through a statistical measure hardly anyone had previously heard of, seemed to hint at some latter-day version of degeneration.That message was reinforced by the sheer predictive power of grip strength. In a study published in 2015 in The Lancet, the health outcomes of nearly 140,000 people across 17 countries were tracked over four years, via a variety of measures—including grip strength. Grip strength was not only “inversely associated with all-cause mortality”—every 5 kilogram (kg) decrement in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent risk increase—but as the team, led by McMaster University professor of medicine Darryl Leong, noted: “Grip strength was a stronger predictor of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure.”"

‘Everything is gone’: trees, lights and bells vanish amid China’s Christmas crackdown - "It took less than 24 hours for all the Christmas trees, lights and bells to disappear from a 27-storey shopping and office complex in the Chinese city of Nanyang. Even the giant teddy bear at the mall entrance was not spared... a growing emphasis on traditional culture by the ruling Communist Party and the systematic suppression of religion under President Xi Jinping are imperilling Santa Claus’ position... Before becoming president, Xi went to Finland in 2010 and was photographed with Santa Claus. That kind of chumminess appears to be a thing of Christmas past"

The Puzzling Link Between Vegetarianism and Depression - "In a 2018 study of 90,000 adults, French researchers examined the impact of giving up various food groups on depressive symptoms among meat eaters, vegans, true vegetarians, and vegetarians who ate fish. The incidence of depression increased with each food group that was given up. People who had given up at least three of four animal-related food groups (red meat, poultry, fish, and dairy) were at nearly two-and-a-half times greater risk to suffer from depression... the frequency of Seasonal Affective Disorder was four times higher among Finnish vegetarians and three times higher in Dutch vegetarians than in meat eaters... You have to be careful about link-think. Take the link between animal cruelty and human-directed violence. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this link is surprisingly weak. Most kids who abuse animals become normal adults and most serial killers and school shooters do not have a history of animal abuse... some traits may predispose some people to both depression and to vegetarianism. Women, for example, are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression, and there are also more female vegetarians than male vegetarians. And, while the evidence is mixed, some personality types may also be particularly drawn to vegetarianism. In addition, vegetarian diets can be isolating"

What’s the Deal With Vegetarians Who Hate Vegetables? - "some supertaster vegetarians overcome their dislike of cruciferous vegetables. But the low prevalence of supertasters that Dr. Cliceri and his colleagues found among vegetarians suggests that genetics may make it more difficult for some people than others to give up meat... fewer than 4% of Americans are true vegetarians or vegans, and about 85% of them eventually revert back to eating animals"

84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why? - "'while I theoretically cared about animals and the planet, mostly I just wanted to be different... for the next 17 years, it seemed like I was always hungry no matter how large my bowl of beans and rice. Even worse than constant hunger, I didn't seem to enjoy food the way other people did. Eating was a chore, like folding laundry or paying bills, but even more annoying because if I didn't do it I would die. I was sick of being hungry, I was sick of beans and rice, and so at the age of 31, I have made a decision: I will try and become a meat-eater.'... the fact that five out of six vegetarians go back to eating meat suggests that an all-veggie diet is very hard for most people to maintain over the long haul. Hence, the authors of the report argue that animal protectionists would be better off concentrating their efforts to persuade “the many” to reduce their consumption of flesh than trying to convince “the few” to take the absolutist route and give up meat completely"

Aggressive vegans are putting a quarter of Britons off vegetarianism, finds study - "26 per cent of meat-eaters are discouraged to try giving up meat and/or all animal products due to “the attitude of certain vegetarians/vegans.”... 25 per cent of the meat-eating respondents also revealed that they’d been lectured about their diets.Despite the findings of the study, more and more Brits are shunning animal products, with research last year finding that the number of vegans in the UK has risen by 360 per cent over the past ten years.This also makes veganism the fastest growing lifestyle movement in the UK."

A third of meat eaters say they wouldn't date a vegetarian - "sharing food is a ritual central to all members of the animal kingdom... '[Vegetarians] are advertising a particular lifestyle, that they are high-maintenance. Their needs require others to bend - even if their philosophy may be a healthy philosophy.'"
This has interesting implications for diet as modern secular religion

Do Vegetarians Smell Sexier? - "women rated the body odors of the men to be sexier, more pleasant, and less intense after they had given up meat for two weeks... the men who ate more vegetables and less meat tended to have yellower skin. And, like the researchers predicted, the sniff-testers rated the armpit odor of men with yellowish skin as more pleasant.But in contrast to results of the Czech study, the Australian women rated the body odors of frequent meat eaters to be more pleasant than men who ate a lot of vegetables. No one knows why the two groups of researchers obtained opposite results when in comes to how meat-eating affects body odor"

Women’s Hedonic Ratings of Body Odor of Heterosexual and Homosexual Men | Request PDF - "Women rated the body odor of homosexual men as being comparatively more pleasant, sexier, and more preferable than that of heterosexual men but not significantly different from the unused T-shirts. This finding was consistent with contemporary research demonstrating that an individual's sexual orientation significantly impacts their olfactory function, both in terms of body odor production and olfactory perceptions of certain compounds."

Thousands of patients diagnosed as vegetative are actually aware - "the brains of minimally conscious patients were activated when exposed to narratives read by family members. When the same narratives were played backwards, becoming gibberish, activation did not occur. The implication? The brains of patients who looked inert and who appeared unable to respond to language were in fact processing language... There is an irony that, in establishing one set of rights, we have trampled on the rights of others. In establishing the right to die, a right that I wholly endorse as an extension of our liberty interest, we have marginalised conscious individuals and deprived them of their right to a self"

Syrian Kurds accused of ethnic cleansing and killing opponents - "Syrian groups backed by the West have been accused of driving people into the arms of Isil, executing prisoners and killing hundreds of people in recent inter-factional fighting... “There are no perfect angels in this war, but there are some that are worse than others”"

'Kick Them Out’: Syrian Women Tell Europe to Send Men Home - "Syrian women are complaining that there are not enough men to rebuild the county, and have told Europe and other Western countries that have absorbed their young men to “kick them out” and send them home.Journalist at Swedish public broadcaster SVT Johan-Mathias Sommarström travelled to Damascus, Syria, and spoke to some of the students at the University of Damascus, 70 per cent of whom he observed are women."

Yellow rage through Syrian eyes - "Of the thousands of people witnessing the “yellow vest” protests in Paris over the past few weeks, three young men have had a decidedly different perspective.Cameras in hand, they have had great fun at the demonstrations, exchanging knowing looks, smiles and jokes whenever they crossed paths. Every once in a while, a painful memory or a philosophical reflection would pierce through the merriment. Then the good humor would return.They are Syrians who have seen friends and loved ones die and their hometowns reduced to rubble. Having escaped war, they are now covering violence in a European capital. With a smile...
'they will actually let you into the protest zone if you have a camera! I walked up and said in my broken French that I was a journalist, showed my ID. The cop asked me for the official media card. But I don’t have one yet. So I googled myself on my phone and showed him the pictures that I’ve taken. He was shocked by them, and he let me in right away.In Syria, if you have a camera, you’ll be kidnapped by the police. You stay as far away from them as possible.'"

Hallmark Movies Reinforce White Supremacy, Says Liberal Writer - "A number of opinion writers have been employing their keyboards this holiday season to tackle the “unwatchable whiteness” of hallmark movies."
This is why we can't have nice things

Activist Believe That Curing Genetic Diseases Is Tantamount To 'Genocide' - "“We’re talking about removal of diseases,” she said. “That’s forever. That’s a change — a modification — that will be passed on to future generations. So that’s actually genocide. It’s a form of eugenics where certain lived experiences are seen as undesirable and unimaginable.”... Her concern is with doctors having the authority to decide what’s a life worth living by curing conditions which they consider to be “disabilities.” That, according to Wong, would constitute “ableism,” pure and simple."
The end (?) point of identity politics

Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 209 - Christopher Chabris on "Collective intelligence & the ethics of A/B tests"

"We have the concept of intelligence, the psychological concept of intelligence, as a measurable thing about people, because when you give a bunch of people a bunch of different cognitive tasks, it just turns out empirically that for whatever reason, people who do well on one of the tasks also tend to do well on the other tasks. They're not perfectly correlated, so it's not as though the person who gets the highest score on task one necessarily gets the highest score on all the other tasks and so on, but there's a general tendency for the performance on different kinds of cognitive tests to be positively correlated. We call the capacity, the inferred capacity that can lead people to do well on a variety of tasks, we call that intelligence...

There's a guy at Harvard Business School whose name escapes me right now, because I don't have his book in front of me. He did a study of equity research analysts on Wall Street in the '90s, but these are the people who analyze companies. They say buy, hold, or sell, and set price targets and things like that.Their performance is measured in — it's a little bit of a fuzzy metric — by how highly their customers rate them. Still, it turned out that when these analysts got very highly rated, they tended to be poached by competing banks who would hire them. When that happened, their performance tended to go down — but if they were women, their performance recovered faster than if they were men.One interpretation of that is that what you're really measuring here is not the performance of this one person, but the entire team that they're a part of. Therefore, there could be some effect of women adding more to team collective intelligence or something, that leads to better output...

I want to raise a general concern that I have about studies that find that women are better at something than men. My general concern is I worry that the opposite result would be unlikely to be published. If a researcher did a study that seemed to show, "Oh, hey, when you add women to a team, the team does worse," is that paper going to get published? It just seems so inflammatory that my suspicion is that either a journal would be reluctant to publish it, or would subject it to much more stringent standards to make sure it's a real result, to avoid publishing a false inflammatory study. Which — stringent standards are good, but if you're applying them unequally, then that affects the ratio of findings that you end up seeing. Or maybe the researcher himself or herself wouldn't try to pursue that finding because of the potential fallout...

'Companies being reluctant to run beneficial experiments from which they could learn a lot, because they don't want people to find out that they've been running an experiment. Instead, they don't run an experiment; they just go with lesser quality data or no data at all, or just intuition. Or as someone said, the “HIPPO,” the highest paid person's opinion, just governs the outcome.

That's to us, and probably to a lot of people, not the most enlightened way to figure out what policies and treatments and practices are likely to work best, either for the company, for the company's bottom line, or for their customers. Companies very often are concerned about the welfare of the customers. They honestly try to make products that improve people's lives, so everybody has a stake in this, in this illusion, I think.'...

'This reminds me of an old anecdote — I have no idea if this is real or not — where some prestigious, esteemed doctor ... I think it was a surgeon ... was reporting some change in surgical methodology and arguing that this would be a good thing, and some student in the back raised his hand and was like, "Why don't you try it on only half your patients to see if it works well?"

The presenting surgeon took umbrage at this, and he was like, "You're seriously telling me that we should subject half of our patients to worse treatments just for the sake of experimentation? I'm not going to subject half the people to worse treatment."And the student just replied, "Which half?"'


On the 'myth' of IQ

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Conceptual objections to IQ testing

Rationally Speaking | Official Podcast of New York City Skeptics - Current Episodes - RS 210 - Stuart Ritchie on "Conceptual objections to IQ testing"

"Instead of collecting loads of data and running factual analysis to see where the patterns in the data lie, which is what generally people in the world of intelligence do, Gardner has kind of come up with these things which he kind of thinks are intelligence... a lot of these involve things which we wouldn't necessarily consider intellectual abilities.

So a lot of them can involve things like personality. So, for instance something like emotional intelligence — clearly there's going to be like an analytic intellectual aspect to that. Which is your speed at understanding other people's emotions, and your ability to represent their mental states. Some people are going to be better at doing that then others.But also there's an aspect of personality in there. An aspect of how much you like talking to other people, and how much you can intuitively empathize with other people, and so on.

So, it seems to me that there's a useful separation between the analytic type stuff and the personality type stuff. Those are kind of the two prongs of individual differences in psychology. There's intelligence on one hand, and there's personality on the other.

Emotional intelligence is kind of like a perfect mix-up of the two of them, in a way. It kind of includes aspects of both.I think it's probably more useful to talk about them separately. In fact, there are studies showing that once you take into account personality, as measured on personality tests, and intelligence as measured on IQ tests, emotional intelligence doesn't predict much more of people's job performance and so on. So it's a kind of combination of the two of those...

No matter what people come up with, no matter what kind of cognitive skill they try to measure or test, it’s correlated with other cognitive abilities. People have deliberately tried to come up with new cognitive tests that don't correlate with IQ. As I say, I know there are some that have better or worse g-loadings, that is, their correlations with the general factor. But, in general that's really, really difficult to do. You can't find cognitive abilities that aren't related in some way to g. It just gets into everything...

'People say things like, "Well, if you get better IQ tests, then that means that the IQ test is not measuring intelligence." Sure, but some people are gonna be able to practice the tests more efficiently, and that might be something that we might want to call intelligence.'

'Yeah, I think a useful thing to do with all of these conceptual objections to IQ tests is to try to apply those same objections to other things besides intelligence.Like physical fitness, for example, has a bunch of different components that are correlated but distinct, you know? Like running speed or upper body strength, or things like that. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's meaningless to talk about physical fitness as a general thing.

And then also, in this case, with practice you can get better at the long jump, or you motivation ... or energy levels might vary from day to day. That doesn't mean that there isn't a core underlying thing that it's meaningful to call “physical fitness,” that we could measure across multiple days, et cetera.'...

[The Flynn effect] doesn't really say anything about the actual ability of IQ tests to tell us something about peoples' cognitive abilities or peoples' success in daily life, because it's a mean level effect. There's still variation. And the variation in IQ, if you imagine the sort of ... the normal curve ... the Bell Curve of intelligence. The Flynn Effect is simply that curve shifting along to the right as the generations go on. There are many explanations that have been put forward for this: better nutrition, more effective schooling, better healthcare, and so on. There's lots of different reasons why the Flynn Effect might be occurring and both of the societal and kind of biological or nutritional level.That doesn't say anything about the actual size of the variation around that mean. So that mean is increasing, but there's still variation, and that variation still tells you that people who are at the high end of that normal curve of intelligence are, on average, are gonna be the ones that do better at school, that better at the jobs, that live longer ...

You know, there's evidence of IQ being linked to longer life span... think about other traits that have increased. Your height has increased across the 20th century. People got taller and taller. Probably for similar reasons. You know, the nutritional reasons, for instance, that might have stopped the kids being stunted and so on, and generally increased height across even healthy people. It doesn't say anything about whether height is heritable, to make the observation that height has increased across the 20th century...

The constellation of evidence that we've got, not just from twin studies but now these days from DNA as well, from direct testing of DNA, shows that the twin studies were really on the right track all along.Nowadays, we have evidence where we can take people who are completely unrelated, or as unrelated as any randomly selected humans are, and give them a DNA array that checks the variation at maybe 400,000 or 600,000 points in the DNA, and give them an IQ test. And essentially say, "Are the people who are more similar in their DNA more similar in their intelligence?" That gives a positive heritability number as well. So you get a good chunk of the variation is associated with the genetic differences...

You can learn a lot about a subject by looking at how it has gone wrong, or it has been misconceived. In the same way that — I think Gould actually uses this example — you can learn a huge amount about evolution from watching a debate with creationists. Creationists are saying all these things, and then biologists come in and say why they're wrong. I find that really fascinating and an engaging way to learn new stuff. Ironically, you can learn a lot about IQ tests from learning what Gould himself got wrong."

Links - 7th March 2019 (2)

EU Hands Sweden Over 700,000 Euros to Tackle ‘Hate Crime’ as Country Gripped by Violence - "Sweden is set to receive 7.5 million Swedish Kronor (738,248 euros) from the European Union for victims of “hate crimes” after the country saw a record number of fatal shootings in 2018.The programme is aimed at providing better support for those who are victims of hate crimes across the country while their cases are being investigated or prosecuted... The EU funding comes after Sweden has seen a record number of deadly shootings across the country in 2018 linked mainly to gang violence across the country.The record number of fatal shootings has led Stockholm police expert Gunnar Appelgren to claim the country resembles a “state at war” as the number of firearms and hand grenade seizures rose in 2018 compared to the previous year, although overall shootings declined."

Give up your grenades and walk free: Sweden's explosives amnesty gets under way - "anyone in possession of hand grenades or illegal pyrotechnical equipment can hand them over to police without risking punishment"

Violent crime in Sweden is soaring. When will politicians act? | Coffee House - "Gun violence is on the rise, with daylight shootings and without regard for bystanders. In the past nine years, reported and attempted murders involving guns have almost doubled. According to Swedish police, hand-grenade attacks (which were virtually unknown until a few years ago) are without parallel in countries not at war... it’s still hard for Swedish authorities to be frank about what’s going on. It’s widely known that gang members are mainly first- and second-generation immigrants, and problems are rampant in what police euphemistically refer to as ‘vulnerable areas’. Thus the gang wars serve as a constant reminder of Sweden’s failed migration and integration policies. This is a problem for the government (and even the opposition) in a country that prides itself on being a ‘humanitarian superpower’. And yet politicians, in government and opposition, seem particularly concerned that violence in immigrant suburbs is a PR problem, a threat to the image of Sweden, and that the remedy is spin... [An] official campaign says the ‘no-go zones’ are in fact ‘go-go zones’. Try telling that to Gordon Grattidge, head of the paramedics union Alarm/Ambulansförbundet. He once told me that members are not allowed to enter some Swedish neighbourhoods without police protection. Firefighters face the same reality. In November, some 50 cars were torched in a garage in a mainly immigrant suburb in Uppsala. Despite citizens repeatedly calling the emergency services, it took three hours before the fire department showed up — protected by police equipped with riot gear and machine-guns... She takes pride in running the ‘world’s first feminist government’ but she has made it a political priority to play down growing numbers of violent crime, rapes included. It’s a form of denial usually associated with non-democratic states or nations in decline... The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, even raised the prospect of sending in the army — which caused such a reaction that he quickly rowed back... The police’s language is often sympathetic rather than condemnatory. Linda Staaf, a police chief, has pointed out that grenade-throwing is dangerous because those who pull out the pin ‘expose themselves to a huge risk’. Jan Evensson, Stockholm’s police chief, also makes his case on compassionate grounds: ‘It’s hard to be a criminal. We want to help them get out of it.’ This famously soft approach once worked well in Sweden, but society has changed and the authorities have not kept up"

Columbia University to host no-whites-allowed student leadership retreat - "Students of color at Columbia University can apply to attend an upcoming racially segregated retreat hosted by the school that promises to embolden and empower participants, according to organizers."

University seminar teaches faculty not to judge 'quality' of writing when grading - "It’s led by Asao Inoue, a University of Washington-Tacoma professor, and the purpose is to pursue “antiracist ends” through writing assessments.A national scholarly organization that preaches its “commitment” to academic excellence came out swinging against the seminar, telling The College Fix that Inoue’s ideas are “destroying the very idea that composition classes should teach all students to write well.”In an email, National Association of Scholars spokesperson Chance Layton said Inoue is “substituting social justice ideologues’ bigotry for instruction in composition”... He will lecture about “language standards that just kill our students” by subjecting them to “single standards,” which perpetuate “White language supremacy … despite the better intentions of faculty.”... The National Association of Scholars’ Layton said that Inoue is “not an outlier” and that he “represents the mainstream of America’s college writing programs and the mainstream of social justice education, which has taken over much of higher education.”"

Maldives faces Chinese 'land grab' over unpayable debts, ex-leader warns - "Massive debts threaten to force the Maldives to cede territory to China as early as 2019, former President Mohamed Nasheed said, warning that a flawed presidential election this year would lead to a Chinese takeover of the island nation... As of January, obligations to China accounted for "nearly 80%" of the Maldives' foreign debt, according to Nasheed. Much of the money went into infrastructure, including roads, bridges and airports. But these are "vanity projects," according to Nasheed: "roads going to nowhere, airports that [will sit] empty." All the while, the Maldives' debts are accruing interest at high rates, Nasheed said.... "Without firing a single shot, China has grabbed more land than the East India Company at the height of the 19th century," Nasheed said, alleging that the Asian economic powerhouse has taken over "16 islands already" under the Maldives' current president, Abdulla Yameen"

Sucking carbon dioxide from air is cheaper than scientists thought - "Siphoning carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could be more than an expensive last-ditch strategy for averting climate catastrophe. A detailed economic analysis published on 7 June suggests that the geoengineering technology is inching closer to commercial viability"

A new way of thinking about animal welfare - "“It’s not really possible to fully know whether a cow suffers more than a chicken when raised and killed for food but we do know that it takes about 200 chickens to make as much meat as one cow. Research has been done on how many animals are killed per million calories for foods like grain, fish, beef, chicken, pork, eggs and dairy. Some animals raised for food also have better lives and deaths than others."

Founder of Feminist Group That Goes Topless to Protest Abortion Becomes Pro-Life, Apologizes - "Winter is reportedly upset with how the feminist movement “uses women as objects” and “covers up pedophilia in its ranks.” While Sara’s own religious beliefs are not clear, she did apologize to Christians and referred to feminism as “a religious sect.”"

11-Year-Old Grade Dropped For Not Bashing Trump - "an 11-year-old in Annadale, New York, was docked 15 points on a homework assignment because she failed to answer a question demanding students bash Trump"

U.K. Prosecutor Who Withheld Evidence In Rape Cases Becomes First In Position Not To Receive Nation’s Top Honor - "One of the United Kingdom’s former top prosecutors will not be made a Dame, becoming the first in the position not to receive the honor during their tenure or shortly after they depart.Alison Saunders, former Director of Public Prosecutions, resigned earlier this year after it was discovered the Crown Prosecution Service withheld exculpatory evidence in multiple rape cases... In each of these incidents, the crucial exculpatory evidence was provided to the defense just days before the trial was set to begin.Following the collapse of these cases, all rape cases began going through an urgent review by the Crown Prosecution Service... Typically, those in Saunders’ position are knighted or receive damehood while in office or shortly after they leave. Saunders was left off a list of those who would receive the honor... under Saunders’ leadership, “the number of prosecutions in England and Wales that collapsed over disclosure failings increased by 70% in two years.”While Saunders’ office withheld evidence from innocent men, she failed to prosecute her Labour Party peer with child sex crimes.The case of Saunders shows what happens when “Believe All Women” infects the legal system — exculpatory evidence gets withheld and innocent men have their lives turned upside down."
What feminist justice looks like<

India university official urges students to kill instead of complaining - "A top official at an Indian state-run university urged his students to "murder" fellow students if confronted instead of complaining to him, amid a wave of violence being reported from across the state where the school is based."If you're a student of this University, never come crying to me," said Raja Ram Yadav, vice-chancellor of Purvanchal University, in a speech caught on video"

How Google is slowing innovation - "Embrace, extend, extinguish certainly looks different today than it did in 2000 – it’s subtler, friendlier, and more politically correct. But it’s just as dangerous. The war isn’t over. We must fight to diversify the internet, uphold open standards, and stamp out monopoly."

We will never see a movie like The Dark Knight again - Polygon - "Reflecting on it, the distance between then and now sounds more like five decades instead of one.”That’s a privilege and a luxury that filmmakers aren’t afforded anymore,” Nolan told the BAFTA members. “There’s too much pressure on release schedules to let people do that now, but creatively it’s a huge advantage. We had the privilege and advantage to develop as people and as storytellers and then bring the family back together.”Nolan doesn’t exactly need to tell us this; after years of buildup toward a convoluted Justice League, “Release the Snyder Cut” conspiracy theories and continued plans for an extended DC universe, we know what Warner Bros. Pictures’ protection and investment looks like. The Dark Knight, released just two months after Marvel Studios’ breakout film Iron Man, is in debt to Batman without pandering to any single image or comic arc. There is little world-building outside the logic of the immediate narrative. Nolan’s Batman isn’t a superhero in the gleeful, laws-of-physics-defying, action-figure sense, instead burdened by ethical rhetoric and villain complications. The movie is not “for the fans,” and yet it’s held as a blockbuster pinnacle by those who’d self-identify as such. Quality notwithstanding, The Dark Knight is singular. "

Osama the gamer: A list of Bin Laden’s video games from his hard drive - "The feared extremist also had a naughty side, as several pornographic games and videos were seen in his files as well.The CIA, however, refused to reveal the titles due to some copyright content."

New 'modern family' parking spaces baffle drivers at Westfield shopping centre - "They were meant to highlight the diversity of today’s households and included icons that depicted families with gay, trans, single, older and multiple parents... ‘My family and I drove into Car Park A when they were put up and we didn’t have a clue which ones we could park in.‘We had a queue of vehicles behind us as my wife and I tried to work out if we could leave the car in them.’"

Steel worker solves mystery as to why deer cross rail tracks - "Kajimura formed a new hypothesis that even experts or railway companies have never come up with, that deer “enter the tracks because they want to lick the rails to ingest iron.”"

VICE Headline Generator - "Why Being a Canadian Hindu Got Me a Role on "Mad Men""
"Arnold Schwarzenegger's Brother-in-Law is Not a Fishmonger, But He is a Rocket Scientist"
"I Masqueraded as A Representative of "The Aryan Brotherhood""

Remember When Three of Obama's Former Secretaries of Defense Blasted Him? - "Did you enjoy all that time between the announcement of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’s resignation and the Democrats’ politicization of it?"

NY Cleric: Dying In Battle Is Highest Martyrdom | MEMRI TV - "During a December 5, 2018 class that was streamed live on the Hadith Disciple YouTube channel, New York cleric "Mufti" Muhammad Ibn Muneer said that while there are different types of martyrs in Islam, one should not confuse any of them with the martyr who was killed in battle, who holds the highest status of martyrdom."

The Guardian: 'Doxxing' Is 'Effective' Tactic Against 'Far Right' - "In an article for the Guardian, Wednesday, writer Jason Wilson claimed that though doxing is a “tactic” that has been “sneered at by some,” it has “proven to be effective” against ideological opponents and in “dismantling the far right.” Ironically, the same writer called doxing a “danger facing US journalists” in June... In another Guardian article published in June, writer Arwa Mahdawi also noted that those who dox others “often get things wrong,” and end up putting others in danger.One such incident occurred last year, when activists began doxing people they believed to have attended the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, only for it to be revealed that their victims were not actually at the event.As previously reported, “The identification attempts inspired several others to become involved, including actress Jennifer Lawrence and journalist Kurt Eichenwald. However, several people with no links to the alt-right or the march were reportedly misidentified, doxed, and subsequently received death threats and abuse from left-wing activists.”"

Evolution denialism is back. This time it’s coming from the left

Viewpoint: Evolution denialism is back. This time it’s coming from the left | Genetic Literacy Project

"Creationism and Intelligent Design have lost a tremendous amount of momentum and influence. But while these right-wing anti-evolution movements withered to irrelevancy, a much more cryptic form of left-wing evolution denialism has been slowly growing.

At first, left-wing pushback to evolution appeared largely in response to the field of human evolutionary psychology... The group that most fervently opposed, and still opposes, evolutionary explanations for behavioral sex differences in humans were/are social justice activists. Evolutionary explanations for human behavior challenge their a priori commitment to “Blank Slate” psychology—the belief that male and female brains in humans start out identical and that all behavior, sex-linked or otherwise, is entirely the result of differences in socialization...

I am an evolutionary behavioral ecologist, and most of my work is concerned with how individual differences in behavior (i.e. personality) influence individual fitness, and the collective behavior and success of animal societies. Most are probably not aware, but animal personality research is a vibrant field within behavioral ecology due to the ubiquity of personality as a phenomenon in nature, and its ability to explain interactions both within and between species. In nearly every species tested to date for the presence of personality, we’ve found it, and sex-linked personality differences are frequently the most striking. Sex-linked personality differences are very well documented in our closest primate relatives, too, and the presence of sexual dimorphism (i.e. size differences between males and females) in primates, and mammals generally, dramatically intensifies these differences, especially in traits like aggression, female choosiness, territoriality, grooming behavior, and parental care.

Given that humans are sexually dimorphic and exhibit many of the typical sex-linked behavioral traits that any objective observer would predict, based on the mammalian trends, the claim that our behavioral differences have arisen purely via socialization is dubious at best...

Counterintuitively, the social justice stance on human evolution closely resembles that of the Catholic Church. The Catholic view of evolution generally accepts biological evolution for all organisms, yet holds that the human soul (however defined) had been specially created and thus has no evolutionary precursor. Similarly, the social justice view has no problem with evolutionary explanations for shaping the bodies and minds of all organisms both between and within a species regarding sex, yet insists that humans are special in that evolution has played no role in shaping observed sex-linked behavioral differences. Why the biological forces that shape all of life should be uniquely suspended for humans is unclear. What is clear is that both the Catholic Church and well-intentioned social justice activists are guilty of gerrymandering evolutionary biology to make humans special, and keep the universal acid at bay.

Despite there being zero evidence in favor of Blank Slate psychology, and a mountain of evidence to the contrary, this belief has entrenched itself within the walls of many university humanities departments where it is often taught as fact. Now, armed with what they perceive to be an indisputable truth questioned only by sexist bigots, they respond with well-practiced outrage to alternative views. This has resulted in a chilling effect that causes scientists to self-censor, lest these activists accuse them of bigotry and petition their departments for their dismissal. I’ve been privately contacted by close, like-minded colleagues warning me that my public feuds with social justice activists on social media could be occupational suicide, and that I should disengage and delete my comments immediately. My experience is anything but unique, and the problem is intensifying. Having successfully cultivated power over administrations and silenced faculty by inflicting reputational terrorism on their critics and weaponizing their own fragility and outrage, social justice activists now justifiably think there is no belief or claim too dubious that administrations won’t cater to it. Recently, this fear has been realized as social justice activists attempt to jump the epistemological shark by claiming that the very notion of biological sex, too, is a social construct.

As a biologist, it is hard to understand how anyone could believe something so outlandish. It’s a belief on a par with the belief in a flat Earth. I first saw this claim being made this year by anthropology graduate students on Facebook. At first I thought they mistyped and were simply referring to gender. But as I began to pay closer attention, it was clear that they were indeed talking about biological sex. Over the next several months it became apparent that this view was not isolated to this small friend circle, as it began cropping up all over the Internet. In support of this view, recent editorials from Scientific American—an ostensibly trustworthy, scientific, and apolitical online magazine—are often referenced. The titles read, “Sex Redefined: The Idea of 2 Sexes Is Overly Simplistic,” and “Visualizing Sex as a Spectrum.”

Even more recently, the most prestigious scientific journal in the world, Nature, published an editorial claiming that classifying people’s sex “on the basis of anatomy or genetics should be abandoned” and “has no basis in science” and that “the research and medical community now sees sex as more complex than male and female.” In the Nature article, the motive is stated clearly enough: acknowledging the reality of biological sex will “undermine efforts to reduce discrimination against transgender people and those who do not fall into the binary categories of male or female.” But while there is evidence for the fluidity of sex in many organisms, this is simply not the case in humans. We can acknowledge the existence of very rare cases in humans where sex is ambiguous, but this does not negate the reality that sex in humans is functionally binary. These editorials are nothing more than a form of politically motivated, scientific sophistry.

The formula for each of these articles is straightforward. First, they list a multitude of intersex conditions. Second, they detail the genes, hormones, and complex developmental processes leading to these conditions. And, third and finally, they throw their hands up and insist this complexity means scientists have no clue what sex really is. This is all highly misleading and deceiving (self-deceiving?), since the developmental processes involved in creating any organ are enormously complex, yet almost always produce fully functional end products. Making a hand is complicated too, but the vast majority of us end up with the functional, five-fingered variety.

What these articles leave out is the fact that the final result of sex development in humans are unambiguously male or female over 99.98 percent of the time. Thus, the claim that “2 sexes is overly simplistic” is misleading, because intersex conditions correspond to less than 0.02 percent of all births, and intersex people are not a third sex. Intersex is simply a catch-all category for sex ambiguity and/or a mismatch between sex genotype and phenotype, regardless of its etiology. Furthermore, the claim that “sex is a spectrum” is also misleading, as a spectrum implies a continuous distribution, and maybe even an amodal one (one in which no specific outcome is more likely than others). Biological sex in humans, however, is clear-cut over 99.98 percent of the time. Lastly, the claim that classifying people’s sex based on anatomy and genetics “has no basis in science” has itself no basis in reality, as any method exhibiting a predictive accuracy of over 99.98 percent would place it among the most precise methods in all the life sciences. We revise medical care practices and change world economic plans on far lower confidence than that.

Despite the unquestionable reality of biological sex in humans, social justice and trans activists continue to push this belief, and respond with outrage when challenged. Pointing out any of the above facts is now considered synonymous with transphobia. The massive social media website Twitter—the central hub for cultural discourse and debate—is now actively banning users for stating true facts about basic human biology. And biologists like myself often sit quietly, afraid to defend our own field out of fear that our decade of education followed by continued research, job searches, and the quest for tenure might be made obsolete overnight if the mob decides to target one of us for speaking up. Because of this, our objections take place almost entirely between one another in private whisper networks, despite the fact that a majority of biologists are extremely troubled by these attacks to our field by social justice activists. This is an untenable situation...

Back when evolution was under attack from proponents of Biblical Creation and Intelligent Design, academic scientists were under no pressure to hold back criticism. This is because these anti-evolution movements were almost exclusively a product of right-wing evangelicals who held no power in academia. Now we have a much bigger problem, because evolution denialism is back, but this time it’s coming from left-wing activists who do hold power in academia. This makes the issue both harder to ignore and harder to remove."


Comments:

"It's weird, because I (and quite a few other trans people I know) are very much aware that our sex is a biological fact. That's why trans people go on hormones and get surgery - to relieve gender dysphoria as much as possible. If sex and gender truly were just 'social constructs', there wouldn't be much of a reason to transition now would there?

Besides that, trans and intersex people combined still make up a really tiny part of the general population, so I'd argue they're the exception rather than the rule."


"At least the Catholic (and other religions that accept biological evolution) view that the soul is special is not materialistic, so they can't really deny the biological findings. Opposition coming from other materialistic is bound to try to deny findings more strongly"

"The difference between the Roman Catholic position and that of the SJ crowd is that faithful Catholics don't go around saying denigrating other people for their lack of "belief" in science."

Links - 7th March 2019 (1)

High-income earners paid $4.6-billion less in taxes in 2016 despite higher rate for top 1 per cent - "The Liberal government’s tax on Canada’s top 1 per cent failed to produce the promised billions in new revenue in its first year, as high-income earners actually paid $4.6-billion less in federal taxes."

The 20 Internet Giants That Rule the Web (1998-Today) - "Many of the top websites in 1998 were basically news aggregators or search portals, which are easy concepts to understand. Today, brand touch-points are often spread out between devices (e.g. mobile apps vs. desktop site) and a myriad of services and sub-brands (e.g. Facebook’s constellation of apps). As a result, the world’s biggest websites are complex, interconnected web properties. Today’s visualization, inspired by an earlier work published by WaPo, looks at which of the internet giants have evolved to stay on top, and which have faded into internet lore."

US has regressed to developing nation status, MIT economist warns - "Peter Temin says the world's’ largest economy has roads and bridges that look more like those in Thailand and Venezuela than those in parts of Europe... The economist describes a two-track economy with on the one hand 20 per cent of the population that is educated and enjoys good jobs and supportive social networks. On the other hand, the remaining 80 per cent, he said, are part of the US’ low-wage sector, where the world of possibility has shrunk and people are burdened with debts and anxious about job security. "

NAACP links earthquake signs in Oregon to white supremacy - "A new city policy requiring public signs on brick buildings warning they might collapse in an earthquake is part of a long history of white supremacy aimed at forcing black people to move out of neighborhoods, the NAACP of Portland, Oregon, says."
When the next earthquake comes and more black people die, that will be the fault of - yes, white supremacy

Anti-Americanism Drove 'Der Spiegel' Fabrications - "the star reporter Claas Relotius had fabricated information “on a grand scale” in more than a dozen articles... A motif of Relotius’s work is America’s supposed brutality. In one story, he told the macabre tale of a woman who travels across the country volunteering to witness executions. In another, he related the tragic experience of a Yemeni man wrongly imprisoned by the United States military at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held in solitary confinement and tortured for 14 years. (The song that American soldiers turned on full blast and pumped into the poor soul’s cell? Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”) Both stories were complete fabrications. And they should have been easily invalidated. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Der Spiegel’s fact-checking department is the largest in the world, besting that of the vaunted New Yorker... The fact that these blatant deceptions were not exposed until nearly two years after publication speaks to the ignorance about America that characterizes a wide swath of elite German society. Relotius, I submit, was able to get away with his con for so long because he confirmed the preconceived notions of people who fashion themselves worldly yet are as parochial as the red-state hicks of their imagination... The biases that Relotius stoked in his stories are ones that Europeans, and Germans in particular, have voiced about America since the first colonists set foot here hundreds of years ago. “European elites have consistently and passionately expressed the same negative sentiments about America for centuries,” the scholar Andrei Markovits observed in his 2007 book Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America. “In both substance and tone, what stands out is this continuity, rather than change.” Among the negative traits Europeans have long associated with America, Markovits writes, are “venality, vulgarity, mediocrity, inauthenticity,” along with the perception that the country is a “threatening parvenu.” America’s frontier spirit and radically democratic ethos frightened European elites, who distrusted their own masses with political power"

In South Africa, 'Decolonizing' Mathematics - "Exactly what decolonizing math would entail isn’t entirely clear: Curriculum revisions that promote non-Western contributions to the field, new teaching methods rooted in indigenous cultures, and greater openness to ideas outside the academic mainstream are all under discussion. Some want to go further, challenging the philosophical foundations of mathematics itself. That notion strikes many mathematicians as odd. After all, the patterns and equations that underpin our knowledge of the physical world would seem to have little to do with power dynamics. Math simply is... Unlike the arts and humanities, mathematics is generally understood to be universal and objective. Necessary truths are discovered through a process of logical deduction — with proofs as the cornerstones of the discipline. “What makes mathematics valuable, what makes it powerful, is that you can communicate mathematics without any change to a huge range of cultures,” says Laurie.He is among those who are concerned that the decolonization movement could disadvantage young South African mathematicians on the international stage if curricula were changed or alternative methodologies take hold"

A New Cold War Has Begun – Foreign Policy - "For several decades, China’s breakneck development was seen positively in the United States, and the relatively enlightened authoritarianism of Deng Xiaoping and his successors was easily tolerated, especially by the American business community. But under Xi Jinping, China has evolved from a soft to a hard authoritarianism. Rather than a collegial group of uncharismatic technocrats constrained by retirement rules, there is now a president-for-life with a budding personality cult, overseeing thought control by digital means—including facial recognition and following the internet searches of its citizens. It is becoming rather creepy, and American leaders of both parties are increasingly repelled by it. This is also a regime that in recent years has been imprisoning up to a million ethnic Uighur Muslims in hard labor camps. The philosophical divide between the American and Chinese systems is becoming as great as the gap between American democracy and Soviet communism... What we really have to fear is not a rising China but a declining one. A China whose economy is slowing, on the heels of the creation of a sizable middle class with a whole new category of needs and demands, is a China that may experience more social and political tensions in the following decade. A theme of the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington’s 1968 book, Political Order in Changing Societies, is that as states develop large middle classes, the greater the possibility is for political unrest. This will encourage China’s leadership to stoke nationalism even further as a means of social cohesion."

China’s Muslims Brace for Attacks – Foreign Policy - "“I’m a Hui person,” he said, referring to China’s largest Muslim minority group. “And among the community in China, they are very afraid that they will be next, after the Uighur. There are already ‘anti-halal’ groups attacking us and breaking the windows of our restaurants. What do you think will happen?” The news for the Hui, and other Chinese Muslims, isn’t good. In mid-December, several provinces removed their halal food standards, a move heralded by government officials as fighting a fictional pan-halal trend under which Muslim influence was supposedly spreading into secular life. That’s a severe contrast with previous government policies, which actively encouraged the development of the halal trade for export. This week, meanwhile, three prominent mosques were shut, sparking protests. Many mosques across the country have already been closed, or forced to remodel to a supposedly more Chinese style, and the Communist Party presence there has been strengthened, with pictures of Xi Jinping placed in prominent locations and the walls covered in Marxist slogans... Islam isn’t the only religion being targeted. Beijing demands state control and oversight of all faiths... Originally, the People’s Republic of China, like the Soviet Union from which it drew its model, envisaged itself as a multiethnic state. As with Russians in the Soviet state, though, Han Chinese massively dominated—but at least in official statements, Han chauvinism was condemned from the very top.Today, however, Han nationalism is openly on the rise, both among ordinary Chinese and in state policy. Minority language education, once guaranteed, has been vastly restrained; even for minorities largely viewed in a positive light, such as Koreans, the number of schools offering their own tongues has shrunk from dozens to a handful. State rhetoric increasingly pushes a purely ethnonationalist line."
So much for China apologists claiming only Uighers were targeted - because of their separatism

Saudi Arabia Declares War on America’s Muslim Congresswomen – Foreign Policy - "The midterm elections have amplified an existing suspicion in Middle Eastern media of Muslim political activism in the United States. Academics, media outlets, and commentators close to Persian Gulf governments have repeatedly accused Omar, Rashida Tlaib (another newly elected Muslim congresswoman), and Abdul El-Sayed (who made a failed bid to become governor of Michigan) of being secret members of the Muslim Brotherhood who are hostile to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE."
Islamophobia?

Trump’s China Policy Is a Triumph – Foreign Policy - "U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive approach to China has been the most credible and consistent policy of an often-criticized White House. The president’s assertions of Chinese malfeasance in trade matters are undeniably true. Even CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, no fan of the president, has said, “Donald Trump is right: China is a trade cheat,” going on to praise the U.S. trade representative’s exhaustive report on China’s World Trade Organization noncompliance as a rare example of a quality document from this administration... The current trade policy has demonstrated its effectiveness, and it is undermining the Communist Party’s only source of legitimacy: ill-gotten economic growth. And on the U.S. side, it’s going to be easier to maintain than most people think... a recent European study by EconPol concludes, “A 25 percentage point increase in tariffs raises US consumer prices on all affected Chinese products by only 4.5% on average, while the producer price of Chinese firms declines by 20.5%.” And don’t forget that the entire 25 percent goes into the U.S. Treasury, feeding America’s economy, not China’s. If Chinese prices eventually do increase, the same system will force distributors and retailers to absorb the cost before consumers. Their suppliers are already moving to non-China sources... Knowing that China would quickly move to disguise its products in transshipments, the Trump team expertly renegotiated complex deals with South Korea, Mexico, and Canada in record time... If you are under any delusion that this time, the Chinese government will take a trade agreement with the West seriously, I encourage you to read Articles 33 through 41 of the Chinese Constitution, which reads like the U.S. Bill of Rights. This document specifically protects human rights, freedom of religious beliefs, freedom from illegal arrest, freedom from unreasonable search, freedom of speech, and the right to vote and protest. None of these things actually exist. Like the regime’s official name, the “People’s Republic,” rule of law in China has always been a lie the West agreed to accept. The Chinese Communist Party does not respect the rule of law—it respects strength and power."

Chicken Bones May Be the Legacy of Our Time - "Some experts say we are now in the era of the “Anthropocene,” a term used to describe humans’ unprecedented influence on the planet. When our civilization is long gone, the Earth will continue to bear the effects of the time we spent here—effects like nuclear isotopes in sedimentary rock, and the fossilized remains of plastic on the ocean floor and concrete on land. But perhaps more than anything else, according to a new study, the great legacy of our time will be chicken bones. Lots and lots of chicken bones. Writing in Royal Society Open Science, a team of researchers argues that the remains of domesticated chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) will be a major and unique marker of our changing biosphere. For one thing, there are just so many of them... “In one study, increasing their slaughter age from five weeks to nine weeks resulted in a sevenfold increase in mortality rate,” the study authors write. “The rapid growth of leg and breast muscle tissue leads to a relative decrease in the size of other organs such as the heart and lungs, which restricts their function and thus longevity. Changes in the centre of gravity of the body, reduced pelvic limb muscle mass and increased pectoral muscle mass cause poor locomotion and frequent lameness.”These chickens are, unsurprisingly, unlike any the world has seen before"

Chris Pratt Is "Problematic" Now. Guess Why. - "The listed problems (seriously):
1) he gave a cat away once
2) he hunts for food and raises food on his farm
3) he “mocked outrage culture”
4) he offended the hearing impaired by using “turn up the volume, don’t just read the subtitles” as a metaphor...
guys like Weinstein got away with being complete and absolute SCUMBAGS for DECADES.But you know… CHRIS FREAKING PRATT is what Hollywood considers “problematic.”

Men are more disadvantaged than women in the UK, US and most of Europe, scientists claim - "Researchers from the University of Missouri and University of Essex in the United Kingdom said previous ways of measuring inequality are ‘biased to highlight women’s issues’.Their Basic Index of Gender Inequality (BIGI) instead measures three factors: educational opportunities, healthy life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.The academics calculated scores for 134 nations and used the results to suggest men are more disadvantaged than women in 91 nations... the gravest disadvantage facing men was often heath, particularly in countries with high levels of alcohol consumption, which tends to lower men’s lifespan."

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Links - 6th March 2019 (2)

Malaysia to train Bumiputera to be more competitive rather than spoon-feed them: Mahathir - "In the past, Dr Mahathir said business opportunities had been given to bumiputeras under the NEP, but many had sold their contracts and approved permits (AP) for quick money instead of investing in the business.This clearly did not help the community in the long run as those who took over the contracts and APs became successful, while the original owners were left out after spending their quick profits from selling on the contracts.“We (the government) have tried our best, but we found that the culture (among Malays) to make a quick profit had contributed to their own failure.“The ones who succeeded were the non-bumiputeras, if you know what I mean,” he added... Dr Mahathir said he had visited many construction sites and noticed that not many bumiputera, especially Malays, were seen working there as engineers or hard labourers.This, he said, raises the question of whether the bumiputera are willing to do the "dirty" job."

Pro-bumiputera policy tough to scrap - "Malaysia introduced its affirmative action New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1971 after deadly race riots in 1969, with then Prime Minister Abdul Razak Hussein saying the policy would end in 1990... But today, 27 years after 1990, no end is in sight for the policy. Worse, the NEP has led to a sense of entitlement among many Malays and their leaders... Centre for Policy Initiatives chief executive Lim Teck Ghee - whose 2006 paper claimed bumiputera corporate equity had far surpassed the NEP's 30 per cent target - told The Straits Times that the "Chinese bogeyman" is trotted out so that the "gravy train" for Umno's political elite "keeps chugging along".The government itself admitted that by 2005, the bumiputera had sold off RM52 billion of the RM54 billion worth of shares reserved for them by public-listed companies, instead of reaping the longer-term rewards of capital... even state-funded Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) found last October that Malaysian Indians - not Malays or the other bumiputera races - had the worst upward mobility."

SingPost apologises after getting caught trying to trick man who paid S$7,000 to distribute flyers - "SingPost didn’t manage to end the year 2018 right: Man rushes down block to confront SingPost postman who allegedly left delivery note after a few knocks on door
And it seems like they’re having trouble starting 2019 well too, unfortunately. A massage parlour owner in Singapore alleges that he engaged a service from SingPost that prints and distributes flyers, getting them to print and deliver 65,000 copies for S$7,000, only for the mail company to fail to fulfil their end of the commercial agreement. To make matters worse, 32-year-old Chen Rong Sheng claims that SingPost tried to dupe him into thinking that the task had indeed been carried out."

U.S. Marshals Exaggerated A Recent ‘Child Recovery’ Sweep in Michigan. Here’s Why That Matters. - "Experts say playing up the risk of sex trafficking fuels anxiety and criminalization... The 123 children were not “recovered,” as the Detroit News later reported. More than 100 were with their parents, relatives, guardians, or at school, according to the Michigan State Police, and the agency is still investigating if any trafficking occurred. Law enforcement anti-trafficking operations often attract strong media interest, especially if they appear to involve helping children trafficked for sex. But that coverage can distort the public’s understanding of sex trafficking, according to Amy Farrell and Rachel Austin of Northeastern University, who have studied the issue. Misrepresentation of trafficking, they write, “becomes problematic when government actors such as police and political figures use these distorted images as their reference to make decisions about arrests and victim services.” Kate D’Adamo, a consultant at Reframe Health and Justice who advises anti-trafficking groups, said exaggerating the risk of trafficking often diverts attention from more pervasive dangers. “Obscuring the lives of young people who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, and who are often being failed by the system with flashy headlines means we end up serving the headlines and not those young people”"

Having Handsome Husbands Could Lead To Women’s Unhealthy Eating Habits, Study Finds - "women whose husbands were deemed more attractive were prone to develop unhealthy eating habits. They were found to have a higher motivation to diet and seek a thin body compared to women who were evaluated as more attractive than their husbands... “having a physically attractive husband may have negative consequences for wives, especially if those wives are not particularly attractive.”... women who were deemed more attractive than their spouses did not have that extra motivation to diet. As for the husbands, their motivation to diet remained low whether they were more attractive than their wives or not."

Chinese envoy accuses Canada of ‘white supremacy’ for demanding release of Canadians
The Chinese learn fast

FACT FAIL: CBS Deletes 'Fact-Check' That Proved Trump Right - "CBS was running a live "fact check" of Trump's speech, and posted this:
Fact check: 1 in 3 women sexually assaulted while traveling to cross the border
CLAIM: The president claimed one in three women have been sexually assaulted traveling to the border.
FACT: Between 60 percent and 80 percent of female migrants traveling through Mexico are raped along the way, Amnesty International estimates.
That's right, Trump said 33%, but the real number is at least twice that."

WaPo Fact-Check: Trump's Illegal Immigrant Arrest Numbers 'Right' But 'Misleading' - "The Washington Post produced a quick fact-check Tuesday night on a key Trump claim: that there were "266,000 aliens arrested in the past two years." The outlet admits that the number is "right," but says it's also "misleading." In the post dedicated to that claim, the paper fails to clearly address the second half of Trump's claim: that those 266,000 arrests include "those charged or convicted of 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 violent killings."

Fishball company painstakingly compiles almost every fishball noodle stall in S’pore, all 181 of them - "Peng Wang Fish Product is a family-run fish produce business that’s been around since 1973.And if you didn’t already guess, they sell fishballs."
Maybe these are all the stalls that buy their fishballs

Father learnt that three sons from 20-year-marriage were not his after doctor told him he was infertile - "A man discovered the three children he had had with his ex-wife were not his when his doctor told him he had been infertile since birth.Richard Mason sued Kate, his wife of 20 years, when a doctor told him in 2016 that he suffered from cystic fibrosis and was incapable of having children. That meant the children he had raised as his own since 1995 must have been conceived during an affair.The 55-year-old businessman, who co-founded Moneysupermarket.com, tried to get a £4 million cash sum paid as part of his divorce settlement in 2008 returned, while also pursuing his ex-wife for paternity fraud.Mrs Mason agreed at the end of November to settle matters with a payment of £250,000 - on condition the biological father remained anonymous."

DNA proves man isn't girl's father but he must pay support anyway - "A Texas man who's finally no longer required to pay child support after 13 years of bank-breaking wage garnishment still owes the state $21,000 in back payments.And the girl isn't even his.Willie Carson says he suffered for years as he struggled to make monthly payments and now that it's been proven he can't possibly be father to the girl, who he's also never even met, he may still be forced to pay up. According to Texas state law, he's required to pay any outstanding payments owed, as well as any accrued interest.All this, despite DNA tests proving unequivocally Carson is not the father and all because he was initially named on the birth certificate by the mother."

‘World’s most identical twins’ plan to get pregnant at same time - "Anna and Lucy DeCinque, the women dubbed the “world’s most identical twins”, have revealed the surprising reason they want to both to get pregnant at the same time by their shared boyfriend. The Perth women explained the idea, which would make their future children both half-sibling and cousin, actually came from their mum Jeanna... The pair met their boyfriend Ben in 2012, explaining to The Sun that they came as a “package”.“We were upfront that we came as a package, and he insisted that was fine with him,” Anna said.“Being a non-identical twin himself, he said that he understood our bond.”The trio now do everything together, including sharing a super king-sized bed as well as their moments of passion."

British Muslim YouTuber receives abuse and death threats after removing her hijab - "British Muslim YouTube star and fashion blogger Dina Tokia has received a wave of abusive and death threats after she decided to stop wearing her hijab full time... the vlogger had referred to the ‘hijabi community’ as a ‘toxic cult’ but explained her words by saying: ‘I’m referring to the onslaught of slander and insults I’ve received from a community that I was very much a part of and helped build… all because of my personal decision to basically wear it when I want to.’"
"the most feminist religion"

French Arab writer gets threats of death, rape for saying Islam is not above criticism, humor or law - "Zineb el Rhazoui, a French journalist who used to work for Charlie Hebdo, is dealing with an avalanche of online abuse from Muslims, for saying that Islam should submit to French law. She says she has no intention of backing down. “Islam must submit to criticism, submit to humor, submit to the laws of the Republic, submit to French law,” el Rhazoui said in a recent interview. For that, she’s been called a whore and threatened with violence, murder and rape."

Swiss woman is charged with assault after slapping Afghan migrant who kept groping her - "A Swiss woman has been charged with assault after slapping an Afghan migrant who allegedly groped her during a New Year's Eve street party.The unnamed woman, 21, was said to have left the man with a broken nose when he reportedly groped her during a party at the City Hall in the Austrian capital Vienna.After news of the charges against her were made public, a wealthy Swiss businessman has stepped in with an offer to pay the fine on her behalf."

Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t Killing Us All - "It turns out that the science is more complicated than you’ve heard, and the real story is also a bit less terrifying and a bit more boring...
Some of the positive findings of the study:
Sweeteners are better for weight-loss than sugar
Sweeteners may reduce blood pressure in people at risk
Sweeteners may help obese people lose weight
No evidence that sweeteners cause cancer
No evidence that sweeteners make you hungrier/eat more
No evidence that sweeteners cause kidney disease
No evidence that sweeteners cause headaches
No evidence that sweeteners are bad for kids
Some evidence that sweeteners help kids to avoid obesity...
There were actually dozens of positive findings, including reasonably good evidence that artificial sweeteners don’t make you feel hungrier, eat more, or feel cravings for sweets, flying in the face of the common line that sweeteners make you guzzle food like there’s no tomorrow... The big caveat is that it really depends on what you are replacing with sweeteners: when you compare artificial sweeteners to sugar, people who take the sweetener lose weight. When you compare them to water, or a placebo, artificial sweeteners don’t do much at all. This is in line with previous evidence, which showed that artificial sweeteners probably help you to lose a little bit of weight, but only if you are using them to replace calories that you would’ve otherwise eaten.So how did the media narrative become so twisted? The problem here is that this science is really complicated. The Cochrane foundation is known for being the final word on a topic: this review is the “gold standard” of evidence on artificial sweeteners. What this means is that it is very conservative — any evidence not graded as very good quality is not considered adequate to make recommendations."
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