Random links

The Long-run Effects of Agricultural Productivity on Conflict, 1400-1900
On the introduction of New World crops: "We find that the introduction of potatoes permanently reduced conflict for roughly two centuries."
Finding X in Espresso: Adventures in Computational Lexicology
"a statement in a recent note by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary caught my eye: '… expresso shows enough use in English to be entered in the dictionary and is not disqualified by the lack of an x in its Italian etymon.'"
Ethnic Enclaves and the Dynamics of Social Identity on the College Campus: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
"effects were similar for both minority and White students ... and ... included an increased sense of ethnic victimization and a decreased sense of common identity and social inclusiveness." (For minorities they measured joining ethnic student groups; for whites they measured frats and sororities)

The Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect

Michael Crichton:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Random links

Scientists have found a drug that can repair cavities and regrow teeth
"a drug developed for Alzheimer's patients might replace fillings for cavity repair. Tideglusib stimulates stem cells in the pulp of teeth, promoting new dentine production and natural tooth repair."
The expansion of the welfare state at the turn of the 20th century went alongside a closing of borders to immigrants
A thread on the relationship between the welfare state and policies towards immigration.
Off Label Prescribing as Good as On Label
Quotes a study which found "meta-epidemiological analysis of 25 different treatment indications for off-label drug use provides no empirical evidence supporting any assumption of generally inferior treatment effects associated with off-label use"

Epictetus on trivialities

When we blather about trivial things, we ourselves become trivial, for our attention gets taken up with trivialities. You become what you give your attention to. - Epictetus


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