Weekly Link Roundup #58

The weekly link roundup is where I list links for the links that I liked for the week. Remember that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in every article. Feel free to comment or ask. Lastly, it may be worth noting that I do try to sort these links in the order that I like them, descending. You can see the other roundups via the category page.

  • If Republicans Were Really Surprised by the Election Result, We Should Worry About Their Policies: “John Dickerson has a great piece explaining how Team Romney ended up so surprised at their defeat even though national public opinion surveys showed he would probably lose and state polling showed that even more clearly. I don’t think we can completely rule out the story that GOP operatives are just engaging a massive campaign of post-election lying right now, but they probably aren’t. (Big conspiracies are hard to organize.) And if they’re not, it should give us some doubts about their party’s policy acumen. The key reason is that their misanalysis betrays a stunningly weak grasp of social science.”
  • Bayes for Schizophrenics – Reasoning in Delusional Disorders: “‘You have brain damage’ is also a theory with perfect explanatory adequacy. If one were to explain the Capgras delusion to Capgras patients, it would provide just as good an explanation for their odd reactions as the imposter hypothesis. Although the patient might not be able to appreciate its decreased complexity, they should at least remain indifferent between the two hypotheses. I’ve never read of any formal study of this, but given that someone must have tried explaining the Capgras delusion to Capgras patients I’m going to assume it doesn’t work. Why not?”
  • Freedom to Starve: “There’s much that’s misleading in politics. But perhaps the worst offender is the common claim that Right-wing “libertarians” (e.g. ACT) champion the value of individual freedom. They stand for non-interference, but this “negative freedom” is only half the story. The more important aspect of freedom is opportunity. Imagine you find yourself stuck down a well. Libertarians claim that you are perfectly free so long as everybody else leaves you alone, since that way you suffer no interference. But surely we can see that this is mistaken. If left alone, you would dwindle and die. That’s not any sort of freedom worth having. Real freedom requires that you be rescued from the well. Until that happens, you lack any opportunities to act and achieve your goals. And that is clearly what really matters.”
  • Fish: The Forgotten Victims On Our Plate: “Regulations for slaughter generally require that animals be rendered instantly unconscious before they are killed, or death should be brought about instantaneously, or, in the case of ritual slaughter, as close to instantaneously as the religious doctrine allows. Not for fish. There is no humane slaughter requirement for wild fish caught and killed at sea, nor, in most places, for farmed fish. Fish caught in nets by trawlers are dumped on board the ship and allowed to suffocate. Impaling live bait on hooks is a common commercial practice: long-line fishing, for example, uses hundreds or even thousands of hooks on a single line that may be 50-100km long. When fish take the bait, they are likely to remain caught for many hours before the line is hauled in.”
  • The Marketplace in Your Brain: “In 2003, amid the coastal greenery of the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, on Martha’s Vineyard, a group of about 20 scholars gathered to kick-start a new discipline. They fell, broadly, into two groups: neuroscientists and economists. What they came to talk about was a collaboration between the two fields, which a few researchers had started to call ‘neuroeconomics.’ Insights about brain anatomy, combined with economic models of neurons in action, could produce new insights into how people make decisions about money and life.”
  • Should We Live to 1,000?: “In developed countries, aging is the ultimate cause of 90% of all human deaths; thus, treating aging is a form of preventive medicine for all of the diseases of old age. Moreover, even before aging leads to our death, it reduces our capacity to enjoy our own lives and to contribute positively to the lives of others. So, instead of targeting specific diseases that are much more likely to occur when people have reached a certain age, wouldn’t a better strategy be to attempt to forestall or repair the damage done to our bodies by the aging process?”
  • Making Charitable Appeals to Donors’ Hearts and Heads: “A growing number of nonprofit experts are urging donors to channel more of their money to high-performing organizations, with the goal of making philanthropy more effective. But embedded in this movement is a worrisome concept — the idea that donors should give with their heads instead of their hearts. In fact, this is a false dichotomy and one that threatens to undermine a movement that otherwise is sorely needed.”
  • Neuroscience Basics for LessWrongians: “Furthermore, I’ve noticed that while LessWrong in general seems to be very strong on the psychological or “black box” side of cognitive science, there isn’t as much discussion of neuroscience here. This is somewhat understandable. Our current understanding of neuroscience is frustratingly incomplete, and too much journalism on neuroscience is sensationalistic nonsense. However, I think what we do know is worth knowing. (And part of what makes much neuroscience journalism annoying is that it makes a big deal out of things that are totally unsurprising, given what we already know.)”
  • Embracing the Kobayashi Maru – Why You Should Teach Your Students to Cheat [PDF]: “Adversaries cheat. We don’t. In academic institutions around the world, students understand that they will be expelled if they violate their college’s honor code or otherwise fail to play by the institutional rules. The dissonance between how our adversaries operate and how we teach our students puts our students at a distinct disadvantage when faced with real world adversaries who inevitably do not play by the rules. Breaking through the paradigm where students selfcensor their ways of thinking to a new paradigm that cultivates an effective adversary mindset is both necessary and possible.”
  • How to Teach Without Your Students Secretly Hating You: “As a former teacher, I know how hard it can be to do a good job in that profession. But as a current student, I also know how many people aren’t even trying. So here are a few tips on Teaching Students So They Don’t Secretly Hate You.”
  • More Evidence that Obama’s Victory Reflects the Economic Fundamentals: “The following is a guest post from NYU political scientist Patrick Egan on a topic near and dear to the Monkey Cage, the fact that the economic fundamentals (defined here as GDP growth) of the election suggested the likelihood of a victory in 2012 for the incumbent – albeit a fairly narrow one – and not the challenger.”
  • Poll Addict Confesses [NYTimes]: “Hello, my name is David, and I’m a pollaholic. For the past several months I have spent inordinate amounts of time poring over election polls. A couple of times a day, I check the Web sites to see what the polling averages are. I check my Twitter feed to see the latest Gallup numbers. I’ve read countless articles dissecting the flawed methodologies of polls I don’t like. I have wasted a large chunk of my life I will never get back. Why? Because I’ve got a problem.”


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On 28 Dec 2012 in All, Link Roundup. No Comments.

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