Links for the Week of June 17th, 2019


Living and dying at the Portus Romae

The ‘Portus Project’ investigates the social and economic contexts of the maritime port of Imperial Rome. This article presents the results of analysis of plant, animal and human remains from the site, and evaluates their significance for the reconstruction of the diets and geographic origins of its inhabitants between the second and sixth centuries AD. Integrating this evidence with other material from the recent excavations, including ceramic data, the authors identify clear diachronic shifts in imported foods and diet that relate to the commercial and political changes following the breakdown of Roman control of the Mediterranean.

Magnesium and major depression (2011)

Brain Mg deficiency reduces serotonin levels, and antidepressant drugs have been shown to have the action of raising brain Mg. Excessive calcium, glutamate and aspartate intake can greatly worsen MD. We believe that, when taken together, there is more than sufficient evidence to implicate inadequate dietary Mg as contributing to the cause of MD, and we suggest that physicians prescribe Mg for its prevention and treatment.

All Over the Map: Jared Diamond struggles to understand a connected world

At the start of Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond identifies Yali as a “local politician” who had “never been outside New Guinea.” A reader, noting the pictures Diamond includes of New Guineans in traditional garb and reading his talk of “intact societies” there, might take Yali for someone bound by custom, a man with constrained horizons.

But that would be wrong. Yali had left his home—the Ngaing bush area of Sor—at a young age to work in a European-run hotel. He had been a sergeant in the colonial police, left his country, joined an intelligence unit of the Australian army, spent time on a U.S. submarine, led an insurrection, and served nearly six years in prison for “incitement to rape.” I know this because, eight years before Diamond met Yali, the anthropologist Peter Lawrence profiled him extensively in his classic study of cargo cults, Road Belong Cargo. In Lawrence’s telling, Yali was thoroughly enmeshed in an international economy and international politics. His time outside New Guinea—contrary to Diamond’s claim that he’d never left the island—had been crucial to his evolving political thought.

The Divisiveness of Cohesion

Summing up: The first rule of promoting cohesion is: Don’t talk about cohesion. The second rule of promoting cohesion is: Don’t talk about cohesion. If you really want to build a harmonious, unified society, take one for the team. Discard your anger, swallow your pride, and show out-groups unilateral respect and friendship. End of story.

Map of the World’s Nuclear Power Plants

Links for the Week of June 10th, 2019


Mosuo women | Wiki

Technically, Mosuo culture is matrilineal, but many anthropologists classify the Mosuo tribe as a “matriarchal society”. The Mosuo themselves sometimes use the term matriarchal to describe their culture in order to bring more tourism and interest into their culture. Mosuo culture does have characteristics of a matriarchal society, in that women are the head of the household, the property is passed down through the female line, and the women make business decisions; yet political power tends to be in the hands of males, disqualifying them from matriarchy status.

Zero rupee note | Wiki

In 2007 a non-profit organization created the zero rupee note as a means for Indians to register their refusal to participate in bribery. Closely patterned after the nation’s fifty rupee notes, these documents instead included anti-corruption slogans “Eliminate corruption at all levels” and “I promise to neither accept nor give bribe.”

These zero rupee notes were designed for use by Indian citizens who have been requested to pay bribes in order to obtain services that are legally free or who are hit with illicit surcharges on such routine government transactions as obtaining a driver’s license. Such currency devices enable the citizen to register their opposition to the illegal request in a tangible form, “paying” the official with these valueless alternative notes.

Public Attitudes Toward Technology Companies | Pew Research

Although Republicans are more likely than Democrats to see an anti-conservative bias among major technology companies, this attitude does not translate into a broader desire by Republicans for increased regulation of these companies. Just over half (57%) of Democrats and Democratic leaners think major technology companies should be regulated more heavily than they are now, but that share falls to 44% among Republicans and Republican leaners. Indeed, 12% of Republicans say these companies should be regulated less than they are currently. That view is shared by 7% of Democrats.

Roughly half the public thinks major tech companies should be regulated more than they are now

Role of sociality in the response of killer whales to an additive mortality event | PNAS

These findings demonstrate how the disruption of social structure in killer whales may lead to prolonged negative effects of demographic stress beyond an additive mortality event. More importantly, this study shows that sociality has a key role in the resilience of populations to human-induced mortality; this has major implications for the conservation of highly social and long-lived species.

When Evidence Says No, but Doctors Say Yes | The Atlantic

Book Review: The Secret of Our Success | Slate Star Codex

The effects of DNA databases on the deterrence and detection of offenders [PDF]

This paper studies the effects of adding criminal offenders to a DNA database. Using a large expansion of Denmark’s DNA database, we find that DNA registration reduces recidivism within the following year by as much as 43% and it also increases the probability that offenders are identified. We thereby estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to the detection probability to be -2.7, implying that a 1% higher detection probability reduces crime by more than 2%. We also find that DNA registration makes offenders more likely to find employment, enroll in education, and live in a more stable family environment.

Links for the Week of May 13th, 2019


During the Cold War, the C.I.A. Secretly Plucked a Soviet Submarine From the Ocean Floor Using a Giant Claw | Smithsonian

Azorian diagram

A diagram of Project Azorian’s retrieval mechanism on display at the International Spy Museum (Courtesy of the International Spy Museum)

Radioactive Hulk of Aircraft Carrier USS Independence Located Off San Francisco Coast

NOAA, working with private industry partners and the U.S. Navy, has confirmed the location and condition of the USS Independence, the lead ship of its class of light aircraft carriers that were critical during the American naval offensive in the Pacific during World War II.

Resting in 2,600 feet of water off California’s Farallon Islands, the carrier is “amazingly intact,” said NOAA scientists, with its hull and flight deck clearly visible, and what appears to be a plane in the carrier’s hangar bay.Independence (CVL 22) operated in the central and western Pacific from November 1943 through August 1945 and later was one of more than 90 vessels assembled as a target fleet for the Bikini Atoll atomic bomb tests in 1946.

Damaged by shock waves, heat and radiation, Independence survived the Bikini Atoll tests and, like dozens of other Operation Crossroads ships, returned to the United States.


Sixty years after it was scuttled off the coast of San Francisco, the bomb-scarred, radioactive hulk of the World War II-era aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) has been located on the seafloor near the Farallon Islands.

How Large are the Effects from Changes in Family Environment? A Study of Korean American Adoptees

I analyze a new set of data on Korean American adoptees who were quasi-randomly assigned to adoptive families. I find large effects on adoptees’ education, income, and health from assignment to parents with more education and from assignment to smaller families. Parental education and family size are significantly more correlated with adoptee outcomes than are parental income or neighborhood characteristics. Outcomes such as drinking, smoking, and the selectivity of college attended are more determined by nurture than is educational attainment. Using the standard behavioral genetics variance decomposition, I find that shared family environment explains 14 percent of the variation in educational attainment, 35 percent ofthe variation in college selectivity, and 33 percent of the variation in drinking behavior.

The global decline of the fertility rate since 1950

The global average fertility rate is just below 2.5 children per woman today. Over the last 50 years the global fertility rate has halved. And over the course of the modernization of societies the number of children per woman decreases very substantially. In the pre-modern era fertility rates of 4.5 to 7 children per woman were common. At that time the very high mortality at a young age kept population growth low. As health improves and the mortality in the population decreases we typically saw accelerated population growth. This rapid population growth then comes to an end as the fertility rate declines and approaches 2 children per woman.

Chemical evidence for the use of multiple psychotropic plants in a 1,000-year-old ritual bundle from South America

This article presents the results of chemical analyses of organic residues found in a 1,000-year-old ritual bundle recovered from the highland Andes. The analyses provide evidence of the use of multiple psychoactive plants associated with a sophisticated botanical knowledge system among ritual specialists (shamans) during pre-Columbian times.

Links for the Week of April 15th, 2019


Systematic assessment of the sex ratio at birth for all countries and estimation of national imbalances and regional reference levels | PNAS

The estimated regional reference levels range from 1.031 (95% uncertainty interval [1.027; 1.036]) in sub-Saharan Africa to 1.063 [1.055; 1.072] in southeastern Asia, 1.063 [1.054; 1.072] in eastern Asia, and 1.067 [1.058; 1.077] in Oceania. We identify 12 countries with strong statistical evidence of SRB imbalance during 1970–2017, resulting in 23.1 [19.0; 28.3] million missing female births globally. The majority of those missing female births are in China, with 11.9 [8.5; 15.8] million, and in India, with 10.6 [8.0; 13.6] million.

Fig. 1.
Global and regional SRB estimates in 1990 and 2017, and regional baseline values of SRB. Dots indicate median estimates, and horizontal lines refer to 95% uncertainty intervals. Regional baseline values are in dark green, where the vertical line segments refer to median estimates, and green shaded areas are 95% uncertainty intervals.

Atmospheric transport and deposition of microplastics in a remote mountain catchment | Nature

We analysed samples, taken over five months, that represent atmospheric wet and dry deposition and identified fibres up to ~750 µm long and fragments ≤300 µm as microplastics. We document relative daily counts of 249 fragments, 73 films and 44 fibres per square metre that deposited on the catchment. An air mass trajectory analysis shows microplastic transport through the atmosphere over a distance of up to 95 km. We suggest that microplastics can reach and affect remote, sparsely inhabited areas through atmospheric transport.

What Do Books in the Home Proxy For? A Cautionary Tale

As a proxy for student background, self-reported books in the home are subject to endogeneity and systematic errors of observation. Not only do students from bookish homes perform better, but better students also accrue more books and are more informed about their home libraries. The resulting bias is large enough to outweigh the familiar attenuation bias and lead to regression estimates of a similar size to those using parents as respondents. Guided by classical measurement theory, it is easy to misread the size of these estimates as signalling reliability or validity—with potentially damaging consequences for conclusions in the field.

How much can forests fight climate change? | Nature

Researchers have known for decades that tree leaves absorb more sunlight than do other types of land cover, such as fields or bare ground. Forests can reduce Earth’s surface albedo, meaning that the planet reflects less incoming sunlight back into space, leading to warming. This effect is especially pronounced at higher latitudes and in mountainous or dry regions, where slower-growing coniferous trees with dark leaves cover light-coloured ground or snow that would otherwise reflect sunlight. Most scientists agree, however, that tropical forests are clear climate coolers: trees there grow relatively fast and transpire massive amounts of water that forms clouds, two effects that help to cool the climate

Why selection bias is the most powerful force in education | Fredrick deBoer

In other words, what we might have perceived as a difference in education quality was really the product of systematic differences in how the considered populations were put together. The groups we considered had a hidden non-random distribution. This is selection bias.

Micro-promotions and mentorship: the big impact of small actions in an engineering culture

Links for the Week of April 8th, 2019


65% of Americans believe they are above average in intelligence: Results of two nationally representative surveys | PLOS

Two surveys, weighted to be nationally representative (total N = 2,821), found that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that they are more intelligent than average. The survey methods (telephone, online) yielded similar overall agreement rates after weighting responses to match the U.S. population in sex, age, and race/ethnicity. In both surveys, men were more likely to express confidence in their intelligence than were women, and younger people were somewhat more likely to agree with the claim than older people. These beliefs about relative intelligence appeared to be somewhat calibrated: Highly educated individuals were more likely to agree that they are more intelligent than the average person, whereas relatively uneducated individuals were less likely to agree.

Fig 2. Percentages of participants agreeing with the statement, “I am more intelligent than the average person,” grouped by education level. Agreement was measured as selecting either “Strongly Agree” or “Mostly Agree”.

How Good Are FiveThirtyEight Forecasts? | FiveThirtyEight

These tools reveal where our forecasts need some tweaking. But we also think they show that FiveThirtyEight’s models have performed strongly. All of our forecasts have proved to be more valuable than an unskilled guess, and things we say will happen only rarely … tend to happen only rarely.

Are markets more accurate than polls? The surprising informational value of “just asking”

When previously validated aggregation algorithms were applied to self-reported beliefs, they were at least as accurate as prediction-market prices in predicting a wide range of geopolitical events. Furthermore, the combination of approaches was significantly more accurate than prediction-market prices alone, indicating that self-reports contained information that the market did not efficiently aggregate. Combining measurement techniques across behavioral and social sciences may have greater benefits than previously thought.

Figure 1: Brier scores for aggregated forecasts, last-price aggregates are shown as the horizontal solid line, the dotted-line shows Brier scores for aggregation algorithms of Beliefs, starting from simple mean, then adding temporal subsetting, past accuracy and update frequency to weights, and extremizing. Error bands denote two standard errors of the Brier scores difference between prices and aggregated beliefs.
Figure 2: Prediction market prices versus aggregated beliefs. Aggregated belief probability values are averaged for every dollar increment in in market prices, from $1 to $99, which correspond to probability values of 0.01 to 0.99. Aggregated beliefs tend to be more extreme, i.e. closer to on average, which is denoted by the data to the left of the diagonal below the median price (0.50), and to the right above the median price. (Note: While extremization of aggregated beliefs boosts accuracy, extremizing market prices does not reduce Brier scores.)

Links for the Week of April 1st, 2019


Global expansion and redistribution of Aedes-borne virus transmission risk with climate change | PLOS

Within the next century, nearly a billion people could face their first exposure to viral transmission from either mosquito in the worst-case scenario, mainly in Europe and high-elevation tropical and subtropical regions. However, while year-round transmission potential from Ae. aegypti is likely to expand (particularly in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa), Ae. albopictus transmission potential is likely to decline substantially in the tropics, marking a global shift towards seasonal risk as the tropics eventually become too hot for transmission by Ae. albopictus.

Fig 3. Projected net changes in population at risk.
Projections are given as the net difference in billions at risk, for Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus transmission, between current maps and 2050 (top row) or 2080 (bottom row). Results are further broken down by representative climate pathways (RCPs), each averaged across 4 general circulation models.

Urinary sodium excretion measures and health outcomes | The Lancet

We created a multidimensional view of the published data on how much sodium individuals consume globally and how this consumption relates to cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality, and longevity. The worldwide range of sodium intake is virtually identical to the range associated with both the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease events, including deaths, and greatest longevity, suggesting an optimal intake of 3·5–4·5 g/day.5, 6 This concordance of data is consistent with a physiologically-regulated process that maintains sodium intake within an optimal range. Breaching either the lower or upper limits of this range appears to be associated with increased all-cause mortality risk and shortened life expectancy.

Figure thumbnail gr1
The red line is the reported J-shaped curve for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality related to sodium intake, which is superimposed on the association of intake with longevity (black line). Overlaid on the mortality and longevity curves are the two reported ranges (95% CI) of worldwide sodium intake (blue: 2·3–5·5 g/day3; green: 2·6–4·8 g/day4). The range of current worldwide sodium intake is in a so-called sweet spot that aligns with the lowest all-cause mortality and greatest longevity. AHA=American Heart Association. ESC=European Society of Cardiology. NHS=National Health Service.

Aid, Intervention, and Terror: The Impact of Foreign Aid and Foreign Military Intervention on Terror Events and Severity

The results suggest that foreign aid may be associated with an increase in the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, and casualties. They also indicate that foreign military intervention increases terrorist incidents in the short term and may eventually reduce them in the long term.

These findings should give pause to those who consider foreign aid to be a possible antidote for both transnational and domestic terrorism. Unfortunately, policymakers searching for ways to reduce terrorist activity will find little solace if they turn to foreign military intervention since a surge in terror incidents in the short term after a military intervention establishes a significantly higher baseline of terror activity and violence. It may take decades for terror activity to return to its preintervention level. Policymakers searching for options to combat international terror should consequently approach both foreign aid and foreign military intervention with caution.

Tree diversity regulates forest pest invasion | PNAS

Using subcontinental-level data, we examined the role of tree diversity on pest invasion across the conterminous United States and found that the tree-pest diversity relationships are hump-shaped. Pest diversity increases with tree diversity at low tree diversity (because of facilitation or amplification) and is reduced at higher tree diversity (as a result of dilution). Thus, tree diversity likely regulates forest pest invasion through both facilitation and dilution that operate simultaneously, but their relative strengths vary with overall diversity. Our findings suggest the role of native species diversity in regulating nonnative pest invasions.

Do Social Rights Affect Social Outcomes?

While the United Nations and NGOs are pushing for global judicialization of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCRs), little is known of their consequences. We provide evidence of the effects of introducing three types of ESCRs into the constitution: the rights to education, health, and social security. Employing a large panel covering annual data from 160 countries in the period 1960–2010, we find no robust evidence of positive effects of ESCRs. We do, however, document adverse medium‐term effects on education, inflation, and civil rights.

Dogs demonstrate the existence of an epileptic seizure odour in humans | Nature

The results were very clear: all dogs discriminated the seizure odour. The sensitivity and specificity obtained were amongst the highest shown up to now for discrimination of diseases. This constitutes a first proof that, despite the variety of seizures and individual odours, seizures are associated with olfactory characteristics. These results open a large field of research on the odour signature of seizures. Further studies will aim to look at potential applications in terms of anticipation of seizures.

Figure 1

Mean time spent exploring (seconds) each odour type and 95% confidence intervals represented. (***p < 0.001). Odour types were from a seizure (seizure), two from a sports session (physical exercise 1 & 2), and four taken pseudo-randomly on different days during calm activity (calm activity 1, 2, 3 & 4).

Procedural Volume and Outcomes for Transcatheter Aortic-Valve Replacement | New England Journal of Medicine

There was a significant inverse association between annualized volume of transfemoral TAVR procedures and mortality. Adjusted 30-day mortality was higher and more variable at hospitals in the lowest-volume quartile (3.19%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.78 to 3.67) than at hospitals in the highest-volume quartile (2.66%; 95% CI, 2.48 to 2.85) (odds ratio, 1.21; P=0.02).

On The Tolkienic Hero

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

Map: The Countries With the Most Oil Reserves

The Malthusians (1848)

After Two Decades, a Fishy Genetic Mystery Has Been Solved | The Atlantic

OODA loop | Wiki


Augury | Wiki

The End of the New Deal Era—and the Coming Realignment

Links for the Week of March 25th, 2019


Cost-effectiveness of financial incentives for improving diet and health through Medicare and Medicaid: A microsimulation study | PLOS

– Economic incentives for healthier foods through Medicare and Medicaid could generate substantial health gains and be highly cost-effective.

– Implementing healthy food prescriptions within large government healthcare programs to promote healthier eating could generate substantial health gains and be highly cost-effective.

– Our findings support the implementation and evaluation of such programs within private and public healthcare systems.

– In the US, a new $25 million Produce Prescription Program was just passed in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will provide funding support for such pilot projects over the next 5 years.

Fig 3. Probabilistic sensitivity analyses for cost-effectiveness of the F&V incentive and healthy food incentive programs through Medicare and Medicaid, by insurance group at 5 years and over a lifetime from a healthcare perspective. Values are presented in cost-effective planes of incremental costs ($ billions) versus incremental QALYs, compared to a base scenario of usual care. For each scenario, each colored dot depicts 1 of 1,000 Monte Carlo iterations, and the ellipse depicts the 95% UIs. 

American Democracy March 14, 2019 Lecture – Peter Thiel and Cornell West speaking at Harvard

The Complex Relation Between Receptivity to Pseudo-Profound Bullshit and Political Ideology

Among Swedish adults (N = 985), bullshit receptivity was (a) robustly positively associated with socially conservative (vs. liberal) self-placement, resistance to change, and particularly binding moral intuitions (loyalty, authority, purity); (b) associated with centrism on preference for equality and even leftism (when controlling for other aspects of ideology) on economic ideology self-placement; and (c) lowest among right-of-center social liberal voters and highest among left-wing green voters. Most of the results held up when we controlled for the perceived profundity of genuine aphorisms, cognitive reflection, numeracy, information processing bias, gender, age, education, religiosity, and spirituality. The results are supportive of theoretical accounts that posit ideological asymmetries in cognitive orientation, while also pointing to the existence of bullshit receptivity among both right- and left-wingers.

Big gods came after the rise of civilisations, not before, finds study using huge historical database

Social complexity tends to increase more rapidly before the appearance of moralising gods, not after. Whitehouse, Francois Savage et al. Nature., Author provided

Why the Days Seem Shorter as We Get Older

The ‘mind time’ is a sequence of images, i.e. reflections of nature that are fed by stimuli from sensory organs. The rate at which changes in mental images are perceived decreases with age, because of several physical features that change with age: saccades frequency, body size, pathways degradation, etc. The misalignment between mental-image time and clock time serves to unite the voluminous observations of this phenomenon in the literature with the constructal law of evolution of flow architecture, as physics.

Association of Medical and Adult-Use Marijuana Laws With Opioid Prescribing for Medicaid Enrollees

In this population-based, cross-sectional study using the all-capture Medicaid prescription data for 2011 to 2016, medical marijuana laws and adult-use marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates (5.88% and 6.38% lower, respectively).

Links for the Week of March 18th, 2019


The Most Influential Academic Books in the Last 20 Years

Thomas Hutchinson, A Loyalist’s Rebuttal to the Declaration of Independence [PDF]

Why Do so Many Egyptian Statues Have Broken Noses?

Testing for Racial Profiling in Traffic Stops From Behind a Veil of Darkness [PDF]

In this article we propose a test for racial profiling that does not require explicit, external estimates of the risk set. Rather, our approach makes use of what we call the “veil of darkness” hypothesis, which asserts that police are less likely to know the race of a motorist before making a stop after dark than they are during daylight. If we assume that racial differences in traffic patterns, driving behavior, and exposure to law enforcement do not vary between daylight and darkness, then we can test for racial profiling by comparing the race distribution of stops made during daylight to the race distribution of stops made after dark. We propose a means of weakening this assumption by restricting the sample to stops made during the evening hours and controlling for clock time while estimating daylight/darkness contrasts in the race distribution of stopped drivers

You Can’t Stay Here: The Efficacy of Reddit’s 2015 Ban Examined Through Hate Speech (2017)

We find that the ban worked for Reddit. More accounts than expected discontinued using the site; those that stayed drastically decreased their hate speech usage-by at least 80%. Though many subreddits saw an influx of r/fatpeoplehate and r/CoonTown “migrants,” those subreddits saw no significant changes in hate speech usage. In other words, other subreddits did not inherit the problem. We conclude by reflecting on the apparent success of the ban, discussing implications for online moderation, Reddit and internet communities more broadly.

How Much Time Do Criminals Really Serve? (Marginal Revolution)

Relevant docs from US DOJ:

Criminal Victimization, 2017 [PDF]
Felony Sentences in State Courts, 2006 – Statistical Tables [PDF]
Time Served in State Prison, 2016 [PDF]

A Brainless Slime That Shares Memories by Fusing | The Atlantic (2016)

The Scandals of Meritocracy, Why more merit might not be what elite education needs | NYT, Ross Douthat

The Cream of the Crop? Geography, Networks, and Irish Migrant Selection in the Age of Mass Migration

With more than 30 million people moving to North America during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913), governments feared that Europe was losing its most talented workers. Using new data from Ireland in the early twentieth century, I provide evidence to the contrary, showing that the sons of farmers and illiterate men were more likely to emigrate than their literate and skilled counterparts. Emigration rates were highest in poorer farming communities with stronger migrant networks. I constructed these data using new name-based techniques to follow people over time and to measure chain migration from origin communities to the United States.

Changing demographics of scientific careers: The rise of the temporary workforce | PNAS (2018)

We find dramatic shortening of careers of scientists across all three disciplines. The time over which half of the cohort has left the field has shortened from 35 y in the 1960s to only 5 y in the 2010s. In addition, we find a rapid rise (from 25 to 60% since the 1960s) of a group of scientists who spend their entire career only as supporting authors without having led a publication. Altogether, the fraction of entering researchers who achieve full careers has diminished, while the class of temporary scientists has escalated. We provide an interpretation of our empirical results in terms of a survival model from which we infer potential factors of success in scientific career survivability. Cohort attrition can be successfully modeled by a relatively simple hazard probability function. Although we find statistically significant trends between survivability and an author’s early productivity, neither productivity nor the citation impact of early work or the level of initial collaboration can serve as a reliable predictor of ultimate survivability.

Survival functions of select cohorts in three fields (AC) and the half-life (time needed for half of the cohort to abandon the field) of all cohorts from all three fields (D). The decline in survivability over the past half-century has been remarkable.

Gary Taubes versus Stephan Guyenet

Wildfires and climate change push low-elevation forests across a critical climate threshold for tree regeneration | PNAS (2018)

We found that regeneration exhibited a threshold response to annual climate conditions and the forests we sampled crossed these climate thresholds in the past 20 years, resulting in fewer recruitment opportunities through time. In areas that have crossed climatic thresholds for regeneration, stand-replacing fires may result in abrupt ecosystem transitions to nonforest states.

A Modest Proposal: Eliminate Email | Harvard Business Review

Links for the Week of March 11th, 2019


Global Poverty Decline Denialism | Reason

In 1981, 42.2, 57.1, and 66.4 percent of the world’s population fell below the $1.90, $3.20, and $5.50 thresholds respectively. By 2015, those ratios had dropped to 10.0, 26.3, and 46.0 percent. Even though the world population increased from 4.5 to 7.3 billion from 1981 to 2015, the absolute number of people living on less than $5.50 a day peaked at around 4 billion in 1999 and fell to 3.4 billion in 2015. If current rising income trends continue, the number of people living on less than $7.40 per day will soon start to drop too.

Sex differences in variability across nations in reading, mathematics and science: a meta-analytic extension of Baye and Monseur

A recent study by Baye and Monseur (Large Scale Assess Educ 4:1–16, 2016) using large, international educational data sets suggest that the “greater male variation hypothesis” is well supported. Males are often over-represented at the tails of the ability distribution despite similarity in measures of central tendency and the gradual closing of the attainment gap relative to females. In this study, we replicate and expand Baye and Monseur’s work, and explore greater male variability by country using meta-analysis and meta-regression.

Fig. 1

Fig. 1 Dispersion of variances between countries in the domain of mathematics literacy

The Prevalence of Sexual Abuse by K-12 School Personnel in Canada, 1997–2017

The study revealed a number of interesting points about the larger student victim and offender demographic patterns and characteristics across Canada. The study found 750 cases involving a minimum of 1,272 students and 714 offenders, 87% of which were male. Moreover, 86% of all offenders were certified teachers, and offenders employed grooming as the main tactic in 70% of the cases. Of the child/student victims, 75% were female, 55% were sexually abused on school property, and more than two-thirds of all victims were in high school at the time the offense was committed. The study also found that excluding Ontario and B.C., the media was the sole source of information for 50–86% of all cases depending on the province/territory. Finally, almost three-quarters of offenders from the study were charged with at least one criminal offense, and of the cases that proceeded to trial, 70% resulted in findings of guilt.

Was World War II good for economic growth?

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Group inequality and the severity of civil conflict

The central goal of this paper is to test an argument from previous theoretical research that high inequality within an ethnic group can make inter-ethnic conflict more violent because such inequality decreases the opportunity cost to poor group members of fighting, and also decreases the opportunity cost to rich group members of funding the conflict. To test this argument, we create a new data set that uses individual-level surveys to measure inequality within ethnic groups. The analysis using these data provide strong evidence for the importance of within-group inequality, and thus underscores the value of focusing on the capacity of groups to fight if one wishes to limit the destruction of civil conflicts.

Fig. 2
The relation between conflict-share and GR . The graph is a binned scatter that plots the residuals obtained by regressing GR and conflict-share (the share of conflict years) on the controls (including country fixed effects) in column 7 from Table 1

Normalization of Deviance

Robots, China’s Disruptive Industrial Strategy and National Power

How the Voyage of the Kon-Tiki Misled the World About Navigating the Pacific | Smithsonian

The Man Who Questioned Everything | New York Review of Books

Benefit of Clergy: Some Notes on Salvador Dali

Why American Costs Are So High

Opinion: Why science needs philosophy | PNAS

Minerva: An Experiment in Centrally Planned Education

Nakam | Wiki

Christian cross variants | Wiki

Orchestrating false beliefs about gender discrimination | Medium