Quotes & Links #20

1) wmbriggs.com: Uncertainty Is An Impossible Sell

It also does no good proving that if you get uncertainty right that, even though you will be less sure of yourself, you will and must make better decisions, and that better decisions mean greater rewards. The allure of certainty is too strong. People want easy answers and can’t abide the fogginess which attends uncertainty.

Uncertainty is always hard to sell. I’ve heard countless stories in my political sociology seminars. It’s also hard to sell as a character trait. Black & white always looks nicer than shades of grey. ;)

2) slatestarcodex.com: Framing For Light Instead Of Heat
Scott Alexander answer to this piece by Ezra Klein. Both are very good reads and show the difficulty to pinpoint racism/gender discrimination/etc. with only quantitative data. Ugh, I went there.

3) fusion.net: Investigation Of 5 Cities Finds Body Cameras Usually Help Police

In many use of force incidents, camera footage doesn’t exist, is only partially available, or can’t be found. And when body cameras are turned on, the footage usually favors the officer’s account, according to police, law enforcement experts and public defenders we spoke with.

A solution to this would seem to be simple, but at the same time close to unenforceable. In the end, if you can’t solve the underlying problem then no technology will help you.

4) washingtonpost.com: No, really: There is a scientific explanation for the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus

“I’m arguing that the historical event happened in 1250 B.C., and the memories of it have been recorded in Exodus,” says Drews. “The people of the time gloried in God and gave God credit.”

I like this as a thought experiment.

5) newsweek.com: Electric Eels Remotely Control Victims’ Muscles Before Paralyzing And Eating Them

This paralysis-by-muscle-contraction is also exactly how Tasers work, Catania says. But the eel can send out 400 pulses of electricity per second, while Tasers send out 19.

Damn, nature. You mad.

6) fivethirtyeight.com: Economists Aren’t As Nonpartisan As We Think

Policymakers may need to “re-center” economists’ findings by adjusting for ideology.

The premise that “the field of economics is supposed to be free of political ideology” seems already way off. Being a science also doesn’t mean that one can produce only non-contradicting results. Furthermore, the chart(s) they produce just don’t show much of a difference? Simply, lots of variance and some outliers. And their advice to “re-center” or “weight” economists’ findings is good. See below.

7) noahpinion.com: Economists just don’t look very ideological

But given the fact that economists deal every day with topics that are inherently political, I’m surprised we don’t find more bias in paper-writing.

A better “critique” than my few sentences above. I agree.

8) theatlantic.com: How Watermelons Became a Racist Trope

But the stereotype that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose. The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence.

9) slatestarcodex.com: Come Ye To Bethlinkhem

I have had it with Omega-3 fats. As bad as the field of nutrition in general is, the study of Omega-3 fats is the worst. One day they show amazing results, the next day a similar study comes out showing no results at all. Depending on what research you believe they are either the cure for all psychiatric illness, or they’ll do nothing except make your burps smell like fish […]. Now the latest such study shows that Omega-3 fats have a ginormous effect in preventing the development of psychosis.

I couldn’t agree more. When I started to eat healthier again because I wanted to lose weight, I also tried to diversify what I eat and for what reason. But it’s basically impossible to not contradict oneself. I still managed to lose weight, but certainly not because of all the “help” you get from “scientific studies” on the subject.

10) fstoppers.com: Watch This Incredible Timelapse and Drone Footage of Iceland

11) reddit.com: Reddit, help me make the Fallon d’floor a reality

Inspired by this post, I have decided to actually make a website dedicated to the most theatrical dives of the year. By process of voting, we can “award” the best actor of the year the illustrious Fallon d’Floor, the Academy Award of football.

L E T S D O T H I S B O Y Z!

12) vox.com: The disastrous flaw at the heart of the CIA’s torture program

Torture is simply a terrible way to elicit true information, but it is an extremely effective way to cause physical and emotional pain and to compel people to, for example, read out a false confession you’ve pre-written for them.

Interestingly, the report still managed to surprise me a few times. Outsourcing torture? How easy it was to implement such a system to begin with. Does that mean that the CIA was very well-equipped in torture methods even before 9/11? Wouldn’t be surprised.

13) washingtonpost.com: Let’s not kid ourselves: Most Americans are fine with torture, even when you call it “torture”

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