David Deutsch Defends Stalin, Mao

David Deutsch tweeted:

.@oxfamgb To end extreme poverty, end extreme wealth? A misconception that killed more people in the 20th century than malevolent violence.

This tweet categorizes Stalin and Mao as not being in the malevolent violence category. It has to for the body count math to come out right. Rather, Deutsch believes they had a "misconception" about income equality and the root causes of poverty.

It's disturbing that in Deutsch's mind he doesn't associate mass-murderers like Stalin and Mao with malevolence and violence. Soviet and Chinese gulags, and starving millions to death, weren't policies for dealing with "extreme wealth".

Those millions of victims of communism didn't die by accident. They didn't die despite good intentions. They died due to authoritarian violence! They died malevolently!


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (10)

Adios America Fact Check

I fact checked Adios, America: The Left's Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole by Ann Coulter.

Method: I randomly selected 5 chapters. For each chapter, I selected a random endnote to check. I used a random number generator. Aftewards, I personally selected 5 more issues to check. I chose issues I thought were important like the number of illegal immigrants in the US.

I scored each issue up to 100% based on scholarship, not politics. Coulter's average score across 10 checks was: 87.5%. But that's just a quick overview. My main focus was on checking the details and explaining why she was right or wrong.

Endnote quotes are blue, quotes from the main book are green, and other quotes are yellow. Bold in quotes was added by me for emphasis.

Chapter 13, Endnote 33

32. Congressional Budget Office, “Migrants’ Remittances,” 10.

33. In surveys, 70 percent of illegal immigrants from Mexico say the money they send home is used exclusively for consumption; 96 percent say it is used for both consumption and savings. Ibid.
The majority of the money sent by immigrants to Mexico is used for “consumption”—i.e., to buy Carlos Slim’s telephone service, shop at Carlos Slim’s department stores, and eat in Carlos Slim’s restaurants.33
It was easy to find page 10 of the pdf online:



The 70% figure matches the report. This means the book text, which says "majority", is correct.

96% is the sum for either consumption only, or both consumption and savings. Coulter's wording is confusing. It sounds like she's saying 96% remit for both purposes, when actually 70% were remitting for consumption only. What she should have written, and presumably meant, is that 96% remit at least partially for consumption.

Note that Coulter says "In surveys". I appreciate that accuracy. She isn't saying this is actually true, it's just a survey result.

I wouldn't take off points for Coulter just writing in her style which isn't always literal. But I think this is an actual wording error in an endnote, not a style choice to entertain readers. However, there's no serious error which would mislead a reader about what's happening in world affairs. It's just a technical wording error in an endnote. It doesn't meet my ideal standards, but it doesn't really hurt the book either.

Score: 85%.

Chapter 3, Endnote 23

23. David North, “Lessons Learned from the Legalization Programs of the 1980s,” ILW.com, http://www.ilw.com/articles/2005,0302-north.shtm; and David S. North and Anna Mary Portz, The U.S. Alien Legalization Program (Washington, DC: TransCentury Development Associates, June 1989), 82–90.
Under the special agricultural amnesty of the 1986 bill, the INS received nearly one hundred thousand applications from “farmworker” illegal aliens living in the lush, fertile farmland of New York City. Another hundred thousand applications were mailed in directly from Mexico.23
From Coulter's link:
In the first place, IRCA’s objective was to offer legal status primarily to people who were in the United States at that time that they applied. There was a minor exception to that in that some 100,000 or so of the 3,000,000 applicants were allowed to file for SAW status at the southern border or at U.S. consulates in Mexico—but they had to claim that they had previously been in the United States doing a sufficient amount of farm work to qualify.
Many an urban resident claimed SAW status, many without justification. There were countless anecdotes of fur-coat wearing Europeans seeking SAW status in Manhattan, applicants who contended that the cotton they harvested was purple, or that cherries were dug out of the ground, or that one used a ladder to pick strawberries.
100,000 people is a "minor exception"? And the policy was to let them file from Mexico if they simply claimed to be legit? Dumb. But Coulter said the applications were "mailed" from Mexico, whereas this talks about applying at the border or a consulate.

And what about the 100,000 "farmworker[s]" applying from New York City? Let's check the cited book. It discusses some ridiculous fraud similar in spirit to what Coulter wrote. But page 83 contradicts Coulter:
there were 28,889 applications filed in New York City
That's not "some 100,000". Page 89 is also relevant:
There were some 118,000 applications filed outside the U.S., all but a handful in Mexico.
The number is right. But this says "filed", not "mailed", so I think Coulter exaggerated on that point.

The gist of what Coulter says in this part of the book is roughly accurate. There was a lot of fraud and the government did a bad job. But she wrote 29k and cited a book which says 100k. That's simply false. However, it doesn't mislead the reader. If she simply changed the number, her passage would be OK. 29k and 100k are both big numbers, so the general idea is correctly communicated. I really don't like errors, but it's only a technical error, so I'm giving half credit.

Score: 50%.

I tweeted Coulter about this error, but received no response. I'd be happy to raise Coulter's score if she acknowledged the error and corrected it for the next edition.

Chapter 2, Endnote 16

15. See, e.g., William Branigin, “INS Accused of Giving In to Politics; White House Pressure Tied to Citizen Push,” Washington Post, March 4, 1997.

16. See ibid.
A year before the 1996 presidential election, the Clinton administration undertook a major initiative to make 1 million immigrants citizens in time to vote. The White House demanded that applications be processed twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Criminal background checks were jettisoned for hundreds of thousands of applicants, resulting in citizenship being granted to at least seventy thousand immigrants with FBI criminal records and ten thousand with felony records.15 Murderers, robbers, and rapists were all made citizens so that the Democrats would have a million foreign voters on the rolls by Election Day.16
From the article:
It is not clear how many of the 180,000 immigrants whose criminal backgrounds were not checked had criminal records that would have disqualified them from being sworn in as U.S. citizens, but at least some felons have slipped through. Among them were an Ecuadoran wanted for murder and a Vietnamese immigrant who faced deportation for two felony convictions and a recent parole violation.
So that's at least one murderer, and presumably more in the other 180,000 people who didn't get a background check. No doubt that's enough people with no criminal background check to include some robbers and rapists too.
While murder has always disqualified an applicant no matter when it was committed, other serious crimes such as robbery or assault could make someone ineligible if they were committed within five years of the application.
And to make matters worse, they weren't even trying to exclude robbers and thugs who commited their major crimes 5 years ago.
The auditors also found that another 71,000 immigrants were granted citizenship despite having criminal histories on file with the FBI. Of them, about 10,800 were charged with felonies.
This article, which complains several times about Republicans, is conceding everything. Since it's a hostile article – this is what Coulter's opponents are actually willing to admit to – I'm going to accept these numbers.

180k is close enough to "hundreds of thousands". It rounds up to 200k. The 70k and 10k figures are good. The murders, robbers and rapists claim is good.

Score: 100%.

Chapter 15, Endnote 28

28. Sarah Stuteville, “Hate Crimes Inflict Fear That May Never Fade,” Seattle (WA) Times, February 27, 2015, http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/hate-crimes-inflict-fear-that-may-never-fade/.
They will no longer be subjected to “hate crimes and discrimination” in America—as put by Pramila Jayapal, who was born in India, but now represents Seattle in the Washington State House.28
I appreciate endnotes which provide the link to the material.
Hate crimes and discrimination comes from a lack of understanding and information about who these populations are, as well as a desire to target and other-ize people,” says Washington state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, who was founder of Hate Free Zone (now OneAmerica), an organization formed after 9/11 to address backlash against immigrant communities.
The Seattle Times is a perfectly reasonable source for quoting what someone said. Jayapal was indeed born in India.

Score: 100%.

Chapter 14, Endnote 10

9. Behar, “The Secret Life of Mahmud.”

10. Ibid.
Luckily for Mahmud, just as his tourist visa was expiring six months later, Schumer’s farmworker amnesty became law. So Mahmud submitted an application, claiming to have worked on a farm in South Carolina, despite having never left New York, except one short visit to the Michigan Islamic community.10
Happily, Coulter actually links the article in a previous endnote.
Six months after [Mahmud] Abouhalima arrived in New York, his tourist visa expired. Fortunately for him, Congress was preparing to authorize an amnesty program for more than 1 million illegal aliens who merely had to assert that they worked as migrant farmers. Abouhalima applied for amnesty in 1986, received temporary legal residence in 1988 and became a permanent resident two years after that. Through an attorney, Abouhalima now claims he worked for seven months on a farm in South Carolina. But his current wife told a TIME reporter that she can remember no travels outside the New York metropolitan area except for one trip to Michigan to visit friends. "The amnesty program was a joke," says Duke Austin, a spokesman at the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "Since documentation wasn't required, the burden was on the government to prove the aliens were not farmers. Fraud was widespread and enforcement virtually impossible."
Time reports Mahmud's own wife told a Time reporter that Mahmud's a liar. There was no checking by the government, no need for documentation. Everything Coulter writes matches her source. Looks good to me.

Score: 100%.

Selected Checking

That concludes the random endnote checks. Now I'll choose 5 major issues to look at:

How many illegals?

There were 11 million illegals in the United States as of 2005, according to everyone. Thus, for example, the pro-browning Pew Hispanic Center estimated the number of illegal aliens in the United States to be 11.1 million in March 2005.26 The Department of Homeland Security put it at 10.5 million in January 2005.27 Other estimates from the New York Times, the Center for Immigration Studies, the Urban Institute, and the Current Population Survey produced similar numbers.28
Each endnote offers a link. 26:



27:
DHS estimates that the unauthorized immigrant population in the United States numbered 11.6 million in January 2008 compared to 11.8 million in January 2007, 11.3 million in January 2006, 10.5 million in January 2005
28:
The latest estimate is that the United States has 11.5 million undocumented foreigners, and it's those immigrants — the illegal ones — who have galvanized Congress.
That last quote is from the New York Times, from 2006 not 2005. But close enough. It does reflect that the NYT thought there were "similar" to 11 million illegals in 2005.
The reason all the estimates from Pew, DHS, CIS, the Urban Institute, and the Current Population Survey are nearly identical—11 million!—is that they all use the same census data.
THE REAL NUMBER IS 30 MILLION ILLEGALS [Coulter's emphasis, it's a section title.]
There’s good reason to believe the census numbers are wrong. In 2005, two Bear Stearns analysts, Robert Justich and Betty Ng, warned clients that there was “significant evidence” that the census undercounted the illegal immigrant population by at least half.29 They estimated the number at closer to 20 million—and they were advising clients about something important: their money.

Justich and Ng discounted the census data because it relied on illegal aliens answering surveys.
29. Robert Justich and Betty Ng, “The Underground Labor Force Is Rising to the Surface,” Bear Stearns Asset Management, January 3, 2005, http://www.steinreport.com/BearStearnsStudy.pdf.
The report has some reasonable points:
The strongest evidence supporting our theory that the actual illegal population is double the consensus estimates lies within several micro trends at the community level. We see very dramatic increases in services required in communities that have become gateways for immigration.
Based on several criteria, we believe that immigration is growing significantly faster than the consensus estimates:
1. Remittances
2. Housing permits in gateway communities
3. School enrollment
4. Cross border flows
The rate of increase in remittances far exceeds the increases in Mexicans residing in the U.S. and their wage growth. Between 1995 and 2003, the official tally of Mexicans has climbed 56%, and median weekly wage has increased by 10%. Yet total remittances jumped 199% over the same period. Even considering the declining costs of money transfers, the growth of remittances remains astounding.
In New Jersey, the three gateway towns of New Brunswick, Elizabeth, and Newark exemplify this trend. According to the census, the combined population in these three towns between 1990 and 2003 grew only 5.6%, less than the 9% reported in the rest of the three corresponding counties. Yet housing permits in these three towns shot up over six-fold, while the rest of the three counties only saw a three-fold increase. More importantly, 80% of these permits were designated for multiple dwellings, so the corresponding increase in people accommodated are even greater. Official statistics state that illegal immigrants in New Jersey have jumped 110% during the same period – an estimate that is inconsistent with the housing statistics, our discussions with local realtors and the changes that we have visually observed in the demographic landscape.
“To a significant degree, high rates of immigration offset the effect of a declining number of births on school enrollment.” Administrators have been surprised that school population growth significantly exceeded earlier projections, thus creating overcrowding in many school districts.
Pulitzer Prize reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele recently reported for TIME magazine that “the number of illegal aliens flooding into the United States this year will total 3 million. It will be the largest wave since 2001 and roughly triple the number of immigrants that will come to the U.S. by legal means.” The TIME investigation, according to Mr. Barlett, relied not only on figures projected by the U.S. Border Patrol, but also on the reporter’s extensive investigations along the Mexican border at factories, local communities, and the district offices of the U.S. Border Patrol.
I don't think this is a perfect answer by any means. The Bear Stearns analysts don't have all the answers. But it's some reasonable information on the topic. Coulter herself emphasizes the topic doesn't have good enough data and statistics. For example:
YOU WILL SPEND MORE TIME TRYING TO OBTAIN BASIC CRIME STATISTICS ABOUT immigrants in America than trying to sign up for Obamacare. The facts aren’t there.
and
In just a few decades, Minnesota has gone from being approximately 99 percent German, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, and Polish to 20 percent African immigrant,7 including at least one hundred thousand Somalis.8 And that’s not counting the Somalis who have recently left the country to fight with al Qaeda and ISIS. One hundred thousand is just an estimate. We don’t know precisely how many Somalis the federal government has brought in as “refugees” because the government won’t tell us. The public can’t be trusted with the truth.
The big picture is we don't know all the numbers. Coulter's numbers make more sense than numbers she's challenging. That's good. And she doesn't overestate her case by claiming perfection with her stats.

I'd say Coulter did a good job here. She presented the reader with useful information and put it in context in reasonable way. She challenged some claims that deserved challenging and gave some alternatives to consider that are more reasonable. They're imperfect, but the main point is people should stop accepting the 11 million figure and reconsider. Coulter's right about that.

Score: 95%.

A quarter of Mexico's population?

America has already taken in more than one-quarter of Mexico’s entire population, according to the Pew Research Center’s analysis of census data.9 The United States has more Hispanics than any other country besides Mexico.10 Do we have to admit all 120 million Mexicans to prove to the New York Times that we’re not “nativist”?
9. Anna Brown and Eileen Patten, “Hispanics of Mexican Origin in the United States,” Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project, 2011, http://www.pewhispanic.org/2013/06/19/hispanics-of-mexican-origin-in-the-united-states-2011/. (“An estimated 33.5 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.”)
The Pew Research Center page linked does give the 33.5 million figure exactly as quoted. The population of mexico is around 120 million.

One problem is if we took in 33.5 million Mexicans, and there's 120 million in Mexico, then that's 153.5 million total, of which we have closer to a fifth (21.8%), not a quarter.

I think Coulter's point was to put 33.5 million Mexicans in context. It's over a quarter of the current population of Mexico! That's a lot! I read her comment more as a stylistic choice than strictly about math. And I don't think rounding 21.8% to 25% is very bad, it's in the right ballpark.

The one-quarter comment bothered Politifact, a group of partisan left-wingers who like to dress up their talking points as "facts". Their best counter was:
In reality, the immigration data from Pew is not nearly as neat and tidy as Coulter concludes. The Pew report attempted to count the number of people who trace their roots back to Mexico, not people who came directly from that country.

Why does that make such a difference?

Well, about two-thirds of Americans with Mexican ancestry were born in the United States. By definition, they were never part of Mexico’s population.

If they weren’t Mexican, they could not be "taken in."

The Pew definition is important, and if the numbers about Mexico don’t make it clear, let’s look at another country. We picked Ireland. In 2014, the Census Bureau said there were 34.1 million Americans with Irish roots. That’s nearly seven times Ireland’s current population.
That sounds like a pretty big error. But let's see what the Pew analysis actually says:
An estimated 33.5 million Hispanics of Mexican origin resided in the United States in 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Mexicans in this statistical profile are people who self-identified as Hispanics of Mexican origin; this means either they themselves are Mexican immigrants or they trace their family ancestry to Mexico.
They were not looking for, or counting, anyone with any Mexican ancestry or roots like Politifact claims. They were only counting people who self-identified as "Hispanics of Mexican origin". Politifact is contradicting Pew's own statement about their data (hoping no one will notice) in order to try to make Coulter look bad.

Did Coulter use loose language and exaggerate here? Yes. (Was what Politifact said worse? Yes!) But so what? You're allowed to talk loosely at times. The one quarter comment was putting things in perspective, not trying to be a rigorous analysis. There's plenty of other material in Adios America which is more rigorous and factual, and is worded to indicate that.

I would like if Coulter was a little more careful at times, but I don't see any significant problem here. I don't think it would mislead a reader in general. There's a big problem and Coulter's saying there's a big problem, which is true.

Score: 90%.

Do Illegals Honestly Answer Government Surveys?

Another part of Politifact's article looked interesting to me. And I think picking issues to look at that her enemies bring up is a good method to try some. Coulter wrote:
Justich and Ng discounted the census data because it relied on illegal aliens answering surveys. As Justich told the Wall Street Journal, “The assumption that illegal people will fill out a census form is the most ridiculous concept I have ever heard of.”30 People who have left their families, paid huge sums of money to smugglers, trekked thousands of miles, and broken American law to enter this country don’t have much incentive to fill out questionnaires from the U.S. government.

The census tried to account for the reluctance of illegal aliens to answer government surveys by adding 10 percent to their population estimate. Guess where they got 10 percent? From another survey of illegals.
But Politifact says:
In a recent report, the center wrote "It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey."
Well, they did indeed write that contradiction to Coulter. But they didn't argue it. At all. Coulter's position makes sense. This is just a "center" asserting something:
It is well established that illegal aliens do respond to government surveys such as the decennial census and the Current Population Survey. While Census Bureau surveys do not ask the foreign-born if they are legal residents of the United States, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), former INS, the Pew Hispanic Center, and the Census Bureau have all used socio-demographic characteristics in the data to estimate the size of the illegal alien population. We follow this same approach.50
And does endnote 50 have an argument that illegals respond to government surveys? No.
To distinguish legal from illegal immigrants in the survey, this report uses citizenship status, year of arrival in the United States, age, country of birth, educational attainment, sex, receipt of welfare programs, receipt of Social Security, veteran status, and marital status. [...]
That endnote is on the topic of estimating things about the people who did fill out surveys, not on the topic of how they "established" that illegals are filling out surveys in the first place.

Rather than argue the issues, Politifact relied on judging statements by who said them:
The Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors reduced immigration much as Coulter does, disagrees with that last point.
It's not that the Center for Immigration Studies had a good argument. Or any argument at all. Nor does Politifact have an argument. Instead, it's that the Center for Immigration Studies is asserted by Poltifact to be anti-immigration, and their point is basically "even the people who don't like immigration know Coulter is wrong". That's such an unscholarly approach that I wanted to point it out.

For the issue of Politifact attacking Coulter's argument that illegals don't fill out governement surveys, I'd say Politifact did a lot worse than just remaining silent. It showed their own flaws, not any mistake by Coulter.

Score: 100%.

How Dumb Is The Government?

That last claim Coulter made sounded interesting to me. Did the government really use a survey of illegals to try to find out whether (and at what rate) they answer surveys? Let's find out.
The census tried to account for the reluctance of illegal aliens to answer government surveys by adding 10 percent to their population estimate. Guess where they got 10 percent? From another survey of illegals. In 2001, the University of California asked Mexican-born residents of Los Angeles if they had taken the recent census. Ten percent said “no.” But almost 40 percent refused to take that survey.31
30. Carl Bialik, “In Counting Illegal Immigrants, Certain Assumptions Apply,” Wall Street Journal, May 7, 2010, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704370704575228432695989918.

31. Ibid.
The cited article says what Coulter claimed:
Researchers at CIS and Pew and in the federal government use a decades-old technique that looks at the number of foreign-born people in the U.S., as counted by annual census surveys. Then they subtract the number of foreign-born people in the U.S. legally, based on immigration records and projections of deaths and outmigration. The remainder is believed to be the number of illegal immigrants.

There are several assumptions that underlie these estimates, including the figures for outmigration, which isn't tracked by the U.S. government. The biggest problem, though, is that no one really knows what proportion of illegal immigrants respond to census interviewers and how honest they are about their place of birth.

These studies presume that about 10% of illegal immigrants aren't counted by census takers. But that figure largely is based on a 2001 University of California-funded survey of 829 people born in Mexico and living in Los Angeles, in which individuals were asked, among other things, whether they responded to census interviewers a year earlier. Representatives of nearly two in five households refused to answer that survey, and those who didn't might have been more likely to skip the census count as well.
But it's just a WSJ article with no cites or links. This is the internet! Why not link to the surveys you're talking about? :( He didn't even give the name of the study, the journal, or anyone involved with it, which makes it hard to search for.

Even if I find the 2001 study and everything checks out, how would I know that the other unspecified studies presuming the 10% figuring were basing it largely on the 2001 study? To figure this out properly would require a bunch of work. Coulter or Bialik should have done this work and shared it, but they haven't. Coulter, unfortunately, seems to have just dumped responsibility on Bialik's article which makes some big claims without giving the details.

I think Coulter's right about the issue here. For example the Bear Stearns Study says:
The Census Bureau’s counting process for the migrant population has some shortcomings. According to our discussions with illegal immigrants, they avoid responding to census questionnaires. For this reason, the official estimates do not fully capture this group.
and
According to Maxine Margolis, author of An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City, the discrepancies started well over a decade ago. The 1990 census, for example, recorded only 9,200 Brazilians in New York City, while the local Brazilian consulate estimated 100,000 Brazilians at that time. The Brazilian foreign office placed the number at 230,000; Dr. Margolis also noted that comparisons of the Boston Archdiocese and Brazilian consulate records with U.S. census records show a startling 10 to 1 difference.
I didn't find a paper on the 2001 survey itself, but I found Immigrant Voting in Home Country Elections which has detailed information about it.
The July 2001 Los Angeles County Mexican Immigrant Legal Status Survey (LA-MILSS) is a random sample of 456 households in which at least one person was born in Mexico and 829 foreign-born Mexicans who resided in Los Angeles County in July 2001.
Looks like the survey happened in the right place with the right number of people.
household response rate of the LA-MILSS is 62 percent.
This 38% non-response rate fits with the claim that almost two in five households refused to answer. (Note: they already are ignoring outcomes like no one was home. This is people who were there and didn't answer the questions, so the word "refused" is accurate.)
Slightly less than half (46 percent) of adult respondents admitted to residing in the United States without being a naturalized citizen, a legal permanent resident or a temporary visitor.
That's a lot!
If we apply Marcelli and Ong’s (2002) estimated 10 percent undercount rate for all foreign-born Mexicans in the 2000 Census to these two point estimates, then the estimated number of expatriate Mexicans residing in the United States who will vote in the 2006 Mexican elections if the 1996 Mexican electoral reforms remain inoperative is 1.8 to 3.1 million.15
Guess what the footnote is. Think it'll provide details of the 10% undercount? Or maybe it'll give their calculations for the 1.8-3.1 million range? No, all it does is say the government used the 10% number.
15 This estimated undercount rate was employed in the recent U.S. INS report on unauthorized immigration in the United States (U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service 2003).
That's not useful. Although it does provide an example of the 10% figure being used, like the WSJ article claimed.

Here's another statement about the 10% undercount. It's in a paper that at least has a bunch of linked endnotes with citations written out:
During the 2000s, the two leading producers of estimates of the unauthorized foreign-born population, the Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) and the Pew Hispanic Center (Pew), assumed that coverage error was, respectively, 10 (Hoefer, Rytina and Baker 2011
) and 13 percent (Passel and Cohn 2009) for the unauthorized foreign born, and about 2.5% for other foreign born. OIS rested its assumption about coverage error on a survey conducted in Los Angeles that was then compared to Census counts (Marcelli and Ong 2002). Pew based its assumption on the levels of enumeration error estimated for the 2000 Census, which were calculated by incorporating data from the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE) post-enumeration surveyviii
I looked for "2000 Census coverage of foreign-born Mexicans in Los Angeles County: Implications for demographic analysis" by Marcelli and Ong. Google scholar is aware it exists. But it's not available online. It isn't just behind a paywall. There's no copy of it available. They presented it at an IRL meeting, and people cite it, but there's I see no mention of it actually being published anywhere. Here is the meeting information and the paper information:
This paper employs the 2001 Los Angeles Mexican Immigrant Legal Status Survey (LA-MILSS) data to estimate the contribution of unauthorized and Legal Mexican immigrants to the Census undercount in Los Angeles County. After estimating the number of Mexican immigrants by legal status and whether each individual was enumerated in the 2000 Census, we examine various sources of omission. Logistic regression results suggest that individual demographic characteristics, social network quality, and neighborhood characteristics help explain variation in whether a person was counted.
And that's all the information we get. This makes it hardre to blame Bialik and Coulter for not providing more cites. These guys just publish a paragraph summary online and don't bother publishing their actual details. They share their ideas in person, apparently to be cited by other people who took notes while they were talking, I guess.

Finally, I see the government is using this, as claimed:

Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: 1990 to 2000

Office of Policy and Planning
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service


...

About 12.6 million foreign-born persons who entered the United States from 1990 to 1999 were counted in the 2000 Census. The INS adjusted that number upward by about 850,000, primarily to account for estimated undercount in the census,4

4 The estimate of net census undercount of 10% for unauthorized residents is consistent with results reported in a paper by Enrico Marcelli, “2000 Census Coverage of Foreign-born Mexicans in Los Angeles County: Implications for Demographic Analysis,” presented at the 2000 Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, Atlanta, GA. For lawful residents, as defined here, the rate of net census undercount was set at one fourth of the rate for unauthorized residents, or 2.5 percent. [Bold in original for headings.]
Note the 850,000 adjustment the INS used is 6.7%, not 10%, even though their footnote says 10%.

OK now let's step back. Coulter said they asked people if they answered the census, and 10% said no. But I wasn't able to find that question from the survey and the results for it. Coulter's own citation should have led me to find that, since she makes that claim in her book. That's bad.

On the other hand, she's right about the big picture: the government and others are pretty much just making stuff up instead of being scholars with facts. The quality of the work Coulter's questioning is ridiculously low. She's right to draw attention to it. The theme of her book holds up. So again I'm going to deduct some points for a technical problem (I couldn't find some of the specifics she brought up her endnotes, even after doing quite a bit of research), but Coulter hasn't said anything that would mislead a reader about the state of the world. She isn't playing loose with facts to trick anyone about anything.

Score: 70%.

Adios America?

So, will illegal immigration destroy the country? Would amnesty mean Republicans never get elected again? Are these third-worlders assimilating, or not? Are we in danger? Is this a serious enough issue to really threaten our country? Could it be Adios America!?
According to a Washington Post poll, a majority of second-generation immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Vietnam, and the West Indies did not refer to themselves as “Americans” and said America was not the best country in the world.22
22. William Booth, “One Nation, Indivisible: Is It History?,” Washington Post, February 22, 1998, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/meltingpot/melt0222.htm.
The article says:
One study of the children of immigrants, conducted six years ago among young Haitians, Cubans, West Indians, Mexican and Vietnamese in South Florida and Southern California, suggests the parents are not alone in their concerns.

Asked by researchers Alejandro Portes and Ruben Rumbauthow how they identified themselves, most chose categories of hyphenated Americans. Few choose "American" as their identity.

Then there was this – asked if they believe the United States in the best country in the world, most of the youngsters answered: no.
Like Coulter said. But where's the details? They were harder to find because Ruben Rumbaut's name is mispelled :( I did find some paywalled stuff, but since I don't even know which one they are talking about, I didn't buy it.
when Obama won his 2012 reelection, Teixeira gloated that—as he had predicted—ethnic minorities were voting 8–2 for the Democrats, and had grown to nearly one-third of the electorate. “McGovern’s revenge only seems sweeter,” Teixeira said.19
19.Ruy Teixeira, “The Emerging Democratic Majority Turns 10,” Atlantic, November 10, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/11/the-emerging-democratic-majority-turns-10/265005/.
Teixeira's article says, as claimed:
Voters in 2012 were 28 percent minority, an increase of 2 percentage points from the 2008 level and a massive 13 percentage point increased from the 1988 level of 15 percent.
(28% is a little low to be calling nearly a third.)
Minority voters backed Obama 80 percent to 18 percent in 2008 -- and did exactly the same for the president this year. His support among African-Americans was almost as overwhelming (93-6) as it was in 2008 (95-4). And his support among Hispanics (71-27) improved substantially over its 2008 level (67-31). In addition, Obama achieved historic levels of support among Asian-Americans. This year he carried them 73-26, compared to 62-35 in 2008.
What about assimilation?
Everyone seems to agree that it is Minnesotans’ responsibility to assimilate to Somali culture, not the other way around.11 The Catholic University of St. Thomas has installed Islamic prayer rooms and footbaths in order to demonstrate, according to Dean of Students Karen Lange, that the school is “diverse.” Minneapolis’s mayor, Betsy Hodges, has shown up wearing a full hijab to meetings with Somalis. (In fairness, it was “Forbid Your Daughter to Work Outside the Home” Day.) A suburban Minnesota high school has “Welcome” signs written in Somali, a Somali student group, and articles in the school newspaper about how unhappy the Somalis are.
11. See, e.g., “Mayors Seek Closure of Troubling Gaps,” Minneapolis (MN) Star Tribune, January 7, 2014. (“Changing people’s thinking about the value of every part of the city is essential to closing the income gap, achievement gap, health gap and all the other income- and race-based disparities that afflict the Twin Cities. . . . The arc of history has truly bent toward diversity and inclusivity.”)
The article indeed is a bunch of appeasement of unassimilated immigrants. It has an attitude that their problems are white people's fault, and American needs to change to make Somalis better off. For example:
The arc of history has truly bent toward diversity and inclusivity in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Whether history’s arc can also bend more nearly toward justice and opportunity for nonwhite, nonaffluent residents is an unanswered question. Making it so may be the greatest challenge these cities face if they are to remain prosperous in the 21st century.
If we do it right, we will begin to weave our city and our neighborhoods together fully, not merely in our conversations, but in our hearts and in our minds, as well. [...]” Hodges said.
Changing people’s thinking about the value of every part of the city is essential to closing the income gap, achievement gap, health gap and all the other income- and race-based disparities that afflict the Twin Cities. It will take vigorous use of the mayoral bully pulpit to spur that change. At that task, Coleman and Hodges have begun well.
The focus here is on Americans doing something, changing their thinking, looking at the world differently, etc, rather than on saying to the immigrants, "Hey guys, you came here. If you want to make more money and be more educated, then you change. Start acting like Americans and you'll get the same results we do without our city changing anything."

With immigrants not being assimilated and voting heavily for the Democrats, America is at genuine risk. But I wasn't satisfied with the details of the second generation immigrant cite. Again I'm not questioning the book's main themes, but I would have liked better research behind Coulter's factual details.

Score: 85%.

Conclusion

Coulter's average score is 87.5%. But you should try to understand what Adios America is like, not rely on a summary number. Please judge for yourself.

Here's what I think:

Despite all the endnotes, this doesn't appear to be a book of extremely careful fact checking and research. Coulter sometimes relies on sources like newspaper articles and repeats their claims without further checking. She makes some technical errors. But I didn't find a single instance where the message of her book was mistaken, which is what I'd say matters the most.

If you liked this, check out my previous Ann Coulter fact check, and my review of her critics' scholarship.

Thank you Justin Mallone for help finding some of the information.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (3)

Static Memes and Irrationality

PAS wrote to the FI Discussion Group [emphasis added]:

The most relevant thing that I don’t get about the memes material [in The Beginning of Infinity] is how & why a meme like beating irrationality into kids:

  • Arose in the first place: Don’t static memes initially arise out of attempts people make to solve problems? What problem would beating irrationality into your kid solve?

  • Developed such an extraordinarily high degree of skill knowledge that people are super highly effective at enacting it: What other memes have a super high level of evolved skill knowledge like this?

  • Experiences universal replication across all of the human race: Religion (in general, never mind a specific religion) isn’t 8 9’s pervasive. Wearing clothes isn’t 8 9’s pervasive. What other memes are as pervasive?

The Beginning of Infinity Memes Recap

A meme is an idea that replicates. We'll focus on ideas that are pretty good at replicating from older people to younger people for multiple generations.

David Deutsch had an original insight: there are two replication strategies used by memes. A replication strategy is the thing the meme is doing that gets it replicated.

1) Rational Memes

Rational (aka dynamic) memes are replicated because they are useful. People want to share them in order to solve problems. They are part of progress.

The concept here is pretty simple. Someone has an idea and think it's good, so he shares it. If other people see the value, they learn it and share it too. If it's good enough, it gets shared a lot, including to the next generation.

2) Static Memes

Static (aka anti-rational) memes disable the holder's creativity to prevent criticism of themselves. They are not adapted to be useful, but block effective thinking about that. Their focus is on making the host unable to reject the meme.

Rather than offering rewards, benefits and value to get voluntary cooperation, a static meme goes for more of a mind control style of strategy. If someone can't think critically about it, that is a way for a meme to survive.


Rational memes survive criticism by having valuable knowledge, static memes prevent criticism to survive.


Let's set aside the original origins of static memes and consider the last three thousand years of human history. Most humans have lived in static societies. In short, they lived the same lives as their grandparents, who lived the same lives as their grandparents.

Change and innovation have been the exception, not the rule.

What's going on there? What blocks progress? What blocks new ideas? What suppresses creativity?

People already know a bit about this. Their understanding of what's going wrong goes under the heading "irrationality". Irrationality covers a wide range of problems including:

  • obedience to authority
  • judging ideas by prestige of the speaker
  • lack of confidence to contradict traditional ideas
  • superstition
  • mysticism
  • wishful thinking
  • judging by emotions instead of reasons
  • bias
  • dishonesty about ideas
  • jumping to conclusions
  • not seriously seeking the truth
  • not really making an effort to solve problems
  • procrastination, laziness
  • faith

Why is irrationality like this so powerful and common? Because it prevents criticism of itself. These bad ideas have the special property that they get in the way of fixing themselves.

These are errors that mess up error correction itself.

Irrationality is a matter of static memes. This is a list of ideas which are passed on to the next generation and which block criticism. They are passed on not because they are useful, but because the people with these ideas are unable to think well their value and make rational choices about whether to replicate them.

The concept of static memes provides information and technical details (see The Beginning of Infinity) about what's going with irrationality. It helps clarify a phenomenon you already knew is really big. (PAS mentions religion in his question. Irrationality is a superset of the religious irrationality he brought up.)


With that context, I'll go over the questions:

Don’t static memes initially arise out of attempts people make to solve problems?

No. They arise due to evolution.

Think of an initial set of ideas (meme pool, like gene pool). The ideas are really bad and primitive. Many are getting discarded pretty randomly. None replicate very reliably.

Then by random variation, one of the ideas starts blocking people from discarding it. Not entirely, just a little bit so it gets discarded at a lower rate than other ideas. This gives it an evolutionary advantage, and further random variations that make it harder to discard give it even more evolutionary advantage.

Static memes evolve along those lines, not out of (rational) problem solving attempts.

What problem would beating irrationality into your kid solve?

Offering problem solving value is not the mechanism by which static memes replicate, spread, stick around, get enacted, etc...

What other memes have a super high level of evolved skill knowledge like this?

Consider the history of static societies on Earth. Think about how effective they've been at preventing change and innovation. Think about how rare and special Western civilization is. The large scale consequences of a super high level of evolved knowledge are visible here.

What other memes are as pervasive?

All kinds of details of static memes vary by culture. What stays the same across cultures is the replication strategy. That's a matter of logic. Since we call that replication strategy "irrationality", then irrationality is pervasive across cultures.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

curi reads a correlation study

This is my real-time unedited (just formatting cleanup) comments on an "original research article" in Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, "Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch".

anonymous-1 wrote:
study says drug can help learn perfect pitch:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3848041/pdf/fnsys-07-00102.pdf
they claim it's double blind, but doesn't someone being able to do something he otherwise couldn't (they claim) tell him which group he's in and therefore unblind it?

> On days 8–14 of each treatment, we instructed participants to undergo an on-line training program for approximately 10 min per day. During each online training session, they observed a video, which trained associations between piano tones and proper names.

so it could actually be a drug for better boring video watching focus?

oh god they put ppl thru a bunch of junk tests to try to control for mood, depression, mania, being smart

> We counted a training session as complete if the subject both watched the full length of the video (up to within 15 s of the end) and answered the subsequent test question correctly.

did they decide those rules before they started?

> There was no significant correlation between the number of completed training sessions and performance

hahaha

> The experiment was double-blind, as neither participants, nor experimenters knew the randomization for treatment conditions. However, we did ask participants to intuit in which arm they received VPA treatment, and why they thought so. We also instructed them to write down any side effects they experienced during the experiment. Out of the 18 participants who completed the second treatment arm, 17 guessed correctly.

hahaha i told you it wasn't blind

fucking liars

they found out during the study it was not blind

then publish it as a blind study

what scumbags


i think the prior study asserting the critical period exists at all might be more interesting. at least if it's any good. b/c i find a critical period a bit intuitively surprising. like i wouldn't rly expect it

> Second, the analysis of the crossover, i.e., of the 17 participants for whom we have data from both arms, revealed an order-dependent effect of treatment. For participants who took VPA first, AP performance was significantly higher after VPA treatment than after placebo. In contrast, for participants who initially took placebo, there was no such difference. It may be that carry-over effects impeded performance on the AP task in the second treatment arm.

that's odd

> Relatedly, it needs to be noted that we did not test how long the effect of the improvement in AP perception lasted.

so they did not study learning perfect pitch. they studied doing better on certain tests while actively on drugs, but not any kind of longer term skill improvement. so the study title:

> Valproate reopens critical-period learning of absolute pitch

that's bullshit. they didn't study that.

> In sum, our study is the first to show a change in AP with any kind of drug treatment. The finding that VPA can restore plasticity in a fundamental perceptual system in adulthood provides compelling evidence that one of the modes of action for VPA in psychiatric treatment may be to facilitate reorganization and rewiring of otherwise firmly established pathways in the brain and its epigenome (Shen et al., 2008).

wow such bullshit

like it's bad enough they are claiming it creates plasticity for pitch stuff – maybe it just makes u better at pitch without plasticity? among other things – but then to start saying they found out about psychiatry... ugh
the big picture tho is this is explanationless "science". they don't know what VPA does or how it works, and they are focusing on correlations (btwn taking VPA and high scores on pitch tests) not explanations

> If confirmed by future replications, our study will provide a behavioral paradigm for the assessment of the potential of psychiatric drugs to induce plasticity. In particular, the AP task may be useful as a behavioral correlate. If further studies continue to reveal specificity of VPA to the AP task (or to tasks on which training or intervention is provided), critical information will have been garnered concerning when systemic drug treatments may safely be used to reopen neural plasticity in a specific, targeted way.

i think they are saying here that they have no idea if VPA (their drug) has anything to do with pitch, or just helps learning more generally

the intended use for approving psychiatry drugs is disturbing

Refuting the study like this took under 20 minutes. Then people discussed the point about whether the study was blind:

anonymous-1:
    How does that make it not double-blind?
curi:
    if you know what group you're in, that isn't blind.
    do you know what blind means? *confused*
anonymous-1:
    but you don't know, you guess
curi:
    they could tell which they were in
anonymous-1:
    they guessed which they were in
curi:
    so you think 17 out of 18 got it right by coincidence, and there was no unblinding information?
anonymous-1:
    still blind?
    they weren't told until after the study
    this is a standard thing in psych studies to find out whether the person can guess about placebo?
curi:
    if you can guess better than chance, then you have information about which group you're in (or ESP). that information means it's not fully blind. in this case they appear to have quite a lot of such info.
    "standard thing in psych studies" is not reassuring!!!
Justin Mallone:
    ya lol
    psych studies typically trash
anonymous-1:
    not by coincidence, by stuff like feeling the drug
curi:
    right, that makes it not blind.
anonymous-1:
    so yes no unblinding info
curi:
    feeling it is unblinding info
anonymous-1:
    you don't know for sure though
    hmmm
    why should that be considered unblinding?
curi:
    but if you know (from feeling it) better than chance, you know something about whether you have the placebo or not. you have information about it (just not PERFECT information if you don't know for SURE). so it's not fully blind. (and, again, they seem to in this case have had LOTS of info, so not close to blind)
Justin Mallone:
    doing double blind can be hard
curi:
    yeah in medical studies they sometimes use complex active placebos to try to make stuff blind
Justin Mallone:
    the fact that lots of stuff is done incompetently doesn’t lower the bar tho
curi:
    like try to find stuff that'll have the same side effects and other feelable consequences
anonymous-1:
    oh cool @ complex active placebos
    didn't know about that. makes sense

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Old Anti-Marriage Essay

This is an essay I wrote in Feb 2002 criticizing marriage. Oh God, the writing style is so bad! I hope this will show you that no one is a lost cause!

I bet some of you FI bros are already better writers than this... So things are looking good for you!

I do like the use of italics and the connections between Shakespeare's play and my points. But lots of this is a mess, and it's got tons of that awful school essay style.

Can anyone refute some of these arguments? Reply in the comments below!

Marriage in Measure for Measure: A Destructive Force Revealed

The depth of Shakespeare's commitment to marriage is shown by the fact that he continues to take it for granted as an institution even while the action of his play, Measure for Measure, systematically reveals its ability to hurt people. Marriage even leads a number of characters to immoral ideas! The characters in the play seem to think marriage is very important, but at the same time they are constantly pointing out flaws. Their inability to notice the flaws they elucidate strongly supports the thesis. Hence, some of their statements will be highlighted, and the flaws examined.

In most societies, ideas about love and marriage do terrible damage. Marriage is a form of vertical, or contractual, relationship that functions as a control mechanism. Horizontal visions of marriage, in essence marriage as a true friendship or ARR (Autonomy Respecting Relationship), could utterly destroy the tradition. The more ARRs catch on, the more people would realise that no personal relationship needs contractual obligations, or state approval. This would lead to a more dynamic society, and even while the ideas are on the whole unpopular, some people would certainly begin to question their local dictator. Therefore, said tyrant cannot allow this process to begin; relationships must be painful obligations without truth-seeking. However, it must be noted that the ruler does not consciously understand this. He, too, acts on anti-rational memes which contain knowledge about what he must do. Some of them tell him to protect marriage. He does not know why he does this; there is no conspiracy. In Measure for Measure, the Duke goes to elaborate lengths to create a number of marriages, and enforce the contractual obligations inherent in them.

One of the issues Shakespeare goes into is distorted ethics; marriage contributes fairly well to confusing people ethically. For example, Isabella would choose highly immoral actions such as allowing her close friend and brother Claudio to die, before she would violate the rigid rules outlawing premarital sex. Any good person would make a minor, inconsequential sacrifice of some temporary discomfort to save the life of a valued friend. However, Isabella says, “I had rather my brother die by the law than my son should be unlawfully born” (Measure for Measure, Act III, Scene I, Lines 187-189). Isabella makes the same mistake as many others in her society, placing false importance on marital contracts. She cannot see the inherent harm, even when it hits her in the face by forcing her to sacrifice her brother. And, transitively, Shakespeare also misses the harm, or he would abandon marriage.

One of the issues Shakespeare goes into is reason; marriage causes people to act unreasonably. It is common to hear such lines as You will find true love someday or Your soulmate is out there, somewhere, waiting. The message is to cheer up, because the listener will find love. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. In most people, such a strong desire for love is instilled, that they will often convince themselves a relationship is love, despite reality. They then hang on to this so-called “love” for fear of losing their soulmate. For example, the Duke says of Marianna, “[Angelo’s] unjust unkindness, that in all reason should have quenched her love, hath, like an impediment in the current, made it more violent and unruly” (238-241). When reason dictates that Marianna should hate Angelo, she instead loves him more. Even the Duke (and transitively Shakespeare) admits that love causes people to act against reason!

Marriage blinds its followers to its own harm. For instance, the Duke says, “[Angelo] swallowed his vows whole…bestowed her on her own lamentation, which she yet wears for his sake” (224-227). He associates breaking vows with causing suffering. However, if Angelo and Marianna had a healthy relationship—a friendship or ARR--this would not have happened. When Angelo decided he did not want to marry Marianna, he would have gone his own way, and neither party would have felt bad. It would be wrong of Marianna to attempt to control Angelo, or force him to do things against his will, and as a friend she should not even want to; however, marital ideas have confused her. Marianna, if she were rational, would correctly feel sad because her brother and her wealth were lost at sea, which was a true loss. Angelo’s changing wants should not cause such grief. The Duke continues, “and he, a marble to her tears, is washed with them, but relents not” (227-228). The Duke feels Angelo should self-sacrifice, following an obligation long after his desire to do so has left him. Again, a character in Measure for Measure advocates harm over any action contrary to marriage. The Duke—quite explicitly—would rather harm Angelo than allow him to do anything against the marital status quo.

The Duke must advocate immoral ideas to achieve his desired outcome of protecting the establishment of marriage. Consider a proposition: if we grouped people into sets of three, then randomly slew one in each group, and gave his wealth to the other two, two people would benefit greatly for every one that lost, therefore the world would be a better place. It’s absurd! Trading two benefits, which may only be benefits in the Duke’s eyes, for one wrong is terribly immoral. However, the Duke says, “[If you choose to do this,] the doubleness of the benefit defends the deceit from reproof” (253-255). Basically, he says it’s ok to do one wrong because he gets two things he wants, or to put it graphically, it would be justified to rape one person if you had two orgasms. The Duke (and transitively Shakespeare) understands that his marriage laws harm some people, but prefers that to any contradiction of marriage as perfection.

What if some horizontal marriages were allowed? What would be so terrible about a few outcasts? The real question here is this: What happens to authority figures who make exceptions? The answer is simple, there is a real possibility a haze will clear from the eyes of the ruled, and they will realize their leader’s fallibility. If his laws are not always the best in all situations, perhaps that time a law hurt me, I should have had an exception! some peasant might think. Small freedoms lead down a slippery slope towards people requesting then fighting for freedom. However, the Duke (and Shakespeare) do not consciously understand it. This knowledge is embedded in anti-rational memes, so they act as if they know this, but are actually simply meme-controlled. That is one of the tricks of marriage that keeps Shakespeare so committed to it: a number of anti-rational memes tell him it’s terrific.

Measure for Measure could be a strong critique of marriage that exposes it as the harmful idea it is, contrary to autonomy. However, if Shakespeare understood marriage as such, he would not have clung to it. For instance, he ends the play with more marriages! Marriage as an important part of the social structure is firmly entrenched in Shakespeare’s mind. The Duke himself is caught admitting that love makes people act against reason. Isabella prefers immoral actions inline with the no-premarital-sex commandment to her brother’s life. Marriage, in her view, is more important than ethics! Only an utterly taken in Shakespeare could write this play without realizing what he had revealed. It is fitting that the Duke uses marriage as a punishment to end the play, for it truly is a terrible thing.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blog Revamp

Thanks to Lulie Tanett for help improving the blog colors and design.

FYI I also added some caching, some links on my More page, and some links in the (edited) "I'm an American, atheist, classical liberal, and philosopher. I like Ayn Rand, Karl Popper, William Godwin & Ludwig von Mises." sidebar bio.

And I added *italics*, **bold**, ***bold-italics***, and >quote colors to comments. (Put one or more > at the start of the line for quotes.)

Update: I got a new linode with Debian instead of the very old ubuntu I had. I got new versions of nginx and passenger, and I got rails 2.3 LTS. I migrated from mysql to sqlite3. I added 3 db indexes and enabled gzip compression for nginx. The result: utf8 unicode is now fully supported including emoji in comments! And things should be more secure and a little faster. 😎

Update 2: I added an RSS Feed For Comments. You can now get updated on blog comments with an RSS reader, not just new posts.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (11)

Vanilla and Kink

Someone asked where the line is between vanilla sex and kink. There is no clear or principled line. It varies by subculture and is fluid over time. And the line has a substantial arbitrary, like fasion, trends and fads.

For a subculture, there are:

1) common sex acts ppl consider normal, admit to in public

2) common sex acts ppl are ashamed of, hide

3) uncommon sex acts

So 1 is "vanilla" (normal) and 3 is "kinky" (deviant). 2 is a grey area that people lie about a lot. It's normal, but the official line is it's deviant.

Someone claimed BDSM is kinky. Actually, some significant chunk of BDSM is normal in many subcultures. Some people seem to think BDSM is in category 3. But tons of it is category 2, and some is category 1.

You can see BDSM on mass market TV, for example USA's show Satisfaction.
Neil and Simon legitimize their partnership while Adriana introduces Grace to the world of BDSM.
Among other things, they have like a jail cell built into a house they lock a girl in and then use BDSM toys on her, on the show. It's softcorn pornagraphy meant to arouse its mainstream audience.

And who makes this? Comcast owns the TV channel. Comcast is huge and also owns NBC. Comcast's market cap is $150,000,000,000.

And most of the viewers feel so naughty watching it. That's part of the appeal. It's on fucking mass market tv. It's normal! But they somehow feel it's naughty at the same time.

Keeping things a big deal somehow is part of how ppl keep lasting interest in it. It keeps the excitement. It helps avoid it staleness. Over-hyping the amount of deviance of an activity is one way to keep it seeming like a big deal. It makes it more special, secrative and important.

It wasn't that long ago that, legally, you couldn't rape your wife. Marital rape excemptions ended in all 50 US states in 1993, but different legal treatment of marital and non-marital continues to this day in some states. Yet ppl act like rough sex is a rare, weird preference.

It wasn't that long ago that beatings were common. Beating children. Beating slaves. Beating wives. Is it any surprise at all that these ideas aren't all gone?

It's not like these things stopped b/c ppl were thoroughly persuaded and fully rationally understood something better. They didn't become Objectivists. It got suppressed in various ways, and lots of ppl are half-persuaded. It contradicts some liberal ideas with some popularity, but people don't really understand liberalism that well or thoroughly.

The ppl who are half-persuaded beatings are bad are a great target market for beatings-sex-play. It's toying with an issue they think is important and are conflicted about!

From the female side a bunch of the appeal of BDSM is like "you wouldn't do that. no way. that's off limits. omg u did! that's so intense!"

Some of the male side of BDSM is similar to parents who say "because i said so" and maybe hit their kids now and then. It's getting sex "because i said so", without reasons.

Some of the appeal for both sides is faking reality – pretending he's so great and appealing and dominant and alpha and worthy of submission to. Like a great leader, a great head of household you can trust and follow.

But they are using whips and ropes b/c that's all false and he has trouble getting her to submit, at all, without the props. E.g. he doesn't feel confident she won't stop sex at any moment if she isn't tied up. And she doesn't feel confident he'll keep her in the mood if she isn't tied up. She may want to stop.

Like William Godwin explains, using force is a confession of weakness. That still applies when it's fake.
Let us consider the effect that coercion produces upon the mind of him against whom it is employed. It cannot begin with convincing; it is no argument. It begins with producing the sensation of pain, and the sentiment of distaste. It begins with violently alienating the mind from the truth with which we wish it to be impressed. It includes in it a tacit confession of imbecility. If he who employs coercion against me could mould me to his purposes by argument, no doubt he would. He pretends to punish me because his argument is strong; but he really punishes me because his argument is weak.
Also girls like having no choice about sex. By which I mean pretending they have no choice. And the guys like feeling they have given the girl no choice. That makes them more manly and able to take or get what they want in life.

Things like ropes, beatings and rape fantasies (rape fantasies are very common, but commonly not admitted) help pretend it isn't voluntary. Putting effort into pretending it isn't voluntary is, by the way, such a fucked up thing. It really clashes with liberal values. That's one of the reasons people lie about it in public so much.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (5)

Trump Loves Fossil Fuels

Alex Epstein, founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, sent out a newsletter today:
I’m writing this from the Republican debate in Las Vegas. I will be attending as part of an upcoming campaign to make America’s amazing energy opportunities a central theme of this election. I hope you’re as tired as I am of candidates trying to win on negatives—like Trump’s Tweets or Clinton’s emails—rather than giving us a positive, inspiring vision. In the next couple of weeks you’ll see what I believe America’s future could be with the right policies—and I hope you’ll join me in fighting for it. [emphasis added]
At first I read this as an attack on Donald Trump for writing negative tweets that insult people. I found that surprising because Trump is so good on energy, and Epstein is a one-issue guy (energy, energy, energy). Now I've decided the newsletter is confusing and I don't know what it means. I also find it weird to bring up the emails (a serious crime that ought to land Hillary in jail) next to the tweets.

Whatever Epstein meant, he should be a fan of Donald Trump. He should be gushing about Trump in his newsletter. He should be thrilled and telling me all about Trump's energy policies. Here's why:

Epstein has done such a great job of promoting industrial progress and fossil fuels that people sometimes falsely accuse him of being a paid shill for oil companies. Epstein wrote The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

In Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, Trump presents a positive vision (notice the title) and he talks about energy. Trump comes out for fracking and developing all the US's energy resources. He attacks climate change, solar, wind, tree huggers, cap and trade, and the EPA. Trump emphasizes cost efficient energy, not green or sustainable energy. He says we have plenty of oil and gas underneath the US to last hundreds of years, and we should use it. He's in favor of development, drilling and pipelines. This is a similar message to Epstein's.

Here are quotes from Chapter 6, "The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air", with my emphasis added:
Now these “experts” [on global warming] can’t figure out whether it’s getting too hot or too cold, so the new term is “extreme weather conditions.”
In his 2015 State of the Union speech, President Obama declared the biggest threat on the planet today is climate change. The biggest threat?! We have ISIS troops chopping off the heads of innocent Christian missionaries. We have a coalition of adversaries in Syria supporting a dictator who uses chemical weapons on his own people. We have millions of Americans who have mortgages greater than the value of their property, while middle-class incomes are stagnant and more than 40 million citizens are living at poverty levels.

And our president is most concerned about climate change?
I do agree that so-called global climate change is causing us some problems: It’s causing us to waste billions of dollars to develop technologies we don’t need to fulfill our energy needs.
The truth is, we have sufficient energy supplies in this country to power us into the next century—all we have to do is develop them. Among all the gifts that God gave to America was an abundant supply of natural energy. According to the Department of Energy, the natural gas reserves we have in the ground could supply our energy needs for centuries.
Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas, have estimated we might have two trillion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to last the next 285 years. Technology has changed so much in the last few years that a Goldman Sachs study has estimated that by 2017 or 2018, we could overtake both Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer.

The oil is there for the taking; we just have to take it.
We need to be prepared to drill our own oil. And we need to take advantage of every opportunity, including approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.
One of the main criticisms of the pipeline has been the possibility of oil spills. Even the State Department has said the pipeline will be safe, and far better and safer than the existing system of transport. But mere possibilities shouldn’t prevent progress. You prepare for these situations, taking as many precautions as possible, and when they occur, you clean them up.
Our first priorities need to be approving the Keystone XL Pipeline and starting to drill everywhere oil is accessible.
There has been a big push to develop alternative forms of energy—so-called green energy—from renewable sources. That’s another big mistake. To begin with, the whole push for renewable energy is being driven by the wrong motivation, the mistaken belief that global climate change is being caused by carbon emissions. If you don’t buy that—and I don’t—then what we have is really just an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves.

The most popular source of green energy is solar panels. They work, but they don’t make economic sense. They don’t provide enough energy savings to cover the cost of installing and using them. They are the most highly subsidized form of green energy in America.

Some estimates claim it takes as long as several decades after installing solar panels to get your money back. That’s not exactly what I would call a sound investment.
It’s no secret that I’ve had serious personal issues with the supporters of wind turbines.
The bottom line is that we are going to remain dependent on oil and natural gas to fill our energy needs for a long time into the future. So if we are going to become energy independent, we need to keep drilling. The good news is that we have tremendous supplies of fossil fuels. We just need to decide to go after it.

We need to use every cost-effective method we have available to retrieve these resources. That includes fracking. For those who don’t know, fracking is a technology that involves injecting fluids into shale beds at a very high pressure to free locked-in resources. It makes it possible to recover vast amounts of oil and gas that otherwise can’t be reached through traditional methods.

While New York governor Andrew Cuomo has banned fracking, this technology has created an economic boom in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. There were more jobs created and less unemployment in those areas than practically anywhere else in the country. Upstate New Yorkers would like to replicate that boom in their region, lower taxes, and pay off massive New York State debt.

The bottom line on energy is that until there is a better “alternate” or “green” way of supplying our energy needs, we must put our resources to work for us, and now.
When it comes to energy (and immigration!), there's a lot to like about Donald Trump!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Godwin's Anarchism

William Godwin surpasses David Friedman in his anarchism in some respects. Godwin's fundamental principles do not allow him to think that the Government is good at anything in a privileged way, that force is good for anything that persuasion can't do better (excepting self-defense), or that abolishing Government is a sacrifice in any respect. Friedman thinks we lose something with anarchy but it's worth it; Godwin thinks anarchy is best full stop, that there's no sacrifice. This is very important b/c it ties into Godwin's deep view that there is a right thing which everyone can be happy with in every way, so there's no necessary conflict.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)

Fallibilism

everyone has some mistaken ideas. and some good ideas.

they don't know which are which. some ideas they think are good are actually mistaken. some ideas they think are mistaken are actually good.

so then we can look at lots of a person's ideas and evaluations and ask: what if this one is mistaken? how might they find out? how might they fix it? if they're mistaken and they never find out, that means they won't fix it. is that a big deal?

often it is a big deal, and there's no serious, realistic efforts going into finding out what one is mistaken about.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (17)

Bad iPad Screen Size Scholarship

Displaymate.com has a lengthy article which appears to look at iPads in great detail. It presents itself as a rigorous comparison which a large amount of work was put into. It gives the impression that they dealt with all the details, carefully, so you don't have to. And it presents factual information which you are intended to believe is true.

An example statement they make is,
we examine in-depth the LCD displays on the Apple iPad mini 4, the iPad Air 2, and iPad Pro based on objective Lab measurement data and criteria.
Lab measurements! They sure put a lot of work into getting everything right. Didn't they?

But people suck at dealing with details. They may well have tried hard, but they have presented false information as if it were a fact. Here's the relevant part of their fact chart:



What caught my attention was the claim that iPad Air 2 is 7.8 inches tall while iPad Pro is 7.7 inches wide. I remembered Apple saying the Air's height and Pro's width matched during a presentation about new multitasking features. (As I remember it, Apple basically said you can fit a whole iPad Air on the pro screen and then have an area left over to the side for a second app.)

So I thought, huh, Apple fudged it. I thought they'd present an exact match here, but actually it's just pretty close.

But then I noticed the number of pixels does exactly match. The Air is 2048 pixels tall. The pro is 2048 pixels wide.

And the Pixels Per Inch exactly matches too at 264.

But if you have the same number of pixels, and the same number of pixels per inch, then the number of inches should also match. The chart contradicts itself.

So how many inches is it? Assuming the pixels and pixels per inch are correct then it's: 2048/264.0 = 7.757575 repeating.

So the actual value is between the 7.7 and 7.8 inches given, and a little closer to 7.8. Both numbers should have been rounded up to 7.8 inches since that's closer.

I wouldn't mind so much if both numbers were rounded the same direction, either way. But getting the same number in two adjacent boxes on your chart, and then rounding one up and the other down, is really not OK. This is a factual error caused by a methodology error. Whatever one's policy for rounding numbers, the same policy should be used for the entire article.

I emailed the article author and will update this post if it's fixed. The article did invite comment. As usual, I understand that mistakes can happen. We'll see if he's willing to fix it. Willingness to fix mistakes, or not, is even more important than making mistakes, or not, in the first place.

Update 2015-12-03:

They replied:
You have incorrectly assumed that both displays have exactly the same 264.0 ppi in order to calculate their width and height. This is a technically weak assumption.

We used the published screen size to calculate the width and height. Both methods are subject to a round off error of the Apple published specifications, but ours is the more technically sound one because it only assumes that the displays have square pixels, which is true for all current high-end displays to very high precision.

A 2732x2048 pixel 12.9" screen is 7.74" by 10.32" which is 7.7 x 10.3 as published

A 2048x1536 pixel 9.7" screen is 7.76" by 5.82" which is 7.8 x 5.8 as published
So they did it by assumption, not lab measurement. And they did the calculation using Apple's tenths of diagonal inches number as exact, even though it's easy to guess that's rounded. Basing their numbers directly on Apple's rounded tenths of diagonal inches is not a reasonable way to end up publishing that two things which are basically the same length are a tenth of an inch apart.

The 264 PPI number from Apple is also rounded, but it could still easily be that the displays Apple gives the same PPI number for are actually made in the same way and have the same PPI. PPI is not something Apple would want to manufacture in lots of slightly different variants, they'd prefer reuse. (If Apple was fine with slightly different PPIs, you'd often see PPI numbers that are a couple apart, rather than different by at most a rounding error, but you don't see that in Apple's lineup.)

So I still think DisplayMates are mistaken and their article is unreasonable. And I think it's bad to publish seemingly contradictory numbers without saying the methodology you used so that readers can judge for themselves if it's reasonable. And they've refused to change this.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Game Design and Resource Depletion

Justin Mallone:
    U can get a lot of gaming done on an iPad mini 2 from Walmart
    Very cheap gaming system
Elliot Temple:
    it even runs TOKI TORI
    recccccc
Justin Mallone:
    Is portable
    Dude it runs baldurs gate heh
Elliot Temple:
    ^^
    it runs toki tori with great UI
Justin Mallone:
    Yeah
Elliot Temple:
    it runs baldur's gate with inferior UI
Justin Mallone:
    I should play BG or BG2 on my new iMac sometime
    I also have new shadow run game
Elliot Temple:
    hard to argue with that
Justin Mallone:
    Hehe
Elliot Temple:
    i checked their new bg 1.5 game the other day
    release date unannounced
    says it's like bigger than sword coast + throne of bhaal expansions i think
    > 25 hrs
    not full game size
Justin Mallone:
    Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick
Elliot Temple:
    i haven't even touched IWD EE yet
    i played mb half of iwd when it was new tho
    my bg2 game is still like 70% thru
    haven't played lately
    still interested in using a difficulty and AI mod pack on bg1
    or mb bg2
Justin Mallone:
    And then solo bard?
Elliot Temple:
    or kinda curious about rekking bg2 with solo sorcerer (with mass save/load)
    bard? eww
Justin Mallone:
    Challenge bro!!!!
Elliot Temple:
    challenge is more fun with the best mage spells
Justin Mallone:
    Hehe
    Fair
Elliot Temple:
    half the point is to abuse time stop and simulacrum!!
Justin Mallone:
    :D
Elliot Temple:
    another way to make the games way more fun is to limit resting heavily.
    not just like "only rest in town"
    but actually map out areas ur gonna do in one go
    like this whole dungeon
    or clear these 5 wilderness zones
    and try to do that. without save/load
    one result is u will actually care about bringing 500 potions
    and it makes u manage resources more
    one of the main problems with the game is basically most fights aren't threatening to u to DIE
    they only threaten resources. the tension is: do u use up 3 spells or 4? lose 5 hp or 20hp?
    these differences only matter if ur trying to do a large amount of gameplay on fixed resources
    if u restore resources often, then the easy fights are boring
    btw this is a really common game design issue affecting many games
    lots of games have all/nothing fight outcomes
    u die or u win
    lots of games now just give u instant full hp/mana after every fight or something resaonably close to that
    like in WoW u eat/drink after and ur full shortly
Justin Mallone:
    Yeah
Elliot Temple:
    in diablo ur pretty much full after every fight
    dragon age gives u out of combat hp/mana regen that's large
    so the result with free resources coming back after combat
    is all fights that don't threaten to kill u r boring
    u don't care if it uses 25% or 75% of ur resources
    another result is u rarely ever use resources that don't regen like potions. cuz u don't need to, and they aren't free
    this makes for bad gameplay. diablo has to have things that can kill u in like 2 seconds or less, or u can't really be in danger
    in WoW ur healer can get u from 1% hp to full in like 2 seconds
Justin Mallone:
    It'd be interesting if getting below certain HP like maimed u, so permanent stat hit. And healing resources were scarce. So then there's issue of being more aggressive on healing and using up more scarce resources, vs trying to conserve but risking getting maimed more
Elliot Temple:
    not to mention u can drink a potion, have an instant cast shield put on you by a healer (to protect u during heal casting time), have instant heal for a third of ur hp (not sure), etc
    in general i think u need to really limit resource regen in games, so that dying can happen over a period of, say, 30 seconds, slowly
    as ur resources deplete gradually and u make multiple choices over time
    this requires preventing really ez retreat
    most games only do that on boss fights (lock u in arena)
    in TKoK (rpg i worked on. i worked on design, testing, balance, items, bugfixing. and played a ton), healers can full heal u pretty instantly. but their heals go on cooldown. (in WoW most heals don't go on cooldown).
    a fair amount of deaths are full to dead very fast, esp if u do something dumb, but
    a lot of deaths are b/c of chaos and lots of ppl getting hurt and healer being busy
    and ppl getting out of range of healer, spread out, running around everywhere
    and it gets messy and so some ppl stop getting immediate heals
    and also the healer has to keep a good chunk of his heals going to the tank usually
    when he gets stressed, and distracted healing dps, sometimes tanks fall
    so it allows for things to fall apart over 15s sometimes
    cleric can half dps for about half their life instantly, with 2s cd, and has a bigger heal on 5s cd
    so if ppl are getting hit frequently and tank needs a good amount of the heals, the leftover to keep everyone at full gets limited
    tkok has full resource regen btwn fights
    just makes the fights hard
    has a lot of stuff to prevent retreat including on trash enemies
    so that they aren't boring and can threaten u
    there's other stuff to worry about too
    like some boss fights have time limits, so u have to keep dpsing
    or like they can have a specific part where a bunch of enemies spawn
    and u need a lot of aoe dps fast or u'll die
    and u have to manage aggro (which enemies attack who). basically u want tank to aggro everything
    if certain trash enemies attack a non-tank
    they will kill him in a few seconds
    it's really harsh later in the game
    so there's different ways to die or get hit, e.g. standing in enemy aoe spell zones, or not managing aggro properly, or there's some basically unavoidable dmg that can hit non-tank, but is low enough not to kill, but needs prompt healing to be safe
    managing aggro well often requires good positioning. if dps all just stands wherever and shoots, and enemies can walk up from different sides, can be real hard for tank
    if they can kinda get in back in a corner, then it's much easier to keep enemies off them
    tkok2 had default AI aggro instead of a system based on who damaged something (with tanks having a large bonus multiplier, so their hits do the most aggro even tho dmg is low)
    and that was cool too
    u'd use chokepoints to force enemies onto the tank
    there was a boss fight where u'd go squish ur dps behind some rocks and there's openings on both ends, but other than the 2 ppl at openings u can keep them safe (mostly. there's ranged enemies)
    lots of times there were many different spells to worry about dodging at once
    like a boss had a splash dmg melee attack in front of him (short range cone) and rotated (so like melee dps who walk up and hit him have to watch out for rotations), and had a longer range shockwave that would 1shot most ppl and he'd do that in random directions sometimes, and had a starfall (it'd just pick random spots in boss zone and send down a thing that does dmg with a short warning graphic. it would do several of these per second, so there's usually some going off near u)
    and then sometimes he'd do his big spell where it turns the battlefield dark and makes pillars of light
    and u have to get into the pillars. ONE PLAYER PER PILLAR and there's no extras
    and u have a few seconds to do this or u die
    if u share a pillar u both die
    so ppl have to be good at coordinating – don't run to same pillar.
    and have to be spread out b4 it starts
    and meanwhile the range on heals is like 40% of the size of the boss fight area
    so ppl going everywhere are often away from teh healer
    and then meanwhile there's 3 minibosses who the tank aggros and runs around the fight in a circle the entire time
    (there's a bonus goal for better loot of not killing them)
    and they each have spells, and u have to also worry about not hitting them with splash dmg cuz they dont' have that much hp, and dont' ehal
    the tank in theory doesn't have to run circles, but if he stands still he'll take tons of dmg from them and it'll eat up most of the healer's healing
    tanks would actually swap on faster movement speed gear for this fight, at the cost of armor/hp, in order to outrun them better. taking fewer hits that way worked better than being more tanky
    it's common for fights to have several things that are quite hard to dodge but do maybe 1/3 or 1/2 of ur hp, and then some things that are somewhat easier to dodge and less common but will 1shot most ppl.
    and to have phase changes. different parts of the fight. either a progression, or a cycle.
    and being prepared for the changes, not taken by surprise, really helps with dodging
    another thing that adds complexity and skill is defensive cooldowns
    like ways to reduce incoming dmg temporarily, but which u can only use infrequently
    like 25% dmg reduction for 5s, with 90s cooldown
    was a potion
    this is another way to allow things to fall apart over time
    as ppl get a lot of resources like that on cooldown
    WoW has that too. has lots of longer cooldown spells and items that are great. some are defensive.
    another thing we had that WoW doesn't do much (or at all? not sure) is shared cooldowns
    hp and mana potions use the same cooldown
    and mana potions are a big deal
    commonly used
    so if u ever use hp pot for emergency, ur losing out on some mana
    and if u drink mana constantly, ur hp pot isn't even available to use most of the time
    the 25% dmg reduction pot shared cd with a dmg boost pot and a speed boost pot
    and this led to interesting gear choices
    for example some fights have movement speed requirements to deal with certain things
    and u can either wear enough permanent move speed (at cost of dps, hp, mana, etc)
    OR you can be too slow but use ur consumables to cover up that weakness
    for mana vs hp pots, u can wear extra mana regen gear (giving up a bit of dps or hp. or move speed, or some other things)
    so that u'll have hp pots available more
    warriors and healers did this a lot
    whereas dps would rely on mana potions more, and not have heal pot safety much
    another thing was lots of gear had negative stats
    so instead of like having lots of extra in various categories
    as is common in most games
    u could actually manage the amount of each resource u need
    like if ur willing to play with small mana pool, u can have more hp
    rather than just having plenty of mana and no choices about it
    u could give up whatever mana, hp, speed, armor, etc, u thot was extra to get more dps or other resource
    it was common for ppl to play with significant amounts of negative hp regeneration
    so that's another thing that woudl stress healers lol
    b/c ppl wanted to be losing 2.5% of their max hp per second
    in order to do more dps
    ppl would adjust gear for different bosses tho and for trash
    like u can't have that kinda hp degen on some fights
    too suicidal
    but u can on others
    degen + higher max hp is actually safer for some things
    if u can get ur hp high enuf, u can hit breakpoitns
    like turn some 1shots into 2shots
    or turn some 2shots into 3shots
    or 3shots into 4shots
    (u might think etc. but after those 3 cases, who cares. after that it's just more hp is better, not really breakpoints tho)
    the first 2 breakpoitns are the main one
    being able to live thru something at full hp. or being able to get hit by 2 of something from full instead of only 1
    being able to live thru 3 of something btwn heals also matters sometimes. beyond that, ur not counting exact hits in that way
    note that accepting hp degeneration for more dps is not necessarily greedy or risky play
    if u win a boss fight in 4min instead of 5min, u just arguably reduced ur chance of fucking up and dying by 20%
    if u made the fight 5% more difficult due to the degeneration, than maybe ur coming out safer – that is, will succeed in 80 out of 100 attempts with degen, and 75 out of 100 with the longer fight.
    more dps also adds safety in situations like: boss spawns extra minions temporarily. the faster u kill them, the safer.
    and it adds safety on bosses with time limits. (which are usually soft – meaning it slowly, gradually gets harder over time)
    the tradeoffs are fun. ppl decide things like: exactly how much movement speed do i need here? and try to aim for not too much or too little.
    in most games either u can't control that, or u basically just maximize it.
    u never go like "ok well i think i can play with 20% less than default move speed and get away with it. i'll take some more hp instead."
    on my healer i'd intentinoally run extra hp and move speed and mana regen so i could go save ppl who fucked up
    could run thru danger zone fast and heal them while taking hits myself
    and have hp pot ready, cuz not using mana pots
    i think most dps cut too many corners for dmg
    and overall wasn't worth it. ppl too greedy
    the cost of any deaths is super high
    however i'm partly biased b/c i'm good at playing long fights without fucking up
    good at playing very consistently and correctly without having a concentration lapse
    whereas most ppl were worse at that, so benefitted more from being greedy to try to make fights shorter
    also extra defense matters more if u know the game better and play in a more organized way
    the more u control the situations, the more u can know what the threats are and what defensive will actually work to address it
    whereas if ur play is more chaotic, then more defense MIGHT help, but lots of times it won't save u anyway
    the more everything is carefully managed, the more u can keep things in situations where specific extra defenses actually make the difference
    the issue with long fights (e.g. 20min) and ppl messing up after a while isn't just stuff like concentration
    it's also things like: what is their strategy for dealing with X threat or Y spell?
    and ppl will have strategies that have small risks. work like 97% of the time when done right.
    and so in longer fights, the chance of something going wrong when u keep rolling those dice gets reasonable sized
    whereas i'd more often work out strategies to deal with stuff that are more than 99% safe if u don't make a mistake
    so in a longer fight, if i don't make a mistake, the odds of bad luck remain quite low
Justin Mallone:
    >another thing we had that WoW doesn't do much (or at all? not sure) is shared cooldowns
Elliot Temple:
    i think it has some
    like
    medium hp pot and greater hp pot
    would share cd
    stuff like that
    but idk about any serious choices like tkok has
    where it's like speed pot vs dmg reduction pot vs dmg boost pot on shared cd
Justin Mallone:
    Witcher has something like this kinda. Pre-battle potion prep big part of Witcher universe lore. anyways u can use several different pots but they add to ur toxicity level. Start getting various penalties if u use too many
Elliot Temple:
    that's just an overall resource limit
    that's the same as D&D spells
    where memorizing spells b4 a battle is big part of game
    but ur blocked from having too many
    witcher toxicity is soft limit (increasing penalties as u go higher). D&D spell memorization is hard cap. but basically same thing.
Justin Mallone:
    It's not a literal hard number of seconds cool down I guess. More like a soft cool down. ur toxicity goes down over time tho so similar effect u kno
Elliot Temple:
    (i assume @ toxicity. not actually familiar)
    a global limit can be interesting but
    pretty different than having small groups of things to choose btwn
Justin Mallone:
    Oh heh u guessed what i wrote

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

STD Scholarship

Scholarship for STD risks and test accuracy is extremely bad. The information on this topic is awful.

One paper on HSV IgG (herpes, many cases of which are called "cold sores") testing stood out to me because it had a good section:
Summary of Test
1. Prepare 1:51 dilutions of Calibrator(s), Controls and samples in the test set Diluent. Mix well.
2. Place 100 μl of the dilutions in the Coated Wells; reserve one well for the reagent blank.
3. Incubate at room temperature for 30 ± 5 minutes.
4. Drain wells thoroughly. Wash wells 4 times with Wash Solution and drain.
5. Place 2 drops (or 100 μl) of Conjugate in wells.
6. Incubate at room temperature for 30 ± 5 minutes.
7. Drain wells thoroughly. Wash wells 4 times with Wash Solution and drain.
8. Place 2 drops (or 100 μl) of Substrate in wells.
9. Incubate at room temperature for 30 ± 5 minutes.
10. Stop the enzyme reaction with 2 drops (or 100 μl) of Stop Reagent.
11. Read absorbance at 405 nm against reagent blank.
It's great to specify details like washing 4 times and the 5 minute error margins on incubation times.

This is much better than most "scientific" papers I've seen which do not give repeatable procedures for doing the experiment with this sort of detail. I think maybe it's because herpes testing is actually repeated a lot (to test many different people), whereas most scientific experiments are only done once or a few times.

No excuses though. All science should meet this sort of standard or higher. (Honestly it's really not that hard or amazing. This shouldn't be unusual.)

But later the paper says something awful:
A negative serological test does not exclude the possibility of past infection. Following primary HSV infection, antibody may fall to undetectable levels and then be boosted by later clinical infection with the same, or heterologous virus type. Such an occurrence may lead to incorrect interpretations of seroconversion and primary infection, or negative antibody status. [my emphasis]
Heterologous is a prestigious word meaning, basically, it's a different strain of the virus.

So they are saying something may later be boosted by infection with the same virus or a different virus. Why would you say it could be either the same or different? And why present that like it's a fancy, complex point requiring sophisticated and hard-to-read language? They are using fancy words like "heterologous" but I think they didn't really think through what they are actually trying to say. The content is confused and confusing.

And the comma after "the same" is incorrect grammar. They're trying to write in a fancy way but are getting the basics wrong. This is written to impress and intimidate people, not to communicate.

The authors are more interested in sounding like smart medical researches than actually communicating effectively.

This reminds me of a Richard Feynman story:
There was a sociologist who had written a paper for us all to read – something he had written ahead of time. I started to read the damn thing, and my eyes were coming out: I couldn’t make head nor tail of it! I figured it was because I hadn’t read any of the books on that list. I have this uneasy feeling of “I’m not adequate,” until finally I said to myself, “I’m gonna stop, and read one sentence slowly, so I can figure out what the hell it means.”

So I stopped – at random – and read the next sentence very carefully. I can’t remember it precisely, but it was very close to this: “The individual member of the social community often receives his information via visual, symbolic channels.” I went back and forth over it, and translated. You know what it means? “People read.”
Another interesting part of the paper was the data that around 70% of adults have herpes (and another roughly 15% test ambiguous, and 15% negative). This is in line with other sources I've seen. The result is that most STD testing skips herpes (unless there's a visible lesion), even though it's a common STD! Many doctors discourage blood tests for herpes. Some clinics or government run healthcare services don't do herpes blood testing at all, or refuse it to most people. People sort of act like herpes is too common to worry about, so just don't make any effort to avoid infection. No doubt this attitude contributes to so many people having herpes. (You may want to consider getting a herpes test. Herpes is contagious some of the time even if you have no visible sores.)

On a related note, many people who "get tested" for STDs don't even pay attention to which STDs they've been tested for. Lots of people are promiscuous without giving much thought to what STDs exist, what tests exist, how good the tests are, how long things take to show up on the tests with what accuracy, etc. (People are also extremely reckless about believing their partners' claims about safety. People lie to their spouses about their sexual activities, so believing someone you're hooking up with – who has to say how safe s/he is to get laid – is pretty foolish.)

Many people also think if they use a condom that is "safe sex" and they don't really have to worry about anything. This is stupid and dangerous. Using condoms doesn't make you immune or take away the value of thinking about what you're doing, researching STDs, etc. (I think one of the reasons STD information is so bad is that no one cares. People don't try to research this stuff in any kind of reasonable way. At most they just find some doctor saying don't worry about something, or assume percentages over 90 are high, and go back to their social life. For example, lots of people seem to think 97% is a high and safe accuracy for an HIV test. I'm not even joking. For fucking HIV, 97% is not something to treat as plenty safe!)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (0)

Daring Fireball Misquotes Yankees

Apple blog Daring Fireball posted bad scholarship today:
YANKEES PRESIDENT CALLS COMCAST ‘GUTLESS’

DSLreports:
“It’s a typical gutless act by a cable carrier seeking to promote its own self-interest,” Levine told the NY Daily News. “This amounts to nothing more than a money grab. Comcast, who said it had an agreement in principle with YES, is saving millions of dollars now by not airing YES in the offseason.”
Calling one of Comcast's acts gutless is not calling Comcast gutless.

This kind of sloppiness with the facts is inexcusable. I know it's not the most serious, scholarly blog in the first place, but that's no excuse for misquoting people. And it's a news site which gets access to some Apple press conference invites and review units of new products, so it should at least not post things which are blatantly, factually false.

The false Daring Fireball title is a truncated version of the linked article's title which has the same mistake. So DSL Reports also messed up too, but that's no excuse.

I contacted Daring Fireball about the error and will update this post if it's fixed or there's a response.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comment (1)

Ann Coulter Mini Biography Article

I enjoyed this mini biography article about Ann Coulter. Read it! I even updated my Fear of Future Employers post with a quote from it.

There was one really bad part that stood out to me. Coulter's father used ~$200,000 as a bludgeon to sabotage her writing career. Sighhhhhhhhh :((((((
After Cornell, Coulter wanted to postpone law school to try to become a conservative writer, but knowing the reality of making a living being as controversial as a lion killer, her father said, "That's fine, but I'm not paying for it if you put it off." So off she went to law school.
Parents are so controlling and awful.

After this, Coulter could easily have never become a writer. She could have easily gotten stuck in law jobs she didn't like. Her wonderful career was put in jeopardy, by her own parent, to protect her employability in a profession she didn't really want to be in.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Comments (2)