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Kaj Sotala
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You can get very different results when trying to answer the same research question using the same dataset:

> Twenty-nine teams involving 61 analysts used the same data set to address the same research question: whether soccer referees are more likely to give red cards to dark-skin-toned players than to light-skin-toned players. Analytic approaches varied widely across the teams, and the estimated effect sizes ranged from 0.89 to 2.93 (Mdn = 1.31) in odds-ratio units. Twenty teams (69%) found a statistically significant positive effect, and 9 teams (31%) did not observe a significant relationship. Overall, the 29 different analyses used 21 unique combinations of covariates. [...] These findings suggest that significant variation in the results of analyses of complex data may be difficult to avoid, even by experts with honest intentions. Crowdsourcing data analysis, a strategy in which numerous research teams are recruited to simultaneously investigate the same research question, makes transparent how defensible, yet subjective, analytic choices influence research results.
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There's a common narrative about confidence that says that confidence is good, insecurity is bad. It's better to develop your confidence than to be insecure. There's an obvious truth to this.

But what that narrative does not acknowledge, and what both a person struggling with insecurity and their well-meaning friends might miss, is that that insecurity may be in place for a reason.

You might not notice it online, but I've usually been pretty timid and insecure in real life. But this wasn't always the case. There were occasions earlier in my life when I was less insecure, more confident in myself.

I was also pretty horrible at things like reading social nuance and figuring out when and why someone might be offended. So I was given, repeatedly, the feedback that my behavior was bad and inappropriate.

Eventually a part of me internalized that as "I'm very likely to accidentally offend the people around me, so I should be very cautious about what I say, ideally saying nothing at all".

This was, I think, the correct lesson to internalize at that point! It shifted me more into an observer mode, allowing me to just watch social situations and learn more about their dynamics that way. I still don't think that I'm great at reading social nuance, but I'm at least better at it than I used to be.

And there have been times since then when I've decided that I should act with more confidence, and just get rid of the part that generates the insecurity. I've been about to do something, felt a sense of insecurity, and walked over the feeling and done the thing anyway.

Sometimes this has had good results. But often it has also led to things blowing up in my face, with me inadvertently hurting someone and leaving me feeling guilty for months afterwards.

Turns out, that feeling of insecurity wasn't a purely bad thing. It was throwing up important alarms which I chose to ignore, alarms which were sounding because it recognized my behavior as matching previous behavior which had had poor consequences.

Yes, on many occasions that part of me makes me way too cautious. And it would be good to moderate that caution a little. But the same part which generates the feelings of insecurity is the same part which is constantly working to model other people and their experience, their reactions to me. The part that is doing its hardest to make other people feel safe and comfortable around me, to avoid doing things that would make them feel needlessly hurt or upset or unsafe, and to actively let them know that I'm doing this.

Just carving out that part would be a mistake. A moral wrong, even.

The answer is not to get rid of it. The answer is to integrate its cautions better, to keep it with me as a trusted friend and ally - one which feels safe enough about getting its warnings listened to, that it will not scream all the time just to be heard.
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> He later in the talk summarized these three approaches/attitudes, particularly as they relate to understanding injustice and oppression, as:

> • Phenomenology is about sympathizing with the enemy.
> • Critical theory is about uncovering the enemy's hiding places.
> • Structuralism/deconstruction is about realizing we are the enemy.

> [...] consequently, people operating in these philosophical modes [...] tend to see those operating in the other philosophical modes as morally compromised or corrupt. Or more specificially complicit with systems of oppression (and this part went by too fast for me to write it all down, so I think I'm missing some of the juicy details):

> • The phenomenological approach can look to critical theorists and structuralists like pathological excuse-making for the privileged and moral passivity.
> • The critical theory approach can look to the phenomenologists and structuralists like a pathological sanctimonious and vengeful identifying with victimhood.
> • The structuralist approach can look to phenomenologists and critical theorists like a pathological scrupulousity and preoccupation with personal guilt/shame/culpability/impurity.

> [...] these faults are ones that each of these respective philosophical approaches can "slide into", and that these three philosophical approaches work together, by their tensions, to keep one another honest. That by their mutual critiques, they course-correct one another.
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At least one person on my friends list is reporting that this happened to him, too. Don't install the latest Windows 10 update yet.

> Microsoft released its latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update earlier this week, but some users are reporting serious issues. Threads on Reddit, Microsoft’s own support site, and other forums show that some Windows 10 users are upgrading to the October 2018 Update and having their documents, photos, or even entire user profiles wiped out. While some have discovered a temporary fix for the issue, it’s not clear why exactly this is happening.

> Microsoft has not started automatically pushing this latest update out to Windows Update, so only people that visit Windows Update manually and check for updates will get it installed right now. Still, the fact a number of people are reporting these issues is alarming. Microsoft is currently investigating the reports, but given these early issues we’d recommend not installing the Windows 10 October 2018 Update right now. If you do want to take the risk, make sure you’ve got all your documents and data backed up just in case you’re affected by this particular bug.
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> Dull talks at conferences can feel interminable. Or could it be that they really do go on for longer?

> I investigated this idea at a meeting where speakers were given 12-minute slots. I sat in on 50 talks for which I recorded the start and end time. I decided whether the talk was boring after 4 minutes, long before it became apparent whether the speaker would run overtime. The 34 interesting talks lasted, on average, a punctual 11 minutes and 42 seconds. The 16 boring ones dragged on for 13 minutes and 12 seconds (thereby wasting a statistically significant 1.5 min; t-test, t = 2.91, P = 0.007). For every 70 seconds that a speaker droned on, the odds that their talk had been boring doubled. For the audience, this is exciting news. Boring talks that seem interminable actually do go on for longer.

> To avoid banality, speakers should introduce their objectives early on and focus on pertinent information. They should avoid trite explanations, repetition, getting bogged down by irrelevant minutiae and passing off common knowledge as fresh insight.
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The replication crisis: in ecology too.

> What can males wear to look sexier? For zebra finches, the trick seemed simple: add a dash of red to their legs. Research conducted in the 1980s found that slipping red bands onto the legs of male birds turned them into sex magnets. Those studies became iconic in sexual selection research because they provided something rare in the discipline: strong, consistent effects. But data accumulated in recent years question these influential findings. [...]

> But researchers’ inability to replicate past findings isn’t limited to Burley’s iconic zebra finch studies. In the past five years, meta-analyses and reviews have generated more evidence of bias in ecology and evolutionary biology research. For example, biases have been found in the literature on ideas such as feather color affecting mate choice in blue tits and black bib sizes indicating male dominance in house sparrows. As with zebra finch leg bands, such biases don’t necessarily invalidate the hypotheses themselves, but undermine the strength of evidence for them, leaving researchers questioning concepts once considered well-supported. While scientists disagree on the extent of the reproducibility problem—which exists across disciplines, from psychology to cancer biology—they have begun to undertake efforts to reduce bias and improve transparency in ecology and evolution research. [...]

> In 2016, Forstmeier teamed up with Whitman College ecologist Timothy Parker and colleagues to review selective reporting and transparency in ecology and evolutionary biology literature. A sample of meta-analyses that examined 279 studies from 1970 to 2012 found that more than half of the studies failed to disclose full details of the experiments’ results and statistics. Moreover, given the typically small sample sizes in these fields, studies should average only a 20 percent chance of detecting a real effect, one that is not due to chance. But more than 70 percent of ecology and environmental studies reported significant results.

> In addition to being small, sample sizes are often not predetermined, the team found. Instead, researchers frequently continue taking data until they get the desired result. This so-called “flexible stopping rule” is a bad statistical practice that “dramatically increases the chance of a false-positive result,” says Parker. Both he and Forstmeier were taught the flexible stopping rule and considered it sound methodological advice until recent years.

> Alternatively, researchers may collect as much data as possible, then sift through the data for patterns, Parker says. But such an approach leads to a lot of selective reporting, he notes. “To have a good story often means you only tell the story of a part of your data.”
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Tiger vs. lion is the original "who would win, Batman or Superman":

> 18th-century naturalists and authors compared the species' characters, generally in favor of the lion.[148] Oliver Goldsmith ranked the lion first among carnivorous mammals, followed by the tiger, which in his view "seems to partake of all the noxious qualities of the lion, without sharing any of his good ones. To pride, courage and strength, the lion joins greatness, clemency and generosity; but the tiger is fierce without provocation, and cruel without necessity."[149] Charles Knight, writing in The English Cyclopaedia, disparaged the opinions of naturalists Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and Thomas Pennant in this context, stating "the general herd of authors who eulogise the 'courage, greatness, clemency and generosity' of the lion, contrasting it with the unprovoked ferocity, unnecessary cruelty and poltroonery of the tiger, becomes ridiculous, though led by such names as Buffon and Pennant."[148]

> * English literature compared their battle strengths.[150] The poets Edmund Spenser, Allan Ramsey, and Robert Southey described lion victories.[150] In the view of a 19th-century literary critic, these contests established "sovereignty of the animal world."[150]
> * According to John Hampden Porter (1894, page 176), Lockington said that the jaguar reigned 'supreme' as the "terror of the forest," and that this applied to the lion and tiger in the 'desert' and 'jungle', respectively.[6]

> In the Hindu epic Mahabharata, Narada told Srinjaya that tigers were fiercer and more ruthless than lions.[151] This is in contrast with other literature from ancient India, which prefers the lion to the tiger. For example, Vedic literature depicted the lion, rather than the tiger, as the "king of the forest."[152]

> The lion and tiger rival each other in Iranian literature.[128] For example, Humphreys and Kahrom, in their 1999 book Lion and Gazelle: The Mammals and Birds of Iran, treated them as the "two greatest and most beautiful" of Iranian carnivores, albeit being extinct there. As with the lion,[3] the tiger's Persian name was used for people and places.[14]
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> For decades, people talked about “the gene for height”, “the gene for intelligence”, etc. Was the gene for intelligence on chromosome 6? Was it on the X chromosome? What happens if your baby doesn’t have the gene for intelligence? Can they still succeed?

> Meanwhile, the responsible experts were saying traits might be determined by a two-digit number of genes. Human Genome Project leader Francis Collins estimated that there were “about twelve genes” for diabetes, and “all of them will be discovered in the next two years”. Quanta Magazine reminds us of a 1999 study which claimed that “perhaps more than fifteen genes” might contribute to autism. By the early 2000s, the American Psychological Association was a little more cautious, was saying intelligence might be linked to “dozens – if not hundreds” of genes.

> The most recent estimate for how many genes are involved in complex traits like height or intelligence is approximately “all of them” – by the latest count, about twenty thousand. [...] Late-90s/early-00s psychiatry was a lot like late-90s/early-00s genetics. The public was talking about “the cause” of depression: serotonin. And the responsible experts were saying oh no, depression might be caused by as many as several different things.

> Now the biopsychosocial model has caught on and everyone agrees that depression is complicated. I don’t know if we’re still at the “dozens of things” stage or the “hundreds of things stage”, but I don’t think anyone seriously thinks it’s fewer than a dozen. [...]

> One possible lesson [for psychiatry and science in general] is: there are more causes than you think. Stop looking for “a cause” or “the ten causes” and start figuring out ways to deal with very numerous causes.
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Tradition is Smarter Than You Are: numerous excerpts from a book discussing how various peoples follow traditions which seem unnecessary and whose purpose you might never understand if individuals within the culture tried to figure them out - but which nonetheless people have somehow converged on, making them more successful as a result.

> In the Americas, where manioc was first domesticated, societies who have relied on bitter varieties for thousands of years show no evidence of chronic cyanide poisoning. In the Colombian Amazon, for example, indigenous Tukanoans use a multistep, multiday processing technique that involves scraping, grating, and finally washing the roots in order to separate the fiber, starch, and liquid. Once separated, the liquid is boiled into a beverage, but the fiber and starch must then sit for two more days, when they can then be baked and eaten. [...]

> ... one person would have a difficult time figuring out the detoxification technique. Consider the situation from the point of view of the children and adolescents who are learning the techniques. They would have rarely, if ever, seen anyone get cyanide poisoning, because the techniques work. And even if the processing was ineffective, such that cases of goiter (swollen necks) or neurological problems were common, it would still be hard to recognize the link between these chronic health issues and eating manioc. [...]

> ... if one did the common-sense thing and just boiled the high-cyanogenic manioc, everything would seem fine. [...] consider what might result if a self-reliant Tukanoan mother decided to drop any seemingly unnecessary steps from the processing of her bitter manioc. [...] Adopting this easier protocol, she would have more time for other activities, like caring for her children. Of course, years or decades later her family would begin to develop the symptoms of chronic cyanide poisoning. [...]

> Perhaps it’s actually rather easy to individually figure out the detoxification steps for manioc? [...] At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Portuguese transported manioc from South America to West Africa for the first time. [...] manioc spread rapidly across Africa and became a staple food for many populations. The processing techniques, however, were not readily or consistently regenerated. Even after hundreds of years, chronic cyanide poisoning remains a serious health problem in Africa. [...]

> The point here is that cultural evolution is often much smarter than we are. [...] Though these complex repertoires appear well designed to meet local challenges, they are not primarily the products of individuals applying causal models, rational thinking, or cost-benefit analyses. Often, most or all of the people skilled in deploying such adaptive practices do not understand how or why they work, or even that they “do” anything at all. Such complex adaptations can emerge precisely because natural selection has favored individuals who often place their faith in cultural inheritance—in the accumulated wisdom implicit in the practices and beliefs derived from their forbearers—over their own intuitions and personal experiences.
Tradition is Smarter Than You Are
Tradition is Smarter Than You Are
scholars-stage.blogspot.com
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A broken boat in the middle of a forest, asking whoever sees it to try again. Try what again? Presumably the thing that the previous boat-owner failed at. And what was that? Sailing through a forest? Is this boat from a time hundreds of thousands of years ago, when this place was under water? How did it survive to this day, and with English writing? The mind boggles. I feel like I am standing in a scene from Myst.
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19/09/2018
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