Morning Ed: Science {2016.10.26.W}

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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50 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Saturn: obviously this is caused by “global warming”. But not on Saturn. On the Earth. How can this be? I’m not sure, but all I constantly hear is that X is caused by global warming or made worse by it. If such a power forced can change our planet’s climate, no doubt is can do the same for another planets! Now humans are contributing to the destruction of the ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEM.

    IOS Paper. God, if I had the time, I’d love to do this. Perhaps when I retire. Kudos.

    “The upshot is that even putative scientists can drive a coach and horses through the conclusions of some studies that we are alerted to, but, and this is most of the time, too late to prevent the scare headlines that the current crop of credulous “journalists” assign to the over-hyped press releases university press departments produce as a result of humdrum and “me too” studies.

    It’s time it was stopped. ” Damn rightReport

    • Avatar InMD says:

      I think the science issue has to do with a combination of broad ignorance about how science works and the incentives of those who write about it. Few people understand the context and limitations on what we can understand from any given study. Getting into that level of detail for a journalist is also both hard and has no relation to number of clicks or whatever else is driving their compensation.Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    The moon may be getting slammed more than we thought, but as long as its doing its job of regulating the tides, nobody’s going to tell it go go to a meeting or anything.

    We had Planet 9 when I was a kid. But then they kicked it out. Now they want a replacement? What celestial body would want that job now?

    “What the election would look like if only halogens could vote”

    David Dorn’s esaay was the plot of a Henrik Ibsen play. I’m glad Dorn had a happier ending. (neg results helped a lot)Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      We had Planet 9 when I was a kid. But then they kicked it out. Now they want a replacement? What celestial body would want that job now?

      If you will forgive a serious reply, I recommend the book “How I Killed Pluto, and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown. Brown is the astronomer that found the trans-Pluto object that forced the issue. He lays out pretty clearly the reasoning behind the reclassification. It is a light read, aimed at a general readership.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Dorn:

    Well, grant money comes with strings, explicit or implied…Report

  4. Avatar Chris says:

    Sent a link to the article on the autocompleted physics article to a friend the other day, and he responded, “I know that somewhere there is a room full of monkeys with typewriters who are utterly heartbroken now.”Report

  5. Avatar notme says:

    AP Explains: Why African states have started leaving the ICC

    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/10/26/ap-explains-why-african-states-have-started-leaving-icc.html

    I wonder if this will be a trend?Report

  6. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    In the fairness studies, particularly the one with kids accepting or rejecting unequal distributions of candy, one thing really stuck out to me: They spend quite a lot of ink speculating as to why children might reject advantage, but one thing they don’t appear to have done is ask the kids why they chose as they did.

    Something something social science “real” science something inadequacy complex…Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Well, the kids are obviously inherently racist, so there’s no use asking them anything. They’ll just lie and tell you they aren’t racist, which is what the really nasty racists do.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Well, ya know, when a fluid system I am studying does something, I can’t ask it why it did that. I have to tease it out through observation, non-destructive testing, and destructive testing.

      So obviously we need to watch the kids, then put them in an MRI, and if we still can’t figure it out, toss them into the woodchipper so we can study the little pieces.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    RE: Fairness

    “In recent years, of course, Western societies have been wrestling with the problem of rising inequality—an irony on which the researchers choose not to dwell.”

    The irony is much less apparent when you figure that maybe a person who has low wealth but still has a house and a car and a smartphone, clean clothes, pest-free housing, safe food and water(*); this person isn’t really unequal to a high-wealth person, in the way that people mean when they say “inequality causes social strife”.

    The low-wealth person might be less able to handle the vagaries and random crises of life–like, rather than throw money at a problem, they have to either just accept it or choose a less-palatable option–but they aren’t at immediate daily risk of death due to deprivation.

    (*) yes, I know about Flint. Its relevance to this post is that it’s an outlier, not the norm; we are shocked and worried by lead contamination because we assume as a matter of course that our water isn’t contaminated.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I recall reading an article called “you are the 1 %”, which basically put a new spin on that movement a while back. The entire western world is the 1% when compared to the rest of the globe.Report

    • Avatar Pillsy says:

      The way they’re treated by law enforcement are likely to be very different, and in both theory and practice that sort of treatment is likely to drive a lot of social strife. And since a lot of the ability to handle the negative attention of law enforcement with minimal disruption of one’s life boils down to being able to throw money at the problem, in terms of posting bail, hiring defense attorneys, and paying fines, with the consequences of not doing so frequently including prolonged loss of one’s liberty, employment, and health….Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        So, like I said. The low-wealth person might be less able to handle the vagaries and random crises of life, but they aren’t at immediate daily risk of death due to deprivation.

        But you’re posting like you’re disagreeing with me…?Report

        • Avatar Pillsy says:

          You go from saying that the poor aren’t at imminent risk of death (generally true) to saying that this means the inequality won’t lead to strife (far from obvious).

          There’s a ton of reason to believe that the other things I mentioned, from loss of employment to increased police harassment to high rates of imprisonment are exactly the sorts of things that do cause strife.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            Yes, and I did actually give a reason why I think that, rather than just slamming my meat on the table and expecting everyone to go “aaaaahhhh”.

            Please note: When you argue that “irrespective of whether basic needs for immediate security are fulfilled, wealth inequality will lead to strife”, you are arguing that poor people are immature and violent, driven by envy, with no concept of society beyond “either I get the same stuff as everyone else or I smash it all!

            You don’t seem like the sort of person who would want to be the sort of person who makes that sort of argument.

            Although, to bring it back to the actual article, maybe people do think like that. I’d enjoy seeing a similar study broken up by “classmate versus stranger”, “neighbor versus stranger”, etcetera.Report

            • Avatar Pillsy says:

              DensityDuck:
              Yes, and I did actually give a reason why I think that, rather than just slamming my meat on the table and expecting everyone to go “aaaaahhhh”.

              Am I mistaken that your argument is that if people aren’t faced with death by starvation or exposure, or some equivalent existential threat, they won’t engage in strife?

              Please note: When you argue that “irrespective of whether basic needs for immediate security are fulfilled, wealth inequality will lead to strife”, you are arguing that poor people are immature and violent, driven by envy, with no concept of society beyond “either I get the same stuff as everyone else or I smash it all!

              I am not arguing that. I am arguing that unaccountable, arbitrary and hostile law enforcement poses a threat to basic security, and poor people are frequently subjected to that.

              That being said, even if I were making that argument, I think its implications are much weaker than you imply. You hardly need everybody, or even most people, deciding to smash it all for it to cause very serious problems, and you don’t need to assume that poor people have an unusual propensity for that sort of behavior to think that more poor people will react that way based on the different incentives they’re presented with.

              Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              just slamming my meat on the table and expecting everyone to go “aaaaahhhh”

              This place is becoming anything but Ordinary.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              It seems to me you two are using very different definitions of “strife”.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Fairness…

    “If you live in a society where ideas of fairness and equality hold a privileged position, then it becomes meaningful to show yourself as embracing those ideals, even at personal cost. Those around you might feel that, since you’re the type of person who believes in equity no matter what, you’re valuable to society, and worthy of respect.”

    So the kids are signaling? Ugh.

    I’d be curious to know the age of the children. I didn’t see that noted (though did more skimming than reading of the article).

    Yes, they should have asked the kids why they did what they did. That wouldn’t necessarily actually tell us why they did what they did, but it would give some insight into telling us why they thought they did what they did.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      She’s speculating, and not sticking very close to the data while doing so.

      In the Sheskin et al paper, they don’t mention anything about talking to the kids (though I highly suspect that they did, knowing how developmental psychologists work), but the most interesting conditions in that paper are the ones in which kids will take a sort of penalty for coming out ahead of other kids. So, for example, they can have either 2 pieces of candy while the other kid gets 2, or they can have 1 piece of candy while the other kid gets 0. Under 7, they tend to pick the 1 to 0 rather than the 2 to 2. Those kids aren’t signalling anything; they just want to win.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog says:

      That wouldn’t necessarily actually tell us why they did what they did, but it would give some insight into telling us why they thought they did what they did.

      That was exactly my thought.

      And, like I speculated above, the apparent insistence on accepting only behavioral evidence for any kind of consideration smells of scientific-discipline inferiority complex.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        dragonfrog,
        humans are very adept at lying and rationalizing to themselves and others. Yes, one can use self-report (sometimes very credibly, even) — but it should be taken with a grain of salt at all times. Just like galvanic skin response.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        A central premise of “signaling” theory is people aren’t fully aware they are doing it.

        Make of that what you will.

        The point is, regardless of how people rationalize their behavior, if they follow the game-theoretic model of the various status/signaling theories, well that indicates something.

        This is the sort of topic that the smartypants internet nerd set has turned into bad pop psychology, alongside evopsych. That doesn’t mean, however, that there is nothing to learn here. In any event, asking the subjects is not going to tell you if signaling theory is true.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Signaling behavior requires all sorts of cognitive processes that are un- or barely developed in very young children. Especially for the sort of signals the researchers purport them to have been sending here.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            Yep. Social scientists studying anyone under 25 really need to bone up on neurological development before they start designing experiments, or god help us, drawing conclusions.

            The local school district had to beat away a well meaning, but badly misguided, attempt at some minor curriculum revamp, which led to a lot of very carefully worded statements that, when boiled down, read “The median kid won’t be able to fully process or understand this material at that age. That’s why we don’t teach it at that age. I’m sure [insert outlier kid X] can do it, but the average kid — even the average gifted/advanced kid — can’t. Please don’t, it’s a bad idea.”.

            (Eh, one board member with a wild hair, a consultant happy at the chance for a payday, and a handful of very noisy parents. Blah. Never was very likely, but the curriculum folks take it seriously, just in case.)Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              The age I teach (3s) are very interested in time. And “time” is weird because it is both visceral (we can actually feel time) and totally abstract (the various systems by which we measure time). So parents hear kids increasingly asks questions like “What day is it?” or “What time will we eat dinner?” and assume it is time to start teaching calendar and analog clocks. But that shit doesn’t make any sense to them. Sure, they can use a dumb song to memorize the days of the week and isn’t it just so cute when they hold up the Buzz Lightyear watch you got them and say, “It’s 100 o’clock.” But none of that means we should start teaching skills and concepts that their brains simply aren’t wired to comprehend in any sort of meaningful way.

              That doesn’t mean we can’t encourage their natural interests in ways that will foster understanding. It just means you have to, ya know, actually do it in a developmentally appropriate way. So, yea, tell them today is Monday and they’ll repeat that back to you and not actually have ay sense of what a “Monday” is. But then tell that Monday is a day they go to school and they will see the art teacher for painting class and suddenly Monday begins to mean something.

              But that doesn’t sell workbooks so fuck it.Report

  9. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    A few other links, just because (I got more than enough I should do another tech linky…).

    Remember the discussion about how to de-orbit space junk? CubeSats have a new propulsion option.

    Kinda related, there is a new meta-material that shrinks when heated (and is not shrinky-dinks or shrink tubing). When I think about how we are going to conquer space, a big part of the problem is the materials we use. Extreme cold, extreme heat, extreme radiation, all work to tear spacecraft down. Metamaterials have the potential to let us overcome those problems, and we are getting very good at designing not only the material, but industrial processes that can create them (Advanced 3D printing, for example).Report

  10. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    A human powered elevator. Not something I’d want in a high rise, but my building is only 5 stories…

    A recyclable/compostable foot bridge. This is just a test bed, littered with sensors, but it’s neat. The ideal would be materials that would last centuries, but, when the structure is done, it can be torn down and chopped up and spread over a field as fertilizer.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      My old school was in an old mansion at least a century old. It had an elevator operated by a pull rope. It must have had some system of gears and/or pullies because you had to pull that thing for what felt like a mile to get it up two flights.Report

  11. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    Finally, BMW is at it again.

    If you don’t know what I mean by, ‘again’, start here.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I actually prefer the 3 series. The 5 is big…but I also don’t like sedans. Least the first was the guy was driving a stick. Kudos to that. But they are fun to drive at 120 MPH.Report

  12. Keep up the good work and generating the group!Report