Thursday Throughput: Cretaceous Edition – That Means Dinosaurs

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

Related Post Roulette

9 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    ThTh2: Not just any brown, though. It’s a hue of brown that has a mix of those RGB hues as well.

    ThTh7: Yeah, that’s a no brainer.

    ThTh11: Holy crap! That’s cool!

    ThTh13: Do I see strings in there…?Report

  2. Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    ThTh16: Now if he were just as energetic about getting BE-4 engines to the ULA. I’m still waiting for the other shoe to drop after the exodus of engineering talent from Blue Origin over the last few months. That is, I expect another indeterminant but lengthy delay in the delivery of flight-rated engines. The ULA is now being awarded national security contracts that they cannot fulfill if they don’t have Vulcan flying regularly rather soon.Report

  3. Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve always associated children’s interest in dinosaurs with children’s desire for, fear of, and general fascination with power. Think about other common themes: super heroes, princesses, large animals… all things seemingly imbued with immense power. For little beings who have VERY little power but who REALLY want to understand what power they do have and how they can get more of it, dinosaurs fit into that as well.Report

  4. Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    ThTh6: That was the same thought I had when I saw the ShadowStats inflation claims for the first time years ago.

    By the way, we can apply similar logic to rebut populist claims about falling real wages and the death of the middle class. If real wages have fallen, then real standards of living should have fallen as well. But on every major dimension, standards of living have risen since the 70s. We have better, cheaper food (by “cheaper” I mean relative to wages; due to huge cumulative increases in the money supply, nominal prices are higher for just about everything). Clothes are cheaper. Cars are cheaper, more durable, safer, and require less gas. Health care, though more expensive, is clearly better, with life expectancy having increased by several years despite the obesity epidemic. We get more education. On average we work about 10% fewer hours. We live in bigger homes. There are whole classes of consumer products that everyone has now that simply didn’t exist back then.

    All of the real data point to CPI overstating increases in the cost of living, leading to understatement of real wage growth. And in fact, there are known methodological problems in the CPI that cause it to bias inflation upwards, and there’s a strong consensus on this point among economists:

    https://www.igmchicago.org/surveys/us-median-income/

    In short, the vast majority of experts agree that claims about real wage growth that you see in pop media and from left-wing think tanks like the EPI are flat-out wrong, and that the CPI is an inappropriate index to use for this purpose, but people keep doing it for some combination of historical and ideological reasons.Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      By the way, I suspect that the single biggest factor in real wage growth slowing (but remaining positive) in recent decades is the artificial constraints on housing supply, which drive up housing costs in the cities everyone is crowding into. A corollary of this is that it may also be one of the main drivers of the socialism fad. Here’s hoping that the recent increases in housing starts help put an end to that foolishness.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg
      Ignored
      says:

      Health care, though more expensive, is clearly better, with life expectancy having increased by several years despite the obesity epidemic.

      I am not sure that the assumption that obesity is without upside, longevity-wise, is a good assumption.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        There have been a number of high profile studies finding that overweight or even class I obesity (BMI 30-35) is associated with lower mortality than normal weight. However, these studies have a couple of serious methodological flaws.

        First, older studies often didn’t control for smoking. Smoking kills you, and also suppresses weight gain, so that’s pretty serious confounder. This has been a known problem for a long time, and controlling for current or former smoker status is pretty much standard practice by now.

        Addtionally, waist circumference or various ratios based on it (most commonly waist–height ratio or waist–hip ratio) is a better predictor of mortality than BMI, due to the fact that BMI can be confounded by variation in lean body mass. This has been known for at least 10-20 years, but for some reason it’s still very common to see studies that only use BMI, possibly because it’s available in older data sets that may not have waist measurements.

        Finally—this is the big one—reverse causality is a major problem. Many serious diseases cause weight loss, often starting years before death and/or diagnosis. So if you get your cohort and weigh them all at the beginning of the study, some of the people in the normal and underweight categories are going to be in those categories only because they have an undiagnosed terminal disease. Probably not a lot, but it doesn’t take many to screw up your results.

        There are a couple of approaches to dealing with this problem, but the most interesting one is to look at lifetime maximum BMI instead of BMI at the beginning of the study. So if you have a BMI of 27 when the study starts, but you had a peak BMI of 31 five years earlier, you’re considered obese rather than overweight for purposes of the study. This eliminate confounding from undiagnosed diseases. And when we do this, we find a much clearer relationship between obesity and mortality.

        Perhaps more interestingly, omentectomy (surgical removal of visceral fat) greatly improves symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It’s not that obesity is a benign side effect of overeating and overeating is the real culprit—visceral fat is actually actively harmful. Subcutaneous fat appears to be relatively benign, but it’s not clear that there’s a way to selectively put on subcutaneous fat.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          Hey, I’m not arguing for body positivity or anything like that.

          I am, however, pushing back against the hidden assumptions in “despite the obesity epidemic”.

          Sure, I’m willing to agree that there is a problem among the 800 pounders. Cheerfully.

          It’s the Class I Obesity that might have upsides that we can’t imagine because we’re locked into the whole “I don’t understand why expectancy has gone up despite the number of chubs!” thing.Report

  5. Fish
    Ignored
    says:

    [ThTh1]: When my boys were wee ones we had a series on DVD called “Walking With Dinosaurs” which was similar. I really want to say that we had some “Prehistoric Planet” episodes on DVD as well, but it’s been ages. Really good, engaging stuff, though.Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.