For the first time ever, the US government, through the NOAA will be funding geoengineering research

A few very interesting adversarial collaborations posted at SSC

The Heckman curve is shown not to be true once again. Those cost/benefit ratios look off to me though. Can those interventions really produce 10x returns over their costs?

Men tend to use more positive terms in their scientific papers, compared to women.

FB has developed a neural net that can solve mathematical equations. Symbolic algebra was a thing, but the ML approach may help with problems that are harder to solve with current techniques.

Lee Smolin is exploring a new way to grapple with problems in fundamental physics that puts causality at the center and leaves space and time as emergent properties. All the good stuff shows up: quantum, string theory, the reality of time, whether or not the universe is just a pile of math, and consciousness.

Sex differences in personality The stereotypes are broadly correct here.

Derek Lowe against the hype machine in chemistry, and related fields.

Alphabet as a way for money (coming from Google) to be funneled into interesting projects. Also, Bridgewater as an overhyped mediocre hedgefund.

The Nobel Prize committee doesn't seem to care about impact factors. High IF journals is not where the interesting results are published

A critique of the idea that there is insuffiicient antitrust regulation in the US. There is increasing concentration because they are more productive.

Scott Sumner on progress . He's deeply wrong overall and on the specifics (e.g. on suicide) but has some good points: Indeed, lower population growth is a bad thing, and indeed there is a hedonic treadmill effect going on. For a utilitarian, whether or not there is hedonic progress beyond a baseline of covering basic needs is uncertain. For a pluralist, who values technical achievements and expanding the frontier of the possible for its own sake, there is definite progress.

Like lower resting heart rate is linked to longer lifespan, so is decreased neural firing?

This in the links section of SSC. I had been following the Cezar Pais saga for a while. I wonder where it'll lead

You might already be following the Navy UFO thing: over the past few years, the Navy has encouraged its pilots to come forward with UFO accounts, signal-boosted the reports, and sponsored UFO research organizations, as if they’re trying to stoke interest for some reason. Now the plot gets weirder: a Navy scientist has filed a patent for a quantum superconducter antigravity drive capable of UFO-like feats of impossible aeronautics. When the Patent Office rejected it as outlandish, the Chief Technical Officer of naval aviation personally wrote the Patent Office saying it was totally possible and a matter of national security, after which the Patent Office relented and granted the patent. The patent thanks UFO researchers in the acknowledgements, includes a picture of a UFO recently sighted by Navy pilots, and does everything short of print in capital letters ‘THIS COMES FROM A UFO’. Scientists who were asked to comment say the proposed drive is “babble” and none of the supposed science checks out at all. Has the Navy fallen victim to conspiracy-peddlers, are they deliberately trying to stoke conspiracy theories for some reason, or what?

Also, on the Jones-Caplan open borders debate

Some pushback against Bryan Caplan’s Open Borders: Garrett Jones does an analysis where he shows that on Caplan’s own assumptions, average income of native-born US residents would fall by 40%, from $55,000 to $38,000. Caplan pushes back in a couple of ways. First, even under Jones’ assumptions, global GDP would almost double (because the natives being worse off is more than compensated by immigrants being better off). Second, a bunch of complicated statistical issues with Jones’ analysis. Third, pointing to South Africa, where the end of apartheid did not lower white incomes at all (!), showing that, even in multiracial countries where a richer race/class is outnumbered by a more politically powerful poorer race/class, this doesn’t seem to hurt the richer race/class (at least so far). There’s more at the link. See also the discussion of Open Borders at r/TheMotte.

I tend to agree that indeed open borders has a non-negligible chance of causing national income to drop somewhat in richer countries, probably not as much by what Jones says but also (Caplan and Jones both agree with this) would be more than compensated by global wealth increase.

Alexey Guzey's review of Chapter 1 of Why We Sleep, poking so many holes it may have caused walked to have disappeared from the internet since then.

Paper claims dark energy doesn't exist. Cosmologists disagree

In the US cannot buy eye glasses or contact lenses without going through a doctor(!)

SSC on autism and intelligence

Study finds that in the US, state with higher public R&D investment have firms earning higher stock returns.

Mechanisms to extract truth from a group of people

Paper from Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood, arguing that the rate of scientific progress is slowing down. David Chapman thread from last year

Wojciech Kopczuk on wealth taxation. The Economist on measurement of inequality

Michael Huemer on healthcare (part 1). He points to costs as the key problem. Fortunately the commentariat there is high quality and immediately links to Random Critical Analysis series of posts on the issue. Also, some papers that argue that doctors don't earn that much compared to other high earners, even though they do earn a lot compared to GDP. However, if one also argues that other high earners in the US are in the same position due to problems in those sectors too (Problems being scarce supply, say), then this comparison would bias the sample. Here's Huemer (part 2) where he talks about the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which defies the norm for costs in the US.

Gwern on what is the % of researchers reading the papers they actually cite.

(via Gwern) The history of Henry Darger, the typographies used in Evangelion

William McAskill criticises Functional Decision Theory

Thread on the Powers of Tau ceremony, the most cyberpunk real life event you'll read about today. Except perhaps this. Or this!

Quadratic voting empirically has the properties that theoretically it should: It measures strength of preferences and produces well shaped distributions

Program synthesis: Given a desired behaviour, automatically generate the program that produces it.

Failure rates in VC investments

Various threads of evidence converging on the idea that there is memory storage in the RNA inside the neurons

Data on YC investment patterns over the years

The social origin of inventors: IQ once again predicts success.

Building and deploying modern web apps

On measuring biological aging in humans

Reasons for mice longevity studies skepticism

The history of scientific journals and peer review

High quality science results in valuable inventions. This was suspected, but it is now quantified.

Project management at ARPA-E

From time to time one finds reports online of hydrocephalous humans that are born with their cranium mostly filled with brain fluid. In spite of this, some of them seem to be able to function normally, leading to claims that brains don't matter that much (?). Gwern has a critique of that.

The world's first fully electric commercial aircraft is here

Factory OS: Broad Group style preassembled buildings, but in the US

Cellular senescence and chronological age in various human tissues: A review and meta-analysis

Gwern's summary of the replication crisis in the social sciences

Paper finds that defense R&D results in significant productivity increases. Skeptical of this one, but the authors are not some randos so it can't just be dismissed.

On the other hand, WWII was bad for economic growth

Yet one more of those "yes we can predict what papers will replicate" both via a prediction market and an algorithm based on features like p-value or statistical power.

Remember those super long RCAFDM posts on healthcare expenditures? They keep coming

The history of Notion

Why the US innovation ecosystem is slowing down, an attempt at an explanation which is close to my own views

Another explanation, which we explore, is that today’s science is not being translated into applications — in other words, something is keeping scientific discoveries from fueling productive innovation.

And R&D and the American Corporation before WWII and the birth of Open Science

Summary of the current precision of CRISPR

Heritability of IQ, broken down by race (in the US) is similar for all groups

Fun paper from Stephen Merity on a new NN design that achieves near SOTA results

Self-control is 60% heritable

Who would win? The US Pharma industry or one billionnaire boi

Music has no evolutionary purpose, Steven Pinker finds.

Critique of value added modeling (Which is often used when trying to measure teacher quality)

Split brain patients, consciousness not so divided after all

Everything you always wanted to know about battery management in electric vehicles.

In the same tweet, evidence for and against industrial policy

Naked mole rats lack a kind of lymphocyte (NK, Natural Killer) that is present in humans and mice (And other animals?). This is double weird because NKs are thought to prevent cancer, and NMRs get no cancer. Or perhaps less weird if we think that as they have perfectly solved the issue with other means, there is no selective pressure to retain NKs.

Random grant funding is becoming more common

Amazon as CEO factory

There was a famous video some time ago with two monkeys being paid unequal amounts and one of them getting mad. Well, turns out that's shaky. This thread has the original and later work that questions it.

Systematic reviews and meta-analysis can sometimes be too naive, taking the evidence at face value. (Remember, in my Bloom post Slavin proposed doing away with these and instead assessing only high quality evidence)

Twitter thread featuring Keith Rabois, Alexey Guzey and me on sleep, telomeres, and aging.

An account of what is going on in Xinjiang

Periodic reminder to be extra careful when the word "household" (Or, in this case, tax unit) appears in a paper: Changes in the unit may completely change that which is being measured.

A century of research on conscientiousness at work

What happens when suddenly a country gets an influx of scientists?

François Chollet on the generalised measurement of intelligence, of relevance to assess progress in AI


In academic work, please cite this essay as:

Ricón, José Luis, “Links (32)”, Nintil (2019-12-24), available at