Monday, December 10, 2012
1) Raw Oysters
This is not news. Everyone knows that eating these things is Russian Roulette.
Commercial packaged sprouts have a very long history of being contaminated with pathogens. The growing conditions for sprouts are the ideal growing conditions for all kinds of nasty bacteria. There is no point in buying them; other veggies are better, cheaper, and safer. Sprouting your own seeds can be a good source of cheap vegetables, but only if your kitchen is clean and you know what you are doing, and even then you should cook them well and not eat them raw.
3) Carrot Juice
This was the surprise. Carrot juice is often contaminated with botulism, and higher levels of botulism have been found in this stuff than anything else he has ever tested. Botulism lives in the soil, juice is not sterilized nearly as well as canned foods, and carrot juice containers are a very good botulism incubator. So if you like carrot juice, you should be making your own instead of buying it.
Friday, November 30, 2012
The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory is obsolete. It was derived from one person's theory, not data. It had some use in the past, and it for a long time it was the best thing we had, but we have better methods of measuring personality now. Using this system today is like using a Model T car or an Apple II computer.
The proper way to measure personality is to use the Big Five personality traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN). These traits were found by analyzing lots of data with advanced statistical techniques. They are reliable, robust, and valid, and have been shown to correspond with a wide variety of important life outcomes. All social scientists who do real work with human personality traits have known this for over a decade.
There is not much else to say about that, but this is a good opportunity to point out a potential problem with how people think about personalities. The human mind instinctively wants to put things in groups or categories. This is a relic of our paleolithic past where it was very important for a brain to instantly and accurately put something in the category of 'snake' or 'vine'.
But the categorization instinct often leads to mistakes in the modern world, and it definitely leads to mistakes when applied to personality traits. All personality traits that can be measured fall on a continuous scale, and most of them have the 'bell curve' pattern where most people are in the middle of the scale and it is rare for people to be extreme.
This means that it is a mistake to try to classify everyone as an introvert or extrovert in the same way that it is a mistake to classify everyone as smart or dumb. Most people have an average level of intelligence and extraversion and other traits. Differences between people are differences of degree, not kind.
If you must impose categories, then you should not use the two categories of intovert and extrovert. You should use the three categories of introvert, normal, and extrovert, where people only get classified as introvert and extrovert if they are far enough from the average.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
1) Knowledge means falsifiability. The purpose of scientific knowledge is to make testable predictions about observable phenomena. Any belief that does not do this is not scientific and has no place in a fact based discussion.
For example, the belief that Buddhism is the most beautiful religion is in exactly the same category as the belief that Sean Connery is the best James Bond.
2) Humans are fundamentally flawed. Not only are we evil, we are also stupid. The human brain is subject to a wide variety of cognitive flaws. Because of this, almost all of the output the human brain produces has no value in determining the truth about reality. The scientific method is the only known, reliable way of finding knowledge.
3) Because of human flaws, life in a state of nature is nasty, brutish, and short. Even if we lived in a paradise and all of the natural problems of disease and parasites and predators and malnutrition were somehow waved away, we would turn it into Hell by inflicting violence on each other. Observe the historical behavior of all human beings before civilization.
4) The reason we do not currently live in a state of nature is our institutions: rule of law, individual freedom, democracy, the scientific method, private property, free markets. It is theoretically possible that better institutions exist, but we have never observed any desirable and well functioning society that lacks these institutions.
Note: When I use words like better and worse, good and bad, or make any other normative statements, I am referring to the revealed preferences of large numbers of human beings. A better society is one that people choose to move to.
5) Good institutions do not occur easily. They were developed by trial and error over millenia. Revolutionary change has the potential to threaten these institutions. Theories and philosophies have been shown to be incredibly bad at designing institutions. However, some of our most important institutions were developed as a result of revolutionary experimentation. We can and should improve our institutions with gradual change and local experimentation.
6) Instinctive human morality is a set of behavior patterns that evolved to coordinate the activities of tribes of foragers in a Paleolithic environment. It is not sufficient to create institutions that function well in a modern world, and in some cases it works against good institutions. For example, the inherent repugnance toward dissecting human bodies caused medical progress to be slower and resulted in millions of lives being lost and a great deal of unnecessary suffering.
7) Social facts, and especially economic facts, are rarely the result of human intention or desire. They are the result of complicated impersonal forces that are best understood through rigorous study and the scientific method. Attempting to alter social or economic conditions without the knowledge that came through such careful study is likely to be counterproductive and possibly disastrous.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Thursday, August 16, 2012
But far fewer people pay attention to reverse food snobbery—to folks who are proud of eating junk, and lots of it, in part out of the conviction that doing so offends Whole Foods shoppers, who, on this view, "think they're better than us." When Michelle Obama announced her program to encourage American children—one in three of whom is overweight or obese—to eat healthier meals, Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin attacked the First Lady as a busybody and a fatso....Children need guidance on how to eat and what's good for them; that's what adults are for. If you define "what's good for kids" as "what kids want to eat," they would gorge on cookies and ice cream at every meal. The right thing to do is not always the easy thing. Isn't this common sense—especially for conservatives, who profess a belief in personal responsibility?Apparently not. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the states with the worst childhood obesity rates are all in the South, the most culturally conservative region in the country.
Granted, nobody on a limited budget can afford to shop exclusively at Whole Foods. But then again, Americans expect to spend far less of their income on food than do other industrialized nations. The USDA reports that in 2010, the average American spent 7 percent of his income on food—roughly half of what Western Europeans do, the UK excepted. European Union 2011 statistics show that though Britons spend only 9 percent of their income on food, they are the most obese population in Europe.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
"No, I don't want to be a girl," he said, as he checked himself out in his bedroom mirror and posed, Cosmo-style. "I just want to wear girl stuff.""Why do you want to be a boy and not a girl?" I asked.He looked at me as if I were daft. "Because I want to be who I am!"By way of explanation, he told me about a boy in his third-grade class who is a soccer fanatic. "He comes to school every day in a soccer jersey and sweat pants," P. J. said, "but that doesn't make him a professional soccer player."
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Friday, March 23, 2012
Friday, March 9, 2012
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I'm slightly jealous of the fact that you'll get to wear Vibrams to work - whatever shoes I end up wearing will almost certainly be less comfortable.
You don't wear Vibrams now. You will be making enough money to buy shoes that look nice while being as comfortable as non-toe shoes can possibly be. You might have to shop in stores you have never set foot in before, and spend hundreds of dollars for each pair, but it is worth it.
While I don't wear Vibrams now, I don't wear snazzy shoes now, either.
I probably will have to shop in nicer stores now. I wish I didn't have to. To illustrate why, I should point out that my employer is paying for relocation services, and so I'm working with a real estate agent. This agency is clearly used to dealing with crazy people - the lady I was originally going to work with had to go to an emergency doctor appointment, and so couldn't call that day. The head of the agency called, repeatedly apologized, and said that she'd try to get the agent to call me in the afternoon (as it turns out, the original agent had to go to the hospital and, according to the agency head, got "very bad news"). My new agent is available until 10:00 PM on her cell phone. My only thoughts are: what sort of narcissistic nutters must these people deal with on a regular basis, and how can I avoid getting lumped in with them?
So anyway, I don't want to go in really nice stores. I'm going to shop at JCPenney as much as possible, where they (more often) deal with normal people.
The mental quirk is that excessive customer service makes us both uncomfortable, and is something to be avoided. I get annoyed whenever people do things for me that I could easily do myself. We do not want to be served too much. This seems odd at first. Why would we both prefer to avoid something that a lot of people want to pay for?
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
Edit: I posted to soon, I should have finished reading the article. The fun continues:
The absence of important technical inventions between the prehistoric age andThis is so wrong that is it both funny and sad. Note the speculation of advanced civilizations before the last ice age. Archaeologists and historians have have given us records of when we first possessed all of the things he mentions.
comparatively modern times is truly remarkable. Almost everything which
really matters and which the world possessed at the commencement of the
modern age was already known to man at the dawn of history. Language, fire,
the same domestic animals which we have to-day, wheat, barley, the vine and
the olive, the plough, the wheel, the oar, the sail, leather, linen and cloth, bricks
and pots, gold and silver, copper, tin, and lead-and iron was added to the list
before 1000 B.C.-banking, statecraft, mathematics, astronomy, and religion.
There is no record of when we first possessed these things.
At some epoch before the dawn of history perhaps even in one of the
comfortable intervals before the last ice age-there must have been an era of
progress and invention comparable to that in which we live to-day. But through
the greater part of recorded history there was nothing of the kind.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
China's growth in more investment driven. That means the Chinese are making things that make other things: factories, roads, telecom systems, urban metros, etc. Brazil's boom on the other hand is largely consumer and consumption driven, which doesn't create more favorable conditions for future growth.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Friday, February 17, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Is 'technocrat' a real word, or did someone just make it up?
Friday, February 10, 2012
One panel at this week's Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC is called "The Failure of Multiculturalism," and it features the founder of a website that's claimed:
* Black Americans have lower IQs than whites,