“The myopia boom: Short-sightedness is reaching epidemic proportions. Some scientists think they have found a reason why” (the bright-light-triggering-less-eye-growth is an appealingly elegant explanation for why near-sightedness spikes so reliably with industrialization & development but continues to strike even those who are physically active & not readers. If it’s true, it also suggests interventions: light boxes such as those used in SAD therapy. One wonders if light box experiments would show reduced near-sightedness in the experimental group should someone go back to check. We might also expect near-sightedness to level off or decrease in the West: with the crashing price of LED lighting, demand for illumination will increase. Even if we never light the interiors of our buildings as brightly as the noon sun, which would interfere with our computer screens, that may still help, and the brightness of computer screens, otherwise a curse in damaging our circadian rhythms & sleep, may also assist.)
Nasal cycle (One thing I find interesting about the nasal cycle is that even though it’s ultra-noticeable when you have a cold or stuffy nose, a lot of people seem to have either never realized that they have a cycle or assume it’s a personal idiosyncrasy of their nose. Sort of the opposite of the typical mind fallacy.)
The Accidental Space Spy (Thorsby; an earthling is accidentally impressed into chasing after an anthropologist and thrown into exotic (and deadly) alien cultures, where he struggles to understand their biologies & reproductive strategies & evolutionary pressures while staying alive. He does, most characters don’t. The art is best described as ‘dire but it may grow on you’, and the real joy is just the sheer variety of aliens on offer (a bit like Olaf Stapledon’s Star Maker—both works throw away more fascinating alien creatures in one or two chapters than most SF series have in their entirety) and trying to figure out what evo biology scenario has been pushed to the max by the author—costly signaling of fitness, mate guarding, short-term memories, placebo effect etc. Some are pretty cool (I really liked the Invisibility Zone one), others not so much (placebo effect scenario less convincing than Robin Hanson’s).)
Hitmen for Destiny (Thorsby; TvTropes; this was good but not as good as The Accidental Space Spy, since the art remains as dire, Thorsby again indulges in an overly-long comedy-of-errors, and the monsters aren’t quite as fascinating as the aliens in Space Spy, although on the plus side, it still has everything that I like about Thorsby (eg I loved the Mexican standoff with 2 possibly-loaded guns towards the end) with a more coherent and meaningful story.)
This page is a changelog for Gwern.net: a monthly reverse chronological list of recent major writings/changes/additions.
Following my writing can be a little difficult because it is often so incremental. So every month, in addition to my regular /r/Gwern subreddit submissions, I write up reasonably-interesting changes and send it out to the mailing list in addition to a compilation of links & reviews (archives).
A subreddit for posting links of interest and also for announcing updates to gwern.net (which can be used as a RSS feed). Submissions are categorized similar to the monthly newsletter and typically will be collated there.
“Eight thousand years of natural selection in Europe”, Iain Mathieson, Iosif Lazaridis, Nadin Rohland, Swapan Mallick, Nick Patterson, Songül Alpaslan Roodenberg, Eadaoin Harney, Kristin Stewardson, Daniel Fernandes, Mario Novak, Kendra Sirak, Cristina Gamba, Eppie R. Jones, Bastien Llamas, Stanislav Dryomov, Joseph Pickrell, Juan Luís Arsuaga, José María Bermúdez de Castro, Eudald Carbonell, Fokke Gerritsen, Aleksandr Khokhlov, Pavel Kuznetsov, Marina Lozano, Harald Meller, Oleg Mochalov, Vayacheslav Moiseyev, Manuel A. Rojo Guerra, Jacob Roodenberg, Josep Maria Vergès, Johannes Krause, Alan Cooper, Kurt W. Alt, Dorcas Brown, David Anthony, Carles Lalueza-Fox, Wolfgang Haak, Ron Pinhasi, David Reich (2015-10-10):
The arrival of farming in Europe around 8,500 years ago necessitated adaptation to new environments, pathogens, diets, and social organizations. While indirect evidence of adaptation can be detected in patterns of genetic variation in present-day people, ancient DNA makes it possible to witness selection directly by analyzing samples from populations before, during and after adaptation events. Here we report the first genome-wide scan for selection using ancient DNA, capitalizing on the largest genome-wide dataset yet assembled: 230 West Eurasians dating to between 6500 and 1000 BCE, including 163 with newly reported data. The new samples include the first genome-wide data from the Anatolian Neolithic culture, who we show were members of the population that was the source of Europe’s first farmers, and whose genetic material we extracted by focusing on the DNA-rich petrous bone. We identify genome-wide significant signatures of selection at loci associated with diet, pigmentation and immunity, and two independent episodes of selection on height.
The redemption movement is a debt-resistance movement and fraud scheme active primarily in the United States and Canada. Participants allege that a secret fund is created for everyone at birth, and that a procedure exists to "redeem" or reclaim this fund to pay bills. Common redemption schemes include acceptance for value (A4V), Treasury Direct Accounts (TDA) and secured party creditor kits.
The nasal cycle is the unconscious alternating partial congestion and decongestion of the nasal cavities in humans and other animals. This results in greater airflow through one nostril with periodic alternation between the nostrils. It is a physiological congestion of the nasal conchae, also called the nasal turbinates, due to selective activation of one half of the autonomic nervous system by the hypothalamus. It should not be confused with pathological nasal congestion. The nasal cycle was studied and discussed in the ancient yoga literature of pranayama. In the modern western literature, it was first described by the German physician Richard Kayser in 1895.
[Alexander defines the “typical mind fallacy”: everyone reasons about their mental experiences as if they are universal. People with vivid visual imagery assume everyone can see things in “the mind’s eye” while ‘aphantasics’ assume that this is simply a poetic metaphor; people with color-blindness wonder why other people get so worked up about various shades of gray, and people with anosmia are puzzled by the focus on flowers etc. Further examples include maladaptive daydreaming, pain insensitivity, the prevalence of visual & auditory hallucinations in mentally-healthy individuals like ‘scintillating scotoma’, misophonia, hearing voices, inner monologues, facial self-awareness, trypophobia, Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory, hypermnesia, ASMR, face blindness/prosospagnosia, musical anhedonia, ‘the call of the void’/intrusive thoughts, hypnagogia, the nasal dilation cycle…
This phenomenon for visual imagery was discovered only recently by Francis Galton, who asked if the interminable debate between philosophers/psychologists like Berkeley or Behaviorists like Skinner, where neither could accept that there was (or was not) visual imagery, was because both were right—some people have extremely vivid mental imagery, while others have none at all. He simply circulated a survey and asked. Turned out, most people do but some don’t.
The typical mind fallacy may explain many interpersonal conflicts and differences in advice: we underappreciate the sheer cognitive diversity of mankind, because we only have access to our limited personal anecdote, and people typically do not discuss all their differences because they don’t realize they exist nor have a vocabulary/name.]
(WP; TVTropes; LW discussion; non-PDF version) 2007 short story, set in a Renaissance-esque fantasy historical setting, featuring a cambist (a money-exchanger) who is set three dangerous tasks by a bored and dissolute aristocrat. The 3 challenges illustrate principles of economics:
the exchange theory of value: the value of something is what you can exchange it for in the market
revealed preferences: the choices individuals and groups reveal the true value set on things, regardless of what they may say
gains from trade: a trade of 2 things, which remain unchanged, can make both parties better off
Reflections on Violence, published in 1908, is a book by the French revolutionary syndicalist Georges Sorel on class struggle and revolution. Sorel is known for his theory that political revolution depends on the proletariat organizing violent uprisings and strikes to institute syndicalism, an economic system in which syndicats truly represent the needs of the working class.
The Three-Body Problem is a science fiction novel by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin. The title refers to the three-body problem in orbital mechanics. It is the first novel of the Remembrance of Earth's Past trilogy, but Chinese readers generally refer to the whole series as The Three-Body Problem. The second and third novels in the trilogy are The Dark Forest and Death's End.
Star Maker is a science fiction novel by British writer Olaf Stapledon, published in 1937. The book describes a history of life in the universe, dwarfing in scale Stapledon's previous book, Last and First Men (1930), a history of the human species over two billion years. Star Maker tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations.
Welcome to the N.H.K. is a Japanese novel written by Tatsuhiko Takimoto, with a cover illustration by Yoshitoshi ABe, and was published by Kadokawa Shoten in Japan on January 28, 2002. The novel was first published in English by Tokyopop on October 9, 2007. The story revolves around a 22-year-old hikikomori, an asocial recluse, who gets aid from a strange girl who seems to know a lot about him, despite never having met him before. Common themes throughout the story deal with depression, isolation, existential dread, the hardships of life and how people must deal with them in their own way. The novel analyzes profusely the hikikomori phenomenon, which is relatively widespread in Japan.
Nim Chimpsky was a chimpanzee and the subject of an extended study of animal language acquisition at Columbia University. The project was led by Herbert S. Terrace with the linguistic analysis headed up by psycholinguist Thomas Bever. Chimpsky was given his name as a pun on linguist Noam Chomsky, who posits that humans are "wired" to develop language. Though usually called Nim Chimpsky, his full name was Neam Chimpsky, or Nim for short.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a 2007 American documentary film about competitive arcade gaming directed by Seth Gordon. It follows Steve Wiebe in his attempts to take the high score record for the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong from Billy Mitchell. The film premiered at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival and was released in U.S. theaters in August 2007. It received positive reviews.
Space Dandy, stylized as Space☆Dandy, is a 2014 Japanese comic science fiction anime television series produced by Bones. The series follows the misadventures of Dandy, an alien hunter who is "a dandy guy in space", in search for undiscovered and rare aliens with his robot assistant QT and his feline-like friend named Meow.
Subscription page for the monthly gwern.net newsletter. There are monthly updates, which will include summaries of projects I’ve worked on that month (the same as the changelog), collations of links or discussions from my subreddit, and book/movie reviews. You can also browse the archives since December 2013.
Newsletter tag: archive of all issues back to 2013 for the gwern.net newsletter (monthly updates, which will include summaries of projects I’ve worked on that month (the same as the changelog), collations of links or discussions from my subreddit, and book/movie reviews.)
Aphantasia is a condition characterized by an inability to voluntarily visualize mental imagery. Many people with aphantasia also report an inability to recall sounds, smells, or sensations of touch. Some also report prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces.
Anosmia, also known as smell blindness, is the loss of the ability to detect one or more smells. Anosmia may be temporary or permanent. It differs from hyposmia, which is a decreased sensitivity to some or all smells.
Sir Francis Galton, FRS, was an English Victorian era polymath: a statistician, sociologist, psychologist, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, and psychometrician. He was knighted in 1909.
The Cambist and Lord Iron: A Fairy Tale of Economics is a 2007 novelette by Daniel Abraham. It was originally published in the anthology Logorrhea: Good Words Make Good Stories, and subsequently republished in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008: 21st Annual Collection (2008), in Fantasy: The Best of the Year (2008), in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume Two (2008), and in Lightspeed (2013); as well, an audio version was made available via PodCastle in 2009.
In political economy and especially Marxian economics, exchange value refers to one of four major attributes of a commodity, i.e., an item or service produced for, and sold on the market. The other three aspects are use value, economic value, and price. Thus, a commodity has:
a value, represented by the Socially necessary labour time to produce it. ;
a use value ;
an exchange value, which is the proportion at which a commodity can be exchanged for other commodities;
In economics, economic value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service to an economic agent. It is generally measured relative to units of currency, and the interpretation is therefore "what is the maximum amount of money a specific actor is willing and able to pay for the good or service"?
Revealed preference theory, pioneered by economist Paul Samuelson, is a method of analyzing choices made by individuals, mostly used for comparing the influence of policies on consumer behavior. Revealed preference models assume that the preferences of consumers can be revealed by their purchasing habits.
In economics, gains from trade are the net benefits to economic agents from being allowed an increase in voluntary trading with each other. In technical terms, they are the increase of consumer surplus plus producer surplus from lower tariffs or otherwise liberalizing trade.