Assorted links

by on January 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. These robots will put *you* out of work.

2. Do higher taxi fares lead to lower tips?

3. A recantation on GMOs.

4. What are disgusted people good at?

5. Do people change more than they expect they will?

6. Profile of Harold Bloom.

Roy January 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

4. In my experience disgusted people make the very best laboratory biologists, because behind most extreme disgust is morbid fascination and its side effect is fastidiousness. The kind that keeps an entire lab perfectly clean while staring at slime for two weeks.

Andrew' January 4, 2013 at 1:35 pm

“So I lectured them about the value of peer-review, about the importance of scientific consensus and how the only facts that mattered were the ones published in the most distinguished scholarly journals.”

Thank god none of that is true.

Jordan January 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm

You mean “thank god it’s only partially true.”
just because these processes have limitations and flaws does not mean they are not important or effective.

TallDave January 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

5. We are probably programmed to avoid thinking about future self changes because the illusion of continuity of identity is so important to our functioning — you have to feel closely related to the “you” of the future or all the things you do for the sake of your future self are less worth doing.

It’s like the old debate about whether an exact copy of you would be “you” — well, no, but then you’re the not the same “you” you were yesterday, either, and yet he still brushed his teeth for your benefit.

Claudia January 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm

I bet it’s a control thing. Looking back we can see the twists and turns but we claim too much credit for them…pretend like we had more control than we actually did. So looking forward we do the same thing and we underestimate the random shocks that will upend our world…the sudden illness, the shuffle of people in our lives, or the jobs that fall into our out of our lap. Often it’s the shocks (not the self help books) that change us or force us to change. Not all that different than macro models missing turning points. I find this statement from the article depressing: “Believing that we just reached the peak of our personal evolution makes us feel good.” Do people really think that? It would make me feel old (at heart).

John January 4, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I was thinking along similar lines. It’s an informational issue. What changes us is not the events that have been anticipated correctly but the one’s the events that we never thought of or failed to really anticipate the really impact that occurred (not really expressing that last bit well).

Alexei Sadeski January 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm

1. Asimov would be impressed with how far we’ve come.

Ronald Brak January 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

He did say he was impressed with the industrial robots that existed in his lifetime, so I certainly agree with you.

Urso January 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

4 has a cart/horse problem, right? People who have heightened sensitivity or perception are more likely to be disgusted, because they notice more things to be disgusted about.

Like how “super tasters” overreact to even a little bit of bitterness, just because they perceive it so much more strongly than we do. That is, to them it’s not a “little bit” of bitterness.

axa January 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm

#3 maybe a coincidence: the patent for round-up ready soy expires in 2013.

JWatts January 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm

#3. A Leftie recanting on GMO’s is good. Now can we get more of them to join in and recant their anti-Nuclear power stance.

It’s incredibly frustrating to realize that next generation nuclear power plants could replace all the coal plants for around the same cost and drastically cut the production of CO2 and yet the people that claim that Climate Change is the worst threat facing mankind refuse to countenance expanded use of nuclear power.

Andrew' January 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

If only. This story claims yields aren’t dramatically improved.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=can-genetically-modified-crops-feed-09-04-16
This is really weird.

Andrew' January 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm

And he claims that no studies show organic to be healthier. They’ve shown they have less pesticides. They’ve tested kids’ urine and shown less pesticides. What is he saying, that we don’t have data yet on pesticides in urine and health? That’s different from studies showing no difference in health.

JWatts January 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

“If only. This story claims yields aren’t dramatically improved.”

Well yes if you look at GMO corn and soy beans that have been designed to require less pesticide input (from the article: “say bacterial genes to produce insecticide in a corn plant”) then those plants won’t show much enhanced yield. Which makes sense, since they weren’t designed to enhance yield. They instead were designed to require less input and to cost less to grow.

Floccina January 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

GM salmon grows much faster.

Sigivald January 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Andrew: Dose makes the poison.

We can measure amounts of pesticides so small we expect them to have no detectable effect whatsoever on health – even if increased significantly.

“More” and “less” aren’t the same as “unhealthy” and “healthy”.

Also, though, in this case I believe “healthier” refers to claims of more nutrition, which I’ve often seen “organic” hucksters and suckers push. Those, as far as I know, are completely unsupported by actual science.

(Did you know that your food naturally contains pesticides? Best stop eating tomatoes, to start with…)

john_d January 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm

2. Why are tips linked to the total bill anyhow? In other words, if the price of a cab ride goes up 100% due to regulation, why should the tip wage go up 100% as well?

Mitch Berkson January 4, 2013 at 10:57 pm

The article has anticipated your comment.

John January 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

2 is a state transition issue as the market adjusts to the new margins.

John January 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

There’s also the question of the basis of the tip. Are you tipping on fair or on ride?

Using the numbers the article provides the cabbies are actually getting more money in tips than before.

Jeff January 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm

5. The best guess for the future value of a random variable is often its current value. With no information as to what your future self will look like, your current self is probably not a bad guess.

Claudia January 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Well, we have parents and grandparents…so, like it or not, there is some information on your future. People are generally not random walks.

Nancy Lebovitz January 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm

The GMO link isn’t working for me.

Larry Siegel January 5, 2013 at 1:33 am

It’s amazing that New York cabbies get tips at all. The rides are so dangerous, and the drivers so hostile, that the 15-20% of the drivers who provide decent service should get their own tips plus everybody else’s. Uber is going to give these turkeys some real competition.

jacob January 6, 2013 at 10:35 pm

4. Forceful vomiting?

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