Sentences to ponder

by on March 14, 2016 at 2:41 pm in Data Source, Economics, Education, Philosophy, Political Science, Science | Permalink

However, we find that economic conservatives are as or more scientifically literate and optimistic about science than economic leftists. Our results highlight the importance of separating different sub-dimensions of political orientation when studying the relationships between political beliefs, scientific literacy and optimism about science.

That is from Carl, Cofnis, and Woodley, via Ben Southwood.

1 AIG March 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm

The only thing I find surprising here is that they are only “as” scientifically literate as economic leftists. I would expect economic leftists to be scientifically illiterate.

It would be interesting to see how literate they are of economic literature, rather than “science” in general. Didn’t read the paper, so don’t know how they defined “scientific literacy”. Either way, one would expect lay people to be pretty scientifically illiterate to begin with, so not sure what are the levels we’re speaking of.

2 BC March 14, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Agreed, not very surprising and therefore not much to ponder. One only need consider economic leftists’ clinging to the minimum wage and trade protectionism, the Left’s Creationism and Intelligent Design.

3 Michael March 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

At least Creationism and Intelligent Design don’t really impact real day to day policy or economics. Unlike the Left’s favorite treasures of scientific illiteracy: Organic food, anti-GMO, anti-Vax, anti-Nuclear power, etc. Following those policy recommendations would kill millions, if not more. Who cares what a textbook has to say about the existential origins of our species?

4 From Fukushima with Love March 15, 2016 at 10:35 am

Yes, lets all adopt nuclear power. Including those african countries, latin america 😉 Sounds like the fastest way to end up the world…

5 Michael March 15, 2016 at 5:28 pm

You do know that more Americans die from windmills every year than have died from nuclear power over its entire history, right?

Thanks for proving the OP’s point that lefties don’t understand science.

6 Adrian Ratnapala March 16, 2016 at 1:34 am

Michael — I tentatively believe your windmill factoid because so it suits my priors (and so few have died from nuclear power that it is not a high bar).

But where do you find such statistics?

7 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 7:30 pm

AIG March 14, 2016 at 3:16 pm

The only thing I find surprising here is that they are only “as” scientifically literate as economic leftists. I would expect economic leftists to be scientifically illiterate.

I would tend to agree. After all, thinking back to when I was a student, the Engineering faculty tended to think John Wayne was of questionable sexuality, while the Arts faculty was still defending the Soviet experiment in socialism. I find it hard to believe that English Lit majors become more scientific literate as they get older.

I think that the Right is generally comfortable with themselves and what they believe. They can accept a religious basis for their views. Or one built on custom and history. Or even come right out and admit to working from a basis of irrational prejudice. The Left cannot. Having rejected all of those, they need to insist that their views are rational and scientifically-based. You see this with Obama who is convinced that his policies are evidence-based. So a belief in Science, with a Big S, is core to the Left’s identity.

Science with a Big S is not the same as science with a small s of course. The Left gets upset when the science clashes with what they want to believe. That is why they try to ban anyone raising scientific issues that make them feel uncomfortable.

8 Just Saying March 14, 2016 at 11:40 pm

“I would expect economic leftists to be scientifically illiterate…[I] didn’t read the paper, so don’t know how they defined ‘scientific literacy'”.

The right-wing, ladies and gentlemen.

9 Bill Kilgore March 15, 2016 at 12:04 am

Those two statements are not contradictory. One need not read this particular paper in order to logically conclude that people who support price controls evidence greater scientific illiteracy than those who oppose such.

Evidence confirming the claim is to be expected. Much like your desperate efforts to avoid engaging the issue.

The “left” wing, ladies and gentlemen.

10 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:47 am

Considering that I’m actually the only person on here who read the paper (am I the only one with an academic account to access such papers?), your comment seems silly.

Look below for comments on the paper’s content. It is actually extremely poor.

11 bellisaurius March 15, 2016 at 8:11 am

Holding out on beliefs until they’ve read the source data and how it got constructed? Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

12 dearieme March 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

“scientifically literate and optimistic about science”: why would anyone assume that these go together? Anyone scientifically literate who looks at the science of Climate Science, or of standard dietary and nutritional advice, might well despair of science.

13 Josh M March 14, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Even granting your appraisal of climate science and nutritional science, those are only a small subset of all science being done, so you could easily be optimistic about science in general. One might look for example at landing probes on comets or at building self-driving cars instead.

14 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Also, in that vein, there might be an important distinction between technology and science. The Left seems far more optimistic about science in the abstract than they do about the technology that results from applied science.

Personally, I consider AGW real, but something that’s hardly catastrophic. Furthermore, it seems likely that the worst aspects could be mitigated by a nuclear power build out combined with wind/solar and cheap energy storage.

15 msgkings March 14, 2016 at 5:32 pm

+1

16 Chip March 14, 2016 at 6:35 pm

I ****ing Love Science!

You could probably sort leftists and conservatives with a high degree of accuracy by asking them if they have a positive or negative reaction to this statement.

17 Michael March 15, 2016 at 10:07 am

I’m pretty sure the use of vulgarity would be the more relevant sorting mechanism than views on science.

But yeah, there does seem to be something inherently Luddite about modern lefties.

18 AIG March 14, 2016 at 3:41 pm

But here lies the problem. It all depends on what “scientific literate” means. I’m going to assume, for example, form your examples that you are probably…not…scientifically literate. As the examples you gave are also a small subset of science being done. A much smaller subset, in fact, than climate science or nutritional science.

So when we speak of scientific literacy of …economic conservatives or leftists…should we not care only about their economic literacy and not their literacy of climate science? (and of course speaking about lay people, we don’t mean that they are reading Nature or American Economic Review articles on a regular basis).

Whereas people who are social conservatives, or social liberals, may limit themselves to only observing “scientific” progress in the social sciences or liberal arts. I would guess that being skeptical and having a low of opinion of that “science” is probably a good thing.

So, there ain’t no such thing as “science”.

19 Josh M March 14, 2016 at 4:12 pm

The counterexamples are not meant to illustrate the entire breadth of the scientific endeavor, as apparently that needs to be spelled out.

20 AIG March 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Every counter-example will suffer from the same problem. Hence, its not possible to describe “science” by just focusing on one’s preferred disciple of science. Individually, they all represent only a small subset.

21 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

“Anyone scientifically literate who looks at the science of Climate Science, or of standard dietary and nutritional advice, might well despair of science. ”

Hmmm, those seem more problematic due to politics than due to the science.

22 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

A science infected with politics is a science worth despairing of, no?

23 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Agreed, but those are political issues impacting a couple of narrow areas of science.

However, to undermine my previous argument, I think the general trend in social science studies being non-replicable is a serious problem for science. It indicates that we’ve got substantial groups of researchers across rather broad disciplines engaging in questionable research practices.

24 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Maybe. But if society is changing then even the best designed methodology in history will fail to replicate. Certainly there are questionable research practices in some quarters, but in certain types of research, a failure to replicate is far from proof that this is the case.

25 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:11 pm

“infected” would be a problem.

But we should not leave it to journalists and politicians to do all the spin. If a scientist thinks their work has social relevance, it is better to hear it straight from them. Sometimes this will stray into advocacy. Again, I’d rather hear it from the scientists than the journalists and politicians. However, scientists never pull strings – in politics, they are advisers at best, almost universally ignored for political expedience – in journalism, their research is often mis-portrayed for clickbait.

26 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:32 pm

“We find that self-identified conservatives and social conservatives are less scientifically literate and optimistic about science than, respectively, self-identified liberals and social progressives.”

Members of theses groups should pause and consider before injecting nonscience and nonsense into this discussion.

27 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm

“Members of theses groups should pause and consider before injecting nonscience and nonsense into this discussion.”

Your statement is clearly injecting non-science into the discussion. So it seems unlikely that anyone else is going to adhere to advice that you yourself failed to follow.

28 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Look, we have had decades of climate denial, now coming up bust, from exactly “self-identified conservatives and social conservatives”

You think I am going off topic when I call out “self-identified conservatives and social conservatives” intent on injecting more denial here?

No.

29 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm

But 20 years ago in early stages of climate science a model failed to accurately predict the values in a volatile series, THEREFORE all climate science into the future is pre-determined as hoaxy and wrong.

Oh, and homosexuality is a disease (a guy in a white jacket said so). And creationism is real (a guy with a white collar said so).

Anyways, I think most of the anti-science stuff associated with the right, aside from AGW denialism (thank you Kock et al.), is linked more to social conservatives (especially certain groups of Christians), and the other conservatives are unfairly tarred with the same brush.

30 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 4:26 pm

I think you are attempting a rather immature ‘poisoning the well’ tactic. I’m unsure as to whether you were completely unaware that it is a common and discredited debate tactic or if you just prefer such tactics?

31 AIG March 14, 2016 at 4:29 pm

“Look, we have had decades of climate denial, now coming up bust”

LOL. Oh my.

32 TMC March 14, 2016 at 4:57 pm

Do people really deny there is climate? I’ve never heard that one.

What people do deny is that current (not 20 yr old) models are really bad at modelling climate.
They have been so wrong for so long that no one believes them. The folks who cling to these rather than reality stoop to data fraud so often than climate alarmism is more a religion than science.

33 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:17 pm

TMC – 10 of the hottest years on record were since 1998. The hottest year on record was 2015.

In most areas of research, we pat them on the back if they get the direction right in a new area of research, not disregard the field entirely for failing to accurately predict values in a volatile series. And then give applause when they do even better.

Quick! What’s the price of oil going to be in March 2022! If the traders get it wrong, we should shut down finance and banking altogether, and go back to astrologers to tell us the future. That’s what you’re like, but with AGW.

34 AIG March 14, 2016 at 5:34 pm

“TMC – 10 of the hottest years on record were since 1998. The hottest year on record was 2015”

Doh! 2015 wasn’t the warmest year “on record”. 2015 has some probability of being the warmest year “on record”. Record, being defined as since…1979.

But, leaving all that aside, it implies in no way shape or form that the warming is…due…to human activity. Without that little tid bit, there is no “climate change”, other than as a natural variation.

All they did was observe a trend, and assign causation to it without ever being able to assign causation to it. Sorry but that is not “science”. The trend is just a descriptive statistic.

35 msgkings March 14, 2016 at 5:37 pm

I thought the AGW deniers had mostly stopped denying GW (because the world is obviously heating up) and instead focused on the A part (less obviously true, although likely so). If you are skeptical that the small amount of warming that is happening and probably being goosed by human activity is a huge disaster (for the world, not just a few low lying areas), I don’t think that makes you a denier at all.

36 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 14, 2016 at 5:40 pm

Quick! What’s the price of oil going to be in March 2022! If the traders get it wrong, we should shut down finance and banking altogether, and go back to astrologers to tell us the future.

That’s weird, I don’t recall government stacking the deck in favor of traders over astrologers through a combination of friendly subsidies for the former and crippling regulations on the latter.

And you can give climate scientists all the pats on the back you want for being correct that this decade is ever-so-slightly warmer than the last; but given that “warmer” can encompass outcomes ranging from “negligible” to “beneficial” to “tolerable” to “catastrophic,” you’ll forgive me for wanting to see a bit more than “they’re in the right ballpark” before handing the keys to the economy over.

37 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 5:45 pm

“But, leaving all that aside, it implies in no way shape or form that the warming is…due…to human activity.”

I believe there’s good evidence to indicate that it’s caused by CO2 from human activity. And I also believe it’s warming. However, the predictions of the “rate” of warming have been consistently on the high side. Furthermore, the science indicates the temperature will increase with the log value of CO2. So, the rate of warming will tend to decrease over time even if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing.

This is a problem, but it’s got an easy fix. Let’s build more nuclear power plants and keep building solar/wind at the current rate.

38 anon March 14, 2016 at 5:50 pm

Weak deflections noted. They really are a snapshot of the anti-science circa 2016. Basically say sure you were right that there is AWG, but that doesn’t make you right!

Yes, it does.

39 AIG March 14, 2016 at 6:06 pm

“Basically say sure you were right that there is AWG, but that doesn’t make you right!”

Exhibit A of a scientific illiterate.

Trends in short-term temperature fluctuations is not evidence of:

a) A…anthropogenic

or

b) GW. A few decades of data is meaningless in global, or climate, terms.

The anti-AGW position in fact entirely depends on the assumption, thus far not even remotely disproved, that there are natural fluctuations in temperature. And hence, anti-AGW cannot “deny” that temperatures move up or down, or that climate changes.

The fact that some of you can’t seem to understand that the issue is not, even remotely, whether there is “warming” or not, is exhibit A of scientific illiteracy.

The argument, or disagreement, is entirely on whether

a) There is an A component in this, and how much is the A component (simply saying that there is an A component, AGW does not make, since you have to show the magnitude of the impact)

and

b) Whether the rate of change is “unprecedented” or out of the ordinary (or even if the level is out of the ordinary). In both these cases, the evidence seems to suggest, no. It’s been warmer even a few centuries ago, and the rate of change has fluctuated at such rates in the past, almost always.

Basically what we have here is people who pretend to be “scientific” by pointing to an observed phenomenon and saying “See, GOD did this! How do we know GOD did this? Because how else could it have been done?”

40 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:13 pm

AIG, a willingness to re-fight lost wars in a comments section is not good evidence of scientific literacy.

41 AIG March 14, 2016 at 6:23 pm

“AIG, a willingness to re-fight lost wars”

Agreed. AGW lost the war back 2010

42 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:24 pm

But 20 years ago in early stages of climate science a model failed to accurately predict the values in a volatile series, THEREFORE all climate science into the future is pre-determined as hoaxy and wrong.

It is not that a model failed, it is that they all do. The climate is too complicated to be modeled by the sort of computing power we have today. And it is likely to remain that way.

Anyways, I think most of the anti-science stuff associated with the right

You think that because you and the media are agreed that the Left’s scientific illiteracy is not an issue and the Right’s is. You do not see the bias any more than a fish sees water. But the water is there. The Left also rejects evolution – Noam Chomsky quite explicitly does. But he is a good guy so no one ever pulls him up on it. They specifically reject evolution when it comes to humans. They reject science when it comes to things like the transgender. Indeed asking why someone with a X and a Y chromosome plus a fully functioning penis can be reasonably described as a woman would get you fired a lot of places. Certainly get you deleted. So I rush to add I would never ask such a question. Science is rejected on gender generally. It is more rampant in the social sciences. So the evidence that prison reduces crime is over whelming. The Left will not acknowledge it.

43 Chip March 14, 2016 at 6:46 pm

“TMC – 10 of the hottest years on record were since 1998. The hottest year on record was 2015.”

Now, a scientifically literate person would ask the following questions:

1) what do we mean by record? 30 years, 100, a 1000. What was the average annual temperature over the Pacific in 1911?

2) how much hotter were these hottest years compared with the margin of error included in the fine print of the claim?

3) in warming and cooling cycles doesnt it follow that yearly highs or lows will group together, making the 10 hottest or coldest somewhat meaningless as an argument?

4) does thie temperature set making this claim match conclusions from other sets that scientists have said are more accurate?

The questions go on. I once soaked up all these claims like everyone else. I suggest you spend less time preaching your beliefs and more time studying their basis.

44 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:47 pm

How hard is it to spot the fallacy in “climate is hard, therefore we don’t need to worry about climate”?

The possibility, no likelihood, is that climate is hard, and a concern.

45 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly March 14, 2016 at 6:49 pm

“How hard is it to spot the fallacy in ‘climate is hard, therefore we don’t need to worry about climate’?”

At least hard as spotting the fallacy in “climate is changing, therefore humans must be changing climate dramatically,” apparently.

46 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Poor Bill, never heard of CO2 tested in a laboratory tube.

47 AIG March 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

“How hard is it to spot the fallacy in “climate is hard, therefore we don’t need to worry about climate”?

Exhibit B of scientific illiteracy. Anon, you’re on a roll buddy!

“Poor Bill, never heard of CO2 tested in a laboratory tube.”

Exhibit C of scientific illiteracy. You literally don’t even understand what the AGW mechanisms are.

48 So Much For Subtlety March 14, 2016 at 7:03 pm

Chip March 14, 2016 at 6:46 pm

4) does thie temperature set making this claim match conclusions from other sets that scientists have said are more accurate?

All the data sets are being routinely “adjusted” in such a way that it shows more warming. We are not in a particularly warm period – and the entire point of the “Hide the decline” scandal is that they were probably underestimating how cold the past was.

45 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:47 pm

How hard is it to spot the fallacy in “climate is hard, therefore we don’t need to worry about climate”?

Is anyone arguing that? The climate is hard and so the models are useless. Apart from the models there is no evidence of significant warming. At least not in the satellite data. Perhaps we are having an effect on the climate. But if we are, we can’t measure it yet.

So unless we have firm evidence of an emergency I suggest we do not embrace Pol Pot-style Year Zero solutions. It is a mark of how amazingly pro-science the Left is that this is a controversial statement.

47 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

Poor Bill, never heard of CO2 tested in a laboratory tube.

You do know that this experiment was faked and in fact it doesn’t show warming? You also know that the real climate is not a test tube full of CO2 in a lab? That there are feedbacks and so on?

49 Jan March 14, 2016 at 8:09 pm

Ah, SMFS, with the good ol’ “we couldn’t possibly measure it” argument. I have to admit, it is the most efficient route to the root of the climate change debate. Except it is total bullshit. Almost airtight against rebuttal. Until you talk to someone who knows anything about how these measurements work.

50 AIG March 14, 2016 at 10:23 pm

“Ah, SMFS, with the good ol’ “we couldn’t possibly measure it” argument”

Except that that is correct. You can’t possibly measure the causality, and certainly not the effect size, if you don’t have a counter-factual.

You can measure it in the laboratory, yes. But not the impact in the real world over longer periods of time. That is at the core of the issue. I have never talked to, or read anyone from the AGW side…who claims that they can. They can claim to estimate it, not claim to actually measure it.

51 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:42 am

“On slowness of AGW – that’s the point, isn’t it? It’s a long-term thing:

Do you even read your own ridiculous arguments? Its a long term “thing”, but somehow it is “proven” by the fact that the “last 10 years are the warmest years in the last 30 years!!!! OMFG!!!!”

LOL

Oh my. You’re such a scientist.

52 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:45 am

“The analogy is not in the science of the causal factors, but in the fact that you defer to volatility and long-term variance, and entirely ignore things which, RIGHT NOW, are affecting the variables.”

Jesus H. Christ. How do you know that? That’s the whole point.

You…REALLY…don’t want to make an analogy here to markets, or any other time series. Cause the blatant weaknesses of the current “climate science” become even more embarrassingly obvious.

53 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 6:12 am

OKl, let’s try it the scientific way. Since there is a fair degree of consensus around the entire globe that AGW matters with the exception of a handful of right wing parties with major oil tycoon supporters, I think the onus is on the AGW deniers.

Link to some science. Discuss. Something more than just a bunch of obfuscation or distraction from key issues.

AIG – the record goes back more than 30 years. Where did you get this “30 years” line from? I’m extremely curious of the origin of this misinformation.

SMFS – yes, it is clear that a lot of atmospheric CO2 gets absorbed by the ocean. Hence the concerns about bleaching, because fairly rapid change in ocean acidity levels will not give enough time for many species to adapt, with potentially very negative impacts on fisheries and species diversity, both of which a lot of people care about.

54 Careless March 15, 2016 at 9:15 am

AIG – the record goes back more than 30 years. Where did you get this “30 years” line from? I’m extremely curious of the origin of this misinformation.

I’m pretty sure it’s referring to satellite coverage

55 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:38 pm

As a moderate: The convincing argument from economic conservatives is that you reject efficiency at your peril. But it is hard to argue with the liberal position that efficiency by itself is not enough for general welfare.

So, balance.

56 AIG March 14, 2016 at 3:43 pm

So what you’re saying is, that moderates are actually less “scientifically literate” than either economic conservatives or economic leftists.

I buy that.

57 anon March 14, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Huh? That was an economic thumbnail, efficiency vs redistribution.

58 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Gotcha. Anyone who is not dogmatic in viewing left/right arguments is scientifically illiterate. /sarc

I think he hit the nail more or less on the head.

59 AIG March 14, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Anyone who misrepresents the arguments, is scientifically illiterate.

60 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Well, you haven’t exactly substantiated any counterargument yet.

61 AIG March 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

“Well, you haven’t exactly substantiated any counterargument yet”

First, define “efficiency” for me. Then we’ll talk.

Second, it misrepresents the Leftist position as being interested in the “general welfare”. What does that mean, and where is the evidence that this is what they are interested in. Or that “conservatives” are not interested in the general welfare.

Whether “efficiency” or “redistribution” (depending on how one defines them), contribute or how they contribute to the “general welfare” is an empirical question, not an ideological one. If the empirics show that “redistribution” does not lead to improvements in general welfare, would the Leftists change their minds? We already know the answer to this question.

62 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:00 pm
63 AIG March 14, 2016 at 6:08 pm

“It is not totally smart to ignore easy googles”

Sooooo….what do you mean by “efficiency”, then? Come on now, do tell.

64 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:11 pm

I am totally willing for you to apply the general economic literature on efficiency.

If you are holding out for my personal thumbnail, it is that government policy should not create arbitrary loss. As when zoning prevents subdivision, or as when tax advantage puts a battery manufacturing plant in the middle of nowhere.

65 AIG March 14, 2016 at 6:25 pm

“If you are holding out for my personal thumbnail, it is that government policy should not create arbitrary loss. As when zoning prevents subdivision, or as when tax advantage puts a battery manufacturing plant in the middle of nowhere.”

I.e., your argument is an argument of efficiency.

Do explain to me how “redistribution” would “increase general welfare”, without appealing to an argument of efficiency (whichever kind you want to pick)?

66 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm

AIG, if you have seriously been following Political Economy you know that there is always a tension between efficiency and redistribution.

You are foolish to argue with someone like me who admits the tension (a moderate) rather than someone (on the left) who thinks redistribution is all there is.

67 AIG March 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm

“AIG, if you have seriously been following Political Economy you know that there is always a tension between efficiency and redistribution.
You are foolish to argue with someone like me who admits the tension (a moderate) rather than someone (on the left) who thinks redistribution is all there is.”

I’m arguing that you’re less “scientifically literate” than either extreme, since you can’t even accurately describe either of their positions.

68 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Go study some first and second year economics for a basic overview on what people mean when they use these terms. Open source texts (probably not written by free marketists, but man, these are practically as set in stone as organic chemistry for most relevant timeframes) are easily available online. I’m not going to waste my time trying to inform someone who has demonstrated an interested to twist argumentation against whoever does not pre-agree with his perspectives.

69 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:40 am

“Go study some first and second year economics for a basic overview on what people mean when they use these terms. Open source texts (probably not written by free marketists, but man, these are practically as set in stone as organic chemistry for most relevant timeframes) are easily available online. I’m not going to waste my time trying to inform someone who has demonstrated an interested to twist argumentation against whoever does not pre-agree with his perspectives ”

I’m going to go ahead and guess that you have no clue what you’re talking about. My question remains unanswered, nonetheless. Which “efficiency” are you referring to?

See, I’m quite certain I know a lot more than you on this issue, seeing how your knowledge is probably limited to first and second year econ textbooks.

I’m not twisting anyone argument here; just asking a couple of very simple basic questions which should be easy to answer. And yet…

70 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 6:45 am

AIG – if you’re asking those questions, clearly you don’t know more than the other people. However, I don’t want to play your games since you pre-indicate a desire to twist any words against people. The textbook definitions are there if you want to find them.

71 Careless March 15, 2016 at 9:16 am

Anyone who misrepresents the arguments, is scientifically illiterate.

Well that’s certainly not true. Plenty of dishonest people out there.

72 sam March 14, 2016 at 3:42 pm

This can easily be shown by talking to leftists about organic foods, vaccines, the virtues of fruit juice, etc.

73 Millian March 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

They have more money, and so their parents probably had more money.

74 PeterG March 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

I’m going to guess they are talking about Libertarians, even though they don’t use that term in the abstract.

75 AIG March 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Libertarians are probably less literate of economics than either of the two extremes. Libertarians operate on dogma.

76 Heorogar March 14, 2016 at 5:10 pm

+1 – Can I add to “dogma,” “superstition?”

77 JoS. S. Laughon March 14, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I love when narratives get busted.

78 AIG March 14, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Ok, I read the paper now. Seems very weak. It’s basically just a bunch of correlations on self-responses. I.e., totally crap other than as basic descriptive statistics.

Second, they are obviously not measuring “scientific literacy”, but rather self-reported attitudes (how do you know someone is…informed about science and technology…simply because they say so? Wouldn’t someone who isn’t really informed, think they were, simply because they are ignorant of what they don’t know?)

Third, the paper understates things by quite a bit. Anti-welfare and anti-redistribution seems to be more “pro-science” in terms of attitudes on its value than the economic leftists on the measures that actually capture that construct (rather than if you visited a museum, or how interested you are)

Fourth, why anti-abortion and anti-marijuana are the two measures of social conservatism? What other measures are there in the survey? What happens when you use other measures from the survey?

Hello….a correlation table is not evidence that these things group into two categories (social vs. economic conservatives)! How about…latent variable analysis?

This study seems to have been done by an undergrad, since it’s undergrad level of analysis. How did this thing get published?

This paper is exhibit #1 for having a dose of skepticism of what one reads of “science”.

PS: What’s the N here? They never even describe what the survey items are, or what these “tests and quizzes” are. Really poor work.

79 AIG March 14, 2016 at 5:00 pm

PS: This paper went through a review process and was accepted in….1 month? Holy molly! That’s all one needs to know to gauge the quality (even without reading the paper).

Oh the irony of such a paper, and such a journal, talking about scientific literacy!

80 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 5:03 pm

I don’t have access to the paper. The authors are from the UK, Belgium and Germany. Where were the responses gathered from?

81 AIG March 14, 2016 at 5:10 pm

They’re using the GSS (general social survey) of the US government from 2000-2014.

But they give absolutely no detail as to their sample, or why they chose the particular items (as I’m certain there’s other items on that survey that could fit the social or economic conservatism/liberal construct).

And all it is, is just bi-variate correlations, with many items seemingly mis-represented (as to which category they fall into). They make no effort to show why or how these items group, which to me indicates cherry picking of items. And worst of all, most are simply gauging the respondent’s opinions of their own knowledge.

82 AIG March 14, 2016 at 5:17 pm

PS: Sorry, not of the US government. Of the US I meant to say, 2000-2014. But, the survey has a lot of items on it and these guys just cherry-picked 4.

83 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 5:25 pm

I can’t access the article either. But “scientific literacy” should definitely not be self reporting about whether you think you know about stuff. It should include a broad array of first year principle across a diversity of disciplines, including some basic statistics principles.

I disagree with portraying anti-welfare and anti-redistributionist as being either pro-science or anti-science. Rather, they may reflect different values.

84 mulp March 14, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Given the definition of “economic conservative” is not being an “economic leftist”, I suggest that this is related to defining an “environmental conservative” as not being an “environmental pillage and plunderer”. Thus an “economic conservative” who would certainly be an “environmental conservative” is a classical liberal who would support Teddy Roosevelt and FDR and Keynes.

Unless “economic conservative” means consuming capital assets and labor for maximum profit before you die, leaving nothing behind, but waste, maximum entropy.

85 anon March 14, 2016 at 5:42 pm

I think many of you misread the original study and Tyler’s intent in posting it. What he’s saying is, sure conservatives have a bad science record, but economic conservatives get a reprieve. This is very much different than exoneration for all conservatives. Broadly, the old “Republican War On Science” (Mooney, 2006) can be true, but Tyler has this caveat to hang his hat on.

Don’t misread the caveat as the story.

86 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 5:48 pm

What? I thought it was all about the “Liberal War On Economics”. 😉

87 anon March 14, 2016 at 5:54 pm

Authentic liberals have crazy ideas. Bernie’s campaign illustrates them nicely. But the old “anything left of far-right is socialism” has broken down. Now we (1) have authentic Socialists, and (2) the burn has worn off, become the “Bern” as they say.

I am not and would never be a Socialist in the true meaning, but I’m not sure the breakdown of the “socialist” insult as brain off-switch is a bad thing.

88 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 6:13 pm

“But the old “anything left of far-right is socialism” has broken down.”

I agree that this does seem to be breaking down, but the old “anything right of far-left is fascism” seems to be having a resurgence.

89 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:15 pm

I will agree JWatts that “fascism” has been called like the sky is falling, but sometimes:

Trump says he may pay legal fees of supporter who sucker-punched protester at rally

That is scary. Deeply.

90 AIG March 14, 2016 at 6:27 pm

“That is scary. Deeply.”

As opposed to Bernie supporting his fascist goons stopping political speeches and gatherings through the use of guns and beating opponents.

Ahh!

91 anon March 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Weird. I already said “Authentic liberals have crazy ideas.” but AIG needs “as opposed.”

I actually think most of his “as opposed” is made up, but the interesting thing is that he can’t keep his eye on the ball.

92 JWatts March 14, 2016 at 11:28 pm

“Trump says he may pay legal fees of supporter who sucker-punched protester at rally
That is scary. Deeply.”

No, Bernie’s plan to increase Federal spending by 50% per year is Deeply Scary. Hillary’s propensity to cronyism, hiding her communications and motives and general vindictiveness are mildly scary. Trump grandstanding is just silly grandstanding, which probably shouldn’t win him any votes but almost certainly will. It’s certainly less troublesome than Hillary’s private server scandal and yet that issue isn’t keeping her from winning the Democratic nomination.

93 anon March 15, 2016 at 4:37 am
94 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm

There’s nothing “liberal” about Sanders or his supporters according to any traditional sense of the word. That having been said, I think there is a lot of legitimacy to their concerns and positions, although it would not be economically desirable to implement every last one of them.

95 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:36 am

“I think there is a lot of legitimacy to their concerns and positions”

There was a lot of legitimacy to the Nazis concerns and positions as well. After all, Germany was in a poor shape, so concerns would be legitimate. However, that doesn’t justify much.

96 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 6:55 am

AIG – most of his positions are standard fare in most of the rest of the Western world. Fully implemented, USA would be like … a lot of the West. Not very Nazi like at all.

Please be specific. Which parts of Sanders plans (which, anyways, wouldn’t likely pass Congress) do you consider as “Nazi” like, and please explain why this is Nazi-esque in the US context, whereas it has not led to any such thing anywhere else.

I imagine, the Nazis are rather more concentrated at the rallies where people shout “Sieg Heil!”, give Nazi salutes, tell people to go to Auschwitz, and drag out minorities who do not so much as say a word in protest – their mere presence is offence enough to the Trumpistas.

97 Careless March 15, 2016 at 9:26 am

But again, Nathan isn’t a leftist!

98 Nathan W March 16, 2016 at 7:40 am

Carless – economically, the planned economy is as far as you can go to the left, the 100% laissez faire economy is as far as you can go to the right.

Preference for market production with moderate redistribution with a view to unleashing the economic potential of disadvantaged invididuals lies somewhere pretty damn near the middle.

I am left of right, right of left, somewhere in the middle. Being left of you does not make me left wing, it makes you right wing.

99 Doug March 14, 2016 at 7:45 pm

American conservatives are so anti-science, at least 25% of them don’t believe in evolution. Unlike American leftists, 90%+ of whom believe that evolution magically stopped working 10,000 years ago. That all human sub-population have identical capabilities regardless of their ancestral history. That intellectual and personality heritability is entirely environmental, despite endless empirical evidence showing that it’s entirely genetic. Oh, and let’s not forget the high point where they railroaded the Octogenarian, Nobel-prize winning, co-discover of DNA into unemployment for publicly mentioning some of this. Yep the left definitely is very, very pro-science. As long as it fits the current political narrative…

100 jc March 14, 2016 at 8:44 pm

It’s as if the academics here lack academic friends outside of econ depts. You learn pretty damn quickly that certain topics – *especially* evolution, unless you’re bashing rednecks for literally believing Genesis – will garner hateful responses among your friends who are professors in sociology, psychology, art, English, religion, poly sci, history depts. etc. Hell, even among professors in sciences like astronomy, physics, chemistry, etc., you learn to keep quiet about science that doesn’t conform to progressive dogma. (On the other hand, when thinking of my typically “economically conservative” engineering or comp sci professor friends? They’re actually far more likely to be pro-science.)

101 Nathan W March 14, 2016 at 10:44 pm

The inventors of lego are not the ones who are best at discovering what use to make of lego. Watson’s role in discovering the structure of DNA does not make him an authority in all things genetic.

102 Doug March 14, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Sure. And that’d be one thing if the inventor of legos was publicly disagreeing with established orthodoxy in the field of lego-building. But the inventor of lego was run out of town for publicly announcing a position that’s nearly universally validated in lego-building research everywhere. By a bunch of people with no formal training in legos in any capacity whatsoever. Nor did the attack cite any actual evidence from the field of legos, but was simply based on an argumentum ad consequentiam. (“If the public accepted that L-shaped legos have lower structural capacity than square legos, that might undo the previous half-century’s progress of lego equality”).

That’s not truth-seeking. It’s a witch hunt, and a basic assault on science and reason. Plain and simple.

103 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 12:23 am

“a position that’s nearly universally validated in lego-building research everywhere”

If that were true, lower year university texts would not include things like “the intragroup difference is larger than the intergroup difference, hence, this shows little promise for interesting research”.

Not only is the position NOT “universally validated”, the consensus in ACTUAL genetics (not psychologists who masquerade as genetics researchers without so much as ever discussing actual genes) would not be basically the opposite of what you say.

Since you’re oh so concerned about the people with “formal training in legos”, please stop lending credibility to those armchair specialists who philosophize about lego building, but routinely fail to demonstrate even first year level knowledge of the field.

The “consensus” in this research is a completely false consensus, because most ACTUAL geneticists are not involved in the field.

Would you prioritize the opinions of a psychologist of that of a materials scientist if the subject at hand were materials science? No. That would be dumb. Psychologists are not geneticists.

104 AIG March 15, 2016 at 2:34 am

“Genetics” is another way of saying, fixed characteristics. One doesn’t need to know which specific gene causes what, to observe some fixed characteristics of individuals or groups of individuals, which do not change with contingencies.

That being said, I’m not sure you understand the meaning of “intragroup differences are larger than intergroup differences”. Intra-canine genetic differences may be much larger than inter-species differences with humans. And yet, dogs are dogs and humans are humans. That’s why mean and variance are two different things.

105 Doug March 15, 2016 at 3:02 am

Nathan, I frankly don’t think you understand the basic thesis of the debate.

“[T]he intragroup difference is larger than the intergroup difference”

This is irrelevant to the proposition. The question is whether the mean of the distribution of African IQ is lower than mean European IQ. If mean African IQ was 99 and mean European IQ was 100, the proposition would still be true, even if the standard deviation of individual IQ was 20 points or higher. Are you familiar with basic statistics? Even if intergroup differences account for 1% of the variance of intragroup difference, the law of large numbers means that a group of a million random Europeans will have higher mean IQ with 99.99% certainty than a million random Africans. That’s just the Law of Large Numbers, which any student at any reputable university should learn in Statistics 101.

What you’re saying is the equivalent of asserting that the Casino doesn’t have an advantage in Blackjack because the variance of each hand’s payoff is larger than the house’s edge. Doesn’t matter that there are many random hands where the player wins, what’s at issue is that given enough hands the house will always prevail.

“The “consensus” in this research is a completely false consensus, because most ACTUAL geneticists are not involved in the field.”

Guess, you’re not familiar with the research. Because here’s a case of “ACTUAL geneticists” confirming decades of results from twin studies:

“We conducted a genome-wide analysis of 3511 unrelated adults with data on 549 692 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and detailed phenotypes on cognitive traits. We estimate that 40% of the variation in crystallized-type intelligence and 51% of the variation in fluid-type intelligence between individuals is accounted for by linkage disequilibrium between genotyped common SNP markers and unknown causal variants. These estimates provide lower bounds for the narrow-sense heritability of the traits.”

http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/v16/n10/abs/mp201185a.html

But please Nathan, clearly you’re an expert at “ACTUAL genetics”. So please in detail, for those of us who aren’t as enlightened. What exactly is the mechanism that “ACTUAL geneticists” know about, which for some reason invalidates the very direct logic of twin studies?

106 Doug March 15, 2016 at 3:53 am

Sorry… on retrospect that comment across as more dick-ish and less respectful than I would have liked. I still stand by the content, but should have been more diplomatic.

107 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 8:20 am

Doug – of course it doesn’t reject possible differences in means. However, the initial statistical analysis suggests that these differences, if any, are not likely to be very large at all. Straight from the mouths of world class genetics experts at University of Toronto where I studied several courses heavily intensive in genetics. I’m pretty sure their reputation relies quite heavily on not being full of shit in any regard.

On the basic principles of inter/intragroup differences in genetics, here’s a random paper ranking high in a Yahoo search: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC389614/pdf/pnas00087-0271.pdf. I highlight the relevance of focusing on standard errors, and whether the differences in averages are statistically not interesting when looking at the overlap of the standard errors. Expressing this stuff for the specific case of genetics, because the data type (differences in base pairs or alleles) is much different than, say, economics, where it is quite easy to express for intuitive purposes. Key: not rejecting the possibility of differences in averages, just that exploratory statistical analysis suggests that such differences are not likely to be interesting. Exceptions for specific genetic diseases with identified genetic markers are well-known to exist, however.

On the paper you mention: While I applaud that they’re actually talking about genes (SNPs actually) as opposed to being social sciences research fraudelently masquerading as genetics research, I have a few problems with their conclusion that all of these differences explain “intelligence”. Let’s say that just a few of those genes explain something like, short attention span. Many people can be exceedingly smart, but cumulated over many years of education, not paying attention in class, getting easily distracted, etc., this can have enormous impacts on results on a standardized test. Due to all of these sorts of things, the correct interpretation is not “differences in SNPs help us to pinpoint the size of the genetic component of intelligence”, rather, the correct interpretation is “differences in SNPs help us to explain differences in outcomes on a standaradized test, although we have no idea whatsoever about which SNPs relate to “intelligence” and which SNPs are related to behavioural differnences which influence test taking or accumulated learning over the course of education.”

Cases: 1) I have a student that I peg at IQ of about 140, maybe higher. She is easily distracted and almost never paying attention, but somehow stlil always has a pretty good idea of somehow coming up with a plausible answer when I put her on the spot. Give her a test, and she’s slightly above average. But she’ll suck up an entire class worth of learning in about 30 seconds if you can get her to pay attention for that long, and spit it back at you months later like she just learned it yesterday. IF YOU CAN GET HER TO PAY ATTENTION FOR THAT LONG! 2) I have many another students who score perfectly on nearly everything. But if they get distracted for so much as a minute or two, they’re completely lost and the only way to get them back with it is to take a few steps back and cover the material a second time (i usually teach the same material several times over using different methods, so this generally isn’t a problem). So, I’ve got IQ 105(?) kids scoring 100% across the entire term, and an IQ 140+ kid who barely surpasses average. 3) I have another student who picks up new knowledge virtually instantly, but is also easily distracted and get very excited about brilliant tangents (very creative thinker). No matter that he masters it in an instant – he forgets it tomorrow and gets nearly zero on the tests. What on earth is the use of a standardized test in explaining the real world potential of these three types of people? In the right job, all three groups can perform at the highest of levels. In the wrong job, all three groups are a complete failure.

I assume there must be some genetic basis for such differences, although family life and a variety of other factors must also be relevant. The paper you cite incorporates all such factors as “intelligence”. This is incorrent. Rather, it should be “all genetic factors which influence outcomes on a standardized test”.

Plausible hypothesis explaining an evolutionary mechanism which explains group differences in outcomes on standardized tests: if you live in the tropics, there are lots of deadly things at every turn, and being easily distracted might help to notice those deadly things and not get dead – in northern climes, it is patience which is needed to get your meat, whereas being too easily distracted might lead you hunt less effectively in such environments. OK, I just made that up and haven’t got a clue if it matches observed differences between populatoin groups. But we’re talking about behaviour here, not intelligence, and that’s the point. And, we haven’t even gotten started about things like cultural differences which differently emphasize academic learning.

Aig – if you had any particularly advanced knowledge of genetics, you wouldn’t discuss genes as “fixed characteristics”. Read up on DNA methylation wiki if you’re curious to understand why. For example, it is essentially established that going through famine leads mothers to pass on certain genes differently due to methylation (which blocks gene expression), and such effects can persist for many generations.

Dogs and humans – Compare the range across the population for all base pairs which are different. Then, you compare the average differences between the populations. They do not even inhabit the same spectrum. Not surprising, since they are completely different species. I’m not sure what’s with your peculiar fascination with lecturing people that they don’t know about stuff through use of examples or modes of questioning which suggest that you don’t actually have a clue what you’re talking about. No offense intended, but you clearly haven’t studied much genetics, a statement which applies to the vast majority of the population.

108 Careless March 15, 2016 at 9:34 am

If that were true, lower year university texts would not include things like “the intragroup difference is larger than the intergroup difference, hence, this shows little promise for interesting research”.

Let me explain that to you in a way you might understand. Take two populations, say, Japanese and Dutch. Their heights mostly overlap, going from, say, 5′ to 7′ for the dutch and 4’10” to 6’9″ (numbers made up, of course)

Is one group taller that another, despite the fact that they mostly overlap? And would this show little promise for research into the genetics of height?

109 Nathan W March 16, 2016 at 8:27 am

Careless – Since we know that Japanese and Dutch are both well-fed populations where almost all individuals reach very close to their full height potential (absent HGH or other interventions, and ignoring that borderline annorexia is more common among Japanese girls), we can draw strong conclusions about the genetic determination of these observations. There really aren’t a lot of confounding factors to get in the way of this observation of differerences in averages, even with zero knowledge of genetic determinants of height (but, in this case, we DO know the genetic determinants, or at least the main ones).

On the matter of why we can easily accept such major differences between groups wrt height, but still should be skeptical of such differences in, say, intelligence: In the matter of height, since just a handful of mutations (say, in HGH-related genes) can have huge influence on downstream expression of other genes related to height, even just a few mutations can have a huge impact (not 100% sure this is how HGH has it’s huge impact, but it suffices to say that just a few SNPs can explain huge differences in genetically determined height potential – consider the case of a very carefully equilibrated molecular structure of the protein output, and even a very single small change can have HUGE impacts on the final shape of the protein output).

The same does not apply to more complicated things like “intelligence”, where, yes, it is implausible that there will be perfect equivalency between population groups, but the sheer number of genes involved makes it extraordinarily unlikely that the average differences will be very interesting at all. To oppose this line of thinking, you’d have to identify a gene, or a couple genes, which are known to have major downstream effects in many other intelligence- or behaviour-related genes – which I also find implausible because the brain is a ridiculously complex thing compared to basically anything else produced by evolution.

I do not oppose the proposition of genetically determined average differences in the least. I highlight the implausibility of the genetically average differences being very interesting when it comes to intelligence. Like, if the average intelligence of one group (after society perfectly resolves all social causes for differences) is IQ 99.5 and IQ 100 for the other, how can this information be useful at all? Like “So what?”. The person in front of me remains the person in front of me, and why on earth should I care about such an observation? Thing is, there is some extraordinarily flawed research out there which purports that the difference is the ridiculously implausible IQ 85 and IQ 100 averages between populations. Such research invariably stuffs all unknown factors into a variable called “genetic component”, an intellectual fraud which does not pass muster in first year stats.

110 Careless March 16, 2016 at 6:02 pm

Congratulations, Nathan, you’ve proven that human intelligence couldn’t have evolved and the creationists are right.

Or, perhaps there’s something wrong with your argument

111 Bob March 14, 2016 at 8:36 pm

I am not surprised in the least by this. The most popular measure of scientific literacy is pretty damningly bad, we use a test that is much more valid as a tribal identifier than an actual understanding of science.

http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/5/24/weekend-update-youd-have-to-be-science-illiterate-to-think-b.html

When such slight changes in question wording drastically alter the results, I am highly doubtful that the test actually measures scientific literacy. As such, it comes as no surprise when you have members of the conservative tribe who do not also identify strongly with the religious tribe score high on the test.

Atheists can be Biblically literate, knowing all the stories and the various claims made by the Bible. They can fully comprehend the claims, but reject them on grounds they find to be sound. Similarly, religious conservatives appear to know the basic collection of scientific facts and the claims made by basic science. They can fully comprehend the claims, but reject them on grounds they find to be sound. As long as we are measuring belief in scientific claims rather than understanding, we will continue to get idiosyncratic results that are meaningless.

112 AIG March 14, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Dang! That’s exactly what I was saying in a previous MR post. I often find that people who are the biggest “believers” in evolution, also tend to not understand the theory at all.

113 Miguel Madeira March 14, 2016 at 10:00 pm

I think this is more one instance of the very peculiar US political terminology – if your “economic conservatives” were called “liberals” and the word “conservative” was reserved for “social conservatives” (like in most of the world), many of these apparent paradoxes did not occur.

114 Nathan W March 15, 2016 at 12:31 am

It is, indeed, rather odd that the word “liberal” has become a dirty word in the right wing lexicon, given that it’s origins are essentially synonymous with most economic policies traditionally associated with the right. The mixing of social conservatives and economic conservatives seem to explain this (someone suggested it here a little while back). Basically, as liberals started to realize that various discriminations were highly illiberal for the freedom of those groups compared to the moderate unfreedoms of those who could no longer discriminate, social conservatives started to hate liberals.

But this doesn’t explain how “economic conservatives” also seem to hate “liberals”, despite the fact that they are basically the same thing when you don’t count for identity politics.

Apparently a desire to uphold discrimination against LGBT and promoting official policy indifference to other minorities is more important to many “economic conservatives” than all of that economic stuff. If not, then what else could explain this turning upside down of the usage of the word on the part of many right wingers?

After all, where do you think the “liber” in “libertarian” comes from, and there’s hardly anyone more classically right wing than a libertarian. Strange …

115 Miguel Madeira March 15, 2016 at 6:07 am

“The Left wanted to use the classical liberal as a stalking horse. If they called themselves Communists no one would support them.”

Well, in most all the countries in the world the Left calls themselves Socialists or very similar words (Social-Democratas, Labourites, etc) and many people support them (perhaps even more than the “liberals” in the US); even in the US, outside the ex-Confederated States of America, most Democratic voters seem to support someone who calls himself Socialist.

116 Careless March 15, 2016 at 9:42 am

But this doesn’t explain how “economic conservatives” also seem to hate “liberals”, despite the fact that they are basically the same thing when you don’t count for identity politics.

Huh? Non-socon economic conservatives are libertarianish. Libertarians aren’t close to the left aside from identity politics

117 carlolspln March 14, 2016 at 11:29 pm

1) Its a superficial silly paper

2) TC trolls the mouth breathers

118 From Fukushima with Love March 15, 2016 at 10:38 am

Loool a paper published in a journal called Personality and Individual Differences is being taken seriously 😀 …. Obviously TC is trolling!

119 B. Reynolds March 16, 2016 at 11:00 am

I’m pretty certain that the average leftist who takes the “correct” view of AGW doesn’t know any more about science than the average conservative.

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