Wednesday assorted links

by on April 19, 2017 at 11:48 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Thiago Ribeiro April 19, 2017 at 12:12 pm

#1 O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved the scientific consensus.

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2 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 12:39 pm

1a was a big read, but yeah. The consensus is underrated.

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3 Bryan Willman April 19, 2017 at 1:13 pm

The REAL problem is scientific consensus and political or social consensus are the not the same thing, and generally only vaguely related.

For example let us stipulate that AGW is true, and that if we do not all give up internal combustion engine cars large parts of the world will be covered by the oceans. The “activist consensus” resting on science assumes we’ll all choose to give up cars. The reality of human history suggests that “we’ll keep the cars while pretending not too, and we don’t actually care if Kiribati or for that matter NYC ends up under water, in fact that might be a good thing.”

So being “right” about “the science” means next to nothing about the political and social choices that will be made.

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4 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 1:29 pm

I think that’s a good snapshot of late-stage bargaining on AGW. We certainly did go through a lot of years where the purely scientific part could not be accepted. That is mostly gone now and there is inefficient fighting between various value networks.

Someone from an oil company AGW response group told me years ago that it would all be “adaptation.” That frustrated me then because I thought that some mitigation should be possible. I thought we could at least do the low cost high ROI changes. But I think we have been on a glide path to nothing but “adaptation” all along.

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5 mavery April 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm

I generally agree, but correctly identifying the “problem” is crucial. The way you try to improve society if the problem is, “The scientific consensus is frequently incorrect” is different than if the problem is, “Society frequently ignores the scientific consensus to its own detriment.”

So getting everyone to agree that the latter rather than the former is what we are working to fix is important.

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6 Troll Me April 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

How about a 2% tax to be funnelled into income tax reductions?

I literally do not want to go back to the stone ages. Is 2% not enough? How about 3. No black/white nonsense around here.

You seem to be suggesting that because not everyone wants to ride a horse to work that therefore moderate measures, such as a $20 or $100 per tonne carbon tax, would take us to the stone age.

In fact, it would probably lead to faster technological advance.

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7 Doug April 19, 2017 at 1:36 pm

SSC is almost always worth the read. Scott Alexander is literally better than 99% of long-form professional journalists writing today.

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8 mavery April 19, 2017 at 2:03 pm

While I prefer to read SSC to long-form journalism, he’s doing something different than they are. He writes essays. Journalists/news papers don’t have essays. The closest things are editorials, which are generally much shorter and typically based on opinion rather than facts. To be honest, I don’t really know what sort of thing publishes essays like those by SSC (and occasionally here) except for blogs.

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9 NatashaRostova April 19, 2017 at 6:54 pm

Maybe there would be more essays if people were capable of writing them well. As far as I can tell Scott is a generational genius, and comparing others to him isn’t fair.

10 anon April 20, 2017 at 12:08 am

The question is why he isn’t already writing for a much bigger publication than his own website.

11 asdfG April 20, 2017 at 12:42 pm

He doesn’t want to be. And it is entirely rational for him not to want to be. Certainly there is a lot more money in doctoring than in essaying for even the biggest publications.

12 Joe In Morgantown April 19, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Doug, who are examples from the one percent? I’d like to be reading them.

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13 Jeff R April 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm

But scientists studying these areas face much more political pressure, and as long as you give the surveys anonymously they’re happy to express horrendously taboo opinions.

If we can only trust scientists in controversial fields to express what they really think anonymously, this suggests that taking the “consensus” view at face value is a bad idea.

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14 Slocum April 19, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Taking the consensus view is a bad idea even if when surveys are anonymous — given the extreme political and ideological polarization of nearly all fields in academia. One commenter on SSC pointed out that a survey of Sociologists found only 36% thought it even plausible that men tend to be more promiscuous due to reproductive strategies. I’d expect to see similar numbers regardless of whether or not the survey was anonymous. This is the sort of thing (overwhelmingly left-wing) sociologists really believe.

But even where there’s no politically-driven consensus, entire fields do go way off in the weeds for long periods. The research paradigms that failed to survive the replication crisis in Psychology had been humming along for a couple of decades. And during most of the first half of the 20th century, the consensus in Psychology was that Behaviorism was the best approach for understanding human cognition (not much to it, really) and behavior (largely driven by environmental stimuli). At any given time, the consensus in a scientific field may not be just wrong, but completely bonkers.

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15 Todd K April 19, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Sociology is a scientific field? When did that happen?

16 Slocum April 19, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Is it any more or less so that the rest of the social sciences?

17 Tarrou April 19, 2017 at 9:18 pm

Less so. On a scale of one to ten, with ten being pure math, humanities might be a one or a two. Sociology is -3425.

18 Daniel Weber April 19, 2017 at 2:27 pm

In most fields, the scientists say publicly what they say privately. The private reservations are cues that the public consensus is due for a shake-up soon.

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19 Chip April 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

The problem with AGW and consensus is that there is widespread agreement only on the fact that human CO2 contributes to temperature change.

Beyond that basic statement, there is a wide range of disagreement from the extent of the contribution to the cost versus benefit question, efficacy of mitigation, accuracy of models and many other variables.

Everyone agrees that people can die in the shower. But we don’t then say everyone agrees we must ban showers.

That is essentially the state of the narrative on climate change.

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20 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 2:48 pm

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-07/will-exxonmobil-have-to-pay-for-misleading-the-public-on-climate-change

I think it is at minimum annoying for anyone to attempt a guileless “everybody knows” at this late stage.

Politics today are shaped by two groups, old believers and old deniers, standing in much the same place, demanding much the same action.

It is a dysfunction very much shaped by the original sin of denial.

21 anon April 19, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Denial or uncertainty?

22 Tarrou April 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm

“original sin”

Freud was right.

23 Amigo April 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm

A good rebuttal by the source of the original ridiculed scientist list

http://amasci.com/weird/vindac.html#j42

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24 Scott Alexander April 19, 2017 at 6:17 pm

I responded to the response with this:

“Sorry about the language. By “top ten” I literally meant “the ten at the top of the page” and didn’t realize it could be interpreted as “ten best”. I was trying to take a representative sample to see how much of the list I could trust. I will edit the post to correct the ambiguity.

I agree that ten years of ridicule is not fun for the scientist involved. But I think as outsiders trying to understand the way science works, we should find it encouraging that science tends to right itself quickly. If the half-life of a Galileo situation is really short, we should expect that there are few of them going on at any given time, and be more skeptical about any given one we hear about especially if it’s old enough to have gotten public traction.

I also think this relates to your last point, about car-crashes vs. near-misses. I agree that we’re trying to figure out the not-directly-observable question of how often science gets wrong and stays wrong. My first thought in this direction was to see whether the errors that later got corrected were usually corrected quickly (which suggests strong error correction mechanisms) or slowly (which suggests weak error correction mechanisms). If things usually get corrected within ten years, and almost always within thirty, then we should expect something staying wrong for fifty years to be a huge outlier. That means if we’re looking at a scientific result that’s held up for fifty years, we should be pretty confident it’s not one of the car crashes.

I still can’t find any description of Doppler being mocked for the optical Doppler effect. Do you have a source for that?

I also can’t find any description of Baird being mocked. It may, as you say, be in one book, but it does look like the sources I linked disagree. In any case it seems pretty clear that this was corrected almost immediately.

Lilienfeld is some kind of distant great-great uncle of mine, so I’m familiar with him, but I’ve never been able to find a great consensus as to what actually happened with him. Descriptions range from “he never tried to build it or did anything with it” to “he never published anything formally” to “he was ignored” to “the materials at the time weren’t good enough for it to catch on”. I’ve never heard anything saying he was ridiculed.

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25 Slocum April 19, 2017 at 7:48 pm

“But I think as outsiders trying to understand the way science works, we should find it encouraging that science tends to right itself quickly.”

But aren’t there really two periods of interest — how long it takes for the maverick challenge to be accepted and how long the problematic situation persists before anyone even challenges it? In the case of the replication crisis, the correction period after Ioannidis’s paper was 5-10 years. But how long *before* 2005 was worthless research being published routinely in prestigious journals? Shouldn’t we start the clock not when the first challenge is made but rather when the critical errors first affected the field? And, if so, in the case of Psych and p-hacking, aren’t we talking about decades?

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26 Borjigid April 19, 2017 at 10:12 pm

+1

27 Christian Hansen April 19, 2017 at 10:15 pm

I love your writing but it read a bit like a straw man insofar is there is a large consensus that consensus is awesome. It is almost like a tacit admission that AGW deniers have better arguments on their face and this is a response to that. No one put this kind of effort into evolution deniers.

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28 Anonymous April 20, 2017 at 10:02 am

This fails “rationality lunch questions.”

29 William Beaty April 21, 2017 at 1:10 am

Yes, Lillienfeld wasn’t ridiculed. My list suffers some drift towards “near-suppressed breakthroughs” rather than just the ridiculed geniuses. Irrational rejection, suppression of intellectual dissent, blocking of all funding soruces, this needn’t involve outright ridicule.

After looking into Lilienfeld since 1980s, I discovered that Bell Labs apparently spread intentional propaganda. They publicly stated that Lililenfeld’s transistors had never been built, and that they couldn’t work in theory. Yet eyewitnesses reported his tiny multi-transistor radio, and that Lillienfeld had spent a decade showing it around to contemporary radio companies. He never published, just patented, then met a wall. Fifty years later a grad-student built Lilienfeld transistors for their dissertation, and then another one made improved versions. Bell labs seemed mistaken. Yet most references today copy the Bell Labs pronouncement that they’d never been built.

Then it finally turns out that Bell Labs had published a research paper, where they’d successfully built and tested Lilienfeld’s transistors!

The paper appeared in the same journal where they first announced the bipolar transistor. In the paper they carefully avoided any hint that the devices were actually Lilienfeld’s. These worked fine, demonstrated significant gain. (Don’t forget that Bell Labs isn’t scientists, it was a business, therefore such distortion/deception is expected.) During WWII Bell Labs had been working on Lilienfed devices, searching for some patentable variation, when they stumbled onto the Bipolar Transistor. The boss Shockley even instructed Bardeen and Brittain to drop all work on their point-contact Bipolar Transistor, since they were supposed to be concentrating on Lilienfeld’s! They ignored Shockley’s orders and went forward. Later, Bell Lab’s EF Johnson (of Johnson Noise fame) specifically lied about the Lilienfeld transistors during interviews for a physics journal, and that’s where the false facts originated. In the long term, the FETs like Lilienfelds proved superior, and today Bipolars fading away. For over a decade Bell Labs was unable to patent their early FET work, because of Lilienfeld’s prior art. So to make billions on military contracts, they had to invent a non-Lilienfeld transistor, and then conceal the real history behind the invention.

See, this is the kind of science-historical dirt that turns up, once you become sensitized to all the “sanitizing forces” which distort most textbook accounts. If we insist on painting science in a false-good light, rather than just being accurate, not only are we dishonest, but also we break the corrective feedback loop.

“Right itself quickly.”

Again I strongly disagree: science sometimes rights itself extreeeeeemely slowly, taking year upon unnecessary year, often *an entire decade.*

🙂

But seriously, the ten year delays, besides harming the victim, are significantly bad for science itself, mostly because the delays aren’t random, but invariably involve major breakthroughs; major leaps forward. If any breakthrough has been completely lost, it’s probably an extremely enormous one. For example, if a new disease-cure is discovered, how many years of hostile rejection/ridicule become acceptable, before the derision finally halts and FDA testing can begin at last? TEN YEARS? Really? I’d have said months. By tolerating these useless 10-year gaps, any amazing future arrives far more slowly than it otherwise would. Remove the delays, and *then* science will be rapidly correcting itself.

The way I see it, we could have XXXX in our own lifetimes, rather than having it only benefiting our great grandchildren after we’re gone. “XXXX” is whatever you’ve dreamed: star-trek technology, alzheimers and cancer cures, doubling our lifetimes, …or that one amazing breakthrough that no one expects. If you think that home computers and the Internet were amazing forward leaps, you haven’t considered xxxx, which will be over five times more wonderful!!! (No, I don’t know what xxxx is. Probably I won’t live to see it, if its early researchers even now aren’t being taken seriously, and their funding proposals viewed as fantasy and rejected without serious inspection.)

Note well that I’m part of the research community, and my goal is self-criticism of that community. “Science is the worst method of explaining the world …except for all the others.” Without a widespread attitude of brutal criticism towards science, our most serious problems end up concealed, not corrected. We end up living in a dark age, but we won’t perceive it ourselves. It only becomes obvious in the future, once it has ended. So, “attacking science” with brutal criticism shouldn’t just be left to our enemies, instead it’s the proper job of scientists and science-supporters.

Doppler beloved? IIRC his reputation was destroyed and he died in ignominy, after widespread emotion-based attacks regarding optical doppler effect. He was vindicated decades later. This appears to be another example of a misleading, “sanitized” history of science which doesn’t appear in the usual accounts. I only encountered it because I was on the lookout, yet the greater community assumes Doppler was beloved and prestigious. The same thing happened to Faraday, he never lived to see the ridicule end and wide acceptance of his concept “magnetic field.” Regarding ridicule-vindication, the more you look, the more you realize that official science history contains much pro-Science propaganda. (Not just Doppler, but Faraday? WTF!!) In some cases it’s Denial on an enormous scale, with nothing like Feynman’s prescription for “bend over backwards honesty” and distrust of authorities in power. And so, Feynman’s “Cargo-Cult” thinking invades mainstream research. These embarrassing incidents make science look bad, yet they’re not being used to make improvements. If they stay hidden, then they can’t be part of the community’s self-correction. When revealed, I find that they trigger irrational denial in otherwise bright and competent people, who insist there’s no problem here, and won’t instead see serious problems and want to fix them. (Heh, a deep and widespread stain of “ridicule-vindication” is a NEW IDEA which must be resisted!!!) Found Doppler: https://books.google.com/books?id=vqlOnrNeBBwC&pg=PA27, the irrational “tribunal” was led by Joszef Petzval, described there as: hostility, derision and ridicule, where the entire local scientific community took unusual action, actively turned against Doppler, and when Doppler suddenly died, had been taking steps to remove him from his position as institute head. The hostile rejection lasted two decades. Then he was vindicated, and the whole incident remains invisible unless you go looking.

About consensus: I don’t agree that Scientific Consensus has ever been a huge feature of our field, since Science (in the ideal) is based on tolerance of a variety of viewpoints. We don’t have all those “single correct answers” the classrooms present. Instead we have a variety of approaches for every topic. Consensus doesn’t become important until the evidence becomes unconvincing. Only when claims are controversial does our usual wide variety of scientific opinion get suppressed, intellectual dissent marginalized, and the topic of Scientific Consensus become the rallying cry of the moment. (I see this stuff as anti-science. It’s like a religious belief, a worship in the “Cult of the Single Right Answer.”) Regarding most results of science, we don’t bother mentioning consensus. Instead it’s reserved for topics such as Creationists trying to distort our bio schoolbooks, anti-vaxxers triggering epidemics.

More: mob-rule and consensus are the same animal, with the difference being the type of people in the mob. Scientists as a group are irrational humans, and scientific consensus contains a very significant streak of irrational mob-rule. If we deny this, then we subvert corrective feedback and remove any personal pressure to fix the problem. Science is supposed to be self-correcting, but it can take decades, should everyone pretend that Planck’s Other Law is perfectly normal acceptable practice. (Planck’s other law: science only progresses funeral by funeral, since the majority refuses to accept revolutionary advancements. Instead they must die off, to be replaced by their students who grew up tolerating the new ideas.)

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30 Patrick M April 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm

Bangkok was a cool and interesting place to visit but you don’t need to spend more than 3 or 4 days there. Without street food the requisite time to spend there drops to about 1 day.

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31 Wait a minute April 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm

Are you all being trolled? Other reports I read claimed that street food was being banned from major roads only. Most of the street food action is off of the major roads.

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32 MMK April 19, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Very possible and I hope this is the case. The ASEAN countries have a history of doing some crazy stuff that discourages tourism though.

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33 Jan April 19, 2017 at 7:30 pm

I agree. It is such a staple and source livelihood for so many that banning “street food” will be effectively impossible.

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34 Doug April 19, 2017 at 1:25 pm

If you’re in the region, you’re better off visiting Singapore if you want food and culture, Yangon if you want history and sights, or Siem Reap if you want a mixture of the two.

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35 Melmoth April 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm

I live in Singapore. I’ll accept the food part, but can’t say I’ve noticed the culture bit.

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36 leppa April 19, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Must have been a reference to cultured yogurt.

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37 Hoosier April 19, 2017 at 8:14 pm

Yeah, what kind of culture do you find in Singapore? And Bangkok has some incredible history and sights, enough to rival any other major Asian city. It’s a great big concrete jungle, so I understand why the city isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but I don’t know how you can claim it isn’t worth a 3-4 days stay if you can deal with all that. Tons to see and experience.

38 MMK April 19, 2017 at 6:28 pm

+1. I think Hanoi and Saigon are the big winners if BKK bans street food.

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39 Marc April 19, 2017 at 9:59 pm

I understand that Vietnam have been consulting with Singapore and are trying to move street food vendors into more regulated hawker-style centers. I haven’t been back for eight months, but they did open a hawker-style center near Ben Thanh Market in HCMC within the last two years, and my wife (Vietnamese) is being told by her family members they are hassling street food vendors.

Agree with Tyler’s basic sentiment, though not to the extreme: without street vendors, BKK will lose a bit of it’s appeal. It won’t seem quite as vibrant, and almost certainly would suffer mightily if places like Sukhumvit Soi 38 disappeared.

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40 B Cole April 19, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Why is the criminalization of push-cart vending in American cities never a topic?

Or the exclusionary zoning of land as “retail”?

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41 The Anti-Gnostic April 20, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Why is the criminalization of push-cart vending in American cities never a topic?

I doubt there’s much hue-and-cry over it. American cities are low-trust; street vendors are just targets for mugging.

Or the exclusionary zoning of land as “retail”?

Property values. You can “borrow” your neighbors’ landscaping in a nice residential subdivision. Not so much when the view is the Publix loading dock.

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42 rayward April 19, 2017 at 12:31 pm

2. Does Cowen eat squirrel? He’s posted a couple of entries about squirrel hunting. I suppose if the French can eat rabbit and pigeons, Cowen can eat squirrel. Squirrels, rabbits, pigeons, pigs, cows, sheep, deer, turkeys, ducks, moose, elk, fish, squid, lobsters, oysters, clams, a hungry man will eat just about any vermin. Bon appetit!

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43 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 12:38 pm

This was a correction, acknowledging that meth-snorting may not be an advantageous strategy.

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44 Anon_senpai April 19, 2017 at 3:38 pm

It’s an amphetamine, wouldn’t it give a dedicated squirrel hunter the extra focus boost to outlast the squirrel?

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45 Shadeun April 20, 2017 at 12:14 pm

It only gives the late season squirrel hunter the boost they need.

The early season hunter gets hooked and engages in nut thievery to exchange for more meth.

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46 Amigo April 19, 2017 at 4:37 pm

I thought the squirrel story was something Straussian, but couldn’t figure out what. Clue me in if anyone knows.

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47 BenK April 19, 2017 at 1:10 pm

Learning to love science, the hard way…

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/301/5639/1479.2

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48 anon April 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Unless squirrels have gotten a lot smarter, hunting them is not hard. When I was a boy you didn’t even have to get off the porch.

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49 anon April 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Read the first sentence

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50 Axa April 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

#4: emerging economies will go the NIMBY way as they get rich. Considering there is always a trade-off, what do you prefer? Healthier, richer , happier people or superb street food?

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51 The Cuckmeister-General April 19, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Just remember, first you go NIMBY then you go cuck

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52 Cucks 'n stuff April 19, 2017 at 7:36 pm

Oh, Axa’s already been there.

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53 Ricardo April 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Singapore’s many hawkers’ markets and food stalls already rival anything in Bangkok. Rich cities are perfectly capable of deciding to set aside space for food vendors.

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54 Phil April 19, 2017 at 4:07 pm

The food center concept works in Singapore because it is run by the Singapore government. The idea of the Thai government executing it correctly is laughable.

Not sure what the exact motivation for this is, I’d expect a combination of the generals cargo culting Singapore and wanting to stick it to Thaksin supporters. Street vendors and the cops they bribe to stay in business are both known for their pro-Thaksin proclivities. Think of this as redirecting corruption income from street cops to the army-appointed ministers who will set up these “food centers” and it starts to make a lot more sense.

I’ve spent more than my share of time in Bangkok, most of it in white collar Thai and expat circles, and I have never heard any NIMBYism about street food. Pedestrian facilities are laughable in most places, with or without street vendors. At least the street food livens things up.

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55 Ted Craig April 19, 2017 at 1:37 pm

2. It’s probably not true, but I once read that squirrel hunting in the U.S. created above-average marksmen and helped in our early wars with the British.

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56 Anonymous April 19, 2017 at 1:55 pm

You’ve got to hit them in they little heads if you don’t want to ruin the meat.

Black powder squirrel hunting Jackson County WV

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57 ckb April 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Not really. There’s almost no meat on the ribs anyway, so the same heart-lung shot you take on a deer is just fine for a squirrel.

And if you’re old-school enough to eat the brain, you don’t want a head-shot anyway (I avoid the brain, not due to squeamishness, but concerns about prion diseases).

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58 mbutu o malley April 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Yeah, increasingly the heads are left out, I don’t know how widespread the CJD issue really was but it seems like overnight everyone stopped eating them or tossing them in the pot. We always aimed center mass just because a shotgun at range isn’t a precision weapon.

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59 ckb April 19, 2017 at 9:13 pm

True–shotguns are a different business entirely! I hate picking out the shot, so I mostly stick with .22.

It amazes me how many hunters, even, turn up their noses at squirrel. Younger squirrels have a delicate, woodsy taste, and older ones a pleasant earthy quality that shines in a pot Brunswick Stew (the real Brunswick Stew, not the barbecue casserole you mostly get) or squirrel and dumplings. Plus squirrel hunting is infinitely more fun than deer hunting.

60 Ray Lopez April 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm

That was interesting about squirrels: (1) they are not as tame as city squirrels, (2) they are like cats, favoring movement over noise, and it seems they don’t even care if one of their neighbors gets killed, they will come out and feed a few minutes later (“If you miss a shot, quickly reload and continue to aim”), and, (3) there exists a 0.177 calibre bullet!

On the last point, 0.177 mm (4.5mm) that’s a bullet the size of a BB pellet! How can anything that small kill anything but a sparrow, and that with a headshot? What is the stopping power of this gun: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liliput_pistol (“the Liliput is one of the few pistols that can be owned in the United Kingdom without a license”). Can you take out a charging, crazed Aaron Hernandez or FB killer with this pistol? (I wonder if this post gets censored, hmmm). I think you can, by flashing the gun and shooting into the air.

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61 Iain April 19, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Re: Ray’s question about how can anything that small kill anything but a sparrow? The answer is that the bullets are travelling very, very quickly – more than twice the speed of sound. The article talks about .17 calibre (not .177, which is a calibre used for air rifles). Cartridges in this calibre, like the .17HMR are modern, high velocity rounds with a flat-trajectory, designed for killing small game like rabbits, although they will kill fox/coyote sized creatures too.

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62 ckb April 19, 2017 at 9:16 pm

The .17 people really like their round, and they will talk your ear off about it. In the close woods of the Southeast, I’ve always been happy enough with my .22LR.

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63 Ray Lopez April 19, 2017 at 11:22 pm

Supersonic bullets give a ‘cracking sound’ which I would imagine would scare away any creature with a bigger than squirrel sized brain, and insofar as E = 1/2 m v^2 goes, there are ‘maximum muzzle energy’ regulations in place that limit super powerful bullets from being fired. The modern Belgian FN M-240 machine gun has a muzzle velocity of about 900 meters per second, roughly three times the speed of sound, meaning in about four seconds, it’s maximum range, the bullet will have traveled about 2.3 miles = 3.7 km, that’s fast! Would make an excellent big game or otherwise hunting weapon,as the NRA would agree.

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64 Asher April 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

I didn’t understand the point about moving from a shotgun to a rifle when the squirrels are on the ground. If it is easier to hit them on the treetops with a shotgun, presumably it is easier to hit them on the ground with a shotgun too. Is it against the rules?

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65 Johnny B April 19, 2017 at 7:21 pm

You never want to shoot a rifle in the air. Where does the bullet go when you miss? A shotgun doesn’t have that range, so not the problem. But your point about using the shotgun on the ground is valid. I can’t imagine carrying two long guns on a hunt.

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66 Iain April 19, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Something like the Savage 24 or Savage 42 is ideal for this – double-barrelled with a .22LR rifle barrel on the top, .410 shotgun on the bottom.

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67 Ray Lopez April 19, 2017 at 11:13 pm

@Johnny B – lol. I suppose you also think that dropping a penny from the Empire State building will kill a pedestrian underneath? Urban legend my friend. Check out the Youtube “Mythbusters” series. Shooting a bullet into the air and standing directly underneath it means you’ll be struck by a piece of lead dropped from the height that the bullet travels, let’s say for the sake of argument 1 mile, which, after air resistance coming down, will be about as painful as being hit in the head with a rock. It won’t kill you. By contrast, a bullet striking you when fired horizontally will of course easily kill you, assuming you’re within the lethal range of the same.

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68 Iain April 20, 2017 at 12:43 am

If by shooting in the air, you mean at a perfect angle of 90 degrees, then ok, you’re correct Ray. Off-vertical shots at a high angle can still be deadly though, e.g. the typical 22LR round referenced in the article, if shot into the air at a 60 degree angle would land approx 180 yards away, still with roughly 70 ft lbs of energy – the US Army uses 58 ft lbs as the energy required to cause a casualty.

69 Ray Lopez April 19, 2017 at 1:38 pm

#5 – shorter number five on whether Roman roads cause prosperity or are a symptom of prosperity (probably the former): “build it and they will come”.

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70 Melmoth April 19, 2017 at 2:12 pm

‘They’ being invading germanic tribes which go on to establish the precursors to modern European states?

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71 ckb April 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Every empire falls, and the Romans had a pretty good run.

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72 Thiago Ribeiro April 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Yet, theirs was smaller than Brazil’s and will probably have lasted shorter.

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73 David Graeme April 19, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Yeah well, if you take the beginning of the Roman empire as (say) Octavian’s victory over Mark Antony at Actium in 31 BC and the end of the Roman empire as the fall of Constantinople in AD 1453, we are speaking of a period of 1,484 years, which by even the least generous interpretation possible is almost three times as long as the European knowledge of Brazil, so Brazil has almost a millennium to go to catch up. I certainly won’t be around but perhaps Thiago will be.

74 ckb April 19, 2017 at 9:26 pm

David Graeme says it well. I don’t really know where to draw the line under “The Roman Empire”–at some point you’re talking about a medieval Greek kingdom, a perfectly nice kingdom, but still–but the only way to understand, say, Justinian, is as Emperor of the Romans. God bless Edward Gibbon, but we give him too much credit sometimes.

75 Joe In Morgantown April 20, 2017 at 3:36 am

The German tribes were not invaders, merely undocumented migrants,

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76 Josh M April 19, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Being America’s most important symphony orchestra feels a little bit like being America’s most important pro lacrosse beat writer.

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77 Floccina April 19, 2017 at 4:53 pm

1. Learning to love the scientific consensus.
may not always be correct but it is the way to bet.

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78 Cooper April 19, 2017 at 5:24 pm

Brexit matters but it’s not the ONLY thing on Theresa May’s agenda.

There are a lot of domestic reforms that she wants to push through but is limited by her modest 17 seat majority in the House of Commons. What happens after she wins the next election by 15%+ and has a 100+ seat majority in Parliament? She can do basically whatever she wants to do.

More importantly, she does not currently have a popular mandate. She became PM after an intra-party battle. She hasn’t won an election yet on her own as the leader of the party. A landslide victory in June would cement her leadership position.

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79 Regular guy April 19, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Re #2 an elderly neighbor once killed a squirrel that was raiding her garden. She prepared it using a traditional method of (frying and then​ baking, or the inverse) and shared it with me. It was surprisingly tasty. Hunting them isn’t my cup of tea, but I will vouch for the flavor and texture.

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80 ckb April 19, 2017 at 9:35 pm

A tribute to you for your adventurousness. I’m quite fond of squirrel.

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81 Adam April 20, 2017 at 4:52 am

6. How do I read a Twitter thread? So confusing.

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82 derek April 20, 2017 at 8:53 am

#1. Someone’s Law, I will abscond with it. Derek’s law. The sign of an inferior mind with too much education is the desire to put things into tidy little boxes.

Consensus in science is not right or wrong. The individual issue at hand is either accurate or not. A small mind needs assurance, and if you insist on that become a Catholic and believe the pope is infallible. There are well established systems of thought available for people like you.

So do any of those 10 things mean anything beyond the issue they address? Yes and no. The replication crisis in social sciences means that you don’t trust anything that is written. But don’t smart people already do that? Any systems that we see working have in common self corrective mechanisms; science works when everyone involved question everything. Instances where that doesn’t happen are instructive.

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83 Owen April 20, 2017 at 2:35 pm

Get yourself a good squirrel dog and it will be a lot easier!

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84 Stubbs April 21, 2017 at 12:31 am

My uncle had a dog. I hunted without one. My uncle’s dog was very good at locating squirrels in trees that a hunter alone might pass by without any sense that a squirrel was near. That meant that he could locate the isolated larger “fox” squirrels that did not favor the streams and ponds where “cat” squirrels tended to nest–and nests were the indicator of where to look for them (at least in Aiken County, SC).

I watched this dog on his first hunt. When we wounded a squirrel and he dropped to the ground, the dog ran up and picked him up with his mouth. The squirrel promptly bit him viciously right on the shiny part of his nose. It was the last time he grabbed a squirrel anywhere other than by the back of the neck (and quickly killed it-if needed-by shaking).

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85 Owen April 20, 2017 at 2:37 pm

On a separate note Tyler, ditch the squirrel hunting and check out the dying art of running rabbits with beagles. I’ve hunted all my life (deer, turkey, small game) and I’ve never felt excitement in my chest like I did when I heard my first beagle hound on a rabbit trail. It’s all I think about now.

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