Tuesday assorted links


#1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicameralism_(psychology)

"""Bicameralism (the philosophy of "two-chamberedness") is a hypothesis in psychology that argues that the human mind once assumed a state in which cognitive functions were divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys—a bicameral mind. ... a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind as recently as 3000 years ago. The hypothesis is generally not accepted by mainstream psychologists.

According to Jaynes, ancient people in the bicameral state of mind would have experienced the world in a manner that has some similarities to that of a schizophrenic. Rather than making conscious evaluations in novel or unexpected situations, the person would hallucinate a voice or "god" giving admonitory advice or commands and obey without question: one would not be at all conscious of one's own thought processes per se.

That article tries to be positive about those voices, but they drove that girl to become withdrawn, nearly fail her degree and eventually commit suicide. Even the first time she heard them they told her to endanger her sister. Not that benign.

Also you have to feel sorry for the doctor the college referred her to. He gave her a clean bill of health? Did she perhaps mention that she had been hearing hostile voices since pre-school?

3. Randall Schweller defends Trump on foreign policy.

VOX published someone saying nice things about Trump? Entirely sensible things too. So are they planning to dox him? Or is it only CNN that does that? Anyone want to bet that there will be unpleasant consequences to praising Trump to the Voxkins?

Speaking of voices. President Trump is living rent-free in liberals' sundered psyches.

VOX who?

The ancient Greek theater's chorus comes to mind.

Matthew Dowd (seen elsewhere) tweet re: 2018 media chorus: "Week One: Trump is NUTS., Week Two: Trump is a WACIST. Week Three: Trump is [fill-in-the-blank]."

Note to Dems. You won't win votes from people you hate.

I liked the way he worked the porn payoffs into a broader view of international politics.

@SMFS: are we reading the same article? The one from Elle, posted 8 days ago? Shanika did not COMMIT suicide, although she attempted to. She was not successful at that, and has learned to cope, at least for the present. I did a quick news search, and didn't see anything updating that status.

Shanika never actually committed suicide, hence her being alive to talk with the journalist. I did find it odd that the article takes issue with calling her "troubled", because she clearly was (as are many college students).

#3 Is an interview, and the interviewer frequently challenges Schweller's atypical POV among foreign policy specialists.

Yes, and "troubled" would be the classic adjective for her. But the article explicitly rejects the word: "... a huge stigma attached to voice-hearers. They're depicted as 'crazy' and, as one doctor described Shanika, 'troubled. She wasn't 'troubled', she just needed help."

It seems to me taking the word "troubled" off the table, by putting it in quotes as though it were meaningless, is the final step in our collective descent into madness as regards our treatment and attitude toward the mentally deranged. Perhaps not a particularly important step, given what we've thus far agreed is tolerable.

And on what basis should the Fields Medal be awarded?

So it sounds like the Fields medal has always been a way for Marxists in the mathematical professions to push forward the careers of other Marxists.

Meh. Still makes it more credible than the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a mathematician working in areas where Fields Medals are frequently given, my impression is that nowadays hardly any one is surprised by who gets the Medals. They go to the most original and productive under-40 mathematicians who have solved big problems. For example, if Peter Scholze (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Scholze) doesn’t get one before he turns 40, a lot of people will be eating their hats. One does hear about some politics behind the scenes, but it seems to be mostly about interdisciplinary and interuniversity rivalry rather than ideology.

This (your last sentence) is my impression too. That said, doesn't the author's suggestion to reward mathematicians for being "promising" and to have "celebrity being a disqualification", after blaming the existing set up for not selecting enough women, sound somewhat agenda-driven?

(P.S.: Isn't Peter Scholze an extreme, once-in-a-generation example? Would people agree unanimously that it is understandable that Bhargava has a medal but not say Gaitsgory or Lurie or Venkatesh?).

Blah, I don't think Scholze is a one-in-a-generation example. I think the people knew for sure that Barghava would get the Fields medal, and Ngo before him, and I would day that a little third of the choice of the Field medalists were, without the benefit of the hindsight, clear.

Thanks (I used "once in a generation" in a slightly different sense, as in how extreme the example was); I don't know much, but can relate to what you are saying. I certainly remember that everyone expected Ngo to win the medal, and that it was one of Time magazine's top ten achievements of 2009.

Meh. It is really an article with low historical information and even less interest.
The logic is very weak. It amounts to: "the history of the Fields Medal show that the way we attribute it has changed over time, so we should change it again, and in the direction I want". He vaguely argues that the direction she wishes to change the Fields medal would be a return to the source of sorts, but he doesn't seem even to be convinced by his own argument.

And what the author wants for the Fields medal is clear: to give it to mathematicians not just for "the difficult theorems they produce," but because of their " backgrounds and identities", like race, gender, etc. You'd think the bearers of those ideas had been bombed out of existence by allies in Germany in 1945, but they keep coming back like cockroaches. Reassuring though that the author is an historian, not a mathematician.

Sir, are you sure those ideas on identities like race and gender are really unpopular among mathematicians? Jordan Ellenberg recommends the article on twitter

And the following article seems to be written by a mathematician, in fact by a former student of Bhargava: https://blogs.ams.org/inclusionexclusion/2017/05/11/get-out-the-way/

Blah, the title Sir is unwarranted and unnecessary.

These views are popular among mathematicians, for sure. I have no delusions about it. I was just happy that this one piece, at least, was not from a mathematician.

This being said, I should nuance "popular". "Frequently advocated" is more correct: it is difficult to know if people who defend using "race" as a primary factor for hiring, admission, award and recompense decisions do that because they really believe in that ideology or just because they feel it is useful and necessary for their careers. Because for sure it is: I've been in many committees making this kind and decision and recently, I have seen many people directly rejected because their application didn't contain a paragraph or two expressing their enthusiastic adhesion to that dominant ideology. I know also many mathematicians rejecting in private these views but defending them in public -- not something they should be proud of. But certainly a sizable portion of mathematicians with influence really hold these views.

And Blah, whatever Jordan Ellenberg says, it is a bad article historically. Dearieme has already noted the mistake about the time of the internationalization of the field, off by three centuries, which shows a very insufficient knowledge of the subject matter by the author. But the rest is hardly better. The whole discussion about Weil and Schwarz misses many well-known points. The idea that you can understand the internal process of how a decision like awarding a Fields medal is done by looking uniquely to what people have said, *in writing*, at the committee making the decision, is absurd: obviously you get a very biased view, because people don't say what they think in such a committee (and again, especially in writing). One well-known and important point about the Weil/Schwarz arbitrage is political. That Weil is a truly great mathematician, the best of the last century according to some (Serre for instance), is and was (in 1950) obvious to everyone. But he managed to piss off many other mathematicians by his elitist and sometimes arrogant positions, some even I find hard to accept (e.g. his idea that as a great mind he shroud be dispensed of fighting in the war). Because of this, Weil had great difficulties to find a decent job in France after the war (despite the strong support from the Bourbaki circle, of which he was a part) and stayed in the US (Chicago then Princeton) all his life. It is difficult to imagine that this reputation of Weil didn't play a role in the lack of sufficient support he got for the Fields medal, yet it is not even mentioned to be refuted in the paper.

There are also many other shortcomings in this short article (e.g. the discussion Hirzebruch/Grothendieck is wanting) but I will stop here. It looks like the author is not well acquainted with the many sources that are available to understand in full the events he talks about: for instance the autobiography of Weil, that of Schwarz, the huge "Récoltes et Semailles" by Grothendieck, the 1000-page correspondence between Weil and Cartan, just to quote the main ones on French, and many many others. But it is clear that historical precision and efforts to get to the truth are of secondary importance for such authors. What matters is that, after as many twists as needed, you can end up with a political conclusion which is in accordance with the doctrine of the Party.

Thank you very much for these really excellent comments.

I found it odd the article advocates returning to an older conception of the prize by citing justifications used as the time, but presents no evidence that giving out the prizes to less accomplished mathematicians served to actually encourage much in the way of future results from them.

"a fin de siècle European mathematical community that was just beginning to conceive of the field as an international endeavour": anyone so ignorant as to imagine that maths became an international endeavour as late as that is too dim to pay attention to.

I overlooked this line. You're completely right of course. Since the renewal of mathematical progress in Europe during the renaissance, Mathematics were an international endeavour and every mathematicians knew it. (Other example in older cultures can also be given, though the meaning of "international" becomes less clear
in a world before "nations".)

The article and his author should not retain our attention, as you say, except perhaps to illustrate the debate there was last week on these comments about what is an "impostor" in academia.

2. Chairman Pai wants more economic analysis so the FCC follows the path to "what we theoretically and empirically know works or doesn’t work". Yes, the FCC should follow the path we know, theoretically and empirically, works or doesn't work. Of course, Chairman Pai already knows what theoretically and empirically works or doesn't work, and that includes net neutrality. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”

Yes. Net Neutrality. A nice name, but essentially taking a vibrant and constantly changing market and setting it in stone, calling it freedom.

The 'data' shows that an unregulated market grows and thrives.

You mean the innovation of telemarketing fraud and theft by deception, not to mention thee innovation of tricking police into killing random innocent people, including a sheriff at home with his wife!

After all, the FTC can easily eliminate all the bad actors and with them all the robo calls....

How robo-callers defeated the U.S. government

Will Pai support an FCC mandate for ANI authentication by telcos?

Or will he argue the economics call for forcing telephone customers handle billions of unwanted calls on their own dime?

This proposal is from the same people who sought and wrote net neutrality regulations.

Too bad the police in the U.S. are incapable of arresting someone without killing them

And this is why Humpty was pushed.

Economists tend to have more positive views of repealing net neutrality:

2. This is more mundane that the article suggests.

For a very long time, agencies have been required to conduct cost benefit analysis as part of agency rulemaking. This is not only a necessary part of the Administrative Procedure Act, but also several other acts including the Congressional Review Act, Paperwork Reduction Act, and relevant executive orders.

To the extent FCC has already been complying with these requirements, this may just be a reorganization into a discrete business unit. To the extent FCC has not complied, this is an effort to do so or to improve analysis.

It's certainly worthwhile news about economics and good for economists, but it's hardly novel.


The only reason I can think the partisan hacks at VOX would print this is in hopes of splitting the vote 25% / 25% / 50% to favor the false prophets in the Democratic Party that VOX worships.

"Perhaps you like the idea of starting a Conscientious Conservative Party, but don’t like the idea of losing and tipping the balance of power decisively to Democrats. In that case, maybe you could get on board with changing electoral laws to make it easier for third parties.

Perhaps you could get behind the Fair Representation Act, introduced last year in the House, which would move us toward a proportional voting system"

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