Saturday assorted links

1. Scott Sumner on progress, recommended.

2. “The Tribunal’s members are certain – unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt – that in China forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practiced for a substantial period of time involving a very substantial number of victims.”  Link here.

3. Claims about chocolate.

4. Are communist women more competitive?

5. New force of nature?

6. The importance of negative results from RCTs (NYT).


I beg pardon for my possible naïveté, but I am not sure to understand completely the point 2. This committee concluded that 1) Chinese authorities are forcefully harvesting organs from dead people (even if they died because of torture or other human rights abuses), or 2) Chinese authorities are forcefully harvesting organs from people alive, killing them in the process, for the sake of the organ harvesting?

If the 2) is the case, I am absolutely appalled. This is at the same level not only of Nazi Germany or Stalin Soviet Union, as it is mentioned in the article, but even comparable to Orwell Nineteen-Eightyfour.

"Forcefully" harvested would indicate the donor was living, at least at the start of the process. For many organs, obviously, that would not be true at the conclusion of the process.

I guess we're going to find out whether there can ever be any limit --- any limit at all --- to the notion that we can never render judgement on the human rights abuses of another regime because doing so somehow infringes their sovereignty or would be forcing our culture on someone else (as if the people enduring such abuses want to be abused for cultural reasons). The sad part is that, even now, there probably will still be someone outside the CCP that will still insist that, by right, the people of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, East Turkestan, etc. ought to be forced to live under an organ-harvesting regime --- not simply that we are powerless or that it would be too costly for us to try to produce some other outcome --- but that endorsing such outcome is actually moral and virtuous.

It is funny how we suddenly learned the Chinese regime is bad (just in time to bolster Donald Drumpf's criminal aggression campaign against the Chinese people, mind you!!). Sorta like we, after years of supporting them, just discovered that the Taliban and Saddam were bad, bad, bad. Just in time to conquer Iraq and Afghanistan. How serendipitous!!!! Hey, one day we may even find out that Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian, terrorism-sponsoring regime!! We need to free the German minorities in Sudetenland and retake Danzig, I mean, free the Chinese!

Great point! Our regime's hypocrisy is preposterous.

I can remember earlier reports, associated with suppression of the Falun Gong. I gave those some credence, but it was hard to judge, because of the strangeness of it all.

But remember, the House was concerned enough to pass (I believe) this resolution:

"H.Res.343 - Expressing concern regarding persistent and credible reports of systematic, state-sanctioned organ harvesting from non-consenting prisoners of conscience in the People's Republic of China, including from large numbers of Falun Gong practitioners and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups."

I certainly wanted it not to be true.

It all fits into a relatively recent pattern of American aggression against China. What is it? Mao was cool, but Xi is not?

Evidently the Chinese regime is not perfect, but it is not bad as some old favorites of ours, such as the Saud House, Pinochet and the Mujahideen.

Tell that to Hong Kong. I fully expect China to take retribution on Hong Kong in the near future. likely thousands of young people will just disappear from the face of the earth. Yeah! China is not bad...

I wonder how we would feel if Russia or Germany were promoting antu-American separatism in New York or Texas.

Are you now justifying the future murders that China is going to commit???

I am just saying the Chinese people has full right to defend the integrity of its territory.

In contravention if it’s promises about HK “specialness”?

In contravention of historical Taiwanese independence? Or at least quasi-independence?

Hong Kong's so-called "specialness" cannot be construed as excuse for anti-social, separatist agitation.

Soon or later, Formosa bandits will be defeated. We'd better not cast our lot with the treatorous Formosa cabal who challanges the will of the Chinese people.

Trying to boost your social credit score? Two more regime ass-kisses and you too can qualify for a concrete apartment in an empty city.

I guess you didn’t read the Mueller report? Plenty of Russian agents were promoting various forms of separatism.

Sure, but nothing like America's support to the Hong Kong bandits.

Chinese shill has no evidence of said support, as usual.

If Nixon could go to China, why can't we live in peace with China? Why do we need to meddle in its internal affairs and antagonize its people?!

Reading comprehension fail again.

Are you all just this terrible at pattern recognition or is it an intentional feeding of the Thiago troll.

Good lord

A reference to Nixon In China, the opera, gets clipped and the rest of this nonsense stays up?

MR is one strange website.

When I was young I had a set of Nixon in China CDs. I loved them, and the story they told was certainly a valid perspective on why Nixon met Mao.

If you prefer the drier version,

@John Hudson
What are you talking about? This is not a statist propaganda piece. This a fairly obscure website (Marginal Revolution) linking the website of another obscure Committee made of seemingly very credible (in terms of capacity and lack of agenda) people reaching a terrifying conclusion "unanimously and beyond doubts".

I think it is clear beyond doubt that this site, unfortunately, is in lockstep with the Administration's preposterous wamongering policies for China. A cabal of malefactors headed by Trump have persuaded gulible Americans that hurting China somehow will help America's aorkers and businesses. It won't. It is time to stop blaming the rest of the world for our problems and stop with the stupid, mendacious hitlerite rhetoric and saber-rattling.

This non-sequitor response is worth at least a 1rmb deposit into your account, comrade.

I am sure lackeys like you have a hard time believing that people are moved by anthing but the callousncash payment, but there are people who do the right thing because doing is the right thing to do.

Ah, one motivated by revolutionary fervor instead then. 习近平思想万岁!

Nihilistic Chinese shill is still a shill.

It is not even a problem of nationhood or ethnicity. The website linked mentions Falung Gong members are the primary victims, together and before the Uighur.

This is behind words. The hypocrisy of having the Greta girl splashed into our eyes every day and the almost absolute silence about this subject is astounding.

As a radical libertarian, my default answer would be that intervening with statist violence in other people affairs is always wrong (condemning them as you mentions is a different matter, of course), and the right solution is to open the doors through immigration to the victims and letting individuals contribute to the self-defense of the victims as they see fit, with money, weapons or participating directly.

Said that, there are only a very few times that my beliefs are shaken to the core. This is one.

"This is behind words. The hypocrisy of having the Greta girl splashed into our eyes every day and the almost absolute silence about this subject is astounding."
Evidently, before that, there were no problems in the world.

As I say, a House Resolution passed 2015-2016.

But sure, get excited about Greta instead.

Again, it is part of a relatively recent campaign against China. Attacking China won't bring jobs back, no matter what Drumpf's stupid voters may think.

China refuses to allow would-be refugees to leave, so that option is moot. Curious how you expect Western civilians to acquire and deliver useful arms to oppressed Chinese groups.

Libertarianism is awesome a lot of the time, but their insistence on letting their neighbor beat their wife is disgusting.

#4: Probably iteration X of "sex differences in preferences more pronounced in rich nations with fewer behavioural constraints" (e.g. sex differences are a luxury good).

Yeah, I don't see how this is different from a similar observation that made the rounds around here last year, about EE women vs western women.

#1: "Hispanic life expectancy is nearly 82, ... far above countries like Denmark." Oh balls. Canada is a country like Denmark: life expectancy is 82.3 years.

Life expectancy is a statistic subject to the vagaries of minor trends. The minor trend that has everyone thinking white people aren't living as long as they once did is the fentanyl problem where young people are accidently overdosing on street drugs laced with fentanyl. You do not have to be a math major to understand that a single 20 YO who dies from an accidental overdose impacts the life expectancy statistics far more than the death of an 80 YO does. So there is a kind of built in magnifier in this minor trend that distorts the statistics (i.e. the statistics are wrong). The life expectancy hasn't changed (well id did for the fools taking the illegal drugs) it is simply distorted by a minor and probably temporary trend.

And that minor trend has reversed as it looks like the 2019 estimated life expectancy is in:

2016 78.86, a 0.03% decline from 2015
2017 78.84, a 0.03% decline from 2016
2018 78.81, a 0.03% decline from 2017
2019 78.87, a 0.08% increase from 2018

That's a strong point. What would be a more useful statistic? Or perhaps a more useful graph?

I don't think there is a more useful statistic apart from excluding suicides, but it would help if commenters including Tyler would include that each of those declines in life expectancy were only 3 months. The increase from last year was about 9 months, but I bet this detail will hardly be reported.

It seems less that it's wrong, but that what people really want to understand - modal/median age at death, and dispersal of this function - is not really available, and they do not understand that life expectancy is not that.

I think what some *really* want to know is their life expectancy from how old they are now but that won't work for the news.

Ezekiel Emanuel of "Why I hope to die at 75" fame was almost 57 when he wrote that for The Atlantic. At the time, an actuary table for 2014 shows that he can expect to live 26.3 years or until 83.3 in the year 2040 if a typical American male. Emanuel assumes that life starts to suck a lot more from 75, so he's anticipating a rough decade in the 2030s despite medicine being far better than today.

A 2019 table would probably show Emanuel is now expected to live a little longer than 26.3 more years - maybe 27 years - even worse news for him!

DM - I am surprised to see you believing in Canada. I thought you would be a Canadagnostic at least.

"White chocolate and milk chocolate are not worthy of the name chocolate. They are grocery-store candy."

Chocolate and milk are natural complements. I don't see why we have to pretend otherwise in order try to gain points.

I am a chocoholic. I eat between 1/2 lb to 1 lb a day. Hershey is "OK". Ghirardelli is "pretty good". SEE'S chocolate is great but it isn't generally speaking "straight chocolate". The best chocolate is the bulk milk chocolate I buy at Winco's (If you don't live in the Western U.S. Winco's is a grocery store. I prefer the milk chocolate. The dark chocolate isn't sweet enough (I did say I was a chocoholic not a connoisseur). The article to me reeked of elitism and trying to seem urbane and better then thou. I suspect that the author would prefer to write about expensive wine than chocolate. Chocolate isn't about elitism or price or florid, pretentious discussion it is about taste and satisfaction.

If you get the chance get someone to fetch you the Nestle pistachio chocolate on sale in Turkey. Both milk chocolate and plain chocolate versions are available. Very good indeed, and I don't even eat much chocolate.

Most milk chocolate literally has zero chocolate in it, hence the candy comment in the article

Ah... then why doesn't he write a bit about GOOD milk chocolate, and do us a service, instead of dismissing all of it in one sentence...

But how can one write about that which does not exist?

(j/k but only kind of...)

#1 strikes me as a glass half full piece, written from a glass half empty perspective. And at the end of it, I'm wondering why political economists seem less interested in "happiness itself" than they once were(*).

Progress, as an aid to future happiness, is all well and good. But to the extent that those future beings and their future happiness becomes more abstract, I think something is lost. We might end up leaving achievable happiness lying on the table.

* - is happiness research in or out, with respect to behavioral, or mainstream, economics?

Good point. When we accept to be led by such a monster, are we any different from Nazi Germany?

#4, are communist women more competitive: Survivorship bias? :-)

Indeed. Plus learned behaviour, there is the stereotype in Hong Kong about the mainland Chinese being rude and selfish, which is almost certainly due to the environment they grew up in where scarcity and deprivation were such that no-one could afford to be generous. Ironic that a philosophy dedicated to eliminating selfishness actually reinforced it.

If you remove the materialism, identity diffusion and capitalism and plug in the academic fortitude and natural ambition, you have a well-oiled machine.

Think of all the stuff where people have said "Never again" while remembering the horrors the Nazis did. China's behavior gives us the chance to evaluate which of the people saying "never again" really mean it, vs the ones who really mean something like "Never again, unless raising any protest against these horrors would cost me some business or offend powerful and important people." I have my own guess about the relative fractions of those two categories, but maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised....

Never again except supporting Saddam against Iran, the Mujahideen terrorists against the Soviets, Pinochet against the Chileans, the Apartheid against black South Africans, supporting dictators in South Vietnam, Formosa, South Korea, many African countries, supporting Israeli conquests. Except for that, never again never, never, except maybe when it suits our interests. How great we are!!

We supported mujahideen against the occupying Soviets, who would kill over a million Afghan civilians in that war. One of the most righteous causes the US ever engaged in.

"We" supported the Islamic terrorists who terrorized Afghanistan, persecuted non-Patshun groups, doomed the country to illiteracy and low living standards and took all rights women have. Funny, but we only dound out terrorists are bad, when they decided to attack us.

Have a sense of proportion. The Nazi regime started World War II and wiped out 10-20% of the population of many countries in Eastern Europe that were invaded and conquered. The PRC has never conquered any territory and in fact claims less territory than the ROC on Taiwan does; moreover, the population of China has grown a huge amount thanks to vast improvements in life expectancy and economy, with minorities such as Uighurs growing the fastest of all.

When people say "Never again" they mean "Never will we turn away from genocide" not "Never will we turn away from genocide... unless it meets exactly the threshold of the Nazis".

Really? It looks more like "not until we can make American aggression look good".

Hi Paul Wilson! I personally find it confusing to maintain several avatars in one conversation. So impressed you manage so well. I guess that's what separates a pro Chinese mouth piece like yourself from a rank amateur like me.

I don't know what you are talking about. I am Mr. Lee, from Illinois, an American state. It is not my fault if most people can see through your excuses and oppose your gangsterism.

I am completely and totally insane!!!

"Global Warming"? That's what our hero goes with in a discussion with some influential bigs? We are crestfallen.

4. Poverty seems to be a huge third factor here; China in the 1960s and 70s was far poorer than Taiwan at the same time or China today. Even without communism, one would expect fewer sex differences in poor countries as women must struggle as hard as men whereas they can be more relaxed in richer times and places.

Ding ding ding. We have the obvious response which somehow didn't get mentioned by any of the folks in the thread (I'm sure it's not because of ideological blind spots).

If you're struggling for survival, then of course you're going to be more of a hustler.

1. With regard to suicide: Australian suicide rates appear to be holding roughly constant. Given we have an aging population, we would expect them to be rising, so we are killing ourselves less than we would expect at this point. Why? Well, no recession for a generation and -- very different from the United States -- the proletariat make about twice as much as they did a generation ago.

Another reason is we saw a modest decline in suicides after we tightened up our gun laws over 20 years ago now.

Australia is the antidote to hand-wringing about the end of progress.

What we really have is a case of American exceptionalism being unfairly generalised. Western life can be pretty good if you shave off the extremes, as Australia has done fairly successfully.

Thank you. There are still plenty of miserable people here but it is human nature to make heaven into hell or million square miles of scrub into paradise. (But even we can't make much of the other 6.7 million square miles.)

1. Progress in the very richest societies will inevitably slow and reverse as they become decadent and lazy. Welcome to the US. However progress in the poorer societies is still real and enormous. Once everyone is well fed and housed has decent medical care and cars and the internet much of human progress will stop.

Progress in the very richest societies will inevitably hasten as billionaires corruptly control the economy to sink ever increasing amounts of public funding into to life extension research.

Or at least they would if they were a bit smarter.

#6: Nice. Deaton and others have written cogently about the limits of RCTs. This article in a sense is also about their limits, in particular when they yield negative results. But then the researcher is forced or inspired to think more deeply about what's going on, often in fruitful ways.

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