Here are links/commentary on what I found most interesting to read recently.
1. Asian discrimination lawsuit against Harvard won’t change anything, except damage their claims to meritocracy. Not much new if you’ve been paying attention to the lawsuit. By now it’s clear Harvard and the Ivy League capped admissions for Asians at about 17% at least since the 1990s. If you haven’t seen the data, it’s worth seeing, so I pulled together notes in this post.
2. Disability Applications Plunge as the Economy Strengthens. New York Times story found via Adam Ozimek. Who also linked to a piece from March with the chart below. If you follow these kinds of stats, you’ll know that rising disability has been (mostly) interpreted as a sign of people giving up hope of finding a job. That is to say the unending rise in disability has been one of the most depressing stats to watch. A stand in for despair. So it’s important news this has turned around. New story. Plus the story from March.
3. Matthew Yglesias and Garret Jones on immigrant’s effect on crime in Germany. I wanted to link to this because it’s the kind of thing that should happen more often than it does. So it makes me happy. People being civil to each other and changing their minds. Yglesias wrote a post Trump just tweeted that “crime in Germany is way up.” It’s actually at its lowest level since 1992. Jones responded by noting that yes overall crime is down, but violent crime is still up and the shift is partly driven by immigrants. He makes the point saying “10% fewer bike thefts. 10% more murders.” What’s surprising is Yglesias thanked Jones for pointing this out. Excellent!
If you’re wondering how this happens, I’ll note that everyone is linking to the exact same data source here (in German), extract in English here. And the extract itself says crime is down! But if you dig into the details, you’ll see violent crime is up, and the violent crime change is driven in part by immigrants. Hence this very similar New York Times story Fact Check: Trump’s False and Misleading Claims About Germany’s Crime and Immigration. When I read it (after being tipped off by Jones and Yglesias), I realized that every single sentence in the New York Times story is true, but the central point about violent crime being up is unmentioned. Related is that Merkel’s risk of losing power has been partly driven by this dynamic.
Probably worth mentioning at this point that I agree with the larger sentiment. Immigrants are great for the US. And Trump’s behavior is appalling. But it helps to keep the facts straight. So you won’t be shocked if Merkel loses power.
4. Jason Collins tutorial post on polygenic scores, and recent wealth and genes study. Collins wrote a post about a recent wealth and genes paper. What I really liked is it’s mostly a well written tutorial on genes, GWAS and polygenic scoring. And it finishes with a nice sentence “Examining intergenerational outcomes while ignoring genetic effects is generally a waste of time.” If you are new to this subject and find it of interest, recommended. link
5. Patrilineal Kin Groups are not getting enough media love. A couple of recent papers (1, 2) have shown star shaped Y chromosome phylogenies are important to understanding cultural and genetic shifts starting around 7000 years ago in Europe, Asia, Africa. This topic seems like perfect media fodder. But I never saw that much in mainstream news or pop culture. Here’s a good write up, with lead paragraphs:
Around 7,000 years ago – all the way back in the Neolithic – something really peculiar happened to human genetic diversity. Over the next 2,000 years, and seen across Africa, Europe and Asia, the genetic diversity of the Y chromosome collapsed, becoming as though there was only one man for every 17 women.
Now, through computer modelling, researchers believe they have found the cause of this mysterious phenomenon: fighting between patrilineal clans.
Since Razib Khan has written some good explainer posts (1, 2) on the papers, I asked him why nobody picked up on it. He cited C. P. Snow’s point about the two cultures of science and humanities talking past one another. Which makes sense.
Let me explain why I thought this is perfect media fodder. [start rant voice1]. Science has shown the battle axe people created havoc in Europe and Asia, killing off the local men and raping the women. Founding patrilineal kin groups that dominate to this day. This is the foundation of greatness. The evidence is right there in ancient DNA. Patrimony rules! The alt-right is vindicated by science! Yeah! [rant voice2] No no no! Patrilineal kin groups taking over was the worst disaster for human kind ever, and we need to move away from that perversion as fast as possible. It led to war after war after war after war after war. Progressives are vindicated by science! Yeah! [back to me] Hmm…. on second thought, best to let sleeping patriarchies lie. 🙂
6. Marc Maron interviews Dave Itzkoff about his book on Robin Williams, followed by Maron’s 2010 interview with Williams. Enjoyed this podcast. If you’re interested in Robin Williams and like the podcast format, recommended. link
7. Paul McCartney does carpool karaoke with James Corden. Yes at times this is a bit contrived. But it’s extremely well done, and I enjoyed every bit from start to finish. So let’s end on this positive note.