The Neil Young-Kruger Effect

Neil Young announced that he wanted Spotify to remove Joe Rogan’s podcasts and if they wouldn’t comply, he wanted his own music removed from Spotify.

Young is a gifted musician with a solid following.

Rogan is the most popular podcaster with audiences much larger than even some of the major news channels in USA.

Spotify removed Young’s music, even though he silently deleted his announcement.

The Neil Young-Kruger Effect

Where you overestimate your importance to Spotify.
Jordan Powell

I like the diversity of Rogan’s guests but I do wish he’d have some kind of gatekeeper to keep out the grifters, as they do not deserve access to his audience. Only, gatekeepers are not infallible either so maybe Rogan’s success is because he doesn’t appear to have such.











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Tests of loyalty

I know I’ve written about this before, but it’s still relevant:

[About the Qin Dynasty politician Zhao Gao:] Zhao Gao was contemplating treason but was afraid the other officials would not heed his commands, so he decided to test them first. He brought a deer and presented it to the Second Emperor but called it a horse. The Second Emperor laughed and said, “Is the chancellor perhaps mistaken, calling a deer a horse?” Then the emperor questioned those around him. Some remained silent, while some, hoping to ingratiate themselves with Zhao Gao, said it was a horse, and others said it was a deer. Zhao Gao secretly arranged for all those who said it was a deer to be brought before the law and had them executed instantly. Thereafter the officials were all terrified of Zhao Gao. Zhao Gao gained military power as a result of that.
— Burton Watson’s translation from “Records of the Grand Historian

[…] when Trump was newly elected, he tested the loyalty of spokespeople and other sycophants by sending them out to praise the unprecedented size of his inauguration crowds, even though anyone with eyes could see the distortion.

So, loyalty is a function of disparity. The greater the disparity between what actually is and what someone attests to, the greater the loyalty demonstrated.
Eliza Mondegreen

Loyalty tests like this are present in power struggles and other dysfunctional groups. There’s a similar dominance game that is familiar to many, the Group Monkey Dance:

In this ritual, members of a group compete for status and to show their loyalty to the group by showing how vicious they can be to someone perceived as an “outsider”. It is purely a contest to prove who is more a part of the group by who can do the most violence to the outsider.

To someone who has never seen, investigated, or been involved in the [Group Monkey Dance”, it is hard to describe. It is hard to explain how completely inconsequential the victim is. Once the dance starts, the victim is literally a non-person. Any action – pleading, fighting, passitivity – will be interpreted by the group as proof of “otherness” and further justification to escalate.
— Rory Miller, “Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence

And this doesn’t have to be physical violence.

Reject it all.












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Maybe it’s just a cemetery?

I was looking on a map for a specific site and came across this cemetery in Italy:

Sinister statues? Really?

I’ve been there and think if a reminder of the mortality of our human lives is considered sinister, someone has been living a very sheltered life.
















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In case someone didn’t know: Learning styles aren’t

Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis.

We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number.
— “Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence

Or, as Steve Stuart-Williams put it

The best teaching methods are best for everyone.
Steve Stuart-Williams














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No more evil races

Dungeons & Dragons is probably the most famous fantasy tabletop roleplaying game, almost 50 years old and today more popular than ever.

It also followed the old tradition of assigning qualities to “races”, good and evil, clever or stupid, and much much more.

This, of course, does not work these years and people have actually been arguing about this for some time. “Why does my orc have to be evil?”

I have a little bit of experience with D&D and I can now say with confidence that these questions all have an easy answer: You decide.

It’s roleplaying. You are a group getting together to play. You decide the rules.

But this is not enough for quite a lot of people so future versions of D&D will remove much of the racial aspect. Fine.

But don’t act like you needed permission to do this.

By the way, the old rules didn’t make people racist. But if you ask people to see racism, they will:

Only 10.2% found a depiction of orc monsters as inherently evil to be offensive. However, when later asked the blunter question of whether the same depiction was racist, the number jumped to 34.0%, with women particularly inclined to endorse this position. This suggests asking people about racism may prime them to see racism in material they hadn’t previously found to be offensive.
Are orcs racist? Dungeons and Dragons, ethnocentrism, anxiety, and the depiction of “evil” monsters
















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We’ve all been there













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The Potato Paradox

This one is true but my instincts failed me:

Fred has 100kg of potatoes, which are 99% water. He leaves them to dry till they are 98% water. What is their new weight?














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1, maybe 2 or 3 lab leaks later

We don’t know the COVID-19 pandemic originated with an accidental laboratory leak. It’s a possibility and as Matt Ridley’s slightly inappropriate haiku thread points out, it’s plausible.

We do know the Delta variant leaked from a laboratory in Taiwan, mainly because Taiwan is civilised nation and kindly informed the world. This was not the origin of the Delta variant as the leak happened afterwards and the laboratory was studying the variant.

We can suspect that the Omicron variant originated with an accidental laboratory leak. Why? Because otherwise it would be weird.

Weirdness 1: The Phylogenetic Tree

First, look at the phylogenetic tree (it’s basically a family tree for viruses).

[…] But then look at omicron. It’s the red cluster in the upper right. It’s very, very different. It’s way off the “natural” family tree of descendants of the original SARS-CoV-2. What’s more, if you trace its “stalk” back (i.e., if you look where it branched off from the “family tree”), you see it sprang from an “ancestor” from sometime in Spring 2020.

So, how did that happen? How did it suddenly appear in November 2021, when its “forefather” was a version of the virus that was common in mid-2020?

And where is all the natural variation in between? Why is it not like the other variants, nested in that natural-looking spreading set of gradually mutating descendants?


Weirdness 2: The Proportion of the Mutations

[…] All viruses as they evolve develop mutations, all the time. That’s why you see, in the image above, that gradual wedge shape, as the virus gets more and more diverse over time. There’s more similarity on the left (fewer different versions of the virus) and more diversity on the right (more versions) as time goes by. The diversity occurs because mutations occur.

[…] Omicron has a lot of mutations, as you can see from that phylogenetic tree above. Because it has a lot of “useful” functional mutations, which seem to make it a very successful virus […], and because changes to any virus’s “recipe” are truly random if those changes occur in nature, you’d also expect to see many silent (unimportant) changes to its recipe.

In fact, based on all the other successful variants of SARS-CoV-2, scientists know the number of silent mutations they expect to see.

But they don’t find nearly enough of these silent mutations.

Weirdness 3: Its Remarkable Immune Evasion

As you may have heard, one of the most startling things about the omicron variant is its remarkable immune evasion. That means, for example, that our existing vaccines and the monoclonal antibodies we’ve been using to treat COVID patients are much less effective against it.

[…] “It’s not just evolutionary pressure. It’s extreme evolutionary pressure on preventing antibody binding to the spike in a very short time. (Very few silent mutations, which act like a clock, indicate it was frozen for close to 1 year.) It’s either a synthetic polymutant or bred in presence of extremely well-tuned sequence of different convalescent/vaccination sera or recombinant antibodies. That many resistances can’t come from one or few immunocompromised patients, which usually have B cell deficiencies, let alone animals, which initially don’t have antibodies.”

Weirdness 4: The Fact that It Seems to Have Come from a Mouse (in Some Form)

— “Lab Leak 2.0

I think there’s a compelling argument that we should stop doing gain-of-function experiments.

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This was evil

Aella conducted a twitter poll with this evil question:

If you press the button, the top 10% earners in the world (who hold 85% of the world’s wealth) will be forced to forfeit their earnings and be given a fixed allowance equal to 1% their prior income.
Their money’ll be distributed to everyone else, proportionally according to need.

47% chose to press the button:

Congrats, 47% of you reduced the yearly income of everyone with $18,500 to $185

The top 10% earners in the world, holding 85% of the wealth in the world, are those that make the equivalent of $18,500 (€16,400 or DKK 121,900) a year after taxes.











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The communication about COVID-19 has not been good enough

From the 21st Century Salonnière’s “We All Have a Piece of the Elephant“:

Team Mainstream

This team viewed Trump as an outsider to the mainstream social order and was skeptical of the vaccine when Trump was in charge. Now that Biden’s in charge, all concerns have been forgotten. This team believes the vaccines are a good thing. They generally believe it takes a large-scale, population-level, cooperative effort to defeat a pandemic, and these folks are distressed not to see other teams playing along nicely.


Team Freedom

This team sees the pandemic as having created big problems with restrictions on freedom, and those concerns are foremost in their mind. These folks tend not to like anything about Biden, the vaccine, masking, Fauci, the CDC, the guidance, etc. Some of the older members of Team Freedom might accept the vaccines, but a lot do not, and they really don’t like those annoying, controlling people from Team Mainstream telling them what to do! They can perceive Team Mainstream as arrogant, out-of-touch, or authoritarian.


Team Conspiracy

These folks believe some extreme ideas, such as the idea that this was a Plandemic, that Bill Gates was involved, that there are magnets or chips in the vaccine, that the pandemic was a way to test a dangerous vaccine on the masses, that omicron is a white-hat effort to release a virus to end the pandemic, etc.

Even if their beliefs seem extreme, Team Conspiracy has valid concerns in the sense that they recognize, correctly, that our leaders have let us down and have not been trustworthy or transparent. That’s true. But unfortunately, they believe the worst, and it’s likely that their beliefs can in some cases lead to harm. Of all the teams, Team Conspiracy might be the most resistant to engaging with the others.


Then in late November 2021 it became even worse: Along came omicron. Team Mainstream is still telling people to get a booster for sure. Well, that doesn’t make sense to the other three teams. Wasn’t this problem supposed to be solved with two doses? Now you’re telling us three? And you hear Israel is doing four? Do we just keep giving this vaccine, which doesn’t seem to work very well, to people forever, every few months? It sounds like a bunch of crazy-talk, especially since the vaccine seems to work less well than ever! Maybe the vaccine is even causing the variants! (No it’s not, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Team Freedom, Team Contrarian, and Team Conspiracy have a piece of the elephant, though. The vaccine works less well than they were told it would, which increases their hesitancy, uncertainty, even suspicion. And no one in power is addressing those concerns. Instead, the people on those three teams are treated as if they’re uncooperative idiots — and they know they’re not. [my emphasis]

To be sure, any way you look at it, the vaccine still works a whole lot better than “no vaccine,” even against omicron, but Team Mainstream has been, truth be told, (and I hate this word, but it fits here) gaslighting the other three teams by insisting that the vaccines were intended all along to prevent hospitalizations and deaths, not stop you from getting sick.

No, it needs to be said: That’s not quite true; that’s not what was said at first—so then the other three non-Mainstream teams are even more suspicious of Team Mainstream’s “vaccines are amazing” piece of the elephant, because Team Mainstream is rewriting history and lying to their faces.

The COVID-19 vaccines, developed for the original strain works really well against that and the Alpha variant. They work well against the Delta variant. But against the Omicron variant the vaccines, while protecting somewhat against infections, really only show their value in relation to severe illness.

But that is still amazing.













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