Monday, February 4, 2019

Knowing which plants are beneficial or dangerous is a task that we cannot achieve alone; 8- to 18-month-old infants show more social looking toward adults when confronted with plants compared to other objects

The seeds of social learning: Infants exhibit more social looking for plants than other object types. Claudia E lsner, Annie E.Wertz. Cognition, Volume 183, February 2019, Pages 244-255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.09.016

Highlights
•    Infants look more often to adults when confronted with plants compared to other object types.
•    The increased social looking occurs in the time before infants touch plants.
•    This strategy enables infants to glean information from others before exposure to potentially dangerous plants.

Abstract: Infants must negotiate encounters with a wide variety of different entities over the course of the first few years of life, yet investigations of their social referencing behavior have largely focused on a limited set of objects and situations such as unfamiliar toys and the visual cliff. Here we examine whether infants’ social looking strategies differ when they are confronted with plants. Plants have been fundamental to human life throughout our evolutionary history, and learning about which plants are beneficial and which are dangerous is a task that, for humans, cannot be achieved alone. Using an object exploration paradigm, we found that 8- to 18-month-old infants exhibited more social looking toward adults when confronted with plants compared to other object types. Further, this increased social looking occurred when infants first encountered plants, in the time before touching them. This social looking strategy puts infants in the best position to glean information from others before making contact with potentially dangerous plants. These findings provide a new lens through which to view infants’ social information seeking behavior.

Small minorities report feeling partisan schadenfreude or endorse partisan violence; inducing expectations of electoral victory give strong partisans more confidence to endorse violence against their opponents

Lethal Mass Partisanship: Prevalence, Correlates, & Electoral Contingencies. Nathan P. Kalmoe, Lilliana Mason. PResetnation at the January 2019 NCAPSA American Politics Meeting. https://www.dannyhayes.org/uploads/6/9/8/5/69858539/kalmoe___mason_ncapsa_2019_-_lethal_partisanship_-_final_lmedit.pdf

Abstract: U.S. historical accounts of partisanship recognize its contentiousness and its inherent, latent threat of violence, but social scientific conceptions of partisan identity developed in quiescent times have largely missed that dangerous dimension. We rebalance scholarly accounts by investigating the national prevalence and correlates of 1) partisan moral disengagement that rationalizes harm against opponents, 2) partisan schadenfreude in response to deaths and injuries of political opponents, and 3) explicit support for partisan violence. In two nationally representative surveys, we find large portions of partisans embrace partisan moral disengagement ( 10 - 60%) but only small minorities report feeling partisan schadenfreude or endorse partisan violence (5 - 15 %). Party identity strength and trait aggression consistently increase each kind of extreme party view. Finally, experimental evidence shows inducing expectations of electoral victory give strong partisans more confidence to endorse violence against their partisan opponents. We conclude with reflections on the risks of lethal partisanship in democratic politics, even as parties continue to serve as essential bedrocks of democracy.


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The remaining moral disengagement items in Figure 1 indicate support ranging from about 10 perc ent of the sample (MD10 .  .Breaking a few rules to help [own party] win does no lasting harm.) to 50 percent (MD8 among Democrats .  .[Own party] are not just better for politics .  they are morally right.). The most disturbing items may be those comparing o utgroup partisans to animals (MD5 and MD9). About 20 percent of respondents agree with these items in the CCES data,. Furthermore, MD7, which rates the degree to which respondents believe opposing partisans have their hearts in the right place, is only end orsed by about 30 percent of partisans , meaning that more than 60 percent of respondents do not hold this more generous belief.  Taken as a whole, even the lower bounds of partisan moral disengagement provide some cause for concern. Extrapolated to the elec torate at large, this figure represents many millions of partisans.

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Table 1. Partisan Hostility Items
Moral Disengagement
MD1
Would you say [Opposing party] are a serious threat to the United States and its people, or wouldn’t you go that far?
MD2
Only [Own party] want to improve our country.
MD3
[Opposing party] are not just worse for politics—they are downright evil.
MD4
If [Own party] break a few rules to oppose [Opposing party], it’s because they needto do it for the sake of the country.
MD5
If [Opposing party] are going to behave badly, they should be treated like animals.
MD6
[Opposing party] deserve any mistreatment they get from [Own party].
MD7
[Opposing party] have their heart in the right place but just come to different conclusions about what is best.
[reverse-coded]
MD8
[Own party] are not just better for politics—they are morally right.
MD9
Many [Opposing party] lack the traits to be considered fully human—they behave like animals.
MD10
Breaking a few rules to help [Own party] win does no lasting harm.
Partisan Schadenfreude
PS1
If you heard a politician had died of cancer, would your feelings about that depend on whether they were a Republican or a Democrat?
PS2
If you heard a politician had been murdered, would your feelings about that depend on whether they were a Republican or a  Democrat?
PS3
Have you ever wished that someone would physically injure one or more politicians?[Yes, outparty]
PS4
When a [Own party] politician votes against the party on a key issue, have you ever wished they would get sick and die?
PS5
Who would you rather see bad things happen to: [Opposing party] politicians, or[Own party] politicians who vote against the party on a key issue? [Answer: outparty]
PS6
Do you ever think: we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of [Opposingparty] in the public today just died?
Political Violence
PV1
When, if ever, is it OK for [Own party] to send threatening and intimidating messagesto [Opposing party] leaders?
PV2
When, if ever, is it OK for an ordinary [Own party] in the public to harass an ordinary [Opposing party] on the Internet, in a way that makes the target feel unsafe?
PV3
How much do you feel it is justified for [Own party] to use violence in advancing their political goals these days?
PV4
What if [Opposing party] win the 2020 presidential election? How much do you feel violence would be justified then?

“Unsafe” was replaced with “frightened” in the Nielsen survey.

Church of Sweden, 2014: Complaints about female priests are increasing & are now occurring at the same rate as for male priests, but no female priests have been prohibited yet (in 2014)

Complaints about Priests in the Church of Sweden from 2001–2013. Per Hansson. Scandinavian Journal for Leadership & Theology, ISSN 0281-0573, E-ISSN 1891-473X, Vol. 4. http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2%3A1169754&dswid=-4865

Abstract: Media coverage of complaints about priests has generally focused on sexual misbehavior. This case study of complaints about priests in the Church of Sweden from 2001–2013 gives a much more varied picture. Documentation of all the complaints received during 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013 was collected. In all, there are 199 complaints, which correspond to approximately 1.2% of priests every year. The rate of complaints rose and doubled, peaking in 2010. The complaints are categorized in three categories: general complaints, complaints that can lead to prohibition and other complaints. The most common complainant was the private individual (42%), although bishops and colleagues were also responsible for some of the complaints. During the years studied, private complaints increased. This finding is interpreted to reflect an increasing tendency in Swedish society to complain. Complaints about female priests are increasing and are now occurring at the same rate as for male priests. However, no female priests have been prohibited yet; only males have been. Sexual issues account for 15% of the complaints, which are outnumbered by other complaints. Decisions made by the Church chapters have changed during the studied years; earlier, the most common decision was to take no ac- tion, but later, the chapters generally decided on some type of action (for example, commissioning someone to talk to the priest or to give a statement).

Keywords: priests, misbehavior, professional misconduct, Church of Sweden

Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media: Interactions with false content have fallen sharply on Facebook while continuing to rise on Twitter

Trends in the Diffusion of Misinformation on Social Media. Hunt Allcott, Matthew Gentzkow, Chuan Yu. NBER Working Paper No. 25500, January 2019. https://www.nber.org/papers/w25500

Abstract: In recent years, there has been widespread concern that misinformation on social media is damaging societies and democratic institutions. In response, social media platforms have announced actions to limit the spread of false content. We measure trends in the diffusion of content from 569 fake news websites and 9,540 fake news stories on Facebook and Twitter between January 2015 and July 2018. User interactions with false content rose steadily on both Facebook and Twitter through the end of 2016. Since then, however, interactions with false content have fallen sharply on Facebook while continuing to rise on Twitter, with the ratio of Facebook engagements to Twitter shares decreasing by 60 percent. In comparison, interactions with other news, business, or culture sites have followed similar trends on both platforms. Our results suggest that the relative magnitude of the misinformation problem on Facebook has declined since its peak.

Mature counterfactual reasoning in 4- and 5-year-olds: Given a clear and novel causal structure, preschoolers display adult-like counterfactual reasoning. Not so 3-year-olds.

Mature counterfactual reasoning in 4- and 5-year-olds. Angela Nyhout, Patricia A. Ganea. Cognition, Volume 183, February 2019, Pages 57-66. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2018.10.027

Abstract: Counterfactual reasoning is a hallmark of the human imagination. Recently, researchers have argued that children do not display genuine counterfactual reasoning until they can reason about events that are overdetermined and consider the removal of one of multiple causes that lead to the same outcome. This ability has been shown to emerge between 6 and 12 years of age. In 3 experiments, we used an overdetermined physical causation task to investigate preschoolers’ ability to reason counterfactually. In Experiment 1a, preschoolers (N = 96) were presented with a “blicket-detector” machine. Children saw both overdetermined (2 causal blocks on a box) and single-cause trials (1 causal and 1 non-causal block) and were asked what would have happened if one of the two blocks had not been placed on the box. Four-year-olds' performance was above chance on both trial types, and 5-year-olds' performance was at ceiling, whereas 3-year-olds did not perform above chance on any trial types. These findings were replicated in Experiment 1b with 4- and 5-year-olds (N = 40) using more complex question wording. In Experiment 2 (N = 40, 4- and 5-year-olds), we introduced a temporal delay between the placement of the first and second block to test the robustness of children's counterfactual reasoning. Even on this more difficult version of the task, performance was significantly above chance. Given a clear and novel causal structure, preschoolers display adult-like counterfactual reasoning.

A Survey on BDSM-related Activities: BDSM Experience Correlates with Age of First Exposure, Interest Profile, and Role Identity

A Survey on BDSM-related Activities: BDSM Experience Correlates with Age of First Exposure, Interest Profile, and Role Identity. V. Coppens, S. Ten Brink, W. Huys, E. Fransen & M. Morrens. The Journal of Sex Research, https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2018.1558437

Abstract: BDSM is an omnibus term covering a spectrum of activities within bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism relationships. To date, BDSM practitioners experience stigma due to a general unfamiliarity with the practice and marginalization of this type of sexual behavior. Destigmatization occurs partly through knowledge expansion and identification with the stigmatized group. In this study within the Belgian population, we aimed to characterize certain aspects of socioeconomic status and specific BDSM preferences of individuals with differing BDSM experience levels. We show that individuals who perform BDSM in a community setting (BDSM clubs, events. BDSM-CP) are generally higher educated, are significantly younger when first becoming aware of their inclination toward kink-oriented sex, and have a more strict BDSM role identity (Dom vs. Sub) than individuals who engage in BDSM-related activities in a private setting (BDSM-PP). This latter group in turn display a more pronounced Dom/Sub identification than individuals who only fantasize about the practice (BDSM-F). Our data indicate BDSM interest is a sexual preference already manifesting at early age, with role identification profiles becoming gradually more pronounced based on the practitioner’s contextual experience.

We are all racist rats. From 2011 – Peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups

From 2011 – Good Fences:The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Peaceful Coexistence. Alex Rutherford, Dion Harmon, Justin Werfel,Shlomiya Bar-Yam, Alexander Gard-Murray, Andreas Gros, and Yaneer Bar-Yam. New England Complex Systems Institute, October 6, 2011. http://necsi.edu/research/social/scienceofpeace.pdf

Abstract: We consider the conditions of peace and violence among ethnic groups, testing a theory designedto predict the locations of violence and interventions that can promote peace. Characterizingthe model’s success in predicting peace requires examples where peace prevails despite diversity. Switzerland is recognized as a country of peace, stability and prosperity. This is surprising because of its linguistic and religious diversity that in other parts of the world lead to conflict and violence.Here we analyze how peaceful stability is maintained. Our analysis shows that peace does not depend on integrated coexistence, but rather on well defined topographical and political boundaries separating groups. Mountains and lakes are an important part of the boundaries between sharply defined linguistic areas. Political canton and circle (sub-canton) boundaries often separate religious groups. Where such boundaries do not appear to be sufficient, we find that specific aspects of the population distribution either guarantee sufficient separation or sufficient mixing to inhibit intergroup violence according to the quantitative theory of conflict. In exactly one region, a porous mountain range does not adequately separate linguistic groups and violent conflict has led to the recent creation of the canton of Jura. Our analysis supports the hypothesis that violence between groups can be inhibited by physical and political boundaries. A similar analysis of the area of the former Yugoslavia shows that during widespread ethnic violence existing political boundaries did not coincide with the boundaries of distinct groups, but peace prevailed in specific areas wherethey did coincide. The success of peace in Switzerland may serve as a model to resolve conflict in other ethnically diverse countries and regions of the world.

Do Tax Cuts Produce More Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives vs. Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors

Do Tax Cuts Produce More Einsteins? The Impacts of Financial Incentives vs. Exposure to Innovation on the Supply of Inventors. Alexander M. Bell, Raj Chetty, Xavier Jaravel, Neviana Petkova, John Van Reenen. NBER Working Paper No. 25493, January 2019. https://www.nber.org/papers/w25493

Many countries provide financial incentives to spur innovation, ranging from tax incentives to research and development grants. In this paper, we study how such financial incentives affect individuals' decisions to pursue careers in innovation. We first present empirical evidence on inventors' career trajectories and income distributions using de-identified data on 1.2 million inventors from patent records linked to tax records in the U.S. We find that the private returns to innovation are extremely skewed – with the top 1% of inventors collecting more than 22% of total inventors' income – and are highly correlated with their social impact, as measured by citations. Inventors tend to have their most impactful innovations around age 40 and their incomes rise rapidly just before they have high-impact patents. We then build a stylized model of inventor career choice that matches these facts as well as recent evidence that childhood exposure to innovation plays a critical role in determining whether individuals become inventors. The model predicts that financial incentives, such as top income tax reductions, have limited potential to increase aggregate innovation because they only affect individuals who are exposed to innovation and have no impact on the decisions of star inventors, who matter most for aggregate innovation. Importantly, these results hold regardless of whether the private returns to innovation are known at the time of career choice. In contrast, increasing exposure to innovation (e.g., through mentorship programs) could have substantial impacts on innovation by drawing individuals who produce high-impact inventions into the innovation pipeline. Although we do not present direct evidence supporting these model-based predictions, our results call for a more careful assessment of the impacts of financial incentives and a greater focus on alternative policies to increase the supply of inventors.

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Why Tyler Cowen is not convinced: https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2019/02/do-tax-cuts-produce-more-einsteins.html

Something that most Libertarians already said: "In all, capital markets are more efficient than previously recognized." In some way, we are predictable, likely due to our mental rigidities

Something that most Libertarians already said: "In all, capital markets are more efficient than previously recognized." In some way, we are predictable, likely due to our mental rigidities.

Replicating Anomalies. Kewei Hou Chen Xue Lu Zhang. The Review of Financial Studies, hhy131, https://doi.org/10.1093/rfs/hhy131

Abstract: Most anomalies fail to hold up to currently acceptable standards for empirical finance. With microcaps mitigated via NYSE breakpoints and value-weighted returns, 65% of the 452 anomalies in our extensive data library, including 96% of the trading frictions category, cannot clear the single test hurdle of the absolute t-value of 1.96. Imposing the higher multiple test hurdle of 2.78 at the 5% significance level raises the failure rate to 82%. Even for replicated anomalies, their economic magnitudes are much smaller than originally reported. In all, capital markets are more efficient than previously recognized.