Sunday, March 3, 2019

Orgasms with a partner were associated with the perception of favorable sleep outcomes; orgasms achieved through masturbation were associated with the perception of better sleep quality & latency

Sex and Sleep: Perceptions of Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior in the General Adult Population. Michele Lastella et al. Front. Public Health, March 04 2019.

Objective: The main aim of this study was to explore the perceived relationship between sexual activities, sleep quality, and sleep latency in the general adult population and identify whether any gender differences exist.

Participants/methods: We used a cross-sectional survey to examine the perceived relationship between sexual activity and subsequent sleep in the general adult population. Seven-hundred and seventy-eight participants (442 females, 336 males; mean age 34.5 ± 11.4 years) volunteered to complete an online anonymous survey at their convenience.

Statistical Analyses: Chi square analyses were conducted to examine if there were any gender differences between sexual activities [i.e., masturbation (self-stimulation), sex with a partner without orgasm, and sex with a partner with orgasm] and self-reported sleep.

Results: There were no gender differences in sleep (quality and onset) between males and females when reporting sex with a partner [χ2(2)
= 2.20, p = 0.332; χ2(2)=5.73, p = 0.057] or masturbation (self-stimulation) [χ2(2) = 1.34, p = 0.513; χ2(2) = 0.89, p = 0.640] involved an orgasm.

Conclusions: Orgasms with a partner were associated with the perception of favorable sleep outcomes, however, orgasms achieved through masturbation (self-stimulation) were associated with the perception of better sleep quality and latency. These findings indicate that the public perceive sexual activity with orgasm precedes improved sleep outcomes. Promoting safe sexual activity before bed may offer a novel behavioral strategy for promoting sleep.

The informal economy share rises after reaching a high GDP... Norway has a bigger shadow economy than the US

Nonlinearity Between the Shadow Economy and Level of Development. Dong Frank Wu, Friedrich Schneider. IMF Working Paper No. 19/48, Mar 2019.

Summary: This paper is the first attempt to directly explore the long-run nonlinear relationship between the shadow economy and level of development. Using a dataset of 158 countries over the period from 1996 to 2015, our results reveal a robust U-shaped relationship between the shadow economy size and GDP per capita. Our results imply that the shadow economy tends to increase when economic development surpasses a given threshold or at least does not disappear. Our findings suggest that special attention should be given to the country’s level of development when designing policies to tackle issues related to the shadow economy.

The paper also seeks to identify the potential factors which boost GDP per capita. Consistent with the growth literature, we find that educational attainment plays a vital role in improving GDP per capita, especially a college degree or above. This result helps shed some light on a possible mechanism of a U-shaped pattern at the micro level. From the individual perspective, people work to make themselves better off. When the level of development is low, education helps build up labor productivity and skilled workers with college education or above choose to stay in the formal sector to enjoy benefits from high productivity position and social security net. When the economy advances to a new level at which income of skilled workers becomes high enough and one household member can easily cover the whole family’s daily expenses, demand for informal work is likely to increase due to work flexibility or other desirable perks. Hence the size of shadow economy reverses its downtrend.

Check also the paper that found that taxpayers’ attitudes toward evasion are not predictive of behavior & that tax compliance is not related to trust in government or one’s fellow citizens; Danes are more likely to evade tax than Italians; at the same time, Danes are less tolerant of tax evasion by others:
Willing to Evade: An Experimental Study of Italy and Denmark. Alice Guerra and Brooke Harrington. Copenhagen  Business  School, Department  of  Business  and  Politics.

The organic label leads to an underestimation of caloric value and more consumption; this effect is not moderated by implicit evaluations, maybe by a semantic association between the concepts “organic” & "non-caloric”

The calories underestimation of “organic” food: Exploring the impact of implicit evaluations. Theo Besson et al. Appetite,

Abstract: Specific attributes of a food product can cause it to be spontaneously but wrongly perceived as healthier than it really is (i.e., the health halo effect). Notably, there is preliminary evidence that individuals evaluate organic food as less caloric than regular, non-organic food. However, explanations regarding the cognitive mechanisms underlying the health halo effect remain scarce. Drawing from the implicit cognition literature, we hypothesize that this effect could be due to (a) the reactivation in memory of implicit positive evaluations and/or (b) the reactivation of a semantic association between the concepts “organic” and “non-caloric”. We first conducted a 2 (Product label: organic versus non-organic) × continuous (Valence-IAT score) × continuous (Calorie-IAT score) study (N = 151) to test these hypotheses, and conducted a conceptual replication in a second study (N = 269). We computed Bayesian analyses alongside frequentist analyses in order to test for potential null hypotheses, as well as frequencies and Bayesian meta-regression including both datasets. Both methods provided consistent results. First, Bayesian analyses yielded extremely strong evidence in favor of the hypothesis that the organic label leads to an underestimation of caloric value. Second, they provided strong evidence that this effect is not moderated by implicit evaluations. Hence, we replicated the organic halo effect but showed that, surprisingly, it does not arise from implicit associations. We discuss these findings and propose directions for future research regarding the mechanisms underlying calories (under)estimation.

Religions that lose strength... Tyler Cowen's comments on Jana Riess's The Next Mormons: How Millennials are Changing the LDS Church

Jana Riess, The Next Mormons: How Millennials are Changing the LDS Church. 2019. Comments by Tyler Cowen, Mar 02 2019,
...compared to some other religions, Mormonism is not doing too badly.  Mormonism's US growth rate of .75 percent in 2017 -- kept in positive territory by still-higher-than-average fertility among Mormons -- is actually somewhat enviable when compared to, for example, the once-thriving Southern Baptists, who have bled out more than a million members in the last ten years.  Mormonism is not yet declining in membership, but it has entered a period of decelerated growth.  In terms of congregational expansion, the LDS Church in the United States added only sixty-five new congregations in 2016, for an increase of half a percentage point.  In 2017, the church created 184 new wards and branches in the United States, but 184 units also closed, resulting in no net gain at all.

By some estimates (p.7), only about 30 percent of young single Mormons in the United States go to church regularly.  The idea of the Mormon mission, however, is rising in import:
More than half of Mormon Millennials have served a full-time mission (55 percent), which is clearly the highest proportion of any generation; among GenXers, 40 percent served, and in the Boomer/Silent generation, it was 28 percent.

In contrast, "returning to the temple on behalf of the deceased" is falling (p.54).

Mormons are about a third more likely to be married than the general U.S. population, 66 to 48 percent.  But note that 23 percent of Mormon Millennials admit to having a tattoo, against a recommended rate of zero (p.162).

And ex-Mormon snowflakes seem to be proliferating.  For GenX, the single biggest reason giving for leaving the church was "Stopped believing there was one church".  For Millennials, it is (sadly) "Felt judged or misunderstood."

Check also Crawfurd, Lee. 2019. “Does Temporary Migration from Rich to Poor Countries Cause Commitment to Development? Evidence from Quasi-random Mormon Mission Assignments.” SocArXiv. January 10.

Now we know why we are smart & prone to addiction too: Ants defend plants they fed on more aggressively against herbivore competitors (termites) when the plant is doused with artificial nectaries

Nectar quality affects ant aggressiveness and biotic defense provided to plants. Fábio T. Pacelhe et al. bioTropica, Feb 27 2019,

Abstract: Ant–plant mutualisms are useful models for investigating how plant traits mediate interspecific interactions. As plant‐derived resources are essential components of ant diets, plants that offer more nutritious food to ants should be better defended in return, as a result of more aggressive behavior toward natural enemies. We tested this hypothesis in a field experiment by adding artificial nectaries to individuals of the species Vochysia elliptica (Vochysiaceae). Ants were offered one of four liquid foods of different nutritional quality: amino acids, sugar, sugar + amino acids, and water (control). We used live termites (Nasutitermes coxipoensis) as herbivore competitors and observed ant behavior toward them. In 88 hr of observations, we recorded 1,009 interactions with artificial nectaries involving 1,923 individual ants of 26 species. We recorded 381 encounters between ants and termites, of which 38% led to attack. Sixty‐one percent of these attacks led to termite exclusion from the plants. Recruitment and patrolling were highest when ants fed upon nectaries providing sugar + amino acids, the most nutritious food. This increase in recruitment and patrolling led to higher encounter rates between ants and termites, more frequent attacks, and faster and more complete termite removal. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that plant biotic defense is mediated by resource quality. We highlight the importance of qualitative differences in nectar composition for the outcome of ant–plant interactions.

Tversky & Kahneman, 1973, on systematic biases... Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability

From 1973... Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability. Amos Tversky, Daniel Kahneman. Cognitive Psychology, Volume 5, Issue 2, September 1973, Pages 207-232.

Abstract: This paper explores a judgmental heuristic in which a person evaluates the frequency of classes or the probability of events by availability, i.e., by the ease with which relevant instances come to mind. In general, availability is correlated with ecological frequency, but it is also affected by other factors. Consequently, the reliance on the availability heuristic leads to systematic biases. Such biases are demonstrated in the judged frequency of classes of words, of combinatorial outcomes, and of repeated events. The phenomenon of illusory correlation is explained as an availability bias. The effects of the availability of incidents and scenarios on subjective probability are discussed.

Daniel Kahneman – Prize Lecture. Nobel Media AB 2019. Mar 03 2019.

"Remarkably, the intuitive judgments of these experts did not conform to statistical principles with which they were thoroughly familiar. In particular, their intuitive statistical inferences and their estimates of statistical power showed a striking lack of sensitivity to the effects of sample size. We were impressed by the persistence of discrepancies between statistical intuition and statistical knowledge, which we observed both in ourselves and in our colleagues. We were also impressed by the fact that significant research decisions, such as the choice of sample size for an experiment, are routinely guided by the flawed intuitions of people who know better."

Check also From William Niskanen's obituary at the Washington Post, William A. Niskanen Jr., economist and former Cato Institute chairman, dies. By T. Rees Shapiro. Washington Post, November 1, 2011.

At Ford, Dr. Niskanen found, conformity was key. But it was a lesson Dr. Niskanen did not learn until 1980, when he was fired for breaking ranks with the executives.

During the 1970s, the nation's car industry was battered by rising gas prices. For Japanese manufacturers, touting smaller cars with fuel-sipping engines, American sales took off.

In late 1979, Ford begged for a government intervention, asking the International Trade Commission to impose quotas on Japanese cars.


Dr. Niskanen told Ford executives that the government could not cure the company's ills. Japan was not the problem, Dr. Niskanen told his bosses; they were.


Ford's real issue, Dr. Niskanen said, was bad product decisions.

Upon hearing his advice, Ford executives dismissed Dr. Niskanen.

"I was told, Bill, in general, people who do well in this company wait until they hear their superiors express their view and then contribute something in support of that view,・ Dr. Niskanen said in an 1980 interview with the Wall Street Journal. "That wasn", and isn't, my style."

Excellence is not enough: Most UK scientists who publish extremely highly-cited papers do not secure funding from major public and charity funders

Most UK scientists who publish extremely highly-cited papers do not secure funding from major public and charity funders: A descriptive analysis. Charitini Stavropoulou, Melek Somai, John P. A. Ioannidis. PLOS, February 27, 2019.

Abstract: The UK is one of the largest funders of health research in the world, but little is known about how health funding is spent. Our study explores whether major UK public and charitable health research funders support the research of UK-based scientists producing the most highly-cited research. To address this question, we searched for UK-based authors of peer-reviewed papers that were published between January 2006 and February 2018 and received over 1000 citations in Scopus. We explored whether these authors have held a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Wellcome Trust and compared the results with UK-based researchers who serve currently on the boards of these bodies. From the 1,370 papers relevant to medical, biomedical, life and health sciences with more than 1000 citations in the period examined, we identified 223 individuals from a UK institution at the time of publication who were either first/last or single authors. Of those, 164 are still in UK academic institutions, while 59 are not currently in UK academia (have left the country, are retired, or work in other sectors). Of the 164 individuals, only 59 (36%; 95% CI: 29–43%) currently hold an active grant from one of the three funders. Only 79 (48%; 95% CI: 41–56%) have held an active grant from any of the three funders between 2006–2017. Conversely, 457 of the 664 board members of MRC, Wellcome Trust, and NIHR (69%; 95% CI: 65–72%) have held an active grant in the same period by any of these funders. Only 7 out of 655 board members (1.1%) were first, last or single authors of an extremely highly-cited paper. There are many reasons why the majority of the most influential UK authors do not hold a grant from the country’s major public and charitable funding bodies. Nevertheless, the results are worrisome and subscribe to similar patterns shown in the US. We discuss possible implications and suggest ways forward.