Thursday, March 26, 2020

This paper examines the puzzling phenomenon that many Chinese liberal intellectuals fervently idolize Donald Trump and embrace the alt-right ideologies he epitomizes

Lin, Yao, Beaconism and the Trumpian Metamorphosis of Chinese Liberal Intellectuals (January 28, 2020). Journal of Contemporary China (Forthcoming), Mar 17 2020. SSRN:

Abstract: This paper examines the puzzling phenomenon that many Chinese liberal intellectuals fervently idolize Donald Trump and embrace the alt-right ideologies he epitomizes. Rejecting ‘pure tactics’ and ‘neoliberal affinity’ explanations, I argue that the Trumpian metamorphosis of Chinese liberal intellectuals is precipitated by their ‘beacon complex’, which has ‘political’ and ‘civilizational’ components. Political beaconism grows from the traumatizing lived experience of Maoist totalitarianism, sanitizes the West and particularly the United States as politically near-perfect, and gives rise to both a neoliberal affinity and a latent hostility toward baizuo. Civilizational beaconism, sharing with its nationalistic counterpart – civilizational vindicativism – the heritages of scientific racism and social Darwinism imported in late-Qing, renders the Chinese liberal intelligentsia receptive to anti-immigrant and Islamophobic paranoia, exacerbates its anti-baizuo sentiments, and catalyzes its Trumpian convergence with Chinese non-liberals.

Keywords: Chinese liberalism, intellectual, Trumpian metamorphosis, baizuo, political beaconism, political pilgrimage, civilizational beaconism, civilizational vindicativism

Older people estimate the risk of COVID-19 as being less than younger people

Gerhold, Lars. 2020. “COVID-19: Risk Perception and Coping Strategies.” PsyArXiv. March 25. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: This paper presents preliminary results of a representative survey of the German population focusing on perceptions of risk and ways of coping with COVID-19. Results show that older people estimate the risk of COVID-19 as being less than younger people. Women are more concerned about COVID-19 than men. People especially worry about being infected in places with high public traffic such as public transport and shops or restaurants. Coping strategies are highly problem-focused and most respondents listen to experts’ advice and try to behave calmly and appropriately. People accept that measures to tackle COVID-19 will take time to be effective. Bulk buying and storing of food is mainly justified by a combination of convenience and a perceived need to be prepared for potential quarantine.

Studies of human twins reveal genetic variation that affects dietary fat perception

Studies of human twins reveal genetic variation that affects dietary fat perception. Cailu Lin et al. bioRxiv, Jan 18 2020.

Abstract: To learn more about the mechanisms of human dietary fat perception, 398 human twins rated fattiness and liking for six types of potato chips that differed in triglyceride content (2.5, 5, 10, and 15% corn oil); reliability estimates were obtained from a subset (n = 50) who did the task twice. Some chips also had a saturated long-chain fatty acid (hexadecanoic acid, 16:0) added (0.2%) to evaluate its effect on fattiness and liking. We computed the heritability of these measures and conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify regions of the genome that co-segregate with fattiness and liking. Perceived fattiness and liking for the potato chips were reliable (r = 0.31-0.62, p < 0.05) and heritable (up to h2 = 0.29, p < 0.001, for liking). Adding hexadecanoic acid to the potato chips significantly increased ratings of fattiness but decreased liking. Twins with the G allele of rs263429 near GATA3-AS1 or the G allele of rs8103990 within ZNF729 reported more liking for potato chips than did twins with the other allele (multivariate GWAS, p < 1×10-5), with results reaching genome-wide suggestive but not significance criteria. Person-to-person variation in the perception and liking of dietary fat was (a) negatively affected by the addition of a saturated fatty acid and (b) related to inborn genetic variants. These data suggest liking for dietary fat is not due solely to fatty acid content and highlight new candidate genes and proteins within this sensory pathway.

People reported the highest levels of well-being while in the company of friends (compared to romantic partner or children) because they engaged in more pleasurable activities in their presence

Hudson, N. W., Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2020). Are we happier with others? An investigation of the links between spending time with others and subjective well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Mar 2020.

Abstract: Previous research suggests that having close relationships is a fundamental human need that, when fulfilled, is positively associated with subjective well-being. Recently, however, scholars have argued that actually interacting with one’s closest partners may be psychologically taxing (e.g., because of pressures to provide support, care, and empathy). In the present research, we tested (a) how experiential affect varied as a function of which persons were currently present (e.g., romantic partners, friends, and colleagues), as well as (b) how global well-being varied as a function of total daily time invested in these individuals. Replicating previous research, participants reported the highest levels of experiential well-being in the company of their friends, followed by their romantic partners, and then children. Statistically controlling for the activities performed with others, however, suggested that individuals did not necessarily prefer the mere company of their friends per se: people reported similar levels of well-being while in the presence of friends, partners, and children when adjusting estimates for activities. In contrast to the experiential findings, global well-being varied only as a function of total time spent with one’s romantic partner. Our findings further support the claim that experiential and global well-being are often separable constructs that may show different patterns of association with relationship experiences (e.g., well-being may operate differently on within- vs. between-persons levels).