Thursday, May 27, 2021

People with the poorest bullshit detection performance grossly overestimate their detection abilities and significantly overplace those abilities compared to others

Littrell, Shane, and Jonathan A. Fugelsang. 2021. “The ‘bullshit Blind Spot’: The Roles of Overconfidence and Perceived Information Processing in Bullshit Detection.” PsyArXiv. May 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The growing prevalence of misinformation (i.e., bullshit) in society carries with it an increased need to understand the processes underlying many people’s susceptibility to falling for it. Though several cognitive and metacognitive variables have been found to be associated with a greater propensity to falling for bullshit, little attention has been paid to people’s perceptions of and confidence in their own ability to detect it and the phenomenology of the thinking processes they employ when evaluating misleading information. Here we report two studies (N = 412) examining the associations between bullshit detection accuracy, confidence in one’s bullshit detection abilities, and the metacognitive experience of evaluating potentially misleading information. We find that people with the poorest bullshit detection performance grossly overestimate their detection abilities and significantly overplace those abilities compared to others. Additionally, highly bullshit receptive people reported using both intuitive and reflective thinking processes when evaluating misleading information. These results suggest that some people may have a “bullshit blind spot” and that traditional miserly processing explanations of receptivity to misleading information may be insufficient to fully account for these effects.


Altruism increases when resources and cultural values provide objective and subjective means for pursuing personally meaningful goals; the more so in more individualistic societies

Rhoads, Shawn A., Devon Gunter, Rebecca Ryan, and Abigail Marsh. 2021. “Global Variation in Subjective Well-being Predicts Seven Forms of Altruism.” PsyArXiv. April 27. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: The geographic prevalence of various altruistic behaviors (non-reciprocal acts that improve others' welfare) is non-uniformly distributed. But whether this reflects variation in a superordinate construct linked to national-level outcomes or cultural values is unknown. We compiled data on seven altruistic behaviors across 48-152 nations, and found evidence that these behaviors reflect a latent construct positively associated with national-level subjective well-being (SWB) and individualist values, even controlling for national-level wealth, health, education, and shared cultural history. Consistent with prior work, we found that SWB mediates the relationship between two objective measures of well-being (wealth and health) and altruism (N=130). Moreover, these indirect effects increase as individualist values increase within the subset of countries (N=90) with available data. Together, results indicate that altruism increases when resources and cultural values provide objective and subjective means for pursuing personally meaningful goals, and that altruistic behaviors may be enhanced by societal changes that promote well-being.


On average, people in more individualist countries donate more in subjectively and objectively measured forms of altruistic behavior : haritable donations, volunteering, everyday helping, blood donations, living kidney donations, bone marrow donor registrations, and humane treatment of non-human animals.

Why Do Scientists Lie?

Why Do Scientists Lie? Liam Kofi Bright. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements , Volume 89: How Do We Know? The Social Dimension of Knowledge , May 24 2021, pp. 117 - 129.

Abstract: It's natural to think of scientists as truth seekers, people driven by an intense curiosity to understand the natural world. Yet this picture of scientists and scientific inquiry sits uncomfortably with the reality and prevalence of scientific fraud. If one wants to get at the truth about nature, why lie? Won't that just set inquiry back, as people pursue false leads? To understand why this occurs – and what can be done about it – we need to understand the social structures scientists work within, and how some of the institutions which enable science to be such a successful endeavour all things considered, also abet and encourage fraud.

The study of scientific fraud and how it may be reduced thus offers the student of philosophy a chance to practice that integrative skill for which our discipline aspires to be known. It is said that philosophers wish to know how things, in the broadest possible sense, hang together, in the broadest possible sense. I hope to have persuaded you that in considering those places where science is coming apart at the seams, one may gain valuable practice in just this sort of broad perspective taking, and do so in a way that addresses an urgent problem of our times.
It’s easy to judge Wansink as a bad apple who cared too much for his career and not enough about the truth. But if the standard theory of fraud is even roughly correct, he was in some sense simply responding to the culture and institutions we have set up in academia. If you find people systematically breaking the rules the option is always available to you to shake your fists at them for their wicked ways and hope that sufficient moral condemnation will stem the tide of bad behaviour. But another option is to carefully study the social system giving rise to this behaviour, and with sleeves rolled up and an experimental attitude, get to work creating a better world.

Ejaculate adjustments occur when males modify their investment in sperm and nonsperm components; this strategy is expected to evolve when ejaculate production is costly; the phenomenon is widespread across taxa

Strategic adjustment of ejaculate quality in response to variation of the socio-sexual environment. Martina Magris. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology volume 75, Article number: 91 (2021).  May 14 2021.

Abstract: Strategic ejaculate adjustments occur when males modify their investment in sperm and nonsperm components of the ejaculate according to the context. This strategy is expected to evolve when ejaculate production is costly, the returns of the investment in the ejaculate depend on the environment and environmental conditions are variable. While adjustments of sperm numbers have been widely documented, only recently we have begun to investigate how males modify ejaculate quality, despite the recognized importance of this factor for sperm competition. Here I discuss and synthetize existing literature on strategic adjustments of ejaculate quality. I describe which ejaculate quality traits are most typically plastic and which environmental factors elicit such responses, focusing especially on the socio-sexual environment. I summarize information on the timeframe within which adjustments can occur and on the proximate mechanisms responsible for plasticity. I show that this phenomenon is widespread across taxa; it involves responses to several environmental factors and modifications of many ejaculate traits, with seminal fluid composition playing a central role, as a trait per se and as proximate mechanism for sperm performance adjustments. I point out the circumstances favoring the evolution of ejaculate quality plasticity, and evaluate the fitness consequences of these responses, highlighting the complexity of patterns of covariation with other traits. Finally, I consider implications for male and female behavior. I highlight two areas of research on ejaculate plasticity that may be particularly worth exploring further: 1) the proximate mechanisms responsible for plasticity; 2) the adaptive value of strategic ejaculate adjustments.

The girls also adapt... Women show pre-copulatory mating preferences for human leucocyte antigen-dissimilar men; a possibility is that the ultimate mating bias towards HLA-dissimilar partners could occur after copulation, at the gamete level

Post-copulatory genetic matchmaking: HLA-dependent effects of cervical mucus on human sperm function. Annalaura Jokiniemi, Martina Magris, Jarmo Ritari, Liisa Kuusipalo, Tuulia Lundgren, Jukka Partanen and Jukka Kekהlהinen. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, August 2020.

Effect of high taxes and work-at-home technologies in relocation to other places

Glenn Kelman. May 2021.

1 of 15: It has been hard to convey, through anecdotes or data, how bizarre the U.S. housing market has become. For example, a Bethesda, Maryland homebuyer working with @Redfin included in her written offer a pledge to name her first-born child after the seller. She lost.

2 of 15: There are now more Realtors than listings.

3 of 15: Inventory is down 37% year over year to a record low. The typical home sells in 17 days, a record low. Home prices are up a record amount, 24% year over year, to a record high. And still homes sell on average for 1.7% higher than the asking price, another record.

4 of 15: But in two of America’s largest cities, inventory has increased, in New York by 28%, in San Francisco by 77%. San Francisco hasn’t had an inventory increase this large since 2008. And still in both markets, prices are increasing.

5 of 15: In 2020, new-construction permits were *down* 13% in DC and New York, 40% in LA, 48% in Chicago, 50% in Seattle, 79% in San Francisco. Permits were *up* 25% in Miami, 56% in Vegas, 96% in Greenville, 122% in Detroit, 246% in Knoxville.

6 of 15: Lumber prices are up 300%.

7 of 15: In Redfin’s annual survey of nearly 2,000 homebuyers, 63% reported having bid on a home they hadn’t seen in person.

8 of 15: In an April survey of 600 users who had relocated in the past year, about two thirds of the people who moved got a house the same size or bigger, but about the same proportion, two thirds, spent the same or *less* on housing.

9 of 15: Even though most of the people who moved got a bigger home, 78% reported having the same or more disposable income after their move. Idaho home prices could triple and still seem affordable to a Californian.

10 of 15: For low-tax states, 4 people move in for every 1 who leaves. For Texas, this ratio is 5:1; for Florida, 7:1. Cites & states have no leverage to raise taxes, after many promised new money for social justice; the federal government will have to fund long-term investments.

11 of 15: This migration to lower-cost areas may lead to lower workforce participation. For many families @Redfin has relocated, the money saved on housing costs lets one parent stop working. A wave of Redfin customers are retiring early.

12 of 15: Lenders are calling employers to confirm that the homebuyer will have permission to work remotely when the pandemic ends. Rates are lower for loans on primary residences, and the lender also wants to make sure the borrower actually plans to work after getting the loan.


14 of 15: it’s not just income that’s k-shaped, but mobility. 90% of people earning $100,000+ per year expect to be able to work virtually, compared to 10% of those earning $40,000 or less per year. The folks who need low-cost housing the most have the least flexibility to move.


Rolf Degen summarizing... Contrary to earlier views, the big five personality traits are distributed largely evenly across the different social classes

Hughes, Bradley T., Cory K. Costello, Joshua Pearman, Pooya Razavi, Cianna Bedford-Petersen, Rita M. Ludwig, and Sanjay Srivastava. 2021. “The Big Five Across Socioeconomic Status: Measurement Invariance, Relationships, and Age Trends.” PsyArXiv. May 26. doi:10.31234/

Abstract: Associations between socioeconomic status (SES) and personality traits have important implications for theory and application. Progress in understanding these associations depends on valid measurement, unbiased estimation, and careful assessment of generalizability. In this registered report, we used data from AIID, a large online study, to address three basic questions about personality and SES. First, we evaluated the measurement invariance of a common measure of personality, the Big Five Inventory, across indicators of educational attainment, income, and occupational prestige. Fit indices showed some instances of detectable noninvariance, but with little practical impact on substantive results. Second, we estimated associations between SES and personality. Results showed that personality and SES were largely independent (most rs < .1), in contrast to predictions derived from several previous studies. Third, we tested whether age trends in personality were moderated by SES. Results did not support predictions from social investment theory, but they did suggest that age trends were largely generalizable across SES. We discuss the implications of these findings for developing and validating personality measures for use in diverse samples. We also discuss the implications for theories that propose that the Big Five are responsive to, or partially responsible for, people’s economic and social conditions.

“Agriculturally-coinciding” festivals (those that coincide with peak planting or harvest months) have negative effects on household income 6 other development outcomes; but also lead to higher religiosity & social capital

Religious Festivals and Economic Development: Evidence from Catholic Saint Day Festivals in Mexico. Eduardo Montero & Dean Yang. NBER Working Paper 28821, May 2021. DOI 10.3386/w28821

Societies worldwide spend substantial resources celebrating religious festivals. How do festivals influence economic and social outcomes? We study Catholic patron saint day festivals in Mexico, exploiting two features of the setting: (i) municipal festival dates vary across the calendar and were determined in the early history of towns after Spanish conquest, and (ii) there is considerable variation in the intra-annual timing of agricultural seasons. We compare municipalities with “agriculturally-coinciding” festivals (those that coincide with peak planting or harvest months) to other municipalities, examining differences in long-run economic development and social outcomes. Agriculturally-coinciding festivals have negative effects on household income and other development outcomes. They also lead to lower agricultural productivity and higher share of the labor force in agriculture, consistent with agriculturally-coinciding festivals inhibiting the structural transformation of the economy. Agriculturally-coinciding festivals also lead to higher religiosity and social capital, potentially explaining why such festivals persist in spite of their negative growth consequences.

This study is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to examine changes in domestic violence incidents from pre- to post-lockdown periods; results show moderate to strong increase in domestic violence incidents

Domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic - Evidence from a systematic review and meta-analysis. Alex R. Piquero et al. Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 74, May–June 2021, 101806.


• Crime changed from pre- to post-COVID-19 lockdown periods.

• Limited evidence shows an increase in domestic violence.

• This study is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to examine changes in domestic violence incidents from pre- to post-lockdown periods.

• Results show moderate to strong increase in domestic violence incidents between pre- and post-lockdown periods.


Purpose: The aim of this review was to estimate the effect of COVID-19-related restrictions (i.e., stay at home orders, lockdown orders) on reported incidents of domestic violence.

Methods: A systematic review of articles was conducted in various databases and a meta-analysis was also performed. The search was carried out based on conventional scientific standards that are outlined in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) and studies needed to meet certain criteria.

Results: Analyses were conducted with a random effects restricted maximum likelihood model. Eighteen empirical studies (and 37 estimates) that met the general inclusion criteria were used. Results showed that most study estimates were indicative of an increase in domestic violence post-lockdowns. The overall mean effect size was 0.66 (CI: 0.08–1.24). The effects were stronger when only US studies were considered.

Conclusion: Incidents of domestic violence increased in response to stay-at-home/lockdown orders, a finding that is based on several studies from different cities, states, and several countries around the world.

Keywords: Meta-analysisCOVID-19Domestic violenceLockdowns

4. Discussion

The purpose of this study was to examine whether policies implemented to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, namely stay-at-home or lockdown orders, were associated with any changes in domestic violence using administrative/official pre-post records. Our work was focused on systematically reviewing the literature on any potential changes in domestic violence after restrictions were put into place.

Following systematic review protocol, our initial research started with over 22,000 records identified through database searches as being potentially eligible for inclusion. After our eligibility criteria were imposed, we ended with 18 studies that were included in the systematic review, which is substantively similar to many such reviews in the criminological literature. These 18 studies yielded a total of 37 estimates, the results of which showed an overwhelming increase (pre-post) in reports of domestic violence. Specifically, 29 of the 37 study estimates showed a significant increase. Finally, our forest plot of the distribution of effect size estimates, based on the information necessary to perform such calculations (12 studies and 17 effect sizes), showed an overall medium effect size of 0.66. In short, the evidence is strong that incidents of domestic violence increased in response to stay-at-home/lockdown orders, a finding that is based on several studies from different cities, states, and several countries around the world.

To be sure, while our results rely on the available research that met our inclusion criteria that exists at this time, it remains a sampling of the work that is being done and not yet known. As well, much of the early work that has focused on crime changes in response to the pandemic-related lockdown orders relies on short windows of observations, a few weeks or months. But this is true of the publication process, whereby the time an article has gone through review and published many months have passed since the researchers finalized their data collection. Therefore, continued follow-ups are needed to add to and update our database going forward. Another limitation of our work is that the database relies mainly from U.S. studies, in large part because those are the studies that fit the criteria outlined in our search parameters. We know, for example, that domestic violence is a serious problem in the Americas, and in particular in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) where there is a significant amount of violence, but little is noted in administrative data nor is there much help to aid victims. As a consequence, we anticipate that when researchers carry out sustained analyses of domestic violence in LMIC countries, they will likely uncover a devasting toll on women and children. Lastly, our work relies on official records, which suffer from a variety of problems. At the same time, other sources of domestic violence data, such as self-reports, have tended to show some short-term increases in domestic violence as well (Jetelina, Knell, & Molsberry, 2021). Additional work is needed to assess whether there are enough studies in that line of work to perform a similar analysis to the one carried out in this study. The same is true from the data reports from service providers (Pfitzner, Fitz-Gibbon, Meyer, & True, 2020). The more we can triangulate the data on domestic violence as a result of lockdown orders to gain a more complete picture of changes in victimization experiences, the better and more confident our penultimate conclusions can be.

5. Conclusion and policy implications

The results of this study underscore the importance of increasing the knowledge base about domestic violence, as there have been concerns raised by public health leaders, victim/survivor advocates, women's and children's groups, activists, and policymakers around the world about the potential significant spike in abuse related to the pandemic (see e.g., the Lancet Commission on Gender-Based Violence and Maltreatment of Young People, Knaul, Bustreo, & Horton, 2020). The global economic impact of COVID-19, record levels of unemployment, added stressors in the home—including the care and home schooling of children, financial instability, and illness or death caused or exacerbated by the virus—combined with the mental health toll of social distancing measures required by the epidemiological response, have undermined the decades of progress made in reducing the extent and incidence of domestic violence. In turn, the results of this systematic review call for significant attention to the policy responses and resources that are needed to attend to victims and survivors of domestic abuse that may not be getting the services they need. In particular, Galea, Merchant, and Lurie (2020) note the need to direct resources to historically marginalized groups and those likely to be disproportionately isolated during the pandemic, including older adults, women, and children with past experiences with violence and abuse, and those with ongoing mental illness and chronic health conditions—and it is certainly possible that these effects are magnified for women and children of color, immigrants or refugees, and/or households that speak a language other than English. In addition, the gendered impacts of the pandemic will be far-reaching and in need of sustained research and policy attention (Wenhma, Smith, & Morgan, 2020), especially those programs and policies that are the intersection between women and children such as income transfer programs.

It is also important for our response to domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic to learn from the lessons of responding to previous health crises, natural disasters, and major disruptions that may offer direction and guidance (Sánchez et al., 2020). There is strong evidence to suggest that women's physical and mental health, including the risk of first-time or escalating domestic violence, is connected to the consequences of natural disasters and epidemics, including social isolation, economic instability, and increasing relationship and family conflict (Campbell & Jones, 2016Parkinson, 2019).

The governor of Puerto Rico recently declared a state of emergency related to gender-based violence, noting it to be a serious social and public health problem that has gotten worse as a function of the territory's economic turmoil, Hurricane Maria, and now the COVID-19 pandemic (Florido, 2021). Similar to Puerto Rico, there needs to be equally strong global, federal, and state level leadership to make these bold and decisive declarations, but also commitments to expand victims' access to health and support services and economic resources directed to families during and after the pandemic. We must look to collaborative and creative thinking, as well as to skilled and experienced victim advocates who have been providing and building upon increasingly evidence-based services for over four decades, on how to expand the availability and diversity of these services and resources, particularly transitional housing options for victims who may have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19. For those victims who report to law enforcement, there will be a need for more intensive police, social services, and victim advocacy follow-up both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Research will also need to explore whether the pandemic's impact on the incidence of domestic violence is sustained in the long-term.

While this systematic review provides strong evidence of increased officially reported domestic violence as a consequence of the COVID-19 stay-at-home and lockdown orders, the exact nature and context of the increase remains unknown. Increased reporting to the police, emergency rooms, and other healthcare settings may be a function of an increased number of victimizations, but also an increase in the decisions by some victims to call the police and seek criminal justice interventions. That is, changes in official reporting rates reflect both a change in extent of victimization experiences, but also the help-seeking decisions of those who were victims of domestic violence prior to and during the pandemic. The increase may include reports by a new set of domestic violence victims whose violence experiences are largely a function of the current economic impact of the pandemic, as well as the temporary isolation resulting from social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders (e.g., the abuse they experienced pre-pandemic was largely emotional in nature and circumstances surrounding the pandemic escalated that emotional control to acts of physical violence). The pandemic may have also served as the catalyst for those who were victims prior to the pandemic to report their experiences due to the increased incidence and severity of violence by their previously abusive partners.

While the findings in this study note increases in officially reported domestic violence, the direction of future research needs to include careful joint analyses of estimates from police agencies, shelter-based and clinical data, and self-report victimization data before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic to estimate the diverse types and context of domestic violence and also examine the ways in which the pandemic have placed women at further risk for physical violence, emotional and financial abuse, and coercive control in the long-term. Chandan et al. (2020) note that the selection bias associated with police, healthcare, and other administrative datasets consistently underestimate the extent and impact of domestic violence, a well-established finding in research before the pandemic. They conclude that without ongoing data collection and surveillance, it will not be possible to estimate the total burden of domestic violence both during and after the pandemic.

The stay-at-home measures have placed those most vulnerable to violence and abuse in close proximity to their potential abuser, and this may lead to a continued increase in the risk factors associated with domestic violence. The cause of this increase is likely to be shaped by a variety of factors that are associated with domestic violence more generally, but that have and will continue to be more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes social isolation and increased attempts by abusers to exert power and coercive control, unemployment, economic distress, marital conflict, and substance use and abuse. The financial stress associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented and is likely to disproportionately impact victims and survivors of domestic violence in the long-term. Women's economic dependence on male partners will continue to place many women at risk for new and continued domestic violence. Moreover, the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on unemployment among women, which is estimated to be four times greater for women as compared to men (Sasser Modestino, 2020Tappe, 2020), along with their increasing responsibility for childcare and home-schooling, will exacerbate the financial challenges of women trying to navigate leaving violent relationships. Patrick et al. (2020) have identified a number of other financial stressors related to the pandemic, including increased food insecurity, decreased employer-sponsored insurance coverage for their children, and the loss of regular childcare leading to women's increasing unemployment, which in turn will lead to devastating impacts for domestic violence victims. Kashen, Glynn, and Novello (2020) point to the need for immediate and long-term action in the area of work-family policies and childcare infrastructure in order to mitigate these impacts.

Increases in domestic violence during the pandemic will also take a tremendous toll on the children living in violent homes and those directly exposed to domestic violence and abuse. As Phelps and Sperry (2020) note, for many children, schools are their only option for mental health services and trauma-informed care and support—not to mention adequate nutrition. It will therefore be important to direct research to examine the impact of the increase in domestic violence during the pandemic on children, given the well-established research on the diverse impacts of family violence on children, and the literature pointing to the intergenerational transmission of violence (Spatz-Widom, 1989). Research has already demonstrated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among parents and children with respect to social isolation, loneliness, and depression. Research by Patrick et al. (2020) finds that in the year since the beginning of the pandemic, a quarter of parents reported worsening mental health for themselves and a 14% worsening in the behavioral health of their children. They find that the combined impact of lack of child-care due to school closures, reduced access to healthcare due to closures and delays in visits, and declines in food security led to the most substantial declines in a family's mental and behavioral health. It is clear that these negative economic circumstances and declining mental health among parents and children, combined with the trauma of violence exposure, are likely to have substantial detrimental impacts for children long-term.

Researchers and policy makers will need to identify both the short- and long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the risk for domestic violence and subsequent consequences. This includes an understanding of the nature of domestic violence and types of victimizations that come to the attention of the police, and how police agencies may better address this changing crime problem, as well as those that do not get reported to law enforcement and how to address those situations. For those victims reporting their victimization experiences to the police, but choosing—or being forced—to remain with their abuser, there will be a need for more intensive law enforcement, social services, and victim advocacy follow-up both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal governments will need to ensure that financial stimulus packages aimed at reducing the economic impact of the pandemic on families also include targeted resources for women and children leaving violent homes, and at the same time earmark resources for victim service and healthcare providers seeing an increase in their caseloads related to domestic violence during and after the pandemic. Boserup, McKenney, and Elkbuli (2020) note the importance of making screening tools and assessments for domestic violence more readily available in diverse community, clinical, and healthcare settings, particularly via telehealth. This may also include collaboration between COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites and police agencies and domestic violence response organizations to include abuse screenings and safety planning. Finally, there will need to be creative approaches to reaching out to those women and children most at risk and often least likely to come to the attention of official agencies and victim response organizations. This includes the expansion of telehealth and remote victim services, expansion of team-based behavioral response units, and the development of innovative referral systems for any and all agencies and providers responding to calls for help from victims and survivors experiencing abuse in their home.