I have had several friends extol the marvels of meditation, urging me to try it. I tried it a week or so ago, but I find it really difficult not to think about whatever it is I might be considering for the day or week or month, etc.
This article in WaPo suggests it may be worthwhile giving it a better, more thorough try.
We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:
1. The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.
2. The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.
3. The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.
4. An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.
The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels.
The doctor interviewed for this article recommends getting a teacher for meditation. The problem I have with this is that I doubt if I will like or get along with any teachers. I wonder if there are any people in my area who tend toward being libertarians and who teach meditation. Failing that, I'll have to search for a good instruction set online. Any suggestions?
Update: at the same time, consider this.
[T]he treatment can itself trigger mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, psychological studies in the UK and US have found.
The practice is part of a growing movement based on ancient Eastern traditions of meditation.
However, 60 per cent of people who had been on a meditation retreat had suffered at least one negative side effect, including panic, depression and confusion, a study in the US found.
This is pretty frickn weird and convoluted. Be sure to read the last two paragraphs of this brief summary via Daily Alert:
In Response to Palestinian Rocket Fire, Israel Strikes Gaza Targets - Matan Tzuri
The Israel Air Force struck four targets in Gaza early Wednesday in response to rocket fire at Israel Tuesday night. An IDF Spokesperson confirmed that one rocket fired from Gaza had landed near Gan Yavne. A resident from the area said, "We heard a really loud explosion, so loud that the walls of our house shook. It was really scary." (Ynet News)
See also When Two Gazans Fight, Israel Suffers - Avi Issacharoff
The rocket that Islamic Jihad launched at Israel on Tuesday came out of an internal conflict between sector commanders. In a personal conflict between the incoming and outgoing commanders of the northern Gaza Strip - that included the kidnapping of activists close to the dismissed commander - close associates of the latter fired rockets at Israel. Two Gazans fight one another, and the chips fly at Israel. (Times of Israel)
See also Hamas Arrests Gaza Rocket Launchers - Elior Levy (Ynet News)
Once I reached my goal weight last month, of course I splurged and binged.
I knew I would.
I had DQ Blizzard, burger, and fries. Then we went to Houston to visit my son and his family, and I thoroughly enjoyed all the carbs we ate while we were there.
By the time we returned, I had gained 7 lbs. No problem, though. I've gone back on a very low-carb diet, dropped three of those 7 lbs already, and will be back at my goal again soon enough.
I gather yo-yo weight losses are generally not likely to be very healthy, but these variations are small. And I don't think I'd bother going on the low-carb diet if I couldn't enjoy these binges now and then.
I know I am an internet junkie. I am addicted to email, to Facebook, to blogs, to news, to internet shopping, and to a host of other wonderful things available over the internet.
I knew I would be addicted many years ago, which was why I put off getting a smartphone for several years. Once I had it, I was on it… a lot! … as I knew I would be.
And now that I am retired, I’m on the internet constantly. I have my laptop open whenever we are “watching television”, which of course means I’m not really watching all that much. And I whip out my iPhone whenever I have the flimsiest of excuses.
Recently I began to wonder just how addicted I am to the internet and to my devices. And so I decided to try to go for 48 hours without using the internet.
I did it. I made it through 48 hours without using the internet from just before midnight on Saturday until just after midnight on Monday.
I turned off the wifi on my laptop so I wouldn’t be connected when I was working on photos or writing projects, and I tried not to use internet when I was reading a novel on my iPhone.
To be honest, the experiment wasn’t completely successful, at least probably not in the eyes of some people, but I think it was a success.
But that was it. So I made it, at least so far as I’m concerned. It was not easy, and I will not willingly to it again.
I wanted to write to some people about an upcoming show. After having studied the script more carefully, I have tonnes of questions, and I must wait to write the people who can help me.
And I have a granddaughter whose birthday started while I was off line. I’d have wanted to write to her sooner.
Also, I had no idea what I might have missed from my friends and relatives. I put a “vacation” notice on my email to let people know what was happening. I hoped that was sufficient.
Doing without email was especially difficult because we have some relatives who are traveling in Asia now, and I know they were constantly sending photos and updates that I wasn’t seeing (I tried not to look at things on Ms. Eclectic’s computer screen during these two days).
I get most of my news via email from various news organizations. I missed those. I detest television news, especially the local telecasts, and being without other news sources didn’t make me like television news any better (we gave up our hard-copy subscriptions years ago).
Finally, I worried that notices about work being done in our condo building might have been missed. Fortunately, there weren't any.
I really missed all the contact with my Facebook friends --- status updates, messages via messenger, photos, sayings, etc. I have only sporadic contact with most of my Facebook friends, and I know it can wait, but I missed it and I hope those who missed my announcements about this experiment will have understood what I was doing.
I wish there had been some way, in addition to my two status updates, to notify people who might have sent messages or posted comments – some sort of “vacation” type notice for FB. Maybe there is, but it didn’t occur to me to look for it.
Something else that bothered me and that I hadn’t thought about earlier --- what were people posting, if anything, to my Timeline on Facebook? I should have reset the privacy settings before going offline! But people rarely “share” things on Timeline, so I wasn’t worried. And I received no phone calls or texts from friends alerting me to anything untoward that may have happened in this regard.
I was astonished by how dependent I am on the internet, not just because of my own personal addictions but in so many other ways as well. If the internet ever shuts down for any length of time, I’ll be done for.
The experiment confirmed what I knew but didn’t want to admit all along: I am easily distracted by email and Facebook. Anytime I get even slightly bored with my work, with what I’m reading, or with what is on television, I check my email and Facebook.
Suspecting this, confirming this, and now knowing this may affect my behavior. I doubt if it will affect much, though.
I attended Carleton College (Northfield MN) in the early 1960s. The school has always been a top-rated small 4-year liberal arts US college, and it's reputation probably explains in part some of my later success in life. I was not a good student there, but the very fact that I went there signaled to grad schools and others that at some point in my life I had worked hard enough and done well enough to be a Carleton student.
It turns out that students from Carleton College do quite well later in life. I expect that having to deal with the cogency of so many conflicting views from professors and classmates plays a major role in preparing Carleton students for later life beyond the ivory tower.
Comparing their actual mid-life incomes with what similar students earn but who attended other schools, Carleton comes out quite well, ranking 5th in the US:
There's something about the Triple C* that pays off financially, I guess.
My father died two years before I finished high school and my mother had just started teaching, with a quite low salary. I attended Carleton on a terrific needs-blind-admission financial aid plan: 1/3 work, 1/3 grant/scholarship, and 1/3 loan. I was lucky.
*Triple C: Carleton Christian College (its original name), also Cows, Contentment, and Colleges (a slogan for Northfield MN, where Carleton College is located [wtf is with including Faribault as a co-location in that table? Is that the name of some new, regional municipality?])
My friend, Jack, is older than I am. He recently wrote
Old age survival is all about adaptation. Some start at a very high level of
function, and can ride for a while. But eventually the genetically programmed collapse of the critter cannot be denied.
I keep fighting this collapse, but every setback takes a tad longer to recover from, dammit.
I know I am addicted to the internet, to email, to Facebook, to blogs, etc. In fact I put off getting a smartphone for a year or so because I knew I would be addicted to using it. And indeed, I have a strong urge to pull it out all the time to check something.
So as of midnight tonight, I'm going to try (TRY!) to stay off the internet for 48 hours.
I can use my phone, but I must be careful not to check mail, etc. I think I have turned off all the banners and notifications, but I'm not sure.
I can use our landline phone, even though we have cable land-line service.
I can watch cable television, too.
And I can use my computer for things like Word or Excel, but I have to turn off the wifi mode for those 48 hours.
I'm not sure I can do this. But I need to try it. [I also NEED to learn a lengthy role for a show I'm doing this coming Friday.]
I'll post an update on Tuesday. I'll probably stay up past midnight on Monday just so I can check my email, etc. ;-)
An overwhelming number of Arabs who lost their Israeli homes in 1948 left them at the urging of neighbouring Arab gubmnts who essentially told them, "Leave now. We will drive the Jews into the sea, and then you can return."
[Yes, I know the Jews committed some atrocities during that war and drove some Arabs from their homes. ]
When the Arabs lost that war, the mostly-self-displaced Arabs were not accepted and assimilated into the Arab countries around Israel but were instead forced into refugee camps. From Wikipaedia,
During the 1948 Palestine War, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled... These refugees and their descendants number several million people today, divided between Jordan (2 million),Lebanon (427,057), Syria (477,700), the West Bank (788,108) and the Gaza Strip (1.1 million),... The displacement, dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people is known to them as an-Nakba, meaning "catastrophe" or "disaster”.
Prior to its adoption by the Palestinian nationalist movement, the "Year of the Catastrophe" among Arabs referred to 1920, when European colonial powers partitioned the Ottoman Empire into a series of separate states along lines of their own choosing. The term was first used to reference the events of 1948 in the summer of that same year by the Syrian writer Constantine Zureiq...
Following the war of 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews were expelled, property-less, from many Arab countries. From this source,
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians - with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 750,000 - left Israeli-controlled territory in 1948 and 1949, and they, along with their millions of descendants, make up one of the prickliest issues to be dealt with by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as part of any resolution to the conflict. Haddad said that the key to resolving the issue rested with the Arab League, which in the 1950s passed a resolution stating that no Arab government would grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees, keeping them in limbo for over half a century. At the same time, the Arab League urged Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out with a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees making it untenable for the Jews to stay in the countries. "No Jews from Arab countries would give up their property and home and come to Israel out of Zionism," Haddad said.
And from earlier in that article,
About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion, said Heskel M. Haddad. He added that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 sq.km. - which is five times the size of the State of Israel. ... In an interview, he said that it was imperative for Israel to bring up the issue of the Jews who fled Arab countries at any future peace talks - including those scheduled to take place in Annapolis in the coming weeks - since no Palestinian leader would sign a peace treaty without resolving the issue of Palestinian refugees.
A few days ago I noted on Facebook that most Canadians I know pronounce the word "asphalt" as "ash-fault". Where did that "h" after the "as" come from, and how did this happen?
The first time I heard this pronunciation after moving to Canada from the US, I thought someone was mispronouncing the word, but judging from the comments on Facebook, "ash-fault" seems to be a very common pronunciation in Canada. Also, from Wikipaedia,
- Many Canadians pronounce asphalt as "ash-falt" /ˈæʃfɒlt/. This pronunciation is also common in Australian English, but not in General American English or British English.
Also, from Wiktionary,
In the pronunciation code, the stretch-S (or integral sign for math jocks) means to pronounce the "s" with an "sh" sound.
How did this pronunciation evolve and become so common in Canada? Are Canucks just trying to be polite and not say the word "ass"? Or is there some other explanation? And how has this pronunciation become so dominant in Canada (and New Zealand and Australia) despite the spelling of the word?
I recently came across this article about why associate professors are such an unhappy lot.
New national data show that associate professors are some of the unhappiest people in academe.
I was a career associate professor. Being an associate professor for three decades can be difficult in many ways, including but not limited to those set out in the article. [You'll have to follow the link to read the explanations because I have been unable to copy-and-paste from it.]
Fortunately I developed interests and friendships outside my academic life, and I found other venues in which to pursue my academic interests at times. As a result, over the last decade or two I developed a sense of gratitude, adventure, and happiness that helped overcome the things I didn't like about the job.
New national data show that associate professors are some of the unhappiest people in academe. They are significantly less satisfied with their work than either assistant or full professors, according to the data, which were collected this year from 13,510 professors at 56 colleges and universities by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, at Harvard University. - See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Associate-Professors/132071/?utm_content=buffer66b82&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.zFdFZc2t.dpufNew national data show that associate professors are some of the unhappiest people in academe. They are significantly less satisfied with their work than either assistant or full professors, according to the data, which were collected this year from 13,510 professors at 56 colleges and universities by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, at Harvard University. - See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Associate-Professors/132071/?utm_content=buffer66b82&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.zFdFZc2t.dpufNew national data show that associate professors are some of the unhappiest people in academe. They are significantly less satisfied with their work than either assistant or full professors, according to the data, which were collected this year from 13,510 professors at 56 colleges and universities by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, at Harvard University. - See more at: http://m.chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Associate-Professors/132071/?utm_content=buffer66b82&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#sthash.zFdFZc2t.dpuf
I value freedom more than most other things. And while I guess I'd have no problem with polygamous arrangements between freely consenting adults, it is difficult to believe the parties are freely consenting in situations like this one. Forced marriages, accompanied by or following threats of kidnapping or other reprisals should not be acceptable.
The leader of Russia's southern region of Chechnya has urged men to lock up their wives and ban them from using WhatsApp after outrage over the forced marriage of a 17-year-old girl spread on the messaging service.
Married Chechen police chief Nazhud Guchigov, 47, wed Kheda Goylabiyeva last Saturday after threatening to kidnap the teenager and warning her family of reprisals if they did not agree to the marriage, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who had earlier backed the marriage in apparent violation of Russian laws against polygamy, used an interview with a local broadcaster to condemn discussion of the wedding on WhatsApp.
"Lock them in, do not let them go out, then they will not post anything," Kadyrov was quoted as saying by the BBC.
"The family honor is the most important thing. Men, do take your women out of WhatsApp."
The Chechen leader said in an Instagram post last week that the girl's parents had agreed to the marriage, and criticized Russian media coverage of "this fuss ordered by some liberals."
Polygamy is illegal in Russia, though it is permitted under Islamic law if both the first wife and any future brides consent, and their husband treats them equally.
Several years ago, when Lara was an infant, I notice that her nostrils were heart-shaped and posted a picture of them. Last year I posted an update.
I recently visited with Lara, and here are some photos I took, trying to update photos of her nostrils. In the first one, she hid her nose:
Funny girl. But in the second photo, she let me take a photo of her nostrils. It looks to me as if the heart shapes are slowly evolving away from heart shapes.
Compare the above photo with some of the earlier ones here.
David Henderson at EconLog has this wonderful post about a debate/discussion on global warming and climate change. It is worth reading his summary even if you don't listen to the actual discussion or read the transcript.
In his introduction, David writes:
In the area of global warming, it's hard to find a civil discussion between two experts who disagree. This is one. Partly, I think, it's because Russ [Roberts] does a good job of being even-handed and drawing out the facts and conjectures. But probably more important is that both Christy and Emmanuel are reasonable people.
I love that both speakers acknowledge what they do and do not know. They argue less from established positions and more from different interpretations and explanations of the data on which they agree.
I urge EVERYONE to read this post at the very least and preferably to follow the links to the original transcript.
I'm just jaded enough to believe these "facts" will be countered by evidence from further studies; that's the nature of scientific inquiry. But they are worth contemplating [via Marilyn via George via?]. Here they are with my comments added in square brackets]:
1. Your favorite song is likely associated with an emotional event.
You and everyone else. (source)
[EE: And it stops being your favourite song when it becomes associated with a negative event.]
2. Music impacts your perspective.
This one seems kind of obvious! A study at the University of Groningen showed that music has a dramatic impact on your perception. (source)
[EE: I know one prof who played baroque music before his classes and another played more modern music. Guess which one was perceived as a better prof. It's likely that the music had nothing to do with it but just reflected their personalities and teaching styles.]
3. The more you spend on others, the happier you are.
According to various studies. Be sure to give plenty this holiday season! (source)
[EE: I'm not entirely convinced. There must be some important nuances here.]
4. Spending money on experience instead of stuff also makes you happier.
Collect memories not things, right? (source)
[EE: Absolutely! Also, as people in my generation begin down-sizing, we don't want stuff. We cherish time with family and friends; I also love new experiences. And if "stuff" is given, it should be perishables, loosely defined, such as fancy cheeses or wines.]
5. Kids are more high strung today than the average psych ward patient in 1950.
Which is pretty scary but not surprising. About half the human population now suffers anxiety, depression, or a sort of substance abuse. (source)
[EE: this sounds a tad extreme to me, but I can believe the qualitative nature of it. Kids have to (or choose to or feel pressure to) multi-task much more than I did as a younger person. But depression was big back then, too, so I'm not entirely convinced.]
6. Certain religious practices lower stress.
“The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Mood Disorders” shows that people who engage in meditation and prayer religiously are less stressed out. (source)
[EE: so many of my friends tell me that quiet meditation is good. I'm giving it a go, but my mind wanders a lot.]
7. Money does buy happiness, but only up to $75,000 a year.
For the average American, $75k a year buys happiness. It liberates you from poverty and gets you what you need in life. (source)
[EE: If this is per capita and not per household, I can imagine it comes close. Also see this, in which I mention a classic book by Tibor Scitovsky, The Joyless Economy.]
8. Being with happy people makes you happier.
This should come as no surprise. (source)
[EE: well duh. Though I know some perverse people for whom this doesn't work; they resent the happiness other people feel.]
9. 18 to 33 year olds are the most stressed out people on earth.
Family, education, work, it can all be pretty stressful. (source)
[EE: exactly. But with family formations beginning later in life, I expect the upper limit is closer to 40 these days.]
10. Convincing yourself you slept well tricks your brain into thinking it did.
Thus giving you more energy. They called it “placebo sleep”. (source)
[EE: I find it hard to lie to myself, but I rarely have this problem anyway.]
11. Smart people underestimate themselves and ignorant people think they’re brilliant.
It’s called the Dunning Kruger Effect, it’s real, and just go on Facebook and you’ll see what I’m talking about. (source)
[EE: I'm almost always in a constant state of doubt, but I really don't take that as a sign of being smart; I take it as a sign of having been wrong so often in the past.]
12. When you remember a past event, you’re actually remembering the last time you remembered it.
Alright, that one blew the hell out of my mind. This is why our memories fade and distort over time. (source)
[EE: I first read this about a year ago. Makes sense.]
13. Your decisions are more rational when thought in another language.
A university of Chicago study showed that Korean citizens who thought in foreign languages reduced their overall bias. Neat. (source)
[EE: Another good reason to become fluent in another language.]
14. If you announce your goals, you’re less likely to succeed.
It’s true. Tests since the 1930’s have pretty well proven it. (source)
[EE: I can see this, but I'm afraid it's also confirmation bias. For the most part, I'm reluctant to announce goals for fear of looking foolish if I don't achieve them. This finding might be important for everyone who is on a diet.]
I think there's a good chance someone or several someones from the Patriots, possibly including Tom Brady, knew and/or had something to do with the low pressure in some of the footballs used by the Patriots during the 2014-15 NFL season and playoffs.
But a good chance is not a very high standard.
Further, I'm not sure that the standard of proof for civil litigation (preponderance of the evidence? balancing of the probabilities? it depends on who you talk to) would find against the Patriots. It might, though.
That doesn't mean that by some standard, such as "more likely than not" the NFL erred in their finding. It's just a question of what standard should be used.
As I wrote over a decade ago, the appropriate standard of proof for different institutions and different legal environments requires an understanding of confidence intervals, Type I errors, and Type II errors.
With the weakest standard of proof, call it the "more likely than not" standard, we are willing to tolerate a higher probability of "convictions" (that's not really what they always are) of innocent people in order to make sure that there is a higher probability of punishing those who actually do commit an offense. We don't tolerate such a low standard of proof in criminal cases, not wanting to punish someone who is probably innocent. (see my piece on cruel and unusual punishment)
But in internal disputes (like the NFL and the Patriots) presumably the standard of proof for offenses and punishments is set out in franchise agreements and player contracts. Given the Patriots' response, and given the analysis by Russ Roberts, I really doubt if anyone involved with the Patriots is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. At the same time, I think there's a chance someone involved with the Patriots did something.
And if all it takes for the NFL to levy fines and punishments is a low standard of proof to the tune of "Palmer thinks there's a good chance someone did something wrong," then while the fines and punishments may be reduced, they will not necessarily be rescinded completely.
Note: I have only a two-week law degree and so I'm quite open to refinements to the above from my lawyer friends.
Bill Szymczyk was a year ahead of me at our grade school, junior high school, and high school. He was the producer for BB King's most popular albums.
From Wikipaedia [via HR],
He [Szymczyk] successfully lobbied ABC to let him work with B. B. King, whose own record label was a subsidiary of ABC and who was a long time idol of Szymczyk. After convincing King that he could improve his sound to make him more appealing to a wider audience, King himself agreed to let Szymczyk produce for him. Among the albums he produced for B. B. King are the 1969 live album Live & Well, King's first ever top-100 album. He produced the follow-up studio album Completely Well, which featured "The Thrill Is Gone", the biggest hit of King's career and his signature song. He would continue to produce blues albums throughout the early 1970s for the likes of King and Albert Collins.
Szymczyk was moved several times while working for ABC Records; first to Los Angeles when ABC acquired Dunhill Records and Szymczyk took over production for the West Coast operations, and later to Denver when he decided to form his own label, Tumbleweed Records. He worked for a while as a disc jockey at radio station KFML, and continued to produce albums in New York and Los Angeles, such as the J. Geils Band's 1971 album The Morning After, recorded at the Los Angeles Record Plant. He did extensive work at the Colorado studioCaribou Ranch, where would be the center of his operations for the rest of the 1970s.
Bjørn Lomborg is one of my heroes. He cares about making people better off, and he cares about doing so efficiently, without regard for the heavy emoting that comes from too many different sources. Here is his latest piece from the Wall Street Journal as he reproduced the column on Facebook:
My new op-ed in Wall Street Journal:
Opponents of free debate are celebrating. Last week, under pressure from some climate-change activists, the University of Western Australia canceled its contract to host a planned research center, Australia Consensus, intended to apply economic cost-benefit analysis to development projects—giving policy makers a tool to ensure their aid budgets are spent wisely.
The new center in Perth was to be a collaboration with a think tank I run, Copenhagen Consensus, which for a decade has conducted similar research. Working with more than 100 economists, including seven Nobel laureates, we have produced research that measures the social and economic benefits of a wide range of policies, such as fighting malaria, reducing malnutrition, cutting air pollution, improving education and tackling climate change.
Therein lay the problem. This kind of comparison can upset those who are committed to advocating less effective investments, particularly poor responses to climate change.
Copenhagen Consensus research shows that policy makers considering climate change have practical solutions. Cutting fossil-fuel subsidies is a great idea. Each year $550 billion is wasted, mostly by developing nations, on subsidies that mainly help the rich. A dramatic increase in spending on green-energy R&D is needed, as innovation will drive down the price of green energy to the point that it can outcompete fossil fuels. A well-crafted carbon tax would help too.
But our analyses also show that Kyoto-style approaches—poorly designed EU climate policies, or the pledge to hold warming to two degrees Celsius—are costly and ineffective. There are much better ways we could spend money to help the planet.
That conclusion draws the ire of some climate-change activists. When the collaboration between Copenhagen Consensus and the University of Western Australia was announced, the Australian Climate Council, led by paleontologist Tim Flannery, called it “an insult to the scientific community.” Making up facts, the Climate Council warned supporters that I think “we shouldn’t take any steps to mitigate climate change.” This set the tone for the ensuing attacks.
A Sydney Morning Herald columnist wrote that I had produced “anti climate change” work: a documentary, called “Cool It,” exploring the smartest solutions to climate change. In this columnist’s topsy-turvy world, one need never even question the science of global warming to be “anti climate change.”
Under pressure, the university canceled its contract with the Australian government to host the new research center. The UWA’s vice chancellor said he believed the center would have delivered “robust, evidence-based knowledge and advice” but that “the scale of the strong and passionate emotional reaction was one that the university did not predict.”
A small but loud group of opponents deliberately ignored the Copenhagen Consensus’s endorsement of smart climate policies. They also ignored that most of our research has nothing to do with climate. The bulk of our papers focus on health, education, nutrition and the many other areas where relatively small investments can help millions.
Philanthropists, donors and policy makers must prioritize development goals. What Copenhagen Consensus does is ensure that such parties understand the price tags and potential outcomes for each option.
This work has shown that some aid projects do phenomenally well: For instance, providing contraception to the 215 million women across the globe who lack access to it would reduce maternal mortality and boost growth, producing $120 in social benefits for each dollar spent.
Other policies have lower multipliers. Getting sanitation to the poorest half of the world, for example, would produce only $3 of benefits for each dollar spent. This is worthy, but for a government with a limited development budget, it probably isn’t the first place to spend money.
We should focus resources where they will do the most good—not where they will make us feel the most good. The United Nations is setting 169 global development targets for the next 15 years. These are laudable aims, but together they’re a laundry list: reduce arms trafficking; finance sustainable forest management; achieve universal access to drinking water; halve deaths and injuries from traffic accidents; increase market access for “small-scale artisanal fishers.”
Studies by Copenhagen Consensus show that if the U.N. focused on only 19 of the most efficient projects, each dollar of development spending would do four times more good.
There is a strong sense among some climate-change activists, however, that global warming should not be subject to such comparison. Thus it is easier for them to use emotional labels like “climate denier” than to acknowledge our entire volume of research on aid, development, environmental and health spending, simply because in one specific area, current climate policy, some findings don’t line up with their unyielding views.
“Australia’s culture of open debate is increasingly sick,” Tim Wilson, Australia’s human rights commissioner, wrote Monday. “Outrage, confected or otherwise, is a popular tool to condemn your opponents because it avoids the need to actually debate ideas.”
An 88-year-old UWA fellow said he had never seen anything like this at the university. “People have been rejected on account of insufficient abilities but not because they do not have the right type of view,” Prof. Hank Greenway told the Australian.
What is the lesson for young academics? Avoid producing research that could produce politically difficult answers. Steer clear of results that others might find contentious. Consider where your study could take you, and don’t go there if it means upsetting the status quo.
The Australian government remains committed to Australia Consensus, and I am still enthusiastic about working with academics to build a research center that will be judged on its actual output, improving global efforts on aid and development.
Our research will continue to go where the economic evidence leads, rather than where idealism might make us want to end up. Facts must never, ever be seen as an unwelcome contribution to policy debate.
We all (lots of us, anyway) saw it coming even 50 years ago, and I hate to say it is inevitable... but it is inevitable no matter what nuclear non-proliferation treaties might be attempted.
And there's no way to stop it.
"And you don't believe
we're on the Eve
From the NYTimes:
When President Obama began making the case for a deal with Iran that would delay its ability to assemble an atomic weapon, his first argument was that a nuclear-armed Iran would set off a “free-for-all” of proliferation in the Arab world. “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons,” he said in 2012.
Now, as he gathered Arab leaders over dinner at the White House on Wednesday and prepared to meet with them at Camp David on Thursday, he faced a perverse consequence: Saudi Arabia and many of the smaller Arab states are now vowing to match whatever nuclear enrichment capability Iran is permitted to retain.
Match? I expect some to have already put plans in motion to exceed (and hope to protect themselves from) whatever Iran does. The problem is that if this new proliferation continues among religious fanatics who do not fear retaliation and widespread death, a new cold war will have far less deterrent value.
Before you comment, please read the entire article. It's long, it's detailed, and it raises some serious doubts about the NFL's position. From the conclusion,
Because the NFL had little or no experience with measuring psi in the heat (or cold) of a championship game, it is not surprising that the initial readings, from either gauge brought by Walt Anderson, suggested that the Patriots had been cheating. But a careful review of the measurements should have led them to conclude that the entire process of measuring and complying with the psi regulation was much more complicated than had been previously understood. ...
Instead, the NFL decided to tarnish the reputation of a future Hall-of-Famer who some would argue is the greatest player in the history of the NFL. That player is known to even the casual fan as a very intense competitor. I would not be surprised if under the pressure of an impending championship game, he encouraged or allowed staffers to break a rule. It’s a shame that the hard evidence that would make that conclusion definitive is not provided by the Wells Report.