Links from the past week.
In other words, curiosity seems to be the pin that bursts our partisan bubbles, allowing new and sometimes uncomfortable information to trickle in. Nothing else works like curiosity does, the authors point out—not being reflective, or good at math, or even well-educated.
Instead, they write, it’s “individuals who have an appetite to be surprised by scientific information—who find it pleasurable to discover that the world does not work as they expected … [who] expose themselves more readily to information that defies their expectations.”
Diversity is Hard. This piece is especially helpful in identifying commonalties between the experience of minorities with the experience of those who resist immigration:
But diversity takes work, and it can be exhausting. Life is a little more exciting and a little more uncomfortable. Routine tasks, especially those involving communication, take a kind of conscious effort that they do not in a homogeneous community. And I am just a young student; what must it be like to see your neighborhood transformed at the age of 70? It must be profoundly disquieting, and that is a sentiment whose existence must not be ignored.
And yet on social media today everyone is in a state of high alarm all the time. Which leads me to something I didn’t mention explicitly in my year in technology post: my efforts to get onto a longer news frequency.
Those who are interested in history will remember events like the Battle of New Orleans, fought weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had ended the War of 1812 because word of the treaty hadn’t reached the armies. Since then, thanks to a series of well-known technological changes, the news cycle has grown shorter and shorter until now many people get their news minute-by-minute.
If the frequency that led to the Battle of New Orleans was too long, the Twitter-cycle is far, far too short. People regularly get freaked out by stories than turn out to be false, and by the time the facts are known a good deal of damage (not least to personal relationships) has often already been done—plus, the disappearance of the cause of an emotion doesn’t automatically eliminate the emotion itself. In fact, it often leaves that emotion in search of new justifications for its existence.
I have come to believe that it is impossible for anyone who is regularly on social media to have a balanced and accurate understanding of what is happening in the world. To follow a minute-by-minute cycle of news is to be constantly threatened by illusion.
Various pieces on the punching of Richard Spencer:
Freddie deBoer: Everybody Got Some
Ken White: On Punching Nazis
Ed West: It’s Easy to Forget How Unnatural it is to Tolerate Views we Disagree with
Sociological Images: Thinking about the gender gaps between men and women in the labour force and athletics (see my remarks in the comments)
6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs About Intelligence. This has been receiving a lot of publicity. However, looking at the p-values, confidence intervals, and other details of the paper itself, I’m unconvinced the paper makes such a compelling case that such an effect exists. In addition, the fact that stereotype accuracy is one of the stronger results in psychology, while stereotype threat hasn’t been looking too good in either replications or meta-analyses lately makes me wonder about this result. Beyond this, however, there are questions to ask. The Leslie and Cimpian paper that the Atlantic write-up mentions has itself been challenged in relevant areas. As Scot Alexander put it: Perceptions of Required Ability Act as a Proxy for Actual Required Ability in Explaining the Gender Gap. As Alexander, Randal Olson, Ginther and Kahn, and others showed, perceptions of innate ability aren’t the real issue: actual innate ability provides the real explanation. I suspect something similar might be true here. Research suggests that men are considerably more common than women in the highest (and lowest) reaches of intelligence, as their intelligence is more variable (and may also be higher on average, especially on key criteria such as mathematical ability). Clear sex differences in high intelligence exist, so perhaps six-year-old girls start to notice them at that age.
‘Group IQ’ almost exclusively reflects individual cognition. Gender balance and turn-taking don’t supposedly have the effect some have suggested. I am unconvinced by the research on both sides of this debate. I suspect that the reality is rather more complicated and varied than both sides allow for.
A Nagging Persistence. Interesting piece on explaining the social dynamics that account for the continuing practice of female genital mutilation.
Democratic versus Republican Occupations. Most entirely predictable, with a couple of surprises (probably due to unexpected racial confounds).
Democratic versus Republican First Names. So confounded by sex that it requires a bit more interpretation.
How Ultrasound Became Political—terrible article, linked only for the list of errors mentioned at the end.
Ed West: A Female Culture War Has Begun. Intrasexual competition is a grossly neglected reality.
Matt Lee Anderson: On Purity and Complicity in the Culture Wars—‘One prominent way to establish purity is by declaring the ‘aggressor’ is entirely on the other side, and that one’s own response is purely defensive and reactionary. This narrative secures the purity of the movement; yet it does so precisely by minimizing or ignoring both the complicated history of how our current cultural conflicts emerged, and the entanglement of our own “side” in the fundamental ideologies and presumptions that manifest in the practices we resist.’
Ben Sixsmith: On the Domestication of Victims. Some Girardian remarks to be made here about the cult of the victim.
Matt Colvin: On the meaning of Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί in John 2:4
Benjamin Kautzer on Micah 6: The Politics of Confrontation and Promise
Adam Roberts: Further Thoughts on the Problem of Susan
Andrew Wilson: Modernity and Man Utd. Andrew suggests a metaphor for understanding Europe’s place in modernity.
Joshua Gillies: Boethius, Univocity, and Modern Trinitarian Thought
Steve Sailer reviews Sebastian Junger’s fascinating work on tribes. The gendered dimensions of this deserve more comment. Many male modes of ‘tribal’ sociality have suffered sustained assault in the attempts to desegregate the sexes over the past century.
Kingdom Poets. A blog devoted to introducing readers to Christian poets.
Oxford Conversations: stimulating conversations with Christian academics and scholars.
The Bible Project. I’ve only seen a few of these, but it looks superb so far. Here’s one on Leviticus:
Seasons of Norway