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Javier E

Opinion | Privacy Is Too Big to Understand - The New York Times - 0 views

  • There is “no single rhetorical approach likely to work on a given audience and none too dangerous to try. Any story that sticks is a good one,”
  • This newsletter is about finding ways to make this stuff stick in your mind and to arm you with the information you need to take control of your digital life.
  • how to start? The definition of privacy itself. I think it’s time to radically expand it.
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  • “Privacy” is an impoverished word — far too small a word to describe what we talk about when we talk about the mining, transmission, storing, buying, selling, use and misuse of our personal information.
  • “hyperobjects,” a concept so all-encompassing that it is impossible to adequately describe
  • invite skepticism because their scale is so vast and sometimes abstract.
  • When technology governs so many aspects of our lives — and when that technology is powered by the exploitation of our data — privacy isn’t just about knowing your secrets, it’s about autonomy
  • “Privacy is really about being able to define for ourselves who we are for the world and on our own terms,”
  • not a choice that belongs to an algorithm or data brokerEntities that collect, aggregate and sell individuals’ personal data, derivatives and inferences from disparate public and private sources. Glossary and definitely not to Facebook.”
  • privacy is about how that data is used to take away our control
  • real-time data, once assumed to be protected by phone companies, was available for sale to bounty hunters for a $300 fee
  • ICE officials partnered with a private data firm to track license plate data.
  • It means reckoning with private surveillance databases armed with dossiers on regular citizens and outsourced to the highest bidder
  • “Years ago we worried about the N.S.A. building huge server farms, but now it’s much cheaper to go to a private-service vendor and outsource this to a company who can cloak their activity in trade secrets,
  • “It’s comparable to asking people to stop using air conditioning because of the ozone layer. It’s not likely to happen because the immediate comfort is more valuable than the long-term fear.
Javier E

A smarter way to think about willpower - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • in a self-report questionnaire completed by more than 80,000 American adults, self-control ranked lowest among 24 strengths of character.
  • three out of four parents said they thought self-control has declined in the past half-century.
  • Without a time machine that allows us to travel backward and compare Americans from different decades on the same self-control measures, we can’t be sure. Indeed, the scant scientific evidence on the question suggests that if anything, the capacity to delay gratification may be increasing.
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  • there are plenty of behaviors that require self-control that have held steady or even improved in recent decades
  • Cigarette smoking has fallen sharply since the Mad Men days.
  • Alcohol consumption peaked in 1980 and has fallen back to the same level as 1960
  • Seat belts,
  • are now used by 9 out of 10 motorists.
  • the ratio of household consumption to household net worth just hit a postwar low: In 2018 consumption was 13.2 percent of net worth, down from 16.3 percent in 1946.
  • it isn’t clear that savings habits have worsened since World War II.
  • Nevertheless, like every generation before us, we crave more self-control.
  • science shows that helping people do better in the internal tug-of-war of self-control depends on creating the right external environment.
  • some temptations require hard paternalism
  • some choices are not in our best interest. Taxing, regulating, restricting or even banning especially addictive drugs may lead to more freedom
  • Cellphones and soda
  • the benefits of constraining access may, in some cases, justify the costs
  • we recommend nudges — subtle changes in how choices are framed that make doing what’s in our long-term interest more obvious, easier or more attractiv
  • deploy science-backed strategies that make self-control easier.
  • putting temptations out of sight and out of reach:
  • disabling apps that, upon reflection, do more harm than good.
  • Anything you can do to put time and effort between you and indulgence makes self-control easier.
Javier E

Opinion | The Only Answer Is Less Internet - The New York Times - 0 views

  • In our age of digital connection and constantly online life, you might say that two political regimes are evolving, one Chinese and one Western
  • The first regime is one in which your every transaction can be fed into a system of ratings and rankings
  • in which what seem like merely personal mistakes can cost you your livelihood and reputation, even your ability to hail a car or book a reservation
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  • It’s one in which notionally private companies cooperate with the government to track dissidents and radicals and censor speech
  • ne in which your fellow citizens act as enforcers of the ideological consensus, making an example of you for comments you intended only for your friends
  • one in which even the wealth and power of your overlords can't buy privacy.
  • The second regime is the one they’re building in the People’s Republic of China.
  • Beijing has treated the darkest episodes of “Black Mirror” as a how-to guide for social control and subjugation
  • Unlike China’s system, our emerging post-privacy order is not (for now) totalitarian; its impositions are more decentralized and haphazard, more circumscribed and civilized, less designed and more evolved, more random in the punishments inflicted and the rules enforced.
  • our system cannot help recreating features of the Chinese order, because the way that we live on the internet leaves us naked before power in a radical new way.
  • the Western order in the internet age might be usefully described as a “liberalism with some police-state characteristics.” Those characteristics are shaped and limited by our political heritage of rights and individualism. But there is still plainly an authoritarian edge, a gentle “pink police state” aspect, to the new world that online life creates.
  • apart from the high-minded and the paranoid, privacy per se is not a major issue in our politics
  • for those who object inherently to our new nakedness, regard the earthquakes as too high a price for Amazon’s low prices, or fear what an Augustus or a Robespierre might someday do with all this architecture, the best hope for a partial restoration of privacy has to involve more than just an anxiety about privacy alone.
  • It requires a more general turn against the virtual, in which fears of digital nakedness are just one motivator among many — the political piece of a cause that’s also psychological, intellectual, aesthetic and religious.
  • This is the hard truth suggested by our online experience so far: That a movement to restore privacy must be, at some level, a movement against the internet
  • Not a pure Luddism, but a movement for limits, for internet-free spaces, for zones of enforced pre-virtual reality (childhood and education above all), for social conventions that discourage career-destroying tweets and crotch shots by encouraging us to put away our iPhones.
Javier E

Bones discovered in an island cave may be an early human species - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • Piper, Mijares and their team published a description of the foot bone in 2010. They knew it was the oldest human remain in the Philippines, dated to 67,000 years ago, based on the amount of the radioactive element uranium in the fossil
  • Mijares returned to Callao Cave and uncovered more remains in 2011 and 2015. All told, the scientists pulled a dozen fossilized parts from the cave — teeth, a thigh bone, finger bones and foot bones, representing three individuals. Attempts to extract DNA from the remains were unsuccessful.
  • The body parts are diminutive, suggesting Homo luzonensis grew no more than four feet tall. Its molars have modern shapes. The way its leg muscle attached to its thigh bone is “distinctively human,”
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  • The bones in its hands and feet are curved, “spitting images” of the toes and finger bones that belonged to the ancient Australopithecus, Piper said. These hominids, such as the 3 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis Lucy, had digits well-suited for climbing.
  • This species lived at the same time as humans with modern anatomy, who first appeared in the fossil record 200,000 years ago (or perhaps as long as 350,000 years ago). ″We continue to realize that few thousands of years back in time, H. sapiens was definitely not alone on Earth,”
  • Though these fossils are the oldest in the Philippines, evidence for habitation is even older; 700,000 years ago, ancient butchers on Luzon carved up a rhinoceros with stone tools. Which species did the butchering is unknown.
  • A few “mammal species you find on Luzon appear to have come from the mainland,” Piper said. The Asian continent is 400 or more miles away through the Luzon strait. But in the Middle Pleistocene, when glacial sheets locked up vast amounts of water, sea levels dropped by as much as 400 feet, Piper said.
  • “I would just say that when humans could see land or they could smell it or they knew the signs, that birds were coming from it, they sought it out,” he said. “That’s not a Homo sapiens trait. It’s something our ancestors and extinct relatives had.”
  • The cartoon version of evolution, in which a hunched ape becomes a tall and jaunty biped, suggests a journey with a destination. The reality is messier,
  • An island’s confines can rapidly spark evolutionary change; Charles Darwin saw this in finches’ beaks.
  • “Isolation plays games,” Potts said. Homo floresiensis showed anthropologists that an island could be an “odd little laboratory of human evolution,” he said. These bones reinforce that lesson.
  • “It’s beginning to look like the evolutionary process is really fluid,” Potts said. “And it’s surprising that it is so fluid where each species of Homo may actually be a history or a record.” The result is a fusion of the modern and ancient: molars that could be yours alongside toes with millions-year-old curves.
  • Fifteen years ago, Hawks said, anthropologists chalked up the worldwide success of Homo sapiens to our modern anatomy. These new discoveries, in far-flung corners, suggest exceptionalism is not built into our brains or skeletons.
  • “The archaeological record is now showing us that ancient human forms were much more adaptable, and I would say clever, than we imagined,”
  • “This isn’t ‘Flowers for Algernon,’ where, suddenly, we’re super smart and everyone else in the world is behind us.” Scientists are now plumbing genomes for other clues to Homo sapiens’ survival, looking at our metabolisms or resistance to disease, he said. “I’d say the doors have opened, and we haven’t figured out where they lead.”
Javier E

Government sacks Roger Scruton after remarks about Soros and Islamophobia | Politics | ... - 0 views

  • In an interview with the New Statesman, the rightwing philosopher was unrepentant about his views on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist, who is frequently cited in antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacked by Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orbán.
  • “Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” Scruton told the magazine
  • Scruton, who has been a friend of Orbán for more than 30 years, denied that he was antisemitic or Islamophobic. He said Islamophobia had been “invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue”.
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  • The interview prompted Labour to repeat its call from five months ago for Scruton to be sacked after it emerged that he had described Jews in Budapest as part of a “Soros empire”.
  • “His claim that Islamophobia does not exist, a few weeks after the devastating attack in Christchurch, is extremely dangerous, and his defence of the prejudice stoked by Viktor Orbán’s government in Hungary is appalling.”
Javier E

AOC Isn't Using 'Verbal Blackface'-She's Code-Switching - The Atlantic - 0 views

  • another misimpression about Black English: that only uneducated people can be considered “authentic” in using it. This partly reflects a sense that Black English is a mere matter of grammatical flubs, a legacy of inadequate education. That analysis of Black English has been resoundingly refuted by shelves and shelves of research by linguists. Yet even someone who acknowledges that Black English is not broken language might suppose that it is rooted solely in being black and, roughly, poor.
  • poor black people are by no means the only ones who code-switch into Black English. Worldwide, people code-switch into nonstandard dialects as part of the general palette of human expression: The nonstandard dialect can connote warmth, surprise, anger, flirtation, intimacy. Obama and Ocasio-Cortez are no less authentic in their use of Black English than people such as Cornel West and Keegan-Michael Key, educated black people who code-switch constantly and beautifully.
  • Code-switching, however, is often about seasoning, sprinkling, decoration
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  • why would it be wrong for a politician to seek to connect to black audiences by sprinkling her speech with some of their dialect, which she grew up hearing and using herself? After all, language is fundamentally designed for connection. People often note that their speech tends to meld itself to the speech of those around them, such that they end up having a multilayered linguistic identity. Ocasio-Cortez has one.
Javier E

No word of a lie: scientists rate the world's biggest peddlers of bull | Science | The ... - 0 views

  • scientists claim to have identified the most common practitioners of the ignoble art. Their study of 40,000 teenagers reveals that boys; those from privileged backgrounds; and North Americans in particular, top the charts as the worst offenders.
  • Jerrim analysed data gathered by the OECD to assess how well 15-year-olds around the globe have mastered key academic subjects.
  • For one of the questions, the teenagers must rate how familiar they are with 16 mathematical concepts ranging from polygons and vectors to quadratic functions and congruent figures. Hidden among the bona fide terms are three fakes: proper numbers, subjective scaling and declarative functions
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  • Jerrim took the students’ responses to the three fake concepts to draw up a “bullshit scale”, which he then used to compare different groups, such as boys and girls, high and low socioeconomic status, and the regions where people lived.
  • “Boys are bigger bullshitters than girls, children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds tend to bullshit more than those from lower ones, and North Americans bullshit the most,” Jerrim said. Those who ranked highest on the scale tended to see themselves as more self-confident, more persevering, and more popular at school, than those further down the scale.
  • academics have devised a Bullshit Receptivity scale, which showed that believers in the supernatural may be more receptive to bullshit, and proposed an “ease of passing bullshit hypothesis”, which posits that people are more likely to commit the offence when they believe they can get away with it.
  • “People are social animals and we desire feelings of connection, belonging, and inclusion, so we try to participate when it is critical to build and maintain these relationships,” he said. “Such situations sometimes require us to talk about things we really know nothing about, and what comes out is bullshit.”
  • Jerrim said a major question is whether, and when, the art is beneficial. “Everyone gets a question in a job interview that they cannot answer. If you’re an effective bullshitter, it might help you get your foot in the door,” he said. “It might also help with academic grant proposals.”
Javier E

Facebook to ban white nationalism and separatism content | Technology | The Guardian - 1 views

  • After three months of consultation with academic experts in racist extremism, Facebook announced on Wednesday, it concluded that white nationalism “cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups.
  • The company suggested in a post announcing the change that it had originally seen white nationalism as an acceptable point of view, similar to American nationalism, or Basque separatism.
Javier E

Here's what the government's dietary guidelines should really say - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • If I were writing the dietary guidelines, I would give them a radical overhaul. I’d go so far as to radically overhaul the way we evaluate diet. Here’s why and how.
  • Lately, as scientists try, and fail, to reproduce results, all of science is taking a hard look at funding biases, statistical shenanigans and groupthink. All that criticism, and then some, applies to nutrition.
  • Prominent in the charge to change the way we do science is John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University. In 2005, he published “Why Most Research Findings Are False” in the journal PLOS Medicin
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  • He came down hard on nutrition in a pull-no-punches 2013 British Medical Journal editorial titled, “Implausible results in human nutrition research,” in which he noted, “Almost every single nutrient imaginable has peer reviewed publications associating it with almost any outcome.”
  • Ioannidis told me that sussing out the connection between diet and health — nutritional epidemiology — is enormously challenging, and “the tools that we’re throwing at the problem are not commensurate with the complexity and difficulty of the problem.” The biggest of those tools is observational research, in which we collect data on what people eat, and track what happens to them.
  • He lists plant-based foods — fruit, veg, whole grains, legumes — but acknowledges that we don’t understand enough to prescribe specific combinations or numbers of servings.
  • funding bias isn’t the only kind. “Fanatical opinions abound in nutrition,” Ioannidis wrote in 2013, and those have bias power too.
  • “Definitive solutions won’t come from another million observational papers or small randomized trials,” reads the subtitle of Ioannidis’s paper. His is a burn-down-the-house ethos.
  • When it comes to actual dietary recommendations, the disagreement is stark. “Ioannidis and others say we have no clue, the science is so bad that we don’t know anything,” Hu told me. “I think that’s completely bogus. We know a lot about the basic elements of a healthy diet.”
  • Give tens of thousands of people that FFQ, and you end up with a ginormous repository of possible correlations. You can zero in on a vitamin, macronutrient or food, and go to town. But not only are you starting with flawed data, you’ve got a zillion possible confounding variables — dietary, demographic, socioeconomic. I’ve heard statisticians call it “noise mining,” and Ioannidis is equally skeptical. “With this type of data, you can get any result you want,” he said. “You can align it to your beliefs.”
  • Big differences in what people eat track with other differences. Heavy plant-eaters are different from, say, heavy meat-eaters in all kinds of ways (income, education, physical activity, BMI). Red meat consumption correlates with increased risk of dying in an accident as much as dying from heart disease. The amount of faith we put in observational studies is a judgment call.
  • I find myself in Ioannidis’s camp. What have we learned, unequivocally enough to build a consensus in the nutrition community, about how diet affects health? Well, trans-fats are bad.
  • Over and over, large population studies get sliced and diced, and it’s all but impossible to figure out what’s signal and what’s noise. Researchers try to do that with controlled trials to test the connections, but those have issues too. They’re expensive, so they’re usually small and short-term. People have trouble sticking to the diet being studied. And scientists are generally looking for what they call “surrogate endpoints,” like increased cholesterol rather than death from heart disease, since it’s impractical to keep a trial going until people die.
  • , what do we do? Hu and Ioannidis actually have similar suggestions. For starters, they both think we should be looking at dietary patterns rather than single foods or nutrients. They also both want to look across the data sets. Ioannidis emphasizes transparency. He wants to open data to the world and analyze all the data sets in the same way to see if “any signals survive.” Hu is more cautious (partly to safeguard confidentiality
  • I have a suggestion. Let’s give up on evidence-based eating. It’s given us nothing but trouble and strife. Our tools can’t find any but the most obvious links between food and health, and we’ve found those already.
  • Instead, let’s acknowledge the uncertainty and eat to hedge against what we don’t know
  • We’ve got two excellent hedges: variety and foods with nutrients intact (which describes such diets as the Mediterranean, touted by researchers). If you severely limit your foods (vegan, keto), you might miss out on something. Ditto if you eat foods with little nutritional value (sugar, refined grains). Oh, and pay attention to the two things we can say with certainty: Keep your weight down, and exercise.
  • I used to say I could tell you everything important about diet in 60 seconds. Over the years, my spiel got shorter and shorter as truisms fell by the wayside, and my confidence waned in a field where we know less, rather than more, over time. I’m down to five seconds now: Eat a wide variety of foods with their nutrients intact, keep your weight down and get some exercise.
Javier E

Listening to Michael Jackson After 'Leaving Neverland' - The Atlantic - 1 views

  • The ancient question: What moral stain awaits us if we cannot abandon the art of a monster? None.
  • Michael Jackson’s art matters. It matters not because of any sociopolitical significance, although many of his songs bear uplifting messages. It matters not for its implications about race in America. It matters because of the simple fact that it is, in every sense, the gift revealed.
  • A generation ago, young people read Lewis Hyde’s The Gift to understand how to live meaningful lives by cultivating within themselves the ability to receive art: “An essential portion of any artist’s labor is not creation so much as invocation. Part of the work cannot be made, it must be received; and we cannot have this gift except, perhaps, by supplication, by courting, by creating within ourselves that ‘begging bowl’ to which the gift is drawn.”
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  • You can cast away Picasso because Hannah Gadsby told you he was cruel to women. But can you cast away Guernica?
  • Art isn’t something mere; it doesn’t exist as the moral bona fides of the person who made it. That person is a supernumerary. Separate yourself from any art—even popular art; even art created simply as entertainment—and you separate yourself from all of it
Javier E

Opinion | A 'Disgusting' Yale Professor Moves On - The New York Times - 0 views

  • Christakis’s wife, Erika, who also taught at Yale back then, had circulated a memo in which she questioned a university edict against culturally insensitive Halloween costumes, suggesting that students could police themselves and should have both the freedom to err and the strength to cope with offense. She wrote that her husband concurred.
  • when, in that courtyard, Christakis apologized for any pain that the memo had caused but refused to disavow its content, he was pilloried.
  • “Blueprint,” it’s no lament for the mess that we humans make of things. It’s an argument that we’re transcendently and inherently good — that we’re genetically wired for it, thanks to a process of natural selection that has favored people prone to constructive friendships, to cooperation, to teaching, to love.
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  • “For too long,” he writes in the preface, “the scientific community has been overly focused on the dark side of our biological heritage: our capacity for tribalism, violence, selfishness and cruelty. The bright side has been denied the attention it deserves.”
  • He told me that few people realize that he listened to those students for more than two hours, and that they hadn’t intercepted and surprised him: He went out to meet them, knowing how angry they were. “I felt that I had to model the principles that I believed — which is that I am committed to free and open expression,” he said. “I hardly could cower in my house.”
  • The book is a hefty, dazzlingly erudite synthesis of history, philosophy, anthropology, genetics, sociology, economics, epidemiology, statistics and more. It uses everything from shipwrecks to the primatologist Jane Goodall to make its pro-kindnes
  • Although he stayed calm — which he attributes to years of training in karate and its premium on self-control — he was rattled, deeply, by the encounter. He soon took his first sabbatical ever. He read books about equanimity in the face of injustice. “I did not want to become a different person,” he said. “I certainly did not want to become embittered.”
  • He rues America’s intense polarization, which perhaps makes this “an odd time for me to advance the view that there is more that unites us than divides us.”
  • His reasoning, oversimplified, is this: Complex societies are possible and durable only when people are emotionally invested in, and help, one another; we’d be living in smaller units and more solitary fashions if we weren’t equipped for such collaboration; and human thriving within these societies guarantees future generations suited to them.
  • Yes, there are hideous wars and horrid leaders. But if that were the sum of us, how to explain all the peace and progress? Christakis urges a wide angle and the long view
  • “To accept this belief that human beings are evil or violent or selfish or overly tribal is a kind of moral and intellectual laziness,” he told me. It also excuses that destructiveness. “The way to repair our torn social fabric is to say: Wait a minute, that’s not quite right.
  • “Blueprint,” he said, is sociodicy: It tries “to vindicate society despites its failures.”
Javier E

Opinion | Is Computer Code a Foreign Language? - The New York Times - 1 views

  • the proposal that foreign language learning can be replaced by computer coding knowledge is misguided:
  • It stems from a widely held but mistaken belief that science and technology education should take precedence over subjects like English, history and foreign languages.
  • more urgent is my alarm at the growing tendency to accept and even foster the decline of the sort of interpersonal human contact that learning languages both requires and cultivates.
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  • Language is an essential — perhaps the essential — marker of our species. We learn in and through natural languages; we develop our most fundamental cognitive skills by speaking and hearing languages; and we ultimately assume our identities as human beings and members of communities by exercising those languages
  • Our profound and impressive ability to create complex tools with which to manipulate our environments is secondary to our ability to conceptualize and communicate about those environments in natural languages.
  • Natural languages aren’t just more complex versions of the algorithms with which we teach machines to do tasks; they are also the living embodiments of our essence as social animals.
  • We express our love and our losses, explore beauty, justice and the meaning of our existence, and even come to know ourselves all though natural languages.
  • we are fundamentally limited in how much we can know about another’s thoughts and feelings, and that this limitation and the desire to transcend it is essential to our humanity
  • or us humans, communication is about much more than getting information or following instructions; it’s about learning who we are by interacting with others.
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