Daily Data Dump (Monday)

By Razib Khan | April 19, 2010 2:14 pm

Why religion can lead to racism. I think the correlations are real, but am skeptical of the causation because I think think the correlation is cultural-specific. For example, my personal experience with Muslims is that those who espouse the most “Fundamentalist” world views are the least racist. The contrast with white American Protestants probably emerges from the fact that white American Protestants and Arab Muslims have had very different recent histories (if Arab Muslims want a racial ideology, they had a good candidate in secular Baathism. Some of the same applies to Turks and Persians, who got on the 20th century racial-nationalist bandwagon, as evident in the attempt by the Shah to emphasize Iran’s Aryan antecedents, while Ataturk funded research on the racial characteristics of the Turkish people which allowed them to be a conquering race).

Air Travel Crisis Deepens as Europe Fears Wider Impact. This shows the downside of a JIT world, where we squeeze efficiencies by pushing everything to the margin and assuming stable background conditions. I worry that as the world economy becomes more interdependent, and squeezes efficiencies out through complementation via comparative advantages, there emerge problems whenever we get buffeted by a big “exogenous shock.” I think there’s some evidence that we as a species have cognitive biases toward focus on near-term conditions and discounting volatility toward the tails of the distribution. Such is nature.

S.E. Cupp On Being An Atheist & A Conservative. Some of her arguments strike me as surprisingly superficial, and I think it’s likely that she’ll convert to Roman Catholicism at some point in the next 20 years. My minimal experience with atheists who want to be religious is that they generally get their wish if they don’t die too early. Also, apparently she’s getting her masters in Religious Studies, which is a field that is often suspicious of unvarnished naturalism in the study of religion. Warning: I suspect some readers of this weblog will find her responses & viewpoints somewhat cringe-worthy. A young Heather Mac Donald she’s not, take a look at this clip, who does she remind you of? Can’t wait until she’s firmly in the Christian column.

For Goldman, a Bet’s Stakes Keep Growing. Some people are saying that investors will now be cautious of making recourse to Goldman’s services for fear that they’ll be screwed. But remember that it is assumed that many of Bernie Madoff’s investors suspected that he was front running. In other words, as long as it’s someone else being screwed they should be fine with it. The people at Goldman are the best tools you have out there, but a tool is a tool and can be used for good or ill. In any case I thought Goldman was making most of its money by trading with its own capital, leveraging the ability to get cash cheaply via the Fed window and also taking advantage of the guaranteed implicit backing of the government. I do believe that capitalism needs virtue, but I also believe that the revolution of morals has to start up top. I’m not holding my breath. Cultures go through cycles, and we’re probably due for a “correction.”

Where Paris Chefs, Not Prices, Rise. If you’re going through Paris, worth a read.

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  • http://mengbomin.wordpress.com/ Meng Bomin

    I can see how in theory an “I’m an atheist but I think that religiosity is a positive quality to the point that I would never vote for an atheist President” ideology fits together, but I don’t think that it’s a good heuristic in practice.

    Edit: Woohoo for Discover comment editing.

  • http://shinbounomatsuri.wordpress.com Spike Gomes

    So if lung cancer doesn’t get me too quickly, I can return to the bosom of the Holy mother church once my rational facilities start declining? That’s a real win situation.

    Pretty right about the whole skepticism about unvarnished naturalism. That’s why I stopped at my Master’s. No one really cared about what I had to say about Boyer and Atran or neurotheology, and I couldn’t have cared less about stuff like ritual theory or whatever garbage they caged from the dumpsters of cultural anthropology. I do still think however, that it’s not a very productive avenue to go down, if one is looking for justifications for one’s own religious beliefs. It and aging have killed whatever mystical inclinations I had.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    It and aging have killed whatever mystical inclinations I had.

    welcome to the world of those dead to the Mystery :-)

  • Tal Ager

    “I think there’s some evidence that we as a species have cognitive biases toward focus on near-term conditions and discounting volatility toward the tails of the distribution.”

    We likely do. But may be this is not a “cognitive bias” that is at play here? Maybe this is more of a societal-economic (i.e. “free market”) issue? If your firm is at a competitive disadvantage right now, it may not survive long enough to see the benefits of long-term contingency planning. This short-term wiring of the market economies may do us in …

  • miko

    “… have cognitive biases toward focus on near-term conditions…”

    i’m not sure the reasons we fail in long term planning is inability to do so, it’s that it makes you vulnerable to cheaters who take the short-term gain and beat you. electoral politics is a great example…it’s usually political suicide to pursue policies with huge long-term benefits even if the short-term costs are small. raise taxes or let the infrastructure crumble? put a big plus in the “benevolent dictatorship” column.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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