Daily Data Dump – Thursday

By Razib Khan | October 7, 2010 1:12 pm

Scientists and Soldiers Solve a Bee Mystery. It looks to be a combination of a virus and fungus. The paper itself is open access at PLoS ONE.

The READ: Washed Up. A panning of the attempts of Jersey Shore “cast” members to cash in on their fame. I think the reason that JS was such an initial hit is that unlike MTV’s other reality television offerings they are taken as they are and there is no attempt is made to “reform” them by opening their minds. In fact they’re arguably becoming more extreme in their caricature of the working-class East Coast white ethnic ethos.

Why Do We Love Our Dentists? “Why did the cheaper energy drink prove less effective? According to the scientists, consumers are misled by their preconceptions. Since we expect cheaper goods to be less effective, they generally are less effective, even if they are identical to more expensive products.” Perhaps this sort of dynamic explains “medicine” for most of human history, when not only was it not effective, but some of the “remedies” may have been worse than nothing.

A LESS COHERENT POST THAN I’D LIKE ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF BANKING. I feel that people are starting to get bored by the financial sector. Don’t be, we live in exciting times. At least if you’ve got 10 more years left in you.

From Yuck to Yippee! Ron Bailey on how the wisdom-of-repugnance gives way to banality when it comes to new technologies. Does morality have a direction, or is it just arbitrary? How about slavery? Once considered at worse a necessary evil, and at best a morally acceptable institution which allows for the emergence of a refined leisured class, it is now de jure abolished world wide (and to a great extent de facto). Interestingly, according to The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism the British were making a major economic sacrifice when they finally freed their Caribbean slaves and clamped down on the slave trade. Sugar profits had been going up, and free labor simply was not economically as productive in generating profit (not only did they have to be paid, but they couldn’t be worked to death to squeeze the maximum amount of labor out of them).

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Comments (6)

  1. I wonder whether this will reduce speculation about neonicotinoids’ involvement. Probably not.

    Is there any evidence to suggest that environmental toxins might increase vulnerability to this combination?

  2. The purpose of banking.

    Look, it’s much simpler than that post.

    The ultimate borrowers want to borrow to invest in projects that are: risky, complicated, and “long” (i.e. they take a long time to pay off).

    The ultimate lenders want to lend in ways that are: safe, simple, and “short” (i.e. they can get their money back quickly any time they like).

    And banks (in fact, the whole financial sector of financial intermediaries and financial markets) try to give both sides what they want at the same time. Ultimately, of course, it can’t be done. It’s impossible. But it’s sort of amazing that most of the time it seems to work fairly well.

    (Really like your blog BTW, even if I only understand about half of it.)

  3. It’ll be interesting to see if that bee study pans out. There have been lots of theories up until now but not a lot of consensus let alone a cure. (As the NYT article notes, the fungus had already been identified) It’s actually a pretty significant problem and I hope a solution is coming.

  4. pconroy

    In terms of the British freeing Caribbean slaves in 1833 – this was NOT a moral decision, but purely economic/strategic!

    After the British American Colonies had been lost, England was facing stiff competition from the US, with it’s slave labor/low cost produced of raw materials and goods, and they were thrust into the horns of a dilemma on how to combat it. They couldn’t conveniently introduce slave labor in Britain after all. In fact they were in the exact same position as Japan or the US is in viz China today. The solution the British adopted was 2-fold:
    1. More rapid industrialization (like Japan and Robotics) – to increase their own productivity
    2. Campaign for the abolition of slavery (like the US advocating for “Human Rights” of Chinese workers) – to decrease their opponents productivity

    Sorry to be cynical, but throughout history the English have not been paragons of virtue, rather paragons of practicality!

  5. but purely economic/strategic!

    re: slavery, etc. i think this is a complex issue. i assume some economic forces were at work, but i would personally lean to the proposition that there was a common causal factor behind *both* what we post facto term the “industrial revolution” and the movement to abolish slavery which came to fruition in england, as well as the rise of science and liberalism more broadly.

    my own null probably leans toward “material” forces as explanations of long-term historical dynamics, but that’s more robust on average. when i look at specific events, or the specific way they play out, the material causal variable is far less clear in many cases.

    anyway, i’m not interested in arguing with ppl on the details of this specific issue, so that’s all i’ll say.


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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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