Natural Experiments, Asylum, London, Greece, Psychiatry, Goebbels


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Nineteen Natural Experiments

Mark Egan | Stirling Behavioural Science Blog | 30th June 2015

What happens to the unborn children of starving mothers? Are poorer people more likely to be psychotic? Is joining the army a good career move? You can't run controlled experiments to answer questions like these because you can't starve mothers-to-be or force random civilians to join the army. But if nature or public policy does the sorting — as with the Vietnam War draft, for example — you have the conditions for a natural experiment. Here's what 19 such experiments have taught us (6,600 words)

Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours

Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil | Matter | 29th June 2015

In which the writer escapes the Rwandan genocide at the age of six, criss-crosses Africa for seven years as a refugee, gains asylum in America, wins a scholarship to Yale, and meets her long-lost parents on the Oprah Winfrey show. "A few people ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no." The writing is so measured, the story so shattering, that the only possible response upon reading it is: Wow. An astonishing piece of prose (8,200 words)

London: The City That Ate Itself

Rowan Moore | Guardian | 26th June 2015

London is choking on its own success. It used to be defined by its social mix and its public places. Now it is polarised and privatised. Pubs and markets are flattened to make way for blocks of expensive flats where nobody lives. Councils cut back on public buildings and social services. There is, literally, no place for the poor. "If London is an enormous party, millions of people are on the wrong side of its velvet rope" (5,100 words)

A Primer On The Greek Crisis

Anil Kashyap | University of Chicago | 29th June 2015

Considering the number of publications and websites which claim to explain the news, you might wonder why the best explainer by far of the Greek crisis comes in the form of this PDF from a professor at the University of Chicago. But here it is, it does what it says, and I imagine it is already being printed out, highlighted and paraphrased in grateful newsrooms across the world. Key point: "Greece should have defaulted in 2010" (3,220 words)

Reflections From The Halfway Point

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 29th June 2015

Lessons learned from two years' residency in a psychiatric hospital. "If all science is physics or stamp collecting, psychiatry is stamp collecting par excellence with the world’s most interesting postal system, hunting through incredibly confused work done by thousands of brilliant people. Sometimes that involves dredging up weird drugs that no one else remembers which are perfectly suited for the precise situation at hand" (3,200 words)

The Nazi Mind

John Gray | New Statesman | 29th June 2015

Joseph Goebbels was evil; that much we know from history. But his diaries tell us that he wanted to be evil. He did not claim to be serving some higher purpose, nor that history would prove him justified. He "actively embraced barbarism". He gloried in every atrocity; he wanted more and worse; he loved only Hitler. We can treat this as madness. Or we can accept that Goebbels speaks for something in human nature (2,500 words)

Video of the day: Comma Queen: The Diaeresis

What to expect: Copy editor explains why the New Yorker marks doubled vowels with diacritical marks (1'54")

Thought for the day

The war against intelligence is always waged in the name of common sense
Roland Barthes

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