Sachsenhausen, GDP, Bayes, Lemurs, Intuition

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Concentration Camp

Dr X | Atlantic | 1st September 1939

A German correspondent describes his imprisonment in Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1938 along with several thousand other “non-Aryans”. The Holocaust was yet to begin, but the elements of it, material and human, were visibly falling into place. “I have been asked repeatedly where the men are procured who torment the inmates, often with sadistic lust. There are a great number among them who are glad to use their instincts without check against defenseless people” (4,460 words)

David Pilling On GDP

Ben King | Five Books | 29th June 2018

FT Africa Editor David Pilling explains why GDP is a poor measure of human flourishing, citing books by Hans Rosling, Diane Coyle, Angus Deaton, Lorenzo Fioramonti and Jared Diamond. “GDP is the currency of the rat-race. It monetises everything. Only things that have a monetary value are valued in GDP and, by extension, in society, policy and in politics. Therefore, we don’t value other things. We don’t value community, we don’t value volunteer work, we don’t value housework” (5,600 words)

Thomas Bayes And The Crisis In Science

David Papineau | TLS | 28th June 2018

“One of the great scandals of modern intellectual life is the way generations of statistics students have been indoctrinated into the farrago of significance testing. Yes, a theory is disconfirmed if it makes the evidence unlikely and is supported if it doesn’t. But where that leaves us must also depend on how probable the theory was to start with. Thomas Bayes was the first to see this and to understand what it means for probability calculations. The scientific world is finally taking his teaching to heart” (2,500 words)

Consider The Lemur

Katherine Rundell | LRB | 28th June 2018

“It is probably best not to take advice direct from the animal kingdom – but lemurs are, I think, an exception. They live in matriarchal troops, with an alpha female at their head. When ring-tailed lemurs are cold or frightened, or when they want to bond, they group together in a furry mass known as a lemur ball. They intertwine their tails and paws, and press against one another’s walnut-sized swiftly beating hearts. To see it feels like an injunction of sorts: to find a lemur ball of one’s own” (980 words)

The Data Or The Hunch?

Ian Leslie | 1843 | 29th June 2018

Scouting for talent in professional sports has transitioned from a hunch-driven to a data-driven industry. The music business is going the same way: Why bet anything on a talent-spotter’s instinct, when Spotify can tell you exactly what sells? Yet a hunch is still worth something, oddly enough. “The hunch and the data can educate one another. We need human judgment to correct for cardinal bias – the tendency to place more importance on what can be quantified than what cannot” (5,100 words)

Video of the day Suspend Your Disbelief

What to expect:

Vi Hart explains how to manufacture a controversy on YouTube — for example, about Tau versus Pi (14’08”)

Thought for the day

Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength
Edmund Burke

Podcast Whales | American Scholar

Stephanie Bastek talks with Smithsonian paleontologist Nick Pyenson about 50 million years in whale history
(24m 03s)

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