Saturday, July 10, 2021

Why some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity

 Inside The Black Market For College Essays

"For every privileged kid too lazy to write an essay, there was a more complex story. To my surprise, of the hundreds of clients I worked with, many—maybe most—students were simply desperate for the help." - Slate

A Tale Of Two Booksellers, Just Off The Kabul Bazaar

"One is a former communist, the other a former mujahid. Both have witnessed and participated in Afghanistan's turbulent history over the past half century. They have seen the rise and fall of regimes and today sell books about the men who made and unmade them." - Newlines

Theeccentricities of English. The language’s fitful development is an endless tussle between logic and habit 

Google is starting to warn users when it doesn’t have a reliable answer

Vox – “Google is testing a new feature to notify people when they search for a topic that may have unreliable results. The move is a notable step by the world’s most popular search engine to give people more context about breaking information that’s popular online — like suspected UFO sightings or developing news stories — that are actively evolving. The new prompt warns users that the results they are seeing are changing quickly, and reads, in part, “If this topic is new, it can sometimes take time for results to be added by reliable sources.” Google confirmed to Recode that it started testing the feature about a week ago. Currently, the company says the notice is only showing up in a small percentage of searches, which tend to be about developing trending topics…”

Why some biologists and ecologists think social media is a risk to humanity

Vox/Recode: “Social media has drastically restructured the way we communicate in an incredibly short period of time. We can discover, “Like,” click on, and share information faster than ever before, guided by algorithms most of us don’t quite understand. And while some social scientists, journalists, and activists have been raising concerns about how this is affecting our democracy, mental health, and relationships, we haven’t seen biologists and ecologists weighing in as much. That’s changed with a new paper published in the prestigious science journal PNAS earlier this month, titled “Stewardship of global collective behavior.” Seventeen researchers who specialize in widely different fields, from climate science to philosophy, make the case that academics should treat the study of technology’s large-scale impact on society as a “crisis discipline.” A crisis discipline is a field in which scientists across different fields work quickly to address an urgent societal problem — like how conservation biology tries to protect endangered species or climate science research aims to stop global warming…”

Article and Study on Tax Evasion by the Wealthy   

This recent article is likely of interest to tax crimes fans.  Asher Schechter, How Insufficient Enforcement Led to Prevalent Tax Evasion and Contributed to American Inequality (U. Chicago Booth School Stigler Center Promarket 6/24/21), here.  The article expands on the recent publication of IRS data on the very wealthy by ProPublica.  See ProPublica Publishes Series Based on IRS Data Trove Produced by Anonymous Source (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 6/8/21), here; and Tax Crimes Core Concept Questions from ProPublica's Publication of Tax Return Information (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 6/10/21), here

About the ProPublica disclosed data, the author of this article discusses the tax evasion – yes, the crime – aspects of the phenomenon, citing a recent NBER publication, John Guyton, Patrick Langetieg, Daniel Reck, Max Risch & Gabriel Zucman, Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution (NBER Working Paper Series No. 28542 March 2021), here.

  1. Philosophers as public intellectuals — a roundtable discussion with Anastasia Berg (Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem), Agnes Callard (Chicago), and Justin Weinberg (South Carolina)
  2. For two decades, he “encouraged his students to examine the meaning of life and become active and conscientious citizens who help build societies based on values such as justice and liberty” — now, visiting his former students in prison is part of the life of Chow Po Chung (Chinese Univ. of Hong Kong)
  3. “Being a philosopher, for me, amounts to never wanting to own up out loud to what you are or should be doing” — marvelous prose from Amy Olberding (Oklahoma) about a stranger, a truck in need of repair, sadness, and a book about death
  4. “We worry about being too gullible with other people. But we should also worry about technological gullibility—about being too willing and eager to trust technologies without realising how deeply they will change us” — C. Thi Nguyen (Utah) on trust & technology
  5. “EleutherAI’s dataset for large language models, The Pile, includes PhilPapers! So, philosofriends, I prompted their GPT-J-6B to write abstracts based on a few of your titles” — Kathleen Creel (Stanford) presents her “favorite fake abstracts (vs the real papers)”
  6. A paper in Phil Studies, says a gamer, “really helped me to gain confidence and start playing League of Legends again” — a brief video with both recordings of gameplay and screenshots of Michael Ridge’s “Illusory attitudes and the playful stoic” — and an appreciation of the virtue of “lightness”
  7. The family had long thought that “Philosopher Reading” was relatively worthless — but the painting was discovered to be by Jean-Honoré Fragonard and recently sold at auction for over $9 million

Mini-Heap posts usually appear when 7 or so new items accumulate in the Heap of Links, the collection of items from around the web that may