Links (April 2022)

Part Of: Links sequence

Current Events

  1. Superforecaster generalists vs geopolitical specialists compare their estimates of nuclear war risk.
  2. US yield curve inverts in possible recession signal.
  3. How to interpret India’s neutrality in the Ukraine conflict? The geometry of fear in Eurasia
  4. Is social media driving political dysfunction? Haidt & Obama argue yes, Zeitzoff argues no


  1. Last month, EBV found to be necessary in the development of MS. Now we learn: it’s not just a trigger, but may be a driver. New trial with transplanted immune cells that fight EBV has managed to stop progression of MS.
  2. Ivermectin update: Strongyloides hypothesis is now peer-reviewed, and new large RCT shows null effects.
  3. Should I get a 2nd booster? A much more difficult decision than the 1st booster. Eric Topol’s review of the data and recommendations.
  4. Microplastics found in human blood for the first time.
  5. Status vs health. Oscar winners really do gain immortality (or at least a longer life). Oscar-winning actors and actresses live 5 years longer. Though later papers found a smaller boost to lifespan, the life-extending effects of winning also apply to Olympic medalists, Nobel winners & politicians.

Cognitive Science

  1. Humans do some weird things without noticing. Every 3 minutes, humans touch their face. Why? First thought to be self-directed stress behavior, chemosignaling research suggests the function is rather to smell our hands. But it’s not just about self-sampling. After shaking someone’s hand, we are 100% more likely to unconsciously sniff that hand than normal, but only if we shake hands with someone of our gender. Otherwise we unconsciously sniff our other hand, likely as a form of self-reassurance!  Video, paper
  2. Culture plays little little role in the perception of odor pleasantness. Instead the pleasantness of an odor can be predicted by its molecular properties
  3. Hot hand in tennis is real… but only for male players. Men who put the ball just inside during a point instead of just outside are more likely to win the next point. (data from 2m serves) Why women respond differently isn’t clear yet. Likely linked to testosterone and the so-called winner effect.
  1. Growing up in rural areas produces better spatial navigation than being raised in cities, particularly for cities with grid-pattern streets (paper and explainer)


  1. Two extremely impressive models dropped: AI-generated art with Dall-E 2 (example), and natural language PaLM 540b (example). Neither open-sourced yet though..
  1. Socratic Models. With multiple foundation models “talking to each other”, we can combine commonsense across domains, to do multimodal tasks like zero-shot video Q&A or image captioning, no finetuning needed.
  2. Data poisoning is an adversarial attack that tries to manipulate the training dataset in order to control the prediction behavior of a trained model such that the model will label malicious examples into a desired classes (e.g., labeling spam emails as safe).
  3. Transformers are Graph Neural Networks: they’re implicitly doing computations on a graph.
  4. In Bayesian DL, the cold posterior effect links to data curation, semi-supervised learning and OOD detection


  1. Tutorial on hypersonic flight. Sheds light on the etymology of “at least it’s not rocket science” idiom.
  2. This moth produces enough ultrasound to likely jam the sonar of bats. An evolutionary arms race.
  3. Scientists discover world’s first cure for heart attacks using the same mRNA technology as Covid vaccines
  4. Weaponizing copyright law to thwart accountability: Cops blare Disney songs from their car to ensure citizen videos of them on the job get copyright flagged & taken down.
  5. TIL most of the story in Catch Me If You Can is probably fake. Frank Abignale, who DiCaprio plays in the film, fabricated a thrilling backstory when he was mostly in prison. 
  6. You may recall the EEG study on effects of poverty. It was flawed. This argues that so-called policy relevant social science is mostly a fraud.
  7. They say that the past is a foreign country, and nowhere is this more true than with food

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