Why the ‘Unreasonable Effectiveness’ of Mathematics?

What is it about #mathematics that it can describe so accurately the world around us? From quantum physics, the very smallest features and forces of the foundations of matter and energy, to cosmology, the very largest structures and forces of the beginning and evolution of the universe, mathematics is the language of description. Why does the physical world follow so faithfully equations of abstract symbols and variables?

https://youtu.be/uqGbn4b3LPM?t=144

 

Max Tegmark – Is Mathematics Invented or Discovered?

Mathematics describes the real world of atoms and acorns, stars and stairs, with remarkable precision. So is mathematics invented by humans just like chisels and hammers and pieces of music? Or is mathematics discovered—always out there, somewhere, like mysterious islands waiting to be found? Whatever mathematics is will help define reality itself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybIxWQKZss8

Other great videos and interviews in this series you can find linked here on their website. Covers a wide set of topics.

https://www.closertotruth.com/about/content-guide

 

Hydroxychloroquine and the Political Polarization of Science

How a drug became an object lesson in political tribalism.

Why are we seeing the polarization over hydroxycholorquine, then, in spite of the serious consequences? The explanation may lie in the kind of information available to the public about COVID-19, which differs importantly from what we see in other cases of polarization about science. When it comes to the health effects of injecting disinfectants, there is no uncertainty about the massive risks. And for that reason, we don’t expect polarization to emerge, even if Trump suggests trying it. But even the best information about COVID-19 is in a state of constant flux. Scientists are publishing new articles every day, while old articles and claims are retracted or refuted. Norms of scientific publication, which usually dictate slower timeframes and more thorough peer review, have been relaxed by scientific communities desperately seeking solutions. And with readers clamoring for the latest virus news, journalists are on the hunt for new articles they can report on, sometimes pushing claims into prime time before they’ve been properly vetted.

https://bostonreview.net/science-nature-politics/cailin-oconnor-james-owen-weatherall-hydroxychloroquine-and-political

After the publication of this article, there was a retraction of a high profile study that suggested hydrochloroquine would lead to increased mortality and was ineffective as a treatment for covid-19.

All of this happened in the hyperpolarized context of American politics, referred to in the article above, in which even scientific truth bent around President Trump’s words.

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/06/04/870022834/authors-retract-hydroxychloroquine-study-citing-concern-over-data

Are there laws of history?

Historians believe that the past is irreducibly complex and the future wildly unpredictable. Scientists disagree. Who’s right?

‘Historical facts’ are not discrete items, awaiting scholars to hunt them down. They need to be created…

The danger here, of course, is that these approaches tend to assume that the natural sciences are capable of producing objective knowledge, and that mirroring their methodologies will produce ‘better’ knowledge for the rest of the academy. Half a century of research in the history of science has shown that this perspective is deeply flawed. The sciences have their own history – as indeed does the notion of objectivity – and that history is deeply entwined with power, politics and, importantly, the naturalisation of social inequality by reference to biological inferiority. No programme for understanding human behaviour through the mathematical modelling of evolutionary theory can afford to ignore this point.

https://aeon.co/essays/if-history-was-more-like-science-would-it-predict-the-future

Nothing was the same: Historical parallels for the coronavirus should be avoided like the plague

ICLAGU5OR5FQBLEAJZGVVGI4FAPutting the current pandemic into a historical context has undoubtedly served a purpose. Linkages to the past can serve as warnings, and they might even offer solace…Drawing linkages always requires simplification, and oversimplification can lead to anachronism….When we hunt for similarities, we overlook everything that’s different – and that is dangerous. Sure, finding proof of our arguments is satisfying, but often, what’s most important is what we’ve had to ignore to find it.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-nothing-was-the-same-historical-parallels-for-the-coronavirus-should/

Plane travel only feels like it’s dangerous

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Psychologists have long acknowledged that humans tend to “fear the rare”. Some 160,000 Americans die of heart disease each year, but few are paralyzed by the fear of clogged arteries. Instead, statistically unlikely events like earthquakes have an unreasonable grip on our imagination. While plane crash coverage may not give you a new phobia, experts regularly psotulate that extensive news coverage of plane crashes may play with our perception of risk.

https://www.popsci.com/plane-risk-safest-travel/

Here’s another great chart

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How to Detect the Distortions of Maps

Every map is infused with its maker’s decisions, which ultimately present a pattern, story or argument. Sometimes those choices of design, labeling, data selection, and data slicing show up as obvious biases, as in the case of Donald Trump’s infamously augmented 2019 map of Hurricane Dorian. More often, though, this inherent “truthiness” flies under the radar of a map’s tidy, matter-of-fact visual presentation, as in the many maps and models being made now of semi-reliable Covid-19 case data.

So while it’s relatively easy to make a map in an age of abundant data and digital tools, it isn’t always easy to read them. How can you tell what’s real, and what’s a distortion?

https://www.citylab.com/design/2020/05/map-history-data-literacy-propaganda-exhibit-bending-lines/612157/

Link to the museum exhibit referred to in the article linked below

Screen Shot 2020-06-05 at 6.55.52 PM

https://www.leventhalmap.org/digital-exhibitions/bending-lines/

 

Freakonomics Podcast: America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up

KQs: What knowledge is worth knowing? What makes knowledge valuable?

I have four teenagers. I’ve spent a lot of time working with them on their math homework. More often than not, after helping them answer whatever questions are assigned that day, I’m left with questions of my own — questions that I can’t find good answers to. Why are we teaching kids these things? Does anyone actually use the math we are teaching in their daily life? Is there any benefit at all to learning this stuff? And are there not more interesting and useful things we could be teaching them? Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-math. I use mathematical thinking, statistics, and data analysis constantly, whether I’m writing economics papers, trying to get better at golf, or hoping to pick winners at the race track. But here is the thing: the math tools I actually use, and the math tools I see people around me actually using, seem to have nothing to do with what my kids are learning in school. Which makes me think that we must be able to better for our children when it comes to teaching them math.

https://freakonomics.com/podcast/math-curriculum/

Of course technology perpetuates racism. It was designed that way.

We often call on technology to help solve problems. But when society defines, frames, and represents people of color as “the problem,” those solutions often do more harm than good. We’ve designed facial recognition technologies that target criminal suspects on the basis of skin color. We’ve trained automated risk profiling systems that disproportionately identify Latinx people as illegal immigrants. We’ve devised credit scoring algorithms that disproportionately identify black people as risks and prevent them from buying homes, getting loans, or finding jobs.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/06/03/1002589/technology-perpetuates-racism-by-design-simulmatics-charlton-mcilwain/

Language and Economic Misunderstanding

Interesting post about the nature of language and how it can misconstrue a complex reality and ultimately lead to misunderstandings and poor policy actions by governments.

Muddled thinkers confuse the world of our senses with the way in which it is depicted in language.

Yet as is true of all beneficial institutions, language is imperfect – it has, some might say, its ‘costs.’ Among the ‘costs’ of language is its tendency to cause us to suppose that the abstractions that we describe with words possess a concrete reality that these abstractions don’t possess. 🔥🔥🔥 [flames are my addition]

https://cafehayek.com/2020/05/quotation-of-the-day-3159.html

For more posts related to Economics, click here.

“Immune to Evidence”: How Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracies Spread

Good Q and A that breaks down conspiratorial thinking. At the bottom is a link for the really well done “Conspiracy Theory Handbook.”

Conspiratorial videos and websites about COVID-19 are going viral. Here’s how one of the authors of “The Conspiracy Theory Handbook” says you can fight back. One big takeaway: Focus your efforts on people who can hear evidence and think rationally.

How do we prevent the spread of conspiracy theories?
By trying to inoculate the public against them. Telling the public ahead of time: Look, there are people who believe these conspiracy theories. They invent this stuff. When they invent it they exhibit these characteristics of misguided cognition. You can go through the traits we mention in our handbook, like incoherence, immunity to evidence, overriding suspicion and connecting random dots into a pattern. The best thing to do is tell the public how they can spot conspiracy theories and how they can protect themselves.

https://www.propublica.org/article/immune-to-evidence-how-dangerous-coronavirus-conspiracies-spread?utm_source=pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=majorinvestigations&utm_content=feature

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The Conspiracy Theory Handbook

Download Conspiracy Theory Handbook