Monday, July 27, 2020

Discrete Hilbert Space, the Born Rule, and Quantum Gravity


This is a new paper which I only recently found the time to write up, although I have been thinking about the ideas off and on for some time.

It extends ideas first discussed in two papers with A. Zee and R. Buniy: Is Hilbert space discrete? and Discreteness and the origin of probability in quantum mechanics.

Slides from a related talk at Caltech IQIM.

The new paper connects discrete Hilbert space to specific models of quantum gravity, such as simplicial or lattice quantum gravity.
Discrete Hilbert Space, the Born Rule, and Quantum Gravity
https://arxiv.org/abs/2007.12938

Quantum gravitational effects suggest a minimal length, or spacetime interval, of order the Planck length. This in turn suggests that Hilbert space itself may be discrete rather than continuous. One implication is that quantum states with norm below some very small threshold do not exist. The exclusion of what Everett referred to as maverick branches is necessary for the emergence of the Born Rule in no collapse quantum mechanics. We discuss this in the context of quantum gravity, showing that discrete models (such as simplicial or lattice quantum gravity) indeed suggest a discrete Hilbert space with minimum norm. These considerations are related to the ultimate level of fine-graining found in decoherent histories (of spacetime geometry plus matter fields) produced by quantum gravity.
From the Discussion:
No collapse (or many worlds) versions of quantum mechanics are often characterized as extravagant, because of the many branches of the wavefunction. However it is also extravagant to postulate that spacetime or Hilbert space are infinitely continuous. Continuous Hilbert space requires that for any two choices of orientation of a qubit spin (see Figure 1), no matter how close together, there are an infinite number of physically distinct states between them, with intermediate orientation. Instead, there may only be a finite (but very large) number of distinct orientations allowed, suggesting a minimum norm in Hilbert space. No experiment can probe absolute continuity, and indeed there seem to be fundamental limits on such experiments, arising from quantum gravity itself.

We illustrated a direct connection between discrete spacetime (the simplex length a) and discrete Hilbert space (minimum non-zero distance in Hilbert space produced by time evolution), in a specific class of quantum gravity models based on Feynman path integrals. It may be the case that maximally fine-grained decoherent histories generated within quantum gravity have discrete geometries and exist in a discrete Hilbert space. Consequently histories with sufficiently small norm are never generated, thereby solving Everett's problem with maverick branches. In the remaining branches, deviations from Born Rule probabilities are almost entirely hidden from semi-classical observers. ...
See also

The Quantum Simulation Hypothesis: Do we live in a quantum multiverse simulation?

Feynman and Everett

Gork revisited

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom"

From the FOUNDATION FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION: "FIRE’s mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of liberty."
Peter Bonilla (FIRE): ... it’s worth visiting the case of Stephen Hsu at Michigan State University. His case is more sobering, because the campaign succeeded in forcing his resignation as MSU’s Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. (Hsu, a theoretical physicist, remains on MSU’s tenured faculty.) Hsu was brought down in significant part by the pressure on MSU generated by a Twitter thread and accompanying petition by MSU’s Graduate Employees Union, which cobbled together a string of decontextualized, condensed remarks on genetics and intelligence to brand Hsu “a vocal scientific racist and eugenicist.”

Hsu rebutted the claims in a post on his personal blog, accusing the petitioners of acting in bad faith. He had a point. Apart from the fact that Twitter is a woefully inadequate forum to debate intricate matters of science (or even to accurately characterize them), some of the claims against Hsu are dishonest on their face. To highlight one example, the GEU seized on the fact that a study supported in part through his office’s funding (Hsu oversaw research expenditures of roughly $700 million) suggested that there was no widespread racial bias in police shootings. GEU characterized this by saying that “Hsu’s office appears to have directed funding to research downplaying racism in bias in police shootings,” implying that this was his very goal. This is a striking charge to make against a scientist’s integrity without presenting any evidence; it’s also simply not how scientific inquiry works.

The claims against Hsu alleged no concrete misconduct or malfeasance in carrying out his administrative duties; rather, they amalgamated a disparate set of remarks, attributed the least charitable set of motives to his making them, and stated that someone holding those purported beliefs was per se unfit to hold his position. Unfortunately, MSU went for it. On June 19, MSU president Samuel Stanley demanded, and received, Hsu’s resignation as VP.

Spillover effects on academic freedom

The president of MSU’s Graduate Employees Union cheerfully expressed the opinion that the Hsu episode should have no chilling effect on academic freedom, because the GEU only sought to have Hsu removed from his administrative position and not from the tenured faculty. To be sure, there are significant differences between the two propositions, and administrators are generally considered at-will employees who can be fired any time. (Administrator cases are also outside the scope of FIRE’s mission of defending student and faculty rights.). But from someone who’d just helped mount a successful campaign that worked in part by declaring a range of opinions on certain issues effectively outside the bounds of legitimate academic inquiry, this assertion is laughable.

Faculty will most certainly take note of the actions colleges take against administrators, note the implications they may have for academic freedom, and adjust accordingly. Universities may not be so easily able to rid themselves of tenured faculty members, but several years of faculty cases suggest that universities can be quite willing to override faculty governance for the purposes of pursuing discipline (including termination and loss of tenure) against faculty for speech demonstrably protected by their academic freedom. ...

Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Genetic architecture of complex traits and disease risk predictors

The published version of the paper below is now available here:
www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-68881-8
Genetic architecture of complex traits and disease risk predictors

Soke Yuen Yong, Timothy G. Raben, Louis Lello & Stephen D. H. Hsu

Genomic prediction of complex human traits (e.g., height, cognitive ability, bone density) and disease risks (e.g., breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, atrial fibrillation) has advanced considerably in recent years. Using data from the UK Biobank, predictors have been constructed using penalized algorithms that favor sparsity: i.e., which use as few genetic variants as possible. We analyze the specific genetic variants (SNPs) utilized in these predictors, which can vary from dozens to as many as thirty thousand. We find that the fraction of SNPs in or near genic regions varies widely by phenotype. For the majority of disease conditions studied, a large amount of the variance is accounted for by SNPs outside of coding regions. The state of these SNPs cannot be determined from exome-sequencing data. This suggests that exome data alone will miss much of the heritability for these traits—i.e., existing PRS cannot be computed from exome data alone. We also study the fraction of SNPs and of variance that is in common between pairs of predictors. The DNA regions used in disease risk predictors so far constructed seem to be largely disjoint (with a few interesting exceptions), suggesting that individual genetic disease risks are largely uncorrelated. It seems possible in theory for an individual to be a low-risk outlier in all conditions simultaneously.
There are a lot of detailed results in the paper, but two main points should be emphasized:

1. Much of the genetic risk identified in polygenic predictors is outside genic (protein coding) regions, and not accessible through exome sequencing.

2. The DNA regions used in disease risk predictors so far constructed seem to be largely disjoint, suggesting that most genetic disease risks are largely uncorrelated. It seems possible in theory for an individual to be a low-risk outlier in all conditions simultaneously.

The space of genetic variation is high dimensional, and extends far beyond individual (protein coding) genes. Intuitions about strong pleiotropy are likely wrong -- they were developed before we knew anything about real genetic architectures. There seem to be many causal variants that can be independently modified.


The bioRxiv (preprint) version of the paper was discussed in these earlier posts:

Live Long and Prosper: Genetic Architecture of Complex Traits and Disease Risk Predictors

Pleiotropy: Myths and Reality

From the Peiotropy post above:
1. Regions of DNA correlated to different disease risks are largely disjoint.

2. It is plausible that causal genetic variants lie in these regions. For example, the predictor SNPs themselves could be causal, or they could tag (be highly correlated in state with) nearby causal variants.

3. Hypothetically, one could edit these causal variants independently, making the beneficiary simultaneously low risk for many conditions. The number of standard deviations of effect size in the polygenic score for each disease that can be modified independently (i.e., without affecting other disease risks or traits) is large and can be directly estimated from our results.

As the figure below (source) makes clear, a few SD change (e.g., ~5 SD, from 99th percentile to 1st percentile) in polygenic score for a given disease risk can lead to a 10x or possibly 100x decrease in absolute probability in having the condition. Our results suggest that the amount of variance available for engineering is much greater than this.


Some orders of magnitude:

1E07 or ~10M common SNP differences between two individuals.

1E04 or ~10k SNPs (on average; could be much fewer) control most of the common variance for a typical complex trait.

So, in principle, there could be 1E03 or ~1k entirely independent complex traits with zero pleiotropy between them. These might include dozens of common disease risks, ~100 cosmetic traits, including facial and body morphology parameters, dozens of psychometric variables, including personality traits, etc. Clearly, individual differences are well accommodated by a ~1k dimensional phenotype space embedded in a ~10M dimensional space of genetic variants.

Of course, it is an unrealistic idealization for the traits to be entirely independent in genetic architecture. We expect that some genetic variants affect more than one trait. But our results suggest that a significant part of the genetic variance of each trait can be modified (e.g., via editing) independently of the other traits. This is simply a consequence of high dimensionality.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Ideological Corruption of Science (Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal)

Theoretical Physicist Lawrence Krauss writes in the Wall Street Journal.
WSJ: In the 1980s, when I was a young professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, deconstructionism was in vogue in the English Department. We in the science departments would scoff at the lack of objective intellectual standards in the humanities, epitomized by a movement that argued against the existence of objective truth itself, arguing that all such claims to knowledge were tainted by ideological biases due to race, sex or economic dominance.

It could never happen in the hard sciences, except perhaps under dictatorships, such as the Nazi condemnation of “Jewish” science, or the Stalinist campaign against genetics led by Trofim Lysenko, in which literally thousands of mainstream geneticists were dismissed in the effort to suppress any opposition to the prevailing political view of the state.

Or so we thought. In recent years, and especially since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, academic science leaders have adopted wholesale the language of dominance and oppression previously restricted to “cultural studies” journals to guide their disciplines, to censor dissenting views, to remove faculty from leadership positions if their research is claimed by opponents to support systemic oppression.

... At Michigan State University, one group used the strike to organize and coordinate a protest campaign against the vice president for research, physicist Stephen Hsu, whose crimes included doing research on computational genomics to study how human genetics might be related to cognitive ability—something that to the protesters smacked of eugenics. He was also accused of supporting psychology research at MSU on the statistics of police shootings that didn’t clearly support claims of racial bias. Within a week, the university president forced Mr. Hsu to resign.

... Shortly after Mr. Hsu resigned, the authors of the psychology study asked the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science to retract their paper—not because of flaws in their statistical analysis, but because of what they called the “misuse” of their article by journalists who argued that it countered the prevailing view that police forces are racist. They later amended the retraction request to claim, conveniently, that it “had nothing to do with political considerations, ‘mob’ pressure, threats to the authors, or distaste for the political views of people citing the work approvingly.” As a cosmologist, I can say that if we retracted all the papers in cosmology that we felt were misrepresented by journalists, there would hardly be any papers left.

Actual censorship is also occurring. A distinguished chemist in Canada argued in favor of merit-based science and against hiring practices that aim at equality of outcome if they result “in discrimination against the most meritorious candidates.” For that he was censured by his university provost, his published review article on research and education in organic synthesis was removed from the journal website, and two editors involved in accepting it were suspended.

An Italian scientist at the international laboratory CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, had his scheduled seminar on statistical imbalances between the sexes in physics canceled and his position at the laboratory revoked because he suggested that apparent inequities might not be directly due to sexism. A group of linguistics students initiated a public petition asking that the psychologist Steven Pinker be stripped of his position as a Linguistics Society of America Fellow for such offenses as tweeting a New York Times article they disapproved of.

Whenever science has been corrupted by falling prey to ideology, scientific progress suffers. This was the case in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union—and in the U.S. in the 19th century when racist views dominated biology, and during the McCarthy era, when prominent scientists like Robert Oppenheimer were ostracized for their political views. To stem the slide, scientific leaders, scientific societies and senior academic administrators must publicly stand up not only for free speech in science, but for quality, independent of political doctrine and divorced from the demands of political factions.

Mr. Krauss a theoretical physicist, is president of the Origins Project Foundation and author of “The Physics of Climate Change,” forthcoming in January.

Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Wall Street Journal: Moral Panic at MSU

Professor Cesario and co-authors have retracted their PNAS paper Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings. I know that they had a difficult time with this decision. See further below for WSJ coverage.

My understanding from communication with Cesario is that he and his co-authors stand by the data and statistical analysis used in their paper. He also stands by the remarks in this Manifold (podcast) interview: Joe Cesario on Police Decision Making and Racial Bias in Deadly Force Decisions.

See this statement about the retraction from Cesario and co-author:
... One problem with such benchmarking approaches is that debate arises about whether it is more informative to compare the number of civilians shot to overall population proportions or to proxies for violent crime proportions. Indeed, one will obtain different results depending on what one thinks is the relevant comparison group: calculating P(shot|race) for the entire population will likely show evidence of anti-Black disparity, whereas calculating P(shot|race) for the pool of civilians who have violent interactions with the police will likely show no evidence of anti-Black disparity.

It is in this context that Johnson et al. (2019) was produced. Rather than debating which pool of civilians is the correct comparison group, we tested a less broad question that could be answered with current data: Is there a relationship between the race of officers and the civilians they fatally shot? However, this does not address the larger question of how race impacts the probability of being shot by police.
Cesario et al. maintain that the results described in the second paragraph above still stand: i.e., race of officer does not affect race of civilians shot. The issue is whether the result can be used to infer something about the conditional probability P(shot|race) discussed in the first paragraph. Other papers by Cesario, and his own broad conclusions from years of research in this area, suggest that P(shot|race) does NOT show the level of bias sometimes claimed by activists or in the media.

Note:

1. The PNAS paper that has been retracted is one out of several produced by Cesario and collaborators. In the podcast show notes we linked to Is There Evidence of Racial Disparity in Police Use of Deadly Force? Analyses of Officer-Involved Fatal Shootings in 2015–2016, which appeared in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Cesario tells me that the following language from that paper still stands -- it is unaffected by the PNAS retraction:
When adjusting for crime, we find no systematic evidence of anti-Black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects. Multiverse analyses showed only one significant anti-Black disparity of 144 possible tests. Exposure to police given crime rate differences likely accounts for the higher per capita rate of fatal police shootings for Blacks, at least when analyzing all shootings.
2. Some of their work is based on statistical analysis of police incident data, but other work is based on simulator studies of actual police officers under stress.

The small amount of funding that Professor Cesario received from my office in 2016 was for simulator studies (specifically, to cover production costs for realistic video of police stops). The request for funding was strongly endorsed by the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Social Science at MSU, and the College of Social Science matched the contribution from my office. The project was interdisciplinary, in collaboration with researchers in our School of Criminal Justice. Professor Cesario has also received National Science Foundation grants to study this topic. This 2018 award, Understanding Race Bias in the Decision to Shoot with an Integrated Model of Decision Making, is for $620k.

Obviously this is very important research and should not be politicized.
WSJ: The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is a peer-reviewed journal that claims to publish “only the highest quality scientific research.” Now, the authors of a 2019 PNAS article are disowning their research simply because I cited it.

Psychologists Joseph Cesario of Michigan State and David Johnson of the University of Maryland analyzed 917 fatal police shootings of civilians from 2015 to test whether the race of the officer or the civilian predicted fatal police shootings. Neither did. Once “race specific rates of violent crime” are taken into account, the authors found, there are no disparities among those fatally shot by the police. These findings accord with decades of research showing that civilian behavior is the greatest influence on police behavior.

In September 2019, I cited the article’s finding in congressional testimony. I also referred to it in a City Journal article, in which I noted that two Princeton political scientists, Dean Knox and Jonathan Mummolo, had challenged the study design. Messrs. Cesario and Johnson stood by their findings. Even under the study design proposed by Messrs. Knox and Mummolo, they wrote, there is again “no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by the police.”

My June 3 Journal op-ed quoted the PNAS article’s conclusion verbatim. It set off a firestorm at Michigan State. The university’s Graduate Employees Union pressured the MSU press office to apologize for the “harm it caused” by mentioning my article in a newsletter. The union targeted physicist Steve Hsu, who had approved funding for Mr. Cesario’s research. MSU sacked Mr. Hsu from his administrative position. PNAS editorialized that Messrs. Cesario and Johnson had “poorly framed” their article—the one that got through the journal’s three levels of editorial and peer review.

Mr. Cesario told this page that Mr. Hsu’s dismissal could narrow the “kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” Now he and Mr. Johnson have themselves jeopardized the possibility of politically neutral scholarship. On Monday they retracted their paper. They say they stand behind its conclusion and statistical approach but complain about its “misuse,” specifically mentioning my op-eds.

The authors don’t say how I misused their work. Instead, they attribute to me a position I have never taken: that the “probability of being shot by police did not differ between Black and White Americans.” To the contrary, I have, like them, stressed that racial disparities in policing reflect differences in violent crime rates. The only thing wrong with their article, and my citation of it, is that its conclusion is unacceptable in our current political climate.

This retraction bodes ill for the development of knowledge. If scientists must disavow their findings because they challenge reigning orthodoxies, then those orthodoxies will prevail even when they are wrong. Political consensus will drive scholarship, and not the reverse. The consequences for the policing debate are particularly dire. Researchers will suppress any results that contravene the narrative about endemic police racism. That narrative is now producing a shocking rise in shootings in American cities. The victims, including toddlers, are almost exclusively black.

Ms. Mac Donald is a fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

"Preposterously Flimsy" -- podcast interview on Twitter Mob and MSU Moral Panic




"Steve Hsu is professor of theoretical physics at Michigan State University. Until recently, he was vice president for research and graduate studies. Despite over 1000 letters on his behalf including from top academics like Harvard's Steven Pinker, the administration caved to a Twitter mob and asked for Hsu's resignation. The reason is so preposterously flimsy that you just need to hear it for yourself."

Much more background here, including an article from the Wall Street Journal. (Note, there are ~2000 signatories to the letter of support, and many dozens of individual letters from scientists and professors that have been sent to the MSU President on my behalf.)

Here is one of the 150+ comments on the YouTube page:



Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Wall Street Journal on the Twitter Mob Attack and MSU Moral Panic


I've added some comments in [ ..brackets.. ] to the article excerpt below. More background.
WSJ: ‘We are scientists, seeking truth,” Michigan State University physicist Stephen Hsu wrote in a 2018 blog post. “We are not slaves to ideological conformity.” That might have been too optimistic. Last week MSU’s president, Samuel L. Stanley Jr., yielded to a pressure campaign, based in part on that post, and asked Mr. Hsu to resign as senior vice president for research and innovation.

The trouble began June 10, when MSU’s Graduate Employees Union composed a lengthy Twitter thread denouncing Mr. Hsu as, among other things, “a vocal scientific racist and eugenicist.” The union claimed Mr. Hsu believes “in innate biological differences between human populations, especially regarding intelligence.”

[ This is obviously a very serious accusation. It is contradicted by PUBLIC REMARKS I have made in multiple interviews over the years, as well as in blog posts. ]

Mr. Hsu says these accusations “were made in bad faith.” Take that 2018 blog post, which responded to New York Times articles that, in his words, linked “genetic science to racism and white supremacy.” In it, he wrote: “All good people abhor racism. I believe that each person should be treated as an individual, independent of ancestry or ethnic background. . . . However, this ethical position is not predicated on the absence of average differences between groups. I believe that basic human rights and human dignity derive from our shared humanity, not from uniformity in ability or genetic makeup.” Mr. Hsu doesn’t work in this field but rejects the idea that scientists should categorically exclude the possibility of average genetic differences among groups.

[ To be precise, in THAT BLOG POST I am defending researchers in genomics, at universities like Oxford, Harvard, and Columbia (see papers cited there), who study signals of recent natural selection from computational analysis of many human genomes. In 2018 the New York Times had attempted to create a moral panic, labeling them as "racists" ... Again, this is not my area of science -- I am defending the right of others to do their research. ]
In a 2011 post, Mr. Hsu argued that standardized tests are predictive of the quality of graduate-school candidates. The post mentioned nothing about race, but the union imputed to him a belief “that lack of Black & Hispanic representation in higher ed reflects lower ability, despite evidence these tests negatively impact diversity.”

[ The reporter is correct: RACE IS NEVER MENTIONED IN THAT BLOG POST. It merely reviews published results from very large studies, showing the predictive power of standardized tests in graduate and professional school outcomes. These results have nothing to do with race. For example, professors on admissions committees might be interested in whether undergraduate GPA or GRE score are better predictors of success. This kind of analysis is necessary to answer that question. 
However, this topic is heavily politicized and very few people, even professors, are familiar with the scientific results. But experts in psychometrics and personnel selection all know that these tests have real world utility. ]

The union also faulted him for having “directed funding to research downplaying racism in bias in police shootings.” The MSU professor who conducted that work, psychologist Joe Cesario, tells me that “we had no idea what the data was going to be, what the outcome was going to be, before we did this study.” Mr. Cesario has collected evidence from a simulator and from real-world interactions between police and citizens. He concluded that “the nature of the interaction really matters the most, and officers were not more likely to be ready to shoot upon encountering a black versus white citizen.”

[ Several years ago Cesario was granted a rare opportunity to study police shootings and officer behavior in simulators in a large city. My office provided him with a small amount of funding to create realistic simulator video of police stops and other situations. This is an important topic to study if we want to understand and improve policing. ]
A June 3 op-ed in these pages cited Mr. Cesario’s work, and the MSU communications team highlighted the mention in the June 9 edition of their email newsletter, InsideMSU. The next day, the Graduate Employees Union denounced Mr. Hsu. By June 11, editors of the newsletter had apologized “for including the item and for the harm it caused.” Hundreds of MSU students and employees signed petitions calling for Mr. Hsu to be fired from the administration.

[ NO, YOU ARE NOT MISTAKEN: THIS IS ORWELLIAN. YES THIS REALLY HAPPENED TO A PROMINENT RESEARCHER ON OUR CAMPUS WHO IS DOING VERY IMPORTANT WORK. YES, THEY APOLOGIZED FOR CALLING ATTENTION TO HIS WORK. YES, IT IS CHILLING. ]

Mr. Hsu says he felt compelled to step down because he served at the pleasure of the president. But he thinks Mr. Stanley handled the matter badly. “The first action of the university should be to investigate, find the truth, and defend the person if the claims are false.” Mr. Hsu says MSU undertook no such investigation.

[ I am among a shrinking subset of the faculty that believes the pursuit of truth should be the core value of a university.
Almost 2000 PEOPLE SIGNED THE PETITION supporting me, including hundreds of professors from MSU and around the world. Many letters from prominent scientists were sent to the president -- my guess is about 30, SOME OF WHICH ARE PUBLIC. MSU conducted no investigation of the facts. ]
...

... “I don’t personally believe that kind of enforcing a higher conduct to administrators will necessarily chill faculty,” Mr. Bird says.

Mr. Cesario disagrees. It’s “bad or worse that they are doing this to an administrator,” he says. “If anybody should be allowed to explore all topics, speak on all topics, and go where the data leads them, it’s administrators.” He expects the activists who won Mr. Hsu’s dismissal won’t stop “pushing for a narrowing of what kinds of topics people can talk about, or what kinds of conclusions people can come to.” The number of administrators willing to defend scientific inquiry, Mr. Cesario adds, is “now down by one.”

Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)


Here is a Reddit comment that succinctly summarizes the story:
I'd recommend directly reading the Twitter accusations as well as the actual blog posts in question and Hsu's rebuttal. There's nothing like reading the primary sources for yourself. The most precise secondary source on this is probably WSJ.

You can see for yourself that none of the blog posts in question are studies done by Hsu himself. They are discussions of actual research papers published by other scientists in top-tier journals (Cell, Nature, Science, etc.). I've followed Hsu's blog for years, and he is always very careful to make clear that he doesn't think current research clearly supports genetic IQ differences. He is being targeted here just because he doesn't categorically rule out the possibility of genetic differences between populations and kowtow to the wokeness overlords. Some prominent psychologists and geneticists who signed his support letter include Steven Pinker, Robert Plomin, Robert Gordon, Linda Gottfredson, Jonathan Haidt, Lee Jussim... these are just a few I caught quickly scrolling through. Hsu is well within the mainstream and the controversy is pretty manufactured IMO.

The article and accusations makes it sound like Hsu's reactions to the George Floyd murder was to fund research that finds no racial disparities in police killing, which is incorrect. He was the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at MSU and one of his responsibilities is to allocate funding to different research projects. He allocated funding to this professor (Joe Cesario) before knowing what kind of conclusions his study would find later. This funding was decided a few years ago and the research concluded last year, well before the George Floyd incident. You can read a letter co-written by Joe Cesario here. The lab's research is actually really cool - they build a shooting simulator and subject an entire police department (few hundred officers at Milwaukee PD I believe) to different tests, and measure response times and decisions to shoot, etc. For more info you can read his papers or the NSF award abstract here.

I consider this a great loss, because he was one of the most highly positioned Asian-American academics and he was not shy about representing us and criticizing excessive affirmative action policies (although he favors having some mild preferences). A few years back, he and others made a very strong push for election to Harvard's alumni board of overseers on a slate for increasing admissions transparency. If he had succeeded, he would have done more for equality for Asians in this country than anyone else in recent memory. His efforts led to others taking up the mantle in the recent Harvard affirmative action case. It's perhaps because of this that he started to have a target on his back.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Resignation

President Stanley asked me this afternoon for my resignation. I do not agree with his decision, as serious issues of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Inquiry are at stake. I fear for the reputation of Michigan State University.

However, as I serve at the pleasure of the President, I have agreed to resign. I look forward to rejoining the ranks of the faculty here.

It has been a great honor working with colleagues in the administration at MSU through some rather tumultuous times.

To my team in SVPRI, we can be proud of what we accomplished for this university in the last 8 years. It is a much better university than the one I joined in 2012.

I want to thank all the individuals who signed our petition and who submitted letters of support. The fight to defend Academic Freedom on campus is only beginning.

Sincerely,
Stephen Hsu

##########################################

Update June 27: Wall Street Journal on the Twitter Mob Attack and MSU Moral Panic.

I wrote this quick summary for the many journalists that have contacted me over the weekend.

1. This started as a twitter mob attack, with very serious claims: that I am a Racist, Sexist, Eugenicist, etc.

2. These claims are false. Among the public letters, by professors at many different universities, there is extensive analysis of the GEU tweet thread showing that the claims are not only misleading, but false.

https://sites.google.com/view/petition-letter-stephen-hsu/home

3. The GEU alleged that I am a racist because I interviewed MSU Psychology professor Joe Cesario, who studies police shootings. But Cesario's work (along with similar work by others, such as Roland Fryer at Harvard) is essential to understanding deadly force and how to improve policing.

4. Over just a few days, 1700+ individuals from around the world signed the support petition, including noted figures such as: Steven Pinker (Harvard), Jeffrey Flier (former dean, Harvard Medical School), Sam Altman (OpenAI CEO), Robert Plomin (leading behavior geneticist, King's College London), J. Michael Bailey (leading behavior geneticist, Northwestern University), Scott Aaronson (leading theoretical computer scientist), Erik Brynjolfsson (MIT professor and AI expert). Among the signatories are hundreds of professors from MSU and around the world, and an even larger number of PhD degree holders.

5. Regarding my work as Vice President for Research, the numbers speak for themselves. MSU went from roughly $500M in annual research expenditures to about $700M during my tenure. We have often been ranked #1 in the Big Ten for research growth. I participated in the recruitment of numerous prominent female and minority professors, in fields like Precision Medicine, Genomics, Chemistry, and many others. Until this Twitter attack there has been not even a single allegation (over 8 years) of bias or discrimination on my part in faculty promotion and tenure or recruitment. The number of individual cases I have been involved in over 8 years is well over 1000.

6. Many professors and non-academics who supported me were afraid to sign our petition -- they did not want to be subject to mob attack. We received many communications expressing this sentiment.

7. The victory of the twitter mob will likely have a chilling effect on academic freedom on campus.


Media coverage:


A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State
(Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

This Lansing State Journal article is probably the most balanced of the local media accounts, which all tended to be rather superficial.


##########################################


Background: 1 2

For inspiration, see the comments here.

Read the brilliant letters here.

I am receiving emails like this:
Subject: People support you!!!!!!

Just thought you should know there are many people including young University students in Michigan who agree with and support you! God bless you, never give up and never back down! If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask I would be happy to help!

Good evening Steve,

I'm so sorry to hear about your resignation. It seems like mob rule has won. Why not just replace a university president with a twitter poll? 
I'm glad to see you have had so much support on the petition.

I was very sorry to hear what happened. I hope you and yours are alright. Don't let the bastards get you down, keep up the good work.

And do let me know if ever in Singapore, we can grab a beer, I know a couple fans of yours here too.

I am deeply saddened to read that you're being forced to resign. I can't make sense of the injustice, capriciousness, and cowardice that forces you out. I hope you know from all the letters and signatures that a great many people support you, myself certainly included! I hope you and your family are keeping your spirits up. Perhaps there will be some silver lining to this -- freed from administrative work, more time and energy for physics and genomics? ...

I am really very sorry for what you have had to deal with, and you finding yourself having to resign. This is total bullshit. You are a great scientist and great guy. I hope this does not dull your inspiration and creativity and desire to discover. You have done much for MSU, and this move does not instill confidence in MSU's ability to be a scientific institution of longevity.

I am so sorry this happened. I can't believe we are stepping into a universe where a twitter mob decides who is the director of research at a major institution. Where is the US I immigrated to?!

I hope the mob ends here and you get some consolation from having extra time to focus on research or anything else.

Thanks again for standing up to it and for all your important contributions to human knowledge over the years, as well for the many insights that I've gotten from infoproc. I sure hope this episode doesn't mean less blogging.

It seems the mob has the mandate of heaven for now. I know from history this will ultimately prove unsustainable. But I know, too, we potentially have far further to fall...

...You have chosen an endeavor worthy of your gifts. You have achieved great things and will continue to do so. Your critics' sophisms will read to future people like the babblings of a dull child. They are not even worthy of your ire.

I don't need to tell you the amount of misery your work has the potential to help eliminate, the amount of productivity it will unlock, the beautiful science and literature that our extending grasp will reach - but perhaps you could use a cheerful reminder!

Monday, June 15, 2020

Support Freedom of Ideas and Inquiry at MSU

These are letters of support sent on my behalf to the MSU President: presidentstanley@msu.edu

Several are deep, detailed scholarly documents. They firmly rebut the false accusations of the Twitter mob.

Corey Washington's individual letter is over 5000 words long. James Lee's is over 3000 words. The authors have graciously allowed them to be made public.

Corey says:
I have known Steve for 30 years and can attest that he is not a racist or a sexist. Steve is one of the most scrupulously fair people I have ever met and I have seen no evidence that he has ever discriminated against anyone on the basis of their race, sex, or any other status.

... Hsu participated in a 2018 debate at MSU’s Institute for Quantitative Health, Science, and Engineering, at the invitation of Director Chris Contag. The topic was human genetic engineering, and Hsu’s counterpart was MSU bioethicist Len Fleck. A number of people who attended tell me that they found Steve’s view thoughtful and balanced. None that I know of came away from the debate thinking he is a eugenicist in the way that the rest of us are not. It is unclear to me why MSU GEU came to a different conclusion.

Sign the support petition. Email the president: presidentstanley@msu.edu

A (not necessarily up to date) list of signatories, which includes hundreds of professors from MSU and around the world, total ~1500 as of early June 19.


Letter from
Corey Washington, Director of Analytics and Strategic Projects, OSVPRI
Joseph Cesario, Associate Professor, Psychology
Wei Liao, Professor and Director, MSU Anaerobic Digestion Research and Education Center, Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
John (Xuefeng) Jiang, Professor and Plante Moran Faculty Fellow, Accounting and Information Systems

Letter from Corey Washington, Director of Analytics and Strategic Projects, MSU

Letter from Matt McGue, Regents Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota

Letter from Russell Warne, Associate Professor of Psychology, Utah Valley University

Letter from Mark Dykman, Professor of Physics, MSU

Letter from Zach Hambrick, Professor of Psychology, MSU

Letter from James Lee, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota

Letter from Richard Haier, Emeritus Professor, UC Irvine, author of The Neuroscience of Intelligence (Cambridge)

Letter from Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology, Harvard University


Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Manifold Episode Zero



The Twitter mob has a petition up, with fake signatures including one from Corey Washington, my Manifold co-host and friend of 30 years!

These horrible people will stop at nothing...

To cheer us all up, I bring you the first Manifold (Episode #0), where Corey and I introduce each other to the audience.

Transcript

Friday, June 12, 2020

Twitter Attacks, and a Defense of Scientific Inquiry

I have not responded to these nasty Twitter attacks, but unfortunately they have gotten enough traction that I feel I need to respond now. [ Note: I have been informed that some of the signatures on their petition are fake, including one purported to be from my colleague Corey Washington! See counter petition and support letters on my behalf. ]

The attacks attempt to depict me as a racist and sexist, using short video clips out of context, and also by misrepresenting the content of some of my blog posts. A cursory inspection reveals bad faith in their presentation.

The accusations are entirely false -- I am neither racist nor sexist.

The Twitter mobs want to suppress scientific work that they find objectionable. What is really at stake: academic freedom, open discussion of important ideas, scientific inquiry. All are imperiled and all must be defended.


One of the video clips is taken from an interview I did with YouTuber Stefan Molyneux in 2017. Molyneux was not a controversial figure in 2017, although he has since become one. Prominent scientists working on human intelligence who were interviewed on his show around the same time include James Flynn and Eric Turkheimer. (Noam Chomsky was also a guest some time after I was.) Here is what I said to Molyneux about genetic group differences in intelligence:



Here is a similar interview I did with University of Cambridge PhD student Daphne Martschenko:



As you can see, contrary to the Twitter accusations (lies), I do not endorse claims of genetic group differences. In fact I urge great caution in this area.


The tweets also criticize two podcasts I recorded with my co-host Corey Washington: a discussion with a prominent MSU Psychology professor who studies police shootings (this discussion has elicited a strong response due to the tragic death of George Floyd), and with Claude Steele, a renowned African American researcher who discovered Stereotype Threat and has been Provost at Columbia and Berkeley. The conversation with Steele is a nuanced discussion of race, discrimination, and education in America.






The blog posts under attack, dating back over a decade, are almost all discussions of published scientific papers by leading scholars in Psychology, Neuroscience, Genomics, Machine Learning, and other fields. The papers are published in journals like Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. However, a detailed reading is required to judge the research and related inferences. I maintain that all the work described is well-motivated and potentially important. Certainly worthy of a blog post. (I have written several thousand blog posts; apparently these are the most objectionable out of those thousands!)

In several of the blog posts I explicitly denounce racism and discrimination based on identity.


This paper, from 2008, discusses early capability to ascertain ancestry from gene sequence. The topic was highly controversial in 2008 (subject to political attack, because it suggested there could be a genetic basis for “race”), but the science is correct. It is now common for people to investigate their heritage using DNA samples (23andMe, Ancestry) using exactly these methods. This case provides a perfect example of science that faced suppression for political reasons, but has since been developed for many useful applications.

https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2008/01/no-scientific-basis-for-race.html


This 2016 paper is by the UCSD Pediatric Imaging, Neurocognition, and Genetics collaboration. They claim that fMRI features of brain morphology can be predicted by genetic ancestry via machine learning.

https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2016/03/genetic-ancestry-and-brain-morphology.html


These blog posts discuss the firing of software engineer James Damore by Google over a memo on diversity practices. The first post describes the legal situation and quotes a professor of labor law at Notre Dame. The second compares the claims made in Damore’s memo to an article in the Stanford Medical School magazine, which covers similar material and was (by coincidence) published around the same time.

https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/08/damore-vs-google-trial-of-century.html
https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2017/08/meanwhile-down-on-farm.html


These papers discuss evidence from large DNA datasets for recent natural selection in human evolution. This research has been attacked for political reasons, but should be defended since it addresses fundamental questions in deep human history and evolution.

https://infoproc.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-truth-shall-make-you-free.html


Regarding my work as Vice President for Research, the numbers speak for themselves. MSU went from roughly $500M in annual research expenditures to about $700M during my tenure. We have often been ranked #1 in the Big Ten for research growth. I participated in the recruitment of numerous prominent female and minority professors, in fields like Precision Medicine, Genomics, Chemistry, and many others. Until this Twitter attack there has been not even a single allegation (over 8 years) of bias or discrimination on my part in promotion and tenure or faculty recruitment. These are two activities at the heart of the modern research university, involving hundreds of individuals each year.

Academics and Scientists must not submit to mob rule.


######################################################

Media coverage:

A Twitter Mob Takes Down an Administrator at Michigan State (Wall Street Journal June 25)

Scholar forced to resign over study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (The College Fix)

On Steve Hsu and the Campaign to Thwart Free Inquiry (Quillette)

Michigan State University VP of Research Ousted (Reason Magazine, Eugene Volokh, UCLA)

Research isn’t advocacy (NY Post Editorial Board)

Podcast interview on Tom Woods show (July 2)

College professor forced to resign for citing study that found police shootings not biased against blacks (Law Enforcement Today, July 5)

"Racist" College Researcher Ousted After Sharing Study Showing No Racial Bias In Police Shootings (ZeroHedge, July 6)

Twitter mob: College researcher forced to resign after study finding no racial bias in police shootings (Reclaim the Net, July 8)

Horowitz: Asian-American researcher fired from Michigan State administration for advancing facts about police shootings (The Blaze, July 8)

I Cited Their Study, So They Disavowed It: If scientists retract research that challenges reigning orthodoxies, politics will drive scholarship (Wall Street Journal July 8)

Conservative author cites research on police shootings and race. Researchers ask for its retraction in response (The College Fix, July 8)

Academics Seek to Retract Study Disproving Racist Police Shootings After Conservative Cites It (Hans Bader, CNSNews, July 9)

The Ideological Corruption of Science (theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss in the Wall Street Journal, July 12)

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: "chilling academic freedom" (Peter Bonilla, July 22)

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Warren Hatch on Seeing the Future in the Era of COVID-19: Manifold Episode #50



Steve and Corey talk to Warren Hatch, President and CEO of Good Judgment Inc. Warren explains what makes someone a good forecaster and how the ability to integrate and assess information allows cognitively diverse teams to outperform prediction markets. The hosts express skepticism about whether the incentives at work in large organizations would encourage the adoption of approaches that might lead to better forecasts. Warren describes the increasing depth of human-computer collaboration in forecasting. Steve poses the long-standing problem of assessing alpha in finance and Warren suggests that the emerging alpha-brier metric, linking process and outcome, might shed light on the issue. The episode ends with Warren describing Good Judgment’s open invitation to self-identified experts to join a new COVID forecasting platform.

Transcript

Good Judgment Inc
.

Good Judgment Open

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

Noriel Roubini (Wikipedia)


man·i·fold /ˈmanəˌfōld/ many and various.

In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point.

Steve Hsu and Corey Washington have been friends for almost 30 years, and between them hold PhDs in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Theoretical Physics. Join them for wide ranging and unfiltered conversations with leading writers, scientists, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and more.

Steve Hsu is VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU.

Corey Washington is Director of Analytics in the Office of Research and Innovation at Michigan State University. He was educated at Amherst College and MIT before receiving a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford and a PhD in a Neuroscience from Columbia. He held faculty positions at the University Washington and the University of Maryland. Prior to MSU, Corey worked as a biotech consultant and is founder of a medical diagnostics startup.

Thursday, June 04, 2020

Leif Wenar on the Resource Curse and Impact Philosophy -- Manifold Episode #49



Corey and Steve interview Leif Wenar, Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University and author of Blood Oil. They begin with memories of Leif and Corey’s mutual friend David Foster Wallace and end with a discussion of John Rawls and Robert Nozick (Wenar's thesis advisor at Harvard, and a friend of Steve's). Corey asks whether Leif shares his view that analytic philosophy had become too divorced from wider intellectual life. Leif explains his effort to re-engage philosophy in the big issues of our day as Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, Mill and Marx were in theirs. He details how a trip to Nigeria gave him insight into the real problems facing real people in oil-rich countries. Leif explains how the legal concept of “efficiency” led to the resource curse and argues that we should refuse to buy oil from countries that are not minimally accountable to their people. Steve notes that some may find this approach too idealistic and not in the US interest. Leif suggests that what philosophers can contribute is the ability to see the big synthetic picture in a complex world.

Transcript

Leif Wenar (Bio)

Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules That Run the World

John Rawls - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Robert Nozick - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


man·i·fold /ˈmanəˌfōld/ many and various.

In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point.

Steve Hsu and Corey Washington have been friends for almost 30 years, and between them hold PhDs in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Theoretical Physics. Join them for wide ranging and unfiltered conversations with leading writers, scientists, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and more.

Steve Hsu is VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU.

Corey Washington is Director of Analytics in the Office of Research and Innovation at Michigan State University. He was educated at Amherst College and MIT before receiving a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford and a PhD in a Neuroscience from Columbia. He held faculty positions at the University Washington and the University of Maryland. Prior to MSU, Corey worked as a biotech consultant and is founder of a medical diagnostics startup.

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Re-Post: Joe Cesario on Police Decision Making and Racial Bias in Deadly Force Decisions (Manifold Episode #11)

Re-posting this because of its relevance to the terrible events in Minneapolis.

Manifold Episode #11: Joe Cesario on Police Decision Making and Racial Bias in Deadly Force Decisions




Manifold Show Page    YouTube Channel

Corey and Steve talk with Joe Cesario about his recent work which argues that, contrary to activist claims and media reports, there is no widespread racial bias in police shootings. Joe discusses his analysis of national criminal justice data and his experimental studies with police officers in a specially designed realistic simulator. He maintains that racial bias does exist in other uses of force such as tasering but that the decision to shoot is fundamentally different: it is driven by specific events and context, rather than race.

Cesario is associate professor of Psychology at Michigan State University. He studies social cognition and decision-making. His recent topics of study include police use of deadly force and computational modeling of fast decisions. Cesario is dedicated to reform in the practice, reporting, and publication of psychological science.

Is There Evidence of Racial Disparity in Police Use of Deadly Force? Analyses of Officer-Involved Fatal Shootings in 2015–2016
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/...

Example of officer completing shooting simulator
https://youtu.be/Le8zoqk-UVo

Overview of Current Research on Officer-Involved Shootings
https://www.cesariolab.com/police

Joseph Cesario Lab
https://www.cesariolab.com/


man·i·fold /ˈmanəˌfōld/ many and various.

In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point.

Steve Hsu and Corey Washington have been friends for almost 30 years, and between them hold PhDs in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Theoretical Physics. Join them for wide ranging and unfiltered conversations with leading writers, scientists, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and more.

Steve Hsu is VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU.

Corey Washington is Director of Analytics in the Office of Research and Innovation at Michigan State University. He was educated at Amherst College and MIT before receiving a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford and a PhD in a Neuroscience from Columbia. He held faculty positions at the University Washington and the University of Maryland. Prior to MSU, Corey worked as a biotech consultant and is founder of a medical diagnostics startup.


Thursday, May 28, 2020

Michael Kauffman: Cancer, Drug Development, and Market Capitalism (Manifold Podcast #48)



Note: the part of the conversation I found most interesting -- venture and capital markets aspects of drug discovery, complexity and scale of biotech ecosystems, role of IP and US healthcare spending to incentivize discovery -- begins at ~35m.

Steve and Corey speak with Dr. Michael Kauffman, co-founder and CEO of Karyopharm Therapeutics, about cancer and biotech innovation. Michael explains how he and Dr. Sharon Schacham tested her idea regarding cellular nuclear-transport using simulation software on a home laptop, and went on to beat 1000:1 odds to create a billion dollar company. They discuss the relationship between high proprietary drug costs and economic incentives for drug discovery. They also discuss the unique US biotech ecosystem, and why innovation is easier in small (vs. large) companies. Michael explains how Karyopharm is targeting its drug at COVID-induced inflammation to treat people with severe forms of the disease.

Transcript

Michael Kauffman (Bio)

Karyopharm's Publications and Presentations

The Great American Drug Deal: A New Prescription for Innovative and Affordable Medicines by Peter Kolchinsky


man·i·fold /ˈmanəˌfōld/ many and various.

In mathematics, a manifold is a topological space that locally resembles Euclidean space near each point.

Steve Hsu and Corey Washington have been friends for almost 30 years, and between them hold PhDs in Neuroscience, Philosophy, and Theoretical Physics. Join them for wide ranging and unfiltered conversations with leading writers, scientists, technologists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and more.

Steve Hsu is VP for Research and Professor of Theoretical Physics at Michigan State University. He is also a researcher in computational genomics and founder of several Silicon Valley startups, ranging from information security to biotech. Educated at Caltech and Berkeley, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and held faculty positions at Yale and the University of Oregon before joining MSU.

Corey Washington is Director of Analytics in the Office of Research and Innovation at Michigan State University. He was educated at Amherst College and MIT before receiving a PhD in Philosophy from Stanford and a PhD in a Neuroscience from Columbia. He held faculty positions at the University Washington and the University of Maryland. Prior to MSU, Corey worked as a biotech consultant and is founder of a medical diagnostics startup.

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