|York Minster in the hail|
A view from the warmth of the pub. He's cradling a takeaway coffee. One guy stopped and gave him a cigarette. Others pressed coins into his hands.
"I’m gratified that many people have described me as warm and friendly and helpful (“surprisingly so,” one can almost hear them add, for such a socially-inept, self-obsessed nerd!). But there’s a reason for that.Read the whole of his extraordinary interview with Scientific American here.
"If I meet a new person, and they aren’t weird in the same ways I’m weird, my brain’s first questions tend to be: would this person be happy to rid the earth of me and everyone like me, regarding me as genetically defective? Is he or she merely temporarily prevented from doing so? In 1942, would he or she have smiled (as so much of Europe did smile) as I was loaded onto a cattle car?
"So then, if the person turns out—as most often they do—to be perfectly nice and decent, I’m so relieved and grateful that it’s like, how can I be anything but friendly and helpful in return?"
|Clare spotting for other beacons from Glastonbury Tor last night|
|Your author, stoic in the cold wind and gathering gloom, as they try to light it|
|The Beacon was finally alight|
|XKCD nails it again - "but somehow, I can't help myself ..."|
"My hunch is that there is a powerful correlation between those Tory MPs who want us to leave the EU, and those whom most people would describe as “right wing” more generally. There is no tick-box way of categorising a rightwinger: you have to look at a range of behaviours:
- a strong and persistent interest in military matters;
- a marked admiration for Republican US presidents;
- social illiberalism (look at attitudes towards gay marriage, for example; or some of the church-fuelled reaction to what the rest of us might call progressive social policy);
- a certain lack of interest in the state’s role in protecting workers or the active promotion of healthy living;
- ... state intervention that such MPs would call “wishy-washy liberalism”.
"All I can say is that in the Tory party you know a rightwinger when you meet one."
|Traditional conservatism - all boxes ticked, but moderately|
|This is broadly where Matthew Parris sits in the moral spectrum|
|Libertarian Brexiteers dislike the dead hand of European oversight|
|Brexit Authoritarians rally to a nationalist, communalist flag|
"It’s Project Fear that has turned us, and I don’t mind admitting it. Fear of the economic consequences of leaving. Distaste at many of the crew who want us out. Anxiety about the impact on our allies in Europe and worldwide if we kick this huge enterprise in European co-operation in the guts. Alarm at the rise of anger in the world. Shame that we British might come to be judged by history as vandals."Fear has often been enough, when moral buttons are not being pushed too hard. But heaven help the 'Remain' camp if something bad (morally-speaking) happens EU-wise later this spring.
|The six foundations to get us started (refer to the table above)|
|Liberal-leftists: it's 'caring', 'oppression' and 'equality - not much else|
|Conservatives care about all the foundations - equality of opportunity not outcome|
|Libertarians: 'Don't tread on me!' with a side-order of tough-fairness|
|Authoritarians: Loyalty, Obedience to Authority, Sanctity: No Free Riders!|
"At a lawyers conference I attended recently, the conversation turned to “The Innocence of Muslims,” the offensive YouTube video that has sparked riots throughout the Muslim world. “Why do they react this way?” a partner at a major law firm asked, referring to Muslim societies.
"The idea that people would take such offense at an inept video, and blame American society in general rather than the individuals who produced the film, was incomprehensible to this American lawyer: “We would never react that way.” The other lawyers agreed.
This conversation came back to me this week as I read Jonathan Haidt’s very worthwhile new book, The Righteous Mind. Mostly, the book explores the different moral psychologies of American conservatives and liberals. (Haidt argues that the differences are largely innate — “pre-wired,” he says — thus confirming Iolanthe’s famous observation that “every boy and every gal/ That’s born into the world alive/Is either a little Liberal /Or else a little Conservative!”).
"One chapter, though, compares American moral intuitions with those of other societies. America, Haidt says, has what psychologists call a WEIRD culture — Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. WEIRD cultures have a strong “ethic of autonomy”: they hold that “people are, first and foremost, autonomous individuals with wants, needs, and preferences” which, barring direct harm to others, should be fulfilled.
"In such cultures, as Jean Bethke Elshtain remarked at the annual Erasmus Lecture this week, “loyalty” principally means “being true to oneself.” The First Amendment reflects this ethic: it promotes the widest possible range of individual expression and advises offended listeners to avoid harm by turning away.
Largely through American influence, WEIRD values increasingly dominate international human rights discourse. This is ironic, because WEIRD cultures are global outliers — and America is the farthest outlier of all. Most of the world does not see autonomy as the most important value and does not privilege individual expression to the extent we do. Many cultures, Haidt says, have an “ethic of community” that sees people principally as members of collectives — families, tribes, and nations — with strong claims to loyalty. And many cultures have an “ethic of divinity,” which holds that people’s principal duty is to God, not themselves.
“In such societies,” Haidt writes, “the personal liberty of secular Western nations” — including the unrestrained freedom of expression — “looks like libertinism, hedonism, and a celebration of humanity’s baser instincts.”
Haidt’s account explains much of the incomprehension on display at that lawyers conference. To someone in a WEIRD cultural environment — and the educated upper-middle class in America, Haidt claims, is the WEIRDest environment of all — it is very hard to understand how people could feel morally outraged by an inept video that insults divinity. It seems so counter-intuitive.
"The incomprehension works the other way, too. To someone in a non-WEIRD environment, it is very hard to understand how people could feel morally justified defending sacrilegious expression. Haidt’s account suggests that the differences between these cultures are going to be extremely difficult to negotiate. Intuitions are stubborn things."
"We'd like to add another psychological tool to the toolbox: Moral Foundations Theory. One of us (Haidt) developed the theory in the early 2000s, with several other social psychologists, in order to study moral differences across cultures. Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) draws on anthropology and on evolutionary biology to identify the universal "taste buds" of the moral sense, while at the same time explaining how every society creates its own unique morality.
"Think of it like this: Evolution gave all human beings the same taste receptors — for sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and umami (or MSG) — but cultures then create unique cuisines, constrained by the fact that the cuisine must please those taste receptors. Moral foundations work much the same way. The six main moral taste receptors, according to MFT, are:
"As with cuisines, societies vary a great deal in the moralities they construct out of these universal predispositions. Many traditional agricultural and herding societies rely heavily on the loyalty, authority, and sanctity foundations to create rituals, myths, and religious institutions that bind groups together with a strong tribal consciousness.
- Care/harm: We feel compassion for those who are vulnerable or suffering.
- Fairness/cheating: We constantly monitor whether people are getting what they deserve, whether things are balanced. We shun or punish cheaters.
- Liberty/oppression: We resent restrictions on our choices and actions; we band together to resist bullies.
- Loyalty/betrayal: We keep track of who is "us" and who is not; we enjoy tribal rituals, and we hate traitors.
- Authority/subversion: We value order and hierarchy; we dislike those who undermine legitimate authority and sow chaos.
- Sanctity/degradation: We have a sense that some things are elevated and pure and must be kept protected from the degradation and profanity of everyday life. (This foundation is best seen among religious conservatives, but you can find it on the left as well, particularly on issues related to environmentalism.)
"That can be highly effective for groups that are often attacked by neighboring rivals, but commercial societies (such as Amsterdam in the 17th century or New York City today) are far less in need of these foundations, and so make much less use of them.
"Their moral values, stories, and political institutions flow more directly from the liberty and fairness foundations — well suited to a culture based on exchange and production — and are therefore much more tolerant and open to ethnic diversity.
"In recent years, MFT has been used to study political differences between the American left and right. Republicans and Democrats in the United States are now in some ways like citizens of different countries, with different beliefs about American history, the Constitution, economics, and climate science.
"Using questionnaires, text analyses, and other methods, psychologists have found that progressives put more emphasis on the care foundation than do other groups, while social conservatives see more value in loyalty, authority, and sanctity than do other groups. Libertarians, meanwhile, put liberty far above all other moral concerns.
"Fairness, important to all groups, nonetheless has subtypes: The left values fairness more when it is presented as equality, particularly equality of outcomes between groups (which is at the heart of social justice). The right values fairness more than the left when it is presented as proportionality — a focus on merit, which includes a desire to let people fail when they are perceived to have been lazy or otherwise undeserving."
"Here's a graph showing how how each candidate's supporters prioritize each of the moral foundations compared with the average American.
"Bars above zero indicate that the candidate's supporters place more emphasis on that particular moral foundation compared with the average voter.
"Bars that dip down below zero do not mean those supporters do not care about the moral concern, only that they gave relatively lower ratings to it compared with the rest of our nationally representative survey sample."
|Diagram edited to remove Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson|
"Voters who still score high on authority/loyalty/sanctity and low on care — even after accounting for all the demographic variables — are significantly more likely to vote for Donald Trump. These are the true authoritarians — they value obedience while scoring low on compassion."In the UK the only similar politician who comes to mind is Nigel Farage, who is not a serious contender for power. David Cameron is most like Jeb Bush, who scored pretty much where the average American was .. and got booted out of a highly-partisan contest for his pains.
"We want to accelerate a few grams to c/5. The kinetic energy may still be "barely" computed by the non-relativistic formula and it is E = mc2/50. If m were 5 grams, we get 9 trillion joules."Now, one kiloton of TNT (a small nuke) is equivalent to 4 trillion joules, so when this interstellar probe hits the atmosphere of a planet around Alpha Centauri, it's going to look to the alien inhabitants like someone detonated a 2 kt nuke in their atmosphere. Did anyone mention we're going to send a swarm of these things?
"A half-dozen centuries in the future, humanity has stumbled into a fortuitous discovery of a faster than light interstellar travel technology and spreads out across the habitable planets of the galaxy, never encountering any other intelligent life.Centauri Dreams wonders about the project itself, the timescales and whether it would work. No-one seems to have seen the engineering plans for the interstellar device, but with accelerations estimated in the region of 20,000-60,000g you can forget anything with a framed structure. The ultrathin sail will be the entire device, embedding sensors, communications and control.
"Then a slower-than-light spacecraft driven by a light sail arrives from an unexplored solar system.
"Our Space Navy goes to visit the planet that sent it and discovers a civilization that seems as advanced as ours, except they don’t have our faster-than-light travel technology, so they are stuck in their solar system, except for sending out the occasional expensive probe. We can visit them, but they can’t visit us.
"Their extremely gracious ambassadors greet our ambassadors in a most affable manner.
"The book then turns into an ecological detective story as a few suspicious Earthlings try to unravel the complex story of the Moties’ nature before diplomacy gets too far advanced to put the brakes on proposals such as sharing the FTL drive with the aliens in the name of interstellar harmony and goodwill. We wouldn’t want to be seen as speciesist, now would we?"
"Writing for The Atlantic, Ross Andersen describes the sail this way in Inside a Billionaire’s New Interstellar Mission:It's easy to poke holes in the mission concept as we currently understand it:
"Picture a thin disc about the size of a round picnic tabletop. It would have miniaturized electronics onboard, including a power source, cameras, photon thrusters for navigation, and a laser for communication. Some of this kit would be bundled into the disc’s center, and some would be distributed through the rest of the sail. But it would all be a single unit: If you saw it streaking by, it would look like a flat, round sheet of reflective material.
"We’ve also got a problem in that concept, because Jim Benford has pointed out that a flat sail is not a good ‘beam-rider’ — we’ll likely have to look at the kind of curved sail designs both Jim and brother Gregory Benford have studied in lab work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But get a sail under that beam successfully and it reaches Pluto the day after launch, as Andersen notes. Another 20 years and it’s streaking through the Alpha Centauri system."
(mean = 100; std dev = σ = 15).And suppose a catastrophe occurred which led to half the population emigrating - such things have been known to happen in European history.
So R = 0.6 *12 = 7 IQ points below the original population mean.Their descendants will have an average IQ of 93.
|Diagram from here|
"A footnote on the Google Photos website says that “[Facial recognition] feature isn’t available in all countries,” probably due to privacy laws, but there’s a simple workaround that will help you bring face detection in your Google Photos, no matter where you are.It all works though you have to give the Google AI machine sufficient time to search and catalogue your photos - a few hours should do it.
- Go to your Android phone settings, select “Apps”, then select “Photos” under the “Downloaded” section and click the “Clear Data” button to reset your Google Photos app.
- Go to the Google Play store and download TunnelBear or Hola or any of your favorite VPN apps.
- Open the VPN app and connect. It will essentially trick Photos into thinking that you are connecting from US, a country that is supported by Google Photos for facial recognition.
- Open the Google Photos app, scroll past the wizard screen and then under Settings, enable the option that says “Group Similar Faces – Auto Group photos by matching faces.”
"Disable, or even uninstall, the VPN app, launch Google Photos again and tap the blue search button. You should see a list of faces that Google Photos was able to detect from your uploaded photos. And the feature will automatically become available on photos.google.com as well."
"4. There is no spooky action at a distance
"Nowhere in quantum mechanics is information ever transmitted non-locally, so that it jumps over a stretch of space without having to go through all places in between. Entanglement is itself non-local, but it doesn’t do any action – it is a correlation that is not connected to non-local transfer of information or any other observable.
"It was a great confusion in the early days of quantum mechanics, but we know today that the theory can be made perfectly compatible with Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity in which information cannot be transferred faster than the speed of light."
"Myers is both confused and insulting in his blog post, but I'll refrain from ad hominem attacks, and just focus on the science.Worth following the link even if you're older than five.
Myers seems to think that humans with much better cognitive abilities than our own can't exist. Sort of like a farmer in 1957 claiming that chickens that are bigger and faster maturing than his own could not exist [...] . I urge Myers to read some books on population genetics before returning to this discussion.
"The argument for why there are probably genomes not very different from our own, but which lead to much better cognitive ability, is very simple, and I went through it in a post called Explain it to me like I'm five years old [...] ."
'Students be careful, there's someone walking around in kkk gear with a whip.'
"Residential hall advisor Ethan Gill quickly wrote an email to his students, warning them of the “threat” on campus: “There has been a person reported walking around campus in a KKK outfit holding a whip. Because the person is protected under first amendment rights, IUPD cannot remove this person from campus unless an act of violence is committed. Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight, always be with someone and if you have no dire reason to be out of the building, I would recommend staying indoors if you’re alone.”
"Later in the evening, Gill was forced to retract his warning on his Facebook page, where he clarified that the purported Klansman was actually just an innocent priest dressed in liturgical garments. The “whip” turned out to be the clergyman’s robe-like belt that was tied around his waist."
"The tolerance to alcohol is not equally distributed throughout the world's population, and genetics of alcohol dehydrogenase indicate resistance has arisen independently in different cultures. In North America, Native Americans have the highest probability of developing alcoholism compared to Europeans and Asians." [Wikipedia].2. The connection between alcohol use and personality type
"Many studies have shown the importance of personality traits as factors related to alcohol use and misuse. The relationship between personality traits and alcohol consumption was studied in a sample of 149 non-alcoholic women using the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP) and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire-Revised (EPQ-R).3. The social construction of 'drinking'
"The results showed positive correlations between alcohol consumption and disinhibitory personality traits (sensation seeking, impulsivity, psychopathy, nonconformity) and dimensions (psychoticism and extraversion). Sensation seeking combined with impulsivity were the strongest predictors of alcohol consumption. Anxiety-related traits and neuroticism were not related to alcohol frequency/amount of alcohol use."
"To convince you of the primacy of social factors I urge you to check out this extremely funny site, Bravehearts in Kilts Against Trouser Tyranny:
"This site is hilarious not because the Bravehearts in Kilts are stupid, but precisely for the opposite reason. Once you have read their passionate defense of the kilt, you (at least if you are a male) will realize that it is us, pant-wearers, who are stupid. In warm climates or during summers in the temperate zone the kilt is much more comfortable to wear than jeans."
"The basic garment worn by the Greeks was the chiton (basically, same as the Roman tunic). And wearing ‘sacks’ around their legs was something that only barbarians did. The Romans of the Classical Age felt the same way. Citizens were required to wear togas for any official functions, and at other times (e.g., for war) they wore tunics.Part II of Peter Turchin's illuminating article here.
"Why did the Italians switch from tunics to pants? The answer is the horse. Not only are the horses responsible for why we live in complex, large-scale societies (or, at least, how such large-scale societies first evolved), they are also the reason why males have to swelter in pants in summer, instead of wearing the cool kilt. As I will discuss in my next blog, there is an exceedingly close historical correlation between the adoption of cavalry and switching to wearing pants."
"Why is there such a strong Sunni/Shia divide?We can say the same thing about other apparently-religious conflicts, such as the Protestant-Catholic divide in northern Ireland and some parts of Scotland. But Alexander probes more deeply:
"I know the Comparative Religion 101 answer. The early Muslims were debating who was the rightful caliph. Some of them said Abu Bakr, others said Ali, and the dispute has been going on ever since. On the other hand, that was fourteen hundred years ago, both candidates are long dead, and there’s no more caliphate. You’d think maybe they’d let the matter rest.
"Sure, the two groups have slightly different hadith and schools of jurisprudence, but how many Muslims even know which school of jurisprudence they’re supposed to be following? It seems like a pretty minor thing to have centuries of animus over."
"Nations, religions, cults, gangs, subcultures, fraternal societies, internet communities, political parties, social movements – these are all really different, but they also have some deep similarities.It doesn't take much to generate a sense of tribal camaraderie. I've previously remarked about the benefits of membership of the International Marxist Group in my early twenties: a shared culture of mostly-fun activities .. and guaranteed weekend parties.
"They’re all groups of people. They all combine comradery within the group with a tendency to dislike other groups of the same type. They all tend to have a stated purpose, like electing a candidate or worshipping a deity, but also serve a very important role as impromptu social clubs whose members mostly interact with one another instead of outsiders. They all develop an internal culture such that members of the groups often like the same foods, wear the same clothing, play the same sports, and have the same philosophical beliefs as other members of the group – even when there are only tenuous links or no links at all to the stated purpose.
"They all tend to develop sort of legendary histories, where they celebrate and exaggerate the deeds of the groups’ founders and past champions. And they all tend to inspire something like patriotism, where people are proud of their group membership and express that pride through conspicuous use of group symbols, group songs, et cetera. For better or worse, the standard way to refer to this category of thing is “tribe”."
"I know very little about early Islam and am relying on sources that might be biased, so don’t declare a fatwa against me if I turn out to be wrong, but it looks like from the beginning there were big pre-existing differences between proto-Shia and proto-Sunni. A lot of Ali’s earliest supporters were original Muslims who had known Mohammed personally, and a lot of Abu Bakr’s earliest supporters were later Muslims high up in the Meccan/Medinan political establishment who’d converted only after it became convenient to do so.Like I said, it's a long essay which, with the comments, covers atheism, evangelical christianity, rationalism, science-fiction and video gaming subcultures, and cultural appropriation (some good points about that).
"It’s really easy to imagine cultural, social, and personality differences between these two groups. Probably members in each group already knew one another pretty well, and already had ill feelings towards members of the other, without necessarily being able to draw the group borders clearly or put their exact differences into words. Maybe it was “those goody-goodies who are always going on about how close to Mohammed they were but have no practical governing ability” versus “those sellouts who don’t really believe in Islam and just want to keep playing their political games”.
Then came the rallying flag: a political disagreement over the succession. One group called themselves “the party of Ali”, whose Arabic translation “Shiatu Ali” eventually ended up as just “Shia”. The other group won and called itself “the traditional orthodox group”, in Arabic “Sunni”.
"Instead of a vague sense of “I wonder whether that guy there is one of those goody-goodies always talking about Mohammed, or whether he’s a practical type interested in good governance”, people could just ask “Are you for Abu Bakr or Ali?” and later “Are you Sunni or Shia?” Also at some point, I’m not exactly sure how, most of the Sunni ended up in Arabia and most of the Shia ended up in Iraq and Iran, after which I think some pre-existing Iraqi/Iranian vs. Arab cultural differences got absorbed into the Sunni/Shia mix too.
"Then came development. Both groups developed elaborate mythologies lionizing their founders. The Sunni got the history of the “rightly-guided caliphs”, the Shia exaggerated the first few imams to legendary proportions. They developed grievances against each other; according to Shia history, the Sunnis killed eleven of their twelve leaders, with the twelfth escaping only when God directly plucked him out of the world to serve as a future Messiah.
"They developed different schools of hadith interpretation and jurisprudence and debated the differences ad nauseum with each other for hundreds of years. A lot of Shia theology is in Farsi; Sunni theology is entirely in Arabic. Sunni clergy usually dress in white; Shia clergy usually dress in black and green. Not all of these were deliberately done in opposition to one another; most were just a consequence of the two camps being walled off from one another and so allowed to develop cultures independently.
"Obviously the split hasn’t dissolved yet, but it’s worth looking at similar splits that have. Catholicism vs. Protestantism is still a going concern in a few places like Ireland, but it’s nowhere near the total wars of the 17th century [...]."
"My title for this post is also my preferred summary: the ideology is not the movement. Or, more jargonishly – the rallying flag is not the tribe. People are just trying to find a tribe for themselves and keep it intact. This often involves defending an ideology they might not be tempted to defend for any other reason. This doesn’t make them bad, and it may not even necessarily mean their tribe deserves to go extinct. I’m reluctant to say for sure whether I think it’s okay to maintain a tribe based on a faulty ideology, but I think it’s at least important to understand that these people are in a crappy situation with no good choices, and they deserve some pity.Read the whole thing there.
"Some vital aspects of modern society – freedom of speech, freedom of criticism, access to multiple viewpoints, the existence of entryist tribes with explicit goals of invading and destroying competing tribes as problematic, and the overwhelming pressure to dissolve into the Generic Identity Of Modern Secular Consumerism – make maintaining tribal identities really hard these days. I think some of the most interesting sociological questions revolve around whether there are any ways around the practical and moral difficulties with tribalism, what social phenomena are explicable as the struggle of tribes to maintain themselves in the face of pressure, and whether tribalism continues to be a worthwhile or even a possible project at all."
"The chances of the Amazon guy turning up in any of the 10 hour-long slots is exactly the same. It therefore doesn't matter when I take my bath, I always have just a 1 in 10 chance of missing the parcel."Bob says,
"I'll be taking my bath at 9 am. If I do that I've got a 9 in 10 chance of the Amazon guy coming later than that.Who's right?
"But suppose I'm stupid enough to delay the bath till, say, 5 pm. Sure if the guy already came, I'm good. But assuming the parcel hasn't yet arrived, there's now a 50% chance I'll be in the bath when it arrives. I'd be insane to bathe then.
"It's always better to take a bath early when an Amazon parcel is due."
P = Xfather + Xmother + E.Note these are genetic additive effects: each additional allele is plausibly assumed to make its independent contribution into raising or lowering X a fraction. Dominance and epistatic effects are neglected in this simplified conceptual model (in a polygenic trait, they tend not to be large).
Var(Xfather) = Vadditive/2 -- each parent provides half the additive genetic 'input'So what is Var(P), the variance of height as we observe it in the population?
Var(Xmother) = Vadditive/2 -- each parent provides half the additive genetic 'input'
Var(E) = Venvironment.
Var(P) = Var(Xfather) + Var(Xmother) + Var(E) +Messy, but if we assume Xfather, Xmother and E are independent, their covariances are zero, so
2Cov(Xfather, Xmother) + 2Cov(Xfather, E) + 2Cov(Xmother, E).
Var(P) = Var(Xfather) + Var(Xmother) + Var(E),The fraction of the population phenotypic variation due to genetic, additive effects is then simply
Vphenotype = Vadditive + Venvironment
h2 = Vadditive/Vphenotype = Vadditive/(Vadditive + Venvironment).This is the definition of heritability, h2.
ρ = Cov(A,B)/√(Var(A) * Var(B)).This is the standard definition.
Cov(parent,offspring) = Vadditive/2- this takes a few lines to work out, setting most of the Xfather, Xmother and E cross-terms to zero. It reflects the 50% of genetic material they have in common.
Var(parent) = Var(offspring) = Vphenotype,So using the formula for ρ above,
ρ = (Vadditive/2) / Vphenotype = h2/2.This shows that heritability is not the same as the correlation between a child and one of its parents.
predicted-offspring-height = β * parental-midpoint-heightwith both heights measured as inches in deviation from the respective means.
Answer: predicted-offspring-height = β * (3 + 1)/2 = 2h2 = 1.35 inches.Yes, the child has regressed towards the mean.
"Last summer, a French student was arrested in Paris on suspicion of a plot to take hostages at a concert hall. His name was Reda Hame. According to a transcript of his interrogation obtained by CNN, Hame claimed he had been provided weapons training, including in the use of Kalashnikovs, by Abaaoud in a park in Raqqa in early June. But he'd backed out of the plot when he arrived in France."According to security researcher the grugq, CNN further reported:
"Hame also revealed to interrogators that ISIS had set up an elaborate encrypted communication system so that it could keep in touch with its European operatives.The grugq asks: "How Crap Is This System?"
"While with ISIS in Raqqa, he said he was instructed to encrypt communications with a software tool called “Truecrypt,” which authorities found on a thumb drive he had been given by Abaaoud. Hame said he had been taught to copy a message into the software, select an encryption option and then paste the message into a password-protected sharing site."
"What is exceptional about humans is the recent detachment from the challenges of the natural environment and the ability to modify phenotypic traits in ways that mitigate the fitness effects of mutations, e.g., precision and personalized medicine.The famous population geneticist W. D. Hamilton coined the phrase "Planetary Hospital", explained by Bruce Charlton like this:
"This results in a relaxation of selection against mildly deleterious mutations, including those magnifying the mutation rate itself. The long-term consequence of such effects is an expected genetic deterioration in the baseline human condition, potentially measurable on the timescale of a few generations in westernized societies, and because the brain is a particularly large mutational target, this is of particular concern.
"Ultimately, the price will have to be covered by further investment in various forms of medical intervention. "
"It is becoming hard to avoid the conclusion that we have been, for several generations, living in what WD Hamilton (in Narrow Roads of Gene Land, Volume 2) called the Planetary Hospital - in other words, a world in which almost everyone is suffering from significant genetic damage, and an increasing proportion of the population are suffering from genetic disease. "The dystopian effects of relaxed selection and the removal of purifying selection are well-documented in the population genetics literature. The effects in just a few generations are, however, slight (c. 1% per generation).