Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weekend reading list

I'm out of town for the weekend so here's a few of the things I've been reading these last few days.

Surly Amy, one of the Skepchick bloggers who I normally respect and had a very enjoyable conversation with at TAM 2011, suggested her critics should not be allowed to wear clothing with messages that offends her at future conferences. I'm sad to hear her make such a contemptible statement and hope she recants.

Another secular blog wrote about why being godless does not automatically mean someone supports abortion and third-wave feminism. I can now take that off my list of long future posts to make.

I took joy in learning that one of my pet theories has not only been studied, but supported by those studies. I've long suggested that legal access to abortion must to some extent encourage additional pregnancies by providing a safety net for unprotected sex. It's a traditional moral hazard Economists Phillip B. Levine and Douglas Staiger have studied this effect both domestically and abroad and describe abortion as a potential "pregnancy insurance." Bonus points for their reminder that this effect does not indicate what the optimal number of abortions should be.

An unrelated study showed that 37.5 percent of social psychologists admitted they would discriminate against hiring a qualified candidate if they knew he or she was a conservative. No one should be shocked.

Finally, Mark J. Perry shared a quotation from Peter Glover about the similarities between Jehovah's Witnesses and Peak Oil true believers when their doomsday prediction turns out to be wrong:

"Why are peak oil-ers like Jehovah’s Witnesses? Answer: When the definitive JW prediction of the ‘Day of Wrath’ failed in 1914, they did what false prophets have done in every generation: shifted the goalposts (to 1975 in the case of JW’s—and wrong again). It’s what false prophets do to save face, enabling them to keep fleecing the inherently gullible. Peak-oilers do likewise. 

Having written their headline-grabbing, money-making blockbusters predicting the imminent collapse of an oil-driven industrial world, peak-oilers like to maintain a ‘fluid’ approach to their predictions. In the case of oil, however, that’s becoming a tougher proposition, as their ignorance of energy, economics and the sheer ingenuity of man is increasingly revealed in the looming global oil boom."

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