Daily Data Dump

[My DonorsChoose page][1]. Compared to previous years I’m kind of under-performing. I haven’t done any PBS-like incentives before, but perhaps I should. For example, anyone who gives $250 is owed a post from me on a topic of their choice of at least 2,000 words excluding quotations within the next 3 months. Those are just stray numbers thrown out there, but anyone interested? You’d have to rely on my good faith obviously, as I’m the final arbiter as to whether I’m gaming the metrics, but I’m an honest person about these sorts of things. It would probably be reasonable to do a graduated scale above a minimum threshold too.

[Achievement gap achieved household status a decade ago][2]. Seems like the rise of high-stakes testing means that “the gap” is now in widespread circulation as a meme…but I doubt most people know the [quantitative details][3]. According to the [The Journal of Black Education][4] in 2006 ~48,000 whites scored above a 700 on the Verbal SAT, while ~1,200 blacks did. For the math the figures were ~55,500 and ~1,100. A 700 is about at the [25th percentile][5] of a Harvard undergraduate.

[American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us][6]. ” But after 1980, both churchgoing progressives and secular conservatives became rarer and rarer. Some Americans brought their religion and their politics into alignment by adjusting their political views to their religious faith. **But, surprisingly, more of them adjusted their religion to fit their politics.**” It’s notable that politically conservative Jews such as [Frank Meyer][7] and [Howard Phillips][8] embraced Christianity during adulthood (Meyer just before his death). Similarly, [Mortimer J. Adler][9] joined the Catholic Church at the very end of his life. I think that to some extent these religious affiliations are a signal to emotional tribal loyalties. So I’m not _that_ surprised. I have known of very liberal Roman Catholics who left the church eventually because the juxtaposition of their radical politics and the limits of their faith became too difficult for them to reconcile. Of course there’s the issue of psychological disposition. There are atheists I’ve met who I generally peg as likely to become religious at some point because they seem to be rather “weak-minded” in the manner that Jesse Ventura implied years ago. When such individuals later tell me about their conversion and ask if I’m surprised they seem confused as to my general lack of curiosity as to the details. The reality is that for such individuals it isn’t a matter of whether they’ll join a religion or movement, it’s _which_ one. Religion has good psychological coping mechanisms for the mentally unstable, and it provides communal affirmation for even the “least among us.” And there are many people out there who are very “least,” both in their morals and objective measures of worth. And I say all this as one of the few atheist conservatives out there. I’m not going to be bending my knee to tribal gods anytime soon.

[Gene Activity in the Brain Depends on Genetic Background: Implications for Individual Differences in Drug Safety and Efficacy][10]. So is the efficacy of psychoactive drugs confounded by the fact that different segments of a treatment group may react in opposite directions?

[Astronomers Find Weird, Warm Spot on an Exoplanet][11]. “Observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope reveal a distant planet with a warm spot in the wrong place.” Uh, aliens?!?!?! Am I the one who has to say it?

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[1]: http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/viewChallenge.html?id=78389&utm_source=BC08&utm_medium=widget&utm_content=GP&utm_campaign=78389&max=50 [2]: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2010/10/achievement-gap-achieved-household.html [3]: http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2009-08-25-SAT-scores_N.htm [4]: http://www.jbhe.com/features/53_SAT.html [5]: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/collegeprofiles/p/harvard_profile.htm [6]: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-1017-putnam-religion-20101017,0,6283320.story [7]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Meyer_(political_philosopher) [8]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Phillips_(politics) [9]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortimer_J._Adler [10]: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019132054.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+sciencedaily+(ScienceDaily:+Latest+Science+News) [11]: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101019140028.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+sciencedaily+(ScienceDaily:+Latest+Science+News) [12]: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/DiscoverBlogs/~4/BnkpDG7Qu9w

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