This paper might be one of the greatest NBER papers ever published and also such a perfect example of epistemic paradigms being important.…
Short version: 1644-1912, Chinese counties were MASSIVELY more likely to have rebellions in years where they experienced a total eclipse. In counties that also have memory institutions (like temples), this rebellious history survives today, and there is more unrest TODAY.
The authors say this is because in Confucian beliefs, an eclipse is a sign of heaven's displeasure with a ruler, and so peasants took it as a sign that their existing grievances could be licitly expressed in rebellion. This is a religion-as-social-narrative story.
But maybe they're wrong.

Maybe eclipses REALLY DO signal heaven's displeasure with a Qing Dynasty ruler, and so eclipses "cause" rebellions not because of peasant beliefs but because rebellions are ALSO are a sign of heaven's displeasure!
Obviously to scientific moderns this explanation sounds kind of crazy, but the key takeaway is that the only thing separating these two theories is "Might heaven in fact feel displeasure and act as an agent in history on that basis?"
As causal explanations, these two theories both "work." Nor is one necessarily simpler than another: postulating an complicated ideological narrative widely held among illiterate peasants which motivates lethal action more than e.g. famines or earthquakes...
Is *hardly* more parsimonious than "God was TICKED at the emperor."

Nor is it even more observable: historic peasant ideology is almost completely unobservable and we have to just accept elite attestations about it plus some archeological type data which is also debatable.
The difference then is not in parsimony or empiricism, but in *theoretical* empiricism. The modern explanation says IF we could go back in time and interview peasants, then we could observe their beliefs which would be such-and-such.
Whereas the traditional-religious explanation says *even if you were there* you would not be able to like interview heaven and ask "How ticked were you?"
The difference is not actual empirical evidence nor an Occam's Razor type judgment, but a hypothetical argument about what we could do, in our imaginations.
Confucian ideology recognized the predictability of eclipses and had begun accurately predicting them centuries prior to the period in question!
Thus, the acceptance of the modern scientific account is essentially an *imaginative* act.

Now, it's an imaginative act I firmly believe. And I'm perfectly happy to impose it: you *should believe* this imaginative act.
But that's because I accept virtually all beliefs as volitional. :)

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More from @lymanstoneky

16 Sep
he's right

(but also if manchin isn't gonna budge having a simple binary work requirement impacts a fairly small share of kids and is still a huge improvement over status quo ante)
getting worried that on the CTC what is going to happen is GOP won't budge at all because there's a million other bad things in the bill and also Dems will fail to agree on something because of perfect-universality-extremists.
whereas im over here saying, giving more money to kids is good, and getting a permanent child allowance for every family with any earnings/employment at all in the prior year would be a massive improvement over what we get when the expansion expires
Read 4 tweets
16 Sep
officially over 1,000 responses to my survey of Lutherans, and over 200 for my broader survey of religion. For all Facebook ads, mass mailing, everything, by the time it's all said and done, I'll have spent ~$2,000, meaning my cost per response is going to be $1.70 or less.
which is hilarious since I was quoted $95/response by a major firm and lots of people told me that was actually not crazy.
now of course my sample isn't random!

but when you're sampling a group which is <1% of the population to begin with via an online sample, *that's not a random sample anyways*
Read 38 tweets
15 Sep
For the first time, the Census Bureau has collected representative population-wide data on gender identity and sexual orientation in the latest two weeks of the Household Pulse Survey. Here are the results by age, one including people who didn't know/refused to respond, one not. ImageImage
Given the stable age gradient on unclear or refuse responses, I prefer to use the method dropping those respondents to estimate a population parameter, i.e. this graph. Image
Here's how the non cis-het groups look as line graphs for more clarity on those trends. You can see all such identities have gotten a lot more common in younger cohorts. However, the pace of increasing prevalence is not identical. Image
Read 24 tweets
15 Sep
war with China would absolutely not be easy to win and could plausibly result in our defeat, which is why it is vital that we prepare more intensively for such a war, and why it is extremely concerning that Milley may have been back-channeling relevant US plans to China.
Milley may have thought China thought we were about to attack. Whether China actually thought that is unclear. And obviously we were *not* about to attack.
Here's the thing though:

Had Milley *not* sent this message, China would have had to debate the matter internally. And they would not have launched a pre-emptive strike because, seriously, that would have been insane.
Read 7 tweets
15 Sep
I think it's a bit much to call it an ideology of masculinity when a lot of it is wildly differential rates of diagnosis for ADD, ADHD, autism, and a gajillion other learning disorders. Differential rates of violent death by sex can be identified in pre-Neolithic remains!
A theory of sex differences in education which doesn't account for the factors we know are OVERWHELMINGLY the most predictive of educational performance (diagnosed learning or attention issues and documented disciplinary issues) seems kind of weird.
And attributing it to a specific masculine ideology is also odd. There may be ideology involved, but the reason for differential rates of male diagnosis for ADHD may be related to ideology, but not an ideology we can call machismo.
Read 14 tweets
15 Sep
Here are estimates of births in Georgia (country, not state) using various methods.

In my view, the student enrollment data by age and the official vital stats data are the most reliable, followed by the reconstructed 2014 census data. Image
The key thing to understand here is that this implies practically a 10% undercount of recent births in the 2014 Georgian census, which is a massive undercount.
The 2002 census was widely believed to be a huge overcount of adults. It's not clear if this undercount issue might expand to adults as well.
Read 9 tweets

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