Video of the day

Not sure I’d want to watch the entire 8 minutes of this awesome time-lapse of the sun, but it’s definitely mesmerizing for at least a couple.

More guns, more crime

The research of John Lott that argues “more guns, less crime” has already been largely debunked not to mention plenty of evidence Lott is a fraud.  That said, it’s not been clear that the opposite is true– more guns, more crime.  What we have been able to say is more guns, not less crime.  Now, there’s enough new research in that we can fairly safely conclude (and, really, not all that surprisingly) more guns means more crime.  From Wonkblog:

Now, Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues have added another full decade to the analysis, extending it through 2010, and have concluded that the opposite of Lott and Mustard’s original conclusion is true: more guns equal more crime.

“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report. The evidence suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, according to Donohue. He says this number is likely a floor, and that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws.

Of course, this is social science estimates, so we cannot know with certainty, but safe to say this is the best evidence at this point.  The post concludes:

But for this very reason it’s important for policymakers on both sides of the gun control debate to exercise caution in interpreting the findings of any one study. Gun rights advocates have undoubtedly placed too much stock in Lott and Mustard’s original study, which is now going on 20 years old. The best policy is often informed by good research. And as researchers revisit their data and assumptions, it makes sense for policymakers to do the same.

You show me solid social science research (which Lott’s never was) that more guns means less crime and I’ll be in favor of more guns.  Show me anybody from the pro-gun crowd who feels the opposite.  Lott’s research was never about a well-reasoned social-science basis for gun laws.  “Gun rights” is a theology and not about evidence.  Lott’s research was always about just being able to throw some “research” back at all those egghead liberals.  The fact that the best research clearly suggests more guns leads to more crime, I suspect will persuade exactly zero member of the pro-gun crowd to change their mind on gun laws.

Photo of the day

From a Telegraph gallery of Society of Biology shortlist photos:

A Lively Belly in the Freshwater by Matteo Riccardo Di Nicola. An adult female Italian crested newt stationed below the fresh water surface.Location: Sesia valley, Piedmont, Italy

A Lively Belly in the Freshwater by Matteo Riccardo Di Nicola. An adult female Italian crested newt stationed below the fresh water surface.Location: Sesia valley, Piedmont, ItalyPicture: Matteo Riccardo Di Nicola


Quick hits (part II)

c1) I listened to a fascinating Fresh Air recently by the author of a new book about the birth control pill came to be– and it’s no simple story.  And if you don’t want to listen, here’s a nice piece about it in the New Yorker.

2) Speaking of which, one of the key figures in creating the Pill has this to say:

Sex could become purely recreational by 2050 with large numbers of babies in the Western world born through IVF, the professor who invented the contraceptive pill has claimed.

Prof Carl Djerassi, the Austrian-American chemist and author, said he believes that the Pill will become obsolete because men and women will choose to freeze their eggs and sperm when young before being sterilised.

Yeah, I just don’t think so.  I think he’s better off sticking to inventing contraceptives than predicting the future.

3) We keep hearing about how important the “ground game” is in campaigns now.  But are they doing it right?  Very good piece in Vox.  Speaking of which, really enjoyed Nate Cohn’s take:

Turnout was, of course, far less favorable for Democrats than it was in 2012. But it is preposterous to suggest that Democratic field efforts could produce an electorate that was anywhere near as young or diverse as the one that re-elected Mr. Obama two years ago. If Democratic candidates like Ms. Hagan, Ms. Nunn, Mr. Braley and Mr. Udall needed a 2012-type electorate to win, then they were doomed from the start.

4) I remember learning about infanticide among mammals way back in my “Evolutionary Biology” class at Duke.  Fascinating stuff.  A summary of the latest research on the matter.

5) Excellent Jon Cohn piece on the fact that the US is Ebola free and so many people way over freaked-out.

6) Speaking of which, a Durham teenager was barred from his private school because his dad had recently been to Nigeria.  A judge ordered the school to end the idiotic policy.

7) Then again, maybe school administrators had simply fallen prey to the virus that makes people stupid.  Seriously!

8) The ocean keeps getting louder due to human activity.  Thus, fish have to talk louder now.  Really.

9) The pointlessness of most college essay questions.

10) Too many women in a society for the number of women seems to mean more males committing suicide.

11) What soccer/football fan doesn’t love a good assist.  According to this thorough analysis, assists do not actually tell us much about the quality of a player.

12) A rundown of the many zombie parasites that actually change the behavior of their hosts.

13) The trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving to get a head start on Black Friday is just reprehensible.  Bravo to those fighting the trend (and being fined for it).

14) Senator’s son responsible for the truly horrible deaths of dogs under his care at an Arizona kennel.

15) Enjoyed Chait’s take on Republicans being so upset at China agreeing to reduce carbon emissions.

16) Tim Wu on “consumer sinkholes” and the case of the horrible customer service of United Airlines.

17) I’m reading Chomp to the boys and a main character has an Australian accent.  I love doing accents, but I’ve really been butchering this one (except when I can say G’day Mate).  Watched this last night and did much better.




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