When You Don't Really Understand Science…

… you're likely to say things like Commie National Public Radio did:

Note NPR's insistence, both in the original and its "correction" that there's "limited scientific research" supporting the athletic advantage of "trans women" over "cis" (i.e., actual) women.

They mean to cast doubt about that. But all scientific research is "limited" in some sense.

And let's further note that there are pretty easy ways to "limit" research: don't fund it; don't perform it; don't get it reviewed and published.

What NPR could have said, more accurately: "There is no evidence whatsoever that trans women have no physical advantages over cis women." If there was such evidence, NPR and others would be trumpeting it.

For more on the story, see Ari Blaff at National Review. Excerpt:

The news [of the WAC action] was welcomed by Karen Long, an Australian runner that competes in 100, 200, and 400-meter races.

“It was a relief to hear that transgender athletes will be banned from competing in the women’s category in athletics. I believe the governing bodies received lots of pressure in the form of complaints from female and male athletes on this issue and it forced them to reconsider,” Long told National Review.

Cynthia Monteleone, a fellow runner who is competing in a World Masters Athletics competition in Poland this weekend, recounted an earlier experience when she realized that at a 2018 track meet one of the contestants was born male.

“Nobody would answer my questions. The officials were very concerned about it, the European officials, but when I brought it up to Team USA management, they just swept it under the rug and later down the line even went as far as to say that for my own safety, I should keep my mouth shut, which I didn’t,” the reigning 400-meter race champion said.

It's nice to see some honesty and clarity beginning to break through on this issue.

Briefly noted:

  • James Freeman notes the Biden-bred Bureaucrat Boom.

    Mr. Biden’s plans for a bigger Internal Revenue Service have received attention for obvious reasons. But what also deserves attention is that he intends for just about everything in Washington to get bigger.

    Eric Katz recently noted in Government Executive:

    The Biden administration is looking to add 82,000 employees in fiscal 2024, a 3.6% increase that would bring civilian federal rolls to their highest levels since World War II.

    Clearly the mission is to put many more people on the federal payroll, even while private employers still hunt for workers. Is there any conceivable “investment” that is less likely to generate a positive return for the United States?

    I believe the answer to that last question is: "I don't know, I can conceive of quite a bit."

  • Boy, if you really want to read a downer manifesto, how about this Time essay from Eliezer Yudkowsky: Pausing AI Developments Isn't Enough. We Need to Shut it All Down.

    (Which is in response to this open letter signed by (as I type) 1404 people, including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, calling for a pause.)

    But here's Yudkowsky:

    The key issue is not “human-competitive” intelligence (as the open letter puts it); it’s what happens after AI gets to smarter-than-human intelligence. Key thresholds there may not be obvious, we definitely can’t calculate in advance what happens when, and it currently seems imaginable that a research lab would cross critical lines without noticing.

    Many researchers steeped in these issues, including myself, expect that the most likely result of building a superhumanly smart AI, under anything remotely like the current circumstances, is that literally everyone on Earth will die. Not as in “maybe possibly some remote chance,” but as in “that is the obvious thing that would happen.” It’s not that you can’t, in principle, survive creating something much smarter than you; it’s that it would require precision and preparation and new scientific insights, and probably not having AI systems composed of giant inscrutable arrays of fractional numbers.

    Emphasis added. I usually put in an "Aieeee!" when I type stuff like that, but Yudkowsky is more mellow.

    For a counterpoint, let's look at James Pethokoukis, who's saying "full speed ahead": No to the AI Pause.

    I wonder how the past three years might’ve gone differently if in the late 2010s there had been on “pause” on research into a radical new vaccine technology called mRNA? Or how a 1930s pause of atomic weapons research might have meant the War in the Pacific continuing into 1946? (Indeed, just the opposite happened. In August 1939, Albert Einstein sent a letter — written by Einstein and physicist Leó Szilárd — to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It warned that Nazi Germany might be working on an atomic fission weapon and urged the US to immediately begin its own nuclear weapons research.)

    It was just on Monday, you might recall, that I wrote about the potential of generative AI hugely increasing US productivity growth. No more Long Stagnation. The half-century downshift might soon be over. And the point here isn’t about boosting economic statistics. It’s about accelerating technological progress and economic growth to create a wealthier, healthier, and more resilient country of greater opportunity. Then fewer than 48 hours later come calls for a research pause.

    To me, there's a simple objection to both "pause" and "shut it all down" arguments: the genie is out of the bottle. Even if AI research is stopped or paused in obvious and public venues, there's no way to restrict, monitor, or prevent governments and deep-pocketed moguls from doing AI development away from the radar eyes of Musk, Yudkowsky, et. al,

    And it's likely whatever comes of that will be light years ahead of our "paused" efforts.

  • David Harsanyi is pretty tired of people complaining otherwise: There Are No Banned Books. His relevant tweet:

    In non-twitter language:

    While checking out the “banned and challenged” display at my local Barnes & Noble recently, I was reminded that the entire kerfuffle is a giant racket. For publishers and booksellers, “banned” books are likely a money-making racket. Virtually every allegedly “banned” book on the display table is already a massive (sometimes generational) bestseller. Not that this reality stops authors like Jodi Picoult, whose books dot virtually every bookstore in the country, from running around pretending their novels are “banned” because a sliver of taxpayers are no longer on the hook to buy them.

    For the left, the banned book claim is a political racket, allowing them to feign indignation over the alleged “authoritarianism” of Republicans who don’t want kids reading identitarian pseudohistories or books depicting oral sex, rape, violence, or gender dysphoria in their schools.

    For a good time, try to buy a paperback of Ian Fleming's "From Russia With Love", original version. I'd bet you can't find it at Barnes & Noble at all.

  • So I mentioned that Nikki Haley favored banning TikTok in her Monday "Town Hall" in Dover on Monday.

    (The USA Today reporter heard it the same way. Glad I'm not imagining things in my old age.)

    Robby Soave explains that Banning TikTok Is a Power the U.S. Government Doesn't Deserve.

    If the U.S. government really wants to counter Chinese tyranny, it should take greater pains not to resemble China's own approach to speech. Confusingly, some media commentators who oppose TikTok on grounds that the Chinese government is an enemy seem to almost admire the CCP's preference for state-issued propaganda. Zaid Jilani, a reporter at News Nation, and Batya Ungar-Sargon—my friend and co-host of The Hill's news show, Rising—both observed recently that China does not grant its citizens full access to TikTok. The Chinese version of TikTok, notes Ungar-Sargon, "kicks off kids after 40 minutes of use, and much of the content is taken up with educational videos about how to garden and how to be a good citizen."

    China is run by a government that denies its citizens fundamental free speech rights. It denies them full political rights. It is complicit in genocide. Its COVID-19 lockdowns were among the most repressive in the world. And it has covered up information about the pandemic's origin. The CCP's habit of restricting kids' access to uncensored content and propagandizing them into "good citizenship" is authoritarian; American lovers of freedom should recoil, not seek to emulate this.

    We should be especially wary of equipping our own government with similar tools. Today, TikTok—tomorrow, who knows?

    Also weighing in is Paul Matzko at Cato:

    TikTok Is More Than “Cute Dance Videos”.

    A TikTok ban would shut down a platform used by 150 million Americans. It would be the single, largest impairment of free speech in the history of the United States. By some estimates, half of all TikTok users have uploaded a video to the platform, meaning that a congressional ban would, in one fell swoop, remove speech uttered by ~75 million Americans.

    This is precisely why those advocating for a forced sale or ban of TikTok because of its ownership by the Chinese company Bytedance have a habit of belittling the content on the platform. Critics will use a photo of teenagers doing the latest viral TikTok dance, and then juxtapose that with the potential threat of Chinese governmental censorship and surveillance. Framed this way, giving up a platform dedicated to “cute dance videos” (as Noah Smith puts it) or “viral dance trends and deranged bearded women” (per Mike Solana) is no big loss, leaving only dedicated civil libertarians standing on principle in the anti‐​ban corner. (Hi there!)

    TikTok is easy to avoid. Do that instead.