Robot babies lead to more pregnancies and more births

Ann Althouse brought some interesting information to my attention

“… but a new study using lifelike simulated babies in Western Australian schools had a surprising result: girls enrolled in the Virtual Infant Parenting Program (VIP) were twice as likely to give birth in their teens.”

Now, the first problem is that it’s a study in the Lancet, so you’re just about guaranteed that it’s crap.

The second is that they’re passing around some really noisy data.  This American Life had a segment about robot babies, and the producer of that segment wrote a blog post about the release of the study (which was in Australia vs America for “This American Life”)):

Here are the numbers:

17% of the intervention (robot babies) group had teen pregnancies; while 11% of the control group had teen pregnancies.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to listen in on Dr. Brinkman’s press briefing in Australia last night, and ask her a couple of questions.

The first thing I asked was, of course, motivated by my observations of Rachel: Was there evidence that the simulators made teens interested in becoming moms? Or less afraid of accidental pregnancy?

Brinkman said there was no way to know the answer to this question. The study was designed to track pregnancy, not whether the pregnancies were intended or unintended. But, she added, they did study the pregnancy termination rate in both groups. And the group that got the infant simulators had a 6% lower proportion of abortions, compared with the control group. But, of course, there’s no way to really know if that lower rate means the girls who experienced the infant simulators felt more comfortable with the idea of becoming moms.

I decided to run the numbers myself (it only makes sense to compare the last 4 rows, which are normalized, as opposed to the first 4, which aren’t):

Study Control Compare
Girls 1267 1567
Live Births 97 67
Abortions 113 101
Pregnancies 210 168
Birth Rate 7.66% 4.28% 1.790561792
Abortion Rate 8.92% 6.45% 1.383723929
Pregnancy Rate 16.57% 10.72% 1.545974743
Abortion as % of Pregnancy rate 53.81% 60.12% 0.895049505

So the 17% and 11% are combination of abortion and live births (I wonder if there were any miscarriages?).

Key facts: The girls in the study were 79% more likely to give birth to a baby, 38% more likely to have an abortion, and overall 55% more likely to get pregnant than the control girls.

The only place where the abortion rate went “down” for the study girls was that 54% of the 210 study girls who got pregnant had an abortion, whereas 60% of the 168 control girls who got pregnant had an abortion. With numbers that small, a 6% difference is meaningless.

Personally, I think those girls are discovering that a teenage girl with a robot baby is a lot more interesting, and gets a lot more positive feedback, than a teenage girl with a real baby. But I could be wrong.


Neoliberalism and technocratic managerial competence

Was reading this at SlateStarCodex, and came across the following, wich needed a response:

Sam Bowman’s neoliberal manifesto aims to carve out “neoliberalism” as a particular policy position (instead of just a vague smear) based around belief in markets, technocratic managerial competence, and interest in helping the poor through evidence-based programs.

It needed a response.  Here it is:

Sam Bowman’s neoliberal manifesto aims to carve out “neoliberalism” as a particular policy position (instead of just a vague smear) based around belief in markets, technocratic managerial competence, and the tooth fairy, right?

Because, frankly, believing in the tooth fairy’s a lot more reasonable than believing in “technocratic managerial competence” WRT anything involving the government.

See: the VA killing people, see the NSA getting hacked, see the quality of American Public Education, hell, take a look at ObamaCare Exchanges.

The Insurance companies were at the table as active partners during the writing of ObamaCare. And now they’re taking a major bath on the “Exchanges”.

Then there’s Solyendra, “clean energy”, the Obama 2009 porkulus. For real fun we could discuss US Military procurement.

There is no “technocratic managerial competence” when government is involved. Belief in it is delusional.

Truesdale MACII expulsion, a comment at File 770

In response to this.  We’ll see if I make it through moderation.

Most people seemed to agree that they’d never seen a panel moderator abuse his position to hijack the panel as a platform for his or her own personal agenda.


Then “most people” desperately need to get out more.

I suppose if MidAmericaCon2 hadn’t gone full fascist, “most people” could have looked up Dave and borrowed one of the pearl necklaces so they could have clutched it.

Kicking him out of the Con for “caus[ing] excessive discomfort to others”? That big mean bully! Exposing people to ideas they don’t like! Where did he think he was, a Con panel?

Oh wait, that’s right, modern Worldcon members don’t want to open their minds, or be exposed to diverse points of view. That would be hateful!

Edit: Dave has posted the audio of the panel.  It does not back the claims leveled against him.

Immigration and political reform

Megan McArdle has noticed that the “EU refugees” are bringing a serious problem:

But here’s a piece of information that is not so much interesting as disturbing: Only 27 percent of those refugees are female. In every age group, from nearly every country of origin, women are greatly outnumbered. And the difference is even more pronounced for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Gambia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, for example, sent virtually no women at all. Over all, refugee men outnumber refugee women nearly two to one.

(Bolding mine) Side point: I’d be interested to see the correlation between “law allows polygamous marriages” and “% of women among the invaders ‘refugees'”

After going over why this is a problem, Megan says this:

Unfortunately, at this point there aren’t any good options left. … It could deny the bulk of those applications and send most of those men back where they came from. But that’s unlikely; both EU refugee policy and a lot of the political class are publicly committed to sheltering a lot of these people. It would be difficult indeed to suddenly backpedal on those commitments.

1st thought: I think that pretty much every single problem we’re facing today is made worse by the fact that MeMegan can use the phrase “the political class” non-ironically.  The “singular” political class, that has a set of beliefs distinct from “the people of country ‘X'”.  The fact that the well being and beliefs of “the political class” are inimical to the well being of the rest of “their” societies is almost beside the point.  The major point is that there is no human group that has a monopoly on correct ideas.  But right now their is a set of ideas that have a near-monopoly on political power.

2nd thought: Let me clean up that “explanation”:

The political classes of almost every single EU country would rather see their societies destroyed, than admit they made a mistake by demanding that the EU countries take in those “refugees.”

Do we have any more questions as to why people are rejecting the political classes, and everything they say? To have a functional system, you MUST have a way of recovering from mistakes, In politics, the normal way this is done is to have opposition parties that disagree with each other on fundamental issues, so that when one side fails the other can get elected and fix up the first side’s mistakes. In the EU, this option is not available, as ALL “right thinking people” agree on everything important. Which means that EU is eventually going to end up with “lamp posts” as their corrective measure.

In the US, we’re currently stuck with “Donald Trump” as our corrective measure.

Personally, I’m voting for the lamp posts.

Immigration reform, a response to Megan McArdle

Megan McArdle writes:

How many people should we let in, of what education and skill level? How should we handle marital visas? What tradeoffs are we willing to make between national unity and the humanitarian and practical benefits of migration?

Oh, hear those crickets! No one wants to ask those questions, much less provide answers.

I don’t have numbers.  I’d say: cut current total legal immigration levels in half, and see if we get more “melting pot”, and less “multiculturalism.”  Keep cutting levels until we’re pretty solidly on the “melting pot” side.

But here’s my immigration reform principles:

1: End “family reunion” as an immigration priority and terminate “chain migration”. The ONLY people who get to bring in family members are people who legally immigrated here on their own merit (i.e. didn’t come in as a family member).

Whatever the legality of “birthright naturalization”, no one who gets their citizenship by birth gets to sponsor anyone else. So mommy and daddy are leaving the US, and can either take their child with them, or lose it. In any event non-US Citizens, and legal children US Citizens who do not have legal US Citizen guardians, are not eligible for any sort of welfare payments.

2: All H1B visa recipients must be paid in the US 80th percentile or higher for their field. Companies pay 10x penalty for any pay below that. If an incorrect study is used to establish the 80th percentile level, the company is on the hook for anything 75th percentile and over. Below that, the corporate officers who signed off on the study, and on the pay, are personally responsible, with NO “corporate veil” protection. Accusations of fraud on this front can be made by any private individual, can be carried out as a private action. If successful, the private individual gets 1/2 the fine (instead of the gov’t). In all cases the visa holder gets the other half.

IOW: H1B is for hiring expertise you absolutely can’t get in the US, NOT for hiring cheap workers. If you’re not paying top dollar, then H1B isn’t the right visa.

3: The standard for immigration is “brings benefit to the US.” “Changing the culture of the US” is inherently defined as “harming the US.”  We are not running an immigration system to help the immigrants.  If they think it will help them to come here, they’ll apply.  But acceptance is based on our assessment that letting them in will help us.

4: Positive assessments are “useful job skills” (merely having a college degree doesn’t count) and “brings lots of money to invest in the US.”

5: “Unwillingness to assimilate to US cultural norms” (think “go Red Tribe!” here, not SF / LA / NY cultural “norms”) is a major down check.  If you want to keep your old culture, stay in your old country.

6: No “sanctuary cities” may receive any Federal funds.  For anything.  Education, law enforcement, grants, health care, doesn’t matter.  If you’re not willing to help arrest and deport every single person here illegally, no Federal $$$ for you.

That seems like a good start.  And I bet we would get 70%+ support for just about every one of those.