Robin Hanson, back in 2008 [emphasis his]:
Discussion of the Science article on gender differences in math test variance got me thinking. Since a test score is a noisy measure of some underlying ability, an unusually high score can come either from an unusual high ability, or from an unusually positive measurement error (or both). If higher male score variance is due more to a higher male ability variance than to a higher male measurement error variance, then a high female score is more likely to be due to measurement error than is the same high male score. If so, treating the same score value as the same ability, independent of gender, as is common in school admissions, creates a bias (vs. men) in favor of high scoring, and against low scoring, women.
Robin Hanson sez:
Consider this a partial answer to Ryan Carey's request for criticism of effective altruism. A community associated with that label says it wants to promote charity as helping, and it points out how common charity patterns often fall far short of that goal. And if the main cause of falling short were ignorance or laziness, this should induce a lot more helping. But if the main cause is instead hypocrisy, then what they are mainly doing is exposing hypocrisy.
And yes, for some people exposing their hypocrisy will shame them into more effectively doing what they had been pretending to do. But for others it may embarrass them into doing less.
Also remember "The Effect of Effectiveness" by Karlan and Wood. From the abstract:
...we find that amongst recent prior donors (...), large prior donors increase the likelihood of giving in response to information on aid effectiveness, whereas small prior donors decrease their giving. (...) ...those motivated by altruism will respond positively to appeals based on evidence, whereas those motivated by warm glow may respond negatively to appeals based on evidence as it turns off the emotional trigger for giving, or highlights uncertainty in aid effectiveness.
Given their methodology, I think Karlan and Wood's conclusions should be seen as highly tentative. But then, the starkness of their reported results would seem to give good support to their methodological assumptions.
Maja Djikic and Keith Oatley say:
Recent studies have shown that reading literary fiction can prompt personality changes that include improvements in abilities in empathy and theory-of-mind. We review these studies and propose a psychological conception of artistic literature as having 3 aspects that contribute to such changes. These are that literary fiction is simulation of selves with others in the social world; that taking part in this type of simulation can produce fluctuations that are precursors to personality changes; and that the changes occur in readers’ own ways, being based not on persuasion but on indirect communication.
Fluctuations in personality comparable to those that occurred in reading artistic literature have been found when people listened to music (Djikic, 2011) and looked at pieces of visual art (Djikic, Oatley, & Peterson, 2012).
Maja Djikic, Keith Oatley and Matthew Carland say:
We tested whether the genre of a literary text (essay as compared with short story) or its artistic merit would be primarily responsible for the variability in the self-perceived personality traits that individuals experience when they read. One hundred participants were randomly assigned to read either one of eight essays or one of eight short stories, matched for length, reading difficulty, and interest. The Big-Five personality traits were measured before and after reading. Genre did not affect variability in personality. Rather, participants who judged the text they read to be more artistic reported a greater variability in their personality trait profile after reading, independently of whether the text was an essay or a short story.
Robin Hanson sez:
…we need to be able to change our nature and norms, to adapt to changing conditions. Yet we also want such changes to feel authentic, and not consciously or overtly done just to accommodate neighbors.
We become like metal that is forged by heat; we usually have a solid reliable shape, but we let ourselves be reshaped by the rare heat of great impressiveness.