Notes From All Over: Communists, Partisans, and P-Values

Notes From All Over: A collection of recently published articles, essays, reports, or blog posts of merit.


This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like
Megha Rajagopalan. Buzzfeed (18 October 2017).

In the countryside, if you get even one call from abroad, they will know. It’s obvious,” said R., who agreed to meet me in the back of a trusted restaurant only after all the other patrons had gone home for the night. He was so nervous as he spoke that he couldn’t touch the lamb-stuffed pastries on his plate. 

In March, R. told me, he found out that his mother had disappeared into a political education center. His father was running the farm alone, and no one in the family could reach her. R. felt desperate. 

Two months later, he finally heard from his mother. In a clipped phone call, she told him how grateful she was to the Chinese Communist Party, and how good she felt about the government. 

“I know she didn’t want to say it. She would never talk like that,” R. said. “It felt like a police officer was standing next to her.”
Since that call, his parents’ phones have been turned off. He hasn’t heard from them since May.

How China Shapes the World: An Introduction to United Front Work
 Peter Mattis. Linkedin (22 September 2017).

Should We Redefine Statistical Significance? A Brains Blog Roundtable
John Schwenker. Brains Blog (2 October 2017).

What should be the scholarly response to the growing sense, among scientific researchers and the lay public alike, that scientific publications are not trustworthy — that is, that the report of a statistically significant finding in a reputable scientific journal does not in general warrant drawing any meaningful conclusions? 

A new paper in the journal Nature Human Behavior proposes a simple but radical solution: the default P-value threshold for statistical significance should be changed from 0.05 to 0.005 for claims of new discoveries. 

The paper has dozens of co-authors, many of them quite distinguished. Given both the importance of the topic and the attention that the paper has already generated, it seemed worth organizing a discussion of the paper here at Brains…..


Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?”
Benoit Denizet-Lewis. New York Times Magazine (11 October 2017).

Selina Zito. New York Post (30 September 2017).

Nothing Divides Voters Like Owning a Gun
Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy. New York Times (5 October 2017).

If you want to know who an American citizen voted for, ask them this question: does knowing that people around are armed make you feel more or less safe? This issue is so divisive because both sides of the question are convinced that the other side is trying to make them less safe. 

Related: The Partisan Divide on Political Values Grows Even Larger,” Pew Research Center (5 October 2017)


There is a lot of analysis coming out of the big Beijing hoopala this week, but I have not had time to separate out the wheat from the chaff yet. Those will appear in next month’s “Notes.”

The Resistible Rise of Xi Jinping
“Special Correspondent.” Foreign Policy (26 October 2017).

Related: Joseph Torigiani,”The Shadow of Deng Xiaoping on Chinese Elite Politics,” War on the Rocks (20 January 2017).

The Kowtow
Michael Reddell. Croaking Cassandra (5 October 2017).

This is a good follow up on the New Zealand fracas discussed at the Stage last month.

Related: Jichang Lulu, “New Zealand: United Frontlings,” Jichang Lulu (21 September 2017).

Ideas and Ideologies Competing for China’s Political Future
 Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Mareike Ohlben, Simon Lang and Bertram Lang. MERICS report no. 5 (October 2017).

This deserves to be read carefully. There are many hidden nuggets inside it!

Book Review: Taming the Dragon
Jaideep Prabhu. Chatarunga (1 October 2017).

How People Across Asia View China
Laura Silver. Pew Research Center (16 October 2017).

South Korean public opinion has seen sharps swings against China since the last time these questions were polled in 2016. Then much smaller number of respondents believe that the People’s Republic of China was a military threat to their nation, or that China’s rise was bad for their country. Now a commanding majority affirms the first contention; a smaller, but still substantial, majority affirms the second.

Savant level insight is not needed to guess the source of this change.


Europe Slams Its Gates: A Foreign Policy Investigative Report
Foreign Policy (4 October 2017).

Especially interesting was Part I, Ty McCormick’s “The Paradox of Prosperity“:

….a false but largely ignored assumption upon which the EU’s entire plan to use development to fight migration is premised: Better jobs and more income, at least in the short and medium term, don’t typically relieve migratory pressures in desperately poor countries; they increase them, a fact that is well-documented by economists….. The notion that someday there might be a well-paying job for him right here in Mali — the kind of job envisioned by EU policymakers — struck him as unlikely. If one suddenly appeared, though, Traoré knew exactly what he would do: “I would save money and go to Europe.”

This Tiny Country Feeds the World
Frank Vivanio. national Geographic. Sep 2017.

The Netherlands is a small, densely populated country, with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile. It’s bereft of almost every resource long thought to be necessary for large-scale agriculture. Yet it’s the globe’s number two exporter of food as measured by value, second only to the United States, which has 270 times its landmass. How on Earth have the Dutch done it?


Interview with Professor Sir Michael Howard
Michael Howard. Institute of Historical Research (5 June 2008).

A fascinating set of observations from the late Michael Howard, ranging from the differences between British and American academia, the intellectual history of “war studies,” and how the discipline of history changed from the days when he first began (in the 1930s) to the decade that he was interviewed in.

Labour repression & the Indo-Japanese divergence
“Pseudoerasmus.” Pseudoerasmus. (2 October 2017).

This essay pops all sorts of historical myths, reaching far beyond what its title may suggest. Economic and comparative history at its best.

World Economic History: Syllabus (Fall 2017)
Anton Howes, Medium (27 September 2017)

Related: Antone Howes, “Why Study Economic History?,Medium (27 September 2017); Melanie Meng Xue, “Topics in Economic History: Chinese Economic History (Fall 2017).”

From Wannabe Redcoat to Rebel: George Washington’s Journey to Revolution

Geoff Smock, Journal of the American Revolution (16 October 2017).


The Costs of Suppression
Stumbling and Mumbling (11 October 2017).

Command of the Littorals—Insights from Mahan
B.A. Friedman, Strategy Bridge (10 October 2017).

Anatomy of a Moral Panic
Maciej Cegłowski. Idle Words (21 September 2017).


Why fake islands might be a real boon for science
Emma Marris. Nature. (4 October 2017).

The sea steaders have already accomplished much more than I thought they ever would.

New Evidence for How Birds Took to the Air
Helen Briggs. BBC (10 October 2017).

Alternate title: “New Evidence for How Dinosaurs Took to the Air.”

Science and Chinese Somatization.”
Shayla Love. Undark (10 October 2017)


Moni Mohsin. Economist: 1848 (October/November 2017).

Moni Mohsin asks: what contemporary society most resembles the world of Jane Austen’s novels? The answer, she says, is clear. Pakistan.

At the End of the Quest, Victory
W.H. Auden. New York Times (22 January 1956).

Literary giant W.H. Auden pens a remarkable review of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings. 

Related: Daniel Nexon, “Tolkein’s Map,Lawyers, Guns, and Money (20 October 2017).

This is easily the best Intelligence Squared debate I have ever seen.


A Generic College Term Paper
Jon Wu. McSweeneys. (October 2014).

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I would have thought the demographic surge in Sub-Saharan Africa is precisely why Europe will close its borders: otherwise Europeans (as in folk of European descent) become a minority in Europe. Nor is there any reason to think the social infrastructure of prosperity is indefinitely malleable. (The experience of the Anglo-Settler societies is not counter evidence, as they took steps to minimise the disparities between existing residents and newcomers. Nor are East Asian states, as they are not migrant societies.)

"The Kowtow"
Michel Reddel. Cooking Cassandra (5 October 2017).

Thanks for the link. Any chance of correcting the description to "Michael Reddell" and "Croaking Cassandra"?