Oh, the things people will do when they are horny

In high school, I read a book on behavioral economics called Predictably Irrational. It’s by a pretty popular figure within behavioral economics named Dan Ariely[W]. I liked the book a lot. He basically goes through a few different studies he’s done over time and shows how humans behave under different circumstances, as well as various things companies could create to help calm irrational people down.

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The Doll Tests

In the era of Brown v. Board, a series of experiments were presented in order to prove the harmful effects of segregation on black children. The design was thought up by Kenneth and Mamie Clark: essentially, they used multiple dolls of different races and asked students in segregated schools to pick which doll they preferred. What they showed was that black children were more likely to pick the white dolls over the black dolls (Clark and Clark, 1947). While this set of studies was not fundamental in the Brown v. Board case, they are probably the most well known part of it. This is despite the test being very bad.

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Correlates of discriminatory behavior

In this post, I am going to go over a number of different predictors and correlates of discriminatory behavior and prejudiced behavior, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. The main topics discussed will be personality correlates of discrimination, cognitive functioning of people who are more discriminatory towards others, and the heritability of discrimination.

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Psychedelics Don’t Cause Psychosis

The main thing that people fear from psychedelics, aside from the harms of intensely bad trips (which can be prevented through proper drug education, instead of constant fear mongering), is that these drugs allegedly cause people to develop psychotic symptoms. Given my positive view on drugs on Twitter and in other blog posts, you can probably, correctly, guess I think this is BS.

I didn’t want to go and describe the details of all the studies on this, so here’s a table of some larger studies I’ve known of. Basically, once you control for familial risk factors, usage of other drugs, etc. the effect disappears. Considering psychedelics are a good way of dealing with most of these problems, I see no problem with the usage of these controls. Some may criticize that not all of this research is directly related to psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia. Sure, but the fact that psychedelics decrease violence and mental health problems is surely decent evidence for now.

Johansen and Krebs, 2015Massive study (N > 130,000) found psychedelic usage was not associated with mental health problems like suicidal behavior, depression and anxiety, etc. when controlling for sociodemographics, other drug use and childhood depression.
Nesvag et al., 2015Replies to last study and argues they over-adjusted in their methodology. The authors argue the study should be done with a different sample to provide accurate results. [note on this paper at bottom]
Hendricks et al., 2015aUsage of main psychedelic substances was associated with significantly reduced likelihood of past month psychological distress, past year suicidal thinking, past year suicidal planning, and past year suicidal attempts.
Hendricks et al., 2015bPsilocybin usage provides benefits expanded upon in last source
Ajantaival, 2014“No independent association between any recency of any psychedelic use and increased likelihood of past month psychological distress, past year suicidality, or everyday impairment was found. A decreased likelihood for past year suicidal thinking was found among all groups that had last used psychedelics >12 months ago or psilocybin <1 month ago, as well as for past year suicide plans and past month serious psychological distress among those whose last psychedelic use was psilocybin >12 months ago.”
Strassman, 1984Existing evidence at the time was incredibly weak. From what was available, it appeared the best studies showed very low adverse reactions to the drugs while the worst studies, which often featured participants with already negative characteristics taking drugs which we of unknown purity, showed the largest effects.
Hendricks et al., 2018Psychedelic usage was associated with lower criminality within the general population.
Walsh et al., 2016Psychedelics decreased likelihood of committing domestic abuse against one’s intimate partners.
* Hendricks et al. (2015b) argues this same critique can be applied to all of the research finding an effect opposite to Johansen and Krebs (2015). They agree this is definitionally overadjustment, but that a lot of evidence shows that failure to control for these things are a failure to control for some suicide risk factors. Therefore, they believe this control is not inappropriate or actually represents true overadjustment bias.


Psilocybin, IQ, and the Stoned Ape Hypothesis

A while back, I wrote a post discussing the potential for psychedelics to increase intelligence. There are many reasons this is of particular interest. For one, we have been looking for an “IQ pill” for a long time now with no luck. The main choices are nootropics like modafinil, Adderall, etc. Unfortunately, these don’t seem to work too well. Second, there are obvious benefits to a higher IQ, particularly in the labor market (Gwern, 2016; Strenze, 2015; Salgado and Moscoso, 2019). Third, as I will talk about shortly, even a very small, but significant increase in intelligence due to psilocybin may have some interesting implications for the so-called Stoned Ape hypothesis.

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Are Presidents More Controversial in Their Second Term?

An interesting study idea I had. Would not be difficult to do. Essentially, the hypothesis is that presidents are more controversial in their second term because they don’t have to worry about re-election. One additional prediction could be that this association increased after FDR’s presidency because it was made law that presidents couldn’t take more than two terms. A reason this might not be as strong is that George Washington’s precedent was strong enough to dissuade anyone else from taking more than two terms anyways.

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What is the proper interpretation of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study?

The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study was a long project dedicated to directly measuring the influence of shared environment on the racial gaps in intelligence. The original paper about it came out in 1976 and the authors hypothesized that socialization in favorable environments would significantly reduce the racial gap in IQ (Scarr and Weinberg, 1976). At that point, the data did suggest an environmentalist hypothesis regarding race differences, however it was revisited by the authors in 1992, an event which caused much more controversy regarding the results. While the authors still supported an environmentalist position (Weinberg et al., 1992), their data brought a number of replies. In this post, I am going to summarize the main arguments used by the authors and review the replies as well as the authors’ responses to those replies.

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Psychedelic Usage May Boost Intelligence

Recently, I posted a couple studies on Twitter which suggested long-term ayahuasca use increased intelligence.

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