Sparked by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the Volokh Conspirators have had a series of posts about Jewish attitudes towards a close relative marrying outside the tribe generally or to a black more specifically, and vice versa. One small upside to it is commenter BGates’ discovery of Goldilocks and the Three White People, a larger one is more promotion for the GSS. My GSS tip of the day is that while Firefox can’t seem to execute variable searches right now, that feature works fine in Internet Explorer. I don’t know about other browsers. Also, according to the blogger at Lying Eyes, highlighting a table in your browser and copy-pasting it in “visual mode” works just as well for the blogspot editor as wordpress. Don’t let ignorance of html get in your way of using the GSS, and for Pete’s sake don’t create jpgs of portions of tables!

It is my hope that a norm of using the GSS and similar databases becomes widespread while data-free pontificating on things that could be checked is discouraged. While on a different subject, most of what I said in these emails to Lawrence Auster applies:

“I happen to be a fan of unmoderated, messy comments threads. I even leave up spam that I find sufficiently amusing. So part of the purpose of my complaints are to push my norm (and that of Hopefully Anonymous) at the expense of others. That can be said of a whole lot of blogging though.”

Then in reply to “Ha ha, so you weren’t appealing to my social conscience. You were trying to infect me with your memes. Now I’m wise to you.”:

“You’re not the only audience. I hope for there to be a general expectation among blog readers that user input be easily facilitated. To analogize, in a competitive market when one firm begins offering a desired feature of a service people may come to complain about laggards that don’t, even if they hadn’t minded before. Popular standards can get more stringent. It is not your blog alone that I intend this norm for, but blogging in general. Actually, even that is limiting things too much. Wikipedia is probably the premier example of easy user input and while there are gripers about it, it has become more successful than I’d guess its creators originally imagined it. The alternative of “Citizendium” which Sanger I believe advocated could not have had nearly as much success. Another analogy might be to the norm of public access to data used in academic journal articles that can be used in replies (often in the same journal and even issue). Ian Ayres in Supercrunchers praises John Lott (despite his prolonged argument with him, perhaps superfluously discussed in the book) for helping establish that norm. I’m not very interested in the global warming issue, but I’m glad the Climate Audit blog is performing a similar role there. With a thousand eyes all bugs are shallow, and with networks of interaction (both cooperation and competition) whether in markets or the sciences far greater results can be achieved than through the efforts of the greatest Randian hero*.

*Haven’t actually read Rand, but often come across a sort of archetype attributed to her.”

Finally, on a completely unrelated note, what I’ve read of John Maynard Smith’s “The Theory of Evolution” is excellent. Though he’s a theorist, the material is hardly abstracted away to heights semi-average young science readers would bore of. It is an odd feeling to hear him discuss “recent advances” in molecular biology that are today’s “every schoolboy knows” kind of facts.