Tatyana Deryugina (Twitter: @TDeryugina)

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Posted 29 Jun 11 by Tatyana in News
I just saw a story claiming that TSA agents are developing cancer from working near the body scanner machines and that the TSA is covering it up. Personally, I do wonder about the cost/benefit of the scanners. Of course, cancer "clusters” could be random, and the article didn’t mention anything about statistical testing. It also made the following statement: "Of course, if TSA workers who are merely standing near the scanners are already developing cancer, frequent flyers are also putting themselves in harm’s way by standing directly inside the radiation-firing machines.”


Posted 23 Jun 11 by Tatyana in Science
There is direct evidence that endorphins are released following a period of strenuous exercise. What it takes for endorphins to be released is unclear (and probably varies from person to person), but the consensus seems to be that the body has to cross over some threshold of strain before endorphins are released. I’ve certainly experienced this myself (I think). The first two miles or so of my recent runs are usually pretty tedious and unpleasant.  I get tired and want to stop. Sometimes I get side pains. But then I start feeling better and am able to run another three miles without significantly slowing down. I’ve never gotten side pains during the second part of a long run (and it’s not because I selectively stop running). So I do think the time-delayed endorphin release is real.


Posted 22 Jun 11 by Tatyana in Musings on Economics
Last month’s Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization has an interesting article titled "Hayekian anarchism”. I’m reposting the abstract below, but here’s the punchline: "Hayek should have been an anarchist.”


Posted 19 Jun 11 by Tatyana in General
I’ve been a subscriber of Scientific American (paper, not online) for several years. For various reasons, I decided to stop subscribing to it and look for another source of detailed science news (one that went into more technical detail than the Economist’s Science and Technology, SciAm or Discover). After finding various potential candidates, I decided to square them against each other in an RSS Feed War. The best one gets a print subscription from me. After subscribing to the feeds, I realized that a paid subscription may prove redundant. 


Posted 12 Jun 11 by Tatyana in General
 I have to admit that although I first heard the terms "Sunni Muslims” and "Shia Muslims” years ago, I never bothered to figure out what the differences between the two sects of Islam were. Recently I finally sat down and looked it up. Turns out, the differences aren’t major. But the origins of the sects are pretty interesting – they arose over a disagreement about who should succeed Muhammad, someone elected by the the people or a blood/undemocratically chosen heir. You can find the details here. Here’s a nice chart with the major differences in beliefs between the two.  


Posted 08 Jun 11 by Tatyana in General
 For those who have heard that scientists in the 1970′s believed a new Ice Age was imminent, I recommend reading this article, which investigates what the true consensus was back then. To give away the punchline, the title of the article is "The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus”. It’s non-technical and very well-written.  


Posted 28 May 11 by Tatyana in Books
I finally finished reading "Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer, where he documents his quest to win the US Memory Championship (even though the quest starts out with a less ambitious goal).  It was a very easy to read and contained a lot of interesting facts. For one, I had no idea that memorization was such a big part of life in ancient times. When you think about it, it makes sense – many people didn’t know how to read and those who did couldn’t afford to own every book. But I never really thought about it.


Posted 21 May 11 by Tatyana in Books
I just finished reading "Poor Economics” by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, both MIT economics professors. The book was amazing and I highly recommend it. In summary, it is an excellent, evidence-based discourse about the behavior of the poor and the policies that work and don’t work to improve their lives. Abhijit and Esther cover how the poor make decision about how much to save, eat, and spend on their children’s education, why so many poor households run businesses but don’t become rich, and how political institutions can be improved.


Posted 19 May 11 by Tatyana in Verisimilitudes
I was going to start an original series on "verisimilitudes”, ideas that appear true and persist in popular or even scientific beliefs, but are actually false. When I started researching a few myths, I realized that there are already many other people out there writing up myths. So I decided to start by sharing and summarizing existing webpages debunking myths. If I run out of good stuff (what’s the probability of that on the internet?), I’ll start doing more original research.


Posted 15 May 11 by Tatyana in General
I was grading papers today and found out that Mississippi has the most bizarre set of alcohol laws of any state. Namely, you’re allowed to drive while drinking, as long as you’re not drunk. At the same time, most counties prohibit sales of alcohol on Sundays and there are many dry counties, where the possession of any alcohol is illegal.


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