Weekly Digest 7/12/18

Our ever-shifting expectations – Alex Tabarrok describes a new study in which our conception of blueness changes as the number of blue dots change. As a result, our conception of sexism and racism will also change, which is mostly good since we’ll grow less racist and sexist over time, but also can be bad since it can feel as if we’re not making progress. No doubt another way of explaining the backlash in our current political environment. (900 words)

David Sims on HBO’s new strategy – HBO is trying to become more like Netflix, by cranking out a ton of content. Inevitably, this will lower the quality of its shows. If I’m interpreting Sim’s view correctly, then he and I agree that HBO is making a big mistake. What distinguished HBO from all other networks, including Netflix is its superior content. HBO has more high-quality, prestige shows than anybody else, the key reason for its continued success. Diluting the quality to produce more quantity will make it like any other network. Trying to become like Netflix is the wrong strategy for HBO; excuse the tautology, but nobody is better at being Netflix than Netflix. (1,000 words)

“Melatonin: Much More Than You Wanted to Know” by Scott Alexander – 0.3mg is the optimal dose based on countless studies, meaning that the dosage of melatonin you take is probably too high. Anything up to 1 mg is probably still okay. Also, the melatonin cycle of teenagers is shifted later, so they sleep later and wake up later, which is why every sleep scientists recommend schools start later, to no avail. (4,650 words)

Ed Yong on future pandemics – The U.S. is the most prepared country in the world, but even its preparations are not extensive enough, especially if a disease like the 1918 influenza breaks out. Supply chains will be severely constrained when an epidemic breaks out, creating a shortage of medical equipment. Helping poor countries is probably the best way to fight zoonotic diseases, since that is where the diseases originate. Yong also notes that Trump has not yet had to deal with an epidemic and worries that Trump’s behavior will exacerbate the situation. (9,000 words)


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