The Internet Is Mostly Bots – The Atlantic

the latest survey, which is based on an analysis of nearly 17 billion website visits from across 100,000 domains, shows bots are back on top. Not only that, but harmful bots have the edge over helper bots, which were responsible for 29 percent and 23 percent of all web traffic, respectively.

More than 94 percent of the 100,000 domains included in the report experienced at least one bot attack over the 90-day period in Imperva’s study.

Facebook’s feed fetcher, by itself, accounted for 4.4 percent of all website traffic, according to the report

Source: The Internet Is Mostly Bots – The Atlantic

An astronomy student made a mesmerizing video of four exoplanets orbiting its host star 129 light years away — Quartz

You’re watching planets orbiting a star that’s 129 light years away, as captured by an observatory in Hawaii. Let that sink in.

The star in question is HR 8799, found in the Pegasus constellation.


Source: An astronomy student made a mesmerizing video of four exoplanets orbiting its host star 129 light years away — Quartz

Google AMP is Not a Good Thing

We’re talking about an all-powerful ad company that’s looking to explicitly break the peer-to-peer model between creator and consumer, for the singular purpose of increasing profits.

Will it make pages load faster? Sure. But we can fix that in lots of ways over time. You don’t break the peer-to-peer model of the internet because it’s annoying and in need of optimization.

Source: Google AMP is Not a Good Thing by Daniel Miessler

Ploughing On Regardless | George Monbiot

Almost all other issues are superficial by comparison to soil loss. So why don’t we talk about it?

according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world, on average, has just 60 more years of growing crops. Even in Britain, which is spared the tropical downpours that so quickly strip exposed soil from the land, Farmers’ Weekly reports that we have “only 100 harvests left”.

To keep up with global food demand, the UN estimates, 6 million hectares of new farmland will be needed every year. Instead, 12 million hectares a year are lost through soil degradation.

A paper just published in the journal Anthropocene analyses the undisturbed sediments in an 11th century French lake. It shows that the intensification of farming over the last century has increased the rate of soil erosion 60-fold.

This is what topples civilisations. War and pestilence might kill large numbers of people, but in most cases the population recovers. But lose the soil and everything else goes with it.

Source: Ploughing On Regardless | George Monbiot

The Milk Industry Lost $420 Million From a Defective Cow Gene – The Atlantic

Farmers have quadrupled how much milk a typical cow can make, but there are hidden downsides.

It started with a bull named Pawnee Farm Arlinda Chief, who had a whopping 16,000 daughters. And 500,000 granddaughters and more than 2 million great-granddaughters. Today, in fact, his genes account for 14 percent of all DNA in Holstein cows, the most popular breed in the dairy industry.

The mutation caused some unborn calves to die in the womb. According to a recent estimate, this single mutation ended up causing more than 500,000 spontaneous abortions and costing the dairy industry $420 million in losses.

That’s a crazy number, but here’s an even crazier one: Despite the lethal mutation, using Chief’s sperm instead of an average bull’s still led to $30 billion dollars in increased milk production over the past 35 years. That’s how much a single bull could affect the industry.

Chief embodies the power and the perils of selective breeding

Source: The Milk Industry Lost $420 Million From a Defective Cow Gene – The Atlantic

What has happened down here is the winds have changed – Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

the replication crisis has redrawn the topography of science, especially in social psychology

Their substantive theory is so open-ended that it can explain just about any result, any interaction in any direction.

And that’s why the authors’ claim that fixing the errors “does not change the conclusion of the paper” is both ridiculous and all too true. It’s ridiculous because one of the key claims is entirely based on a statistically significant p-value that is no longer there. But the claim is true because the real “conclusion of the paper” doesn’t depend on any of its details—all that matters is that there’s something, somewhere, that has p less than .05, because that’s enough to make publishable, promotable claims about “the pervasiveness and persistence of the elderly stereotype” or whatever else they want to publish that day.

When the authors protest that none of the errors really matter, it makes you realize that, in these projects, the data hardly matter at all.

When it comes to pointing out errors in published work, social media have been necessary. There just has been no reasonable alternative. Yes, it’s sometimes possible to publish peer-reviewed letters in journals criticizing published work, but it can be a huge amount of effort. Journals and authors often apply massive resistance to bury criticisms.

when statistical design analysis shows that this research is impossible, or when replication failures show that published conclusions were mistaken, then damn right I expect you to move forward, not keep doing the same thing over and over, and insisting you were right all along.

We learn from our mistakes, but only if we recognize that they are mistakes. Debugging is a collaborative process. If you approve some code and I find a bug in it, I’m not an adversary, I’m a collaborator. If you try to paint me as an “adversary” in order to avoid having to correct the bug, that’s your problem.

Source: What has happened down here is the winds have changed – Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

For the love of trees: The ancestors are not among us

Terms like ‘basal’, ‘early-diverging’, and ‘first-branching’ reflect persistent misconceptions about evolution and phylogenies

Moreover, the use of basal and similar terms perpetuates a large suite of misconceptions about how evolution works. So in order to communicate effectively and accurately about evolution, we must also communicate effectively and accurately about trees.

Source: For the love of trees: The ancestors are not among us

Without a library of Platonic forms, evolution couldn’t work | Aeon Essays

Some believe with the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein that mathematical truths are human inventions. But others believe with Plato that our visible world is a faint shadow of higher truths.

Nature’s libraries add another dimension to a centuries-old debate about the reality of the Platonic realm. Until now, this debate largely revolved around abstractions like the ones we find in mathematics. With the genotype networks, a new element enters: experimental science.

Source: Without a library of Platonic forms, evolution couldn’t work | Aeon Essays