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10 August, 2018

Taiwan's Past Matters Less Than Taiwan's Present

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The time was, sir, when we loved the King and the people of Great Britain with an affection truly filial. We felt ourselves interested in their glory. We shared in their joys and sorrows. We cheerfully poured the fruits of all our labour into the lap of our mother country, and without reluctance expended our blood and treasure in their cause... We felt ourselves happy in our connection with her, nor wished it to be dissolved; but our sentiments are altered. 
Malden, Massachusetts "Statement of Independence" (1776)

But admitting, that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing!
Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)

United States Naval War College professor Lyle Goldstein has an uncharacteristically snide piece out in the National Interest this week. His piece is a response to an earlier essay by Gordon Chang that the National Interest published the week previous. At issue is the posture the American people should take towards the inhabitants of Taiwan. Let's quote the section that drew my attention:
Chang and I do somehow agree on a few things, however. We are evidently in agreement that “… war can start over Taiwan.” We both apparently assess that “… the People’s Republic [of China is not] … the Third Reich …” Our geographical reckoning is likewise similar enough that he does admit that Taiwan is indeed “on the other side of the planet.” He even concedes that “At one time, the leaderships of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China were linked by the same race, culture, and language.”

The last point is actually a rather powerful statement, considering that identities are not “constructed” overnight (even allowing for their considerable malleability). Indeed, that fact of history flies in the face of Chang’s bizarre claim that the Taiwan issue is not a “family quarrel” as I put it in the penultimate line of my original piece. Indeed, he reveals what many Taiwan nationalists would like to cover up and what few Americans seem to know: that to the present day, “… Taipei formally maintains it is the legitimate government of China.” Chang’s claim that this is not a “family quarrel” is nonsensical based on his own candid admissions. One may sympathize with the aspirations of the people of Taiwan to control their own destiny, of course, but the polls Chang cites cannot change the above facts of modern history.


And yet since the vast majority of Americans are completely unfamiliar with Taiwan history—quite understandably given it’s on the other side of the planet—let’s review a few basic points that are always omitted from standard pro-Taiwan independence polemics, such as Chang’s. After Ming remnants fled to Taiwan in the mid-seventeenth century, the ascendant Qing dynasty invaded the island and solidified Chinese rule in 1683. In other words, Beijing formally ruled Taiwan for almost a century before the American Revolution. That makes for a rather strong historical claim. Speaking of historical claims to territory, Americans probably do not want to delve too deeply into the details surrounding certain American annexations like Hawaii. It’s best to probably leave those bones where they are buried.


In 1895, not many years after the Chinese government designated Taiwan as its own province (separate from Fujian Province), Japan conquered the island. As a colony of Tokyo, many Taiwanese tragically fought and died for the losing Japanese side in the Pacific War. The bottom line, as our great President Harry Truman realized and stated unequivocally in early 1950 (see introduction), is that the Cairo Declaration is very clear: all territories conquered by Japan should be returned to China—including explicitly the island of Taiwan (then called Formosa). Of course, many in Japan (and more than a few in Taiwan) have nostalgia for the “good old days,” and a hint of this is indeed revealed in Chang’s critique when he states: “There are Japanese islands south of Taipei, and on a clear day one can see Taiwan’s mountains from Japanese soil.” While Japanese nationalists may sigh with emotion at such florid descriptions, Americans are rightly skeptical. What about all the Americans who suffered grave atrocities at Japanese hands and have never seen any kind of justice? Japanese nationalism and related threat inflation tendencies are unlikely to stir Americans to take massive risks for Taiwan. Then again, there is the other inconvenient fact of geography that the main islands of Japan (e.g. Kyushu) are some 700 miles northeast of Taiwan, and the soil Chang mentions with such reverence (Ishigaki island) amounts to barely a speck.


Perhaps Henry Kissinger also understood the stark fact of the Cairo Declaration when he went about the arduous but nonetheless vital process of dismantling the U.S. relationship with Taiwan during the 1970s in an effort to open formal diplomatic relations with the PRC. To conclude this historical discussion, Americans need to realize that, given Truman’s clear decision not to intervene, it was only the actions of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung in June 1950, of course, that made Taiwan into a semi-permanent protectorate of the United States. If not for that decision by Pyongyang, Taiwan’s fate would have been similar to Hainan —another sizable Chinese island. [1]
There are folks who will dispute Goldstein's historical claims point by point. I will let them strain at such gnats, if they wish to do so. Here I want to narrow in on Goldstein's larger problem.

On the eve of American Revolution, somewhere between 15% and 20% of Americans were Tories. This percentage varied by region. In places like South Carolina it is likely that one in four colonists identified more with the British government than the American revolutionaries. Their commitment to Britain should not surprise: most American colonies had been British possessions for more than a century. The free inhabitants were overwhelmingly of British stock (though the Mid-Atlantic colonies were already taking on the character of large immigrant melting pots), they spoke the English language, worshiped at the Church of England (congregationalism, another English invention, was almost as common), and praised the glories of English race and their British heritage. [2] 

Contrast this with the Taiwanese situation. As Chang reports, the percentage of Taiwanese that identify as Chinese (中国人) is comparable to the number of loyalist Americans in 1775. The percentage of Taiwanese under 35 who identify with the mainland is even smaller. It has been more than a century since the Taiwanese were ruled by the same regime as the people across the strait. Among other things, this is important because—as the generation of reformers and intellectuals that came to power in the early 1900s recognized—national identity and cohesion was extremely weak under the Qing. A strong sense of shared Chinese identity had to be built from the ground-up. Built it was, but the Taiwanese were never part of that building (Chiang Kai-shek's attempts to instill the same sense of national identity in Taiwan that he had successfully fostered in many parts of the mainland were fatally undermined by the massacres and terrors that accompanied them; even the imposition of the Mandarin language upon the populace, the symbol of modern Chinese national identity par excellence, is slowly being rolled back). The nature of the institutions that divides the two places is stark. The gap between the political values and practices of modern Taiwan and modern China is far and away more different than those which divided the Americans from the British in 1775.

Goldstein privileges historical precedent and cultural kinship above all else. As an American, he should know better. If historical precedent and cultural kinship truly did decide the fate of nations, America would not exist. By these standards very few modern countries would exist. The national identities, borders, and ideologies of the majority of states on this earth are 20th century creations. Historical accident has played a grand role in the creation of these peoples and nations. Goldstein would strip the people of Taiwan of self government because their regime would not exist today except by dint of Kim il-Sung's decision to march south in the early days of the Cold War. But curious path dependency is a mainstay of international affairs. The division of the Arab world into a dozen different states, the fracturing of Gran Columbia, the existence of India as a centralized state—in all these cases and more, the borders of today were the result of arbitrary political maneuvers of decades past. The accidental nature of these borders does not make the nationalist yearnings of those whose lives are ordered by them any less real. Goldstein's cant is not too different from the declarations of that blinkered sort who call Palestinian nationalism a terrible conspiracy, for the Arabs of Palestine lacked a strong and distinct identity until recently in their history. In either case, even if the claim is true it hardly matters. We do not live in the 1940s. The world has changed in the eight decades that have passed since the victors of Second World War divvied up the world between them. Our policy towards Taiwan should reflect the realities of Taiwanese society today, not its character decades or centuries ago.

Goldstein's general attitude towards history is a bit mysterious to me. In both his editorials and his book he is fast to accuse Americans of not knowing or caring about Asia's history, but he is extremely selective in the history he chooses to call his readers attention to. [4] In this piece, his digression on Japanese war atrocities is odd and largely irrelevant to his thesis. Why is it there? One of the great accomplishments of the post-war order was the United States and Japan's ability to build a truly cooperative relationship despite the evils each inflicted upon each other years before. We are now decades past that rapprochement. Most who lived in the age of anger, fear, and racist rage that defined U.S.-Japanese relations in an earlier era are now dead.  In 2018, how could the Bataan Death March conceivably be a useful lens through which to view Asian politics?

I will not speculate about Goldstein's motives for focusing on the atrocities of Japan's imperial past, especially in an article that is ostensibly about Taiwan. I will, however, point out its consequences: Goldstein's framing obscures imperial Japan's actual relationship with modern Taiwanese identity. For fifty years, Taiwan was a part of the Japanese empire. Japanese imperialism was not destructive in Taiwan the way it was in most of the mainland. It was accompanied with little violence but a great deal of mutual trade, investment, and economic exchange. That does not make it right. But it does give substance to the notion that the Japanese occupation is just as much a part of Taiwan’s heritage as Qing suzerainty was. Even today, decades later, Taiwan has a cultural affinity with Japan that China proper does not. You see this in everything from the apps they use (e.g., the Taiwanese forgo WeChat and use the Japanese app Line instead) to the Taiwanese skill at queuing in quiet, well ordered lines. My personal impression is that the Taiwanese feel a stronger sense of kinship with the Japanese than they do with their "brothers" in mainland China. There are lots of ways to measure this (I'm partial to the LA Times writer who pointed out that one in three children books published in Taiwan are by Japanese authors), but lets stick with a financial one. After the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, Taiwanese sent $95 million dollars across the strait. In response to the Tohoku tsunami, Taiwanese donated more than $250 million dollars of relief, more than half of it from individual donations. [5] I would wager (though I admit I have not seen any polls that confirm it) that if the Taiwanese were forced to choose between a political union with Japan and political union with the mainland, they would opt for the former by a large margin.

None of this really matters to Goldstein. For him nothing a Taiwanese feels or thinks ever matters. My frustration with Goldstein is that in his strivings to understand minds in Beijing he forgets that Beijing is not the only place that gets a say in the affair. As I wrote in my review of Goldstein's book:
Goldstein is curiously dismissive of [America's Pacific] allies’ concerns. One can sympathize with the time constraints that shaped his treatment of them—a titanic amount of research was required simply to survey the existing debates inside Washington D.C. and Beijing, and it would be too much to expect Goldstein to provide a thorough survey of the debates being had in Seoul, Manila, Taipei, Tokyo, Singapore, and New Delhi as well; but this unwillingness to consider events as seen by anyone outside of Beijing or Washington leads Goldstein to bizarre places. He outright dismisses Taiwan’s 23 million citizens with the curt (and unsubstantiated) claim that those who seek to put Taiwanese opinion first in discussions of their future “lack an objective view of history, culture, and identity.” Goldstein dismisses other allies’ fears that Beijing’s growing strength might harm their interests by comparing them to children’s “talk of monsters hiding under the bed or in the closet.” Patronizing comments of this sort undermine the spirit of mutual understanding Goldstein claims is central to successful strategy for peace. Meeting China Halfway begins with an earnest appeal to not treat the Chinese with arrogance, paternalism, or undue hypocrisy. This appeal would be far stronger if he avoided these same vices when discussing the lesser powers in the region. [6]
Years later we find Goldstein making the same errors. He still does not ask and does not know how people in Tokyo, Seoul, New Delhi, Hanoi, or Taipei think about the fate he has decided for them. He writes as if their actions will not matter. He sees the world as a place to be divided between Washington and Beijing, and cannot conceive of local powers working to subvert that end. His "cooperation spiral" approach to ending Sino-American conflict assumes that these countries will do whatever the U.S. and Beijing agree on. This is lunacy. That is the real lesson of 20th century international history. American foreign policy ventures have rarely failed because Americans did not understand their enemies. They failed time and again because Americans did not understand the true interests and intentions of their allies. Goldstein would have us make the same mistake again and again.

Given all of this, the insult Goldstein decided to end his piece with is poorly chosen:
Chang wrote a book in 2001 titled The Coming Collapse of China. This asinine title causes most genuine China specialists to chuckle—though many journalists and ideologues have admittedly been quite enraptured by the notion. No doubt, the book has sold well. But American diplomats and defense officials know better than to rest strategies on proven failures of judgment. [7]
Look folks: Gordon Chang gets a lot of flack for his book. And you know what? His book was clearly wrong. But in being wrong Chang really is not that different from any other analyst. I have written about political psychologist Philip Tetlock's pioneering work in this field before. [8] The short version: the average analyst, regardless of whether he is a famous pundit, think tank bottom feeder, academic egg-head, CIA stiff, or military desk jockey, is no better at predicting the course of world affairs than a dart throwing chimp. The difference between Chang and the rest is that Chang had the gumption to make his prediction so public and so unambiguous that he cannot avoid being judged for it.

Gumption alone does not make a good analyst. Accuracy matters. But given the rate of human failure in this domain, it makes little sense to judge an analyst solely for the accuracy of his or her predictions. A better metric: a good analyst is the one learns from past mistakes. Ideally, an analyst's internal models of the world should change as the international situation does. If new inputs are not changing outputs, then they have a problem. The analyst too committed to a favorite proposition, policy, or ideology to see the world transform before him is not an analyst that deserves to be taken seriously.  

I will be honest: I have not followed Chang close enough to know if the wares he has for sale are simply old brews in new bottles. I don't know if the Party's success in overcoming one challenge to their rule after another has changed the way he understands Chinese affairs. If the events of the last two decades have not caused him to update his priors, then he deserves all the derision folks like to pile on him.

On the other hand, I have followed Goldstein quite closely over the last few years. I am disappointed to find that nothing that has happened since he published his book has caused him to reassess his policy formula. Consider what has happened in just the last year and a half: we have seen the Hong Kong's independent institutions strangled. We have witnessed the slow erosion of Hong Konger's liberties. We have seen the Party construct a surveillance state unlike anything that has ever existed in human history. Most ominously for the Taiwanese, we have learned exactly how the Party deals with provinces full of separatist ideologues. These events have raised the stakes. One searches in vain for any recognition of this in Goldstein's writings. If you want to argue that Taiwan is impossible to defend, or that this defense would create an unacceptable risk of nuclear war—well, fine, go ahead and do so. But at this point the game, any analyst who argues that the United States should retreat from the defense of Taiwan needs to be brutally honest about the fate they are consigning the 23 million people of Taiwan to.

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[1] Lyle Goldstein, "The United States Must Be Realistic on Taiwan," National Interest, 7 August 2018.

[2]  For the classic investigation of these numbers, see Paul Smith, "The American Loyalists: Notes on Their Organization and Numerical Strength," The William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 25, No. 2 (Apr., 1968), pp. 259-277

[4] On this point, see the following passage from my review of his book here:
This hypocrisy is most glaring in Goldstein’s discussions of history. Goldstein states that his “book is built on the premise that history cannot be overlooked or papered over,"(14) and to drive the point home, he devotes an entire chapter to the history of U.S.-Chinese relations, driving in on the history of U.S. imperialism in China and the psychological after effects America’s imperial presence has in the China of today. This contrasts greatly with his treatment of China’s own foreign adventurism. Goldstein’s gloss of the Sino-Indian war of 1963, for example, devotes several paragraphs to the CIA attempt to arm and train Tibetan rebels, something the Chinese still remember. What he does not emphasize in this account are the events at the center of India’s historical memory—Nehru’s generous and unilateral concessions in favor of China in the 1950s, made in hope of a new partnership between the two countries, spurned by Mao on the grounds of domestic struggle. In India this rejection of Nehru’s offers is known as the “great betrayal,” and the culmination of this “betrayal” in the surprise attack on Indian forces in 1963 still defines Indian images of China today. This history as surely as important—I would argue far more important—to the future of Sino-Indian security than the CIA’s attempts to infiltrate Tibet. It is not mentioned. Readers also learn nothing about the violent legacy of China’s cold war policies in other countries discussed, despite the that every regional single power of note either fought a war directly with China or fought an insurgency funded and trained by Beijing. Goldstein describes attempts to stoke the flame of Maoist insurgency across southeast Asia in the 60s and 70s are as “certain errors in diplomacy,”(266) but anyone remotely familiar with the countries in question know they have left much larger historical scars than this. These wars lie within living memory; their influence on contemporary Asian politics is far clearer than the early 20th century imperialism Goldstein devotes so much time to. Goldstein either does not know about this history or he does not care about it.
[5] Ralph Jennings, "Taiwan finds a lot to like about its former colonizer, Japan," Los Angeles Times 6 November, 2017; The wikipedia page has a lot of information about Taiwanese donations to Japan; my numbers for the aid to China comes from the Chinese Red Cross, who report substantially larger numbers than international media did.
[6] Tanner Greer, "#Reviewing Fire on the Water & Meeting China Halfway," Strategy Bridge, 7 November 2018.

[7] Goldstein, "The United States Must Be Realistic on Taiwan,"

[8] Philip Tetlock, Expert Political Judgement: How Good is it? How Can We Know? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006); See also Tanner Greer, "The Limits of Expertise," The Scholar's Stage, 18 January 2018; Louis Menard. "Everybody's an Expert: Putting Political Expertise to the Test.The New Yorker, 5 December 2013. 

05 August, 2018

Notes From All Over 04/08/2018 (WEIRD Catholics, Chinese Intimidation Tactics, and Human Genetics)

A collection of articles, essays, and blog post of merit.

TOP BILLING


"The Origins of WEIRD Psychology"
Jonathan Schulz, Duman Barahmi-Rad, Jonathan Beauchamp, and Joseph Henrich. PsyArXiv. 2 July 2018.
Recent research not only confirms the existence of substantial psychological variation around the globe but also highlights the peculiarity of populations that are Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic (WEIRD). We propose that much of this variation arose as people psychologically adapted to differing kin-based institutions—the set of social norms governing descent, marriage, residence and related domains. We further propose that part of the variation in these institutions arose historically from the Catholic Church’s marriage and family policies, which contributed to the dissolution of Europe’s traditional kin-based institutions, leading eventually to the predominance of nuclear families and impersonal institutions. By combining data on 20 psychological outcomes with historical measures of both kinship and Church exposure, we find support for these ideas in a comprehensive array of analyses across countries, among European regions and between individuals with different cultural backgrounds.
I have a hard time containing my praise for this paper. It is long--almost 100 when the bibliography is added on--but it is one of though most thorough and compelling pieces of historical social science I have read. The statistical tools Schulz et. al. use are as simple as they come, but these fellows found so many independent ways to measure the things they are interested in (differences in both psychology and family structure of global populations) that it is very, very difficult to pick apart their argument. This is a model of clever social science research design.

 It is also one answer to a set of questions that have been dodging political economists, historians, and comparative sociologists for the last two decades. I do not think this study closes the book on the question of "Why the West over the Rest?," but any new research in the field will be required to deal with Schultz et. al.'s results.

"When Rio Tinto Met China's Iron Hand"
Kit Chellel. Franz Wild. David Stringer. Bloomberg. 12 July 2018.

How should a company respond when Chinese policemen have thrown your executives in jail and Chinese hackers have stolen $1 billion from your coffers? Like this, I suppose:
Albanese and another Rio executive met in London with Chinese ambassador Fu Ying. “You embarrassed China and China’s people in front of the world,” Fu told them, according to two people familiar with the conversation. But she offered them a way forward, however vague: Show the people of China Rio Tinto’s human side, and build a more cooperative relationship.

"Can We Please Have Science Without the Science Journals?"
Pascal Boyer. Cognition and Culture. 27 June 2018.

Related: David Cyranoski, "Top Chinese University to Consider Social Media Posts in Researcher Evaluations," Nature (18 October 2017).


THE REPUBLIC

"Trump Diary: Cortisol Politics."

David Auerbach. Waggish. 8 July 2018.
Opposition to Trump personally has become the unifying thread. Standard Republican policies are far more terrifying under the auspices of Trump than they otherwise would be. 
Even more remarkable than Trump’s grip on his supporters is his hold on his opponents. I lived through the terror and paranoia following September 11, 2001, and I swore to myself never to fall into such a mental trap again. In this country, such mass hysteria hasn’t happened again among the left until now, and social media has amplified it tenfold. Compared to the ravages of the Iraq War, the human consequences of the Trump administration have been comparatively small so far. 
There is much ink and breath spilled on why Trump has already exceeded Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld’s worst excesses. He hasn’t. The Global War on Terror, and the Iraq War in particular, have had far-reaching and deeper consequences than anything Trump has yet achieved. This could change in a day: nuking North Korea or rounding up immigrants en masse could immediately propel Trump into the front ranks of tyrants. But the opposition’s inability to gauge threats, reacting to everything from the North Korea “summit” (a joke, mostly) to ICE abuses (terrible) to Anthony Kennedy’s retirement (lousy, but far from the worst of our problems) with identical (or indistinguishable) levels of fear and doomsaying. 
...Trump’s charisma exacerbates what I call Cortisol Politics, the basing of politics on the lowest instinctive fight-or-flight reactions of the brain. Trump has caused everything to seem like an emergency. Much of the right already felt this way thanks to the efforts of Rush, Hannity, and Fox over the last 20 years. Now the left feels that way too.
"Why Identity Politics Benefits the Right More than the Left"
Sheri Burman. The Guardian. 14 July 2018.
...Perhaps because straightforward bigotry has declined precipitously while more subtle, complex resentments remain, understanding how intolerance shapes politics requires examining not just beliefs, but also the relationship between beliefs and the environments people find themselves in. This distinction has important implications for how we interpret and address contemporary social and political problems. 
Rather than being directly translated into behavior, psychologists tell us beliefs can remain latent until “triggered”. In a fascinating study, Karen Stenner shows in The Authoritarian Dynamic that while some individuals have “predispositions” towards intolerance, these predispositions require an external stimulus to be transformed into actions. Or, as another scholar puts it: “It’s as though some people have a button on their foreheads, and when the button is pushed, they suddenly become intensely focused on defending their in-group … But when they perceive no such threat, their behavior is not unusually intolerant. So the key is to understand what pushes that button. 
What pushes that button, Stenner and others find, is group-based threats.

THE MIDDLE KINGDOM

"Spy For Us — Or Never Speak To Your Family Again"

Megha Rajagopalan.  BuzzFeed News. 9 July 2018.

Related: Charles Rollet, "In China's Far West, Companies Cash in on Surveilance Program that Targets Muslims," Foreign Policy (13 June 2018).

"How E-Commerce is Transforming Rural China"

Fan Jiayang. New Yorker. 23 July 2018.

"Payment due: Pacific islands in the red as debts to China mount"
Charlotte Greenfield and Jonathan Barrett. Reuters. 30 July 2018.

"民主到底是个啥?"
Communist Youth League. Bilibili Video, 17 March 2017.

In case you were wondering what Communist Youth League propaganda looks like in the 21st century... now you know.

HISTORY & THE HUMAN SCIENCES

The Insight
Razib Khan and Spencer Wells have created an excellent podcast on human genetics they've named The Insight. Their topics range from behavioral genetics to the future of genetic technology, but I include the podcast in this category because many of their most interesting episodes have to do with historical and population genetics. Historical genetics is sweeping away many traditional takes on ancient history. These two are a superb guide to this genomic revolution. I recommend the following episodes in particular:

Barbarian Genetics
The Evolutionary Importance of Mothers and Grandmothers
Genetic States of America
The Genetics of China, Han, and Beyond
Paradise Lost

Review of Zhao Dingxin. The Confucian-Legalist State: A New Theory of Chinese History.
Yuri Pines. Early China, vol 39. (2016) pp 311–320.

This is an accurate, but vicious review of Zhao's book. Writing a social science based account of Chinese history that Pines cannot tear to smithereens would be a very good life-goal.

"Material security, life history, and moralistic religions: A cross-cultural examination" 
Benjamin Purzycki, et. al. PLoS ONE vol 13, iss 3. March 2018.

This paper looks like it is the final nail in the "life history" theories of religious behavior (if you don't know what "life history approaches" mean, read the lit review section of the paper carefully; it is a cogent introduction).

"Behavioural variation in 172 small-scale societies indicates that social learning is the main mode of human adaptation"
Sarah Mathew and Charles Perreault.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 282, iss 1820. 7 July 2015.
Cultural history has a larger effect than ecology in a majority of the traits in the categories of technology and material culture, marriage and family organization, economic organization, ceremonies and rituals, supernatural beliefs, kinship system, political organization, warfare, settlement patterns and sodalities (figure 2a). Conversely, the effect of ecology is larger than that of cultural history in a majority of the traits related to subsistence. Cultural phylogeny is a stronger predictor than ecology for a majority of the traits in all categories of traits, except for technology and material culture, and subsistence (figure 2b). It is also a stronger predictor than spatial distance for a majority of traits in all categories (figure 2c). Finally, ecology is a stronger predictor than spatial distance for a majority of traits in all categories (figure 2d)…. The results indicate that behaviours can persist over millennia within a cultural lineage. We detected a positive effect of cultural history at every phylogenetic level, including the deepest level, phylum. This is striking, since phylum divides the tribes into two groups, Na-Dene and Amerind, a split that may be as old as 15 000 years.

The results also suggest that groups diverge linguistically more rapidly than they do behaviourally… The importance of Levels 6 and 7 imply that the behavioural repertoire of a tribe is strongly influenced by that of its ancestors that lived hundreds (if not thousands) of years ago. Levels 6 and 7 may represent shared ancestry more than 1000 years ago. For instance, the speakers of Salishan languages share a common ancestor at Level 6 and may have begun to diverge about 3000 years ago…The fact that cultural phylogeny has a stronger effect than spatial distance on the presence of behavioural traits indicates that learning from group members is a more important process than learning from members of other groups.
"The Social Dynamics of Sorcery"
William Buckner. Traditions of Conflict. 6 July 2018.

See also: William Buckner, "A Tale of Sorcery and Marriage Among the Gebusi," 9 June 2018.

NATURAL SCIENCES

"After Last Year's Hurricane, Carribean Lizards are Better at Holding on For Dear Life."
Ed Yong. The Atlantic. 25 July 2018.

This is a dramatic example of evolution in action. Original paper here.

MILITARY AFFAIRS


"Meet the Navy’s new ‘mothership’ that fights with unmanned drones and vessels"
Aqil Haziq Mahmud. Channel News Asia. 6 June 2018.


"The Spy Who Drove Me"
Julia Ioffe. GQ. 24 July 2018.

"Behavioral Consequences of Probabilistic Precision: Experimental Evidence from National Security Professionals” 
Jeffrey Friedman, Jennifer Lerner, & Richard Zeckhauser. International Organization. 2017. pp. 1-24

BOOKS, LITERATURE, & THE ARTS

"Pos Shawarma: On Avengers Infinity Wars"
Aaron Brody. LA Review of Books. 2 May 2018.

"What Makes a Story Wuxia? The Grace of Kings vs. The Black Trillium""
"Sarah K." Notes That Do Not Fit. 25 May 2018.