Monday 24 August 2009

Afternoon roundup

  • Kanazawa asks whether the Russian tradition of children taking the father's middle and last name suggests something about Russia:
    The widespread practice of patronyms in Russia suggests that Russian men have historically had greater needs to be convinced of their paternity than men elsewhere (all of whom suffer from a degree of paternity uncertainty to begin with). Why is this? There are at least three (mutually nonexclusive) reasons for Russian men's greater needs to be convinced of their paternity. It could be: 1) Russian men's paternal investment was particularly more valuable, possibly because of Russia's hostile environment (Note that both Iceland and Russia are in very cold climate); 2) Russian men, for some reason, have had inherently lower motivation to provide paternal investment in their putative children; and/or (potentially precipitated by the fact that) 3) Russian women have historically been more likely to cuckold their husbands, by being more likely to have extrapair copulations and pass on their resultant offspring as their husbands'.
    I love that Kanazawa is always willing to go the extra mile in applying rat choice and evolutionary biology.

  • Odd forms of collateral in Italy.

  • The AIDS Healthcare Foundation sues porn producers in a bid to have condoms mandatory in pornographic films under health and safety legislation. HT: BoingBoing. Never mind that the industry already has effective self-regulation: abstract of Alexandre Padilla's relevant research below.
    This paper analyzes how self-interest and long-term profit expectations provided the necessary incentives for the adult film industry to self-regulate and to find mechanisms to minimize the risks of HIV outbreaks that could result from the asymmetric information and network effects that characterize the industry. With the help of the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation (AIM), the adult film industry developed a corporate culture to facilitate widespread coordination among members and to make the industry similar to a private club. First, I discuss the predicted effects of asymmetric information and network-effect problems on the industry in terms of HIV outbreaks. Second, I tell the story of AIM and present the policies the industry has adopted since AIM's creation to mitigate those predicted effects. In particular, I discuss how the industry managed the 2004 HIV outbreak without government intervention. Finally, I present statistics comparing HIV infection rates in the industry and general population as well as additional observations to assess the relative effectiveness of the industry in preventing and containing HIV outbreaks.
    Padilla further notes that mandated condom use would eliminate mandatory HIV tests as they then would constitute an unfair and illegal employment condition; much of the industry would be driven abroad or underground. In all those cases, the AIDS situation is worsened by regulation.

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