I use pretty pictures to illustrate how we can use many partially overlapping belief systems to get a better image of reality than any one model can offer. Read more (4 min, 1100 words).
I read The Elephant in the Brain by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson and discuss its implications for the structure of the mind (and how I was wrong about it), our tendency to value loyalty over expertise, my own blindness, and the future of institutions. Read more (27 min, 6800 words).
I've spoken before about how it's difficult to interpret texts written by people with very different background assumptions, interests and preoccupations from you. Here I experiment with enumerating my basic beliefs in the hope that it'll make the meaning of my writing more transparent. Read more (13 min, 3200 words).
It's common to hear "postmodernism" used as a snarl word against an ill-defined lump of ideas and attitudes hostile to the idea of objective truth and standards. I sympathize with this but also recognize that this is an inadequate conception of postmodernism. In this article I talk about what it is, what it's often used to mean, and how we need words to refer to vulgarized academic ideas. Read more (17 min, 4200 words).
I pick up the "hit" concept "decoupling" from my article about Sam Harris and Ezra Klein and develop it further. There are five different ways to describe it, four categories of disagreement that builds on it, three factors that determine whether someone does it or not in a given case, two ways to handle dangerours ideas, and one new ideology needed to save political egalitarianism when the importance of biology becomes undeniable. Read more (22 min, 5500 words).
My third yearly article about the Eurovision Song Contest, where I argue that the contest is set up in a way that maximizes return on investment in terms of meaning experienced in context vs. real world meaning out of context. Read more (17 min, 4300 words).
A long postmortem of the conflict between Sam Harris and Ezra Klein over Harris's podcast with political scientist Charles Murray. I explain their disagreement as stemming from differences in interpretation of the original podcast, cultural expectations and psychological tendencies. Read more (36 min, 9100 words)