I summarize 2018 as a successful year and discuss what works and what doesn't with my blogging: it's getting better but higher ambitions and awareness of a bigger audience means I still write much less efficiently than I could be. Read more (6 min, 1800 words).
We have a tendency to feel that ideas are mutually exclusive even when they aren't. Sometimes this is because their indirect implications clash with each other, giving us the impression that they clash themselves. Read more (7 min, 2000 words).
I make a Charge-of-the-Light-Brigade-style attempt to reclaim the words Liberal, Progressive and Conservative as terms to describe my political attitude. Read more (6 min, 2000 words)
I pick apart the concept of racism and find out that it's a self-driving cycle, a knot in idea-space, a bag of unrelated phenomena and an ideology that shares important properties with consciousness, intelligence and explosives. Read more (32 mins, 10700 words.)
I review the book Hit Makers and go on about how it loses its point in a sea of storytelling . Read more (10 min, 3300 words).
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).