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).
The More the Merrier
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'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).
Postmodernism vs. The Pomoid Cluster
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).
The Signal and the Corrective
The truth often lies somewhere between two opposing views. But even among people whose opinions are moderate and balanced, it matters a great deal which of the two sides come first and which is simply a moderation of the other. Read more (15 min, 3800 words)
Guest Post: Editing for All
An article I received from the future, making a passionate argument about gene editing and inequality. Read more (5 min, 1200 words)
Science, the Constructionists, and Reality
My experience studying sociology of science as an engineer was frustrating, and only later have I come to understand the fundamental differences between the sciences and the humanities and how they think of reality. Read more (16 min, 4100 words)
In Defence of Evidence Resistance
Doubting conventional wisdom doesn’t necessarily make you a conspiracy theorist - skepticism should be universal and not only applied to "legitimate targets". It’s not always irrational to not change your mind when confronted with a piece of contrary evidence, and it can sometimes even be justified to increase your confidence that you’re right. Read more (11 min, 2800 words)
Superweapon Proliferation Worries
Phrases like "fake news", "fact-resistance" and "post-truth" have recently become common. They support a narrative implying that a large segment of the population have lost contact with reality and become impervious to facts. This is a dangerous simplification that makes things worse. Read more (5 min, 1200 words)
Like how an interesting brainteaser can make someone temporarily obsessed, just seeing or hearing a short statement can sometimes cause you to spend hours arguing against it in your mind.Read more (700 words)