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).
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)
If all claims are mixtures of "is" and "ought", what does it mean to "believe" them? In practice it comes to mean endorsing models, while emphasizing the "is" aspect (and downplaying the "ought") for rhetorical purposes. Unfortunately this ruins the word for neutral, non-rhetorical use. Read more (8 min, 1900 words).
Our words' relationship to reality is far more complicated than we realize. Thus, when we say things we think we state facts but we also endorse certain uses of words. That has consequences, which causes public discourse to become a war zone where we fight for control over our common pool of mental and social equipment. Read more (13 min, 3300 words).
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)
An article I received from the future, making a passionate argument about gene editing and inequality. Read more (5 min, 1200 words)