My most popular posts are very long and dense, but if you’re up for that kind of thing, you can read:
- The Control Group Is Out Of Control on the weakness of a lot of modern scientific research and statistics.
- I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup on a general framework for thinking about tolerance vs prejudice.
- Toxoplasma of Rage on how the media works and why stupid topics keep coming up again and again.
- Meditations on Moloch, on…um…it’s hard to explain.
If you’re looking for something a little shorter or lighter, you can
find yourself a different blog check out for example:
- Hardball Questions I want asked at the 2016 Republican presidential debates.
- How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes, a story about that silly meme where you have to choose one of eight colored pills.
More specifically by topic:
I am a doctor and try (usually unsuccessfully) to focus this blog on medicine. I’m especially interested in the pharmaceutical system and drug discovery process, but I also write about my own experiences practicing psychiatry:
- The Life Cycle Of Medical Ideas about how people identify which promising treatments to pursue.
- Sleep – Now By Prescription, about the fuzzy border between prescription and nonprescription medications
- Fish – Now By Prescription, a continuation of the above.
- An Iron Curtain Has Descended Upon Psychopharmacology, about how Russia uses different drugs than we do and our system hasn’t found a way to incorporate their knowledge
- Pharma Virumque on pharmaceutical company advertising, and how it’s even worse than you’ve heard.
- Who By Very Slow Decay, on my depressing experiences with end-of-life care
- Evening Doc, on various others of my depressing experiences
- Medicine As Not Seen On TV, looking back after one year or medical residency
- Reflections From The Halfway Point, looking back after two years of medical residency
- Burdens, on what I want to tell my suicidal patients
My interest in drug discovery naturally segues into scientific and statistical methods in general. My longest piece on this is ‘The Control Group Is Out Of Control’, linked above, but I’ve also written about:
- Statistical Literacy Among Doctors Is Lower Than Chance on the abysmal statistical knowledge of doctors and what it means for you
- Dark Side Statistics Papers, an explanation of how to fudge research results
- Specific criticism of various sketchy studies on euthanasia, Victorian IQ, gender, welfare, and bullying
I write a lot about politics from a vaguely centrist point of view with occasional forays to the right or left. Some especially interesting political threads here include:
- A Thrive-Survive Theory Of The Political Spectrum, about whether “left” and “right” are real internally consistent things
- A Something Sort-Of-Like-Left-Libertarian Manifesto on using regulations versus taxes and subsidies to solve political problems
- Archipelago and Atomic Communitarianism on how atomic individualism can fit together with people’s concern for their communities
- Right Is The New Left, about how the same dynamics that supported the leftist counterculture of the 1960s are leading to a rightist counterculture today
- Black People Less Likely, about what we can learn from checking which fields African-Americans are/aren’t underrepresented in.
- In Favor Of Niceness, Community, and Civilization, about how just because your cause is important doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk about it.
- Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous Planet-Sized Nutshell, which is my attempt to see if I can blast several metric tons of highly concentrated conservative political philosophy into the brains of unsuspecting people.
- Slate Star Codex Political Spectrum Quiz, which is exactly what it says on the tin.
Although I acknowledge the importance and danger of racism and sexism, I also think a lot of the social justice movement as it currently exists is an attempt to sanctify ad hominem arguments and poor epistemology that can be used by a would-be cognitive elite to abuse and humiliate anyone who disagrees with them. I start the explanation in ‘I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup’, linked above, but there is more in:
- A Response To Apophemi on Triggers, about competing access needs
- Living By The Sword, which was supposed to be about toxicity in the social justice community but is better remembered more for its complicated whale cancer metaphor.
- Social Justice and Words, Words, Words about the way language gets weaponized and used as a tool to confuse people.
- The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories, about why it’s important to treat transgender individuals as their preferred gender.
- Social Psychology Is A Flamethrower, about the poor condition of the social justice evidence base.
- The Wonderful Thing About Triggers, in which I come out in favor of trigger warnings despite all of the above
Sometimes I get bored and just research the hell out of something to try to resolve a difficult question to my own satisfaction. Thus far this has resulted in cost-benefit analyses like:
- Marijuana: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on whether we should legalize marijuana.
- Wheat: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on whether wheat/bread/gluten is bad for you.
- Race And Justice: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on which steps of the criminal justice system are/aren’t racist.
- SSRIs: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on the effectiveness of SSRI antidepressants.
I’m also very interested in rationality – questions like how debates work in general and how we can conduct them better. I find the current set of logical fallacies mostly orthogonal to the way debates between smart people fail, so I have tried to do better:
- Arguments From My Opponent Believes Something, ie fully general counterarguments that don’t add anything to a debate.
- All Debates Are Bravery Debates, on how a lot of hard problems are trade-offs between two goods and debates are difficult because we can’t tell which side people are erring towards.
- Weak Men Are Superweapons and Cardiologists and Chinese Robbers, both on how straw men are less dangerous than real-but-irrelevant “weak men” that let people cherry-pick stupid examples.
- If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing With Made-Up Statistics, on how sometimes using numbers – even messy, potentially inaccurate numbers – can shed light on a problem
- Beware Isolated Demands For Rigor, on not setting impossibly high burden of proof for ideas you don’t like – plus an Old West shootout scene between Greek philosophers
I’ve also tried writing a little bit of fiction, of which I most like:
- Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person, kind of hard to explain
- Answer To Job, also kind of hard to explain
- The Study of Anglophysics, which is definitely hard to explain