Classified Ads Thread

I’m away at a conference, so no blogging today.

Instead, let’s try having people post ads. Jobs, housing, products, websites, etc.

(Personal ads okay from women and gay people; given the demographics here I don’t think it’s worth it for straight men)

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510 Responses to Classified Ads Thread

  1. Meromorphic Vixen says:

    Berkeley rationalist cishet woman, early 30s, seeking men for romantic relationships.

    This might especially be good for men who aren’t currently a part of the Bay Area SSC/rationalist crowd, but would like to be. (For people who’ve considered moving here, but balk at the difficulty of entering the social scene or coordinating housing searches etc, I would be happy to help, if we hit it off long-distance.)

    I tend toward monoamory (being in love with only one person) but I am open to polyamory within a primary, serious type partnership. I’m looking for the kind of strong connection that supports decades of flourishing collaboration, and a family with children.

    I’m currently living in a rationalist group house with close friends. That sort of life suits me well, as I’m extroverted and enjoy being around others. I have passion and intensity, a maker aesthetic, curiosity in sciences and philosophy, love of beauty in various forms, and discovering the deepness of the (non-religious) soul. I have high needs for physical touch and contact and intimacy from a lover, and this comes with a desire to give a lot of affection and love, too. I enjoy the chaos of a life filled with children and animals, several projects out for tinkering, to-do lists of adventures that inevitably grow more than they winnow. I have strong desires to find more of my place in the world and continue to self-improve, create more, read more, learn more, of all the things. I care about the typical things that rationalists care about, and I’m hoping to make impact on longer time scales.

    If this sounds something you’d like, please get in touch. I’m selective in taking people into my heart, but I actively want to reach outside of the sphere of people I know. I’m here because the local community to me skews towards people who aren’t yet at life stages for family-building or long term relationships. (And while that’s fine, it isn’t what I want now.) Okcupid dating and such isn’t a great fit either, since ideally I want someone who has all the rationalist memes and context and desire for a true rationalist community, the things that harmonize with me and my strengths. I suspect there are men in the world who want the life I want and can offer, and I’d like to find them. <3

    (Please email, I’m unlikely to check comments here.)

  2. Vadim Kosoy says:

    I am looking for people who would like to have a one-on-one email correspondence with me about Life, the Universe and Everything. The idea is replying with a frequency in the range of daily to weekly, sharing random thoughts and commenting on the other person’s random thoughts. For basic info about me and contact details, see LessWrong profile and browse my Facebook.

    Note: I am monogamously married and *not* looking for anything romantic or sexual.

  3. Sine Salvatorem says:

    I can’t believe I missed this when it was first posted, given that just today I was wishing SSC did something like this. I guess it’s to the bottom of the comments section with this one.

    I am Sine Salvatorem from Tumblr and, while I don’t comment here (I hate the WordPress login thing SO MUCH), I’ve met Scott a few times, been linked in his links posts four times (that I recall), have read every post on this blog, attended meetups, and generally kept up with SSC. I also have a blog that random people at parties recognise me from, so that’s nice.

    This is sort of a personals ad, but not a very date-y one. I just really really like hanging out with new people; ideally one-on-one. The degree to which meeting people to spend time with is quality-of-life improving for me is pretty huge, so I’m willing to go out of my way to do so, if anyone in the SF Bay Area would like to meet up with me (I can mostly transport myself).

    I am open to hanging out with pretty much anyone in a wide variety of settings. Thus far, I’ve found cafes, restaurants, and individual people’s houses to be the nicest sensory environments. I’m OK with having long winded conversations about abstruse topics or with coworking most of the time and not really saying much. I am also cool with actually going on dates with people who want to do going-on-dates, but it should be noted that I’m a lesbian.

    If you are at all interested in hanging out with a random blogger individually, please feel free to contact me! I am actually super open to being contacted and it’s hard to mess up when saying hello to me. I can be contacted via:
    -Tumblr as sinesalvatorem
    -Facebook as Alison St
    -Email as alison[dot]streete[at]
    -OkCupid as sinesalvatorem
    -Fetlife as sinesalvatorem

  4. bgaesop says:

    My newest boardgame, Cultists of Cthulhu, is available now, and contains an SSC homage in the Fungi from Yuggoth scenario. If you missed out on the kickstarter, you can get it right now with all the speed of amazon prime:

  5. angularangel says:

    I know it’s a little late, but I figured I might as well drop by and leave a link to my own forum. Its experimental, the idea being to allow large numbers of people to discuss complicated ideas and reach meaningful conclusions. Still very alpha, but you can at least see the general idea:

  6. Rebecca Friedman says:

    So, bit late, but let’s try this…

    I am a freelance editor specializing primarily in fantasy and science fiction, but good for most types of fiction (the more of a genre I’ve read, the better I am; no sex scenes please, I’d be utterly useless, and I don’t read mysteries by desperately trying to solve them ahead of the detective, so I can critique all other aspects of your mystery but not that one; that said, I have no problems at all with stuff that doesn’t quite fit in any genre, or is generally strange – I enjoy Unsong) and occasionally interesting non-fiction. My previous work includes fantasy, light romance, the variety of not-quite-fantasy where the geography and history are invented but no magic is present, superheroes, urban fantasy (you may be noticing a pattern here), military sci-fi, mysteries (usually fantasy mysteries), and “interesting nonfiction” (mostly my father’s books, that’s how I got started). Not all of this is published, but for some representative samples: Harald (see note about how I got started), Cantata (a really early one which I firmly recommend on its own merits), and Curveball (web serial superhero fiction, some of the editing I have done is in visible comments, though not all).

    My own website is here. My prices are, according to my advisers, unreasonably low, but it seemed like a good idea while I work on developing a clientele. (I might be better at editing than marketing.) I realize random online people may not be the most credible, so I have an offer to do five pages free, so you can get an idea of what you’re gonna be paying for: worst-case scenario, you still have the five pages. Contact info is on the website, and… I think that’s it!

    • Just to encourage you: I read this and was really interested! Editing is often such a thankless job – I really admire that you’re doing it. I hope you get lots of clients and flourish. 🙂 To chime in, you definitely ought to raise your prices at some point. The last time I saw someone quote a price at me, it was $1 per 100 words (which, I suppose, is close to your ‘heavy editing required’ fiction price).

      The reason you don’t have an email from me now even though I do need an editor for a sci-fi book I wrote at some point is because I realised while reading your website that I’d be an intolerably boring client, as I don’t want content comments or style comments. If you’re curious why that is: While I greatly appreciate them on a meta-level, I’m absurdly easy to discourage, and there’s a real risk that if I let people crit my work that I just won’t publish it. (Grim lesson learnt over many years of life.)

      • Rebecca Friedman says:

        Oooh. Yeah, I have a few friends like that. I’ve figured out for each individual friend how not to push their buttons, but that can take a bit, since it varies by person.

        I’ve done one job where the author only wanted meta stuff, and that was… okay? I felt a bit bad abandoning the typos, but, his call. And it was fast. But um… if you don’t want content comments or style comments, what kind of comments do you want? (Sorry if I’m prying – just, people don’t normally say what they don’t want and why, so it’s useful info for me.) Even the normal hey-this-line-is-good comments you throw in so the authors don’t accidentally cut the best bits in revision (at least without knowing it) are technically content comments, and those are the most harmless ones I know. … Typos?

        (And I might just have gotten lucky on clients, but so far I’ve found it a really nice job. Most people are really sweet, and every so often I can convince people the “support” part of the service isn’t just for show and then I get to have nice discussions about “So this is what I was trying to convey here.” “OK, I think this is why it didn’t work. If you foreshadowed a little less it would actually work way better” and so forth. Then again, I’m coming at this from a background in enjoying reading books and thinking about them, but getting twitchy about errors [especially obvious ones like typos], and if it’s not published yet and instead is being referred to me for editing, I can help fix the errors that is such a nice feeling. And then there aren’t errors and an artwork is better and the world is net better and I feel very happy. I might have picked this job for reasons. >.> )

        • Aapje says:

          Isn’t the better solution to fix the typos secretly, then?

          It seems like a very bad idea to just publish a book with a ton of typos.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            Most of what I get aren’t publication-ready books. A lot of it is intermediate drafts; sometimes people want “Do I need major rewriting” types of advice, or worse, “I know I need major rewriting, I need someone to tell me how.” Those tend to be the trickier jobs, but if someone’s going to rewrite a lot, there’s only so much use my pointing out typos is. And there are times when rewriting really is the way to go; I’ve seen successive drafts improve a lot in quality in a few cases. It really depends a lot on the individual author; some people do a lot better with it, others polish all the sparkle out. And some people are presumably in between.

            Hopefully, someone then goes over the final version and catches all the typos! But that works better if the final version is what’s being gone over – typo checks in the intermediate can help, but they won’t fix everything, especially if a lot of the material is new.

            (TL;DR – I agree it’s a bad idea to just publish a book with a ton of typos, but it gets more complicated than that.)

        • if you don’t want content comments or style comments, what kind of comments do you want? (Sorry if I’m prying – just, people don’t normally say what they don’t want and why, so it’s useful info for me.)

          Not prying at all! 🙂 Typoes, grammar issues, when something is completely opaque for grammatical reasons or when I’m using a wrong word or phrase altogether –
          e.g. I recently found out that while a lot of people instinctively understand “to fell a decision” and I grew up with people using it, it’s a Germanism that’s actually really rare in the wild and at least one of my readers had no idea what I was trying to say with it! …it took about ten people reading it before someone pointed that out to me, though, and two other readers were convinced the phrase also existed, but surveying around and Googling a bit proved we were collectively confused.

          Or if you have positive style and content comments, of course. I happily embrace those, they keep me motivated.

          I think I’m much the same way you are when reviewing a work – at least I can definitely sympathise with your enthusiasm for content and style remarks. I recently gave Maddi a bag of feedback on ver first book in the “Twisted Cogs” series and couldn’t help myself to put in some comments of the sort as well, because I genuinely think ve might benefit. (Granted, this is in part also because it was an email – if it had been chat I would have first asked. This way I just marked the section as “feel free to skip if you don’t want to hear it”.) (…okay, I also wouldn’t do that for an author I didn’t know very well, but that’s just my general shy nature. XD)

          Really happy to hear you’ve had agreeable clients so far! 🙂 I have no idea if that’s normal or not, so I’m just going to wish you luck with that streak.

          • Rebecca Friedman says:

            Huh. Interesting! I don’t think I’d ever heard that one before, myself, and I’m not actually sure what it would mean. I hear you on taking a lot of readers to find things out – I have sometimes suspected that a good bit of the difference between an editor and a good reader is that when the editor goes “Huh, that’s weird,” she actually tells the author. >.> Hence why I seem to be useful despite practically everyone in my social circles being enthusiastic readers.)

            I suspect part of the good clients is that I have been advertising pretty much just by word-of-mouth – friend-of-a-friends tend to be nice, and nice clients then refer me to further nice clients. Thank you for the good wishes, though! I hope it continues too.

  7. brettbowman says:

    Anyone looking for a roommate in-or-near San Francisco, or aware of Rationalist-friendly housing opening up in the next two months in the area? My current living situation in the city is ending and I need to find a new place to live

    • callmebrotherg says:

      I’m looking for a place too, so I’ll let you know if I find any good listings that don’t work out for me or have more than one opening (and if you find something good but which you would need to split the rent on, then please feel free to get in touch with me:

  8. gin-and-whiskey says:


    You know where; you know when.

  9. lawrence says:

    I made an app to share and listen to your favorite songs. It’s called Juicebox, and it’s basically a clone but I think much better:

    You can check out my juicebox at, or, if you want music to focus, I recommend or

    I’d love feedback or advice on this. Have fun!

  10. william_smith says:

    As this is a part of the Less Wrong blogosphere / diaspora, let’s talk Bayes’ theorem.

    (tl;dr – try out probabilistic programming, and download our product.)

    Probabilistic programming is a new technology that uses complex new inference techniques to make Bayesian reasoning native and actually efficient (for the technical crowd, look here or here to see how we can do this). It’s currently being used to do lots of cool things – like Bayesian nonparametrics, program induction, machine vision, cognitive science, et cetera.

    Our (Invrea’s) first product, Scenarios, allows you to embed the technology of probabilistic programming within an Excel spreadsheet – so a much lower barrier to entry in terms of tech. A rapid explanation: you can represent a random variable by writing a formula such as =GAUSSIAN(1, 1) in cell A1, and then later tell Scenarios to update its belief, using Bayes’ theorem, by specifying an observation, or an ‘actual’, by putting e.g. the formula =ACTUAL(3, "gaussian", A1, 1) in cell A2. Using particle Markov Chain Monte Carlo methods, we’ll automatically plot a posterior distribution over the values of A1, no matter your prior or the type of observation. (For a much longer explanation, see our blog.)

    Scenarios is currently free – but not for much longer – and you can download it here. We’re also actively hiring (in the London area), so if you can do sales, write C / Clojure / VBA, build a business, build websites, or apply Bayesian models, contact us here.

    Cheers for giving us space, Scott! We’d love to hear any questions or comments.

    • sohois says:

      What kind of people are you looking for, on the business side?

      • william_smith says:

        Bizdev talent relevant to startups, primarily – and enough sales and communication skills to balance out an admittedly tech-heavy group and product.

  11. 4gravitons says:

    Since folks are advertising blogs, I figured I’d advertise mine, at I explain quantum field theory for a general audience, clear up popular misconceptions about gravity and spacetime, cover the latest in the scattering amplitudes subfield, and occasionally get yelled at by ultraconservative string theory blogger Lubos Motl. So if any of that is of interest, come on over and take a look!

    • smocc says:

      I am enjoying your blog so far, and I find myself nodding along happily with your stuff on the nature of physics, science, and explaining.

      Granted, I am also a physics theorist, so I’m not sure I count as outreach 🙂

  12. tanuki says:

    <pedant>But these are *un*classified ads!</pedant>

    Seriously though, there is much of interest here. This is worth doing again. Thanks.

  13. neq1 says:

    My causal inference MOOC begins in about a week:

  14. beoShaffer says:

    I’m currently working as a Data Scientist in Melbourne Australia and am looking to change companies. I’ve used machine learning to greatly (>25%) increase display advertising conversion rates, and eliminated a reoccurring cost that was about on par with my salary. I’ve also constructed some major data pipelines that handle 100s of GB a day and done a number of individually smaller analysis that add up to a lot of analytical experience. Thats on top of maintaining and creating BI reports in several different programs. If you’re hiring let me know and I’ll send you my CV so you can get the whole list of buzzwords.

    • william_smith says:

      Hi beoShaffer –

      Long shot, but would you be able to answer some questions on the topic of Bayesian modelling for advertising data e.g. conversion rates? What kind of methods did you apply in the past, whether or not they were Bayesian – and would making them Bayesian be possible and useful?

      • beoShaffer says:

        Yes, minus some proprietary details. The short answer, which I might expand later, is that we started off by modeling each ad creative/image, landing page, slot we could bid on combination as being a discrete unit. We then used the beta distribution to model that units conversion rate, using increasingly unprincipled but effective (based off of cross validation) and intuitive methods to incorporate data from other units as priors. We also looked at more textbook ways of doing it, and in most cases the problem was in computing power since this was a quasi-realtime system with lots of data and far from unlimited budget. We combined this model with a proprietary approach to the many armed bandit problem that accounted for the differences between our scenario and the normal assumptions and got good results. Well actually, we also iterated the bandit strategy part of our system in tandem with the predictive part and had some fun with Monte Carlo modeling, but this is the short answer.

  15. Ella says:

    A friend and I have recently started a blog on writing fiction, particularly fantasy and science-fiction:

    Our first posts discuss style (specifically language register), alternate history, and effective plotting; planned posts will look at invented religions, magic, the process of self-publishing, and more.

    Each of us has a fantasy novel set to be published in early September. Safekeeping is a lighthearted mystery/adventure set in an imaginary early modern European country. The Sign of the Sibyl deals with two young scholars from Isaac Newton’s Cambridge who are transported a world of court intrigue and dangerous magic. More information can be found on our blog and will be updated as the books get closer to publication.

  16. trebawa says:

    I feel like there ought to be at least one gay personal ad here. Since this is AIM in the ’90s: 24/M/Seattle. I’m a software engineer and east coast transplant. If anyone wants to go hiking, talk about SSC posts, or lament the effect of postmodernism on leftism – or do any of those in the context of a date – say hi. Schelling the Bear says: “Only you can prevent an empty dating market from remaining so as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

    • Reasoner says:

      I’m straight, but I noticed that you appear to have not provided any contact information for yourself. I would recommend doing that. I’ve noticed that many people have a strange reluctance to make comments publicly on the internet.

    • Ezra says:

      I am also gay in Seattle. Message me on the SSC Discord, where I currently have this same avatar and display name?

  17. kchodorow says:

    Any programmers around?

    I’m always missing mentions on GitHub, so I made a Chrome extension to notify me when they happen. Please give it a try and let me know what you think!

  18. alysdexia says:

    can’t even comment on —what shit.

    A priest is not a father nor Kristian:

    Jews are of a religion, not a race which is Semite or nationality which is Israelite or tribe which is Ashkenazi; as such you cannot compare Jews and Arabs, halfwit.

    Forgivness and toleranty aren’t virtues but the wicked and crooked may think so.

    A theory is a proven hýpothesis.

    Don’t say “little bit”, dolt.

    Cancel the nice < niais < nescius := not-skilled presentation. Also see my rebuttal of Buddhism:

    Your "estimates of" links are broken.

    Rationalism and betterness do not lead to pacifism; rather, just-so personal biases and moods do. The wicked and crooked must die, and if you would not them die, you are wicked. I define 84% of the world who are under 115 IQ or +1 sigma retarded and ouht be genocided. This should kill every cop and most crooks, breeders, teachers, marketers, cretins, athletes, communications majors, and emotional laborers The prisons and temples can be empty. One chart in the Freakonomics series shows the correlation in the USA states between crime and religiosity and talks of unhappiness and pregnant teens and compares the trend in other countries too.

    "will" means like to, the optative auxiliary, whereas "shall" is the future auxiliary.

    Those ranks of Aaron Sorkin's hav nothing to do with the most size of a country.

    Hate isn't fear.

    There is no evil, only self-interest and randomness.

    Kristians don't exist.

    Oh yeah, I sometimes use reddit but hav been downvoted to -100 for my criticisms or attacks on the general population, and I oppose [the redundant] gay marriage like all marriage; first you mean queer, not gay, as gay is the opposite of coy; next marriage was invented to sell off young girls (brides) to breed for cattle who could be separated with after the child grew up; it isn't about love but want and ownership. As long as children cannot choose themselves, their parents, and their conditions, child birth is child abuse.

    Sorry but all theists hurt themselves, their children, and society. As I said in the first link, theists are 1000 times likelier to be prisoners. The general population is 75% theist but prisoners are 99·97% theist and American scientists are 93% atheist. (Thouh everyone is born atheist. Theistic brain defects, maybe in the OFC, then convince them by the teens to put words and causes to their conclusions.)

    Learn semicolons.

    • Skivverus says:

      …it’s as if Sidles attempted to branch out politically while on a bad trip.

      Seriously, you need to put in a bit more work on translating your perspective into commentariat-legible phrasing.

    • Fiona van Dahl says:

      Was this comment machine-generated based on a dataset of incoherent TIMECUBE rants and cringe-bad attempts at internet insult comedy?

      Did I guess right? Do I win a prize?

      (P.S. If you really do believe in everything you’ve said, think you’ve written it clearly, and don’t understand why everyone is always so hostile to your ideas – I strongly encourage you to visit a doctor or otherwise get tested, because this looks very much like mental disorder.

      I know, I know, “the truth *would* look insane to those who love lies” etc etc, but if your truth is causing discord and problems in your life and alienating the people around you, maybe it’s not because everyone else is crazy or invested in living with lies – it might be because you’re working with bad data or tools or assumptions.)

      • alysdexia says:

        My comments are often laconic to save time. Sadly I didn’t blockquote the lines in the original post that I replied to but hopefully Scott will pick up key words in the order they come up in my comment and know which line is referred to by each reply. The average halfwit couldn’t do this but would project failure or disorder in the source; but you go further and fabricate what I would say or think. Your speculative handwavey beliefs don’t matter. In other words my comment isn’t addressed to you.

    • Deiseach says:

      Kristians don’t exist

      This is true; Christians, on the other hand, do exist.

      I define 84% of the world who are under 115 IQ or +1 sigma retarded and ouht be genocided.

      You guys had to complain about Sidles (who at least has not called for mass eugenic euthanasia). That woke the Fates up and they made the Universe give us this. Troll or the nutter on the bus? Let the people decide!

      Okay, I’m leaning heavily towards “troll” because I clicked on their link to (presumably) their blog and this self-description is glorious; I particularly like the part about “linguist” given everything of their prose style and ability to spell common words correctly:

      Autymn D. C.
      ↞ mercury arc rectifier; ← pentaktina; ⋇ Godsbane and soothsayer; antitheist, dýsanghelist, indispensationalist, lingvist, misanthròpist, scientist, theosofist

      • Nornagest says:

        Maybe we can put this one in a jar with John Sidles and see if they fight.

      • alysdexia says:

        Kristians don’t exist

        This is true; Christians, on the other hand, do exist.

        ch is the fricative cluster tsh, as in church. Appeal to misspelling doesn’t rebut any argument. Neither exist.

        You guys had to complain about Sidles

        “You guys” isn’t a pronoun; “you” is singular; and everyone isn’t a guy, you malnumerate fag.

        Troll or the nutter on the bus? Let the people decide!

        Sorry but the folk are too stupid to decide and are usually wrong. Your false dilemma may be good for apologhetics or lobbying but it doesn’t work for reality.

        I clicked on their link to (presumably) their blog

        I’m one person, not a they, who has no their.

        I particularly like the part about “linguist” given everything of their prose style and ability to spell common words correctly

        It says lingvist, not linguist. Until you can read refrain from comment. Either you support what you accuse me of, shut up, or die.

        • Nornagest says:

          You must be fun at parties.

        • Deiseach says:

          you malnumerate fag

          I own the soft impeachment, ’tis true, I am innumerate

          “you” is singular

          In English as she is spoke in the British Isles, and even in the United States of America, “you” is both the first person singular and the second person plural. I will admit, I have no familiarity with your own personal dialect and its idiosyncrasies.

          It says lingvist, not linguist

          Ah, I had not recognised you were an orthographer of the style of the Messrs Weller, Senior and Junior:

          ‘Sam Weller, my Lord,’ replied that gentleman.

          ‘Do you spell it with a “V” or a “W”?’ inquired the judge.

          ‘That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my Lord,’ replied Sam; ‘I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice in my life, but I spells it with a “V.” ’

          Here a voice in the gallery exclaimed aloud, ‘Quite right too, Samivel, quite right. Put it down a “we,” my Lord, put it down a “we.”’

          Deviser of rebuttals of Kristianity, Buddhism and Judaism, inventor of new orthographies and alphabets, social reformer, moral philosopher – truly a parliament of all the talents!

          • hlynkacg says:

            I think you mean Boodism and Joodayism 😉

          • Nornagest says:

            Ƿhy ſtop at ASCII? Þere are all ſorts of fun ᵹlyphs ƿe could be uſinᵹ.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Well I considered replying in Cyrillic (not Russian or Ukrainian, just English spelled out in Cyrillic) but I thought the humor might not translate as well as the alphabet. 😉

    • sov says:

      I’m with Fiona–this post fails the Turing test.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      User has been banned indefinitely.

    • C_B says:

      I eagerly await Scott’s Timecube-style steelman rebuttal of this post.

    • Quixote says:

      Reported for advocacy of genocide. That’s a pretty clear standard.

  19. dmasceri says:

    Semi-recent graduate with Ph.D. in Structural/Civil Engineering (> 1 year). EIT Certification. Currently working as a Research Associate at a State University research center. Looking for interesting opportunities in academia, research centers, engineering (any sort), finance, or beyond.

    My background has somewhat of a three-fold path: 1) programming (Matlab, mostly, but tens of thousands of lines of code), statistics, simulation, 2) product/sensor development (I have a patent in the national phase), 3) infrastructure management. My thesis centered around creating software for strucutral design and analysis as well as the use of that software to help say things about infrastrucutre networks and planning.

    Would love to chat with folks to see where I could be needed. d.masceri at

  20. Paul Brinkley says:

    The company I work for is in need of a recruiter. Small – around 20-30 people, in the Howard County, Maryland area. Lots of government IT contracts. Requirements: people skills (you’re cheerleading for the company); good with computers; there will be other requirements as soon as I can get a hold of one of the founders. We are also perpetually in need of skilled cleared IT people. Pay is typically six figures.

    Email my name at Gmail.

  21. timorl says:

    A bit late to the party, but let’s try.

    I am one of the orginizers of an AI safety seminar, where we read and discuss various (mostly) technical papers concerning AI safety. The talks are streamed and available at youtube, though right now all of them are in Polish. This means probably very few SSC readers can currently benefit fom them, but if enough people were interested in listening to such talks we could change our language policy. Also, if anyone has any advice about the seminar (e.g. what we should read) or would like to speak at the seminar (in Kraków, Poland), please contact us (or just reply to this comment).

    Our webpage is

    • FollowTheQuest says:

      Maybe do one meeting in English then post the youtube link here in an open thread so that more folks can see what manner of discussion is taking place and perhaps you could attract more participants that way?

      (This is beyond my ken, just making a suggestion.)

      • timorl says:

        Thanks for the suggestion, we might try that. Probably near next september though, since this is the most obvious Schelling point for changing the language and only a couple meetings are left this semester.

  22. LionBabel says:

    My company, Chelem (named after the wise men of Chelm) does programming for researchers. Many kinds of researchers, many kinds of programming. Simple websites and application to giant overhauls of speed and efficiency i huge programs containing hundreds of thousands of lines of code.

    In our experience most researchers prefer students, because they’re used to them and they’re cheap. But sometimes a little bit of cheap ends up expensive in the long run- if the student writes the code badly/unmaintainably. Or if the student leaves. Or if it takes the student thirty-plus hours to do what more experienced programmers can get done in five. Or if you can’t find a student capable of doing it at all.

    If you are, or know, academic researchers who’d like more time doing research and less time handling programming, please consider sending them our way.

  23. If you follow this blog, and especially if you’ve made it to the bottom of this comment section, then you must enjoy reading things on the internet! But what if reading things on the internet was a video game?

    It would be good. Check out Improbable Island. Tell them I sent you.

  24. multipurposetoolguy says:

    Do you donate 90% of your salary to charity? Are you Christian? I do, I am, and I’m looking to find people with similar beliefs and priorities.

    • Winter Shaker says:

      Sounds like you may have made the same ‘reduce by 10% / reduce to 10%’ mistake with the word ‘tithe’ that other people make with ‘decimate’ 🙂

    • alysdexia says:

      No you’re not Kristian. See my other comment. Why aren’t you already poor and out a home? Are your bollocks cut off yet?

    • ashlael says:

      Would you be kind enough to give us some details of your living situation/budget/supported charities?

      • multipurposetoolguy says:

        I live out of a minivan in Silicon Valley. It’s as cost-effective as you might expect!

        • alysdexia says:

          This is funny as j·hveh lost to iron chariots in Jdg 1.

        • Reasoner says:

          Can you share more about how you make this work?

          • multipurposetoolguy says:

            There are a decent number of vandwellers, so there is a lot online about how things work in general:

            For me in particular, my life is more convenient than that of the typical vandweller on account of Silicon Valley perks. The office has food and internet and showers, and nobody cares if I spend most of my time there.

          • Reasoner says:

            Interesting, thanks! Do your coworkers know about your living situation?

          • Well... says:

            What about kids.

          • multipurposetoolguy says:

            @Reasoner: Yup, my coworkers know. I’ve been at it for over 18 months and nobody’s had any issue with it.

            @Well…: Probably won’t have kids, but I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought. In any case, vandwelling is not a commitment for me, and it may not work out if I live/work elsewhere.

      • multipurposetoolguy says:

        Oh, and I just support GiveWell charities.

  25. chariava says:

    I really like this classifieds thread. Can we make this a monthly thing?

  26. watsonbladd says:

    Do you live in the bay and think the rent is too damn high? Join East Bay Forward and fight for more housing in the bay. Join us

  27. johnswentworth says:

    Do you ever ask yourself “what’s the primary bottleneck in the economy as a whole?” Do you like to ponder the game-theoretic parallels between kosher food products and Islamic financial products in secular markets? Did Scott’s piece on cost disease inspire you to go through NCES statistics on college revenue and expenditures to track down where all the extra money is going? Have you ever actually run the numbers on Summers’ hypothesis?

    If you answered no to these questions, but really wish someone else would do all these things and write them up for you, then you should check out my blog. If you’re not sure, start with this piece.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:


      I’ve read a few of the links.

      I’m not sure whether you want the teaser left as a teaser, so I’m rot13ing my comments.

      Gur cevznel obggyrarpx vf pbbeqvangvba ceboyrzf– crbcyr arrqvat vasbezngvba. V’z abg fher ubj bsgra gurer’f n tbbq fvzcyr fbyhgvba, ohg V org gurl’er jbegu purpxvat sbe.

      Irel vagrerfgvat gung gur rkgen zbarl sbe pbyyrtr frrzf gb zbfgyl or tbvat gbjneqf znxvat pynffrf fznyyre.

      Nyfb vagrerfgvat gung gur qvssrerapr orgjrra znyr naq srznyr cebcbegvbaf va PF vf *zhpu* ynetre guna pna or cerqvpgrq sebz qvssreraprf va VD.

  28. Dindane says:

    There’s a thing I think many SSC readers would enjoy that they might not think to try: square dancing, specifically the style called “dance-by-definition”. Square dancing by definition is a fun puzzle in compiling a verbal description in a specialized language to a physical dance movement: you hear what the caller says and have to dance it before they say the next thing. This is made more interesting by the expressive variety of the squares calling language: there are ‘concepts’ which modify the way calls are performed, and these can be stacked on top of each other in nontrivial ways. Here (1, 2, 3) are some articles about interesting concepts; unfortunately, the specific examples they use won’t be clear without knowing the vocabulary (“calls”), which is part of the overhead of learning.
    The physical dance movements are also fun; sort of in the same way a tire swing or amusement park ride is fun.
    Unfortunately, not all clubs have a strong emphasis on the dance-by-definition idea; I’ve really only been to Tech Squares [Cambridge, MA], which I really like, and which has a class starting in September. If people in another area are curious, I can ask my more-well-traveled dancing friends about clubs there.

    • watsonbladd says:

      In the Bay Stanford has a squares club, and Berkeley has a fledging one

    • Dan says:

      So kind of like being led through Yoga poses?

      • Dindane says:

        A bit. The differences (I imagine, not having done much yoga) are a generally faster pace, that the primary actuators are just your legs in their normal walking mode, and that what you do is a function not only of the instruction but of the instruction and your current position.

  29. mindlevelup says:

    Hey all,

    As you may have guessed, I run a rationality blog called mindlevelup. There are new posts every week on different aspects of self-improvement, metacognition, etc.

    If you’re looking for interesting tidbits on thinking and productivity, you may like my blog. The Top Posts are a good place to start.

  30. smocc says:

    Do you enjoy webcomics OR poetry OR art OR crude but sincere attempts to capture the spirit of an old Japanese artform in a modern American world OR jokes about Boston?

    Then you might love Boston Haikai, illustrated haikus about Boston (and whatever), every Tuesday and Thursday. I write the haiku and my wife illustrates them.

    ALSO, my wife is an illustrator, available for commission of any kind. She specializes in fantasy concept art, but has experience illustrating textbooks and academic books. One economist client reports that her illustrations were the only thing that got his friends through his book. Do you need something illustrated? She can do it! Her website and her tumblr.

    • eloise says:

      Boston Haikai is really lovely! Also it makes me really happy when couples collaborate on things.

  31. Karl Rudeen says:

    Do you need help with your data? Do you live in NYC? I am currently looking for data science/data analyst positions in the New York City Area. I have an MS in mathematics and I recently graduated from the Metis data science bootcamp. I have also worked as a software developer. I have a particular knack for coding things quickly, and writing my own algorithms from scratch. I am also interested in developing data infrastructure. If want to know more, you can check out my LinkedIn or my GitHub . I can also be emailed at [myfirstname][mylastname] at gmail dot com.

  32. mehtacomic says:

    I’m a longtime lurker, but I thought this would be a great chance to plug a comic that I self-published last year. Our kickstarter pitch: “A young treasure hunter makes her way through the fringes of a desert empire, contending with cultists and a persistent detective.”

    I’d love for you all to check it out! We have a preview on the site as well as a link to our store.

  33. CthulhuChild says:

    I make custom furniture! If you can dream it, we can design it and I can build it. I’m local to Victoria BC, but I am in Seattle/Vancouver semi-regularly if you want to meet face to face.

    I’ve just gotten started at this so my web presence is minimal, but I’ve got a bit of my work on Instagram (

    Send me an email: graeme at sphinx furniture (com) if you’d like to start something.

  34. CthulhuChild says:

    I make custom furniture! If you can dream it, we can design it and I can build it. I’m local to Victoria BC, but I am in Seattle/Vancouver semi-regularly if you want to meet face to face.

    I’ve just gotten started at this so my web presence is minimal, but I’ve got a bit of my work on Instagram (

    Send me an email graeme at sphinx furniture (com) if you’d like to start something.

  35. Qiaochu Yuan says:

    CFAR workshop in Seattle with new instructors, 6/7-6/11.

    Edit: Ah, I see this has been mentioned already. Well, whatever.

  36. Nick says:

    We’re hiring a full-stack engineer with some devops skills at CodeCombat–if interested, email We make a programming game for learning how to code, played by millions. We’re in San Francisco, but have some remote team members and would consider remote for this role.

  37. sophiegrouchy says:
  38. Said Achmiz says:

    You say you like dogs, does this mean you have a dog?

    • sophiegrouchy says:

      Not any more, but I had an Australian Shepherd named Gryffindor the Greybeard for 14 years until he passed. When I eventually leave the city (or if I make the switch to programming) I plan on getting another dog.

  39. Bridgett K. says:

    I have a full-length scifi novel and a fantasy light novel available on kindle, and I’m always looking for feedback. Send me an email at if you are interested in a free copy of either in exchange for an honest review.

  40. Aapje says:

    I’m inclined towards polyamory, could compromise towards monogamish, but absolutely would NOT break up with either of my two secondaries (both of those relationships are asexual, if that’s relevant)

    Isn’t this just friendship?

    • callmebrotherg says:

      That depends on whether sex is required for romance. Just off the top of my head, though, there’s cuddling, kissing, and other activities that I’ve seen classified as “sensual rather than sexual,” and there’s the Victorian concept of a “romantic friendship.”

      The difference between “romance” and “friendship” gets *really* blurry as soon as you step outside of a traditional monogamous paradigm where even cuddling with someone other than your SO is suspect and possibly cheating.

      It’s probably more effective to think of relationships in terms of bundles of varied qualities which may often be strongly associated with but are not inseparably linked to certain other qualities, rather than e.g. a linear spectrum with “friendship” on one end and “romance” on the other.

    • Not OP but you can do romantic things (e.g. sleeping together, going on dates) without sexually participating with the person in question.

    • fortaleza84 says:

      Between this post and the poly thread, I am starting to think that the polyamory scene is essentially the same as life described by red pill types, complete with beta orbiters, CC riding sl*ts; alpha f*cks/beta bux; etc. Except that they use different terminology to describe it and imagine that they have found some New and Improved way for people to relate to eachother sexually.

      • Aapje says:

        I don’t think that the red pill types are entirely correct, but it would be weird if the poly community would somehow be radically different from the rest of the world. People are still people.

        • fortaleza84 says:

          People are still people.

          That’s of course true, but it seems that many polyamorous types don’t fully appreciate that their sexual motivations and behavior fit in nicely with the Red Pill paradigm.

          For example, it seems this sophie person wants a man but not one who is “nesting” with another woman. The Red Pill interpretation of this is that, like most women, she wants to be the primary beneficiary of a man’s financial resources. She also seems to appreciate that (1) men prefer sexual exclusivity from their woman; (2) men are motivated strongly by physical attractiveness in women; and (3) men prefer a woman who does not have a lengthy sexual history.

        • sophiegrouchy says:

          Please stop hijacking my classified ad with Red Pill theory. You can have this conversation on an open thread

        • fortaleza84 says:

          Please stop hijacking my classified ad with Red Pill theory. You can have this conversation on an open thread

          Sorry, my response has more to do with my general and sudden interest in polyamory than your circumstances in particular. You do seem like a nice person and I hope you find a decent man.

    • sophiegrouchy says:

      Please move this conversation to the open thread. I’m really not in the mood to debate the validity of polyamory or asexual relationships.

      (Although to the person who says this is similar to red pill, just know that I spent my 20s (when red pill says I’d be riding the “cock carousel”) in a monogamous marriage. And neither of my secondaries are asexual because they are “beta orbiters” hoping for more. One needs a Domme. The other is a trans woman who already has a wife/ triad/ etc. I’ve never denied sex to either of them. I also don’t get any “bux” from any of them, and if anything LOSE money, because we trade off paying for things like take out, which I just wouldn’t buy if I were by myself. Please take your insulting generalizations elsewhere.)

  41. BeefSnakStikR says:

    Last year I wrote a Twine game called Dr. Sourpuss is not a Choice-Based Game and submitted it into a non-competition interactive fiction festival.

    I, Dr. Sourpuss, talking housecat and test administrator, regret to inform you that your multiple choice test has been misplaced. While I attempt to locate the missing SCANDRON marking machine, please occupy yourself with the fully immersive “101±98 Experiments with Citrus” science fair activities.

    It’s a surreal satire of current politics, a historical allegory about the origin of fairy tales in 15th Century France, and an affectionate mockery of both taking sides and the pretense of being balanced.

    It takes around 30-45 minutes to play, depending on how much you enjoy reading. You could probably brute-force solve it in fifteen minutes if you’re skimming.

    It was received fairly well (it has been nominated in two categories for a future award) but was not noticed by many. Reviewers interpreted it as being about education

    smuggle[s] a clever commentary on the effect of standardised, one-size-fits-all education on students

    the gaming culture wars

    part of the debate about weblink games such as Twine or Raconteur

    and choice

    about choices, and the reductive nature of answering questions via multiple choice…maybe?

    You can see the game’s profile, metadata, and reviews here

    If you don’t have an account here, but would like to contact me anyway, email

  42. Julia says:

    The Centre for Effective Altruism is hiring for a bunch of positions:

    – Assistant Producer, Events Team
    – Office Manager
    – Local Groups Coordinator
    – Growth Hacker
    – Grants Associate
    – Development Manager
    – Full Stack Developer
    – Research Assistant
    – Communications Officer

    We’re also open to hiring for other positions too, so if none of these sound perfect but you’re interested in this kind of work, get in touch!

    • Reasoner says:

      Where are these positions located?

      • Julia says:

        Many of them are remote. Some are based in Berkeley and I think one in Oxford.

        • Reasoner says:

          I recommend putting that info next to each position on the web page. It’s pretty unusual for me to apply to a job without knowing what city it’s located in. I would guess I’m not the only one.

  43. alamesage says:

    I write sporadically about politics, philosophy, and philosophy of religion on my blog.

    If you are interested in SSC then you probably won’t be interested in what I have to say, but at any rate here are some posts that could have general overlap:

    My 80 predictions for the Trump presidency:

    My critique of a Chiropractic meme and study:

    My favorite SSC posts, but framed in a stupid attempt to be witty/insightful:

    An explainer piece aimed at people new to politics (ideally 13 to 16 year olds?), on how to optimize the search for true political information:
    (I am still revising this one, and would appreciate criticism or more techniques).

  44. Simon says:

    I am the director of Euler Circle, a mathematics institute in the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to teaching college-level mathematics classes to advanced high-school students. Tonight I’ll be teaching about Bézout’s theorem in my algebraic geometry class. We also mentor especially strong students on research projects and write papers with them.

    If you know of students in the Bay Area who love mathematics and might be interested, please pass this information on!

  45. mobile says:

    I run a web site to keep track of the places you have visited in the United States and Canada and the county level. You can make cool maps and it is free to use. I will be adding Mexican municipios later this year.

  46. JohnBuridan says:

    This thread blew up my browser with a thousand tabs!!!!


  47. honoredb says:

    My HPMOR-inspired Hamlet fanfiction might scratch your Unsong itch. It’s another entry in the burgeoning “utilitarian characters who vow to destroy Hell via a hurricane of puns” genre, with implausibly good Amazon reviews that I promise aren’t plants.

    I’ve been working for the past five years at Medidata, a company that writes software for use in all elements of clinical trials. We’re not a start-up, we have about 50% world-wide market share, but we’re still building new products. I’d love it in particular if some people who’ve read Scott’s critiques of the pharma industry and the FDA were to get onto the Medidata product team and help design technical solutions–and/or ways to use our position as a company that interacts with pharma companies, CROs, clinicians, and the FDA to nudge the process into better directions.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I’m trying to figure out how to ask this without being unkind: Do you know what iambic pentameter is?

      I started reading Amazon’s preview hoping it would be something I liked as much as Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean Star Wars books, but try as I might, I just could not get it to scan. It might well be entertaining — the reviews suggest that it is — but for it to be ostensibly Shakespeare and yet sound nothing like Shakespeare is just an insuperable barrier for me.

      • honoredb says:

        It’s a fair cop, it doesn’t always scan. My excuse is that Hamlet has a much lower than rate of iambic pentameter than the rest of Shakespeare, with the normal reading being that crazy, irreverent, and lower-class characters generally break the meter and Elsinore has a higher concentration of those. In my version, everybody’s crazy.

        I mean, I assume you didn’t throw away the original when you encountered “To be or not to be, that is the question” (eleven syllables) or the outright barbarous “What a piece of work is a man” soliloquy.

  48. Eric says:

    Do you need more friends? I made a website where you can sign up and get matched to someone based on a personality survey:

    I spent a year developing the survey by collecting data on what similarities there are between real pairs of best friends, see

    • Vadim Kosoy says:

      Interesting enterprise. I feel like the problem with your selection of questions is that it’s based on a broad slice of the population and might be less useful for people that are “eccentric”. It would be more effective to have a much large database of question, but select the questions interactively. I.e., the software would use the answers you already supplied to decide which questions to ask you next. This way the questionnaire would serve as a “binary search” that locates you in “personality space” with much better precision given fixed number of questions asked.

  49. JohnNV says:

    My company is hiring a javascript sales engineer – we build components for data visualization and analytics that we license to other software firms that embed our stuff in their applications. It’s a small, UK headquartered company that’s been growing successfully for 5 years, and we’re expanding our presence in the US. The sales engineer would be responsible for building demos and prototypes for our customers to help them understand and take advantage of the features of our toolkit. Our US office is in Lowell, MA, but we’d consider remote working for the right candidate.

  50. Ruben says:

    If you like words and not falling prey to confirmation bias, maybe you’ll like this game I made with a friend. No ads, free.

    You have to guess a secret word like this:
    RIGOR ◆0 ◇3
    TRIBE ◆2 ◇0
    GRAIL ◆3 ◇1
    GRILL ◆5 ◇0

    You can play on your own, but it’s more fun to play against people you know, so it gets an element of psychology.
    Side effects: true bliss when you notice unusual five-letter words while reading.
    It’s originally a paper-pencil game, but turns out we had phones with us more often than paper and pencil.

    • alexsloat says:

      Can you play without logging in?

      • Ruben says:

        No, I want to add that, but I’ve to finish my PhD. You can just make up an email address though.

    • neciampater says:

      This is very cool! A language version of a fun game.

      Mastermind – a board game which is the same concept but with colors.

      4 digits – an app which is the same concept but with numbers. Limit of 10 guesses.

      I enjoy card, math, and language games. Thanks for making this.

      If this sort of thing interests anyone else, I highly recommend MathDoku. An addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication take on sudoku.

      • Ruben says:

        That’s right! I never played those (had heard of Mastermind), I came to know this one first (via word-of-mouth), but Mastermind is apparently much more widely known.
        Apparently (but I only found this after a lot of googling), in the English-speaking world a simpler version has been marketed as Jotto. I prefer our version because you have more information to work with.

    • Peffern says:

      I used to play this game with family (I think we stole it from bookworm adventures) and I can confirm it is both fun and diabolical.

      If I recall correctly, our best (hardest to guess) words were ‘epoxy’, ‘levee’, ’emcee’, and ‘glyph’.

  51. J Mann says:

    Scott Sumner is raising money to fund a Hypermind test of an NGDP futures market. I think Sumner’s idea (that using a market to guide national money supply would be a significant improvements) is very promising and would love to see this test well funded.

  52. cthor says:

    A lot of posts here are to books, webserials, etc. so I figure a lot of people here are into fiction writing.

    I run fiction writing contests called writeoffs, a sort of workshop–competition hybrid with the goal of helping people develop their fiction writing skills (growth mindset!).

    It’s pretty low-commitment, since you have at most 3 days (a little more than a weekend) to write an entry. After that there’s a short voting period where people (mostly other entrants) read, review, and vote on the entries. The tight schedule and peer review creates a cool feedback loop where you can try something new, see if it works, then move on to the next thing. The sharp deadline also helps if you’re the sort of person who’s bad at finishing things.

    If that sounds interesting, check out the website for more details:

    There’s a contest with a writing period starting this weekend (Fri 12:00 UTC) so you can almost hop in right away.

    • Montfort says:

      Is writeoff supposed to be mostly devoted to one fandom in particular, or are you trying to steer it more to general content? There are a lot of user avatars and contest genre restrictions that would seem to indicate the former, but maybe it’s just an unavoidable founder effect?

      • cthor says:

        The site is mostly for the existing community surrounding it, which has pretty obvious roots. Most of the community still just want to do fimfics, but there’s a lot who want to do original stuff also. (The fandom is about 6 years old now. A lot of people are in the branching out stage at this point.) So the genre alternates—right now at least.

        This weekend’s event is for original stuff, so appropriate for a general audience and why I thought it might interest people here.

        Are you trying to steer it more to general content?

        More I’ve been trying to make it seem more approachable for outsiders, since I do think the format is very useful.[1] But there’s only so much I can do to cover up the tribal signals.

        [1]: The biggest failure mode for aspiring artists I see is endlessly toiling over a magnum opus: It never gets done. They don’t really work on it (vs just thinking about it), and eventually they give up (or die). This format forces you to try new stuff constantly and breaks you out of that pattern.

  53. Greg says:

    I helped make a “spaced repetition for musicians” app (Android, iOS). You can read more about it here. It’s like Anki, but designed to better accommodate the structure of music, use more of what we know about effective practice in general (e.g. interleaving), and mimic how expert musicians practice (e.g. “work and runs”).

    • Moriwen says:

      This looks potentially very useful! Is it in fact piano-specific, as the “read more about it” link makes it sound, or usable for those who play other instruments, as it seems from the description here and on itunes?

      (Possibly this would be obvious if I were actually a musician; I’m not, but the app seems like something I might recommend to musician friends.)

      • Greg says:

        It’s not piano specific — people are definitely using it for different instruments, and some people have told me they even use it for memorizing poetry or dances. I designed it with piano in mind because that’s my main instrument, but that mostly shows up in the details of how it’s presented. The underlying mechanics seem to be pretty universal. So the iOS version is essentially the same thing as the older Android one, just a little shinier. We renamed it to Music __ instead of Piano __ because we weren’t (probably still aren’t) being clear enough on this point.

        • Moriwen says:

          Awesome, thank you. (Sounds like it would indeed probably have been clear if I were the sort of person who’d know music if you hit me over the head with it.)

  54. Loris says:

    I wrote these online games you can play in your browser. If you’re still willing to let Flash run.
    In particular, Magic Layers and Turing Turns are puzzle games.
    They’re all free to play, but there are adverts at the start on a couple of them.
    I would appreciate any comments.

    • Moriwen says:

      Magic Layers: …aaagh, this game leaves me wanting to bang my head against the wall.

      I can’t tell which frustrating things are design difficulties, which are me not getting something, and which are supposed to be part of the challenge. Colors seem to combine at complete random, with no way to predict what you’ll get out of an overlap but trial and error? (For example, in level 3, one white/white overlap turns blue, while another stays white.) It would feel more puzzle-y to me if the colors combined in predictable ways, so that you could figure out which pieces needed to go where logically; as far as I can tell, there are usually several potential solutions in terms of the pieces you’re given, and you can only figure out which is correct by trying each one.

      It’s also less than clear which parts of the image are movable and which are what I’m supposed to be imitating; I found myself just clicking around each time to try and discern that. The arrows helped a little, but less than you’d think, and also got annoying and distracting very fast. It would have worked better for me to have an actual line dividing the example image from the construct-your-own area; adding labels to the areas, or having the backgrounds be different colors (consistently — so the sample is always white and building area is always gray, for instance), or even just having them always be in the same positions (instead of sometimes divided left/right, and sometimes top/bottom) would also have helped.

      And there’s no good way to tell which pieces are on top of other pieces, or to get at lower pieces without moving the ones on top of them — and it’s not like there’s an interesting gameplay component to that, it just means that I have to deal with unstacking a bunch of pieces to get at buried ones. Which is extra annoying because the playing field feels very cramped, without enough room to spread the pieces out properly.

      The previous paragraph also means that the starting arrangements of pieces get irritating, because I have to start each level by sorting out and unburying the pieces, and figuring out what actual shapes I have to work with; when they’re all stacked up at the start, it’s never clear if (for instance) I’ve got a couple of overlapping big triangles or a whole bunch of small ones. This is a bunch of tedious clicking and dragging that feels like a chore, not a fun challenge. I’d have preferred starting out with a “bank” of specified shapes and colors, where I could click and drag from that area of my screen to generate a new piece of the appropriate sort.

      In level 2, all of the pieces start out aligned just a little bit off from the grid — not quite on the lines, but close enough that if you just click and release on one it’ll snap into place correctly. This bugs me to a disproportionate degree.

      Finally, I would have liked the snap-to-outline to have been somewhat “stronger”; it definitely did not contribute to the experience to be trying to get things to line up just right, when that’s not a component of the puzzle. (Some kind of feedback might have helped there, too — a momentary glow/pulse when something clicked into position, maybe.)

      I really did want to like this game, but I ended up quitting on level 4 because I was making growling noises at my screen.

      • Loris says:

        Thanks for looking – and for the extensive comments. Many of your criticisms are true, for various reasons. Some are possibly even good reasons.

        The way colours combine can depend on the piece, but generally there won’t be many variations – and often they’re totally uniform, particularly when the puzzle itself is more challenging. The intention was to be able to solve things logically, but that does sometimes involve some experimentation.
        Regarding telling the difference between the target image and the user area, I found people consistently wanted to click and drag things around the target. I ended up throwing every clue I could at moving them over, and it still wasn’t always enough.
        Regarding pieces on top of other pieces… well, I couldn’t find a good way of addressing them which wasn’t more confusing than it was worth. I think the stacking system made it a bit more managable (recent moves being on top) – but I do feel your pain.
        Yes the playing area is quite cramped. The small screensize was mostly a result of limitations of the potential systems it might be incorporated into, but it does hurt.

        There’s a reason for the pieces in level 2 being non-aligned initially, but maybe not a good one. For the win-condition detection to work you need to have placed every piece on its target point, and some pieces would otherwise have started there. I could have coded in an exception, but it just didn’t feel like a big deal to me.

        The snap range was something I worried about a lot. But I set it as strong as I felt it could be. More than that and it starts being annoying for targeting other locations. But there is a tell for pieces being aligned. Firstly there’s a sound effect difference, but since sound is often switched off, the non-aligned pieces have a pink border.

        If you feel you’d like to give it a second chance, I would recommend trying levels 11 (or, ’42’), and 13. I’ve had positive feedback about those as logical puzzles, and the colours are uniform.

  55. codemynote says:

    We created a medical coding website that identifies diseases and their associated ICD-10CM codes in clinical text ( notes ).

    The code is entirely written in javascript and runs client-side, so it is fast and safe — no protected health information (PHI) is ever sent over the internet.

    Give us a try if you’re interested and let us know what you think!

    • cbv says:

      A. Why are you giving this away?
      B. Why doesn’t “hurt at library” work? 😀

      • codemynote says:

        What code were you expecting? This one?

        Library as the place of occurrence of the external cause


        Only a subset of frequent codes are supported. What would be an alternative to “giving this away?”

  56. MoebiusStreet says:

    For any owners of an Amazon Alexa who have an interest in space exploration, you might enjoy my Spaceman skill:

    Spaceman is a free app for your Amazon Alexa device. I created it because I’ve always had a deep interest in space exploration, and building a way to keep informed of news in this area, and even inspire curiosity, seemed a good exercise for me to teach myself the technology behind Amazon Alexa and AWS Lambda functions.

    It currently provides information to you about:

    * Phase of the moon
    * Scheduled rocket launches anywhere in the world, both past and future
    * Asteroids and other objects passing close to the Earth, for dates you request

    More information here:

  57. nevertellskittertheodds says:

    Hi everyone! Entry-level engineer here, looking for a job or internship. My degree is in biomedical engineering (bachelor’s), so I’m good for medical research, quality engineering, mechanical engineering, and tech support for medical equipment. Any sort of mechanical problem-solving, I’m your gal! I’m a quick learner, hard-working, and super friendly. Currently in SE Michigan, but willing to move anywhere.

    Relevant experience: Designed/developed/prototyped/tested a device to detect falls in the elderly; performed clinical research for a new way to assess frailty and cognitive ability.

    Send me a message at

  58. Commdore says:

    I’d think that folks around here might have some interest in this; a small press Pay What You Want sandbox campaign written for Pathfinder (D&D) tabletop:
    We believe strongly that PWYW stands for “try before you buy”, download it, check it out, enjoy.

  59. precipicebeholder says:

    tl;dr hire me

    I am a 25 year old currently working as a business analyst. I’ve previously worked as a software engineer (including doing an internship at Google), but ultimately decided to pivot in my career, at least for now. I have also worked at BCG and freelanced as a English-Russian interpreter.

    I am looking for a company that would be willing to relocate me to a developed country, preferably English-speaking (e.g. Ireland/UK, Australia, Canada; non-English-speaking Western Europe also generally works). I am currently based in Russia (born and raised). I’ve had offers from the US, but it turns out that even Google can’t hire me directly to the US for visa reasons, so I’m assuming no other company would be able to do that as well.

    The reason I want to move has less to do with career goals and more to do with medical requirements – I have chronic disorder that would be nice to treat/manage at some point, but it’s impossible to do so in Russia.

    Posting this just in case someone needs an English/Russian (+a bit of Japanese) speaking person with both software engineering and consulting experience. I’ve mainly developed in Java and Python, ran analyses in R, and drank my fill wrangling spreadsheets at 3AM during my consulting stint. I generally contribute most on the interface between executives, business-oriented teams, and developers – e.g. when I was embedded in an analyst team doing a data-heavy project, I automated half of our work within 2 months (so we became 2x faster). My idea of relaxing on the weekend is either coding or running financial analyses in Google Sheets (sometimes both). Know a bit about ML and cryptocurrencies. E-mail: precipicebeholder at gmail dot com

  60. bbeck310 says:

    Experienced patent and business litigator here, looking for potential clients. If you have an idea to protect, a patent to enforce, a noncompete agreement to defeat, or any other situation that might require litigation, send me an email and we’ll see what we can do. I’m at a small firm where I have the freedom to arrange more flexible billing arrangements–we don’t have to rely on billable fee arrangements that create agency incentive problems; we offer contingency and partial contingency arrangements that align your interests with ours.

    All of our lawyers have science and engineering degrees, making us the optimal choice to represent your high tech business.

    Check out my attorney webpage at SpencePC, or email me at brian dot beck at spencepc dot com.

    Also, if you have any short questions about IP law or litigation, post as a reply and I’m happy to answer in this thread. I’ve spent much of my career doing pharma patent and trade secret cases, so if you have questions about how pharma patent protection works in practice, that’s within my area of expertise.

    • Pseudocydonia says:

      How big of a deal do you think TC Heartland vs Kraft is?

      • bbeck310 says:

        Substantial but significantly less than the media is making it out to be, and limited primarily to cases involving patent trolls suing small to medium sized companies.

        The patent venue statute allows a suit for patent infringement to be brought “in the judicial district where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business.” TC Heartland only addressed the “where the defendant resides” part of the statute, and held that unlike the general venue statute, the meaning of “where the defendant resides” for a corporate defendant is not “wherever the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction” but “where the defendant is incorporated.”

        For national companies, venue can still probably be found wherever the plaintiff wants under the “where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business” prong of the statute. Medium-sized companies (that sell nationally but do not have a ton of offices) usually got hauled into strange districts (like E.D.Tex.) where they had committed acts of infringement and did not have a regular and established place of business. They’re a little safer now.

        That being said, the E.D. Texas docket had already been decreasing in importance because of decisions like In re Google, where the Federal Circuit has been more willing to order cases transferred out of the Eastern District of Texas that have no connection to the district, and because most other district courts (and pretty much all in business-heavy areas–SDNY, NDIL, NDCA and CDCA, etc.) developed their own local patent rules. This probably won’t affect pharma cases at all, most of which had been ending up in the very pharma plaintiff-friendly District of New Jersey or the always popular District of Delaware.

  61. Chris B. says:

    If you play Dungeons & Dragons or other tabletop RPGs, then you might like Heroic Roleplaying.

    I started Heroic Roleplaying to publish supplements that add superpowers, legendary backgrounds, and unique magic items to RPG adventures. Get them before we’re all replaced by book-writing AIs!

  62. Emanuel says:

    Help! I need money.

    Looking for remote work as a swe/sre/devops with 8 years experience.

    What I can do for you:
    – Automate the infrastructure work that your devs hate doing.
    – Ship high quality production ready code
    – Help scale the product
    – Whatever else needs doing because I’m smart, capable, and really want you to succeed

    Available for both short and long term work. Can attend daily meetings in any timezone. Can cover Asia-Pacific for on-call duty. Very responsive on instant messaging. Fawless Engrish, but far away in a foreign land so will work for peanuts.

    Referrals appreciated!

    Skype: e.j.rietveld

  63. PsuitablePseudonym says:

    I organize a monthly video game club. Our discussions center around games as systems: state machines described in rules. (An attempt towards rationalist game critique.) If this sounds interesting, please email me at vgcommune (AT) gmail (DOT) com.

  64. yossarian says:

    A Business Intelligence developer here, looking for a data-related position (BI, database development, software development) in (preferrably) an English-speaking country.
    I have 5 years experience of working in BI field (software development, database development, report development, teaching), 3 years experience of crunching collider data, half a year long detour in robotechnics and a nearly-forgotten education in Chemistry (don’t ask me to perform any bench work – my hazardous and radioactive chemical mad scientist safety training expired quite a while ago).
    Most of my work nowadays involves Oracle and some Python. Hoping to make it into the hot world of Big Data and Machine Learning some day, but haven’t had much experience with that yet. You can see a more serious description of my career on LinkedIn, or email me for details at

  65. waltonmath says:

    Sarah Constantin recently posted about a great place to give. It’s an RCT for a promising looking sepsis cure. From the NPR story:

    But the results were so stunning, Marik decided that from that point on he would treat all his sepsis patients with the vitamin C infusion. So far, he’s treated about 150 patients, and only one has died of sepsis, he said.

    That’s a phenomenal claim, considering that of the million Americans a year who get sepsis, about 300,000 die.

  66. maybe_slytherin says:

    Hi everyone! I’m an SSC reader and a graduate student in mathematical ecology.

    For some time, I’ve been thinking of writing about rationality & environmental issues. Most rationalists don’t have a background in this area, and I often find this community’s discussion of environmental issues to be frustratingly superficial. At the same time, environmentalism could stand to benefit from more rationality in certain areas.

    Potential post topics (some may be quite short):
    – What environmentalism is about — global warming is a pretty small part of it
    – the Svalbard seed vault
    – Biodiversity & why we value it
    – Pollution & toxicity
    – Water (I’m really interested that rationalists, especially those in California, seem to put few resources into long-term water solutions)
    – Land use — agricultural intensification, urban development, transportation systems
    – Climate change — what it does or doesn’t mean
    – Energy policy
    – Moral systems — the ethical systems behind different environmental movements, and how they do or do not mesh with shut-up-and-multiply utilitarianism
    – Environmental alarmism
    – Gene drives & mosquito eradication
    – Wild animal suffering
    – Environmental impact of the internet

    To give an idea of my style: in a previous post, I talked about the Trump Administration’s defunding of NASA’s earth science monitoring — both why it’s a problem, and why scientists’ response was ineffectual.

    Would people be interested in this? If so, would it be worth cross-posting to LW — does anyone still go there?

    • callmebrotherg says:

      I would absolutivalutely be interested in this. I’m currently headed to SFSU for a graduate degree in philosophy and one of my primary interests is environmental ethics, so your blog would be incredibly useful for me. Even if you don’t write these posts, I’d love to chat with you at some point.

      My email address is Please do send me an email when you start writing so that I know where to look.

    • Orual says:

      Yes, please do this. It’s analysis that I’d personally be interested in and which I’m ill-equipped to do myself because a pretty good layman’s understanding of environmental isn’t remotely equal to a decent grad student’s. Also, most environmentalists don’t publicly (and often not even privately) express things in the kind of math/language that makes sense to LW-rationalists and other similar people, which likely explains some of the community’s discussion level on the subject.

    • Ruben says:

      Agree with the thrust of your comment and have added your blog to my feedreader to hopefully read more.

    • James Miller says:

      I’m very interested in Gene drives & mosquito eradication.

    • JohnBuridan says:

      Please do this!
      As a lay person who puts environment high the list of human priorities, I would love to have my worldview shaped by more ecological depth and breadth.

    • Reasoner says:

      These seem like valuable posts to write.

    • xXxanonxXx says:

      I’d be absolutely fascinated to hear what you have to say about wild animal suffering. This is one of those things you blurt out (“Do you think we have an ethical obligation to eradicate nature?”) and get stared at like you have two heads, even after you try to clarify what you mean.

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      Thanks for the response, everyone! Quite a bit more than I was expecting. I’m not able/willing to dedicate a ton of time to this, but this does give me more motivation to get started, and some people to show once I do!

  67. jbombastor says:

    Wow, this is serendipitous: I’ve read SlateStarCodex for many years, and have recently started going to the London Rationalish meetups. And, I’ve just finished building a website for writers and am thinking how best to advertise it.

    Final Deadline is a site to help people write essays or novels.

    The idea is to do everything (planning, writing, getting feedback and editing) with more efficiency than people do right now. There’s a lot about writing on the Internet that’s very far from optimal, but it gets left unquestioned because it’s what we’re used to.

    To take Unsong as an example, on Final Deadline Scott could have released chapters a day early to select people, who would go through and highlight all the spelling errors/discontinuities – much quicker than pointing them out in the comments, and it doesn’t leave a confusing artifact in the discussion for later readers to stumble over.

    I’ve also included a lot of stuff based on motivation and gameification – helping you finish a long piece of writing in the first place. The likes of Scott Alexander and Eliezer Yudkowsky may not have needed that but I and lot of others certainly do.

    (There’s also a tool that lets you graphically plot your story like in this XKCD comic.)

    You can write privately, or make excerpts of writing visible to the public. I would very much like to have some more rationalist-y style writing on there, so anyone reading this site is more than welcome to join.

    (EDIT: as well as plugging the site, can I also ask for help here? Once I’ve finished the technical work, the next job is to foster a community of active, ‘nice’ people who use it. Now I think about it, here seems as good a place as any to ask for advice about that.)

    Anyway, here’s the link:

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      The site looks nice, and I agree it could be very useful to many, especially with an active community.

      However, there’s non-trivial start-up cost to getting set up on the site & moving your writing there. How do you know it’s worth it? In particular, how can you demonstrate it’s better than a Beeminder writing goal?

      • jbombastor says:

        Beeminder works well for ‘quantitative goal X’, while Final Deadline is explicitly for writing. That includes features that fall either side of the pure akrasia motivation stuff – such as things to help you actually be more creative or organised.

        (This is a personal thing, but I think Beeminder is also a bit science-y for many people, and appeals to a certain type. Of course people browsing this blog are likely to be those same science-y people; Final Deadline is intended to have a more general appeal.)

        I am interested in any suggestions for how to remove the perceived start up cost. You don’t actually need to move your writing, you just have to enter a wordcount. Is that not clear? If not I should probably do something about that.

        • maybe_slytherin says:

          I’d say the ability to do other quantitative goals is a distinct advantage. Though I agree the UI is a bit techy/science-y even for me.

          Browsing through the different types of projects/organizational structures, they do seem like they’d help both creativity & organization, as you say. I expect serious users might run into limits, but nonetheless it looks like some really nice features.

          I didn’t realize at all that you could just enter wordcounts — it looked like most of what you do is based around hosting the writing. So yes, something to clarify.

          • jbombastor says:

            Clarified; the spiel will change next time I push to master. Thanks very much, for pointing that out.

    • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

      On the off chance you’ll see this, can you clarify the “censorship” dropdown for me?

      I’m working on a military science fiction story where one of the themes is the tragedy inherent in war (I know, a very original choice…). I have no plans of including any explicit sexual content but quite a bit of graphic violence. For example, the viewpoint character of the opening chapter is a schoolchild who we see die in the opening salvos of the book’s primary military conflict.

      On the one hand, that’s ‘not safe for work’ and could even be called ‘drastically transgressive.’ But on the other hand it’s going to confuse people who go in expecting smut and instead find dead kids. ‘

      TL;DR: Should I classify based solely on sexual content or any potentially disturbing content?

  68. Hivewired says:

    Are you looking for something new to read after finishing UNSONG? We’ve been writing a rational serial space opera for the last year, you can check it out here:

  69. Edith says:

    Hi, I’m working on a column about plants (flowers, trees, etc.) and looking for cool stories. If any come to mind and you’d be willing to share (or want to know more), please get in touch: I’m edithzimmerman at gmail. Thanks!

    • sov says:

      Hey that’s pretty rad! I have a bit of a garden and I grow a couple of types of sarracenias. Sadly, I have no neat stories to offer but I am interested in knowing more!

  70. Quixote says:

    Although nothing I need now was posted on this iteration, I think thread is a thing that should exist and should probably be posted monthly or so.

  71. OB says:

    I have a few musical projects y’all might like to hear.

    My main “solo project” is Project 214, a mix of electronic and progressive rock.

    I’m also in an ambient duo, AMMO. AMMO is interested in providing a soundtrack for a film, so if there are any amateur filmmakers out there, feel free to contact us via the linked page.

    Otherwise, enjoy the music!

  72. Levantine says:

    W. M. Briggs, PhD:


    I am available, for a fee, for any of at least these activities:

    Penning articles, reports, stories. Obituaries for my enemies are free of charge;
    Contract research—much requested; order early for the holiday rush.
    Telling you and your company just why what you’re doing is wrong.
    Uncertainty analysis of all kinds;
    Lecturing, speaking, teaching, seminars, holding forth.

    Past clients include: Wall Street Journal, Cornell University, New York Methodist Hospital, Delta-X Research, various marketing firms, real estate companies, and many more.

    All work cheerfully undertaken.

  73. nadbor says:

    Looking for a data engineer in London:

    – to help data scientists with our pipes (we’re making an ML-based tool for supermarkets). This is a contract role (so pay is significantly better than for perms in similar positions). It’s for ~6 months with likely extension. I would recommend the role to someone who is already a decent programmer and wants to get more into data science/ML/big data.

  74. sharondolovsky says:

    Know anyone who needs international surveys of regulations, laws, and policies? e.g., How are certain products regulated in different markets? What is the international experience with soda taxes? How have governments encouraged the use of alternatives fuels?

    My consultancy provides great solutions, with a network of researchers in over 34 countries worldwide (and we are growing!), and I hope some SSC readers might know someone who might need our services! jbell at

  75. vaniver says:

    CFAR is running a workshop in Seattle from June 7th to June 11th; you can apply here.

  76. pipsterate says:

    I have a webcomic some of you might find interesting. It’s not very impressive compared to some of the other stuff in this thread, but it does have the advantage of being entirely free to read.

    • Eskay says:

      So far it’s pretty cool. I like the visual style.

      I find myself wishing it had a mobile layout with less padding, so I didn’t have to zoom in every page to read it.

  77. I just started a Podcast that explores stories, philosophy, ideas; live musical performances; rational and open thinking.

    The first episode features the story of a young Syrian refugee I made friends with last year in Holland, how he made his way to western Europe though Lebanon, Turkey, on a dangerously overcrowded boat to Greece etc

    It’s on Itunes and all the major podcast aggregators, just search for Cosmic Tortoise. New episodes every 2 weeks.

    Any feedback is much appreciated,
    Cheers from New Zealand

  78. jtkatz says:

    Here’s a Sam Harris twitter bot I made:

    • pipsterate says:

      My favorite tweet:

      Of course, “to rule” may imply an active obligation to “implement” Islam as a “neurologist,” which I try to do on a regular basis.

      –Sim Harris

  79. Improper says:

    I make custom props for fire performers; specializing in enormous flaming battle axes; I also do swords and custom designs. You can see some of my work at

  80. callmebrotherg says:

    I’m moving to the Bay Area in August to attend San Francisco State University. I’m looking on Craigslist and such right now, but if somebody here happens to know of a place that’ll be opening up then please let me know.

  81. nope says:

    Attention romantically unattached humans:
    I’m looking for people in the Bay Area to possibly date, but I am bad at leaving the house.

    Here are some of my characteristics:
    -Female, 24
    -Obscenely introverted
    -Pretty smart, but stated in some socially smooth way that doesn’t sound like a brag
    -Reasonably conventionally attractive (again please apply jedi magic here)
    -Aware that describing oneself as having attractive qualities online is not a super great signal of actually having those qualities
    -Edit an online longevity magazine (no, not the one you’ve heard of)
    -Monogamously inclined
    -Very short, may have once been mistaken for Scott and [redacted]’s child

    Special circumstances:
    -Currently non-exclusively dating someone I will with >50% probability date exclusively in several months.

    Here are some of the things I’m looking for:
    -Male or female, >24 yrs old
    -Very smart
    -Doing something cool with your life
    -In the Bay

    If you’re interested, write to me at

    • Scott Alexander says:

      I know Tegan, can confirm the information above, can confirm she’s been mistaken for my child.

    • acrimonymous says:

      Reasonably conventionally attractive

      no jedi magic required.

      good luck.

      • alexsloat says:

        It’s not actually that simple, much as guys sometimes think it is. Yes, a moderately attractive straight female can get casual sex more or less for the asking, but that’s not what most of them are looking for in a relationship. Expressions of interest from a decent number of guys if she makes it clear that she’s looking, also plausible, but the problem of quality doesn’t disappear there either. Finding a decent partner, especially when you’re someone who is “obscenely introverted” and thus doesn’t go out meeting people very often, is far more difficult than simply finding someone.

        Attractive women have advantages in the dating market, no question. But it’s not like everything is given to them on a silver platter.

    • Said Achmiz says:

      I’m nowhere near the Bay Area and so cannot date you, BUT I just checked out your blog and it’s pretty great! (I’m not sure I agree with your theory about introversion/extraversion — for me input and output seem to correlate more than you suggest — but it’s a perpective I’ve not seen before, certainly…)

  82. astaereth says:

    In the wake of the 2016 Presidential election, it was clear that the news media was broken. In response, I founded Torchlight, a grassroots news organization whose citizen journalists cover important stories with honesty and accuracy.

    -Unlike mainstream news organizations we don’t ascribe to false equivalence or false neutrality.
    -We don’t carry advertisements, which encourage clickbait and other bad news habits, and we have no paywalls, which discourage the free and open dissemination of information; instead, we’re funded entirely through Patreon.
    -Our team of citizen journalists don’t have the bad habits reporters learn in big corporations. We cover policies, not personalities. We strive to report the news that matters to our readers’ lives. We’re not beholden to access or interested in stenography. We come from all walks of life to lead by example and fix the media.

    If you’re excited by our mission, there are a lot of ways you can help out.

    1 – You can become a part of our team by applying here: or emailing us at

    We’re looking for: writers, researchers, editors; web developers with PHP experience; graphic artists and photographers; lawyers, accountants, business managers; marketing and social media.

    Torchlight is an all-volunteer organization. We encourage those with diverse viewpoints to apply.

    2 – Support us on Patreon for as little as $3/month to help us create honest, accurate news.

    3 – Follow, like, subscribe, share, etc on social media:
    Twitter: @Torchlight_News
    Facebook: Torchlight Media
    Instagram: @torchlightpics
    Tumblr: Torchlight Media

    4 – Read and spread the news! We have some seriously great stuff on there, and we publish an average of six original news, analysis, and opinion articles every week, typically on M/W/F. Check it out and enjoy!

    I’m happy to answer any questions or comments here.

    • callmebrotherg says:

      How do you make yourselves openly accountable or otherwise demonstrate that you are more trustworthy than the average news org? Anybody can claim to not have the bad habits of mainstream journalists, etc etc, but Breitbart is still Breitbart, and if the only solution is to rigorously dig through all of your articles and cross-reference them then I might as well stick to Reuters.

      • astaereth says:

        We’re pretty heavy on links and citations, we fact-check, we call a lie a lie, etc.

        But really like any other news source you have to read and evaluate for yourselves. If Torchlight was Breitbart, me saying “we’re very trustworthy” isn’t worth much. Good news reading requires personal effort to determine which sources are good and which aren’t.

        Obviously we don’t have the resources to compete with Reuters, but we have a perspective that our readers appreciate. I encourage you or anyone else to check us out and decide for themselves.

        • Aapje says:

          Not really impressed, I’m afraid.

          Take this article:

          The entire article only makes sense if you believe that all LQBT people have the same opinion and/or if you believe that it is wrong for people to round themselves off to one of the political parties.

          The article makes extremely subjective accusations like: “What keeps Ms. Jenner holding comfortably to this party? The answer is, simply, because she’s an extremely wealthy white person.” Some people have been known to accuse black people of only supporting the Democrats because they want handouts. These kinds of accusations are toxic.

          The article has implicit slander: “As far as we know, Ms. Jenner is neither an especially religious person, a corporate lobbyist, a white nationalist, nor a homophobe.” The implication is that these are the only reasons why a person could be Republican.

          And more implicit slander: “Let’s talk about a typical transgender experience in Trump’s America: […] raised in a local culture that is hostile, inhospitable, and (if rural) has very limited resources to help anyone struggling to understand their gender incongruity. Your school won’t know how to help, your classmates will feel emboldened to humiliate you.” By linking these to “Trump’s America”, it’s implied that he wants these things to happen. Now, this is a pretty common blue tribe belief, but it is a pretty common red tribe belief that they are not seeking to cause suffering.

          The weirdest part of the article is where it starts speculating about what Jenner and Pence could possible have to talk about, at the end of an article full of reasons why Jenner may disagree with Spencer on say: LGBT issues. That the writer can’t even imagine that Jenner could argue for LGBT rights in that discussion is very telling.

          The weird part is you file this under ‘news,’ while other articles are explicitly designation “[opinion],” yet the article is little more than opinion.

          • astaereth says:

            I think you’re right, actually; this should have been marked as opinion and wasn’t. I apologize for the oversight.

    • Ivy says:

      The concept sounds really promising! Subscriber-funded news is the way to go.

      You’ve got a lot of content. If you had to pick one or two articles to convince us that we should be reading Torchlight instead of mainstream news, what would they be?

    • Murphy says:

      “or false neutrality.”

      You could just say “anti-GOP” or maybe “left wing”. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that. When I saw the false neutrality bit I wasn’t sure if I was going to find another breitbart.

    • alexsloat says:

      Anyone advertising a news outlet with “Unlike mainstream news organizations we don’t ascribe to false equivalence or false neutrality” is waving a giant red flag, IMO. That seems to be an obvious sign of very strong bias, and thus reason to not check you out, even if your bias happens to match mine. “False neutrality” is false, yes, but it’s one of the better ways to try to keep personal bias from clouding everything – if the reporters have to give the other side the time of day, at least they can’t be too ham-fisted with their biases.

      For comparison, this literally makes you more happily biased than “Fair and Balanced” Fox News.

      • sty_silver says:

        I disagree with that in principle.

        “False neutrality” is false, yes, but it’s one of the better ways to try to keep personal bias from clouding everything

        Why would that be true? It is very likely that reality isn’t neutral, therefore if you try to be neutral you’re very likely destined to be wrong.

        If you try to be objective you might be biased and come out on the wrong end, but you might also be correct. At least you have a chance. I consider advertising with neutrality to be a red flag.

        • alexsloat says:

          In general, any opinion popular enough to be worth using false neutrality on will at least have a few good arguments for it, sufficient to convince a decent portion of the populace. Simply ignoring those views and refusing to engage is appropriate for an advocacy site, but if you’re striving to be objective, then cooking your biases in from the start isn’t the best way to do it.

          Which is more likely to present an accurate picture of the world – someone who says “I try to look at all sides of an issue” or someone who says “I only look at one side of an issue, because those other sides are stupid and wrong”? Yeah, occasionally that second approach is the right call(e.g., homeopathy), but it’s got a much worse track record overall.

          • sty_silver says:

            Which is more likely to present an accurate picture of the world – someone who says “I try to look at all sides of an issue” or someone who says “I only look at one side of an issue, because those other sides are stupid and wrong”? Yeah, occasionally that second approach is the right call(e.g., homeopathy), but it’s got a much worse track record overall.

            Someone who says “I try to look at all sides of an issue.” is going to present a more accurate picture of the world.

            Alas I don’t understand why you think the choice is between those two things. I was arguing that forced neutrality is bad. I think the choice is between “I will look at all sides of the issue, but make sure I come out somewhere near the middle” (forced neutrality) and “I will look at all sides of the issue, and accept where I come out, whether that’s near the middle or very far away from the middle” (no forced neutrality).

          • alexsloat says:

            In the context of journalism, “neutrality” usually takes the form of discussing both sides of the issue – e.g., “Senator X accused of taking bribes!…The Senator’s spokesman claimed that the payments were routine purchases from his wife’s business, and that nothing inappropriate took place” – and not explicitly taking a side unless a claim is quite flagrantly untrue. That seems more likely to improve reporting quality on average than reducing it.

          • sty_silver says:

            In the context of journalism, “neutrality” usually takes the form of discussing both sides of the issue – e.g., “Senator X accused of taking bribes!…The Senator’s spokesman claimed that the payments were routine purchases from his wife’s business, and that nothing inappropriate took place” – and not explicitly taking a side unless a claim is quite flagrantly untrue. That seems more likely to improve reporting quality on average than reducing it.

            There’s a bit to unpack here. You’re sort of saying that the strict meaning of neutrality, which is what I was talking about, may not be good, but you implicitly understand it to have a broader definition, also including “listening to both sides.”

            I think it’s a really bad idea to put these two things together, because they’re not the same; in fact one is good and the other bad. Examining both sides is always good, you don’t want to disregard parts of the story. Forcing yourself to stay neutral is bad. Refusing to take a stance either way is different but also bad, for two reasons

            1) Explaining why one of the things is worse than the other is part of your job
            2) pretending as if you’re neutral to the story when of course you aren’t is desceptive and makes it harder for viewers to judge how reputable you are. A good pundit/journalist/writer will tell the audience her views so that they know where her supposed biases are likely to be and can better decide how objective it still is.

            You also shouldn’t equate “having a non-neutral position” with “being biased towards one side.” If reality is far enough right of the center, you could be leaning right wing and still be slightly biased towards left wing, since you’re not being right wing enough (or vice versa).

          • alexsloat says:

            Basically, I’m trying to distinguish between “journalistic neutrality”(i.e., covering all relevant sides without explicitly preferring one) and “strict neutrality”(i.e., not actually having any preferences). I think we’re in agreement that journalistic neutrality is a good thing for non-opinion journalists to practice.

            When I see a journalist deriding neutrality, I assume they’re deriding journalistic neutrality in practice, even if they’ll occasionally try a motte-and-bailey trick to pretend that it’s only strict neutrality they’re opposing. That was what I was reacting to. Is this a case where the disagreement was strictly a function of ambiguous terminology?

          • onyomi says:

            Personally, I think maybe journalists have gotten entirely too postmodern. Pretending really hard to just report the facts without a lot of tendentious language thrown in is probably valuable in its own, “fake it till you make it (even though you’ll never quite make it)” sort of way.

          • sty_silver says:

            Is this a case where the disagreement was strictly a function of ambiguous terminology?

            I guess, but in this case terminolgy matters, because the question was about whether advertising with “no false neutrality” should be a red flag or not. We can probably agree on that you should specify what you mean if you do that.

        • AnonYEmous says:

          Why would that be true? It is very likely that reality isn’t neutral, therefore if you try to be neutral you’re very likely destined to be wrong.

          But it’s also very unlikely that reality is your particular level of bias. In other words, everyone is very likely destined to be wrong, by this framing.

          But generally, neutrality gets you closer to the truth. And even if you can’t get all the way there yourself, your neutrality enables your readers to do so; it lets them see the best arguments for both sides and go from there. I can’t tell you how many terrible articles I’ve read that simply don’t address the argument of the other side; those are worthless.

          In practice, it seems like people who complain about “false neutrality” are hyper-partisans who are annoyed that their fellow partisans aren’t quite partisan enough, instead of realising that both groups are in fact too partisan and that this is the original problem. But either way, not really a fan.

          • sty_silver says:

            But generally, neutrality gets you closer to the truth.

            I think that is false. The neutral position neither seems to have been good historically nor right now.

          • astaereth says:

            I agree with sty_silver here. It’s good to look at both sides of an argument, and sometimes it is super necessary and important to be neutral. In the example given by alexsloat, a politician is accused of X but that politician denies that X is true. Without definitive proof or even strong indications of the politician or their denial being wholly non-credible, it’s important to present both sides without concluding one or the other is correct, because you really have no evidence for that conclusion.

            However there are other instances where, after considering both sides, there is one clear answer. For example, climate change, the shape of the Earth, Pizzagate, etc.

            There’s a related issue of “performative neutrality” that we also think is harmful and should be avoided by the media. This is the impulse that leads the media to try and criticize both sides of a discussion or election in equal measure; that says that [long list of Trump scandals] deserves as much attention and passion and air time as [single minor Clinton scandal]. As we all saw during 2016, that particular problem probably contributed to the election results, when that framing or set of emphases is patently ridiculous.

            So while it’s important to always question your beliefs and your evidence and your assumptions, I believe it’s also important to, wherever possible, ultimately come to a conclusion about the reality of the world and to express that conclusion so that others can benefit from your understanding.

          • Aapje says:

            However there are other instances where, after considering both sides, there is one clear answer. For example, climate change, the shape of the Earth, Pizzagate, etc.

            While that is true for the examples you give, each tribe also has beliefs that they tend to consider 100% scientifically proven, yet which are not, actually. Also, there are plenty of cases where tribalism causes people to claim that their subjective beliefs are objective, for example:

            This is the impulse that leads the media to try and criticize both sides of a discussion or election in equal measure; that says that [long list of Trump scandals] deserves as much attention and passion and air time as [single minor Clinton scandal]. As we all saw during 2016, that particular problem probably contributed to the election results, when that framing or set of emphases is patently ridiculous.

            It is very subjective which scandals are minor and major, for various reasons. Of course, everyone things that their own judgment is superior…

          • eh says:

            I’m not sure if neutrality is the right word for it, but I would like to read more journalism that
            – doesn’t assume the other side is stupid
            – doesn’t assume the other side is evil
            – characterises the other side in a way that the other side agrees is fair
            – still acts as effective criticism

            Examples of blue-tribe journalism that could meet these standards might be a piece written about climate change denial that defends the accuracy of ice core samples, about Caitlin Jenner that acknowledges she’s trying to make the red tribe less homophobic but doubts whether it will work, or an investigation into why individual US states can’t operate their own single payer healthcare programs. Red-tribe journalism is left as an exercise to the reader.

          • alexsloat says:

            @eh: I fully agree, though that seems like the opposite of OP’s project.

            Aside from Scott, Megan McArdle is one of the few people I know who’s both a moderately prolific and well-known writer and who meets that standard. We’re doomed, but at least there’s a couple decent writers to hold us over until the apocalypse.

      • astaereth says:

        I addressed the neutrality aspect below, but specifically on the notion of bias–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bias so long as it is clearly acknowledged. Everybody has bias, no matter how you might try and correct for that (either properly or overly), and it’s ultimately healthier for the media landscape if more organizations are willing to say “Yes, we’re biased, but also here is our evidence so you can check our work for yourselves.” That enables readers to decide for themselves who is trustworthy or not–you can read an article and evaluate it in light of bias so long as you are aware of the bias. It’s much harder comparatively to read, say, a CNN article or a NYT article and see where their implicit biases may be warping the story.

        So the difference between us and Fox News is that, while we try to be fair, we certainly don’t pretend to be balanced, as they do. Nor do we attempt to lie or obfuscate to achieve a political end, as I believe Fox News does all the time. (Just look at their current coverage of the Trump stories: rather than airing those stories and saying, “These are the accusations, but to be fair and balanced, these are the denials and we don’t have enough evidence yet in either direction,” they’re mostly just not reporting them, or reporting on them as the result of liberal media conspiracy. That kind of viewpoint doesn’t help anybody.

        • alexsloat says:

          FWIW, increasing the amount of direct links to relevant source material is excellent journalistic practice, even if I’m not a fan of some of your other practices. Thumbs-up for that.

    • Deiseach says:

      -Unlike mainstream news organizations we don’t ascribe to false equivalence or false neutrality.

      So you’re an advocacy site. Fair enough, but then please cool it on the “we’re all about just the facts”.

      • Quixote says:

        Reported for being intentionally obtuse (or at least sounding like it).

        The idea of false neutrality isn’t that hard. It points to a real (and common) thing that happens in the world. Acting like you don’t understand this and that not passing on false statements without comment makes someone advocacy fails truth, kindness, and necessity.

        I take no position on if OP is actually advocacy or not, I’m not personally interested in micro journalism and think doing it well requires a large budget and large staff, but I do take the position that this comment is both obtuse and dickish.

        • J says:

          I found Deiseach’s comment true and necessary, and not particularly unkind. Your own comment could have been a lot more diplomatic, though. Telling someone you reported their comment and then calling them obtuse and dickish seems more likely to create enmity and offense than to foster increased goodwill.

        • Nornagest says:

          Deiseach’s right. False neutrality is a thing that exists, but I have a hard time taking it seriously as a problem — at worst, it wastes a few column inches on an idea that’s already doomed, because it’s wrong and everyone knows it. When someone brags in their mission statement that they’re avoiding it, that tells me that they’re doing advocacy, because no one that isn’t doing advocacy cares that much. (They may not, however, think they’re doing advocacy. The strongest advocates for stuff often think they’re simply explaining the pants-on-head obvious; they’re just wrong.)

          Probably a smug, ‘splainy kind of advocacy, specifically; it makes me think Vox.

        • Deiseach says:

          You are well within your rights to report any comment you believe to be untrue, needlessly partisan, made in bad faith, obtuse, feigning ignorance, or a troll.

          However, I maintain that – taking a sample link of the ones provided by the progenitor of this site – this is indeed an advocacy site and not merely “we cover the news with honesty and accuracy”. Let us take that sample link, the charmingly titled “House Republicans Pass “Repeal and Go Fuck Yourself,” or AHCA For Short” (granted, the Torchlight site used the winsomely old-fashioned traditional “asterisk asterisk asterisk” usage, but those of us on here have all heard the word used if not used it ourselves, so let’s drop the coyness):

          In a sickening display of malevolence overcoming incompetence, House Republicans voted Thursday to take the first significant step in passing a bill which will have catastrophic effects on health insurance for tens of millions of Americans. The exact impact of the bill, the American Health Care Act, is unknown, because Speaker Ryan and his fellow Republican legislators voted on the bill after only one hour of debate, and long before the Congressional Budget Office could estimate how new amendments would alter their previous report on the AHCA, which the nonpartisan office said would leave 24 million Americans without health insurance by 2026. After the previous attempt at passing AHCA was stymied by both the House Freedom Caucus and other Republicans, these amendments placated both groups by making the bill significantly worse for those affected.

          Well, very definitely no “false neutrality or false equivalence” in that first sentence. But what is there in this article to make me think more than “same old, same old, heard it all before, if I wanted to be lectured and hectored in a screeching tone I’d open a Twitter account” and read this site as a regular “we tell you the news in a way that conventional journalism doesn’t”? Were I a partisan of this particular viewpoint, yes, I’d sign up to be regularly shocked and outraged by how awful That Lot were being this week, but I can get that anywhere on the net.

          This may or may not be citizen journalism. It is advocacy, unless they get a few writers from the other side of the fence to do some citizen journalism for them telling it like it is (or how it is perceived to be) from the ‘my secret shame: my family are Republican voters’ side of the street. Or perhaps contribute an essay to the Lamppost (which is the section containing essays to inform and educate potential readers so they know what’s what):

          Lampposts are informative essays designed to give you the basic information about a topic. They may be straightforward definitions, historical surveys, or explanations of concepts from political science: regardless of topic, they’re meant to supplement our mainline journalism and provide easily accessed reference material for our writers.

          Maybe another essay from a different viewpoint on “the Political History of the United States”:

          the modern Republican triad of big business, white supremacy, and the religious right

          Major figures: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, Charles and David Koch

          Major issues: Cold War, welfare state, civil rights, regulatory framework, abortion, LGBT rights, the environment, taxes, health care, terrorism

          Winners: Republicans, the rich

          Ah, the Evil Party, so! Right, now I (a simple foreigner) know who are the Bad Guys and who are the Good Guys in American politics and for whom to cheer when reading the Torchlight citizen journalism!

          (Can we get one of those bingo card memes going for every mention of the Koch brothers?)

          • Hyzenthlay says:

            When I first read this comment I thought, “Wait…they’re saying Barack Obama is a white supremacist, now?”

            Having glanced at the actual essay now, I think I misunderstood that, he’s just listed as a major player in the conflict. But given that the left gets exponentially loopier and more extreme each year, I would not be at all surprised to hear serious claims that Obama is, in fact, a white supremacist.

          • Deiseach says:

            No, no, that was a reduction on their part of the cast of Good Guys (Clinton, Obama) vs Bad Guys (Nixon, Reagan, Gingrich, Cheney, the Kochs). Sorry, the way I excerpted it was misleading.

          • Quixote says:

            Right. So you’ve used compiled a compelling collection of quotations and convinced me that this particular website is in fact advocacy.

            I acknowledge your correctness about the object level of this website. What I objected to was your dismissal of the idea of false equivalence and the implicit claim that actively avoiding it amounts to advocacy.

            I acknowledge my tone was considerably more brusque than is optimal for persuasion. But I think it may have been appropriate for chiding perceived bad behavior, which was the pro social intent of my comment.

          • Nornagest says:

            I think the Koch brothers are the free space in the middle of the Bingo card.

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      So, important stories with honesty and accuracy, completely unlike current press, are (from the homepage, in Politics):

      1. Trump is a Russian agent, because McCarthy once said he thinks so
      2. Comey “memos”, which prove Trump asked him to stop Flynn investigations
      3. Trump impeachment, as required by one Texas Democrat

      Then, Civil Rights:

      1. School district split story that seems to imply racial division but was a bit hard for me to follow, mainly because I don’t care about school in some tiny city somewhere and the article does not tell me why I should
      2. GOP sucks and Caitlyn Jenner is a terrible person for supporting them. Possibly the worst person ever.
      3. Refugee Vetting is Already Thorough. This is actually a good headline, unlike the article which adds little to it.

      I must be missing something, because all three are a) rehashing what most of the press is talking about 24/7 for weeks now and b) featuring exactly the same level of depth, source research and honesty and the abovementioned sources, except that this outlet does not source them but rehashes them.

      Now why on Earth would I read this (except for once out of curiosity as I just did)? If I want to read how Trump is the devil and needs to be (or will be) impeached, I can go right to the source – CNN, WaPo, NYT, NBC, there’s no shortage. Why would I need second-hand here? If I want to read something else – like deep analysis of actual facts without sensationalism and editorializing – I certainly don’t find it in Torchlight Media as I see it now.

      I’m sorry but I don’t see what exactly you are “fixing” and how. If anything you’re making it worse by adding more noise without adding noticeable – at least noticeable to me – value.

      • astaereth says:

        I come away from those stories with different messages:


        1. The GOP fallback position of “it was just a joke” is increasingly untenable
        2. The Comey memos are more credible than shifting White House denials
        3. People are discussing impeachment but the order of succession is not full of presidential material

        Civil rights:

        1. Segregation plays out at local levels and is not as simple as you might think
        2. Okay I think you got that one
        3. “Here’s a discussion of the vetting process from somebody more closely involved in it”

        I think we have more editorializing and less sensationalism; I think we offer a digest of the news unclogged with meaningless stories. My aim is that if Torchlight is all you read, you’re still decently informed. We may not be there yet, after just three months up and running, but we’re trying to get there.

        There’s a lot of good stuff happening in the media right now, like the Washington Post’s investigative journalism, and we hope that by boosting that signal we can drown out some of the noise.

        Here’s what we’re not doing:
        -giving credence to the Seth Rich conspiracy theory (or the wilder Russia notions on the left, for that matter)
        -talking about who bowed to whom and when
        -plastering the name and picture of a terrorist all over our site

        Our goals are to do things right and also not to do them wrong, and we’re working hard on both. Hopefully we continue to improve as we gain more experience and resources.

        • Garrett says:

          May I ask why you’re unwilling to consider the “Seth Rich conspiracy theory”?
          As far as I can tell, there’s more public evidence (not that it takes much) that Seth Rich was the source of the DNC emails being leaked to Wikileaks, as opposed to the Russians.

          That he was shot twice in the back in a nice neighborhood with no valuables being taken and no suspects is certainly an odd event, and certainly looks suspicious given the above. At the same time, coincidences happen and people who are willing to take risks and violate privacy policies of their employers are also liable to make poor decisions such as offending the sensibilities of ruffians who may be willing to settle such disputes of honor in a less-than-sporting fashion.

          • astaereth says:

            I’m not unwilling to consider it. I’ve considered and rejected it. Having rejected it, I’m unwilling to lend it credence.

            From what I can tell, the only significant evidence that Seth Rich has anything to do with anything came from the private investigator on Fox who said the FBI quashed the police investigation. The private investigator has since withdrawn his statement (saying Fox told him to say it) and Fox has done the same (saying their story didn’t meet their standards). Anything else is pure speculation with no evidentiary basis, and that’s before you get to the part where he was supposedly assassinated after the fact for an act which is, itself, unproven to have occurred.

            Also, the story is pure distraction–we have significant evidence that emails were hacked by Russia, and more sets of emails were released by Wikileaks than Rich had access to in any event.

          • Jaskologist says:

            There are two different Seth Rich stories. One is that he gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks. Last I heard, this was what Wikileaks themselves claimed. I wouldn’t call this one a conspiracy theory; there’s not much evidence out there for us to use, but it’s not a crazy premise. How much you believe this depends mostly on how much you trust the different people making different claims about the leak sources.

            The other is that he was murdered for leaking, presumably by somebody in the orbit of Hillary and/or the DNC. That one is the conspiracy theory.

        • alexsloat says:

          > People are discussing impeachment but the order of succession is not full of presidential material

          By any traditional standard, it is. The next people in line are, in order:
          1) Mike Pence, Congressman for 12 years and Governor for 4
          2) Paul Ryan, Congressman for 18 years
          3) Orrin Hatch, Senator for 40 years
          4) Rex Tillerson, CEO of one of the largest companies in the world for 10 years

          Any of them has enough experience at high-level political operations and use of executive and/or high governmental power to do as good a job at being President as anyone who hasn’t held the job before. All are easily more experienced than Obama was in 2008, for example. All are seemingly sane and rational, all are willing to give up substantial potential private-sector income to work in government, and all have a reasonable amount of respect and public support.

          You’re saying they’re “not Presidential material” because of their ideology, not their qualifications. I’m not a huge fan of all their ideologies either(Pence and Hatch in particular are way too bible-thumpy for me), but that makes them merely suboptimal, not unqualified.

          • astaereth says:

            Fair point; that’s poor word choice on my part. I should have said that the order of succession is full of people who, if better than Trump, are not exactly people those calling for impeachment would enjoy all that much more as their president.

          • alexsloat says:

            Fair, I can agree with that.

    • Paul Brinkley says:

      I frequently say that all news is biased, even if it wants to avoid it. This is innate to the venue. Limited minutes in a TV segment; limited inches on a broadsheet; limited pixels on the front page of a website, and ultimately, limited time in an audience’s attention. Bias will manifest, not just in what an outlet reports which is false, but also in what it leaves out which is true. Whatever doesn’t make it to the front is effectively absent for the average viewer.

      Much less frequently, I say that you have a few outs, especially with a website. But AFAICT they involve a great deal of work. My wishful desire:

      Starting with an issue, you’d identify all the major sides, and write an opening argument for each. Then you go to specific claims within each argument. Link them to counterclaims.Counterclaims may likewise have their own counters, and so on. Eventually they will bottom out in either measurable conditions, or untestable disagreements. There may be thousands of these.

      Do this right, and there won’t be a narrative; everything will likely turn into a tangle of one-hand, other-hand facets. So be it. Abandon a narrative. Your goal should be to map the territory as accurately as possible (see /eh/’s comment above), and the default policy should be to sacrifice simplicity for accuracy. The quality of output here comes in the links of claims to their counters and supporting facts, and perhaps a few automated tools to try to get a grip on which side of the issue might have the firmest support.

      I’ve often wanted to do something like this myself, but I know full well it would be several full-time jobs that pay nothing. Even if I crowd-source it, it’d be like Wikipedia on Formal Semantic Steroids.

      • astaereth says:

        This is sort of what WikiTribune is trying to do, crowdsourced political news.

        But I think the problem with today’s political conversation is not that individuals aren’t hearing good arguments, but that we operate based on different facts and different root assumptions. Converting one side or the other is generally a long, slow process, however well-curated and detailed the pro and con arguments might be.

        It seems more important to figure out how to inform people who are uninformed or misinformed, and how to interest people who are uninterested, than to try and force agreement over policy and philosophical disputes through structured debate.

        • Nornagest says:

          By “inform[ing] people who are uninformed or misinformed”, do you mean people who share your basic ideology but have bought, in your eyes, into bad arguments, or people who remain unconverted? Because the tactics you need for the two are distinctly different, and I don’t think your house style is particularly well optimized for either, although it’s closer to the first.

          Being a News Explainer for your side — collecting high-quality arguments for right-thinking people, and not sparing a column inch for wrong-thinking ones — is what Vox and its competitors are trying to do. It’s a crowded field, but most of its entrants suck, so maybe you can do better. Even the best don’t do much to raise the quality of debate, though, because their consumers don’t have the training or inclination to filter arguments by quality: meaning once they click away, they immediately forget everything but the bottom line, and mix that promiscuously with whatever random crap crossed their Facebook feed that day. Yours will, too. If you want to get them not to, you’re gonna have to spend a fair amount of time attacking bad arguments for goals you’re sympathetic to. But if you do that, you’ll probably get branded as a concern troll. Not an easy needle to thread.

          Trying to bridge the inferential gap to neutrals or to the other side, on the other hand, means nothing’s more important than maintaining your bona fides as fair and careful reporters. I’m not sure you can do this as a citizen-journalism site; it’s rare to find even individual writers that can do it well, it depends a lot on individual trust, and you’re not going to find much skill or trustworthiness in your slush pile. But if you’re gonna try, you probably want to build relationships with one or two good writers and axe anything labeled opinion, or at least hedge it far more heavily than you’ve been doing.

          • astaereth says:

            I agree, it’s tough. We’re still figuring it out as we go. I really appreciate the feedback, this is the kind of thing our team has been discussing since before we launched. We’ll keep working through it and hopefully arrive at a more effective answer. (The best solution, though, may just be improving actual education when it comes to civics, science, economics, and media interpretation. None of which we can really affect.)

  83. aburstein says:

    Hello, fellow SSC readers. Not quite a classified, but I figured I’d take this opportunity to promote something I’ve worked on. A while ago, I put together an essay/article/blog post on an issue that Scott has occasionally touched upon, and so I think maybe readers here would be interested in perusing it. The paper addresses the issue of the increasing lack of trust that the general public has towards the scientific community.

    It was written as a personal project, more as an exercise to consolidate my many thoughts and articles that had been gathering since I started paying attention to the topic. It wasn’t intended to be released publicly, but everyone I have shown it to tells me that it’s a worthwhile piece that deserves a wider audience. Unfortunately, since I started writing it a few years ago, I’ve been gradually adding more and more material and by now it’s ballooned to over 20 pages, so most people aren’t going to bother going through it all. But I figure that if any audience has proven they can slog through a long, over-developed article on a fairly bookish subject, it’s this crowd.

    It can be read here.

    All feedback is appreciated.

    • Aapje says:

      I’ve skimmed it and it seems well written at first glance. I was not aware of this paper that you linked and consider it extremely interesting:

      Twenty-nine teams involving 61 analysts used the same dataset to address the same research question: whether soccer referees are more likely to give red cards to dark skin toned players than light skin toned players. Analytic approaches varied widely across teams, and estimated effect sizes ranged from 0.89 to 2.93 in odds ratio units, with a median of 1.31. Twenty teams(69%) found a statistically significant positive effect and nine teams (31%) observed anon-significant relationship. […] We found that neither analysts’ prior beliefs about the effect, nor their level of expertise, nor peer-reviewed quality of analysis readily explained variation in analysis outcomes.

      This really explains a lot…

      As for your conclusion: I would argue that we need less black/white thinking. It is wrong to have 100% trust in scientists, but it is also wrong to have 0% trust in them. Proper science education ought to be about the limitations of the scientific process and the value that science can have despite these limitations.

      However, what we actually see is that the meta-conversation often depicts a binary choice between science and not-science, where the former is portrayed as being right, with no caveats. It’s not surprising that you liken your loss in faith of science to your loss in religious faith, because in both cases, people tend to be instilled with a level of trust beyond what is reasonable.

      • aburstein says:

        Thanks for the feedback.

        It is wrong to have 100% trust in scientists, but it is also wrong to have 0% trust in them. Proper science education ought to be about the limitations of the scientific process and the value that science can have despite these limitations.

        I think it’s a worthwhile criticism to consider, but then we need to ask, where are people getting the idea that they should be trusting science 100%? Doesn’t that notion come (mostly) from the science community itself? If you’re right that society needs to stop having too much trust in the system, then I think they’re the ones that need to stop expecting – nay, demanding! – such high levels of trust.

        • alexsloat says:

          IMO, the biggest request for excess trust in science comes from people wanting to use science to push a political agenda(usually, but not always, re: climate change). This does overlap somewhat with scientists, but the scientific community as a whole is much less obnoxious, so far as I can tell, than the political community on the appropriate side of the issue at hand.

        • Aapje says:

          My observation is that most scientists, while often having bad tendencies and a lack of concern for whether the scientific system is working well, do tend to have a rather high modesty when it comes to their own work. Furthermore, most have very little interaction with the general public. It’s more those who take those results and run with them that tend to go overboard. I think that this extends to schools, the media, politicians, etc.

          It’s not really surprising, since many of the problems with and limitations of science are actually very complex and hard to understand even for people with high intelligence and education. A random person is not going to be able to judge the reliability or limitations of a random paper that you give her. In the absence of an ability to judge, people are pretty much forced into trusting everything at the same level. When that trust is betrayed, people reduce their trust in all of science, even though some science is much better than other science.

          When some things that are billed as science are worse than tossing a coin, it’s unsurprising that some people may distrust all of science due to this.

          IMO, the scientific community needs to revolt against the bad system that exists and fight for a system where fewer things are researched, but what is researched is done with much higher quality. Furthermore, people who educate others about science need to learn how to effectively communicate results so it’s clear that (for example) correlations may be due to a confounder.

          • alexsloat says:

            “Furthermore, people who educate others about science need to learn how to effectively communicate results so it’s clear that (for example) correlations may be due to a confounder.”

            I think you’ll have a problem there, because most of the things you’re trying to communicate are really mindsets, and not information per se. That’s much more difficult.

          • Aapje says:

            Sure, I’m not saying that you can change it overnight.

            But imagine that the science community writes an accessible book with practical advice/examples, give courses and calls out the worst mistakes. If they as a community decide to undertake such a project, they might create a norm that you can only legitimately write about science if you have read the book and/or have been to such a course.

            Even just establishing the norm that people should run through a check list when evaluating science would be major.

  84. metwin1 says:

    Newish Registered Dietitian living in Toronto, with a background in Nutrition, Chemistry and Anthropology… able to do research, analyse and write decently after all those Anthropology essays. If you have any projects that involve food and/or nutrition of some kind, research, data analysis and report writing, let me know! Or if you are looking for a Registered Dietitian to bounce ideas off with food, cooking, eating… etc… I’m happy to work with you too.

    I just started learning Italian – a coach would be helpful to keep me motivated and correct my pronunciation. I can offer Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese) in return. English too, though I doubt that’d be helpful for the typical SSC reader. 😀

    Oh. I made an excel spreadsheet that is fairly complicated (to me, that is, as a non-programmer, it contains formulas only, no VBA)… you can do calculations to assess and start a patient on enteral or parenteral nutrition support… probably most useful to registered dietitians or doctors that start a lot of feeds. My ICU preceptor loves it, and has advised that I try to monetise in some form or fashion. I have no programming skills, no idea what the need is and if that’d even be a market that is big enough that it makes financial sense to pursue this… but I’m sure I cannot sell this tool in the form of an excel spreadsheet as the work cannot be protected. If you are a programmer, I’d love for you to take a look at my spreadsheet and let me know how much you think it’d cost to turn it into a standalone program. If the cost to develop this tool is more than what I think I can sell this for, I’ll give the spreadsheet away.

    Get in touch at: metwin1 at lycos dot com

    • Brad says:

      I have done such spreadsheet to website conversions in the past and since then several resources have been released that make it even easier. Especially if there are no macros, it is very much doable.

      But leaving aside the programming part, any website needs some design work both at a UI/UX level and at the level of graphic design. On top of that there’s marketing. If you are planning on monetizing through subscriptions or per use charges rather than advertising or affiliate sales that’s a whole other mess of expenses and headaches (account creation, merchant accounts, credit card fraud and chargebacks, sharing policies, etc, etc, etc).

      All of which is to say I think me or another programmer taking a look at your spreadsheet and trying to estimate how many hours it would take to reverse engineer the algorithm and translate it to javascript is putting the cart before the horse. It’s certainly not going to be the majority of the effort associated with getting a side business up and running.

      Best of luck.

      • metwin1 says:

        I suspect is that the effort to monetize this spreadsheet would be way more effort than it’s worth, but I should confirm that by doing more research first.

        Thanks so much for your advice!

  85. stronico says:

    I’m starting a prediction tracking service – think Stack Overflow – but for predictions. Who among you will be the Jon Skeet of predicting the future?

    It’s in the beta at the moment, but it it working – – come check it out at

    Thank you. Feedback, signups, and questions welcome.

    • mingyuan says:

      How different is this from

      • stronico says:

        They are similar – I actually wasn’t familiar with until just now. is set up to be more of a public record – eventually it will rate and rank the participants – “Credibility as Currency” is the general idea. I need to refine that idea a bit more.

    • Jacob says:

      Tracking yes/no votes without room for confidence or probability is a very poor metric for telling good predictors from bad. For example, Nate Silver gave Trump 30% and the New York Times gave him 1%. Under the Predict.Life system they would both score the same, but in terms of prediction quality, the Times were 30 times more wrong.

      • random832 says:

        Er. I’m not sure about your scoring system either. Just dividing the numbers has the consequence that giving not-Trump 99% is only about 1.4 times as wrong as 70%.

        You probably have to do something I can’t be bothered to figure out with logarithms to get a score that is neutral as to which end of the prediction it’s measuring, and I’m not sure such a result could be slotted into the phrase “X times more wrong”.

        • Nornagest says:

          Think of it as “expect this prediction to be wrong 1 time in a hundred” vs “expect this prediction to be wrong 30 times in a hundred”.

          • random832 says:

            That doesn’t help. “Expect this prediction to be right 99 times in 100” / “Expect this prediction to be right 70 times in 100”

            And the opposite prediction to be wrong, so you can’t say I’m cheating by saying “right” when you’re measuring which one is “more wrong”.

          • Nornagest says:

            Yes, I understand you can express your version the same way. That’s not the point I was trying to make.

            You could also think of it as comparing surprise. Let’s say you flip a fair coin and predict it’ll come up heads — probability .50. It comes up tails. Then let’s say you predict the sun will rise tomorrow — probability as near to 1 as makes no difference. Then aliens blow up the sun. Does it make sense to say you’re twice as surprised in the latter case as in the former?

            I’m guessing “no”.

          • random832 says:

            I don’t think the probability of an event can be directly translated to the amount of surprise from it happening.

            If you evaluate the probability of an event at anywhere between 50% and 100%, your level of surprise at that event happening is going to be the same: zero. (Neither of them would have, therefore, been surprised by a Clinton win. Would this mean that the Times was not more right than Silver?) A coin landing on heads once is not even a little bit more surprising than the sun rising in the morning. I’m not sure what the function is for the degree of surprise one has at seeing an event happen whose probability one had evaluated at between 0 and 50%, but I doubt it’s either linear or a simple reciprocal.

        • random832 says:

          To try to get back to the topic of how to evaluate whose predictions are more wrong, consider betting odds.

          The Times’ probability gives betting odds of 99:1, Silver’s gives betting odds of 7:3. If I were to have bet $1 with both of them that Trump would win, the Times would have to pay me $99, Silver would have to pay me $2.33

          By this measure, the Times was in fact 42.4 times more wrong than Silver.

          Proof of one kind of symmetry: If I had bet $1 against Trump and Clinton had won, then the Times would have to pay me $0.0101, whereas Silver would have to pay me $0.4286, so Silver would have been 42.4 times more wrong than the Times. I’m not sure though how fair it is to make an evaluation of who was “more right” about something both predicted without considering how close it was – Silver, taken as a whole, predicted a closer race than the Times did, and he could still be more right than them in the presence of a Clinton win.

        • tomlx says:

          I think you mean logarithmic scoring ( I remember reading a very good article justifying this rule, but unfortunately can’t find it right now.

          PS: I accidentally reported your post confusing the report with the reply button and it doesn’t seem possible to “unreport”, sorry for that.

  86. mingyuan says:

    Do you like books with ridiculously intricate and well-researched world building? My sister has spent the last twelve years writing a sci-fi/fantasy book series set in a West Africa-based parallel dimension. She’s done a ton of research for these books over the years, which included getting a degree in history and spending three months in Africa apprenticing with a Malian griot, among many other things, plus she’s a martial artist by profession so the fight scenes are super accurate! There’s a lot of turning-upside-down of power structures and there’s also a fully realized Mande-based conlang for those of you who are into that.

    You can read the first book for free at and you can check out the reviews on Amazon for testimonials from unbiased sources, since you probably have no reason to trust me when I say it’s amazing.

    • Tedd says:

      a) That sounds awesome, bookmarked, and b) oddly, your work analyzing the SSC meetups gives me reason to trust your recommendations, even though a priori it probably shouldn’t.

      • alexsloat says:

        If someone’s willing to put work into a community for no particular reward, they’re unlikely to want to screw with said community, so suggesting things to it is probably at least meant benevolently. (Bias still exists, but that’s a smaller problem than malice)

    • callmebrotherg says:

      Bookmarking this for later. Thanks for mentioning it.

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      Super cool. Thanks for posting!

    • JenniferRM says:

      > You can read the first book for free…

      Actually this was a lie.

      People can read all the chapters except for the last two for free. The last FREE chapter ends on a cliff hanger where [spoiler spoiler spoiler spoiler]. Pay to find out how it ends!

      Underhanded marketing. I am disappoint. Do not want.

      If it had just been a pitch to buy the book I would (admittedly) be unlikely to buy to the first book fair and square “because friction”, but maybe “because interesting concept linked from SSC”?

      Actually giving away a free book was a neat idea. That’s how Peter Watts’s free Blindsight found its audience for example (and omg that book is amazing, btw).

      In contrast, the time-wasting emotional trick played by M L Wang makes me sad that I wasted my time on her text. It was low friction pain, not low friction gain.

      • mingyuan says:

        Hey, I actually didn’t realize that it ended there and I’m sorry for the accidental false advertising. I’ve asked my sister about changing that since I agree it’s pretty underhanded. Thank you for giving the book a chance and I’m sorry you felt cheated.

        However, it’s really not cool of you to put enormous spoilers in your comment. Can you please remove that and repost just the rest of your criticism?

        • Aapje says:

          The post can no longer be removed by the author now, as the edit time window has elapsed.

      • mingyuan says:

        Hi Jennifer, apparently if she puts the book on her website in its entirety she’ll get in trouble with Amazon, but if you want the last two chapters, you can email and she’ll send them privately (this offer is open to everyone!) She’s not trying to cheat anyone, Amazon just doesn’t allow books published by them to be hosted for free elsewhere. Sorry my original post was misleading!

  87. WashedOut says:

    Are you working on a film, animation, or visual art project and need music?

    Hi i’m WashedOut on SSC, and I make instrumental music for these kinds on projects on a pay-as-you-feel basis. I do not rely on this kind of work for income, it is purely a labour of love.

    In the past I have worked on documentaries, indie video games, short visual art pieces; and written and produced 3 albums of my own music.

    All music is made using real instruments recorded live in my home studio. I specialize in dark atmospherics, the melancholic and the dreamy.

    Let me know what you’re working on!

  88. Cjcashel says:

    I have no idea what to expect from that first one but I’m definitely up for checking out anything that weird-sounding.

  89. silver and ivory says:

    Did Beeminder completely and totally not work for you? Do you have executive dysfunction? Did you lose a truly horrifying amount of money (~$100) by failing to do things over and over and over?

    Are you tasks sometimes one-off? Do they contain multiple parts that aren’t easily quantifiable? Do you prefer having actual rewards?

    Never fear! Instead, sign up for Habitica, where you can set up reward systems and punishment systems in the style of RPG gaming!

    You can complete daily quests (which can be set to repeat on certain days or every n days), one-off to-dos, and set general goals with no deadline. You can set it so that different tasks don’t begin until certain days and set due dates so that they become lower-value after that date.

    This is all in a handy checklist format!

    Sign up today, for your completely functional free account!

    (I have actually been able to do things like consistently showering, getting ready for the day, and keeping track of homework, all due to this website! Amazing!)

    • hnau says:

      +1 for Habitica! I’ve never tried Beeminder, but I’ve been using Habitica for 6+ months and have been pretty happy with the results. Tying real-life habits to the addictive imaginary rewards and level progression of an RPG is sheer genius.

      With any of these products there’s going to be a danger of getting bored / lazy and starting to game the system, and I wish Habitica’s RPG side had a bit more depth to help keep me interested. But it’s still quite effective in motivating me to do my habits. And as you noted, being totally free for 100% functionality is an impressive feature.

    • Emily says:

      Anyone want to join a party to do some questing? Post your user code here or PM me on reddit at heterodox_jedi and I’ll send you an invite. (Note: I am new to this, so if you know more about questing than I do, I will happily make you group leader.)

    • actinide meta says:

      This seems like a nice concept, but I feel like privacy is a pretty big concern.

      • silver and ivory says:

        You don’t have to write your actual name. I’m not sure if you meant something else?

      • silver and ivory says:

        You don’t have to have your actual name as the username. I’m not sure if you’re referring to something else?

  90. Anaxagoras says:

    I’ll be moving to Pittsburgh in a few months for grad school, and I’m wondering if anyone here may know of anyone looking for a housemate. I’m reasonably tidy, can provide comic relief, and I’m a stellar cook. My first choices for neighborhoods would be Squirrel Hill and Shadyside, but I’m open to others in that vicinity. Thanks for any help!

    • Pseudocydonia says:

      Oh hi! I’m also a grad student, currently in Pittsburgh. Not sure if I will need a housemate in the fall just yet, but contact me at awarren1 at andrew dot cmu dot edu. What will you be studying?

    • huffakingit says:

      I’m moving to Pittsburgh at end of June/start of July. I suppose the timing isn’t quite right but I also don’t have friends there so I figured I’d drop my email here anyway. ckhuffaker at gmail.

  91. ZachJacobi says:

    If anyone here is looking for a new blog to read, might I suggest mine? I started Socratic Form Microscopy after my disagreement with a Slate article outgrew what could be reasonably posted to Facebook and it’s kind of snowballed from there.

    SSC readers might be interested in an explanation of the comparative advantage model of trade (using jellybeans), some terrible solutions to philosophy paradoxes, or my summary and review of Arlie Hochschild’s new book Strangers in Their Own Land.

    • Rick Hull says:

      You link to is broken

    • genisage says:

      Looks interesting, thanks for posting.

      • maybe_slytherin says:

        Can confirm, I like Zach’s writing! Some good posts on how rationalism doesn’t have to mean being a massive jerk to those with different views.

    • ddxxdd says:

      The Jelly Bean/International Tease post was too complicated for me to digest in a single sitting.

      It would be helpful if you could either:

      1. Simplify it so that there are fewer “moving parts”

      2. Simplify it by weaving an easy-to-follow narrative throughout the post (i.e. “Here are two children, with two different tastes for jellybeans, two sets of chores, two separate goals, and vacillating desires to do chores and help each other’s goals. With these rules in place, watch how things naturally play out…”).

      In regards to the paradox post: I have heard of these paradoxes, and I thought your solution to the barber paradox in particular was clever, but the way they were presented was rather dry, compared to the intrigue that these paradoxes would invoke when first introduced.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s an intelligent blog. But it feels more like you’re writing to tell an audience something, rather than writing to spark an audience’s curiosity and compelling them to read more.

      • alexsloat says:

        I feel the same re: the jellybean post. And I have a degree in economics. It’d have been better as a series, I think, with each reality discussion made right after the appropriate metaphor.

  92. Elizabeth Childs says:

    I was involved in a project to republish the classic memoir of Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, To Build a Castle.

    This is my favorite book, and I have read it 15 times. I think in these times, the moral example of the dissidents is especially relevant. These were people who were imprisoned and tortured because they spoke the truth, but they never backed down.

    Here are some of the blurb quotes we’ve gotten for the book:
    “This is a landmark book and a human document that remains vital.” —Sir Tom Stoppard, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love
    “Vladimir Bukovsky has written an extraordinary account of his life in the Soviet Union…. Listen closely.” —New York Times
    “A huge story we must not forget. Even inside prison, a revolt of the mind is possible.” —Masha Alyokhina, co-founder of the anti-Putinist punk rock group Pussy Riot, who read To Build a Castle while serving time as a prisoner of conscience
    “If human bravery were a book, it would be To Build a Castle. Bukovsky’s memoir serves as testimony to the horrors of totalitarianism, a reference manual of the Soviet gulag during the Brezhnev years, and an unforgettable tribute to the courage of dissidents like Bukovsky. Unfortunately, the book is a reminder we still very much need today, when Western moral equivalence would have us believe that such monsters no longer exist. They do, and ‘To Build a Castle’ is an essential guide to understanding them, and how to fight them.” —Garry Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation

    $.99 on Kindle

    • Elizabeth Childs says:

      Here’s a story from the book that I think SSC readers will appreciate. Bukovsky is talking about his friend Alik Volpin who is a mathematician.

      “Whether it was his constant preoccupation with logic that set its seal on him or that he had chosen this subject precisely because of the formal logic’s affinity with his mode of thinking, I do not know, but all his arguments were strictly constructed according to logical theorems. Every proposition, from his point of view, had to be either true or false. He completely denied the relativity of these concepts and was made very angry by the common inexactitudes of everyday speech, regarding them as virtually the root of all human misfortunes: we introduce lies, ambiguity, and vagueness into our lives, and then we suffer the consequences. But given that in real life the truth of any judgment is always conditional, all of Alik’s arguments became encrusted with digressions, reservations, parentheses, exceptions, and qualifications, and he invariably ended up with the problem of whether and how much a word corresponds to what it denominates, terminating in such a semantic jungle that nobody had the slightest idea any longer of what was being said. Only Alik, turning his shining light-blue eyes onto his interlocutors, still thought that everything was utterly simple.

      It is easy to imagine what happened when Alik came into direct conflict with the Soviet punitive apparatus. I remember that some years later, Alik was summoned for questioning by the KGB in connection with some case or other. His wife, knowing from experience how the whole thing might end, kindly warned the investigator not to proceed with his scheme, but the latter spurned her advice. Two hours later Alik was drawing assorted circles, squares and diagrams on a statement-blank in an effort to explain to the investigator just one of his simplest thoughts. Four hours later, after completing a short course in the theory of numbers, they had at last reached the problem of the denominator; the dazed, sweating investigator ran Alik’s wife and begged her to come fetch her husband. Naturally she refused, quite rightly, considering that it was the investigator’s own fault for not listening to her in the first place. “That’s your problem,” she said.”

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        He was very fortunate that his interrogators got snagged by trying to understand him. Nastier people would have just hit him.

        This being said, I’m reminded of a comic bit (sorry no source)– “Make her talk. She won’t stop talking.”

        • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

          At the time, hitting was not very common method anymore in KGB. Getting somebody involuntarily committed in a psychiatric hospital and subjecting to forced medication and other forms of torture was, OTOH, quite common. And Volpin was subjected to it a number of times. As was Bukovsky.

          • Elizabeth Childs says:

            Yes, the book takes place during the Khrushchev thaw. Most methods of torture, with the exception of psychiatric repression, were ended during this period. Here’s another excerpt from To Build a Castle explaining why.

            The implacable logic of terror is such that as it increases it becomes uncontrollable and is usually turned against the terrorists themselves. No one had been safe from the bullet: having shot all their political opponents and class enemies during the 1920s and 1930s, the Communists under Stalin could not halt the momentum; terror became a weapon in the intra-Party struggle and a weapon of repression without which the Party could not live or rule. It turned out that two-thirds of the delegates to the Seventeenth Congress of the Party were enemies and had to be shot, and by the end of the 1940s practically the entire membership of the Politburo had been replaced.

            Later I met a man whose story excellently illustrates the mechanics of this accelerating process. It happened in 1947. A colonel in the tank corps, he was arrested on a false denunciation and accused of high treason. There was no evidence of his guilt and none was sought. All that his interrogators wanted from him was new names and new victims. They demanded that he name the people who had recruited him for foreign intelligence, and they tortured him cruelly. He was prepared to sign any idiocy against himself, but not to incriminate his totally innocent friends. At last, feeling that he could no longer hold out against the torture, and fearing to write a false denunciation of someone while he was delirious, he did something that took even himself by surprise.

            The interrogation and torture were being carried out by three KGB investigators— one chief investigator and two assistants. One day when they were demanding that he name the enemies who had recruited him, he suddenly pointed his finger at the chief investigator and said: “You! It was you, you bastard, who recruited me! Don’t you remember? On maneuvers, outside Minsk, in 1933, in the birch grove!” “He’s raving, he’s gone mad, take him away!” said the chief investigator. “No, no, why do that?” said the other two with sudden interest. “It’s very interesting, let him go on.” He never saw that chief investigator again — he was probably shot. One of the assistants took his place, the case was quickly brought to an end, and my acquaintance was dispatched to a camp with a “quarter” (twenty-five years).

            It is easy to understand that once the madness of the mass terror had ended with the death of Stalin, there were no enthusiasts for starting it up again. And now, when so many years had elapsed, when there had been a natural turnover in both the punitive personnel and the governing elite, it was out of the question to return to those times: the system had become bureaucratized and put on fat, and it was now impossible to revive the atmosphere of universal spy mania and suspicion.

        • Elizabeth Childs says:

          A friend of mine was talking about how the dissidents were perceived by some in the West as noble and impractical people, but in his experience that was not the case – he found them very practical.

          I think this is actually a profound insight. The dissidents were brilliant at figuring out which symbolic stands would have a practical effect. So rather than being impractical, they had a deeper insight into moral life than others did. Solzhenitsyn’s advice to live not by lies was not merely noble, it was a sound strategy for moral survival.

          Alik Volpin, despite being subjected to psychiatric repression, lived to the age of 91. One wonders if befuddling his interrogators with reason and logic was more pragmatic than it appears.

    • Moriwen says:

      This looks extremely interesting! Adding it to my to-read list.

      I’m curious how you would compare it to Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago, which I also found very compelling, in a horrifying sort of way.

      (Also: the Amazon summary mentions that Bukovsky was imprisoned in an psychiatric hospital. Can you say anything about how much of the horror involved is specifically psychiatric-flavored? May affect my ability to read it.)

      • Elizabeth Childs says:

        Gulag Archipelago focuses more on documenting the gulag. To Build a Castle is Bukovsky’s personal memoir, and focuses more on the dissident movement. Bukovsky spent many years in prison and in psychiatric institutions, which is of course very horrifying. But his spirit of resistance, and the example of the other dissidents, means the book is as inspiring as it is horrifying.

        Bukovsky is an excellent storyteller, and the book is a compelling read. It’s also surprisingly funny.

        To Build a Castle is an extremely personal book, and it is unique as a memoir of a person growing increasingly traumatized. Not only is it a raw and painful account of trauma, it is an account of a highly traumatized person who has attained an astonishing level of self-mastery, and forces himself to go into re-traumatizing situations over and over again. I was very moved by the depth of his sacrifice, and I think that the book has a lot to teach about how an intense quest for moral meaning can transcend trauma.

        I think many Slate Star Codex readers may also be intrigued that Bukovsky led a life imbued with great spiritual meaning although he was an atheist, unlike Solzhenitsyn.

        Regarding your question about the psychiatric institutions, yes, he is in psychiatric institutions at various points. And this is very upsetting material. However, most of the book does not take place in psychiatric institutions, and you can skip those parts without missing anything important.

    • Biggles says:

      Thanks, just bought it – this is one of those cases where I simply didn’t know I needed to read that book.

  93. nweining says:

    If any of you direct choirs and want to program interesting new choral music, I have written some, am in the process of writing some more, and would be glad to write still more for you. There is of course plenty of new choral music being written these days already, and a lot of that is interesting, and a lot of it is pretty, but relatively little is both pretty and interesting. I try to write stuff that is both pretty and interesting. has details.

  94. BenN says:

    Hi! I’m one of the moderators on Artificial Intelligence Stack Exchange, a new small Stack Exchange site. Unlike Cross Validated or Data Science – which are about the statistics/programming/implementaiton of machine learning – we cover the social, conceptual, and scientific/academic aspects of AI. Our scope is still a bit in flux, but we’re working on that. Check us out, and if you have any questions, I’m available right here!

  95. kleind305 says:

    I have a blog that will be of interest to readers of this site.

    (I’m an avid fan of SSC and I write about things that interest me. I have been told that there is significant overlap)

  96. Fiona van Dahl says:

    Fans of rational fiction adventures like ‘Luminosity’ and ‘Unsong’, check out my sci-fi/horror/thriller novels, ‘Eden Green‘ and ‘New Night‘ (kindly featured in several SSC link posts in the past). Both books are available in ebook and print on Amazon; I also recorded an audiobook of ‘Eden Green’ for Audible.

    Only one character claims to be a rationalist, but all of them act as rationally as they’re able. It’s just that, this being horror, rational behavior might not save them, and their enemy is an immortal needle symbiote.

    (Haven’t had a chance to say it elsewhere yet, so — CONGRATULATIONS on finishing ‘Unsong’! It was a lot of fun the whole way, and I’d be happy to help out with eventual publishing.)

    • Cjcashel says:

      Which one would you recommend reading first?

      • Fiona van Dahl says:

        The two books are roughly stand-alone, but ‘Eden Green’ comes first chronologically. If you read ‘New Night’ first because you prefer thrillers/cops/mil-sf/less body horror, you’d miss out on certain background events and character backstories but would still have a good time.

        I have a free serial, City on the Edge of Nowhere, that summarizes ‘Eden Green’ from an outside perspective. But genre tastes aside, the recommended reading order is ‘Eden’, ‘City’, ‘Night’.

  97. Ninmesara says:

    I’m a young doctor and I love to talk about medicine in unconventional ways. Would you be interested in a series of blog posts of on physiology, medicine and pharmacology for laymen in a way that tries to focus on basic principles and yet be complete enough to be useful? The idea would be to try to explain “how the body works” in a way that’s interesting for people that read this blog. I won’t focus on psychiatry.

    • rlms says:

      Count me interested.

    • Allah says:

      Yes, very interested.

    • Cjcashel says:


    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      I’m interested.

    • Aceso Under Glass says:

      Very yes, and I can publicize it from my blog.

      • Ninmesara says:

        The blog is now live (just click on my username).
        Not much content yet – just a list of topics I intend to cover.

        Please don’t publicize anything until you’ve had a taste of some actual content.
        O don’t want to disappoint your users.

    • God's Hatter says:

      Absolutely. I’d be very interested.

    • Ninmesara says:

      There seems to be more intereste than I expected. Would people herebe okay with disqus comments on my blog? For techical reasons I can’t/want to use something like wordpress. I don’t really like disqus, but it’s probably the easiest solution out of the box.

      • God's Hatter says:

        I’m much more interested in the article content than the comments, so would be happy reading the posts on your blog irrespective of whether the comment framework was any good.

        I can’t immediately find your blog though – do you have a link?

        • Ninmesara says:

          It’s not live yet, sorry. It wil go live later this week

        • Ninmesara says:

          I’ve been procrastinating on starting to write and decided that promising some content to people who might be interested will be good to help me take off

        • Ninmesara says:

          The blog is now live (just click on my username).
          Not much content yet – just a list of topics I intend to cover.
          I’d appreciate some feedback regarding the topics based on your interests 🙂

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        I don’t love disqus (slow loading, hard to search), but it’s better than nothing.

    • alexsloat says:

      That sounds like fun. I almost always enjoy learning about fields I don’t yet understand if it’s done in generally-accessible ways. (I’m the sort of guy who gets fascinated any time I see exposed wires or someone doing a job I hadn’t previously thought much about in public, so I’m a sucker for just about anything)

    • wiserd says:

      Interesting. Do you have a sample of what you’ve written?

      • Ninmesara says:

        No, sorry :p My blog is not live yet. This anouncement is a way to apply some pressure to myself and start blogging.

    • benquo says:


    • Ninmesara says:

      The blog is live.
      The first (and only) post contains only a table of contents on what I intend to cover.
      I’d appreciate some feedback on other topics you might be interested in, or specific subtopics you wished I would cover.

      I will also add some euclidean geometry interactive diagrams I’ve been working on.

      • rlms says:

        It doesn’t appear to actually be alive (the address didn’t resolve).

        • Ninmesara says:

          I know, sorry… It was working but now there is some problem with the CNAME record or something. It’ll be up soon I hopw.

          I’m hosting it on GitHub pages because it’s supposedly simpler than most alternatives but I’m starting to regret it.

          This link works almost as well (some fonts missing): github pages link.

          You can look at it while the domain doesn’t resolve.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          It’s probably just chugging through all the DNS servers. We’ll probably see it by the evening.

          • Ninmesara says:

            No, actually it was already working and I did something dumb. It stayed up for 30mins or something because o DNS caching -.-

            IT’S ALIVE!!!

  98. Rocket says:

    I’m in the middle of interviewing at Deepmind (research engineer, health team, through the months-long online stages and getting ready for my first in-person interview). If I don’t get it, though, it’d be nice to hear about interesting backup options, and SSC seems like a place where people might know of weird and wonderful opportunities.

    I’d totally be interested in hearing from SSC-readers who own or work in interesting companies that have jobs for that skillset, or who might be interested in paying me as a consultant, or some kind of pseudo-tutor (this is a very experimental option). I’m also okay with just making friends in the field in the hopes of straddling the line between networking and nepotism in future.

    Relevant facts:
    I’m an EU citizen, though I’d consider working in the US if you’re willing to help me sort out immigration (I have a Ph.D, which might help). I’ve previously worked in a genetics lab doing gene therapy and next-gen sequencing, and in a computer vision company doing object detection and semantic segmentation with neural nets. I also like GANs in all their flavours, but that’s more a hobbyist thing. You can e-mail me at rocketknight1 at g-mail.

    • dvasya says:

      Not sure what exactly “that skillset” includes but have you seen ?

      • Rocket says:

        Sorry, should have clarified! DeepMind are an AI/machine learning outfit, so that was the skillset I was referring to. Quantlab seems like a very cool (and lucrative) place to work, though. Will keep an eye on those postings if DeepMind turn me down.

    • armorsmith42 says:

      If you are interested in living in London, GoCardless are hiring data scientists/engineers. You can [email me]( if you feel like asking questions rather than appying directly.

      • Ninmesara says:

        Hi. Just wanted to say that your payment workflow looks amazing and it’s a shame you aren’t available in Portugal 🙂

      • Rocket says:

        Thanks! I’ll keep a note of them and your e-mail address. Plus interviewing with Deepmind has gotten me somewhat excited for living in London already.

  99. platanenallee says:

    “I’ll accept personals from gay men. Straight men probably shouldn’t bother here,” Scott mandated.

    • Ninmesara says:

      Beware the homosexuwhales, for they shall bring forth the Aporcalypse.

      • gwern says:

        It was all orcastrated by the incels.

        • platanenallee says:

          Reciprocity is key to countering modern-day alienation. Let’s encourage every humpee to humpoo humpback, and civilization will prewhale!

        • Ninmesara says:

          Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother. Make sure your sperm whale not be spilled on the ground, for that is abomination in the eyes of the LORD”

          And the LORD said: “No sperm whale be involved in the conception of this child”

          • platanenallee says:

            “So what if I indulged a little in the pleasures of the flesh?” asked Onan with his peculiar offbeat humor. “Not everyone can be a sperm ascetic. What’s the porpoise of my libertarian free willy if I can’t even flog the dolphin once in a whale,” he said, smearing sacriligiously inky jelly.

            (This is fun, but I am baleen out before this turns NC-17)

    • JRM says:

      Oh, I’m not gonna beat that one today.

    • Urstoff says:


  100. James Miller says:

    My podcast, Future Strategist, should be of interest to some of you. Past guests include Greg Cochran, Robin Hanson, Christina Hoff Sommers, Garett Jones, Scott Adams, and Zoltan Istvan. Scott, I know you don’t do podcasts, but if you ever change your mind I would love to have you as a guest

    • WashedOut says:

      Started listening to this today with your interview with Rachel Haywire. Fantastic podcast, will definitely listen more in the future. And can I just say I really like your voice?!

    • platanenallee says:

      I’ve listened to that episode with Greg Cochran where he says that Scott is “nuts”, “but not in a bad way”, and everyone involved with LessWrong is “nuts”. Hmmm…

      JM: Why do you think we are nuts?!
      GC: Oh, something genetic probably.

  101. Danno28 says:

    Please visit my youtube channel in which I give talks, including two inspired by this blog, one on Serving Moloch and one on The Tortoise and the Hare.

    My youtube Channel

    Serving Moloch

    The tortoise and the hare

  102. dvasya says:

    If you have a strong computational physics/math/engineering/statistics background, data analysis skills, love for probability and decision theory, etc., or simply are a C++ guru, a career in quantitative finance is a great opportunity for Earning To Give while working on intellectually challenging research/engineering problems surrounded by smart and interesting people.

    My employer is one of the oldest and biggest high-frequency trading firms globally and we’re always looking for talented researchers and programmers. The working environment is very different from stereotypical Wall Street culture (especially its high turnover and stress levels) and closer to tech or academia. The main research and dev teams are based in Houston which is a great city to live in, but there are smaller offices all over the country.

    Here are some current openings to browse:
    If you have questions or would like some informal feedback on your resume before applying officially, send an email to my username at

    • Odovacer says:

      Wow! I was just going to search this thread for Houston jobs as I’m moving there in August. However, I’m sadly not qualified. I’ll have a PhD in genetics, and while I have done some large data-set analysis (RNA-seq), my programming ability isn’t great.

    • leplen says:

      I did an internship there a few years ago and would also endorse it as a nice place to work.

      • dvasya says:

        Yes, thanks for reminding! We do have a (well-)paid internship program every summer, there’s still plenty of time to apply for 2018.

  103. JovialJellyfish says:

    Maths tutoring, at any level up to light graduate maths. (Logic-y stuff or combinatorics-y stuff to graduate level, pure stuff generally at undergrad level, anything you want at high-school level.) I believe strongly in finding the right understanding and intuition, and I think I’m quite good at giving it; one current tutee has frequently said things like “I’ll always remember that”, and since he said that two weeks after I told it to him, I believe he actually might.

    Contact:; rates negotiable depending on the level you’re looking for, and your first session is free.

    Credentials: I got a First in the BA+MMath course in maths from the University of Cambridge. An example of some explanatory notes I wrote for myself is at .

  104. Seiche says:

    Offering career coaching and guidance for early and mid-career civil and environmental engineering professionals.

    I have been successful helping folks with:
    – networking, job search and interview prep
    – navigating tricky relationship with your supervisor or team member
    – preparing to request a raise or promotion
    – transitioning from a talented ‘do-er’ to having staff management responsibility
    – basics of business development, proposal writing and winning new work

    My LinkedIn profile is here if you’re interested to learn more about my background.

    I do a significant amount of 1 on 1 mentoring with colleagues within my firm and have been curious about the viability of career coaching for those outside my company. I am hoping this exercise will be a simple way to test that out.

    If you are interested please do email me at mark_osler [at] and please do not just blindly send a request to connect on LinkedIn.


  105. secret_tunnel says:

    I make tiny video games! I’ve released like twenty of them in the past few years. One costs seven bucks, but the rest are free!

    People here might like Buds the most. It’s an audio-based puzzle game that you have to figure out how to play with no tutorial–use your rationality superpowers!

    This one’s pretty neat to play for a few seconds too.

    EDIT: Oh yeah, I write about games sometimes too, and Slate Star Codex is a HUGE influence.

    • Megdatronica says:

      Just finished buds, loved it! Impressive that you managed to fit that much story into a pixelated platformer with no words in it at all…

      • secret_tunnel says:

        Thank you so much, I’m really happy to hear that! It’s probably my favorite game I’ve made but also one of the least played, so it’s great to hear from someone who beat it!

    • smocc says:

      Just finished Buds, and I am recommending it to everyone based on the beautiful triple pun. (Or more?) The cute puzzle is just icing on the cake.

    • SolipsismNation says:

      I got stuck here in Buds, is this a bug?

      After I hit the spikes on the left screen, it looks like it’s in a constant death loop.

      • secret_tunnel says:

        Not a bug! Conveying that that death loop is intentional was hard, I think I needed to do a better job of that. There are spikes right under the spot where you respawn.

  106. eh says:

    I suspect he meant “shouldn’t bother” as in “straight men shouldn’t bother leaving personal advertisements in the male toilets” or “straight men shouldn’t bother creating an Ashley Madison account”.

    I suspect you are also aware of this, but hey, it’s worth saying.

  107. adgold says:

    Our ‘Evidence Appraisal Working Group’ is researching evidence appraisals in scientific discussion across economic, social, and clinical sciences. We think journal comments, journal clubs, and online commentary by clinicians, policymakers, program implementers, and researchers are a rich source of information about trial importance, quality, and appropriate interpretation, reporting, and use. We are working to make this data more available and usable to help the research system better approach evidence dissemination, synthesis, and adoption.

    Right now we have projects that will both describe what ‘evidence appraisals’ are out there and also will help build a more structured dataset of appraisals for future use. Members of our working group are examining journal comments, finding specific ‘appraisals’ (e.g. “this malaria trial only examined mortality, neglecting attendance of work and school”), and working to develop a new vocabulary for labeling these appraisal concepts that can be applied in more general fashion, regardless of disease or intervention being studied (e.g. “outcome set neglected important disease-specific quality of life measure”).

    A few practicalities:
    We can tailor this for your schedule.
    We have existing data ready for review now, but this is ongoing.
    We can work with you to make sure your set of comments is relevant to your long-term career goals.
    If you also participate in manuscript drafting or review then publication is likely.
    At the very least, you can put ‘Evidence Appraisal Working Group’ on your CV

    Interested? Please fill this out:

    See our presentation here:

    • maybe_slytherin says:

      I’m glad to see people doing this — it is a useful data source. I’ll pass for now because of other projects, but might still join the mailing list.

  108. Herman Stone says:

    This is kinda sorta a personals ad, but not really. Are any of you Bay Area people in the kink scene? Any of you on FL? Any of you care to put together a kink/rationalist night out at Citadel or Catalyst or something?

    Also, if the answer is “yes”, but you’d rather not say so here, I’m Vicexual on FL.

  109. AnonYEmous says:

    Straight men probably shouldn’t bother here

    this deeply offended me

    if you’re the kind of straight woman who heard that and found it attractive, reply and we can prove Scott wrong once and for all 😉

  110. James says:

    I’m a programmer currently available for freelance work. I’m currently mostly doing web development but have done more general software development in the past and will happily consider more of it. I know PHP, Python, Ruby, and typical web stuff like HTML, CSS, javascript, SQL…. Also Drupal.

    I’m based in the UK but am happy to liaise with people elsewhere.

    If you would like to see my full resume then get in touch at jmckernon at the popular webmail service operated by google. Thanks! And thanks, Scott, for the invitation to post this here.

  111. Sniffnoy says:

    OK, anyone else wondering if this thread has some sort of hidden purpose?

    • Ninmesara says:

      Thanks to you, now someone else is wondering the same.

    • Scott Alexander says:

      At the Berkeley meetup, I heard a couple of people say they’d gotten jobs thanks to an SSC ad, and I was curious whether there were more gains to be had here.

    • Eli says:

      Yes: to avoid having to do real work.

  112. Michael Harradon says:

    Hello! Huge slate star fan here.

    I’m a freelance contractor/consultant that specializes in building mathematical data analysis and machine learning systems. My work in the past has involved customer behavior analysis, image processing, and financial forecasting, to name a few examples. If you have data or signals analysis problems, or if you think that there might be some insights available in the data you have but you’re not sure how to extract it, shoot me an email! I also provide discounts to academic institutions.

    I have a small blog up here that I update occasionally:


  113. haljohnsonbooks says:

    Hello! I wrote a philosophical adventure novel that is perhaps Relevant to Your Interests if you’re curious about immortality, cultural change, hermeneutics, and whether the geocentric solar system is necessarily wrong or just complicated. Kirkus Reviews said it was “drenched in nihilism,” which is probably a fair cop, but is only a compliment to a certain kind of reader. If you’re that kind of reader, please check out Immortal Lycanthropes (out of print as a physical book but still available in ebook).

    I also wrote a less sad, more humorous book about American folklore monsters. It wrestles with fewer philosophical concepts, but is altogether more popular with the masses. Even Kirkus Reviews liked this one. It’s Fearsome Creatures of the Lumberwoods, and if you get a hardcover, many of the pages glow in the dark. (Do not confuse with the similar book by Wm. Cox.)

    Thank you!

  114. kauffj says:

    Interested in contributing to freedom of speech and the internet? I’m the CEO and one of the founders of [LBRY](, which is an entirely decentralized way to discover, distribute, and purchase digital content. We got a mention in the Links thread recently for mirroring all of the UCBerkeley content that was going offline.

    We’re not actively hiring, but we’ve also never been actively hiring and somehow a bunch of people work here.

    If you’re interested in the project, drop me an email at I always enjoy meeting talented people.

    (I’m also happy to send an invite to the current beta if you email me.)

    • Orual says:

      Despite not actively hiring, what sort of people would be good for your project? Speaking both in terms of hard skills and general personality, I mean. I think a decentralized and monetizable repository is a really good idea, but I also have zero idea whether I might see myself contributing very well to the effort or not.

      • kauffj says:

        Hard skills-wise, the following are all useful: programming, sales, graphic design, written communication, verbal communication, business development, media & public relations, finance/accounting, video editing, and probably lots more that I’m not immediately thinking of.

        Personality-wise: intelligence and desire

        I tend to believe intelligent, driven people will succeed in areas even where their skills do not yet exist.

        Feel free to drop me a resume or your background via email.

    • aburstein says:

      When I heard about your mirroring of the UCBerkeley videos a few months ago, I went to check you out, but found it all extremely confusing. Could not, for the life of me, figure out how to consume the content (and I’m a developer!). I think you need to make things a bit simpler if you want any hope of succeeding. There’s absolutely no way a system that requires people to install daemons and run command line tools has any hope of taking off with the masses.

      • kauffj says:

        Agreed! Which is why it’s not open to the masses 🙂

        We’re building a brand-new protocol from the ground up. We had to build a working protocol before we could build a UI. Happy to share the latest app release with you, it’s only just beginning to approach usability.

  115. Diaghilev says:

    Howdy! I’m an experienced, professional game designer in the Bay Area and I’m looking for game design, narrative design, or QA work.

    I’ve held final creative responsibility on a top-30 casual mobile game, but my preference is for projects that let me tap into 17 years of tabletop RPG experience because I am a mighty, permanently-enthusiastic nerd. My resume and examples of my work are up on (which, unfortunately, does not currently look nice on mobile).

    If nothing else, consider glancing at my portfolio for the scene with the giant telepathic pigeon.

    Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at I’m interested in both contract and full-time positions, and I’d consider relocation to more or less anywhere between LA and Seattle.

    • zorbathut says:

      Guess I’ll make sort of a connected offer; I’m an experienced professional game [i]programmer[/i] in the Bay Area. Right now I am super-ultra-overbooked, but once that’s over with (probably a few months from now), it may be worth seeing whether designer-plus-programmer works out in a beneficial manner for both of us.

      It probably won’t, ’cause that’s the way of things, but it may be worth a try 🙂

      Site and contact info over at .

  116. Alex Zavoluk says:

    I work at (the jobsearch website) and we’re hiring for a wide variety of positions here:

    If you know python and SQL, and like working with data, my team (business intelligence) is looking for analysts and developers for Austin, New York, Dublin, Tokyo, and Stamford (CT). The data science team is also looking for team members for SF, Seattle, Tokyo, and Austin.

    If you want a referral for any of the positions, you can email me at [my first initial][my last name][at]

  117. Walter says:

    I write a superperson web serial, The Fifth Defiance .

    I was inspired by reading Worm and realizing that anyone can put stuff up on the net, so I did.

  118. I’m looking for someone with web design experience to assist with an update to the look of my web site (my name, above, links to it).

    To contact me on Gmail, use my surname.

    • rlms says:

      I like your website as it is! (apart from the icons at the bottom)

      • I like your website as it is! (apart from the icons at the bottom)

        Tell me more! How should I change the page footer?

        I’m not looking to change the basic design concept. But I want the right half of the front page to become a weekly newsletter highlighting specific historic anniversaries, odd connections, etc.

        • rlms says:

          It’s quite old-fashioned, but the small amount of formatting/good use of colour makes it look massively better (more tasteful, professional, generally more pleasant to look at) than sites such as this. The only bit that stands out negatively is the footer. The large icons (especially the Facebook and Yahoo Groups ones) look jarring. Small favicon-style icons are more modern, but I think just text links would be even better. I also don’t like the diamond bullet points that are only used at the bottom of pages.

        • wiserd says:

          What’s your level of skill? Could you update that area yourself? Would it help to set up a page editable in WordPress that could be pulled into that area?

          • What’s your level of skill?

            Well, I wrote all of the HTML for all of the pages (the files are all re-generated every year or so using code I wrote). I picked up some snippets of code and adapted them for the tabs.

            I learned early on not to trust any software that wrote HTML for you, because the file would get clogged up with all sorts of unnecessary crap.

            I could certainly rearrange things myself, but it would only make the site look even more old-fashioned.

            It would also be good if there were a way to make the site mobile-friendly. I’ve never done any server-side magic, so anything in that realm would presumably require some discussion with my web host.

          • rtanen says:

            It’s possible to do a fairly responsive layout using only CSS media queries, it certainly shouldn’t require fancy server-side stuff. On a site I’m working on, I did something like @media (min-width: 25.001em){ h1 { font-size: 2em; } a { color: #600; } } @media (max-width: 25.em){ h1 { font-size: 1.5em; } a { color: #900; } }, which would style headers and links one way on a device with a wider window and another way on a narrower window. (Oh, and you need to put <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1"> to make that work, of course.)

            I would normally excitedly offer to poke at your website at this point, but I’m working on some other projects which are time-sensitive so I shouldn’t. Perhaps in a few weeks?

    • Having worked with table-based designs before, its non trivial to make them mobile friendly in many cases – might help get you started. I’m happy to help out with the look of your site in more detail though if you have wireframes.

      • Having worked with table-based designs before, its non trivial to make them mobile friendly in many cases – might help get you started.

        VERY interesting and potentially helpful — thanks!

        I’m happy to help out with the look of your site in more detail though if you have wireframes.

        I am so astoundingly ignorant (quite seriously) that I had never seen “wireframes” before your comment, outside the eyeglass context.

  119. moridinamael says:

    Did you enjoy the web serial Worm? Did you hear about Worm but haven’t gotten around to starting it? Have you not heard of Worm until this very moment? Well you’re in luck. Read along with me and my Worm-novice friend week by week, arc by arc via the We’ve Got WORM podcast (iTunes) (YouTube)!

    We’re up through Arc 10 as of last week and it’s proving to be a very popular feature.

    • gbear605 says:

      I have no experience with the podcast, but Worm itself has a 4.68 rating on GoodReads from over 2500 ratings, beating The Book Thief (average rating 4.36), The Hunger Games (average rating 4.35), Harry Potter (top book average 4.61), To Kill a Mockingbird (average rating 4.25), and 1984 (average rating 4.13), along with many other books. Of course, the rating system is hardly a good measure for determining whether a book is worth reading, but maybe it will help convince you to read the 1.68 million words.

      Definitely worth it, and if a podcast helps you, listen to the podcast.

      • moridinamael says:

        It may serve as a selling point that the author of Worm listens to the podcast and frequently gives us feedback in the r/parahumans subreddit.

    • alexsloat says:

      For those unfamiliar with Worm, it’s an extremely lengthy and gritty superhero drama, featuring some of the most imaginative powers I’ve ever come across. I’m not generally a fan of superhero fiction, but I thought it was excellent. I can’t speak to the podcast, but if you want to try it, read the first arc(which isn’t excessively long), and continue if you’re enjoying it.

    • If you want to download a .mobi of Worm to read along:

  120. Pickle says:

    Do you like games? Do you like playing pretend? Are you a fan of role-playing-games who is nodding your head in tired understanding at this point? PSYCH, it’s not an ad for traditional RPGs at all, but rather for LARPs!

    I have a friend whose site, Paracelsus Games, sells various prepackaged parlor LARPs. These range in size from three players to fifteen, and span the thematic range from “a suicide occurs in the posthuman Friendly-AI utopia and his friends gather to mourn” to “gothic fairy tale characters try to find true love before the sun rises over their Midnight Ball.” They take the form of a role-playing scenario with included rules, characters, supplementary materials (my favorite game, with the theme of “clusterfuck angel politics on the moon,” has extensive setting documents covering the complex political/historical/theological situation), and a guide to the GM or GMs on how to run the game, from start to finish. For more information, he has a pretty good rundown on how it all works here. The production values are high and the game quality matches; some of these games have irreversibly shaped my self-concept.

    I’ve played all the games available on the site and will be watching this comments section, if anyone has questions.

    • flockoflambs says:

      I recommend “Drink Me” as a great place to start for people who have not done this much before. It’s only three players and one hour, and has fun/moving results even for beginners.

    • systemicinsanity says:

      I can also endorse this guy’s work. I have some experience with the LARPs, and they’re fantastic!

    • phoenixy says:

      I can also personally vouch for these games being pretty cool. Also there’s like 50/50 odds I know your friend from college.

    • Roxolan says:

      I have just purchased and read “Drink Me”, and am favourably impressed. Not mind-blowing or anything, but everything I expect from a quality pre-packaged micro-LARP. A+ would buy again.

      (Note for the French-speaking: this sort of game is known as a “murder party” or “soirée enquête” to us, and has a few dedicated communities. Google can find you a good number of free French scenarios.)

      • Pickle says:

        Yeah, boxed murder mystery scenarios are fairly similar to parlor LARPs. Glad you think well of Drink Me, and I hope you get a chance to run it soon!

    • Roxolan says:

      Oh, a thought about the “Rules for players” document in Drink Me. There are a couple of things that I wish were in it, to save me from having to explain them separately.

      “At least one potion will give the person who drinks it a choice. You can make that choice immediately, but you can also wait a few moments, or half an hour, or fifty years. The potion’s effect will only manifest when you decide to make the choice.”

      “You are not limited to talking. You can have your character do whatever strikes your fancy. However, if you wish to do something ungentlemanly, do not physically do it; just tell the Orchestrator what your character is doing, and they will tell you the outcome.”

      and, optionally:

      “This is a theatrical experience, not a game. While your character may have personal goals, accomplishing them does not mean you ‘win’. It ensures that your character’s story has a happy ending (or maybe not; fate is rarely fair), but an unhappy ending may be just as enjoyable. Your character may even have a change of heart and decide to pursue entirely different goals.”

      (This because I will bring the game to my usual gaming group, which is more used to boardgames and murder-hobo RPGs. This may or may not be common in your target audience.)

      • flockoflambs says:

        I mean I liked it when one of the potions was IRL thrown in my face.

        But hosts should at least be informed to not run the game over a nice rug, in that case.

  121. elischiff says:

    If you like reading analysis of the latest icons, logos, and user interface designs, check out my design criticism blog:

  122. jcd says:

    I’ve been helping a friend in, of all things, his hair transplant / restoration startup here in the Bay Area: It uses robotic technology and a refined-over-decades proprietary process to migrate healthy follicles from the back of one’s head to the balding areas. Since follicles on the back of the scalp almost never die, this is a permanent solution.

    If I hadn’t seen him go from a “Norwood 6“-level of baldness to his current, permanent state, I’d never have believed how different the solution is from hair plugs and all other efforts in the past.

    • jcd says:

      I should note my avatar image is not a patient/client.

    • Creutzer says:

      startup … refined-over-decades proprietary process

      No offense, but you’ll have to explain that.

      • vaniver says:

        Presumably, it’s something that they’ve been refining for years, and just got to the point where they said “alright now we need to make this a company.”

      • Aapje says:

        The logical explanation is that his friend used it on himself for decades and then decided to commercialize it recently.

  123. captbackslap says:

    Want a sweet core PRS at a relatively reasonable price? Know someone who does and want to be a gifting hero? I’m selling my 2004 Custom 22 10-top (blue) for the lowish sum of $1650! It’s overall in very good-to-excellent condition and plays wonderfully. Reply if interested; pictures/more details on request.

  124. martoca says:

    Involved with unique exercise product for those who want minimal intrusiveness and time efficient results. Great minds here shouldn’t let their bodies wither. If you don’t like exercise, especially all the traditional stuff, maybe an ultra portable upper and lower body exercise cycle could work for you. Check it out at

  125. Liron says:

    I run a dating-advice company called Hermes.

    We just launched WittyThumbs, an interactive blog where our dating professionals analyze people’s romantic text conversations.

    Ever wish dating sites came with an instruction manual? Just upload screenshots of your text conversations to WittyThumbs. We’ll anonymize it and write you an expert analysis for free.

    • Mavarax says:

      Have people had much more success as a result of your advice? A skim of the advice given on Witty Thumbs seems more false and insincere than actually appealing. It’s entirely possible that my model of an appealing date is vastly off the general online dating market’s, but I find it hard to believe that comments like these would really help someone present themselves better:

      “You’re revealing unnecessary information. Saying the area is expensive and maybe you’ll move later doesn’t say anything about your personality. I get that you’re trying to explain yourself (because she asked), but you don’t owe her an explanation at this point. So you could’ve used this time to make dodge the question in a funny way, like “Yeah, I just live in __ and work in __ to confuse you”.” from here

      or “Should’ve done a cold-reading, guessing what she’s studying.” from here

      • Liron says:

        Yeah, our advice has a big impact. One of the most common things we do is help guys text girls better in order to get a first date, as in the two examples you quoted. For these guys, our advice will typically double or triple the fraction of conversations that lead to a date.

        For these two comments, maybe don’t think about it directly as “presenting themselves better”; think about it as the indirect subgoal of “sparking a fun conversation”, as taught in books like The Art of Witty Banter.

      • cactus head says:

        The advice seems like quality stuff to me. Very specific, actionable things, leaps and bounds better than normieshit such as “just be yourself” and its ilk, the latter being what I’d characterize as false and insincere rather than the former.

        I’ll keep an eye on this blog, thanks for posting the ad Liron.

  126. For those of you who like roleplaying in a chat environment and/or are familiar with IRC and enjoy the medium, there’s a network called Darkmyst that specialises on IRC roleplaying.

    (This is advertisement because I’ve recently come into the questionable pleasure of being network coordinator for Darkmyst – too recently to have had much of an impact yet. But in theory I’m responsible for it, so if you check it out and are unhappy with anything, chat me up.)

    While I’m a no-name here since I read far more than I post, if you’re looking for me specifically for any reason, you can usually find me as “Dread” (when I’m online) or “Taika{Acorporeal}” (when I’m not around). My own game is the currently slowly starting – it is not rationalist in any way, shape or form, but I’m not letting that stop me from mentioning it. The tl;dr is “dinosaurs in space”, although the mental images that summary typically invokes grant shockingly little insight into what the story is actually like.

  127. Cayzle says:

    Have you always said to yourself, “Gee, I’d love to see some blogger write something specific about my particular lion-centaur / D&D / robot-webcomic interest?” Well, it’s your lucky day! You name the topic (in that narrowly defined triptych of content), and I’ll write the post for my blog. All for the low low cost of following me on Twitter! Also available: Limerick parodies of famous poems.
    @Cayzle on Twitter

    • Eli says:

      I don’t have a Twitter, but can I get something about Super Robot anime?

    • bwingrave says:

      I don’t have a request — just wanted to say it’s an unexpected delight to see someone posting about wemics. Checking out your site now. Thanks for all the effort you have put into it.

      • Cayzle says:

        Ha! Your comment made my day, thanks! The offer of a blog post or webcomic inspired by a topic of your choosing still stands! My prices have dropped from “Follow me on Twitter” to “Free!” Act now while supplies last! 🙂

  128. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    My website is

    I’ve got a substantial selection of buttons and bumperstickers for sale (puns and wiseass mostly), and I do custom buttons.

    I will be selling at Balticon this weekend.

  129. areasarah says:

    Unclear if he’s saying he has no straight female readers (!) or if he only wants personals targeted at himself….

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      Scott isn’t bisexual, AFAIK, so it is probably that your chance of success as a straight man on SSC (who isn’t interested in trans women) is approximately as high as your chance of success as a straight man who is solely interested in dating cisgender female Magic: the Gathering players.

      That said, the personals should clearly be open to straight men who want to date trans women.

    • Nornagest says:

      I think he’s saying that with the gender ratio being what it is, straight men posting classifieds here are unlikely to meet with a good user experience.

      (ETA: Ninjaed by Ozy, but I’ll keep this up.)

    • Armand says:

      Seems like a Shinder ripoff to me.

    • neaanopri says:

      I read this as clearly only personals targeted at himself. And given the effort and such required to be completely _sure_ of something I bet that a convincing personal from a gay man targeted as Scott might have some success.

      One other thing, Scott might be using “gay” in the inclusive sense:

      Inclusive: A man is gay if he is attracted to men.
      Exclusive: A man is gay if he is NOT attracted to women.

  130. romeostevens says:

    “This tastes like nothing.”


    “No, listen. Food can’t just meet nutritional needs. Man shall not live by bread alone and all that.”


    “Food is meaningful to people. Sharing it is a community keystone.”


    “Nobody is going to offer this to their guests.”




    “You know what, it’s fine. Just stop here.”

  131. FishFinger says:

    Like Corpus linguistics memes on Facebook if you prefer your maymays to be corpus-based.

  132. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    If you’re a Hindu or have an interest in Hinduism, please check out the site Hinduism Stackexchange: It’s a Q&A site where anyone can ask and answer questions about Hinduism.

    I’m the moderator of the site; you can see my questions and answers here:

  133. andrewflicker says:

    The company I work for in Phoenix (Leslie’s Poolmart, Inc.) is hiring for a PPC marketing manager, so hit me up at and I’ll forward your resume along. We’re not hiring for devs at the moment, but probably will be looking to pick up a couple of PHP devs and a sysadmin later this year, so I’ll try and remember to post those on SSC when they become open.

    We’re a really tight-knit team of marketers and devs, with a lot of crossover skills and an emphasis on having everyone learn and grow a lot. (Our dev lead ran our marketing team for a while, some of our marketers know some coding, our primary graphics designer was a copywriter when he joined, etc., etc.) We have a weird seasonal pace, where the winters are very laidback, and the summers are perpetual triage-mode.

  134. nbashaw says:

    Do you like books? Check out this thing I’m building! It’s called Hardbound — we create 5-minute, illustrated summaries of bestselling nonfiction books. Here’s an example, based on Sapiens:

    We have an app, too, which is the best way to experience our stories. We have an innovative format that’s somewhere between a slideshow and a graphic novel, and it’s much better when it’s fullscreen on your phone:

    I’d love feedback!

    • gruce digby says:

      This is pretty cool! Uh, how are you making money from this?

      • nbashaw says:

        Thanks so much! Our books are available free on the web, but in our app to access the full library we have a patronage system. It’s $3.99 a month for now.

    • maxrehkopf says:

      Hey this is Max and I work at Hardbound too. We are all huge fans of Slate Star Codex and will be here all day to answer your questions. Thanks!

    • willhoekenga says:

      Fellow Slate Star reader and writer/editor at Hardbound here! Also would love any feedback from readers. We’re always trying to learn as much as possible to improve our stories.

      • Phil Goetz says:

        I like the idea of a regular line of non-fiction book summaries. The presentation, though, is so slow that I would rather just read the book. The screen is so small that I waste a lot of time in re-focusing between screens, the screens are slow to transition, and there’s even animation I have to wait for. It takes about 10 times as long to read as it would if I had the same summary in straight text, without all the pictures, which don’t add anything to it for me.

    • spentgladiator says:

      I really like it! If I just stumbled upon it randomly and not on SSC, though, I would have probably hesitated to register not knowing what other titles you offer.

      • J says:

        Yeah, showing me related titles after I finished the book in the link would have been more effective than asking for my email address

    • rictic says:

      This is cool! The format is smooth, and jumping in from a link is quick and easy.

      As was said already, tell me about other books after I’m done with one.

      After that, once I’ve read a few of your summaries, give me a way to pay you from the web! I don’t want your app, but I do want to support good content.

      Consider also offering to use web notifications as an additional channel to letting the user know about new books. As a user I like that because once you’ve got my email you have it forever, but if I want to unsubscribe from your notifications I’m in control.

      (full disclosure, I’m so biased towards the web that I went to work for a browser vendor, but I think your content is great on the web and just ok as an app. I want to link my friends to these summaries, look at them on desktop, etc. With Web Payments it’s pretty easy to accept money too! Happy to answer questions about any of the above 🙂

      • nbashaw says:

        This is super helpful, thank you! Definitely worth considering. For now it’s mostly been a matter of focus since we are a really small team, but we’d love to support the web soon.

    • lsmel says:

      I just got gifted Sapiens and now I’m not sure whether it’s worth reading it since I was not been able to resist reading your summary! Any insight?

      • nbashaw says:

        It’s definitely worth reading! We can only give you a really tiny taste of the book, the full thing has a lot more interesting nuance, stories, detail, etc. I definitely recommend it (we only do books we personally love).

    • guises says:

      “I’d love feedback!”

      Okay then. I read the book you linked, liked it a lot, and went looking for more. Feedback: your website has nothing on it. What? There’s the one other book on the home page (The Science of Practice) and that’s it. No other books, no links to other books, no information on whether there are any other books in the first place, not even any information about giving you money. I could understand asking for money, but you’re not even doing that – it’s just nothing.

      All right, it’s not literally nothing. It does keep asking me for my email address, but it doesn’t say anything about why it wants that. It says, “Get free books in your inbox every week.” but I can’t believe that you’re going to email the books to me, so this just seems like collecting personal information. Maybe the idea is that I’ll be notified when a new book is released, but that does me no good if I can’t read the books in the first place.

      tl;dr: Websites are supposed to have information on them. Your product is good though.

      • nbashaw says:

        Hahaha this is helpful! I guess when I do look at our system from that perspective it doesn’t make a lot of sense 🙂 We started out as an app, and then built support for the web, but wanted to use it as a way of giving people a taste before they downloaded the app. But I can see why it would make a lot more sense to have a much better web presence with an actual full archive of content available. Definitely something we’ll work on. Thank you!

    • MostlyCredibleHulk says:

      Is there a way to look up the book by, say, ISBN? May be interesting to link it to something like goodreads or

    • Doctor Mist says:

      I kind of like it, but don’t see any way to adjust the speed. Maybe I’m getting (have gotten) old, but the slideshow seemed to zip past faster than I could really follow it. Banging on the left arrow key did eventually seem to make it back up a bit, but it was a frustrating interface and I didn’t finish watching — and I’ve been meaning to pick up Sapiens for a while now.

      • TheEternallyPerplexed says:

        Yes, its too fast, and the arrow key responses are confusing. Just make them into Next, Previous, or add play/pause button so one can read into details on one page and zip through the next as desired. Do not force your assumption of reading spead on the audience.

        • nbashaw says:

          Really sorry, that must have been a bug! We do normally use next / back buttons so it goes at your own pace.

    • nelshoy says:

      Maybe this taste isn’t common in the age of tiny attention spans, but I’d like a bit more length/detail. Blinkist does this well, though, so I guess you’re occupying a different niche.

      • nbashaw says:

        We definitely want to go into more length as we grow our library of titles a little bigger. For now I think it makes the most sense for us to increase our coverage as much as we can, but once we have maybe 100 or so books done we should go a little deeper on the most popular ones. Thanks!