1. New sidebar ad for Relationship Hero, a phone-in help line for social interaction related questions. Liron Shapira – whom many of you probably know from Quixey/CFAR/etc – is a co-founder, which makes me think they’re probably pretty reasonable and above-board.
2. In fact, thanks to everyone who’s emailed me about sidebar ads recently. I’m trying to walk a careful line here, where I’m neither so selective that it looks like I’m endorsing them, nor so unselective that actually bad or scammy companies make it in. If you ever feel like I’m erring on one side or the other, let me know.
3. Several good comments from last week’s thread on developmental genetics vs. evolutionary psychology. See eg Sam Reuben on how different animals implement instincts, TheRadicalModerate on the connectome, and Catherio on how across different individual animals, novel concepts seem to always get encoded in the same brain areas for some reason. Several people also brought up claims that some animals seem innately afraid of eg snakes, or innately susceptible to learning those fears, suggesting that genetics has managed to find a way to connect to the concept “snake” somehow. But it confuses me that this can be true at the same time as eg the experiment where kittens were raised in an artificial environment with no horizontal lines and weren’t able to see horizontal lines when grown up. I know there’s a difference between having a hard-coded concept and having a biased ability to learn a concept, and I know it makes sense that some hard-coded-ish concepts might need data before they “activate”, but it still seems weird to both have “snake” hard-coded enough to produce behavioral consequences, and “horizontal line” so un-hard-coded that you just might not learn it.
(also weird: trap innocent kittens in a freaky bizarro-dimension without horizontal lines and you win a Nobel, but try to give people one fricking questionnaire…)