This is the biweek-ly visible open thread (there are also hidden open threads twice a week you can reach through the Open Thread tab on the top of the page). Post about anything you want, but please try to avoid hot-button political and social topics. You can also talk at the SSC subreddit – and also check out the SSC Podcast. Also:
1. Comment of the week: superkamiokande from the subreddit explains the structural and computational differences between Wernicke’s and Broca’s areas.
2. There’s another SSC virtual meetup next week, guest speaker Robin Hanson. More information here.
3. As many areas reopen, local groups will have to decide whether or not to restart in-person meetups. I can’t speak to other countries that may have things more under control, but in the US context, I am against this. Just because it’s legal to hold medium-sized gatherings now doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I would feel really bad if anyone became sick or spread the pandemic because of my blog. I don’t control local groups, and they can do what they want, but I won’t be advertising meetups on the blogroll until I feel like they’re safe. Exceptions for East Asia, New Zealand, and anyone else who can convince me that their country is in the clear.
4. Some people have noticed that my toxoplasma post seems disconfirmed by recent protests, which reached national scale even though the incident was very clear-cut and uncontroversial. I agree this is some negative evidence. The toxoplasma model was meant to be a tendency, not a 100% claim about things always work. Certainly it is still mysterious in general why some outrageous incidents spark protests and other near-identical ones don’t. I think it’s relevant that everyone is in a bad place right now because of coronavirus (remember, just two months ago Marginal Revolution posted When Will The Riots Begin?), and that 2020 is the peak of Turchin’s fifty-year cycle of conflict.
5. Speaking of protests, the open threads have been getting pretty intense lately. I realize some awful stuff has been going on, and emotions are really high, but I want everyone to take a deep breath and try to calm down a little bit before saying anything you’ll regret later. I will be enforcing the usually-poorly-enforced ban on culture war topics in this thread with unrecorded deletions. I may or may not suspend the next one or two hidden threads to give everyone a chance to calm down. I hope everybody is staying safe and sane during these difficult times.
6. If you haven’t already taken last week’s nootropics survey, and you are an experienced user of nootropics, you can take it now.