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Author Archives: Scott Alexander

SSC Journal Club: MacIntyre On Cloth Masks

[Content warning: this is a complicated analysis of something people care about a lot right now. I’m not confident in my analysis, the post comes to no clear conclusion and there are no easy answers about how to proceed. If … Continue reading

Legal Systems Very Different From Ours, Because I Just Made Them Up

[with apologies to the real Legal Systems Very Different From Ours. See also the List Of Fictional Drugs Banned By The FDA] I. The Clamzorians are animists. They believe every rock and tree and river has its own spirit. And … Continue reading

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Coronalinks 3/27/20: We’re Number One

The United States now has more coronavirus cases than any other country, including China, marking a new stage in the epidemic. As before, feel free to treat this as an open thread for all coronavirus-related issues. Everything here is speculative … Continue reading

Face Masks: Much More Than You Wanted To Know

There’s been recent controversy about the use of face masks for protection against coronavirus. Mainstream sources, including the CDC and most of the media say masks are likely useless and not recommended. They’ve recently been challenged, for example by Professor … Continue reading

Open Thread 150

This is the bi-weekly 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 … Continue reading

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Coronalinks 3/19/20

As before, feel free to treat this as an open thread for all coronavirus-related issues. Everything here is speculative and not intended as medical advice. How many real cases? As of today, the US has almost 10,000 official cases. How … Continue reading

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Book Review: Hoover

You probably remember Herbert Hoover as the guy who bungled the Great Depression. Maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you should remember him as a bold explorer looking for silver in the jungles of Burma. Or as the heroic defender of Tientsin … Continue reading

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For, Then Against, High-Saturated-Fat Diets

I. In the 1800s, the average US man weighed about 155 lbs. Today, he weighs about 195. The change is even starker at the extremes. Someone at the 90th percentile of weight back then weighed about 185 lbs; today, he … Continue reading

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Open Thread 149

This is the bi-weekly 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 … Continue reading

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Socratic Grilling

Imagine an kid in school first hearing about germ theory. The conversation might go something like this: Teacher: Many diseases like the common cold are spread by germs, when one infected person contacts another. Student: But I got a cold … Continue reading