My most popular posts are very long and dense, but if you’re up for that kind of thing, you can read:
- The Control Group Is Out Of Control on the weakness of a lot of modern scientific research and statistics.
- I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup on a general framework for thinking about tolerance vs prejudice.
- Toxoplasma of Rage on how the media works and why stupid topics keep coming up again and again.
- Meditations on Moloch, on…um…it’s hard to explain.
If you’re looking for something a little shorter or lighter, you can
find yourself a different blog check out for example:
- Hardball Questions I want asked at the 2016 Republican presidential debates.
- How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes, a story about that silly meme where you have to choose one of eight colored pills.
More specifically by topic:
I am a doctor and try (usually unsuccessfully) to focus this blog on medicine. I’m especially interested in the pharmaceutical system and drug discovery process, but I also write about my own experiences practicing psychiatry:
- The Life Cycle Of Medical Ideas about how people identify which promising treatments to pursue.
- Sleep – Now By Prescription, about the fuzzy border between prescription and nonprescription medications
- Fish – Now By Prescription, a continuation of the above.
- An Iron Curtain Has Descended Upon Psychopharmacology, about how Russia uses different drugs than we do and our system hasn’t found a way to incorporate their knowledge
- Pharma Virumque on pharmaceutical company advertising, and how it’s even worse than you’ve heard.
- Who By Very Slow Decay, on my depressing experiences with end-of-life care
- Evening Doc, on various others of my depressing experiences
- Medicine As Not Seen On TV, looking back after one year or medical residency
- Reflections From The Halfway Point, looking back after two years of medical residency
- Burdens, on what I want to tell my suicidal patients
My interest in drug discovery naturally segues into scientific and statistical methods in general. My longest piece on this is ‘The Control Group Is Out Of Control’, linked above, but I’ve also written about:
- Statistical Literacy Among Doctors Is Lower Than Chance on the abysmal statistical knowledge of doctors and what it means for you
- Dark Side Statistics Papers, an explanation of how to fudge research results
- Specific criticism of various sketchy studies on euthanasia, Victorian IQ, gender, welfare, and bullying
I write a lot about politics from a vaguely centrist point of view with occasional forays to the right or left. Some especially interesting political threads here include:
- A Thrive-Survive Theory Of The Political Spectrum, about whether “left” and “right” are real internally consistent things
- A Something Sort-Of-Like-Left-Libertarian Manifesto on using regulations versus taxes and subsidies to solve political problems
- Archipelago and Atomic Communitarianism on how atomic individualism can fit together with people’s concern for their communities
- Right Is The New Left, about how the same dynamics that supported the leftist counterculture of the 1960s are leading to a rightist counterculture today
- Black People Less Likely, about what we can learn from checking which fields African-Americans are/aren’t underrepresented in.
- In Favor Of Niceness, Community, and Civilization, about how just because your cause is important doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk about it.
- Reactionary Philosophy In An Enormous Planet-Sized Nutshell, which is my attempt to see if I can blast several metric tons of highly concentrated conservative political philosophy into the brains of unsuspecting people.
- Slate Star Codex Political Spectrum Quiz, which is exactly what it says on the tin.
Although I acknowledge the importance and danger of racism and sexism, I also think a lot of the social justice movement as it currently exists is an attempt to sanctify ad hominem arguments and poor epistemology that can be used by a would-be cognitive elite to abuse and humiliate anyone who disagrees with them. I start the explanation in ‘I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup’, linked above, but there is more in:
- A Response To Apophemi on Triggers, about competing access needs
- Living By The Sword, which was supposed to be about toxicity in the social justice community but is better remembered more for its complicated whale cancer metaphor.
- Social Justice and Words, Words, Words about the way language gets weaponized and used as a tool to confuse people.
- The Categories Were Made For Man, Not Man For The Categories, about why it’s important to treat transgender individuals as their preferred gender.
- Social Psychology Is A Flamethrower, about the poor condition of the social justice evidence base.
- The Wonderful Thing About Triggers, in which I come out in favor of trigger warnings despite all of the above
Sometimes I get bored and just research the hell out of something to try to resolve a difficult question to my own satisfaction. Thus far this has resulted in cost-benefit analyses like:
- Marijuana: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on whether we should legalize marijuana.
- Wheat: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on whether wheat/bread/gluten is bad for you.
- Race And Justice: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on which steps of the criminal justice system are/aren’t racist.
- SSRIs: Much More Than You Wanted To Know, on the effectiveness of SSRI antidepressants.
I’m also very interested in rationality – questions like how debates work in general and how we can conduct them better. I find the current set of logical fallacies mostly orthogonal to the way debates between smart people fail, so I have tried to do better:
- Arguments From My Opponent Believes Something, ie fully general counterarguments that don’t add anything to a debate.
- All Debates Are Bravery Debates, on how a lot of hard problems are trade-offs between two goods and debates are difficult because we can’t tell which side people are erring towards.
- Weak Men Are Superweapons and Cardiologists and Chinese Robbers, both on how straw men are less dangerous than real-but-irrelevant “weak men” that let people cherry-pick stupid examples.
- If It’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing With Made-Up Statistics, on how sometimes using numbers – even messy, potentially inaccurate numbers – can shed light on a problem
- Beware Isolated Demands For Rigor, on not setting impossibly high burden of proof for ideas you don’t like – plus an Old West shootout scene between Greek philosophers
I’ve also tried writing a little bit of fiction, of which I most like:
- Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person, kind of hard to explain
- Answer To Job, also kind of hard to explain
- The Study of Anglophysics, which is definitely hard to explain
Other people who might be less biased have put together their own recommended lists here and here. And you can find a full archive of all SSC posts here.
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The factors that make upper class children smarter before they start schooling are probably the ones that allow unschooling to work where it works. Which is to say, that they wouldnt generalize to lower class parents.
Yes, I agree the following links helped me a lot to understand Turchin’s predictions a lot. Just go through the following link and you all will get a rough idea about the big history.
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny
Books by Ian Morris such as Why the West Rules and War! What is it Good For
Book review from /r/TheMotte
Elliot/Kondratriev wave theories
Better Angels of our Nature
I also took an online course on https://www.edvanza.com/blog/
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Here’s a link for people who want more top posts: https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/5hkcrq/my_10_favorite_slate_star_codex_posts_of_the_year/
2 year reader of this blog, first time commenter. I wish to make as strong an argument as I can for including https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/19/nobody-is-perfect-everything-is-commensurable/ here. That post almost single-handedly convinced me to take the Giving What We Can pledge, and I think it’s probably the most important post you’ve written, in terms of impact on the readers and, ultimately, the world.
Seconded, and reported (in the hopes that Scott will see it)
He’s already got a GWWC ad in the sidebar… he could link this post from under it.
Thanks so much Scott. Have spent the last couple of weeks reading many of your posts which I find highly interesting and educating and have definitely broadened my thoughts. Keep up the good work.
“Top Post” Request – I hope:
First of all, thanks for your content, it “radiates” comforting reason and saneness.
With regards to a resent discussion on a survey here, where at least one question had the structure “Was X and while you did not wan’t Y ?” and the supposed unambiguity of that question, could you please write something on the current state of knowledge in psychiatry on the ambiguity of wanting. I mean, you can want to eat chocolate and want to not get fat. You can want to be successful and not want to work hard, you can want to be sexually taken, because it makes you feel attractive and you can want to be not brutally raped, etc.
That seems to be a question type about priority decisions, whose answer in it self does not provide very meaningful data, while not beeing very ambiguous. It just does not tell very much but seems invite for bias boldly. Is there any literature on that kind of kind of bias, or a post that I am not aware of?
Anyway I see this kind of error a lot in discussions about democratic decision making. Its depressing. How can we determine what a society wants if its already that problematic on the individual level?
By the way what kind of entity is “wanting” in formal logic? It seems a bit hard to formalise. And than how do you statistics with that?
Not exactly what you’re describing, but related, Scott wrote a series on Lesswrong about all the complications that come up when you try to model people as simple goal-pursuing agents, and what it really means to say someone has a “preference”.
A few relevant ones: here, here, here, and especially here and here.
I would put social justice for the highly demanding of rigor on here
I feel the pill story was quite entertaining and could go in the fiction section:
Also the Moloch one needs more of a plug/hook imho. Feel free to delete this post Scott.
The pill story is already there, just not in the fiction section. It’s in the second group of links, for readers who are “looking for something a little shorter or lighter”.
Scott explained his reasoning for the vague description of “Meditations on Moloch” on Reddit.
Thanks. Didn’t see that there.
+MANY internet points
You should repost the story of emily and control on SSC!
Why isn’t “The Toxoplasma of Rage” listed?
I know this is a silly question to ask here, but is there a way to comment on older posts/ archived posts?
Put it on an open thread (or a links post).
This is a great blog. I say that, never having “followed” anyone’s blog before. I think I’ll be following yours now, and catching up on past posts. It’s a shame I don’t still live in A2, I’d be interested in attending a meetup.
Pingback: On Moloch and a Disneyland with no children | The Daily Pochemuchka
Why do you think believing in man made global warming, gay marriage, attacking the Koch brothers etc is consistent with labeling yourself centrist? Aren’t these all litmus tests for belonging to the Blue Tribe?
Ah, there we go! For a while I was only seeing accusations that Scott was too right-wing, and I was starting to get worried.
The link to “burdens” in paragraph three is broken due to html (a “br” tag) that got inside the link target.
Burdens link is malformed. Feel free to delete this if you like after fixing.
You might be interested to know that the “Control Group is out of Control” link is incorrect.
You might even say that the “Control Group is out of Control” link is… out of control.