Do we need *more* radical Islam? – Marginal REVOLUTION

In general, I am suspicious when someone dismisses a view for being “radical” or “extreme.”  There is usually sloppy thinking behind that designation.  Why not just say what is wrong with the view?  How for instance are we supposed to feel about “radical Christianity”?  Good or bad?  Does it mean Origen or Ted Cruz or something altogether different?  Can’t we just debate the question itself?

The same is true in politics.  Let’s say someone favors free trade and the First Amendment.  Is that “radical”?  Or is it mainstream and thus non-radical?  Does labeling it radical further the debate on whether or not those are the correct positions?

Do we need *more* radical Islam? – Marginal REVOLUTION

Cardiologists and Chinese Robbers

There are over a billion Chinese people. If even one in a thousand is a robber, you can provide one million examples of Chinese robbers to appease the doubters. Most people think of stereotyping as “Here’s one example I heard of where the out-group does something bad,” and then you correct it with “But we can’t generalize about an entire group just from one example!” It’s less obvious that you may be able to provide literally one million examples of your false stereotype and still have it be a false stereotype. If you spend twelve hours a day on the task and can describe one crime every ten seconds, you can spend four months doing nothing but providing examples of burglarous Chinese – and still have absolutely no point.

If we’re really concerned about media bias, we need to think about Chinese Robber Fallacy as one of the media’s strongest weapons. There are lots of people – 300 million in America alone. No matter what point the media wants to make, there will be hundreds of salient examples. No matter how low-probability their outcome of interest is, they will never have to stop covering it if they don’t want to.

Cardiologists and Chinese Robbers

My creative process begins with: just thinking. I do a lot of thinking, a lot of pondering. I rarely watch films in airplanes; I just sort of sit there, looking at the ceiling. Day dreaming is the equivalent of doodling; it’s mental doodling.

Vanguard after the Revolution: Bill James sparked a baseball insurrection, but he has regrets about the world he wrought

Vanguard after the Revolution: Bill James sparked a baseball insurrection, but he has regrets about the world he wrought

That Catcalling Video and Why “Research Methods” is such an Exciting Topic (Really!)

That Catcalling Video and Why “Research Methods” is such an Exciting Topic (Really!)

We make ourselves lists in order to know if we think what we think.

Sasha Frere-Jones.

There is no finality in a list, just a promise that we will argue about everything listed, adjust our thoughts, and watch our feelings change over time.

The Joy of Typing

Good to see this argument for both/and rather than either/or.

The Joy of Typing

Does reading have a future? A noted Canadian philosopher gazes into the future

Via Alan Jacobs, who rightly encourages you to read the whole thing.

It’s not technophobic or Luddite to recognize that the techie questions are largely beside the point. The scope of their effects lies on a time scale that none of us can foresee, thus creating not genuine questions but opportunities for self-serving predictions.

Ha! Also:

The specific concern for the future of the bound-page book should be seen for what it is: a form of fond special pleading whereby a particular (how I like to read) masquerades as a universal (reading!).

His essay is more thoughtful and substantial than those quotes, by the way. I just thought they were funny.

Does reading have a future? A noted Canadian philosopher gazes into the future

Take the hard feelings away, and this is the right thing to do. Put the feelings back and it hurts like hell, but the right thing to do hasn’t changed.

A Point of View: Chess and 18th Century artificial intelligence – BBC News

The inventor’s real genius was not to build a chess-playing machine. It was to be the first to notice that, in the modern world, there is more mastery available than you might think; that exceptional talent is usually available, and will often work cheap.

And there lies what I think of now as the asymmetry of mastery – the mystery of mastery, a truth that is for some reason extremely hard for us to grasp. We over-rate masters and under-rate mastery. That simplest solution was the hardest, partly because they underestimated the space inside the cabinet, but also because they overestimated just how good the chess player had to be.

A Point of View: Chess and 18th Century artificial intelligence – BBC News

Conspiracy is a nearly irresistible labor-saving device in the face of recalcitrant complexity.

Henry Louis Gates, quoted in The Signal and the Noise. Cf. William Gibson:

Conspiracy theories and the occult comfort us because they present models of the world that more easily make sense than the world itself, and, regardless of how dark or threatening, are inherently less frightening.

A Wealth of Words by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., City Journal WInter 2013

There’s a positive correlation between a student’s vocabulary size in grade 12, the likelihood that she will graduate from college, and her future level of income. The reason is clear: vocabulary size is a convenient proxy for a whole range of educational attainments and abilities—not just skill in reading, writing, listening, and speaking but also general knowledge of science, history, and the arts. If we want to reduce economic inequality in America, a good place to start is the language-arts classroom.

A Wealth of Words by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., City Journal WInter 2013