I think I miss blogging? I feel annoyed when I look back at the date of the last post here, and know all the interesting stuff that happened since. I moved across the country, for example. Twice. And there was a wee pandemic. But outside of my journal (kept daily, religiously), no record of my thinking, my influences.
I also miss the attentiveness it cultivated in me, when that flow was at its best. I gave a little extra consideration to what I was taking in. The intake hasn’t really slowed. But the processing and reflection, that background hum (“hmmm I might share this”) tapered off. I miss it.
So… yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back. We’ll see how it goes.
It’s not Wikipedia that we binge on all day.
How I Got My Attention Back – Backchannel
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
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
“I have to take my share of responsibility for promoting skepticism about things that I didn’t understand as well as I might have,” he says. “What I would say NOW is that skepticism should be directed at things that are actually untrue rather than things that are difficult to measure.”
Vanguard after the Revolution: Bill James sparked a baseball insurrection, but he has regrets about the world he wrought
Without understanding research methods, you cannot understand how to judge what you see. […] The important methodological point is that the video, without further reflection, can support all three wildly incompatible propositions. In other words, if you just look at the video, you can believe any three, and you will likely choose whichever fits your existing conclusions and prejudices.
That Catcalling Video and Why “Research Methods” is such an Exciting Topic (Really!)
When you can type quickly, there’s a joy to the iterative quality of writing. You start bashing out a sentence, then realize about half-way through that it’s not quite what you want — the phrasing or ideas are “off”, clichéd, flat, barbaric. So you instantly delete all but the first few words and rewrite, zipping back and forth and trying out various microexperiments in phrasing and conception. This is delightful and fun, and pretty much impossible if you can’t type fluidly.
Proponents of handwriting tend to romanticize the physicality of the pencil and paper, while failing to appreciate the rich physical and kinesthetic joys of the keyboard.
Good to see this argument for both/and rather than either/or.
The Joy of Typing
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.
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
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
The Age of Reason. There are a couple scary things here. (via)
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
Here’s a tip for falling asleep. I don’t think you’ll see it anywhere else. It goes like this: Don’t think words.
Scott Adams Blog: Sleep Tip 03/21/2011
Some of my best, most mind-expanding conversations have occurred with good friends who agree with me on almost everything––but not quite everything. Bottom Line: Want to learn and get smarter by talking to people? Seek out those who agree with you on 99.9% of things, and then push, push, push at the niche-y, hyper-specific areas of disagreement. It’s not about groupthink; it’s not about confirmation bias. It’s about learning on the margin.
Cf. William Deresiewicz.
Introspection means talking to yourself, and one of the best ways of talking to yourself is by talking to another person.
You Learn From People Who Mostly Agree With You | Ben Casnocha