Slate Star Codex Podcast

Audio version of Slate Star Codex. It's just me reading Scott Alexander's Blog Posts.
Thanks to the 8,171 people who took the 2019 Slate Star Codex survey. Some of the links below will say 13,171 people took the survey, but that’s a bug – sometimes Google just adds 5,000 to things. You can: – See the questions for the SSC survey. – See the results from the SSC survey. I’ll be pub...
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Related to: Book Review: The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions Every good conspiracy theorist needs their own Grand Unified Chart; I’m a particular fan of this one. So far, my own Grand Unified Chart looks like this: All of these are examples of interpreting the world through a combination of ...
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When I hear scientists talk about Thomas Kuhn, he sounds very reasonable. Scientists have theories that guide their work. Sometimes they run into things their theories can’t explain. Then some genius develops a new theory, and scientists are guided by that one. So the cycle repeats, knowledge ga...
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This post is about the 2019 SSC Survey. If you’ve read at least one blog post here before, please take the surveyif you haven’t already. Please don’t read on until you’ve taken it, since this post could bias your results. 1. Can we confirm or disconfirm different corn-eating profiles of algebrai...
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0. Introduction I grew up in the 90s, which meant watching movies about plucky children fighting Pollution Demons. Sometimes teachers would show them to us in class. None of us found that strange. We knew that when we grew up, this would be our fight: to take on the loggers and whalers and seal-...
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Please take the 2019 Slate Star Codex Survey. The survey helps me learn more about SSC readers and plan community events. But it also provides me with useful informal research data for questions I’m interested it, which I then turn into interesting posts. My favorite from last year was Fight Me,...
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Aquinas famously said: beware the man of one book. I would add: beware the man of one study. For example, take medical research. Suppose a certain drug is weakly effective against a certain disease. After a few years, a bunch of different research groups have gotten their hands on it and done al...
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Ribbonfarm likes to talk about refactoring, a conceptual change in how you see the world. I’m not totally sure I understand it, but I think it means things like memetics – where you go from the usual model of people deciding what ideas they want, to a weird and inside-out (but not objectively wr...
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A recent discussion: somebody asked why people in Silicon Valley thought that only high-tech solutions to climate change (like carbon capture or geoengineering) mattered, and why they dismissed more typical solutions like international cooperation and political activism. Another person cited sta...
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Donald Trump has been called a setback for many things. America. The global community. The environment. Civil service. Civil society. Civility. Civilization. The list goes on. One might think he has at least been useful to his own cause. That he could at least claim to have benefited the ideas ...
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One interesting thing I took from Evolutionary Psychopathology was a better understanding of the diametrical theory of the social brain. There’s been a lot of discussion over whether schizophrenia is somehow the “opposite” of autism. Many of the genes that increase risk of autism decrease risk o...
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[Content note: eating disorders] Anorexia has a cultural component. I’m usually reluctant to assume anything is cultural – every mediocre social scientist’s first instinct is always to come up with a cultural explanation which is simple, seductive, flattering to all our existing prejudices, and...
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I. Evolutionary psychology is famous for having lots of stories that make sense but are hard to test. Psychiatry is famous for having mountains of experimental data but no idea what’s going on. Maybe if you added them together, they might make one healthy scientific field? Enter Evolutionary Psy...
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I. The Mind Illuminated is a guide to Buddhist meditation by Culadasa, aka John Yates, a Buddhist meditation teacher who is also a neuroscience PhD. At this point I would be more impressed to meet a Buddhist meditation teacher who wasn’t a neuroscience PhD. If I ever teach Buddhist meditation, ...
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[This post was up a few weeks ago before getting taken down for complicated reasons. They have been sorted out and I’m trying again.] Is scientific progress slowing down? I recently got a chance to attend a conference on this topic, centered around a paper by Bloom, Jones, Reenen & Webb (20...
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[Content warning: scrupulosity] I. “There is no ethical consumption under late capitalism”. I hear this from a bunch of people. Sometimes it is taken to its conclusion; no currently living person is morally acceptable. People who aren’t activists reorienting their entire lives around acknowledg...
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I. A lot of people pushed back against my post on preschool, so it looks like we need to discuss this in more depth. A quick refresher: good randomized controlled trials have shown that preschools do not improve test scores in a lasting way. Sometimes test scores go up a little bit, but these ef...
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In 2016, I wrote Ketamine Research In A New Light, which discussed the emerging consensus that, contra existing theory, ketamine’s rapid-acting antidepressant effects had nothing to do with NMDA at all. I discussed some experiments which suggested they might actually be due to a related receptor...
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Four years ago I examined the claim that SSRIs are little better than placebo. Since then, some of my thinking on this question has changed. First, we got Cipriani et al’s meta-analysis of anti-depressants. It avoids some of the pitfalls of Kirsch and comes to about the same conclusion. This kno...
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[Originally to be titled “Marijuana: I Was Wrong”, but looking back I was suitably careful about everything, and my reward is not having to say that.] Five years ago, I reviewed the potential costs and benefits of marijuana legalization and concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence for a firm...
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