Stuff I found interesting in October
1) FDB on the odd claim that Kanye West’s recent behaviour could not be caused by his mental illness:
There’s a meme that’s arisen in the past few years, found prominently on social media: “mental illness doesn’t do that.” It’s a declaration that a given figure must not be given any special consideration, when weighing their behavior, due to their potential psychiatric disorders.
EDIT: an interesting follow-up:
For years now, the severely ill have been pushed further and further into the backseat of the public discourse about mental illness. With the new insistence that mentally ill people never do anything really bad, that process is complete; those who suffer the least from mental illness now blot out the sun.
2) Dwarkesh Patel interviews Tyler Cowen. Sorry for sharing so many Tyler interviews on these links round-ups, I just can’t help myself! And this one is especially good. Dwarkesh’s interviews are almost always fantastic listening.
3) Why did a vase valued at $2000 end up selling for $8 million? The answer given in this article is not particularly satisfactory:
Cédric Laborde, the director of the auction house’s Asian arts department, is still not entirely convinced the expert was wrong. “We don’t know whether it [the vase] is old or not or why it sold for such a price. Perhaps we will never know,” Laborde said.
5) Friend of the blog Peter McLaughlin with an amazing post giving his thoughts on the train to crazy town:
In other words, it’s not clear how anyone actually gets off the train to crazy town. Once you allow even a little bit of utilitarianism in, the unpalatable consequences follow immediately. The train might be an express service: once the doors close behind you, you can’t get off until the end of the line.
EDIT: Tom Chivers also wrote an interesting piece on this. There’s also a fun back and forth between Peter and Tom you can find if you click through here:
6) A book by Karoline Kan, Under Red Skies, was among the best I’ve read recently. It’s the memoir of a Chinese woman born during Tiananmen Square. I must say though, I’m generally a bit of a sucker for this kind of writing, so I’m not sure how reliable my judgement is here. Get it and tell me!
7) I only just got round to watching Boiling Point on Netflix, which I loved. It has a bit of a university play feel, and the one-shot thing is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s still very much worth your time.
8) As I’ve already doxxed myself through posting the Guardian article I wrote in the last links round-up, I may as well mention that you ought to go and check on my grandfather Jonathan Glover’s philosophy website. It’s one of my favourite sites to go and browse now and then. I especially enjoy the ‘bits and pieces’ and ‘travesties and encounters’ sections.
9) Friend of the blog Lawrence Newport writes that EA should emulate Quakerism.
10) Stephen Bush asks whether it matters who plays Stephen Bush on stage [paywalled]:
Is it necessary for an actor to be mixed race to play Stephen Bush? It’s not a question that I ever expected to have to answer, but a couple of months ago I received a phone call from Jonathan Freedland, whose verbatim play, Jews. In Their Own Words, features me as a character. The production wanted an all-Jewish cast but the Royal Court was struggling to find a mixed-race Jewish actor. Would I mind terribly if a Jewish actor who was not mixed race filled the part?
11) I’ll probably be buying the Amazon Kindle Scribe as a replacement for my ReMarkable 2. As far as I can tell, the Kindle scribe has a backlight, and I’ve always hated that the ReMarkable doesn’t. Possibly of interest to those who read a lot of academic papers. Note: this is NOT a referral link and I don’t benefit from sharing this in any way, I’m genuinely excited about this product.
13) I wonder:
14) Report from SMF’s Aveek Bhattacharya on signalling vs. human capital in education.
15) Apollo Academic Surveys did my idea (see tweet below). Of course, I can’t quite claim credit for this idea as my idea was just ‘copy what IGM does’, but still! I’m excited about this, here are some of their first surveys of experts on nutrition.
16) Sam Kriss has started a Substack (h/t ACX).
17) Bostrom’s claim that he set a national undergraduate record in Sweden is… odd.
18) Apparently Mormons can identify other Mormons from a simple headshot with nothing that would obviously mark them out as Mormon. Apparently it’s something to do with skin texture? (H/T an ooooold SSC post).
19) Aaron Bergman’s ‘stuff I buy and use’.
20) This Musk documentary on BBC was great. Disclaimer - my uncle was involved in its creation, but I’m pretty sure I would’ve linked to this even if he hadn’t been.
21) Dynomight on why conditional prediction markets do not imply causation. If you’re not interested in forecasting maybe don’t bother, but if you are interested in forecasting it’s a must-read. Important for futarchy.
22) Natália Coelho is extremely underrated:
24) Interesting criticism of EA from some non-EAs who went to EAGxBerlin.
25) There’s a new media site called Semafor that looks interesting, but it’s very annoying that they put random sentences in bold. Tom Chivers has a newsletter called Flagship that is worth checking out.
27) Is gatekeeping good, actually?
28) Chris Hanretty on abortion opinion in the UK.
30) Future Perfect 50.
31) Old interview - Boris on Letterman:
32) Forgot about this old take down of Steve Hilton in the Guardian, worth your time.
34) Video about the Headington Shark:
35) Why do people cheat at wordle? (h/t MR):
We find that cheating behavior is negatively related to religiosity and cultural tightness. Although this is a benign example of cheating behavior, we discuss how popular trends can be used as case studies of group-level behavior.
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