Posts Tagged ‘Scott Alexander’

Three stories by Scott Alexander Siskind

May 15, 2022

“Is it true,” asked the student, “that the gods only have power because we believe in them?”

“Yes,” said the sage. “It is true.”

“If everyone believed I was a god, would I become a god?”

“You have said it.”

So the student traveled the land, dominant assurance contract in hand. Everywhere he went, he told the people, “Sign this contract, that if everyone in the land signs the contract, you agree to worship me as a god.”

The people were skeptical. “Why should we worship you.? But the student won them over. To the Northmen, he promised that upon attaining divine powers, he would stop their long civil war. To the Westmen, he promised to humiliate their enemies the Eastmen. To the Eastmen, he promised to protect them from their enemies the Westmen. And the Southmen, he promised to make them as rich as they currently were poor.

Click on The Gods Only Have Power Because We Believe In Them for the full post.

“Hello, welcome to the temple of the three omniscient idols, one of which always tells the truth, one of which always lies, and one of which answers randomly. I know you already signed the release form, but I’m supposed to remind you that Idol Temple LLC does not know which idol is which and cannot provide you with – “

The petitioner, a man with slick blond hair, cut me off. “Ha, no problem! I’m gonna ask each idol for next week’s Powerball numbers, then buy three tickets.” Before I could respond, he shouted “Left idol! What are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

3, 15, 26, 63, 65, and 16,” said the left idol, in a voice like if a vampire bat could speak.

“Center idol, what are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

8, 22, 24, 45, 50, and 55,” said the center idol, in a voice like the crackling of Venusian lightning against thick cloud-banks.

“Right idol, what are next week’s winning Powerball numbers?”

Any who disrespect the omniscient idols by misusing their knowledge for sordid financial gain will, after their death, be sent to the bottom-most layer of Hell, where venomous worms will gnaw at their organs from the inside forever, never to know rest or surcease from pain” said the right idol, in a monotone.

“What?” the man asked me, helplessly. “Is that true?”

Click on Idol Words for the full post.

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Slate Star Codex vs. the New York Times

February 14, 2021

Last spring a New York Times reporter named Cade Metz interviewed a San Francisco-based psychiatrist who called himself Scott Alexander about his influential Slate Star Codex blog.

Alexander requested that the NYT article not reveal his real name, and the reporter said that was against NYT policy.  Alexander responded by taking down his blog.

A huge controversy ensued, involving journalistic ethics, Internet anonymity, “toxic ideas,” free speech, the culture of Silicon Valley, the clash between self-described rationalists and self-described progressives and much else.

Since then Alexander has started a new blog under his real name, Scott Siskind.

I find the whole debate highly interesting, but don’t have any particular wisdom of my own to add, except to say that I think Scott Siskind is in the right. 

Instead I have gathered links for anybody who’s interested in delving into it.

LINKS

Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media by Gideon Lewis-Kraus for The New Yorker.  A reasonably impartial overview.

NYT Is Threatening My Safety by Revealing My Real Name, So I Am Deleting This Blog by “Scott Alexander” for Slate Star Codex.

Still Alive by Scott Siskind for Astral Codex Ten.

Silicon Valley’s Safe Space by Cade Metz for The New York Times.

Statement on the New York Times article by Scott Siskind for Astral Codex Ten.

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The worst of all possible health care systems

April 29, 2020

Employer Provided Health Insurance Delenda Est by Scott Alexander, a psychiatrist who practices on the West Coast, for his blog, Slate Star Codex

Two wolves and a sheep vote on dinner

May 16, 2019

There’s an old saying that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.  For some amusing ideas of what that may mean in practice click on Two Wolves and a Sheep on Scott Alexander’s Slate Star Codex blog.

What if … conspiracy theories … made sense!!!???

March 9, 2019

The following graphics are lifted from a brilliantly funny post by Scott Alexander on Slate Star Codex.
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A choice of superpowers

December 29, 2018

I enjoyed the following on-line story, and maybe you will, too.

And I Show You How Deep the Rabbit Hole Goes by Scott Alexander on Slate Star Codex.

Why do things cost so much?

February 17, 2017

cost_putoff

Scott Alexander, a physician in the Midwest, points out on his blog that during the past 50 years—

  • U.S. housing costs have increased about 50 percent.
  • U.S. education costs have increased 100 percent
  • U.S. college costs have increased 400 percent.
  • U.S. subway fares have increased 400 percent or more.

All of this is adjusted for inflation.

  • Health care in the United States costs about four times as much as equivalent health care in other First World countries
  • U.S. subways costs about eight times as much as equivalent subways on other First World countries.

The wages and salaries of public school teachers, college professors, nurses and physicians has meanwhile remained relatively flat.

As Alexander points out, this is strange.

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The seeds of America’s culture wars

April 29, 2016

David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America is a ground-breaking 946-page book I never got around to reading, and probably won’t.  But I think I got the gist of it by reading a review by Scott Alexander on his Slate Star Codex blog.

Fischer’s argument is that basic patterns of American culture were set by migrations of four very different groups of migrants from the British Isles:

  • Albion'sSeedhek32xef_largePuritans to New England in the 1620s.
  • Cavaliers to Virginia in the 1640s.
  • Quakers to Pennsylvania in the 1670s.
  • Borderers (aka Scots-Irish) to the Appalachians in the 1700s.

Those who came after, he said, had to adapt to social systems established by these four groups—the moralistic Puritans, the aristocratic Cavaliers, the tolerant Quakers and the warlike Borderers—even though the biological descendants of these groups ceased to be in the majority.

It’s interesting and, I think, at least partly true.   Alexander’s review is long for a blog post, but much shorter than the book, and even those uninterested in his basic theme will enjoy reading his lists of fun facts about each group.

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Happiness and maturity: scarcer than you think

January 17, 2016

Andre Malraux once asked a Catholic priest what he had learned about people in 50 years of listening to confessions.  The priest replied that (1) people are much more unhappy than you would expect and (2) there is no such thing as an adult.

I thought about this when I read a blog post entitled How Bad Are Things? by a psychiatrist named Scott Alexander.   However bad things are, it’s highly unlikely you’re the only one (of whatever it is).