Adversarial Collaboration by Daniel Kahnman


Orexin and the quest for more waking hours

This post claims that a genetic mutation causes some people to produce more orexin, which reduces the need for sleep. We didn’t evolve this mutation as orexin promotes feeding and energy expenditure, but we don’t really have that problem in the modern world.

Patenting naturally occurring chemicals

There’s no incentive to use naturally occurring chemicals as medicine, as you can’t patent them.

The end of Europe’s energy crisis is in sight

This article claims that the massive reduction in gas prices in Europe in winter ’22 is thanks to our “advanced capitalist economies”: we sent a strong price signal, and everyone responded.

Societies change their minds faster than people do

This article claims that changes in public opinion don’t always come from people changing their minds, but come from older generations being “replaced” by younger generations. This is true for whether communist books should be removed from libraries, legalized abortion, and government spending on black lives. However, legalized gay marriage seems to be due to individuals changing their mind.

(I imagine that newer generations being larger amplifies this effect.)

Axiology, Morality, Law

This post distinguishes between axiology, morality and law:

We distinguish between all of these, and should prioritize law-over-mortality-over-axiology. The reason is this order gets a lot of benefits like social trust, and we’re often not smart enough to operate directly in the axiology frame (we should trust our moral instincts!).

Relation to offsets

The axiology/morality/law framing leads to allowing “offsets” in axiology, but not in morality or law. Killing one person to save another is wrong, but carbon offsets are OK.

The Demographic Catastrophe


Reasons for fertility decline

Economic decline

Economic intervention

Probably won’t work:

Social decline


Inadequate Equilibria

From the book review.

The story of Viktor Zhdanov

Article. Viktor Zhdanov convinced WHO to try to eradicate smallpox. This was possible at the time due to (1) vaccines existed and could be easily transported, (2) that smallpox only spreads through humans, (3) that WHO funded this across the world.

Activated Charcoal for Hangover Prevention


Alcohol vs. ethanol

Alcohols are assembled from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms. When >2 carbons are present, it is an ethanol (aka ethyl alcohol). Ethanol is found in beer, wine, and liquor.

Example ethanol molecule

Digestion cycles

Digestion happens in a cyclic process:

This means that drugs can be digested for a long period of time (hours).

Ethanol digestion process

What ethanol by-product causes hangovers?

Likely acetate. Acetate induces hangover headaches in mice, and AcH gets metabolized very quickly.


Effect of Activated Charcoal

Clear vs. dark liquors

Dark liquors have more methanol, and studies show they lead to worse hangovers.

From worst-to-best: brandy, red wine, rum, whisky, white wine, gin, vodka, and pure ethanol.

Juices in hangovers



Black death


Heavier-Than-Air Flight Is Impossible

Post. Quotes several prominent thinkers saying that heavier-than-air flight is impossible, and uses this as a motivation to be ambitious.

Winograd schema

A challenge to understand sentences where a single word change can resolve ambiguities in different ways. For example:

The city councilmen refused the demonstrators a permit because they feared/advocated violence.

When to use a semicolon

The Lottery of Fascinations

Post. Disentangles \(g\) factor stuff from interests. We draw from the lottery of fascinations, and this determines what drives us and thus what we’re good at.

Shake Hands with the Devil

Conflict background

Heterozygote advantage

Wikipedia. Where having one copy of a gene has better fitness than two (e.g. if it causes a disease) or zero (e.g. provides no advantage).

The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project | Slate Star Codex


1890-1920 Budapest produced many scientists that advanced physics through nuclear power & quantumn mechanics. Scott claims this is due to Budapest having a high proportion (25%) of Jewish people, and points to this paper that finds that Ashkenazi Jews have higher intelligence (+1 std!) compared to the general population due to continued repression. Ashkenazi Jews are also susceptible to genetic diseases related to neural growth. This increased intelligence vs. genetic diseases tradeoff could have increased fitness due to repression of Jews.

Opinion: It seems unlikely that we’d see such a large evolution in intelligence over a relatively short period, but I’ve not read the MIT paper.

Genome size

The Architecture of Complexity


State descriptions and process descriptions

State descriptions: Describing the final state of something, e.g. a circle is all the points equally far away from a given point.

Process description: Describing how you get there, e.g. rotate a compass with one arm fixed until you reach the point you started at.

The author claims this is a good way to slice descriptions, and more strongly claims that most science is trying to figure out process descriptions from state descriptions. This is called means-end analysis.

Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny

Ontogeny: How characteristics are developed by an organism.

Phylogeny: The evolutionary history of an organism.

The development of an organism will go over the same processes as it did throughout its evolutionary history. For example, humans develop “proto gills” when embryos, which develop into the inner ear. This is related to state vs. process descriptions, and the architecture of complexity. The best way to articulate this complex architecture is through a process description, which is hierarchical in its nature, and thus we see ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny.

Cultivating a state of mind where new ideas are born

Post. Advice:

The Energies of Men

Article. Talks of ideas setting free beliefs, and beliefs directing our actions. This is a way for to increase your energy. I think the key idea here is control: Through the process of developing ideas into beliefs, this taking effect via our actions, you learn to control your actions via ideas. Also, this talks about Yoga/meditation as a way to improve this skill.

How Apple is Organized for Innovation


Apple adopts a functional organization where experts in the field lead each of their functionally-defined departments. The article claims this is better adapted to an industry with frequent disruptions.

Whereas the fundamental principle of a conventional business unit structure is to align accountability and control, the fundamental principle of a functional organization is to align expertise and decision rights.

Apple’s managers at every level, from senior vice president on down, have been expected to possess three key leadership characteristics: deep expertise that allows them to meaningfully engage in all the work being done within their individual functions; immersion in the details of those functions; and a willingness to collaboratively debate other functions during collective decision-making. When managers have these attributes, decisions are made in a coordinated fashion by the people most qualified to make them.

Abandon statistical significance

Paper. Discusses the flaws with thresholding p-values, namely that it forces people into a dichotomous view of the world. They suggest taking a more holistic view, taking into account priors over hypotheses, importance of findings, etc.

My reading of this is that we should treat studies as evidence, and how much that evidence improves our knowledge as the key factor. Thus this takes into account p-values, priors, and importance of hypotheses.

MIA: Martin Nowak, Evolutionary Dynamics

Video. In some places where stem cell division is very common, the structure of division inhibits mutation, as the slowly-reproducing cells have a structural advantage over the quickly-reproducing cells.