Blog Archives


Harry Stevens at The Washington Post recently published a very elegant simulation of how a disease like COVID-19 spreads. If you haven't already, I highly recommend checking it out. Today I want to follow up with something I've been working

Going Critical

Background: This is an interactive blog post. I wanted to host it here, but don't know how to make it play nice with WordPress. So I decided to host it on another part of the site instead. Click here for

A Natural History of Beauty

A mashup of ideas from David Deutsch, Geoffrey Miller, and Richard Prum, with a little César Hidalgo thrown in for good measure. —— Of all the problems that can plague a discussion of beauty — and there are several — perhaps

The Elephant in the Brain

It's finally here! The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life — my first book, coauthored with Robin Hanson — is now widely available. You can find the ebook version on Kindle, Google Play, and iBooks. It's also

Here Be Sermons

I've long turned up my nose at sermons and related forms of mass moralizing. One reason, quite simply, is that they bore me. Honesty good. Violence bad. My eyes glaze over. Empathy, rah! Racism, boo! Please, don't we know this

Crony Beliefs

[Note: if you prefer audio, you can listen to this essay narrated by Grognor on his excellent podcast Second Enumerations. —Ed.]   Credits up front: This essay draws heavily from Overcoming Bias, Less Wrong, Slate Star Codex, Robert Kurzban, Robert

A Nihilist's Guide to Meaning

I've never been plagued by the big existential questions. You know, like What's my purpose? or What does it all mean? Growing up I was a very science-minded kid — still am — and from an early age I learned

Minimum Viable Superorganism

Originally published at Ribbonfarm. Of all the remarkable things about our species — and there are many — perhaps the most striking of all is our ability to band together and act as a united, coherent superorganism. E pluribus unum.

2015 Meta

Time for my annual blogging review. And only 11 days late! I'll keep it brief. Blog stats I published a paltry six full essays this year. Don't get me wrong: I'm proud of them. But still, six. It would be

Social Status II: Cults and Loyalty

So my previous post on social status was recently treated to a review/​critique by Scott Alexander over at Slate Star Codex. I expect most of my readers are already big fans of Scott's blog (as am I). But for those