Statistics and the replication crisis 

If [probabilism](/eggplant/probabilism) were just a mistaken philosophical
theory, it wouldn’t matter. Philosophy has a million silly theories.1 Most are
harmless, because no one takes them seriously.2

Probabilism being wrong matters because science and engineering and education
and medicine and finance and government matter to everyone’s lives, and
statistical methods are widely used in all those fields. When

MJD 59,145 

The terms public and private seem to form a balanced opposition, but they
don't really. In modern usage, private is a bounded and circumscribed domain,
while public is an open-ended space defined via negation as non-private. It
was supposedly the opposite in ancient Greece, at least by Hannah Arendt's
account. In her version of events, […]

Announcement: Spectology "series finale" and the future of the podcast 

Soo.... we've had a hard time keeping to a regular schedule recently, so Matt,
Bee, & I (Adrian) have been discussing what we want the podcast to look like
in the future.

In this episode, I just talk openly about those thoughts, our plan through the
end of the year, and how the podcast might change come 2021.

I may write up a longer thing later, but right now I just wanted t...

MJD 59,143 

I've been thinking about creative pivots. Discontinuous reorientations in your
pattern of creative production, possibly accompanied by a change in the
audience for your creative work (lose one kind of reader, gain a new kind of
reader). I don't think I've ever really executed a true creative pivot. The
kind that's an abrupt, lossy, high-entropy […]

The probability of green cheese 

Recall [McCarthy’s rowboat problem](/eggplant/closed-world). Usually you can
use one to cross a river. But, when you get there, you might discover it’s
impossible due to an unexpected infestation of inquisitors.

You could interpret “it’s _usually_ true that you can use a rowboat to cross a
river” as “it’s _probably_ true,” in the technical sense according to which
“probably” means you assign it a number between zero ...

28.2: Do You Dream of Terra-Two? post-read: Belief, Depression, and Courage in Sociological Hard SF 

Bee is back (although Estelle could not join us due to IRL events) to discuss
Temi Oh's wonderful debut novel, _Do You Dream of Terra-Two?_
(<>). With hints of _Dark Eden_ ,
_Semiosis_ , and _Unkindness of Ghosts_ , this novel tackles the lives on a
group of young people who are sent off to colonize a new world....

Clockmaking: 2 

Well, I finished building my ROKR kit clock, and it works. Fully wound-up it
runs for about 5-6 hours before friction defeats it. It makes a pleasantly
organic tick-tock sound that I'm now addicted to. Makes me feel a bit like a
GOD who created LIFE out of lifeless bits of matter! 😎😇. It strikes […]

What probability can’t do 


The run on Northern Rock, first bank to fail in the Great Financial Crisis.
Lee Jordan

If probability theory actually _was_ an [epistemology](eggplant/rationalism-
responses#jargon "Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with...

The Path to Reason 

Rationalists did amazingly well with COVID. Will this inspire everyone else to
embrace rationality? I see a few obstacles on the way.

MJD 59,128 

Covid is the first global downgrade in the average human quality of life since
World War 2. Some of the individual downgrades are adaptive for climate change
as well, and will likely get locked in for a longer term. Lowered global human
mobility at all scales, from local driving to international flying, feels like
the […]

Leaving the casino 

![Casino interior](

Image [courtesy]( Francesco Ungaro

Probabilistic rationality was originally invented to choose optimal strategies
in betting games. It’s perfect for that—and less perfect for other things.

Mansionism 2: Bungalows 

Though I'm big on climate-resilient futures, I have an ambivalent relationship
with density as a means to achieve them. I mostly grew up in company bungalows
on generous-sized lots, and loved it. Both the word and the architectural
style are Indian in origin. The style originated in feudal-era Bengal and
spread across north India during […]


Like a child with a high time preference who desperately wants a marshmallow,
I couldn't wait. I finished Winslow's Cartel Trilogy last night (read it!) and
gave in. I was going to wait until I'd finished Slate Star Codex Abridged. I
didn't. Couldn't. I caved and got myself five new Kindle reads. Hence; NBD.
New. … [Continue reading NBD ->](


Probability theory may seem an attractive candidate for the foundation of
[rationality](eggplant/rationalism-definitions#rationality "Meaningness and
The Eggplant use the word rationality specifically for more-or-less formal,
systematic rationality \(and therefore not as including informal
reasonableness\). Rational methods are explicit, technical, abstract,
atypical, non-obvious ways of thinking and acting, which have some distinctive

Notes: The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil 

I read this next book, The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War, by Benn Steil,
in an attempt to take the idea of a "Marshall Plan for post-Covid recovery"
seriously. I'm glad I did because I apparently had an entirely misguided
understanding of what the plan was, the context in which it was undertaken,

The Spanish Inquisition 

Rationality is supposed to enable you to infer new things from what you
already know. For example, you know that you can use rowboats to cross rivers,
so if you know there’s a specific rowboat on a specific river, you should be
able to conclude that you can cross.

While it is _usually true_ that you can use a rowboat to cross a river, it is
not true if you can’t find the oars, if there is a hole in the bottom, if it
is locke...

Digital Book Tour: Kathleen Jennings on Flyaway: Small Towns, Fairytales, and Linguistics 

This week Bee is joined by writer & artist Kathleen Jennings to talk about her
book [_Flyaway_](

_Flyaway_ is a fairy tale-influenced (or structured?) Australian Gothic novel
(or novella?). Small town landscapes and linguistics, productive
misinterpretations of fairy tales, [Kurt

Epistemic Reserve Notes 

The metaphor of learning-as-purchasing pervades language — “are you buyin’
this?” There must be some kind of currency exchanged when you accept something
new. As explored in Wittgenstein's Revenge, the problem in modern public
discourse is not that we disagree on the facts. Instead, we lack a common
"epistemic currency." Perhaps facts used to be […]

Where did you get that idea in the first place? 

![Edison light bulb patent](

[Rationalist](eggplant/rationalism-definitions#rationalism "Rationalisms are
ideologies that claim that there is some way of thinking that is the correct
one, and you should always use it. Some rationalisms specifically identify
which method is right and why. Others merely suppose there must be a singl...

What can you believe? 

![Blue socks](

Blue socks, [courtesy]( Rosie Fraser

Philosophers use the word “proposition” to designate whatever is the sort of
thing one believes or disbelieves, or that could be true or false. They can’t
say what sort of thing that is, though, or how one would work.

This is a serious problem for [rationalism](eggplant/rational...

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