In a widely acclaimed essay from 2012, Steven Pinker describes what he calls The False Allure of Group Selection”.

I think the essay is very sensible, and puts up a well-defined challenge for group selection, which I will address.

In his first paragraph he asks:

Does this mean that the…


Scott Alexander of the blog SlateStarCodex is one of my favorite current writers. Recently, a NYT writer wanted to write a piece about him, which would include his full name. This led to Scott Alexander taking down his blog in an attempt to avoid this outcome. …


In relationships and dating there are many sayings, many of which are of doubtful veracity. In this post I will analyse three of them:

  1. It’s important not to seem too interested in the person you are dating.
  2. If you have sex with a guy on the first day you meet…

The dictionary definition of scientism is:

“Excessive belief in the power of scientific knowledge and techniques.”

An alternative formulation of this is: “Putting too much weight on scientific research over other types of evidence.”

I posit that scientism is an underrated problem in the modern world, causing a large amount…


[Edit: I wrote a more succinct and updated version of this post here. Probably read that instead.]

In this article from the New York Times, they claim that there is extreme gender discrimination in tech:

In a 2016 experiment conducted by the tech recruiting firm Speak With a Geek, 5,000…


In the recent article Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015, the authors re-do 21 social science studies published in Nature and Science.

In this post I will read just the summaries of those studies and guess which ones will replicate, before…


Many people are worried about the AI alignment problem: That in the future we may develop a superintelligent general AI, which may become extremely powerful and be an existential threat to humanity. This problem was described in Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence. Wait But Why featured a good description of the…


Languages evolve in a similar way as animals evolve: Constantly, unpredictably and in a way that increases fitness in the current environment. In the same way that survival and mate choice forms species, the way people choose to use words forms language. If an old word is not useful anymore…


Twitter is an efficient selection mechanism for a type of false facts.

Successful tweets with factual claims have to be surprising / interesting, and there is a vast amount of false facts that have these attributes. Successful tweets also have to seem true, which only a fraction of the false…


We have all heard it said that correlation is not causation. Maybe you have also heard the even more dry-sounding statistics term “sampling bias” mentioned. Sampling bias is when a sample is not representative of the full population, skewing the results. “Ok”, you may be thinking, “so statisticians should be…

Jonatan Pallesen

Scientist. Also see www.jsmp.dk

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