Yikes. Despite the withdrawal of the Indian paper arguing that the Wuhan virus showed signs of engineering, the hypothesis that that it’s an escaped bioweapon looks stronger than ever. Why do I say this? Because it looks like my previous inclination to believe the rough correctness of the official statistics – as conveyed by the… Continue reading Chinese bioweapon II: Electric Boogaloo
I know it sounds like tinfoil-hat territory, but there are now three pieces of evidence pointing at the conclusion that the Wuhan coronavirus is an accidentally released bioweapon. UPDATE: Just two. The paper giving evidence for engineering was retracted s a few days after I wrote this.
Elon Musk’s new Starship is not the tall skinny pressurized-aluminum cylinder we’re used to thinking of a real rocket, but a fat cigar-shaped thing made of stainless steel, with tail fins. I just listened to an elaborate economic and engineering rationale for this. And I don’t believe a word of it. It had to be… Continue reading The dream is real
David Gelernter recently wrote an essay on Giving Up Darwin that is not obviously stupid. Dr. Gelernter, in many ways an astute thinker, does not commit obvious stupidities – but I have had to call him out before for allowing himself to be blinded by a hunger for epistemic gaps that fit the shape of… Continue reading Contra Gelernter on Darwin
I’ve had a strong amateur interest in historical linguistics since my teens in the early 1970s. Then, as today, a lot of the energy in that field was focused in the origins and taxonomy of the Indo-European family – the one that includes English and the Latin-derived and Germanic languages and Greek and also a… Continue reading The new science of Indo-European origins
In 2008, Neil Turok, an eminent phycisist, gave a talk about trying to find the next Einstein in in sub-Saharan Africa. I was thinking about this a few days ago after his initiative re-surfaced in a minor news story,and wondered “what are his odds?” Coincidentally, this morning I stumbled across the key figure needed to… Continue reading How many Einsteins per Africa?
One of the staples of SF art is images of alien worlds with satellites or planetary twins hanging low and huge in the daylight sky. This blog post brings he trope home by simulating what the Earth’s Moon would look like if it orbited the Earth at the distance of the International Space Station. The… Continue reading The Roche motel
There’s a common folk model of how housecats relate to humans that says their relationships with us recruit instincts originally for maternal bonding – that is, your cat relates to you as though you’re its mother or (sometimes) its kitten that needs protecting. I don’t think this account is entirely wrong; it is a fact… Continue reading Rethinking housecat ethology
Over at Slate Star Codex, I learned that Eliezer Yudkowsky is writing a book on, as Scott puts it, “low-hanging fruit vs. the argument from humility”. He’s examining the question of when we are, or can be, justified in believing we have spotted something important that the experts have missed. I read Eliezer’s first chapter,… Continue reading Against modesty, and for the Fischer set
I just read a very well-intentioned, heartwarming talk about girls who code that, sadly, I think, is missing the biological forest for the cultural trees. It’s this: Teach girls bravery, not perfection. Read it, It’s short I like the woman who voiced those thoughts in that way. Well, except for the part about growing up… Continue reading Bravery and biology
This morning I found a copy of the chart the Foreign Services Institute uses to grade the comparative difficulty of world languages for acquisition by an adult monoglot English speaker. I have an unusual perspective on this list for an American. I’m a low-grade polyglot; I have spoken three languages other than my birth English… Continue reading Comparative language difficulty for English speakers
I find myself in the embarrassing position of having generated a theoretical insight for a movement I don’t respect very much. My feelings about the “Red Pill” movement are a lot like my feelings about feminism. Both started out asking important questions about why men and women treat each other badly. Early on, both began… Continue reading Status signaling and cruelty to betas
(This copies a comment I left on Derek Lowe’s blog at Science Magazine.) I was the foundational theorist of open-source software development back in the 1990s, and have received a request to respond to your post on open-source pharma. Is there misplaced idealism and a certain amount of wishful thinking in the open-source pharma movement?… Continue reading On open-source pharma
There’s an idea circulating that two people who want to be in romantic love can get there by performing a simple procedure that steps them through asking and answring 35 questions and ends with staring into each others’ eyes for 4 minutes. I don’t know if these reports are true or not. But I’m writing… Continue reading Love is the simplest thing
For decades – and I do mean decades – I’ve been saying that any environmentalist who is really serious about reducing fossil-fuel use and CO2 emission should be agitating to switch the power infrastructure to using nuclear plants for the baseload as fast as possible. But when the facts change, I change my mind. I… Continue reading Pave the rainforests!
Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female insists an article at tor.com. It’s complete bullshit. What you find when you read the linked article is an obvious, though as it turns out a superficial problem. The linked research doesn’t say what the article claims. What it establishes is that a… Continue reading Reality is viciously sexist
One of the reasons I like cats is because I find it enjoyable to try to model their thought processes by observing their behavior. They’re like furry aliens, just enough like us that a limited degree of communication (mostly emotional) is possible. Just now I’m contemplating a recent change in the behavior of our new… Continue reading Alien cat is alien
Some people with cats seem to regard them as a sort of mobile item of decor that occasionally deigns to be interacted with; they’re OK with aloofness. My wife and I, on the other hand, like to have cats who are genuinely companionable, follow us around when they’re not doing anything important like eating or… Continue reading How to train a cat for companionship
The biggest non-story that should be in the news right now, but isn’t, is the collapse of anthropogenic-global-warming “science” into rubble. Global average temperature has been flat for between 15 and 17 years, depending on how you interpret the 1997-1998 El Nino event. Recently GAT, perking along its merry level way, has fallen out of… Continue reading Hoping for the crazy
Earlier this evening an Instapundit reference reminded me of Eliezer Yudkowsky’s insightful essay Evaporative Cooling of Group Beliefs, in which he uses a clever physics analogy to explain why cult-like groups often respond to strong evidence against their core beliefs by becoming more fanatical. Glen Reynolds used the reference to take a swipe at what… Continue reading Evaporative cooling and AGW