Links (March 2022)

Part Of: Links sequence


  1. Is Ukraine the West’s fault? John Mearshemer and his critics
  2. Russian strategy as raiding. “A raid is an operation to destroy the target’s economy & military, culminating in a planned withdrawal. It is precisely because of US investments in the nuclear and conventional military realms that we have made raiding lucrative.”
  3. A useful review of nuclear deterrence.
  4. A timeline on nuclear close calls. Most estimates of accidental nuclear war, using this data, peg the risk at 0.4 +/- 0.3% per year. That translates to a 25% lifetime risk. 
  1. A superforecaster estimates the risk of nuclear war during the Ukraine crisis. Related: a checklist someone made for “when to leave London”.
  1. Tetlock famously claimed that superforecasters can outperform CIA analysts with privileged information. Is it true? A review of the evidence.  
  2. Warcasting as actionable intelligence. What the news could be.
  1. Speculative claims about the future of geopolitics. The end of the unipolar moment?


  1. Is US inflation broad (fiscal, expectations), or narrow (team transitory, supply-chain)? Arguments for narrow, but see:
  1. The housing theory of everything. See also the YIMBY theory of the US subprime mortgage crisis
  2. Asset Manager Capitalism: A new theory on WTF Happened in 1970
  3. Overnight drift: almost all the gains of the stock market are due to overnight returns.


  1. DeepMind AlphaCode in competitive programming contests. Some perspective, “54th percentile, while insane, only corresponds to only about 1 or 2 problems per contest (in div 2). The final rating they achieved (~1200), corresponds to solving ~20% of Codeforce’s problems. On APPS, they still only get to 8%.”
  2. DeepMind is now using deep reinforcement learning to control tokamak plasmas (nuclear fusion).
  3. DeepMind paper Advancing mathematics by guiding human intuition with AI, and explainer by Tim Nguyen.
  4. Sharpened Cosine Similarity as the new convolution? 
  5. AI-powered drug discovery is also AI-powered bioweapon discovery
  6. Variational auto-encoder analogies: predictive coding vs. machine learning.
  7. Low-dimensional manifold analogies: neuroscience vs. evolution.


  1. More examples of cultural evolution: cockatoos are figuring out how to open bins by copying each other
  2. Tool use in fire ants.
  3. The co-evolution of multi-level societies and cooperative breeding in birds. Human societies also share these features…
  4. Why women’s voices are becoming deeper in some countries. 
  5. Humans have been steadily eating most other animals to death, hunting our way down the food chain.


  1. Replication status by field. Intelligence and personality research seems to score highly.  
  2. A new index for state capacity. 
  3. Where are all the geniuses? Argument that aristocratic tutoring creates geniuses (see also Bloom’s two sigma problem “the average tutored student was above 98% of the students in the control class”). And follow-up.
  4. Innovation promoted by openness of one’s Twitter networks


  1. Misconceptions about cholesterol
  2. My best estimate is that gas stoves decrease life expectancy by 53 days on average”. 
  3. New COVID treatment: interferon lambda shows 50% hospitalization risk reduction in the vaccinated.
  4. What America lost by delaying the vaccine rollout until after the November election (estimated at 8,000 lives). 
  5. Pulse rate as biomarker for subjective well-being.
  6. Heterodox theses on sleep (e.g., comfortable modern sleep is an unnatural superstimulus, occasional acute sleep deprivation is healthy). And counter-arguments.

Cognitive Science

  1. The Einstellung Effect is a powerful blocker of problem-solving. The first solution we come up with becomes a point of focus, preventing us from finding better ones. The eyes of expert chess masters keep drifting back to their first idea, keeping their mind from better moves! Related to confirmation bias in psychology and set switching in neuroscience. 
  2. Illusory faces are much more likely to be perceived as male than female. 
  3. First-ever recording of dying human brain reveals dreaming-like activity
  4. The mind is flat: active inference + Nietzsche “the chamber of consciousness is small” = confabulation
  5. The Human Brain Encodes a Chronicle of Visual Events at Each Instant of Time


  1. One-on-ones: why so many graduate students struggle, and general advice on how to make working relationships constructive
  2. Tool to help recover data from images.
  3. Escher sentences are sentences which initially seem acceptable but upon further reflection have no well-formed meaning. Ex: “More people have been to Berlin than I have”. 
  4. Swearing reliably boosts physical strength. Seems relevant to its evolutionary origins.
  5. 10 hypotheses of patriarchy:
  1. Metaphysics vs applied category theory.
  2. Does therapy work? Yes, because everyone is unknowingly defective in some sort of basic human functioning – therapy helps you notice & repair it.. Related: what universal human experiences are you missing without realizing it?
  3. Music preferences are most plastic for 13 year olds.

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