doomsday,the illusory truth effect & ineffective altruism
CC#47 - Meta-Analysis Gone Wrong,Made with Bravery & Saunas Are Good For You
Hey there and welcome to ✨ CuratedCuriosity - a bi-weekly newsletter delivering inspiration from all over the internet to the notoriously curious.
Things I Enjoyed Reading.
💣 The Logic of Doomsday [Podcast]
Given the recent geopolitical developments I felt the urge to understand a bit more about nuclear weapons and their history. While this podcast was recorded before the current crisis, the insights provided by William J. Perry (former U.S. Secretary of Defense) are timeless.
In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris speaks with William J. Perry and Lisa Perry about the ever-present threat of nuclear war. They discuss the history of nuclear weapons, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the present threat of accidental nuclear war, nuclear terrorism, unilateral disarmament, the psychology of deterrence, tactical nuclear weapons, cybersecurity, details of command and control, nuclear proliferation, the steps we could take toward safety, strategic missile defense, nuclear winter, and other topics
📈When meta-analysis goes wrong
Meta-analysis seem like an extremely trustworthy source when trying to find the answer to a specific question - unless, however, when they are aggregating bad studies. If that is the case you can even conclude that homeopathy is effective.
In a perfect world, meta-analyses really would be the super-convincing, definitive, show-stopping evidence we believe they are. But we’re far from that world. Even in journals that share a publisher with what’s supposed to be the world’s top scientific outlet (Nature), the quality-control is poor enough that meta-analyses will be waved through to publication with obvious errors, with clear over-claiming in the way they describe the evidence, and on scientific questions, like homeopathy, that are physically impossible and cannot have real effects. Sure, this meta-analysis superficially ticked a lot of the boxes - but even the quickest of glances shows that its conclusions are a million miles from reliable.
🧐 Towards Ineffective Altruism
While I certainly believe that Effective Altruism has produced a lot of good and that there are many ideas I would (mostly) agree with, I do think the authors of this article have valid points as well.
But following the formula of effective altruism is clearly not all that being good requires. There are boundless ways of doing good that are fundamentally immeasurable or, if they are measurable, may not be optimized. Nevertheless, this universe of actions demands our consideration. To follow in the footsteps of Timnit Gebru (and to be purposefully contrarian), let’s call the philosophy of seriously considering the merits of doing good immeasurably or suboptimally ineffective altruism. Ineffective altruism might look like giving $10 to a houseless person who asks for it. It might look like organizing to ensure that as many people as possible have access to basic material needs like food, housing, and healthcare. It might look like the ephemeral work of knitting a social and political community together. After all, how can one quantify the resiliency of a particular neighborhood?
Food for Thought.
🎇 With multiple impressive image generating AIs having been released it, I can’t help but wondering about how they work. Luckily enough, the latest model - Stable Diffusion - is open source and some smart people have written down blogposts that try to explain in an easy way whats going on within the ‘black box’. Fore everyone interested I can definitely recommend this illustrated guide.
👻 Something scary right on time for Halloween…
🇺🇦 Made with Bravery is an online shop by Ukrainian brands, aiming to support what is often referred to as the ‘economic front’. Consider a visit.
🙋 Who needs one of these?
☕️ If you are a coffee lover and need some facts to defend the regular intake of your favorite drink or just want to see coffee bean fighting a tea leaf - this article is a must read.
🧖 Exactly the research findings I needed to cheer me up at the beginning of the winter.
Spent lots of time on trains. Biggest learning: It’s worth buying a seat reservation. Ultimately, I think I got pretty lucky all over but generally I have the impression that trains are just really full these days. Which makes me very happy on the one hand (yay more people taking trains) but also slightly annoyed on the other hand (better don’t expect to get computer work done on the train).
Eventually successfully made it from Copenhagen all the way ‘down’ to Vienna 🥳
Happy Halloween (to those who celebrate)! 🎃