Oops, the “million words” comment about LessWrong was about Eliezer, not Scott. But Scott must have written that amount by now, on his blog, and on LessWrong in the
From: Richard Kennaway (CMP)
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 11:47:44 AM
Subject: Re: Scott Alexander blog (was Re: controlling for misattribution of side effects)
[Richard Kennaway 2017.03.19 11:43 GMT]
Some background on Scott Alexander, to give context to people arriving at his blog not knowing anything about him.
He is in training to be a psychiatrist, and writing under a pseudonym in order to be able to write more freely. He is very well known in “rationality circles”, which roughly means the diaspora from the LessWrong blog/forum that Eliezer Yudkowsky founded
something like ten years ago and posted about a million words to on the subject of rationality, all of which are worth reading, but you don’t have to have read all of that to understand where Scott is coming from.
I’m not sure which of his writings Martin was reading to get the impression that it was mostly about religion (perhaps “Unsong”, his novel in progress that takes every weird idea from the Kabbalah and Jewish rabbinic tradition as being literally true and
runs with it), but it is not a particular focus of his blog. He has written a lot about the dreadful state of psychiatry (e.g. https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/12/29/book-review-mount-misery/ ),
the dreadful state of medicine (e.g. https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/07/17/who-by-very-slow-decay/) ,
the dreadful state of political discourse (e.g. https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/), and the dreadful state of everything and why it cannot ever be fixed (e.g. https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/).
He has written many well-researched and argued posts on various topics in medicine and psychopharmacology, too many to list, and not individually relevant to someone wanting to get a sense of who he is, but his full list of all
his blog posts is at https://slatestarcodex.com/archives/.
I think he’s a genius, and I hope that at some point he will understand PCT.
– Richard Kennaway
From: Martin Taylor firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 4:14:13 AM
Subject: Scott Alexander blog (was Re: controlling for misattribution of side effects)
[Martin Taylor 2017.03.18.13.50]
[Martin Taylor 2017.03.18.14.03]
On 2017/03/18 7:16 AM, Warren Mansell wrote:
Hey guys, anyone seen the excitement building about PCT among this
group of 12,000 followers of Scott Alexander?
I don’t see “excitement”, but I see a lot of people saying PCT is
nothing to be excited about. It’s not original; everyone uses hierarchy;
to control needs a lot of computation, often needing data you don’t
have, which makes control impractical; behaviourism explains everything
better; PCT ignores everything that’s important such as learning and
memory; it’s just a metaphor, and no better than any other metaphor,
sometimes helpful, sometimes misleading, etc. etc. Nothing to see here,
folks. The blog author and one or two commentators (besides Richard
Kennaway) do seem to get it, though.
Most of the commentators seem to be commenting from a position of
complete ignorance of PCT, but with great authority they either dispute
what they assume it says or claim that what it says is self-evident but
useless. The only commentator I recognized who has knowledge of PCT and
uses it to correct some of the misstatements is Richard Kennaway. Maybe
some of us could “ride to his rescue” waving high the flag? It is nice
to have so many people made aware of the existence of B:CP, but it would
be nicer if some of the misapprehensions about PCT were corrected,
especially in light of the four decades that have elapsed since B:CP was
first published. A book review of B:CP was what started the discussion.
I think everyone including Bill P. has learned a bit in the last 40+ years.
I tried to figure out what Scott Alexander or this site was all about.
As far as I can see, the site has more to do with religions than
anything else, but that can’t be true, given the scientific backgrounds
that are implicit or explicit in many of the comments on the book
review. I didn’t find any clue to Alexander. I suppose I could Google
him, but I can’t be bothered.