Posts published by: M. Taylor Saotome-Westlake

The Categories Were Made for Man to Make Predictions

I said, "The truth is whatever you can get away with."

"No, that's journalism. The truth is whatever you can't escape."

Distress by Greg Egan

In "The Categories Were Made for Man, Not Man for the Categories", the immortal Scott Alexander argues that proposed definitions of concepts aren't true or …

Interlude XI

"I swear, if I read another word about Phineas Gage—and this goes double for David Reimer—I am going to scream. Why do science writers always recount the same illustrative case studies? Are they all just plagiarizing each other out of laziness, or could it really be that in …

Laser 2

I got my second laser treatment last week! I took the "MAX" train to the nearest stop and walked to the area where the laser parlor/clinic/salon is, but I was quite early, so I passed the time browsing the local shops.

The variety store had these little nylon …

Interlude X

"Likelihood ratios are good! Likelihood ratios are the only good thing!"

"I agree that likelihood ratios are good! In fact, I think we have a moral responsibility to look for clever strategies to make the likelihood ratios bigger! But at the same time, you know, priors."

"Priors?! How dare you …

The Blockhead

Writing? Why, there's hardly anything to it. Writing is just a matter of thinking honestly while Emacs happens to be open: the process of refining one's own thoughts is sufficiently tightly linked to the faculty of language, that the further step of presenting the product of those thoughts to others …

Laser 1

I've decided to pull the trigger on laser beard removal. (It's less thorough than electrolysis, but cheaper and less painful, and my light skin and dark hair is supposed to be a good match for it.) My earlier fear of maybe needing beard shadow to avoid accidentally passing (and thereby …

Select

(Trigger warning: school.)

Economists distinguish a spectrum between rival and nonrival goods. If you want to know more math than your school expects of you, all you need is a book, dedication, and time. If you want an Honorable Mention on the Putnam exam (and don't care about merely getting …

Interlude IX

"Mark, I can't quite place it, but you look ... different somehow."

"Oh yes, thanks for noticing. I'm experimenting with a nonstandard hormone balance. It's kind of like being transgender, except without the part where you delusionally claim to be a woman."

"Excuse me?"

"I said, 'It's kind of like being …

"Neither as Plea nor as Despair"

Basically the question is, do you want to be Dagny Taggart in the school play at an all-boys school, or do you want to be Eddie Willers in the school play at your actual high school

Both schools deserve to exist (I mean, your actual high school doesn't deserve to …

The Nadir of Reading Comprehension

"Against Discrimination", Nature (hat tip /u/PellegoIllud2 and /u/TheCid):

[Difference between groups is] also a blunt instrument of pseudoscience, and one used to justify actions and policies that condense claimed group differences into tools of prejudice and discrimination against individuals—witness last weekend’s violence by white supremacists in …