Clearly there’s a tradeoff to be made here. In order to learn about the world, you need to let ideas in. But the more ideas you let in, the more bad ideas you let in. You can (and should) set up border controls, but you can’t achieve perfect truth-filtering any more than you can turn your house into a cleanroom or ride the subway in a hazmat suit.

In order to get any thinking done, you have to accept some probability of being wrong. The question is, how much?

~ Kevin Simler

If you’ve been following me a while, you’ve been exposed to Melting Asphalt and know what to expect if you follow that link.

…but especially if you don’t know what to expect, you should click that link and go have your horizons broadened, and your borders strengthened.


Humans are the most communicative species on the planet, but we’ve come increasingly to rely on the very cheapest signals: words. The problem with words is that they aren’t a scarce resource. Which is a more honest signal of your value to a company: when your boss says, “Great job!” or when she gives you a raise?

~ Kevin Simler

I’m not sure I have a take-away from this. I don’t mean, “I’m not sure I have a take-away to share“, I mean I’m not sure I have a take-away, for me personally.

I’m sure only that this made me think.

Agency from individual neurons

What I’m going to argue today is that agency is a fundamental property of the brain. Not only is agency the function of the brain — and thus it’s very reason for existence — but it’s also built into the brain’s fabric and architecture. Because even neurons have agency, in the form of (metabolic) selfishness, higher-order brain systems don’t need to create agency ‘from scratch’ out of mindless robotic slaves. They inherit agency pretty much for free.

~ Kevin Simler

The question of agency occassionally sucks me into a deep whirlpool of introspection. The idea that it might arise as an emergent property simply from the huge number of neurons is intriguing.

Music in human evolution? Aposematism?!

… the goal of aposematism is to advertise that, as a piece of prey, you are decidedly unprofitable for the predator. If a predator can easily recognize you (and other members of your species), and remembers getting burned during past encounters, it will quickly learn to stop attacking you in the first place.

~ Kevin Simler

Long [long!] ago humans stood up (makes us easy to see),
moved into the open grasslands (makes us really easy to see),
lost our claws/protective-thick-skin/fangs (makes us soft and easy to kill),
did NOT have tools other than rocks we could pick up (makes us unable to defend ourselves),
started singing ON THE GROUND (makes us easy to hear and find, NO OTHER ANIMAL DOES THIS),

… and then we took over the planet.

AND we are the only animal that uses RHYTHM,
ALSO, all humans dance (ever have the urge to tap your foot or more your head to music?)…
Wait, also, why do we always — every society, every religion, every military — ALWAYS retrieve/prepare/handle/bury our dead?


Intrigued? Click that link… I’m a simple person, with a small brain, and I’m easily amused. This article. BLEW. MY. MIND.