Tend the Fire

Abstractions are delightful,
but one must also breathe air and eat bread.

Book Summary: Don’t Shoot the Dog

Don’t Shoot the Dog, by Karen Pryor, is an excellent book on training via positive conditioning. It’s explicitly about animal training, but it’s clearly applicable to training yourself and other humans, too. I kept notes when I thought I was learning something new; this is my summary of things learned.

A Week of No Facebook

I’d noticed that, lately, I was spending most of my free time alone, bouncing back and forth between Twitter, Facebook, my email, and games on Steam. Steam can just eat all of my day, if I sit down unmotivated. I wasn’t doing anything awesome, unless I’d planned in advance to be away from the internet. So, I’m taking a vacation from the biggest, most pointless consumers of my attention.

Just-So Stories

Just-so stories are awfully fun to weave. They’re all the best for being maximally improbable but internally consistent. Instant fiction, but with less “story” and more “explanation”. Easier by a wide margin for me to generate off the cuff.

Record Linkage

A bitter little academic irony

Quality of Expertise

Sometimes experts are clearly superior to novices. Sometimes they're merely very confident. Why?

In some fields, experts are unimaginably better than novices. Master chess players, for instance, are demonstrably better chess players than beginners. A chess master can look at a board position and immediately spot useful moves.

In other fields, people with experience in some field think they can make expert judgments about that subject, are confident in those judgments, and are correct about as often as random selection.

Why do some types of expertise have solid evidence, while others seem fundamentally broken?