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Slate Star Codex Podcast

Mar 31, 2019

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. “Mutton” takes the popular vote, but “grass” wins in the Electoral College. The wolves wish they hadn’t all moved into the same few trendy coastal cities.

Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner. The Timber Wolf...


Mar 31, 2019

Commenter Tibbar used Mechanical Turk to replicate my survey on how people thought about the moral weights of animals.

After getting 263 responses (to my 50), he reports different results:

Chicken: 25
Chimpanzee: 2
Cow: 3
Elephant: 1
Lobster: 60
Pig: 5
Human: 1

On the one hand, Mechanical Turkers sometimes aren’t a...


Mar 28, 2019

[EDIT: No longer confident in this post, see edit note at bottom. May formally partially-retract it later.]

Yesterday’s post reviewed research showing that animals’ intelligence seemed correlated with their number of cortical neurons. If this is true, we could use it to create an absolute scale that puts animals...


Mar 27, 2019

Elephants have bigger brains than humans, so why aren’t they smarter than we are?

The classic answer has been to play down absolute brain size in favor of brain size relative to body. Sometimes people justify this as “it takes a big brain to control a body that size”. But it really doesn’t. Elephants have the...


Mar 22, 2019

Wired wrote a good article about Karl Friston, the neuroscientist whose works I’ve puzzled over here before. Raviv writes:

Friston’s free energy principle says that all life…is driven by the same universal imperative…to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs. Or,...