Dimensionality Reduction and Political Polarization

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 November 2

Jeremie Harris describes the fundamental process happening in people’s brains that has led to the political polarization we’re seeing today. We don’t store and process information all that accurately. We are prone to forming an opinion from very little data, and then in the age of nearly unlimited information and communication, we effortlessly find and use the same opinion from others to reinforce and confirm our own over and over, forgetting the original basis for the opinion and failing to ever go back and review it.

The Myth of Freedom

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 September 21

Yuval Noah Harari, writing for The Guardian, details why continuing to believe in the myth of free will could actually be dangerous in an age where governments and corporations are amassing massive amounts of data about people—so much so that they (or more accurately, software systems that they are running and can manipulate) may soon know us better than we know ourselves.

Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious?

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 August 25

Fascinating video from Veritasium about the potential cause of the decline in our crops’ nutrient content over the last century. Popular theories include soil depletion due to over farming, as well as selective breeding (the only ones I’d heard of prior). But there is evidence to suggest that the decline is also happening in non-cultivated plants and may actually be due to increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Stop Trying to Change Yourself

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 August 14

Mark Manson, author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (go read it if you haven’t already—it’s a fantastic book) discusses why wrapping up your behavior into your identity and then consequently trying to change yourself can be very detrimental.

The Three Languages of Politics

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 August 9

Tristan Flock outlines Arnold Kling’s framework for understanding the worldviews of major political positions in his review of Kling’s book, The Three Languages of Politics. This type of thinking—understanding another group’s perspective of the world—is critical to ending political deadlock, childish discourse, and moving closer to solving real-world problems.

The New Intelligence

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 July 18

A thought-provoking post by Nan Li about the implications of modern AI with regard to the scientific method.

Airport Security

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 April 19

Wendover Productions takes a detailed look at airport security. The most interesting portion for me is the assessment of the potential increase in deaths that more airport security (or “security theater”) potentially has indirectly.

Social Media Is Making Us Dumber

Nate Pickens ◦ 2018 January 17

Jesse Singal perfectly describes my long-standing frustration with much of modern discourse in this op-ed New York Times piece.

Can Free Will Exist?

Nate Pickens ◦ 2017 August 7

The concept of free will can be defined as the ability to arbitrarily make a choice. It is antithetical to the concept of determinism, where all events are simply the effects of causes and therefore, given a state of the universe and complete knowledge of how the universe works, one could determine all future events.

Hello World

Nate Pickens ◦ 2017 May 29

Hi! Not much to see here yet, but check out my stuff on Instagram, Twitter, GitHub, and Keybase.