Suggested reading: It’s very unlikely anyone will read this in 200 years

[Part of an occasional series of articles I come across and that strike me as being of general interest. Suggestions welcome, using the Contact form on this site.]

by B.D. McClay

Recently, Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley attracted a lot of derision for tweeting: “People are like, ‘he regards himself as self-important.’ No fucking shit. I would regard myself as an abject failure if people are still not reading my philosophical work in 200 years. I have zero intention of being just another Ivy League professor whose work lasts as long as they are alive.” Stanley deleted the tweets, but, unfortunately for him, they live on. People found his pronouncements very funny because they were indeed self-important, but inevitably, a meta-discourse developed: what was so wrong about this ambition, after all? Shouldn’t we want to create something that will last hundreds if not thousands of years? Don’t we all want to live forever? … (continue at Gawker)

Suggested reading: The Internet is Made of Demons

[Part of an occasional series of articles I come across and that strike me as being of general interest. Suggestions welcome, using the Contact form on this site.]

By Sam Kriss

According to one theory, the internet is made of demons. Like most theories about the internet, this one is mostly circulated online. On Instagram, I saw a screenshot of a Reddit post, containing a screenshot of a 4chan post, containing a screenshot of Tweet, containing two images. On the left, the weird, loopy lines of a microprocessor. On the right, the weird, loopy lines of a set of Solomonic sigils. Caption: ‘Boy I love trapping demons in microscopic silicon megastructures to do my bidding, I sure hope nothing goes wrong.’ In other versions, the demons themselves are the ones who invented the internet; it’s just their latest move in a five-thousand-year battle against humanity. … (continue at Damage magazine)

Suggested reading: Scientific Models and Individual Experience

[Part of an occasional series of articles I come across and that strike me as being of general interest. Suggestions welcome, using the Contact form on this site.]

by David Kordahl

I’ll start this column with an over-generalization. Speaking roughly, scientific models can be classed into two categories: mechanical models, and actuarial models. Engineers and physical scientists tend to favor mechanical models, where the root causes of various effects are specified by their formalism. Predictable inputs, in such models, lead to predictable outputs. Biologists and social scientists, on the other hand, tend to favor actuarial models, which can move from measurements to inferences without positing secret causes along the way. By calling these latter models “actuarial,” I’m encouraging readers to think of the tabulations of insurance analysts, who have learned to appreciate that individuals may be unpredictable, even as they follow predictable patterns in the aggregate. … (continue at 3QuarksDaily)