The Secret Ingredients of ‘Superforecasting’

“From 2011 to 2015, the US government-funded online initiative pitted the predictive powers of ordinary people against Washington, DC intelligence analysts on the most significant geopolitical questions of the day. Over successive rounds, Tetlock and Mellers identified the very best prognosticators from the 25,000-strong participant pool and shunted them into elite teams. Despite the fact that the Beltway experts had access to classified data and intelligence reports, the GJP superforecaster squads bested them in predictive accuracy by about 30 percent.”

-Ville Satopää, ” The Secret Ingredients of ‘Superforecasting’.” INSEAD.edu. November 8, 2019.

There’s also the book “Superforecasting,” by Phillip Tetlock and Dan Gardner. To try your hand at it, GJOpen.com can be worth a look.

Starlink is a Very Big Deal

“Starlink, continuously spraying bits from the sky, disrupts this model completely. I don’t know of a better way to bring the unconnected billions online. SpaceX is on the way to becoming an internet service provider and, potentially, an internet company to rival Google and Facebook. I bet you didn’t see that coming.”

—Casey Handmer, “Starlink is a very big deal.” CaseyHandmer.WordPress.com. November 2, 2019

Hands down, the best technical overview or Starlink I’ve read.

When ‘Angels in America’ Came to East Texas

“‘Don’t get chuffed-up and fill the play with anger, which attacks on your work may have generated; part of the strategy of the enemies of art is to create toxic environments in which the art, even if on display, can’t be properly received,’ the letter read in part. ‘Trust in the play, in your work, in your talent, in the audience.’

…I had no idea what that meant, but in that moment, the fears of the protesters had come true. Dark magic hadn’t turned me gay, but a work of theater had cracked the Pine Curtain, stirring in me the first inkling that gay people deserved to be treated with dignity and love rather than cruelty or cold indifference. Forced to choose between the hate-filled protesters outside the theater and the searching, brave people inside, I knew which side I wanted to be on. The messenger had arrived.”

—Wes Ferguson, “When ‘Angels in America’ Came to East Texas.” Texas Monthly. October 14, 2019.

This article made me cry.

Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma: An Integrative Approach

“Aubrey Thyme liked to think of the human mind as like a spider web. This wasn’t particularly creative of her, it was a common metaphor, but it was a useful one. Each strand in the web was a belief. The peripheral strands were simple beliefs, easily shaken off with counter-evidence, insignificant. The center of the web were the core beliefs, however, the ones that shaped the whole of one’s identity. Pluck at one of these core strands, and the whole of a person could change. Aubrey Thyme spent much of her work trying to locate the core strands in other peoples’ webs so that she could then pluck them.”

Nnm, “Demonology and the Tri-Phasic Model of Trauma: An Integrative Approach .” archiveofourown.org. Good Omens fanfic completed October 5, 2019.

Fictional account of psychotherapy from the psychotherapists point of view, which apparently is pretty true to life. Read the first chapter and see if you don’t get hooked.

A Sport of Their Own

“‘Wrestling gives you what you need to be successful,’ Kretzer explained. ‘It gives you dedication, commitment. It gives you somewhere where you belong. You can be your own self and be a total badass…

‘Wrestling allows you to find yourself. With your wins and losses, you get to reflect and try to develop yourself into something better. It’s not something you practice a few hours; it’s a 24/7, full commitment. The struggles in wrestling help you with the struggles outside of wrestling.'”

—Liz Clarke, “A Sport of Their Own.” The Washington Post. November 8, 2019.

I fully support wrestling as a sport for girls. Wrestling changed my life, and everyone should have that opportunity.

Ask Molly: Manic Pixie Mean Girl

“Enough of stating the fucking obvious, though. Let’s talk about how we’re going to survive the next year of bloviating sexist fuckwaddery. Let’s talk about what it means not just to survive, not just to escape predation and tolerate douche bro-viating and tune out all of the ignorant dipshit-itude, but to savor life and embrace joy as a woman or a girl or a enlightened human of any gender in this ludicrously insipid, unseeing, witless world.”

-Heather Havrilesky, “Manic Pixie Mean Girl.” Ask Molly. November 8, 2019.

I love Ask Molly. Everything about it.

Thank You For Your Service

“Almost half of U.S. veterans and active service members feel uncomfortable with being thanked for their service, a new survey has revealed…

…The poll found that instead of saying the simple thank you, most veterans and service members preferred gratitude that went beyond simple platitudes and that tried to connect with them on a more personal level.”

—Tareq Haddad, “Veterans ‘Uncomfortable’ With ‘Thank You for Your Service,’ Ask for More Civilian Support This Veterans Day.” Newsweek. November 9, 2019.

Deeply uncomfortable with, “Thank you for your service.” In my experience, it is said by people that generally don’t know what that service entails and have naive notions that the U.S. military is promoting “freedom” around the world and is maintaining it at home. “Thank you” is often a performance, where the individual is erased in the service of a national mythology. It’s best not to ask what was done and how it effected the people who did it and the folks on the receiving end because it might be horrible.

Exhibit A of the kinds of damage done by false praise mentioned this morning.

False Praise

Open Question: Why is false praise seen as so much less harmful than false criticism?

“Presumably the reason we now allow suits for false defamation is that we see a net social harm there; others are liable to be misled, causing misallocations of resources and relations. In addition, resources may be wasted in back-and-forth defamation battles. But it seems to me that we should also expect similar social harms to result from false positive comments, not just false negative comments. So maybe we should consider having law discourage those as well.”

-Robin Hanson, “Why Not Also Punish False Praise?OvercomingBias.com. October 31, 2019.

The Asshole Filter

“If you find yourself wondering, or just feeling, “Why is everyone I wind up dealing with an asshole?” you might want to consider the possibility that you have set up an asshole filter. Asshole filters are an extremely common phenomenon, and an extremely common problem…

…An asshole filter is a situation one creates that causes non-assholes to reduce contact with you at a disproportionate rate (like at all) than assholes.

The simplest way to do this is to ask politely.

An asshole filter happens when you publicly promulgate a straitened contact boundary and then don’t enforce it; or worse, reward the people who transgress it.”

-siderea, “The Asshole Filter.” siderea.dreamwidth.org. September 15, 2015.

Blue Wall Voices Project

“One year out from the 2020 presidential election and without a clear frontrunner in the Democratic primaries, a large share of voters –about four in ten (41%)–say they have not yet made up their minds about who they plan to vote for in November 2020. These ‘swing voters’ either report being undecided about their vote in 2020 or are leaning towards a candidate but haven’t made up their minds yet. With a substantial number of votes still up for grabs, this analysis looks in-depth at this group of voters to explore the policy issues that could swing these voters to vote for either President Trump or the Democratic nominee.”

-Ashley Kirzinger, et al, “Blue Wall Voices Project.” Kaiser Family Foundation in cooperation with the Cook Political Report. November 7, 2019.

Four in ten of Americans on their preferred political platform.