Welcome to Nintil!
Many blogs have a topic they are about, but not so with Nintil, there is no common thread that unites all the posts here other than I've written them. The motivating aims behind each of them tends to be that I want an explanation for something and nothing available is good enough. One would wish that systematic reviews found in peer-reviewed journals would suffice for this but it is often not the case. And it is the case that often one finds interesting insights outside of the academic circle. So I try to consult any publicly available source for the posts. If I've been completely successful, a Nintil post represents the state of the art in its topic, and there should be no comment possible because that would have already been thought about and incorporated. Of course, I can't anticipate everything and I get things wrong so :)
Lately I've been writing about longevity, with some looking at the phenomenon of aging, and what can be done to revert it.
In the past, I spent a lot of time writing the Soviet Union series, posts on the economic history of the USSR that were later made into a booklet by the Adam Smith Institute. The trigger for this one was seeing a video from a USSR-supporter talking about all the good stuff that the USSR achieved, backed with data from non-Soviet organizations like the CIA. So I wondered what is it that we really know as of when I wrote that. Interestingly, the series has been cited by communists and anti-communists alike in support of their opposing positions.
Another topic that had me occupied for a while were post criticising Mariana Mazzucato's book The Entrepreneurial State. You have probably seen the claims that the state invented the iPhone, the internet, computers, and is behind the success of Google or Apple. Most of the claims are either gross oversimplifications or straight fake news. In the series I go through the book and fact check the sources used; in occasion the sources contradict the book itself.
I have written some book reviews and comments, for example Every Cradle is a grave (about suicide and antinatalism), Rules for a Flat World (law), the Elephant in the Brain (human nature), Lost in Math (modern physics), the Case Against Education (education), or Fully Grown (economic growth).
I have also looked at Bloom's two sigma effect, the idea that you can achieve huge improvements in education by means of tutoring and related techniques.
On the topic of technological progress, one of the planks of my view is that fundamental physics as a field is exhausted, about which you can read more here and here as well as here. Another point is that we shouldn't think in terms of frameworks like "the singularity" or "the great stagnation"; rather we should look at it field by field. This line of thought starts here with a survey of a bunch of fields, then I look at whether Moore's law is dead yet, what the construction rates of skyscrapers and other large projects has been historically, costs and construction times of nuclear reactors
Related to this I have some posts that can be of some interest about defense R&D spending and growth, I'm not particularly friendly to the view that wars got us where we are, pushing inventions like the jet engine into fruition.
Another topic I was writing about in the past is the causes of why the % of women in STEM is what it is, ultimately it has more to do with preferences than with discrimination or stereotypes. This one is bound to be controversial, but I tried to give the arguments a fair hearing; some of the posts are simply me taking posts written by others in defense of the opposite hypothesis, and fact-checking their claims.
I don't write much about politics or politics-adjacent content, the closest recent may be my thoughts on the blurring of the meaning of public (Usually associated with state-ownership, and serving everyone by law) and private (Private-owned and with potential club-like restrictions as given by property rights).
Likewise I try to stay away from the C-word because it's such an interesting topic albeit at the same time really hard to make progress in: a recipe for frustration. But sometimes I indulge and so you can read my thoughts on consciousness here, here, here or here.
Then there are other more one off posts that I think are good to some extent:
- On what we can say about what religion causes, looking at mormonism in particular
- Why GDP growth seems so constant
- An overview of Rawl's career
- The effects of inequality on economic growth
- A longer critique of antinatalism and a reply to a reply to that post.
- Does every animal sleep?
- Digging into the data behind the seemingly high Cuban GDP and Human Development Index
- Future challenges for AI, 4 challenges I think would be informative of its progress. Beating Starcraft was challenge 2.
- Are firms myopically spending less on R&D than they "should"?
Finally every month I compile interesting things I see (In Twitter favorites, the Feedly RSS reader, or Pocket. [Say no to newsletters!]) and if I do end up reading them, I will post them in that month's Links post.
If you want to reply via blogpost to anything I've written, I will probably respond if I think it's worth it. You can send me emails at j o s e @ricon.xyz .
This blog was awarded an Emergent Ventures grant in the past.