15 – Animals

Katrina referenced the book “Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” Wiki page about the author. See also, wikipedia on animal cognition.

About the crow facial recognition and warning study.

Prairie dog language study.

The thought experiment of Torture vs Dust Specks.

The Machiavellian Intelligence Hypothesis. Also, like most good things, discussed in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.

SMBC: Who’s cloning all of these Hitlers?!

Peter Singer’s essay All Animals Are Equal.

Archerfish face recognition study.

The anti-CAFO organization is called Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

Steven insists on linking to Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about intelligence since he really doesn’t feel like he did any justice in his paraphrasing.

Katrina’s self-corrections and comments:

  • I said that there isn’t much of a difference between social and solitary animals in terms of modeling other individuals. That is false. There is a difference. I just don’t want to discredit other forms of cognition.
  • I used terms like “intrinsic value,” but I don’t actually think that anything has value other than what it’s assigned by itself and/or others. I DO think that non-humans can confer value.
  • “Insects are the equivalent of moving rocks,” is quite a thing to say to an entomologist, guys.
  • We were negative about hunting. On its face, hunting animals with healthy wild populations for food is probably preferable to consuming an equivalent amount of factory farmed animals.
  • I meant “legislation” regarding condensed animal feeding operations (CAFOs), not “litigation,” although that has its place as well.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

14 – Street Epistemology

Steve (@youngidealist on twitter) talks to us about Street Epistemology

The Street Epistemology website, which has been significantly updated and expanded since we recorded this episode. Looking nice!

The Street Epistemology book – A Manual For Creating Atheists

Short text interview with Peter Boghossian by Sam Harris

Practice and/or learn at blab.im (none of the Conspirators have used this, we’re taking Steve’s word for it 🙂 )

Is That Your True Rejection?

Steve’s mother may have been practicing the art of Epistemic Learned Helplessness (better than it sounds)

Clifford’s The Ethics of Belief. Summarized in one sentence: ““It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anything on insufficient evidence.”

Steve’s Top 4 recommended Street Epistemology videos:
What is Street Epistemology?

Kari | Examining Cardinal Beliefs

Nerville | An Alarming Realization

Kiana | Karma and Concrete Facts

From the Feedback section:

Affective Death Spirals

Things Probably Matter (re: happiness)

Scrupulosity, and Scott’s argument for the Giving What We Can pledge

Giving What We Can itself

Mad Props to Jess Dickey for the new logo! Thanks!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

13 – Game Theory

It’s about modeling agents making decisions, not game design. 🙂 – EB

…but you can also apply game theory to game design. – KS

Yvain’s sequence of posts introducing Game Theory

Defecting is MADE OF FIRE

Wikipedia on Dr. Axelrod’s Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma tournament

Over the years the Less Wrong community has run a few PD tournaments of their own, with some variation.
2011 Standard evolutionary tournament
2013 tournament with visible source code (set up, and results)
2014 tournament with opponent-simulation

Punishing the cooperators! Who would do that??
(Eneasz: my explanation for why this is done may have been off – I was mixing it up with the “Insulting The Meat” practice I’d recently read about)

Learn about Evolutionary Game Theory from chapter 7 of this online book!

Patent Trolls. Eneasz hates them. The Patent Troll Episode of This American Life may make you hate them too, if you don’t already.

The Planet Money episode on the body-builder supplement patent troll. Or read a summary at NPR.

The story of the Phoebus cartel, a group of light bulb manufacturers who conspired to reduce light bulb life.

The best Golden Balls Split or Steal

“The Button” a parody of The Box with Cameron Diaz (not Jennifer Lopez) which is based on a short story called, “Button, Button.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky on Newcomb’s Problem, and on The True Prisoner’s Dilemma

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

12 – Listener Feedback

We covered ten episodes of feedback in one hour (and a half)! After this, we’ll reply to comments regularly at the end of episodes. Comment either at the website (www.thebayesianconspiracy.com) or at the subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/thebayesianconspiracy/). Or email us – bayesianconspiracypodcast at gmail.

TONS of links this episode, because we covered such a variety of stuff:

An article about Elizabeth Sheff’s research on modern polyamorous families. A paper on partible paternity in lowland South America.

Judith Rich Harris argues that parenting doesn’t matter that much. So you should worry less about screwing up your kids, as long as you aren’t actually hurting them. Bryan Caplan says much the same.

Make Beliefs Pay Rent

Project MKUltra – a real conspiracy by the CIA to effect mind-control

Sacred Values Are How Ethical Injunctions Feel From The Inside (related: How An Algorithm Feels From Inside and Ends Don’t Justify Means (Among Humans) )

Robert Nozick’s “Experience Machine” thought experiment.

Fun Theory Sequence (which is mostly a list of links to even more articles, so… this’ll take a while if you haven’t read it before)
Or more briefly (but much less comprehensively) – Morality is Awesome!

Rudi Hoffman

GiveWell estimates their most effective charity – the Against Malaria Foundation – saves lives at a cost of ~$3,000 per life saved (I was off a bit). They consider anything under $5,000 to be extremely cost-effective.

Morality Should Be Moral

Eliezer’s essay on the ethics of signing up your children for cryonics.

On The Origin of Circuits“, discussing the chip evolution experiment

Article on Google’s AI-specific chip design

Does Divestment Work?

Slate Star Codex on Vegetarianism for Meat-Eaters and Ethics Offsets.

The story of Stu Rasmussen, who became the first transgender mayor in the USA, in a small rural town. Turns out it’s a RadioLab episode, not 99PI.

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell’s book about the power of human intuition.

The episode of Skeptoid regarding the fire in Waco and David Koresh. I think it’s a great way to give some more info on the topic and sneak some critical thinking in as well.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

11 – Voting

Is it rational to vote?

We realize the audio quality when we have live guests is terrible, we’re working to fix that now, hopefully things will start sounding better very soon. Thanks for bearing with us!

Eneasz wants to say that his understanding of Timeless Decision Theory is likely flawed, because it is big and complicated and he is small and simple. His interpretation of it in this episode is not necessarily entirely correct, it is merely his best understanding. He is, as always, open to correction.

Mentioned in this episode:

Mail-in vote can decrease turn-out (includes an alternative explanation as well)

Andrew Gelman on the probability of your particular vote making a difference (pdf!)

Following-up – Andrew Gelman on why you should maybe vote anyway

Caprini’s What Americans Know about Politics and Why It Matters

Peter Singer’s Why Vote?, defending compulsory voting

Wikipedia on Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem

Wittman’s The Myth of Democratic Failure: Why Political Institutions Are Efficient, and Caplan’s reply – The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies

PredictWise, the prediction market!

Hanson’s “Futarchy,” where we would vote on values, but bet on beliefs

Wikipedia on Effective Number of Parties

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

10 – Polyamory (part 2)

The second half of our conversation on polyamory, because we talked and talked and the episode went long. As with Part 1, positions of other parties, including current and former partners, are very likely misrepresented in this episode.


More Than Two – An excellent online resource to ethical non-monogamy. It is also the title of a book by the creator of the website, Franklin Veaux along with Eve Rickert.

Researcher Elisabeth Sheff has written several books on polyamory and has an ongoing blog on Psychology Today. Along with More Than Two, this is a great resource for detailed information on polyamory. For example, how do children fare with poly parents? How do people navigate relationships in which one partner is poly and the other is mono?

Scarlet Teen: With Pleasure: A whole view of sexual anatomy for every body Because sex is about more than genitals.

Journal of Sexual Medicine – Cheaters in monogamous relationships use less protection and transmit more STIs than openly non-monogamous people.

Robin Hanson’s review of Sex at Dusk on Overcoming Bias

Child custody battles do not favor the polyamorous.

The Scarborough family – 8 adults and 3 kids in one huge house, being evicted for no good reason.
[note: these articles are from late 2014. Eneasz contacted the person who organized their legal defense fund crowdsource, and learned that this is still ongoing. To quote:

Unfortunately the court case(s) are still in process, which is stressful for the family. The city sued in court to enforce the zoning and the family had to counter with a federal suit challenging the constitutionality of the narrow definition of family.

The Planning and Zoning Commission in Hartford is currently considering adopting a functional family definition. Public support (and outreach to that commission) and media pressure / articles are helpful right now. Director of Planning – Jamie.Bratt@hartford.gov

Fortunately the Scarborough family is still living in their home. They actually just installed an urban bee hive to complement their large garden and flower beds! They’re doing their best to live their normal lives despite the stress and uncertainty.


Do you like space operas featuring diverse characters and poly relationships? Try Ascension, by Jacqueline Koyanagi


Myer-Briggs – a fun self-sorting test. You’ve likely seen some pop-culture comparisons, such as Which Harry Potter Character Are You, but Scott Alexander says it’s not totally useless and we should stop hating on it.

The Relationship Bill of Rights: no matter your relationship position (monogamous, anarchist, primary, secondary, hate all these dumb labels), this is super important. Read it!

Kimchi Cuddles online comics about polyamorous relationships

Are You Dating Your Species? Solid advice on choosing partners by Reid Mihalko

The Relationship Escalator

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments