Scott Alexander

Scott Alexander

Why Slate Star Codex is Silicon Valley’s safe space | Deccan Herald
Book Review: Seeing Like A State | Slate Star Codex
Still Alive - Astral Codex Ten
Cognitive Enhancers: Mechanisms And Tradeoffs | Slate Star Codex

Extraordinary people take ideas with extraordinary seriousness. I will read a paper by skimming the abstract. “Huh, that sounds vaguely true.” Scott Alexander will read the paper and write three detailed criticisms, each longer than the paper itself. Me on the other hand, in the last five years I’ve read more words in Scott’s book reviews than in books themselves. What I’m after is that gripping but elusive experience of watching a mind take ideas seriously and completely synthesize them into a vast ocean of knowledge.

As a teenager, I idolized Scott Alexander of SlateStarCodex, who wrote deep, compassionate and fascinating stuff about politics, history, medicine, AI, charitable giving, depression and anxiety, rationality, language and how we think about the world. As an adult, I met him.

I am here to tell you that he writes such a good blog because he is a thoroughly good human being. He is careful, cautious, sincere, witty, and brings out those traits in the people around him; I've never had a conversation with him that I didn't walk away from feeling smarter.

I have known him to volunteer huge chunks of the time he doesn't spend on his job and his blog to help my uninsured friends navigate the medical system, to help my unhoused friends access housing, to help me double-check a lit review I wanted to be very sure of, to review books,

to help people understand the world and navigate it and do good in it. The community he built around his blog is full of amazing people. I am on team Scott Alexander. Hopefully soon @nytimes will back down, his blog will be up and everyone who hasn't heard of him can go see why.

Extraordinary people take ideas with extraordinary seriousness. I will read a paper by skimming the abstract. “Huh, that sounds vaguely true.” Scott Alexander will read the paper and write three detailed criticisms, each longer than the paper itself. Me on the other hand, in the last five years I’ve read more words in Scott’s book reviews than in books themselves. What I’m after is that gripping but elusive experience of watching a mind take ideas seriously and completely synthesize them into a vast ocean of knowledge.

And more along the same lines, and some even more humbling than these. I want to grab some of you by the shoulders and shake you and shout "IT'S JUST A BLOG, GET A LIFE". But of course I would be a hypocrite. I remember back to when I was a new college graduate, desperately trying to make sense of the world. I remember the sheer relief when I came across a few bloggers - I most clearly remember Eliezer Yudkowsky - who seemed to be tuned exactly to my wavelength, people who were making sense when the entire rest of the world was saying vague fuzzy things that almost but not quite connected with the millions of questions I had about everything. These people weren't perfect, and they didn't have all the answers, but their existence reassured me that I wasn't crazy and I wasn't alone. I was an embarrassing fanboy of theirs for many years - I kind of still am - and if my punishment is to have embarassing fanboys of my own then I accept it as part of the circle of life.