Tag: Blog

Open thread, 6/2/2013

By Razib Khan | June 2, 2013 2:46 pm

The Way of the Sages

On occasion I recommend to friends reading what are to the public obscure philosophers such as Nietzsche and Plato. This is not because I necessarily think that these individuals had deep and/or true thoughts and ideas (though in some cases I do believe they did). Rather, I want to make it clear to angst ridden moderns that cognitive tail chasing has been around a long time, and others have done it with more thoroughness and aplomb, so there’s no point in wasting time and being original. Also, smart opinions from people whose world views are fundamentally alien toward our own allows us to consider what dogmas and orthodoxies we hold as self-evident truths. The reality is on questions of “meta” (physics, ethics) there hasn’t been that much progress on the margin over the past ~3,000 years, in sharp contrast to what used to be natural philosophy and logic/geometry. As an example, I don’t find our arguments against slavery particularly impressive compared the rebuttals of the ancients or basically any pre-moderns in favor slavery as a necessary evil or even a good. Rather, what I find impressive is our realized humanity. In most areas our advances have been in what we have done, not our justifications for what we have done.


On replacements for Google Reader, etc.

By Razib Khan | March 24, 2013 11:42 am

With the impending expiration of Google Reader, I have been using Feedly, and I like it quite a bit. So if you’ve been procrastinating, check it out.

The Feedburner address for this blog is:


The blog content is of course pushed to Twitter:


Also, if for whatever reason you want Razib-curated-content, my Pinboard is public (RSS). I also push content to a Facebook account. And the best way to contact me is using one of the options on my personal website. And with that I end this irregularly scheduled administrative post.

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Andrew Sullivan goes independent

By Razib Khan | January 3, 2013 1:13 am

You may have heard that Andrew Sullivan & compnay’s The Daily Dish is leaving The Daily Beast. This is making some waves in the blogosphere, with many of my thoughts being in line with Tyler Cowen‘s. I’ve followed Sullivan’s career since the mid-1990s when he was editing The New Republic, and I remember reading Virtually Normal in 1999. In 2000 I noticed he had is own independent website, and over the course of the decade he’s become a internet impresario of sorts. In those years Andrew Sullivan has linked to Gene Expression in one of its incarnations many times. The Daily Dish has also been one of the major boosters of another website with which I am involved, Secular Right. I was even solicited for my own reflections on the 10 year anniversary of Sullivan’s blog.

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Two weeks until the Unz Contest closes

By Razib Khan | August 21, 2012 7:35 pm

Wanted to ping by readers on this:

As a means of publicizing the vast quantity of high-quality content material uniquely available on its recently released website, UNZ.org is announcing a historical research competition.

First Prize of $10,000 and several other cash prizes will be awarded for the most significant and interesting discussion or analysis of some historical issue based on the published source material provided at UNZ.org.  All entries must be received by August 31, 2012, and awards will be made by September 30, 2012.

Interested participants should examine the rules, read the description of the available content source material, and then register for the competition.

Since I’m a judge a few friends have asked if this is for real. Yes, it is.

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Open thread 7/25/2012

By Razib Khan | July 25, 2012 12:01 am

I need to rationalize my process of modulating the stream of comments I get. Toward that end I am going to be posting an “open thread” once every week (I’ve scheduled the next month already). If you have the urge to leave an off-topic comment on a post immediately, just put it here. You can of course contact me, but I understand that is often suboptimal, insofar as you may wish for input from other readers. Because this option is available I am inclined to simply delete off-topic comments more aggressively now, with repeated violations resulting in banning.

The nature of the restrictions of the comments are relatively loose on this post. You should maintain some decorum as usual. But you can post links, ask me or other readers questions, etc.


Reflections on 10 years in science blogging

By Razib Khan | July 6, 2012 11:38 pm

I’ve been thinking that I should post about what it’s been like being a blogger for 10 years. 1/3 of my recollected life! (I recall fragments of being 3, but continuity of self starts somewhere at the end of my 4th year) Actually, I always assumed I would do this post in 2012 when I joined ScienceBlogs in 2006 and realized I could turn this hobby/sidelight into a source of semi-professional fulfillment. But now that the time is nigh (I started blogging in April 2002, while the original Gene Expression launched in June of 2002) I find myself procrastinating, ironic in light of the fact that blogging is often parodied by some as a form of procrastinating. I will say that whenever I have a “9-5″ (or, in my case more often an 8:30 to 6:30 at minimum) I don’t ever write for the blog during those hours (if a post shows up in that period, it’s a feature called scheduling enabling that miracle, something obviously unknown to those readers who stupidly ask “why are you posting now loser! Shouldn’t you be hittin’ on bangin’ chicks, like I am on Friday nights?”). So blogging is not a way procrastinate for me. It is a way to say what I need to say.

But in any case, something over at MetaFilter has prompted me to perhaps reflect on what blogging has become, at least for me. One Allen Spaulding observes:

So I was going to write a whole thing about how this isn’t actually terrible smart writing and that the whole thing reads like a B- paper in Behavioral Econ 201 at a second tier university, but I’ll let this quote do all the work for me:

Second, people who gain a Ph.D. at least know something of theoretical interest. This applies even to an unemployed history Ph.D.! 

This is a weird cottage industry – taking obvious problems and using every available tool incorrectly to get clicks so you can sell more ads for penis creme.

Obviously I’m not going to defend my posts on law school as awesome pieces of writing. On the contrary! Yet I’m always aroused toward some curiosity whenever people criticize the content of these non-science related posts. For example, performed a routine analysis of GSS data, and someone in a forum like MetaFilter (I forget which) dismissed the results as something that a graduate student in political science might write as a paper. Here’s the point I want to emphasize: I did not spend more than 30 minutes on the post which the commenter judges as being a B- paper at a second tier university! Question: what’s the going rate for such papers? I could produce a bunch per day if needed. Similarly, the commenter dismissing my GSS posts as something a political science Ph.D. could easily generate might be curious to know that some of my posts of that genre are written in less than 1 hour while I’m killing time in public transportation tethering to my phone so I have an internet connection. The method is rather easy to replicate:

1) Question

2) Look for data sets to test question

Unfortunately not too many people find this practice congenial, so the niche is left to a few odd bloggers (e.g., Audacious Epigone, the Inductivist). Naturally, sometimes I do put a lot of effort into a post. For example, I remember precisely that this post took me about 6 hours total to write. I ran it through two edits, instead of my customary single instance. Though I have to admit here that my very long posts are really not creations de novo, rather, they’re a stitching together of analytic modules I’ve developed over 10 years, or, have had kicking around in the back of my head. Any novel inferences I might have are never obtained through the process of writing. Rather, they serve as seeds for the writing itself.

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Minor note on "the hack"

By Razib Khan | February 17, 2012 6:29 pm

A “test” post showed up on this website earlier. I’ve been told it was probably an error by IT. I had no idea that it was even up because I was off the internet and not checking my phone for ~18 hours for various reasons. Just thought I’d pass that on….


A personal note

By Razib Khan | February 4, 2012 1:12 pm


Razib Khan's predictions for 2012

By Razib Khan | December 31, 2011 2:46 pm

People often make “year end predictions.” I haven’t done that because I just haven’t bothered. But, it’s probably a nice way to see how full of crap you are. You can look back at how many mistakes you made, suggesting to you that you’re really a lot more ignorant of the shape of reality than you fancy yourself. So I’m going to put some predictions down right now. The title is self-centered, but I want it to be Googleable. There are two classes of predictions. The first class are those which I think have more than 50 percent chance of coming to fruition. I don’t want to pick “sure things,” because what’s the point of that? The second category is different, in that I think the chance of the outcome may be less than 50 percent, and the conventional wisdom is going to be opposite of the prediction, but I suspect the odds are better than people think. I’ll give myself “bonus points” if those come true.


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Top 25 referral keywords in 2011 to GNXP

By Razib Khan | December 31, 2011 11:38 am

About ~25 percent of the traffic to this website search engines. Mostly Google. Below are two sets of top 25 search results. The first is pretty straightforward. But the second has all the key words which are probably by and large people just looking for weblogs removed. The links are to search results are on Google.


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Top 25 referral sites in 2011 to GNXP

By Razib Khan | December 31, 2011 11:09 am

A few qualifications. First, I removed all Google referral sites except for G+. Second, I removed Discover Magazine urls. Some of these sites should perhaps have been omitted from the list as well because of my past or current association with them (gnxp.comSecular RightSepia Mutiny and Brown Pundits). ScienceBlogs is mostly, though not exclusively, from my old website there. I’m a little amused that razib.com is rather high on the list, but that site is the first hit usually for querying my name on Google (and therefore Bing, which seems to just copy Google’s results).

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MORE ABOUT: Blog, End of the Year

A letter to a non-prominent science blogger

By Razib Khan | November 6, 2011 9:37 pm

A peculiar piece, What Is The Place Of New Science Bloggers In Today’s Science Blogosphere? You can see responses in the comments, as well as Ed Yong at G+. My own perspective is colored by the fact that I’ve been blogging since April of 2002. In other words, this April I’ll probably be blogging for 10 years. A few months ago I mentioned to Randal Parker of FuturePundit, who started blogging in the summer of 2002, that I frankly would have been totally surprised if you’d told me back then that I’d still be “in the game” in 2011. It seemed like a passing hobby (in fact, of the five people who started at “Gene Expression” in June of 2002 three of the four others continue to have a blog or media profile).

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Sunday Stuff – October 30th, 2011

By Razib Khan | October 30, 2011 6:49 pm


Something different today. First, an elegant international cat:

Second, reading Madagascar: A Short History prompts me to repost a very long essay I wrote ~3 years ago. I have some new ideas in the area of the evolution of religious institutions, which I want to work out in a new essay. But that’s going to have to occur when I have a long period of time to focus on something like that, and that I do not have currently.

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Notes on comments

By Razib Khan | October 30, 2011 2:59 am

I dislike cluttering this site with administrative notes, but I want to put this post up as a reference for the future. It’s not really aimed at regular readers/commenters, who know the explicit and implicit norms.

1) If you use quotation marks, make sure that you’re actually quoting something your interlocutor said, rather than adding them for effect (yes, believe it or not, people have quoted me, where the “quotes” were actually their own interpretation of what I intended)

2) It is generally not best to paraphrase someone else’s argument in your own words as a prologue to your own comment. Just quote the appropriate sections of text in your reply if you want it to frame your response. If you are engaging in paraphrasing to distill the argument of your interlocutor down to a pith, understand that subconscious tendencies are such that you’ll reshape that argument to better suit your response. In other words, you’re probably arguing with your own conception of their argument, not their argument as such. More maliciously some people just paraphrase because it makes setting up a straw man so much easier. That’s not nice. I have wasted a fair amount of time rereading posts to try and figure out how commenters came to a particular perception of my argument. I don’t take kindly to people telling me what I obviously really think, when I point out that their perception was wrong.

3) From that you can gather that inferring “between the lines” isn’t appropriate in most cases. It is part of normal human cognition, and you can’t help it to some extent. But being too liberal about the practice means that you’ll just distort the argument of the other person, who then has to waste their time correcting your misunderstandings. This gums up the exchanges because people have only a finite amount of time. Read as plainly as possible.

4) There’s no presumption here of symmetry. If the host asks you a direct question, answer and don’t evade. If the host tells you to drop a topic, don’t make the case for why you shouldn’t drop the topic. Wasting time trying to argue these issues is a banning offense.

5) I’m busy, and getting busier. I don’t respond well to people wasting my time. Some of the other commenters are busy too. It’s important to make exchanges “count.” Excessive posturing, and an obvious fixation on “winning” arguments with clever ripostes, are bannable offensives.

I’m not taking comments on this post, because as I said this post is more a placeholder so I don’t have to have the same stale argument over & over.

Note: See this companion post.

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Sunday Stuff – October 23rd, 2011

By Razib Khan | October 23, 2011 3:58 pm


1) Weird search query of the week: “145 iq can’t hold job”

2) Fluff below the fold….

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Gene Expression DonorsChoose

By Razib Khan | October 20, 2011 1:05 am

I haven’t raised that much money this year on DonorsChoose. No idea why that is. Perhaps I didn’t pick projects appealing to my readers? Also, I’ve frankly been too busy to bring notice to it very often. It’s great that Phil is doing the heavy lifting for Discover, but I’d like to help a little more. Especially since I got this notification:

The DonorsChoose.org Board of Directors wants to thank you for your hard work, and to encourage readers to give, by matching all donations to Science Bloggers for Students between the first moment of Thursday October 20th and the last moment of Saturday, October 22nd (midnight to midnight Eastern time).

If you were involved in last year’s campaign, the mat ch will work the same way the HP match did:

-At the end of the three day period, all dollars donated will be totaled, and the Board of Directors will match those dollars.

-The number of dollars will be divided by the number of people who donated, and gift codes will be issued to every donor (via e-mail) for an equal share of the matching dollars. So, if 100 people donate $10,000, each donor will receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code.

-Individuals will, in turn, have the chance to apply the funds to whatever classroom project they choose.

In other financial news, John Wilkins of Evolving Thoughts is going through a rough patch. He’s asking for donations via PayPal. John has produced a lot of great content over the years. Tipping him some would be more of a payment for services rendered than a charitable contribution.


The browsers you use

By Razib Khan | October 9, 2011 10:49 pm

In the comments below Clark misunderstood the browser data I was reporting. It wasn’t from this website, but another. Here’s the Google Analytics on the browser/OS combination for this website:


Sunday Stuff – September 25th, 2011

By Razib Khan | September 25, 2011 9:51 pm


I don’t really enjoy reading past posts on this weblog (I said too much stupid stuff), and I haven’t been following comments too closely. So I’m going to skip those for now.

1) Weird search query of the week: “razib khan hiv.” Last I checked I am HIV negative.

2 Your weekly fluff fix:

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MORE ABOUT: Blog, Fluff, KIatz

Which undersampled groups would you like to see?

By Razib Khan | September 9, 2011 10:22 pm

To my excitement I got the Tutsi (almost) and Malagasy genotypes. These are cases where N = 1 is a big deal, as opposed to N = 0. What other groups might be informative? Most of the world’s population is obviously not sampled, but they’re not always of equal interest. What would be equivalent to the Tutsi (politically relevant) or Malagasy (demographically very unique)? If I solicit funds to pay from someone’s genotyping it won’t be a successful solicitation if the interest is very narrow.


Friday Fluff – September 9th, 2011

By Razib Khan | September 9, 2011 10:13 am


1) Post from the past: Introgression in wolves & dogs.

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