Sunday Links #1

Back on the old blog, I ran something I called the Weekly Link Roundup. I started about two years ago, and over the time, created 72 of them. I really valued this opportunity to share links not just to spread some of the great writing and videos around, but also catalog them for my personal reference. Here, I’m going to do the same, except it will be on Sundays. Hence, Sunday Links.

Remember that I don’t necessarily agree with everything stated in every article. Feel free to comment or ask.

In “Further Adventures in Being Biased and Bad with Money”, Scott Alexander explains a bias he noticed where he’d rather pay $200 for a flight with free internet and food than $150 for a flight where you have to pay $10 each for internet and food. It’s a bias that sounds really weird when I say it, but that I totally fall for in real life and would be worth exploring further. I think it’s a matter of how people construct “mental buckets” for spending, and $200 is totally reasonable for your “flight” bucket the same way $150 is, but $10 is not reasonable for your “food” bucket. Same reason why people will travel several miles to save $10 on gasoline, but not travel several miles to save $10 on a car.

Speaking of which, here are “Nine Ways Marketing Weasels Will Try to Manipulate You”, based on biases like that. Pricing bias is the most scary. But watch out for the mentions that “rationality can be cold, unemotional, and bad” (straw vulcanism) at the bottom of the essay.

In other news, is IQ heritable? Another Scott Alexander piece makes me think the answer is that I have no friggin’ clue, even though I learned about the heritability of IQ from credible psychologists with credible PhDs.

Paul Krugman re-reminds us that now is still a really bad time to cut government spending.

Patrick Stokes explains how it is dangerous for people to be “entitled to their opinion”.

This is old news, but Peter Singer and Agata Sagan argue for new rights to JSTOR articles and better management of depression in the wake of Aaron Swartz’s death.

Adam Baker has a TED Talk about getting rid of possessions and paying off debt in order to live a better life. This is the origin of the Man vs. Debt blog.

It’s difficult for me to think about Richard Chappell’s Modern Robin Hood that hacks into your bank account and transfers your life savings to GiveWell’s top charities. Do I think that Hood acts wrongly, in this case? Yes. But can I explain why it’s wrong, given that this money obviously would go much further for the poor than it does for me? Not really. …It would be complicated.

We all know multitasking is bad. But Leo Wildrich one-ups all of us by explaining why we multitask and what makes it bad using neuroscience. And then he gives us three interesting tips to help us be more productive: (1) only have one browser tab open at a time, (2) explain your to-do list to another person, and (3) change work location at least once per day.

William MacAskill writes “The Best Career Advice You’ll Never Hear in a Graduation Speech” – surprisingly, doing something valuable is better for job satisfaction than following your passion and doing what you’re good at, because of the strong connection between altruism and personal happiness.