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Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Sam Harris’s Museum Of Mistakes

Demolition of Sam Harris’s Free Will. It is “a remarkable little book, engagingly written and jargon-free, appealing to reason, not authority”. Now for the bad news: It is also “a veritable museum of mistakes, none of them new and all of them seductive — alluring enough to lull the critical faculties of brilliant thinkers who do not make a profession of thinking about free will”. Harris and others “need to do their homework” (10,000 words)

How To Spot A Weak Argument

“When you’re reading or skimming argumentative essays, especially by philosophers, here is a quick trick that may save you much time and effort, especially in this age of simple searching by computer: look for ‘surely’ in the document, and check each occurrence. Not always, not even most of the time, but often the word ‘surely’ is as good as a blinking light locating a weak point in the argument” (497 words)

What Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence

Big thinker, big theme, big piece. “What Darwin and Turing had both discovered was the existence of competence without comprehension.” Gradualism and process can produce results that nobody expects, or intends, or even understands

The Social Cell

What do debutante balls, Japanese tea ceremonies, Ponzi schemes and doubting clergy have in common? At first glance little, but Dennett makes an intriguing link between these cultural phenomena and the complexity of biological cells

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