Travel, Slime, Taste, Incentives, Publicity

Designing Transport for Humans

Pete Dyson & Rory Sutherland | Behavioral Scientist | 16th November 2021 | U

Manifesto for rethinking how transport should work. A past focus on "utilitarian efficiency" has run its course. The new priority should be to make travel easier and even pleasurable. "The greatest fallacy is that travel time is wasted time, so the only option is to speed it up or cut it out. We need to invest in higher-quality travel for more people, while also enabling some people to travel less " (2,100 words)


Susanne Wedlich | Granta | 16th November 2021 | U

In praise of slime, an "aqueous and viscously fluid hydrogel", which, like a cat, can behave as a solid under certain conditions. Without the "long reign" of primeval slime there would be no life now. "We are all creatures of slime, but some of us are more creative than others. Microbes were the only form of life for billions of years, with slime, as the éminence gluante, propping up their power" (2,500 words)

Is There Such A Thing As Good Taste?

Paul Graham | 15th November 2021 | U

Light but likeable argument for the existence of good taste in art. "If there's no such thing as good taste, then there's no such thing as good art. Because if there is such a thing as good art, it's easy to tell which of two people has better taste. Show them a lot of works by artists they've never seen before and ask them to choose the best, and whoever chooses the better art has better taste" (1,100 words)

The Greedy Doctor Problem

Jan Hendrik Kirchner | Universal Prior | 16th November 2021 | U

How do you incentivise a doctor to give you an objective diagnosis, when the doctor will profit more from deciding you have a condition that needs treating? More generally, how do you evaluate an expert opinion when you are not an expert? Various models are gamed here (do skip the algebra). A good first question would seem to be: Is the doctor's diagnosis predictable? (3,500 words)


Axel Gosseries & Tom Parr | SEP | 8th November 2021 | U

Of all the entries in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, I cannot recall one which has carried a less promising title while containing a richer range of useful and accessible ideas. The main issue here is whether matters of government should be debated and decided in public, for moral and political reasons — or whether secrecy is defensible if it seems likely to produce better results (15,030 words)

Audio: A Good Walk Spoiled | Revisionist History | 2017. Malcolm Gladwell asks why golf is so popular a sport among the rich and powerful; and (a not unrelated question) why golf courses are able to occupy so much generally desirable space that could serve many other, arguably more productive, purposes (36m 51s)

Video: Astray To The Space Edge | Morgan Matyjasik | Vimeo | (1m 41s)

If they re-shot a family-friendly version of Mad Max: Fury Road in black-and-white on Mars, the trailer might look a bit like this

"True poetry is the opposite of fiction"
Ludwig Hohl

Shortcode Glossary:
U = Ungated, free. TU = Temporarily ungated. MP = Metered paywall. 3/m = Three free pieces per month. B = Metered paywall can be bypassed using private/incognito browsing. R = Visitors must register to access free articles.
Full details of our shortcodes here.

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in