Links and Best of Twitter, 12/16/22
My new article on think tanks, Kari Lake is a weirdo, important fertility report, and the latest on Ukraine
This week, I published an article with Max Abrams on the attitudes of foreign policy experts. Here’s the paper, and here’s the thread on the results.
As I noted on Twitter, there were a lot of cool results from the original version that didn’t make it into the published paper, so I included a link to the preprint. It’s from 2019, as that’s how academia works. They delay the publication of your paper for years so editors can put it behind a paywall while also making it less interesting. If it was up to me we would’ve just put it online a long time ago, but I started this with Max, and he’s an academic, so still part of the system. Anyway, peer review is a joke, and here’s a good article on why it’s so terrible and we should stop doing it.
As always, here’s my chat with Michael Tracey.
1. Scott Alexander makes a good point, which is that even though a lot of effort goes into making sure ChatGPT never says anything racist, you still can get it to be racist. Since I assume we put a lot more effort into preventing racist commentary than we’ll ever put towards preventing humanity from going extinct, and ChatGPT isn’t even smart compared to what’s coming, this indicates we should be very pessimistic about our ability to solve the alignment problem.
2. Michelle Goldberg on The White Lotus, arguing that there’s a trend towards more apolitical art. I sure hope so. In case you missed it, here’s my discussion with Rob about the finale this week. And here’s an interview with Mike White and Jennifer Coolidge.
3. Ukraine has plans to reintegrate Crimea, and wants to expel some hundreds of thousands of Russians who’ve settled there since 2014. Again, more and more convinced this is not a posture, and there’s ultimately going to be a showdown over the peninsula.
4. Kari Lake is a very charismatic politician, but she’s gone all in on election denial, and I was wondering whether she’s a true believer or just a grifter looking to scam her followers. This profile of her campaign indicates that she’s actually crazy, as many charismatic people tend to be!
In an August meeting at the state party’s headquarters, GOP operatives delivered a warning, which was recalled by two attendees: Campaigns that failed to mobilize supporters to vote early would be at a disadvantage. After pushback from some members of Lake’s team, the candidate herself spoke up. She said that True The Vote, the Texas-based group pushing unfounded claims of voter fraud, had told her to instruct supporters to mail in their ballots — not put them in drop boxes — as a way to “confuse the Democrats.”
The eyebrow-raising comment made clear to those present that Lake, 53, was a true believer, cocooned in a pro-Trump echo chamber.
“She would never break frame,” said a fellow Republican who spoke with Lake about her refusal to acknowledge Trump’s defeat. “She’d sort of look at you with a puzzled face and be like, ‘But the election was stolen in 2020.’”
And I don’t know what to make of this.
People who interacted with Lake said they were impressed by her charisma and communication skills, which allowed her to display a mastery of complex topics. More personally, she displayed an uncommon degree of empathy toward staff, aides said, cultivating loyalty in return. One young aide on occasion ended calls with her by saying, “I love you.”
It’s journalistic malpractice not to tell us the sex of the aide.
5. A reader shared with me his article on factory farms on Twitter. As I told him, I find the arguments for vegetarianism convincing but still eat meat. But maybe you’ll read his essay and actually change your behavior because you’re a better person than me.
6. Important report on fertility, which includes fundable projects (thread and paper). Would encourage checking out if you’re a potential investor in these things.