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Wisdom of Crowds

Nov 18, 2022

The Crowd returns triumphantly this week, for a rollicking conversation with one of Twitter's brightest and most iconoclastic personalities, Phillippe Lemoine. Phillippe writes the War on Science newsletter for the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology, and is also working on a book on the recent history of Russo-American foreign policy.

We begin the show talking about direct democracy, and whether "the people" are worth listening to. Should we actually want the vox populi to weigh in on, say, American policy towards China, or public health? Maybe not—but does the educated elite have a much better track record? Phillippe tells of his personal encounters with motivated reasoning, ideologically driven conclusions, and just plain stupidity among epidemiologists and statisticians during the pandemic.

We also discuss how deeply felt "wokeism" is among younger generations. Are we doomed as generations turn over, or will the ideological fever eventually break?

In Part 2 (available here for subscribers), we dig into that final question—the fate of the Great Awokening—even further. What is it about social media that makes us crazy? We ask Phillippe how he stays sane, and protects himself from the pressure to conform ideologically. His answer shows just how far gone Shadi and Damir really are.

Required Reading:

  • One of Philippe's many articles critiquing conventional modeling of the Covid pandemic (War on Science).
  • The study Philippe criticized, “Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe,” by Waxman et. al (nature).
  • Scott Alexander’s rundown of Covid models and their critiques, including Philippe’s (Slate Star Codex).