Social Contract

A term and philosophical concept originating in French enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s 1972 treatise, The Social Contract. In an ideal and just society, people would have equal access to resources, education, technology, etc.. However in a world with scarcity, whether inherent or artificially imposed, there is a strong incentive to satisfy wants or desires throughContinue reading “Social Contract”


I’ve known about this concept and Peter Turchin, Russian population ecologist turned global historian, for some time now. Turchin approaches history in a uniquely quantitative manner which has drawn the attention of many a blogosphere intellectual, and very recently on Ribbonfarm. The concept of ‘elites’ and their ‘supply vs demand’ is one aspect of Turchin’sContinue reading “Elite-overproduction”

Linguistic Relativity (aka Sapir-Worf hypothesis)

Basically, this is the idea that the language we speak shapes our thoughts and our perception of the world. Linguistic relativity is actually a rather old concept with a long history harking back to Plato. It makes sense intuitively, that how we would describe something is necessarily linked to what we notice and thus affectingContinue reading “Linguistic Relativity (aka Sapir-Worf hypothesis)”

Trappings of Power

The idea that external traits or superficial characteristics commonly associated with the powerful are in fact poor indicators of who has in practice wields the most influence. A contentious example of this for instance could be the American political system. The president and members of congress occupy seats of traditional and formal power. However, corporations,Continue reading “Trappings of Power”

Berkson’s Paradox

A kind of survivorship bias in that when there are two positively correlating traits that are (ostensibly) negatively correlated in a population that selects for these traits. For instance, GPA and SAT scores. Although it would seem at first glance that having a higher SAT score doesn’t lead to higher grades in a particular college,Continue reading “Berkson’s Paradox”