This was a triumph
I’m making a note here, huge success

No, seriously, it was awful. I deleted my blog of 1,557 posts. I wanted to protect my privacy, but I ended up with articles about me in New Yorker , Reason , and The Daily Beast. I wanted to protect my anonymity, but I Streisand-Effected myself, and a bunch of trolls went around posting my real name everywhere they could find. I wanted to avoid losing my day job, but ended up quitting so they wouldn’t be affected by the fallout. I lost a five-digit sum in advertising and Patreon fees. I accidentally sent about three hundred emails to each of five thousand people in the process of trying to put my blog back up.

I had, not to mince words about it, a really weird year.

513,000 people read my blog post complaining about the New York Times ‘ attempt to dox me (for comparison, there are 366,000 people in Iceland). So many people cancelled their subscription that the Times’ exasperated customer service agents started pre-empting callers with “Is this about that blog thing?” A friend of a friend reports her grandmother in Slovakia heard a story about me on Slovak-language radio.

I got emails from no fewer than four New York Times journalists expressing sympathy and offering to explain their paper’s standards in case that helped my cause. All four of them gave totally different explanations, disagreeing about whether the reporter I dealt with was just following the rules, was flagrantly violating the rules, was unaffected by any rules, or what. Seems like a fun place to work. I was nevertheless humbled by their support.

I got an email from Balaji Srinivasan, a man whose anti-corporate-media crusade straddles a previously unrecognized border between endearing and terrifying. He had some very creative suggestions for how to deal with journalists. I’m not sure any of them were especially actionable, at least not while the Geneva Convention remains in effect. But it was still a good learning experience. In particular, I learned never to make an enemy of Balaji Srinivasan. I am humbled by his support.

I got emails from two different prediction aggregators saying they would show they cared by opening markets into whether the Times would end up doxxing me or not. One of them ended up with a total trade volume in the four digits. For a brief moment, I probably had more advanced decision-making technology advising me in my stupid conflict with a newspaper than the CIA uses for some wars. I am humbled by their support.

I got an email from a very angry man who believed I personally wrote the entirety of Slate.com. He told me I was a hypocrite for wanting privacy even though Slate.com had apparently published some privacy-violating stories. I tried to correct him, but it seemed like his email client only accepted replies from people on his contact list. I think this might be what the Catholics call “invincible ignorance”. But, uh, I’m sure if we got a chance to sort it out I would have been humbled by his support.

I got an email from a former member of the GamerGate movement, offering advice on managing PR. It was very thorough and they had obviously put a lot of effort into it, but it was all premised on this idea that GamerGate was some kind of shining PR success, even though as I remember it they managed to take a complaint about a video game review and mishandle it so badly that they literally got condemned by the UN General Assembly. But it’s the thought that counts, and I am humbled by their support.

I got an email from a Russian reader, which I will quote in full: “In Russia we witnessed similar things back in 1917. 100 years later the same situation is in your country :)”. I am not sure it really makes sense to compare my attempted doxxing to the Bolshevik Revolution, and that smiley face will haunt my dreams, but I am humbled by his support.

Eventually it became kind of overwhelming. 7500 people signed a petition in my favor. Russia Today wrote an article about my situation as part of their propaganda campaign against the United States. Various tech figures started a campaign to stop granting interviews to NYT in protest. All of the humbling support kind of blended together. At my character level, I can only cast the spell Summon Entire Internet once per decade or so. So as I clicked through email after email, I asked myself: did I do the right thing?


I’m not even angry
I’m being so sincere right now

Before we go any further: your conspiracy theories are false. An SSC reader admitted to telling a New York Times reporter that SSC was interesting and he should write a story about it. The reporter pursued the story on his recommendation. It wasn’t an attempt by the Times to crush a competitor, it wasn’t retaliation for my having written some critical things about the news business, it wasn’t even a political attempt to cancel me. Someone just told a reporter I would make a cool story, and the reporter went along with it.

Nor do I think it was going to be a hit piece, at least not at first. I heard from most of the people who the Times interviewed. They were mostly sympathetic sources, the interviewer asked mostly sympathetic questions, and someone who knows New York Times reporters says the guy on my case was their non-hit-piece guy; they have a different reporter for hatchet jobs. After I torched the blog in protest, they seem to have briefly flirted with turning it into a hit piece, and the following week they switched to interviewing everyone who hated me and asking a lot of leading questions about potentially bad things I did. My contacts in the news industry said even this wasn’t necessarily sinister. They might have assumed I had something to hide, and wanted to figure out what it was just in case it was a better story than the original. Or they might have been deliberately interviewing friendly sources first, in order to make me feel safe so I would grant them an interview, and then moved on to the unfriendly ones after they knew that wouldn’t happen. I’m not sure. But the pattern doesn’t match “hit piece from the beginning”.

As much crappy political stuff as there is in both the news industry and the blogsphere these days, I don’t think this was a left-right political issue. I think the New York Times wanted to write a fairly boring article about me, but some guideline said they had to reveal subjects’ real identities, if they knew them, unless the subject was in one of a few predefined sympathetic categories (eg sex workers). I did get to talk to a few sympathetic people from the Times , who were pretty confused about whether such a guideline existed, and certainly it’s honored more in the breach than in the observance (eg Virgil Texas). But I still think the most likely explanation for what happened was that there was a rule sort of like that on the books, some departments and editors followed it more slavishly than others, and I had the bad luck to be assigned to a department and editor that followed it a lot. That’s all. Anyway, they did the right thing and decided not to publish the article, so I have no remaining beef with them.

(aside from the sorts of minor complaints that Rob Rhinehart expresses so eloquently here)

I also owe the Times apologies for a few things I did while fighting them. In particular, when I told them I was going to delete the blog if they didn’t promise not to dox me, I gave them so little warning that it probably felt like a bizarre ultimatum. At the time I was worried if I gave them more than a day’s warning, they could just publish the story while I waited; later, people convinced me the Times is incapable of acting quickly and I could have let them think about it for longer.

Also, I asked you all to email an NYT tech editor with your complaints. I assumed NYT editors, like Presidents and Senators, had unlimited flunkies sorting through their mailbags, and would not be personally affected by any email deluge. I was wrong and I actually directed a three to four digit number of emails to the personal work inbox of some normal person with a finite number of flunkies. That was probably pretty harrowing and I’m sorry.

As for the Times’ mistakes: I think they just didn’t expect me to care about anonymity as much as I did. In fact, most of my supporters, and most of the savvy people giving me advice, didn’t expect me to care as much as I did. Maybe I should explain more of my history here: back in the early 2010s I blogged under my real name. When I interviewed for my dream job in psychiatry, the interviewer had Googled my name, found my blog, and asked me some really pointed questions about whether having a blog meant I was irresponsible and unprofessional. There wasn’t even anything controversial on the blog - this was back in the early 2010s, before they invented controversy. They were just old-school pre-social-media-era people who thought having a blog was fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of being a psychiatrist. I didn’t get that job, nor several others I thought I was a shoo-in for. I actually failed my entire first year of ACGME match and was pretty close to having to give up on a medical career. At the time I felt like that would mean my life was over.

So I took a bunch of steps to be in a better position for the next year’s round of interviews, and one of the most important was deleting that blog, scrubbing it off the Web as best I could, and restarting my whole online presence under a pseudonym. I was never able to completely erase myself from the Internet, but I made some strategic decisions - like leaving up a bunch of older stuff that mentioned my real name so that casual searchers would find that instead of my real blog. The next year, I tried the job interview circuit again and got hired.

But I still had this really strong sense that my career hung on this thread of staying anonymous. Sure, my security was terrible, and a few trolls and malefactors found my real name online and used it to taunt me. But my attendings and my future employers couldn’t just Google my name and find it immediately. Also, my patients couldn’t Google my name and find me immediately, which I was increasingly realizing the psychiatric community considered important. Therapists are supposed to be blank slates, available for patients to project their conflicts and fantasies upon. Their distant father, their abusive boyfriend, their whatever. They must not know you as a person. One of my more dedicated professors told me about how he used to have a picture of his children on a shelf in his office. One of his patients asked him whether those were his children. He described suddenly realizing that he had let his desire to show off overcome his duty as a psychiatrist, mumbling a noncommital response lest his patient learn whether he had children or not, taking the picture home with him that night, and never displaying any personal items in his office ever again. That guy was kind of an extreme case, but this is something all psychiatrists think about, and better pychiatrist-bloggers than I have quit once their side gig reached a point where their patients might hear about it. There was even a very nice and nuanced article about the phenomenon in - of all places - The New York Times.

After all that, yeah, I had a phobia of being doxxed. But psychotherapy classes also teach you to not to let past traumas control your life even after they’ve stopped being relevant. Was I getting too worked up over an issue that no longer mattered?

The New York Times thought so. Some people kept me abreast of their private discussions (in Soviet America, newspaper’s discussions get leaked to you!) and their reporters had spirited internal debates about whether I really needed anonymity. Sure, I’d gotten some death threats, but everyone gets death threats on the Internet, and I’d provided no proof mine were credible. Sure, I might get SWATted, but realistically that’s a really scary fifteen seconds before the cops apologize and go away. Sure, my job was at risk, but I was a well-off person and could probably get another. Also, hadn’t I blogged under my real name before? Hadn’t I published papers under my real name in ways that a clever person could use to unmask my identity? Hadn’t I played fast and loose with every form of opsec other than whether the average patient or employer could Google me in five seconds?

Some of the savvy people giving me advice suggested I fight back against this. Release the exact death threats I’d received and explain why I thought they were scary. Play up exactly how many people lived with me and exactly why it would be traumatic for them to get SWATted. Explain exactly how seriously it would harm my patients if I lost my job. Say why it was necessary for my career to publish those papers under my real name.

Why didn’t I do this? Partly because it wasn’t true. I don’t think I had particularly strong arguments on any of these points. The amount I dislike death threats is basically the average amount that the average person would dislike them. The amount I would dislike losing my job…and et cetera. Realistically, my anonymity let me feel safe and comfortable. But it probably wasn’t literally necessary to keep me alive. I feel bad admitting this, like I conscripted you all into a crusade on false pretenses. Am I an entitled jerk for causing such a stir just so I can feel safe and comfortable? I’m sure the New York Times customer service representatives who had to deal with all your phone calls thought so.

But the other reason I didn’t do it was…well, suppose Power comes up to you and says hey, I’m gonna kick you in the balls. And when you protest, they say they don’t want to make anyone unsafe , so as long as you can prove that kicking you in the balls will cause long-term irrecoverable damage, they’ll hold off. And you say, well, it’ll hurt quite a lot. And they say that’s subjective, they’ll need a doctor’s note proving you have a chronic pain condition like hyperalgesia or fibromyalgia. And you say fine, I guess I don’t have those, but it might be dangerous. And they ask you if you’re some sort of expert who can prove there’s a high risk of organ rupture, and you have to admit the risk of organ rupture isn’t exactly high. But also, they add, didn’t you practice taekwondo in college? Isn’t that the kind of sport where you can get kicked in the balls pretty easily? Sounds like you’re not really that committed to this not-getting-kicked-in-the-balls thing.

No! There’s no dignified way to answer any of these questions except “fuck you”. Just don’t kick me in the balls! It isn’t rocket science! Don’t kick me in the fucking balls!

In the New York Times’ worldview, they start with the right to dox me, and I had to earn the right to remain anonymous by proving I’m the perfect sympathetic victim who satisfies all their criteria of victimhood. But in my worldview, I start with the right to anonymity, and they need to make an affirmative case for doxxing me. I admit I am not the perfect victim. The death threats against me are all by losers who probably don’t know which side of a gun you shoot someone with. If anything happened at work, it would probably inconvenience me and my patients, but probably wouldn’t literally kill either of us. Still! Don’t kick me in the fucking balls!

I don’t think anyone at the Times bore me ill will, at least not originally. But somehow that just made it even more infuriating. In Street Fighter , the hero confronts the Big Bad about the time he destroyed her village. The Big Bad has destroyed so much stuff he doesn’t even remember: “For you, the day [I burned] your village was the most important day of your life. For me, it was Tuesday.” That was the impression I got from the Times. They weren’t hostile. I wasn’t a target they were desperate to take out. The main emotion I was able to pick up from them was annoyance that I was making their lives harder by making a big deal out of this. For them, it was Tuesday.

It’s bad enough to get kicked in the balls because Power hates you. But it’s infuriating to have it happen because Power can’t bring itself to care. So sure, deleting my blog wasn’t the most, shall we say, rational response to the situation. But iterated games sometimes require a strategy that deviates from apparent first-level rationality, where you let yourself consider lose-lose options in order to influence an opponent’s behavior.

Or, in layman’s terms, sometimes you have to be a crazy bastard so people won’t walk all over you.

In 2010, a corrupt policewoman demanded a bribe from impoverished pushcart vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. He couldn’t afford it. She confiscated his goods, insulted him, and (according to some sources) slapped him. He was humiliated and destitute and had no hope of ever getting back at a police officer. So he made the very reasonable decision to douse himself in gasoline and set himself on fire in the public square. One thing led to another, and eventually a mostly-peaceful revolution ousted the government of Tunisia. I am very sorry for Mr. Bouazizi and his family. But he did find a way to make the offending policewoman remember the day she harassed him as something other than Tuesday. As the saying goes, “sometimes setting yourself on fire sheds light on the situation”.


As I burned it hurt because
I was so happy for you

But as I was thinking about all this, I got other emails. Not just the prediction aggregators and Russians and so on; emails of a totally different sort.

I got emails from other people who had deleted their blogs out of fear. Sometimes it was because of a job search. Other times it was because of *gestures expansively at everything*. These people wanted me to know they sympathized with what I was going through.

I got emails from people who hadn’t deleted their blogs, but wished they had. A lot of them had stories like mine - failed an interview they should have aced, and the interviewer mentioned their blog as an issue. These people sympathized too.

I got emails that were like that, only it was grad students. Apparently if you have a blog about your field, that can make it harder to get or keep a job in academia. I’m not sure what we think we’re gaining by ensuring the smartest and best educated people around aren’t able to talk openly about the fields they’re experts in, but I hope it’s worth it.

I got an email from a far-left blogger with a similar story, which got me thinking about socialists in particular. Imagine you’re writing a socialist blog - as is 100% your right in a democratic society. Aren’t employers going to freak out as soon as they Google your name, expecting you to start a union or agitate for higher wages or seize the means of production or something? This is a totally different problem from the cancel culture stories I usually hear about, but just as serious. How are you supposed to write about communism in a world where any newspaper can just figure out your real name, expose you, and lock you out of most normal jobs?

I got emails from some transgender bloggers, who talked about how trans people go by something other than their legal name and have a special interest in not getting outed in the national news. I don’t think the Times would deliberately out trans people - probably there’s some official policy against it. But the people emailing me understood that we’re all in this together, and that if oppressed people don’t stand up for the rights of the privileged, no one will. Or something. Man, it’s been a weird year.

I got an email telling me to look into the story of Richard Horton, a police officer in the UK. He wrote a blog about his experience on the force which was by all accounts incredible - it won the Orwell Prize for being the best political writing in Britain that year. The Times (a British newspaper unrelated to NYT) hacked his email and exposed his real identity, and his chief forced him to delete the blog in order to keep his job. I wonder whether maybe if police officers were allowed to write anonymously about what was going on without getting doxxed by newspapers, people wouldn’t have to be so surprised every time something happens involving the police being bad. See for example The Impact Of The Cessation Of Blogs Within The UK Police Blogosphere, a paper somebody apparently needed to write.

I got an email telling me to look into the story of Naomi Wu, a Chinese woman who makes videos about engineering and DIY tech projects under the name SexyCyborg. She granted an interview to a Vice reporter under the condition that he not reveal some sensitive details of her personal life which could get her in trouble with the Chinese authorities. Vice agreed, then revealed the details anyway (who could have guessed that a webzine founded by a violent neo-fascist leader and named after the abstract concept of evil would stoop so low?) In a Medium post, Wu wrote that “Vice would endanger me for a few clicks because in Brooklyn certain things are no big deal…I had no possible recourse against a billion dollar company who thought titillating their readers with my personal details was worth putting me in jeopardy.” She then went on to dox the Vice reporter involved, Which Was Morally Wrong And I Do Not Condone It - but also led to some interesting revelations about how much more journalists cared when it’s one of their own and not just some vulnerable woman in a dictatorship.

Getting all these emails made me realize that, whatever the merits of my own case, maybe by accident, I was fighting for something important here. Who am I? I’m nobody, I’m a science blogger with some bad opinions. But these people - the trans people, the union organizers, the police whistleblowers, the sexy cyborgs - the New York Times isn’t worthy to wipe the dirt off their feet. How dare they assert the right to ruin these people’s lives for a couple of extra bucks.

…but I was also grateful to get some emails from journalists trying to help me understand the perspective of their field. They point out that reporting is fundamentally about revealing information that wasn’t previously public, and hard-hitting reporting necessarily involves disclosing things about subjects that they would rather you not know. Speculating on the identities of people like Deep Throat, or Satoshi Nakamoto, or QAnon, or that guy who wrote Primary Colors , is a long-standing journalistic tradition, one I had never before thought to question. Many of my correspondents brought up that some important people read my blog (Paul Graham was the most cited name). Isn’t there a point past which you stop being that-guy-with-a-Tumblr-account who it’s wrong to dox, and you become more like Satoshi Nakamoto where trying to dox you is a sort of national sport? Wouldn’t it be fair to say I had passed that point?

With all due respect to these reporters, and with complete admission of my own bias, I reject this entire way of looking at things. If someone wants to report that I’m a 30-something psychiatrist who lives in Oakland, California, that’s fine, I’ve had it in my About page for years. If some reporter wants to investigate and confirm, I have some suggestions for how they could use their time better - isn’t there still a war in Yemen? - but I’m not going to complain too loudly. But I don’t think whatever claim the public has on me includes a right to know my name if I don’t want them to. I don’t think the public needs to know the name of the cops who write cop blogs, or the deadnames of trans people, or the dating lives of sexy cyborgs. I’m not even sure the public needs to know the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. If he isn’t harming anyone, let him have his anonymity! I would rather we get whatever pathologies come from people being able to invent Bitcoin scot-free, than get whatever pathologies come from anyone being allowed to dox anyone else if they can argue that person is “influential”. Most people don’t start out trying to be influential. They just have a Tumblr or a LiveJournal or something, and a few people read it, and then a few more people read it, and bam! - they’re influential! If influence takes away your protection, then none of us are safe - not the random grad student with a Twitter account making fun of bad science, not the teenager with a sex Tumblr, not the aspiring fashionista with an Instagram. I’ve read lots of interesting discussion on how much power tech oligarchs should or shouldn’t be allowed to have. But this is the first time I’ve seen someone suggest their powers should include a magic privacy-destroying gaze, where just by looking at someone they can transform them into a different kind of citizen with fewer rights. Is Paul Graham some weird kind of basilisk, such that anyone he stares at too long turns into fair game?

And: a recent poll found that 62% of people feel afraid to express their political beliefs. This isn’t just conservatives - it’s also moderates (64%), liberals (52%) and even many strong liberals (42%). This is true even among minority groups, with more Latinos (65%) feeling afraid to speak out than whites (64%), and blacks (49%) close behind. 32% of people worry they would be fired if their political views became generally known, including 28% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans. Poor people and Hispanics were more likely to express this concern than rich people and whites, but people with post-graduate degrees have it worse than any other demographic group.

And the kicker is that these numbers are up almost ten percentage points from the last poll three years ago. The biggest decline in feeling safe was among “strong liberals”, who feel an entire 12 percentage points less safe expressing their opinion now than way back in the hoary old days of 2017. What happens in a world where this trend continues? Does everyone eventually feel so unsafe that we completely abandon the public square to professional-opinion-havers, talking heads allowed to pontificate because they have the backing of giant institutions? What biases does that introduce to the discussion? And if we want to avoid that, is there any better way then a firm stance that people’s online pseudonymity is a basic right, not to be challenged without one hell of a compelling public interest? Not just “they got kinda big, so now we can destroy them guilt-free”, but an actual public interest?

I’m not trying to convince the New York Times - obviously it would very much fit their business plan if we came to rely on professional-opinion-havers backed by big institutions. I’m trying to convince you, the average Internet person. For the first ten or twenty years of its history, the Internet had a robust norm against doxxing. You could troll people, you could Goatse or Rickroll them, but doxxing was beyond the pale. One of the veterans of this era is Lawrence Lessig, who I was delighted to see coming to my defense. We’ve lost a lot of that old Internet, sold our birthright to social media companies and content providers for a few spurts of dopamine, but I think this norm is still worth protecting.

If me setting myself on fire got the New York Times to rethink some of its policies, and accidentally helped some of these people win their own fights, it was totally worth it.


Now these points of data make a beautiful line
And we’re out of beta, we’re releasing on time
So I’m glad I got burned
Think of all the things we learned
For the people who are still alive

There’s a scene in Tom Sawyer where Tom runs away from town and is presumed dead. He returns just as they’re holding his funeral, and gets to listen to everyone praise his life and talk about how much they loved him. Seems like a good deal. Likewise, Garrison Keillor said that - since they say such nice things at people’s funerals - it was a shame he was going to miss his own by just a few days.

After deleting the blog I felt like I was attending my own funeral. I asked people to send the Times emails asking them not to publish the article. Some people ccd me on them. These weren’t just “Dear NYT, please do not dox this blogger, yours, John”. Some of them were a bit over-the-top. I believe a few of them may have used the words “national treasure”. I can only hope the people at my real funeral are as kind.

Other people just sent me the over-the-top emails directly. I got emails from people in far-away, very poor countries, telling me that there was nothing at all like a rationalist movement in their countries and my blog was how they kept up with the intellectual currents of a part of the world they might never see. I am humbled to be able to help them.

I got emails from medical interns and residents, telling me they enjoyed hearing about my experiences in medicine. You guys only have like three minutes of free time a week, and I am humbled that you would spend some of it reading me.

I got emails from people saying I was one of their inspirations for going into science academia. I am so, so, sorry. I am humbled by their continued support even after I ruined their lives.

I got emails from people in a host of weird and difficult situations, telling me about how reading my blog was the only thing that kept them sane through difficult times. One woman insisted that I start blogging before she got pregnant again because I was her postpartum coping strategy. I hope I’ve made it in time - but in any case I am humbled by their support.

I got emails from couples, saying that reading my blog together once a week was their romantic bonding activity. Again, I hope I’ve restarted in time, before anyone’s had to divorce. They are very cute and I am humbled by their support.

And more along the same lines, and some even more humbling than these. I want to grab some of you by the shoulders and shake you and shout “IT’S JUST A BLOG, GET A LIFE”. But of course I would be a hypocrite. I remember back to when I was a new college graduate, desperately trying to make sense of the world. I remember the sheer relief when I came across a few bloggers - I most clearly remember Eliezer Yudkowsky - who seemed to be tuned exactly to my wavelength, people who were making sense when the entire rest of the world was saying vague fuzzy things that almost but not quite connected with the millions of questions I had about everything. These people weren’t perfect, and they didn’t have all the answers, but their existence reassured me that I wasn’t crazy and I wasn’t alone. I was an embarrassing fanboy of theirs for many years - I kind of still am - and if my punishment is to have embarassing fanboys of my own then I accept it as part of the circle of life.

And also - I am maybe the worst person possible to argue that this doesn’t matter. Almost everything good in my life I’ve gotten because of you. I met most of my friends through blogging. I met my housemates, who are basically my family right now, through blogging. I got introduced to my girlfriend by someone I know through blogging. My patients are doing better than they could be - some of them vastly better - because of things I learned from all of you in the process of blogging. Most of the intellectual progress I’ve made over the past ten years has been following up on leads people sent me because of my blogging. To the degree that the world makes sense to me, to the degree that I’ve been able to untie some of the thornier knots and be rewarded with the relief of mental clarity, a lot of it has been because of things I learned while blogging. However many over-the-top dubious claims you want to make about how much I have improved your life, I will one-up you with how much you have improved mine. And after reading a few hundred of your emails, I’ve realized, crystal-clear, that I am going to be spending the rest of my life trying to deserve even one percent of the love you’ve shown and the gifts you’ve given me.

So I’ve taken the steps I need to in order to feel comfortable revealing my real name online. I talked to an aggressively unhelpful police officer about my personal security. I got advice from people who are more famous than I am, who have allayed some fears and offered some suggestions. Some of the steps they take seem extreme - the Internet is a scarier place than I thought - but I’ve taken some of what they said to heart, rejected the rest in a calculated way, and realized realistically I was never that protected anyhow. So here we are.

And I left my job. They were very nice about it, they were tentatively willing to try to make it work. But I just don’t think I can do psychotherapy very well while I’m also a public figure, plus people were already calling them trying to get me fired and I didn’t want to make them deal with more of that.

As I was trying to figure out how this was going to work financially, Substack convinced me that I could make decent money here. With that in place, I felt like I could also take a chance on starting my dream business. You guys have had to listen to me write ad nauseum about cost disease - why does health care cost 4x times more per capita than it did just a generation ago? I have a lot of theories about why that happened and how to fix it. But as Feynman put it, “what I cannot create I cannot understand”. So I’m going to try to start a medical practice that provides great health care to uninsured people for 4x less than what anyone else charges. If it works, I plan to be insufferable about it. If it doesn’t, I can at least have a fun conversation with Alex Tabarrok about where our theories went wrong. Since I’m no longer protecting my anonymity, I can advertise it here - Lorien Psychiatry - though I’m not currently accepting blog readers as patients, sorry.

That’s taken up most of my time over the past six months. Going back to blog posts like this is a strange feeling. I wondered if I’d enjoy the break. I didn’t particularly; it felt at least as much like trying to resist an addiction as it did resting from a difficult task. There’s so much left to say! I never got the chance to tell you whether the SSC Survey found birth order effects to be biologically or socially mediated! And the predictive processing community is starting to really chip away at the question of why psychotherapies work - I need to explain this to someone else before I can be sure I understand it! I only discovered taxometrics a few months ago and I haven’t talked your ears off about it yet - that will change! I made predictions about Trump - now that he’s come and gone I need to grade them publicly so you can raise or lower your opinion of me as appropriate! And there’s the book review contest! We are absolutely going to do the book review contest!

So here goes. With malice towards none, with charity towards all, with firmness in the ṛta as reflective equilibrium gives us to see the ṛta, let us restart our mutual explorations, begin anew the joyful reduction of uncertainty wherever it may lead us.

My name is Scott Siskind, and I love all of you so, so much.

But look at me, still talking when there’s Science to do
When I look out there it makes me glad I’ve got you
I’ve experiments to run, there is research to be done
On the people who are still alive
And believe me I am still alive
I’m doing science and I’m still alive
I feel fantastic and I’m still alive
Still alive