Category Archive: Reber’s Randomness

Not so much news as random connections from things in the real world to the kinds of things we actively study in the lab.

May 04

The “Dan Plan”

I mentioned the Dan Plan awhile ago as a fascinating real-world self experiment on the acquisition of expertise.  Dan, the eponyous experimenter and experimentee, quit his job to try to spend 10,000 hours playing golf to see if he could meet a standard of ‘internationally competitive’ defined by winning a PGA tour card — starting …

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Apr 05

Leela Chess

Courtesy of Jerry (ChessNetwork), I found out today about Leela and the LCzero chess project ( This appears to be a replication of the Google DeepMind AlphaZero project with open source and distributed computing contributing to the pattern learner. Among the cool aspects of the project is that you can play against the engine after …

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Jan 10

Adventures in data visualization

If you happen to be a fan of data-driven political analysis, you are probably also well aware of the ongoing challenge of how to effectively and accurately visualize maps that show US voting patterns.  The debate over how to do this has been going on for decades but was nicely summarized in a 2016 article …

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Dec 12

AlphaZero Beats Chess In 4 (!?) hours

Google’s DeepMind group updated their game learning algorithm, now called AlphaZero, and mastered chess.  I’ve seen the game play and it elegantly destroyed the previous top computer chess-playing algorithm (the computers have been better than humans for about a decade now), Stockfish.  Part of what is intriguing about their claim is that the new algorithm …

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Nov 07

Cognitive Symmetry and Trust

A chain of speculative scientific reasoning from our work into really big social/society questions: Skill learning is a thing. If we practice something we get better at it and the learning curve goes on for a long time, 10,000 hours or more.  Because we can keep getting better for so many hours, nobody can really …

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Aug 30

Evidence and conclusions

I think this should be the last note on this topic for awhile, but since it’s topical a new piece of data popped up related to possible sources of gender outcome differences in STEM-related fields.   The new piece of data was reported in the NY Time Upshot section, titled “Evidence of a Toxic Environment …

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Aug 11

See the problem yet?

The entirely predictable backlash against Google for firing the sexist manifesto author has begun.  Among the notable contributors is the NY Time Editorial page in the form of David Brooks.  In support of his position that the Google CEO should resign, he’s even gone so far as to dig up some evolutionary psych types to …

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Aug 08

Anti-diversity “science”

Somebody at Google wrote a memo/manifesto arguing against diversity (mainly gender), caused something of a ruckus and got himself fired.  The author was clearly either trying to get terminated (as a martyr) or simply not very bright.  A particularly articulate explanation of why it is necessary to fire somebody who did what he did is …

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Jun 26

Confirmation bias

Mistaking data consistent with your hypothesis for data establishing your hypothesis is a surprisingly common mistake, even for highly trained, experienced scientists.  The subjective experience is common: you develop and carry around a theory on some topic and over the course of your day, you run into evidence (anecdotes, or other scientific findings) that would …

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Mar 06

Explaining neuroscience

I ran across this link referenced by its title: A neuroscientist explains a concept at five different levels I was initially worried it would annoy me, but eventually decided to take a look at it anyway, figuring it would be interesting at the level of thinking about your audience when describing a complex scientific …

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