Pinned post

Finally *extremely* happy to announce that my book on the history of concepts of chance in evolutionary theory will be coming out (maybe even this year!). Read more about the project here: blog.pencelab.be/2021/the-rise

COVID 

University COVID measures "adapted" here in Belgium, in response to having some of the worst numbers in Europe. What are we doing, you ask?

Politely asking the students not to party.

Never very many trick-or-treaters in Brussels, of course, but I do have the black cat part under control.

180pp of approved, final proofs for _The Rise of Chance in Evolutionary Theory_ off to the press today.

Now if I can just get them to let me correct the marketing and back-of-book copy this project will be over and dusted!

new Judith Butler on TERFs 

Perhaps as an apology for cutting their previous article they really gave Butler space to stick the boot in this time:

"As a fascist trend, [the anti-gender movement] mobilizes a range of rhetorical strategies from across the political spectrum to maximize the fear of infiltration and destruction that comes from a diverse set of economic and social forces. It does not strive for consistency, for its incoherence is part of its power."

theguardian.com/us-news/commen

I try not to get too depressed about my teaching here, because between the language and the culture shock it's still… hard. But imagine coming up to your professor after a two hour lecture and asking

"hey so can we still pass the test if we just read the stuff on the website"

You did it, random student! You solved college! You go read some PDFs online, teach yourself, and I'll stay in my office, or better yet, on my couch at home with my dog. Everyone wins.

I try to disentangle some related questions and extract one particular cluster of them, surrounding the causal structure of selection. I think doing so makes the debate clearer, gives us a smaller set of problems on which to intervene, and can helpfully put us in dialogue with some neighboring areas in the philosophy of science. If you're interested in the debate, check it out! 3/3

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If you've been around recent philosophy of biology, you've probably at least occasionally bumped into a debate about the causal efficacy of natural selection. On the one side, you have those who argue that selection is a probabilistic causal process, and on the other, that it is nothing more than a statistical effect, with the causal action happening at other more fundamental, levels. Here I take a shot at rethinking this debate, which has shown some unfortunate tendencies to stagnate lately. 2/

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IT'S BOOK DAAAAY – and most importantly, for two weeks, the PDF is free!

A quick explainer... 1/

doi.org/10.1017/9781108680691

/dev/log 

New post over at my development log! Go check it out: devlog.charlespence.net/

A coda to the Guardian's shameful bigotry - the UK editors didn't /just/ cut that segment of the interview, but also spiked an entire series of trans articles - again from the US staff - "Gender Now":

eoinhiggins.substack.com/p/gua

Seriously, actually, in ~15y of conference travel I was in a session this morning with me and 4 other people, and _all four other talks_ were on (wildly different!) things I have open projects on. The most weirdly pertinent to my own work session I've ever attended.

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I'm at a real-life conference at which I have already given a real-life talk, and other people are now giving real-life talks, and I hardly know how to act. Was this what being an academic used to be like? This is fun!

I used to have trouble understanding superposition, but now I'm pretty sure I'm in a superposition of having it together and not having it together

OK, so presumably wherever you live a certain language is most commonly spoken, right?

Question for you.

What do you think is the *second* most commonly spoken language in your area?

Feel free to explain as much as you like. "Area" is also open to wide interpretation, whatever feels comfortable.

"We banned nearly 37M accounts between January and March of this year"

If you've ever wondered what it's like to fight spam at scale, here's what Reddit deals with.

When I occasionally say that I've very strong concerns about the Fediverse dealing successfully with abuse at this scale, this is the sort of thing I'm talking about.

old.reddit.com/r/ModSupport/co

#spam #contentModeration #reddit #abuse #MastoDev

Very French to get mad at "présentiel" for being a loan-word from the English "presential," a word that is literally unknown to my phone's spell checker and which Wiktionary reports was last used in this sense in the 16thC

Cover designs for my forthcoming book are in and one of them is actually... really great?!

Of course, for a book on chance in evolution they had to give me one with dice, but thankfully they also ran with an image that I'd found and produced damn near the thing I had in my head a priori...!

In any event, a *super* cute museum if you ever have the chance to visit! (The town is pretty, too.)

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