I often hear vague explanations about sex being a way to generate genetic diversity. I don’t find it compelling. If you want genetic diversity, you can do it in much easier ways than turning into a sexually-reproducing dimorphic species. One of them is, just increase the mutation rate, bro.
I think the math is actually pretty clear on this one—sexual selection is an asymptotically more effective optimization algorithm from information theory first principles. If this weren’t true I wouldn’t expect sexually reproductive species to be so dominant, given we evolved from asexual ones.
There happens to be a chapter called “Why have sex?” in MacKay’s *Information Theory* on this topic. In his simplified models, the rate of information gain / good genes discovered per generation is much larger with recombination than without.
Intuitively, mutation in asexual organisms involves randomly changing genes, and if the organism you’re starting from is high-fitness, randomly changing genes is much more likely to be bad than good. So every generation you have to overcome this immense amount of mean regression just to break even. Jacking up the mutation rate makes the problem worse. In sexual selection, you get good genomes basically for free (meaning you can support a much higher mutation rate too!)
That’s not to say asexual reproduction doesn’t work—clearly it does—but it seems to only be viable for small genomes. Past a certain genome size, the asymptotically better scaling of information gain outweighs the constant transaction costs of matching.
While I agree with the conclusion, I think the model of intent is too lenient.
Psychopaths comprise ~2% of the general population. Most are not physically violent and are proficient at evading detection. I for one don’t have a good gears level model of how they think, the distributional shift seems huge. But here’s an attempt:
It’s not so much that they’re actively plotting destruction like a cartoon supervillain. Rather, they’re just unconstrained by the various mechanisms that keep the rest of us in check, like guilt and shame. They act carelessly in these dimensions, taking actions that advantage them at the expense of others, and only conform to acceptable behaviour instrumentally to avoid risking exposure.
My point is: It is a type error to transfer reasoning about the neurotypical brain to the psychopathic brain. Reasoning about intent/motivation seems like an instance of this.
The most practical description I’ve found of psychopathy comes from Pieter Hintjens’s book [The Psychopath Code](https://github.com/hintjens/psychopathcode), where he describes them as predators. They seem to run entirely different software: they don’t experience most human emotions, and resort to very convincing emotional mimicry to get what they want.
I think Hintjens’s model is heavy-handed, but I’ve found it accurate. For instance, I know one person who, by their own admission, drove someone to attempt suicide as a “challenge to themselves” and uses self-harm as a tool to emotionally blackmail others.
I agree with your conclusion. Where there’s an impact crater, there’s probably a psychopath, and you will benefit from deploying your defences.
> “There are spiders in Australia that smell and behave like ants: some are so convincing that the ants will allow a spider to live permanently as one of them. This spider will then feast upon its new friends, but it won’t eat all the ants, or even a significant number; instead, it extracts resources slowly, sustainably, and over time.” ([source](https://aeon.co/essays/animal-deceivers-can-warn-us-against-the-human-variety))
I used to think this, but if you’re a well-calibrated Bayesian, then updating on new papers shouldn’t cause you to produce worse research insights because you shouldn’t overconfidently buy into falsities that are holding the field back.
I’ve found by and large that knowing what ground others have already trodden is very helpful. I’ve tried not knowing what people work on, and usually I end up reinventing the wheel poorly in slow motion instead of finding any new insights. When I critically analyze the literature I get much more mileage.