Books, music, etc. from March 2017


  • Dormehl, Thinking Machines. This “history” of AI is mostly a quick survey of news stories about AI progress from the past three years. 1
  • Wood, The Way of the Strangers. Quite good, afaict.
  • Barrett, How Emotions Are Made. The book is a mixed bag, but fwiw I find this general approach more promising than Ekman/Panksepp/etc. Best Cliffs Notes is maybe this interview.


Music I most enjoyed discovering this month:


Ones I “really liked” (no star), or “loved” (star):

  • Birbiglia & Barrish, Sleepwalk with Me (2012)
  • Carloni & Nelson, Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
  • Blair, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (2017)
  • Fukunaga, Beasts of No Nation (2015) ★
  • Audiard, Dheepan (2015)
  • Ferreras, Wrinkles (2011)
  1. Also, check out this howler from page 8:

    The Second World War and its immediate aftermath triggered a surge of interest in the field of cognitive psychology… Researchers in cognitive psychology imagined the brain itself as a machine, from which complex behavior arose as the aggregate result of multiple simple responses. Instead of wasting their time on unprovable “mental entities,” cognitive psychologists focused their attention only on what was strictly observable about human behavior. This was the birth of fields like “behaviorism”…



  1. Saul Shanabrook says

    I just found your blog and am enjoying your recommendations, thank you! It seems you have an interest in understanding consciousness? I just finished Quantum Mind and Social Science (here is an interview with the author if you are curious ), which I found very interesting. I am curious to hear if you have read it and what your thoughts on it were. I am still having trouble fully understanding the implications of the theory and if it is reasonable.

  2. Marieke Scholvinck says

    hi Luke,

    A comment unrelated to your website: I read your crash course in the neuroscience of human motivation on LessWrong (I am a neuroscientist myself, and I found it really interesting and well done) and I have a rather mundane question about it. It’s about a picture you use in this post from a monkey sitting in a electrophysiology recording chair. I reckon you got that picture from a textbook and I am wondering whether you could point me to the source of this picture. I want to use it in a review I am writing on the brain in motion.

    thanks! Marieke

    • Luke says

      If the post itself doesn’t say, I’m afraid I don’t remember! You could try reverse image lookup like TinEye.

  3. Michael says

    Hello, Luke. I have questions for you concerning your productivity during the time you ran the Commonsenseatheism blog. I also have other questions about the atheist movement and talking to believers, which I have sent to other thinkers, such as John Loftus. I would be pleased if you could answer any of them, but I doubt you would have the time for that. I have tried contacting you via Facebook, but you have not responded to my message. I have also tried finding another way to contact you, with no avail. Please, let me know if you have time to discuss some of these issues with me via email or something. Thank you.

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