What problem are you solving?

C. P. Snow, in his 1959 essay The Two Cultures on the split between the humanities and the sciences, bemoaned that:

A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?

His point? The world is incredibly epistemologically lopsided. In both directions. Most people walk around with a limp, though they don’t know it. This blog is an attempt at consilience: bridging the Two Cultures of the sciences and humanities by essayistic forays into a wide variety of subjects.

Why should I subscribe?

Good question! All I can offer is social proof. Posts from here have made it to #1 on Hacker News and been shared by people with big audiences, like Sam Harris. Scott Alexander over at Astral Codex Ten was kind enough to say about The Intrinsic Perspective that:

I’ve been looking for really good new Substacks, by people I hadn’t already been reading for years on another platform, and this is one of the few I’ve found that I’m really excited about.

I can also offer a bunch of blurbs about my writing from other authors, including NYT bestsellers and Hugo-award winners. But ultimately I just hope a piece clicks with you. And there’s not much downside, you’re only signing up for an email once every other week, on Wednesdays.

Who are you?

A scientist and author who grew up in his mother’s independent bookstore. I’m known for my debut novel The Revelations, as well as a couple scientific hypotheses, like causal emergence and the Overfitted Brain Hypothesis, and also my nonfiction writing more generally. I received my PhD in neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with Giulio Tononi on developing aspects of Integrated Information Theory, the first well-formalized scientific theory of consciousness. I was previously a Forbes 30 Under 30 in science and also a New York City Emerging Writer’s Fellow, and now am a research assistant professor at Tufts University in Boston. I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

What’s all this unique art?

The Intrinsic Perspective has a resident artist, illustrator Alexander Naughton, who reads drafts of pieces and reacts to them artistically. In fact, you can purchase prints of the art for The Intrinsic Perspective (all proceeds go to the artist, not me), and he is also open for commissions.


The Intrinsic Perspective is currently sponsored by the SciArt Initiative, an incredible organization that brings together scientists and artists, emphasizing the similarities between the two.