I’m Ben! I’m a junior at Harvard studying math and computer science. When I’m not doing that, I enjoy making things, coding, reading, playing piano, singing, contra dancing, hiking, effective altruism, and other strange activities.


Ben Kuhn


A bunch of links

in links

This post contains a bunch of links. They’re pretty interesting! read more

Reading lately

in math, opinions, books, nerding out

Books I’ve been reading recently and my thoughts/reviews/questions about them. read more

Channel factors

in cool stuff I learned, psychology

Or, “how not to make a fundamental attribution error on yourself;” or, “how to do that thing that you keep being frustrated at yourself for not doing;” or, “finding and solving trivial but leveraged inconveniences.” read more

Hip tech, useful tech

in saving the world, tech

A piece by Fast Company recently called out social entrepreneurs for focusing on making trendy but ultimately unhelpful techology, at the expense of solving mundane but important logistical problems. They’re right—these inventions are misguided—but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the potential of technology entirely. It just means we should be wiser about how we employ it. read more

What I learned from working at GiveWell

in effective altruism

For about four weeks over winter break I interned at GiveWell, a nonprofit that evaluates charities to figure out which ones do the most effective work. I learned a lot from working there, including a lot about how GiveWell works that seems not to be widely known. So I thought I’d share my findings. read more

The St. Petersburg “paradox”

in math, nerding out

“I suspect that finance companies ask this question to weed out the mathematician’s tendency to favor the elegant and legible over the intuitive and practical. If you ignore the intuitive ridiculousness (“what? nothing is infinity dollars!”), bite the bullet and say you would never take the gamble, you’ll leave a lot of money on the table—and conversely, if you’re willing to pay any price to take it from someone else, they’ll take you for a ride. So beware bad models, even the elegant ones!” read more

General Miseducation

in ranting, harvard

A case study in screwed-up incentives. read more

Email etiquette

in misc

A collection of miscellaneous pieces of email etiquette that I recently learned. read more

On inclusivity in Less Wrong: a response to Scott Alexander

in misc, rationality

A delayed take on the discussion on Less Wrong of the trade-off between inclusivity and freedom of expression. In particular, a response to Scott Alexander’s post on the same. read more

Replaceability arguments are overblown

in effective altruism

A commonly-listed “core idea” of effective altruism is replaceability: it’s okay to take a job in an unethical industry because if you don’t, someone else will, so the counterfactual effect of the unethical industry on the world is the same whether or not you take the job. In practice, the impact of this argument tends to be extremely exaggerated, for at least three reasons. read more

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