TL;DR: you can give me money here, but only if you want to.
Have you ever thought a book sounded interesting if true, but were unsure if you could trust it, or if it was even worth the time to find out? Wouldn’t it be great if someone marginally qualified investigated the first few chapters and wrote up the results, so you could make an informed judgement without spending much time on it? I am that marginally qualified person. I have a BA in biology and computer science, but mostly my qualification is “reading a lot”. For a demonstration, see my finished list on goodreads. My other qualification is that, according to witnesses, it is quite fun to watch me yell at things. I am only going to pick books I think will be valuable, this isn’t going to be a rant-fest, but if I happen to pick a dud you will at least get some entertainment value out of it.
Because this is a little less intrinsically fun than other posts I write, and several people said they would value this kind of thing enough to pay for it, I’ve started a Patreon specifically for book related posts, including the epistemic spot checking described above, summaries of the books that pass, and occasionally summaries of books that didn’t need exhaustive fact checking but I think are important. If this is a thing you’d like to see more of, please consider contributing.
Why is the Patreon only for book-related blog posts?
The expense and value of my posts vary so widely there was really no one price that was fair for all of them. The three early-human-history-book fact checks took a couple of hours each, and produced one recommendation for an interesting thing to read. My post on Tostan took months to write and raised at least $60,000, with good reason to believe that’s a severe underestimate. You would think getting some money for these posts would be better than getting no money, even if it wasn’t a lot, but no. I’m trying to work out an explanation for why as part of a longer post on what money means, but it’s not done yet.
On a practical level, epistemic spot checks are the most price sensitive of the posts I do. In particular, I have a family resistance to buying books when the library is full of free books. It’s not rational, but having the books provided for me or paid for will make it easier to buy them, which will save me a bunch of timing hassles. No more feast and famine reading, and I’ll be able to group books by topic. I also notice I discard books faster if I can buy replacements, which is on the margins good for me. Once books are paid for, money will go towards buying me time.
What if I want to support something besides the book related posts?
If you would like to commission something specific or purchase a portion of the funders’ credit for an existing post, please contact me at elizabeth-at-this-domain-name.
If you would like to give me an unrestricted grant, you can paypal or send amazon gift cards to this-domain-name-at-gmail-dot-com or buy a book off my amazon wish list (kindle format please).
What if I don’t want to give you any money?
You will lose your chance to read my notes as I work, and if I ever hit it big, the chance to brag that you supported me before it was cool. You’ll probably cope.