Which book review will win the 2023 ACX Book Review Contest? [CPMM]
resolved Sep 15
The Educated Mind
Cities And The Wealth Of Nations / The Question Of Separatism
Lying For Money
Man's Search For Meaning
Njal's Saga
On The Marble Cliffs
Public Citizens
Safe Enough? A History Of Nuclear Power And Accident Risk
Secret Government
The Laws Of Trading
The Mind Of A Bee
The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich
The Weirdest People In The World (Review 2)
Why Machines Will Never Rule The World (Review 1)
Why Nations Fail
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I'm still calling this as a win for myself, as Njal's Saga got the most votes. Glad I didn't bet more. I will be taking Scott to court over this one For Sure

@ForrestTaylor Too late, I've switched my residence to the Northern Quarter, your court has no jurisdiction there!

@ScottAlexander After pulling a stunt like this, I wouldn't want to show my face at Manifest either.

"Njal’s Saga, reviewed by Scott Alexander. This one got the most votes, but I’m disqualifying it because it seems in poor taste for me to win my own contest."

Well damn, I didn't expect to burn myself in this way

I liked the Lying For Money review.

Huh, I had the impression from the comments on "Cities And The Wealth Of Nations" that it was a divisive disliked review. An interesting angle to take on economics, but not actually useful?

Man's search for Meaning didn't stick with me at all, even skimming it again I don't have anything but a vague grasp of the biographic parts

The educated mind had a well-structured set-up, & a solid body, but it didn't feel like the body needed the set-up nor that there was any payoff for it which made the length needless

Njal's Saga was super fun

this will help me with strategic voting!

To save people some effort, the list sorted by likes on Substack (at time of writing):

321 Cities And The Wealth of Nations
307 Man's Search for Meaning
243 The Educated Mind
216 Njal's Saga
189 On the Marble Cliffs
174 The Mind of A Bee
164 The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
162 Why Machines Will Never Rule the World
161 Lying for Money
158 The Laws of Trading
135 Public Citizens
125 Secret Government
122 The Weirdest People in the World
117 Why Nations Fail
107 Zuozhuan
101 Safe Enough

Huh. This was a weird year for acx book reviews. Two of the top three reviews, imo, were mostly incorrect. The third one is an already popular and mainstream book (it's the #1 amazon book in its subcategory and 11 in psychology overall).

@jacksonpolack I can't speak for other readers, but I definitely get attracted to mind blowing, world shattering theses, argued for persuasively. Unfortunately such things are incorrect more often than correct.

What do you think determines the chance of a review winning?

1) The quality of the review?

2) The quality of the book as described by the review?

3) How well known the book is?

4) How much the community agrees with the premise of the book?

It should be 1) but I fear it will be 3) and 4).

@uair01 why should it be 1? Or, maybe, which quality are you referring to? Something like "book-review" correspondence? Or "the quality of ideas people get from the review"? [Which itself feels more like 2 and 4.]

I expect readers to basically only be able to judge reader experience; they probably didn't read the book, and won't be able to tell whether or not the review author is mangling the ideas, tho they can tell whether or not the review holds together.

@uair01 how memorable the review is

@GooGhoul maybe that's the main one!

@uair01 honestly, I don't think it will be driven by #4. I specifically looked back at voting time at a review that I remembered based on that kind of criteria, and I immediately felt like it wasn't the one I wanted to vote for.