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Possible new pneumonia in Kazahkstan (July 2020) 2020-07-12T20:41:19.192Z

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Comment by Jay on Some people just won't get it · 2021-06-13T13:58:13.542Z · LW · GW

It does.

Comment by Jay on Selection Has A Quality Ceiling · 2021-06-03T21:58:33.741Z · LW · GW

Until roughly 1980, US corporations did lots of (paid) training.  Some still do; McDonalds operates Hamburger University.  They found that a lot of new hires left the company soon after training - the companies couldn't capture the value of the training very well.  Because of that they shifted toward hiring college graduates (pre-trained for general skills, if not for company specifics (which don't travel well anyway)) and, later, unpaid internships.

Comment by Jay on Article on IQ: The Inappropriately Excluded · 2021-05-31T12:20:36.982Z · LW · GW

IQ tests are designed to produce a bell curve with a mean at 100 and a standard deviation of 15.  That's inherent to the definition of IQ.  Actual implementations aren't perfect, but they're not far off.

Comment by Jay on Article on IQ: The Inappropriately Excluded · 2021-05-30T14:09:52.489Z · LW · GW

This isn't really my field, and I see your point.  The poster asked for other studies so I linked a study I'd recently seen.  It's less about me endorsing the study than about trying to provide an entry point into the relevant literature. 

Comment by Jay on Article on IQ: The Inappropriately Excluded · 2021-05-29T22:02:43.930Z · LW · GW

Can Super Smart Leaders Suffer From Too Much of a Good Thing?  The Curvilinear Effect of Intelligence on Perceived Leadership Behavior and references therein.

Comment by Jay on Research Motivations and "The Division of Cognitive Labor" · 2021-05-16T12:51:56.814Z · LW · GW

Fair enough.  I'm a chemist by training, so I described what I know.

Comment by Jay on Research Motivations and "The Division of Cognitive Labor" · 2021-05-16T01:53:25.264Z · LW · GW

Actually, when these theories are in competition researching phlogiston looks exactly like researching the new chemistry.  What I mean is that even scientists holding on to the phlogiston theory will be aware of the results that favor the new chemistry and will design experiments specifically so that the results expected by one theory will be easily distinguishable from the predictions of the other theory.  As evidence piles up, both theories will be modified by their adherents to explain the experimental results; the worse theory will require more modification but the better one probably wasn't perfect.  Eventually someone writes a big review paper that summarizes the work in the field and comes out strongly in favor of oxygen-based theories; if there's no serious further debate the writers of future textbooks will refer to the big review paper.

Comment by Jay on What is the strongest argument you know for antirealism? · 2021-05-15T16:57:31.012Z · LW · GW

I'm suggesting there's a common denominator which all morally relevant agents are inherently cognizant of.

This naturally raises the question of whether people who don't agree with you are not moral agents or are somehow so confused or deceitful that they have abandoned their inherent truth.  I've heard the second version stated seriously in my Bible-belt childhood; it didn't impress me then.  The first just seems ... odd (and also raises the question of whether the non-morally-relevant will eventually outcompete the moral, leading to their extinction).

Any position claiming that everyone, deep down, agrees tends to founder on the observation that we simply don't - or to seem utterly banal (because everyone agrees with it).

Comment by Jay on What is the strongest argument you know for antirealism? · 2021-05-15T16:44:44.320Z · LW · GW

Indeed.  A certain coronavirus has recently achieved remarkable gains in Darwinist terms, but this is not generally considered a moral triumph.  Quite the opposite, as a dislike for disease is a near-universal human value.

It is often tempting to use near-universal human values as a substitute for objective values, and sometimes it works.  However, such values are not always internally consistent because humanity isn't.  Values such as disease prevention came into conflict with other values such as prosperity during the pandemic, with some people supporting strict lockdowns and others supporting a return to business as usual.

And there are words such as "justice" which refer to ostensibly near-universal human values except people don't always agree on what that value is or what it demands in any specific case.

Comment by Jay on What is the strongest argument you know for antirealism? · 2021-05-12T22:17:57.673Z · LW · GW

I think a simpler way to state the objection is to say that "value" and "meaning" are transitive verbs.  I can value money; Steve can value cars; Mike can value himself.  It's not clear what it would even mean for objective reality to value something.  Similarly, a subject may "mean" a referent to an interpreter, but nothing can just "mean" or even "mean something" without an implicit interpreter, and "objective reality" doesn't seem to be the sort of thing that can interpret.

Comment by Jay on Academia as Company Hierarchy · 2021-05-11T22:42:16.869Z · LW · GW

I think sociopaths are likely underrepresented in the physical sciences.  Sociopaths' defining method is the creation of social realities for others to inhabit, and it's very hard to use that when you're in the lab mucking with vacuum systems or running rats through mazes or whatever.  Sociopaths are much more likely to be attracted to business or politics, with a few in the humanities.  What sociopaths there are in science probably gravitate toward positions where they have control over tangible resources (e.g. grants).

OTOH, Aspergians like myself seem to be overrepresented in the physical sciences, partly because the relative distance from social constructs appeals to us.

Comment by Jay on Academia as Company Hierarchy · 2021-05-11T22:33:44.396Z · LW · GW

I think "slacker" would be a better word than Rao's "loser" for this group.  Their chief characteristic is that they don't work very hard because there's little benefit for them if they do.  "Loser" seems needlessly pejorative - their actions are reasonable given their situations and risk tolerance (usually risk-averse).  "Slacker" seems to define them better.

Comment by Jay on Hell is wasted on the evil · 2021-05-01T02:16:13.152Z · LW · GW

If you believe you attempt to do good because you truly like to do good, you're either a saint or you don't really know yourself well.  Could be either, but I know which way I'd bet it.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-30T20:37:43.069Z · LW · GW

This isn't a case where we need more research.  This is a case where we have over a century of credible data(1) and the strongest theoretical constructs in psychology or any other social science.  We just ignore the answers we have because nobody likes them.  We'd rather believe that effort matters more than genetics.

(1) The US military in WWI and WWII tested tens of millions of men from broad swaths of society.  

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-30T20:31:10.277Z · LW · GW

In the U.S., things people want are no longer gated by IQ scores because the Supreme Court has ruled that doing so violates the Civil Rights Act (Griggs V. Duke Power).  Prior to 1971 IQ scores were commonly used in hiring decisions; my mother got the highest score her employer had ever seen and was fast-tracked to management.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-30T19:54:37.661Z · LW · GW

Small quibble - general intelligence varies by age, and IQ tests are age-adjusted.  But that's a small clarification of your basic claim, which is supported by the data as I understand it.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T22:33:18.511Z · LW · GW

It's designed to be a normal distribution, but actual implementations don't work out exactly that way.  For starters, the distribution is skewed rightward because brain damage is a thing and brain augmentation isn't (yet).

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T22:28:20.823Z · LW · GW

I would avoid athletic metaphors for IQ.  People naturally tend to assume brains work like muscles.  Muscles get stronger with exercise.  Brains do not get smarter with "exercise" (study/puzzles/classes/etc).  The data is clear - it just doesn't work that way.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T22:19:13.158Z · LW · GW

That's true, but in the actual case society(1) wants to maximize equality of outcomes among its members, and we've spent decades looking for a method that will provide that outcome, and nothing we've come up with works(2).  You might think we "ought" to be doing that, but the judgement is now between "we should continue to pursue this value, knowing that it's never worked before and we have no reason to believe that it will start working any time soon" and "we should pursue other values that seem to be achievable" - which is a very different judgement.

(1) or the segment thereof that controls education policy

(2) There are a lot of marginal claims of questionable statistical and practical significance that never seem to scale up, but "nothing works" is a reasonable summary.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T22:10:27.110Z · LW · GW

Enjoy.  Keep in mind that it was written 25 years ago.  The findings still hold up, but the paper's forward-looking statements ("this might get better") didn't pan out.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T10:29:57.102Z · LW · GW

And "is" doesn't determine an "ought".

That's not entirely true.  Whether or not something "is" known to work or to fail often determines whether you "ought" to do it.

The IQ research cuts against the grain of our culture's belief in equality and hard work, so nobody really likes it and even mentioning IQ in many contexts is socially dangerous.  However, the IQ research is generally considered to be the strongest and most conclusive body of evidence in the social sciences.  Trying to equalize the effects of IQ using education doesn't work.

Comment by Jay on Can you improve IQ by practicing IQ tests? · 2021-04-29T01:19:03.560Z · LW · GW

Short answer: it's not preparation.  Sure, if you study the answer key of a test, you'll get a better score on that test.  However, there's no known method (including practice) that increases the cognitive ability (Spearman's g factor) that IQ tests measure.  Some IQ tests have no behavioral component at all; they just scan your brain and calculate your IQ.  

For a solid primer on IQ, I recommend Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns.  It's a consensus report of a task force of the American Psychological Association, so it's as credible as anything.

Personally, I took an IQ test for toddlers when I was about 3 (my neighbor was a psych grad student who wanted to practice giving the test and my mom wanted a short break from having a toddler). I got a 168 (the limit), surprising my neighbor quite a bit.  I had done about as much test prep as the typical toddler (none, unless Sesame Street counts).  I haven't taken an IQ test since then, but my life experience since then indicates that the test was qualitatively accurate.

Some people are naturally good at IQ tests and some people are naturally bad at them, and there's not much a person can do to change their scores (aside from brain damage, of course).  The people who are good at IQ tests have an advantage in any situation where absorbing, remembering, manipulating, and applying information is useful, which is a lot of situations.  The people who aren't have a disadvantage in those situations, and (with our current technology) we have no way to help them.

Comment by Jay on Problems of evil · 2021-04-20T00:08:59.524Z · LW · GW

Nietzsche said that after Man killed God*, the angels in their grief carried on trying to worship God - they didn't know what else to do.  That's how non-religious Western spirituality seems to me.  On the one hand, many people** find the idea of a personal God to be incompatible with science - it is impossible to reconcile the Beatitudes with the Red Queen's Race.  The trouble is that ideas like "all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights" and "the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice" are load-bearing parts of our culture but these ideas are based on theology and make no sense at all once that foundation has crumbled.  

Fortunately, we have one saving grace***.  Most people are not greatly bothered by these contradictions.  Human thoughtlessness FTW.

*by rendering God implausible 

** including me

*** so to speak

Comment by Jay on The Forces of Blandness and the Disagreeable Majority · 2021-01-09T21:02:37.378Z · LW · GW

I think a large part of it stems from the dominance of marketing in our culture.  Our elites are fundamentally salespeople, and insulted customers walk away.  When the social justice movement made offense its cardinal sin, our leadership found a religion it could believe in.  The only irredeemable sinners are the working class, because they're too poor to be a valuable market segment.

The Myers-Briggs model always struck me as the perfect example of American culture.  There are 16 types , and all of them are wonderful.  You are encouraged to settle into the market segment that's right for you.  I suspect a Chinese discussion of the Myers-Briggs typology would start with which type makes the most money (INTJ, I hear), and the rest of it would be about how to become an INTJ.

Comment by Jay on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2021-01-05T23:10:06.263Z · LW · GW

You'll know more as you get older.  You'll have solutions cached for more problems.  But your sheer ability to think will peak within a few years.  Unless what you do is extremely IQ-intensive you won't notice any significant decline for quite a while, but there's a reason that 30 year old mathematicians are considered past their prime.

As far as being cross with the universe, there's a support group for that.  It's called "everybody".  We used to meet daily after work in literally every bar, but the lockdowns have been rather disruptive.

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-15T22:42:46.174Z · LW · GW

If you want to try a startup anyway, here a few bits of advice:

  • Your company will be very demanding and not lucrative for quite some time.  You'll need slack everywhere else.  Avoid debt like the plague.  Relationships will be challenging.
  • When you have employees, their perspective will diverge from yours.  It's not their company.  It's not their dream.  It's just a job to them.  
  • Joining a startup is like going on a blind date.  There is a finite number of times you can do it before it becomes incredibly depressing.  The first one is an adventure, and the second one you know will be different.  After that ...

Good luck!

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-13T00:58:28.853Z · LW · GW

If a >5% chance of getting rich seems worth a <95% chance of wasting several years of your youth, then you do you.  That's how I wasted my own youth.  In retrospect I wish I'd picked one of the fun ways, but hindsight is 20/20.

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-11T23:02:44.293Z · LW · GW

As I noted below, nearly all startups fail (including the ones I've been involved in).  So in my case, the biggest barrier to starting my own company is my experienced judgement that it's almost never a good idea.

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-11T22:57:56.001Z · LW · GW

In the companies I worked for, the major investors usually had a few seats on the Board of Directors.  Also, they generally invested because they were major potential customers and hoped to use the startup's technology as a competitive advantage in their own companies.  And the investment contracts had many strings attached to preserve the investor's flexibility at the cost of the startup's. So they could (and did) renegotiate research agreements under unfavorable terms when the startup couldn't deliver as promised, trigger contractual provisions that gave them extra control if revenue targets weren't met, lead boardroom motions to replace senior management, send their people around to monitor the workplace (board members have that right), etc.  

Or they'd just shut off the funding.  A startup that has investment will almost always add staff and other costs; that's why they wanted funding in the first place.  But that means that the burn rate rises to the point where the company can't survive long without more cash*, and its current investors are by far the easiest people to tap for cash.  When they cut off the spigot, several of my employers weren't able to survive long enough to find more funding.

*It would be nice to get several years worth of cash at once, but most investors were unwilling to commit more than six months at a time.  Maybe a year, at the outset.

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-11T02:11:56.259Z · LW · GW

I've been in five or six startups, depending how you count.  If the startup is not meeting the investors' expectations and needs more cash, which is usual (nearly all startups fail), then keeping investors happy is a huge problem.*  The first six months or so of an investor relationship are usually okay, but things sour from there.  If you're exceeding expectations they're pretty mellow, I hear, but their expectations are pretty extreme and I have no direct experience of this.

*Oddly, people become unhappy when they realize you're losing their money.  

Comment by Jay on Mental Blinders from Working Within Systems · 2020-12-10T23:23:45.017Z · LW · GW

Success in the start-up world gives you money, but also gives you equity investors with many demands.  That sort of success may not actually give much freedom unless you manage to sell out, literally, in the form of trading your equity and control for cash.  Then the investors become someone else's problem and you're left with cash and freedom.

Comment by Jay on Using false but instrumentally rational beliefs for your career? · 2020-11-25T11:33:56.113Z · LW · GW

Fair enough.  I've never understood how "self-deceit" was supposed to work, though.  Self - delusion is simple enough - you believe something that isn't true.  That's probably universal.  But self-deceit seems to require you to believe something that you don't believe, and I don't understand why you expect yourself to fall for it.

Comment by Jay on Using false but instrumentally rational beliefs for your career? · 2020-11-24T23:41:40.417Z · LW · GW

If you think the baseline chance of getting a job in your field* is 70%, you're either extraordinarily talented or a fairly delusional.  I don't know you, but I know how I'd bet it.  Long story short - the market is absurdly competitive and you probably shouldn't get a PhD at all.  If you do try for it, you should realize that excessive work doesn't guarantee success but failing to work excessively basically guarantees failure.

P.S.  I have an Ivy League STEM PhD and am working as an accountant in the public sector (in other words, the higher end of working class or lower middle class).  I'm not the only STEM PhD in my bureau.

*excluding adjunct positions paying sub-minimum wage.

Comment by Jay on Straight-edge Warning Against Physical Intimacy · 2020-11-24T01:17:00.652Z · LW · GW

I suspect that he's using "true self" to refer to facets of himself that a psychologist would call ego-syntonic.  Simply put, ego-syntonic facets of oneself are in accordance with a person's self-image and ego-dystonic facets of oneself are at odds with one's self-conception.  The actual person is ultimately the "true" self, warts and all.

It is as much a function of a person's self-concept as it is of the person's behavior.  For example, homosexuality can be ego-dystonic (closeted; in denial) or ego-syntonic (self-accepted, if not necessarily public).

It is often mature and appropriate to pursue ego-syntonic goals to try to become the person you want to be.  On the other hand, each of us has behaviors that resist improvement (as our self-concepts define "improvement"); learning to accept and accommodate the facets of yourself that resist change can also be healthy.  

Comment by Jay on On Arguments for God · 2020-11-14T22:44:19.816Z · LW · GW

Bingo.  If my MMO toon became self-aware and developed the scientific method, he would discover scientific laws involving hit points, character classes, etc.  He would discover the laws of <i>his</i> world, which do not always correspond to anything outside the simulation.

Comment by Jay on Impostor Syndrome as skill/dominance mismatch · 2020-11-06T19:11:21.292Z · LW · GW

If Adam is a 10 in dominance but a 7 in skill*, he probably has what he needs to stay on top but he may feel like an imposter if he compares himself to Bob (6 dominance, 10 skill).  Adam is skilled enough to understand that Bob is better in certain ways.

*Whatever these numbers mean.  This model is for illustration only.

Comment by Jay on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2020-11-03T23:38:55.423Z · LW · GW

Human capability usually peaks around the age of 25; that's about how old Einstein was during his "miracle year".  After that, everything gets gradually harder.  For a while, it's hardly noticeable unless you enter a new, hyper-competitive environment.  Later on people rely on built up advantages to stay competitive.  Eventually time makes fools of us all.

Comment by Jay on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2020-10-28T21:45:29.336Z · LW · GW

Success raises the degree to which you can explore without wrecking the stable environment you've built; it also raises the bar for what you consider exploration.  A waiter with two kids might dream of backpacking across Mexico but be too tied down to do it; an executive could easily afford a family vacation in Mexico but would dream of something larger that he's too tied down to do (start his own company, learn to code well, become a doctor, whatever).

Comment by Jay on Is Success the Enemy of Freedom? (Full) · 2020-10-26T23:11:24.978Z · LW · GW

I think the real reason is that exploration is a stage in life; it naturally ends with parenthood.  Our goal in youth is to explore the world until we find a way to succeed.  In adulthood, our goal is to maintain a stable environment so that our children and students can safely explore.

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-14T23:17:54.587Z · LW · GW

One of the major problems with solar is that it's diffuse.  The second law of thermodynamics means that diffusing energy is very easy and concentrating it is effortful.  When you take a bunch of photocells that are producing milliamps of current at about a volt (i.e. milliwatts of power), the process required to combine their output into a usable voltage and current is rather inefficient.  I don't have any recent data for how inefficient; does anyone?

Fossil energy is concentrated from the start.  Nuclear energy isn't; turning dilute ores into concentrated fuels takes a good deal of processing (but it still works more scalably than solar).

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-07T22:31:45.418Z · LW · GW

I agree that it's technology or death.  I'm just not seeing the necessary technology, or any realistic hope of inventing it.  Which is why the comparison I used was the fall of the Roman Empire, which took Western Europe about a thousand years to fully recover from.  

You might respond that I should go into renewable energy research to try to solve the problem.  I did, for four years.  I'm out of ideas.

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-07T22:30:27.629Z · LW · GW

I agree that nuclear is the best path going forward on a technological level, but from a political standpoint it's just not going to happen.  And yes, that is a civilization-level tragedy.

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-07T22:17:27.430Z · LW · GW

Part of it is that high-performance solar cells require single-crystal silicon or gallium arsenide.  The purification process for semiconductors is extremely energy intensive.  The device fabrication processes are resource and energy intensive as well.  But yes, storage is also a huge problem (especially for winter heating, etc.)

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-07T02:04:29.687Z · LW · GW

We have been working on technological fixes for over 50 years, and we don't have anything that could realistically address the problem to show for it.*  We should at least consider the possibility that a technological fix will not be available. **

Humans are often wrong-genre savvy.  Most people in the rationalist community seem to think we're in a Star Trek prequel, but we may actually be in a big budget reboot of Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  For what it's worth, the guy who's playing Caligula is a great performer.  Huge talent.  The biggest talent ever.

*Someone will inevitably say that we are just about to have a solar revolution.  Some of us heard Jimmy Carter say that, and the promise to payoff ratio is getting a bit on the implausible side.

**I once had a job interview that went like this:

Interviewer:  After coal is burned, we're looking for a way to turn the carbon dioxide back into coal.  Can you do that?

Me (hesitantly): Yes, but it would consume energy.

Interviewer: Energy is available.

Me: I mean, it would consume so much energy that you'd be better off never having burned the coal.  That's not really something you can engineer around; that's basic thermodynamics.

A brief pretense of completing the interview was made by both parties.

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-05T23:42:40.431Z · LW · GW

Train harder.  Your probabilities sum to 110%.

Comment by Jay on Rationality and Climate Change · 2020-10-05T11:10:01.612Z · LW · GW

My personal views on climate change are extremely heterodox among the rationalist community*, but not uncommon among intellectuals of other stripes:

  • Climate change is real, and is exceeding what were previously considered worst case scenarios.
    • It was kicked off by fossil fuels, but at this point methane clathrates may be a bigger contributor.
  • It is having substantial effects on wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts.  It will likely start having substantial impacts on commercial agriculture soon.  That will probably eventually kill a lot of people.  Like, more than half.
  • When the ecological situation deteriorates that badly, peace is implausible.
  • There's not much we can do about it.  Renewable energy doesn't have the necessary EROEI** to sustain society.  Nuclear has more potential, but the political problems are showstoppers and rare earths are, well, rare.  About 3/4 of our energy comes from fossil fuels and there's little hope of that changing soon.

Since this thread is a poll, it should go without saying that reasonable people disagree.  But I said it anyway.

*The "rationalist community" is centered around Silly Con Valley and tends to be credulous about the potential of technology.

**Energy return on energy invested.  A recent solar plant in Spain managed an EROEI of roughly 3.  An EROEI of 12 is thought to be sufficient to support a stripped-down, efficiency-oriented, zero-growth version of civilization as we know it.  In the 1960s, oil wells with EROEIs of thousands were available; they're all but gone now.

Comment by Jay on Comparative Advantage is Not About Trade · 2020-09-30T22:51:11.843Z · LW · GW

I see what you're saying.  I would have called that "weighing my options", but if you prefer to call it "comparative advantage" I have no problem.

I'll note that there might not be a coherent price for the optimum decision for various reasons.  For example, there might be a very cost-effective idea that requires more than Robert's total budget (so he can't choose it).  Alternatively, there might be ideas where the outcome is uncertain and the probability of success is not reasonably estimable, so no marginal price can be computed*.

*He could always assign a probability by the method of rectal extraction, but the computation would not be reliable. 

Comment by Jay on "Win First" vs "Chill First" · 2020-09-29T23:24:46.239Z · LW · GW

From the perspective of a 76er, Jimmy Butler seems like a servant of Moloch.

The 76ers are NBA players.  They've worked to their limits all throughout high school and college to get there. Now they're semi-wealthy and semi-famous and still pretty young.  I can completely understand why they think it's time to enjoy life.*  The cheerleaders are right there, for crying out loud.

If Jimmy Butler got his way, some of them would start working harder.  They'd get recognition in the short run, but pretty quickly it would become a culture where the higher standard of effort was obligatory.  They would all do more of what they don't enjoy and less of what they do enjoy.  They might win more games, for what that's worth.  They would get little of value for the extra sacrifice.  So they don't.

*Keeping in mind that even a "lazy" NBA player is well within the top 1% of Americans for physical effort.

Comment by Jay on Comparative Advantage is Not About Trade · 2020-09-26T19:06:00.611Z · LW · GW

So where does that concept get us, without peaceful trade?

Suppose we have a simple, two-factor model of the Hundred Years' War.  The English have a comparative advantage in archers; the French have a comparative advantage in armored knights. Without peaceful trade, what non-obvious conclusion does comparative advantage lead us toward?

It was obvious, even before the concept of comparative advantage was developed, that English strategy should favor archers and French strategy should favor knights.  It was obvious that both sides should attempt wherever possible to fight when circumstances favor their preferred mode of fighting and to avoid battle when circumstances are against them.

What I'm trying to say is that you can look at pretty much anything through pretty much any analytical lens; you could probably attempt to apply the lens of Biblical prophecy to the unification of Japan.  Most of those views do not give meaningful insights (I admit that some promote success in humanities graduate programs, which strains the definition of meaningfulness).  What insight do you see that can be gained through applying the lens of comparative advantage to a new subject?

P.S.  France won.

Comment by Jay on Comparative Advantage is Not About Trade · 2020-09-26T00:36:36.762Z · LW · GW

You can have comparison in non-peaceful terms; an Ottoman delegation to America commented that we were excellent with guns but had no grasp at all of swordsmanship (this was true, for what it was worth).  Any battle inherently results in a comparison of the martial strength of the two sides.  But Ricardo's basic idea was that two parties with different comparative advantages could trade peacefully to the benefit of both.  Comparative advantage without peaceful trade loses the point of the idea.  I suppose you could say that the Aztecs had a comparative advantage over their neighbors in capturing enemies for human sacrifice and cannibalism, but does it make sense to say that their neighbors had a comparative advantage in being captured, murdered, and eaten?  If that's an advantage, I'd hate to see a disadvantage.