How much, and on what margins, should we be rethinking quarantine protocols? 2022-01-05T20:29:58.945Z
Viral Mutation, Pandemics and Social Response 2021-12-01T18:36:59.409Z
COVID Era: Updating On Life Risks 2021-11-29T17:27:28.354Z
Use of GPT-3 for identifying Phishing and other email based attacks? 2021-05-29T17:11:39.766Z
PrinciplesYou - Seems to be a new personality assessment tool 2021-04-22T19:20:46.384Z
AstraZeneca COVID Vaccine and blood clots 2021-03-15T13:16:24.878Z
For those who advocate Anki 2021-01-31T00:01:20.698Z
What do people think of the Futurism site? 2020-11-21T17:32:21.794Z
In 1 year and 5 years what do you see as "the normal" world. 2020-09-10T12:47:35.497Z
What is the current process for increases testing? 2020-07-12T17:21:49.847Z
Restricted Diet and Longevity, does eating pattern matter? 2020-06-01T21:28:19.010Z
Will the many protests throughout the USA prove to be good test cases for reopening? 2020-05-31T12:15:31.400Z
If bacteria gave us a tool for bio engineering, have viruses given us a delivery mechanism? 2020-05-20T22:31:08.099Z
Do any mammal species exhibit an immune response in some of the herd in response to the infection in other herd members? 2020-05-16T17:33:24.946Z
Will the world hit 10 million recorded cases of COVID-19? If so when? 2020-05-13T17:26:07.232Z
Settle Investment Trades Only Daily an improvement? True or False 2020-05-11T21:56:04.882Z
COVID-19 from a different angle 2020-05-04T17:58:02.100Z
Should we be reassessing the argument for globalization? 2020-04-26T13:52:40.126Z
Could city design impact spread of infections? 2020-04-22T14:57:54.511Z
COVID-19 and the US Elections 2020-04-08T18:25:20.425Z
What is going on in Singapore and the Philippines? 2020-04-06T11:27:25.268Z
What marginal returns now? 2020-03-30T23:12:03.853Z
Ideas on estimating personal risk of infection 2020-03-23T16:33:29.442Z
North Korea and COVID-19 2020-03-19T15:51:48.428Z
When will total cases in the EU surpass that of China? 2020-03-17T12:34:32.980Z
What might be learned from the COVID-19 buying patterns? 2020-03-15T02:58:26.078Z
Best time to take supplements? 2020-03-13T15:11:40.293Z
Dealing with the left overs: COVID-19 2020-03-05T14:10:02.299Z
To mask or not mask 2020-03-04T15:55:04.646Z
Did everyone miss the big thing about your phone? 2020-03-04T13:35:15.495Z
Is there a better way to define groups for COVID-19 impact? 2020-03-04T13:24:51.221Z
SARS, MERS and COVID-19 2020-03-01T20:53:06.459Z
Will the current COVID-19 outbreak increase the use of block-chain in supply chain management globally? 2020-02-28T14:53:15.777Z
Literature regarding epidemics and political stability? 2020-02-24T13:21:50.937Z
Making Sense of Coronavirus Stats 2020-02-20T15:12:51.292Z
It "wanted" ... 2020-02-15T20:52:07.094Z
Source of Karma 2020-02-09T14:13:30.650Z
Are the bad epistemic conditions global? 2020-01-25T23:31:21.283Z
AI Alignment, Constraints, Control, Incentives or Partnership? 2019-12-31T13:42:56.471Z
Double Cruz and Verification of Claims 2019-11-21T13:37:57.368Z
Current Law Proposed to allow competition in Social Media 2019-10-23T13:13:32.581Z
Does human choice have to be transitive in order to be rational/consistent? 2019-08-11T01:49:23.967Z
Would refining the question a bit be better in terms of getting to answers? 2019-08-01T16:25:32.549Z
Another case of "common sense" not being common? 2019-07-31T17:15:40.674Z
Learning Over Time for AI and Humans and Rationality 2019-06-13T13:23:58.639Z


Comment by jmh on Omicron Post #14 · 2022-01-14T05:05:54.730Z · LW · GW

Curious on the testing note. Should I be inferring that Omicron is not as active in the nasal passage ways but rather in the upper throat? In other words, has the mutation changed the location of entry -- might not be the correct way to say that. I thought the general understanding in the past was the the virus really replicated in the upper/nasal area before spreading in the body.

Comment by jmh on The Fusion Power Generator Scenario · 2022-01-14T01:49:43.106Z · LW · GW

Well that comment was a while back so I'll place a caveat on my response that I could have been thinking of something else.

While I was in grad school one of the papers read (by a professor I took a class with but was not part of that class) was "The Origins of Predictable Behavior" (Ron Heiner, AER circa 1984?). It's interesting because it was largely a Bayesian analysis. Short summary, humans evolve rules that protect them from big, but often infrequent, risks.

I think the idea here is that social norms then set our priors about certain things that are a bit separate from our personal experience -- and so are designed to resist the individual updates on priors because the actual evens are infrequent.

Comment by jmh on I have COVID, for how long should I isolate? · 2022-01-14T01:32:58.595Z · LW · GW

Is that an issue from a "protect myself from others" or "protect others from me" perspective?

Comment by jmh on I have COVID, for how long should I isolate? · 2022-01-14T01:31:46.353Z · LW · GW

Maybe I misunderstand your statement. I don't get why you say the burden is on those wanting to avoid rather than those who are infected. Particularly as your first statement is about an infected person taking steps to limit the spread of any residual infection they may still have.

I do have a growing sympathy with the idea that just because you have a case of COVID that necessarily means you need to stay in the leper colony for a while. BUT I'm not sure about where one draws the line on that. Each person's case is a unique so the risk they pose to others needs to be considered on a case by case basis and we still seem to be working that out.

Comment by jmh on Question Gravity · 2022-01-14T01:23:18.921Z · LW · GW

While I agree that cohesion could explain the phenomena where is the center of gravity for the full and empty container? Most of the shampoo bottles I have seem to have thicker bottoms than sides or tops. This seems to be a case where very careful measurement is needed. Or perhaps more sampling. Do the experiment with 50 shampoo bottles of the same manufacture (and perhaps even bought at the same time to get a common production run).

Comment by jmh on Rational Breaks: a better way to work · 2022-01-08T13:28:25.355Z · LW · GW

Agree. And I think that name allows for the implication that the ratio need not be fixed for all people or across all tasks.

Comment by jmh on How much, and on what margins, should we be rethinking quarantine protocols? · 2022-01-07T03:32:03.652Z · LW · GW

Small update. Seems that one of the local medical organizations has come to some conclusion on the question as well.

Coronavirus-positive but asymptomatic nurses who have received a vaccine and booster are directed to return to work immediately with no period of isolation, according to Inova guidelines dated Dec. 28. Periods of isolation vary based on vaccination status and range from five days for mild symptoms to up to 20 days or longer for those with severe illness. (




Comment by jmh on How an alien theory of mind might be unlearnable · 2022-01-03T15:43:04.136Z · LW · GW

In reading this I was reminded (or at least my mind sort of wondered of to the thought) of a statement a psychologist friend of mine made many years ago. He described his job as trying to understand the rationality underlying the people we considered "not normal". 

In other words, understanding the operational map the person has. The goal was not really to verify where that map and the territory were not in sync (at least through the lens of his map -- or other generally acceptable maps) or even to compare it with his map. I think the trivial implication here may be that every mind can be considered an "alien" mind. It's just that for the most part human minds are not very alien from one another.

But what also comes from that is that things like intelligence and rationality are not part of the criteria. So that seems to suggest that we can actually attempt (and I am 99.999% sure some actually are) understanding the alien minds of other species on Earth.

Both implications see to suggest we can look to those areas, human psychology and research by those exploring the "minds" of other species for what types of assumptions are needed/made. We could then look at ways to assess the success (would predicting future actions under defined conditions indicate some understanding of the mind?) and which assumptions (or classes of assumptions?) matter.

That might then inform on the assumptions needed for AI.

Comment by jmh on Business Writing Example #2 · 2021-12-21T18:43:52.450Z · LW · GW

I was going to comment but decided down voting was a more appropriate response. The down vote was primarily due the comment appearing to be rather off the subject of Business Writing. I don't think it is very helpful down voting without offering some thoughts on why the criticism was made. A secondary reason for my down vote was just disagreement with several of your positions.

Comment by jmh on Business Writing Example #2 · 2021-12-20T20:02:53.395Z · LW · GW

While I agree that the revised response is vastly superior to the original, and that the points about fully answering inquiries and offering low/no cost add-on services to assist with a customer's pain points is spot on the bull's eye of customer relationship management.

However, I think a key point has been missed. Why did the other questions go unanswered? That seems to be the core problem to solve and offering a solutions alone doesn't really seem to bridge the gap between error and improved response in the future.

Put differently, we seem to have identified the inputs and outputs (customer query and the company response) but treated the response process a bit like a black box.

Comment by jmh on We'll Always Have Crazy · 2021-12-15T21:21:55.108Z · LW · GW

Two quick observations, one perhaps trivial but perhaps worth mentioning.

Trivial first. How comfortable are you with noting that the Christians of old we're fine claiming the Earth as the center of the observable universe as if it were somehow seriously wrong? My understanding -- and I could be wrong here I'll accept -- is that current empirical observations pretty much supports that view. Seems like no matter which way we look we see as far into the distance universe. That would put us pretty much center of the spherical limits of vision for us. Is rejecting the center view based on clear empirical data or is that a view based on belief in theory? Which would make it a bit of a faith statement.

Not trying to argue we are at the center (I'm not even sure the concept of center of the universe is good), but really asking about just what potential biases and assumption are held related to deciding on "crazy".

With regards to the 50%+1 thought. Seems like that is close to the Median Voter idea that suggests political positions and agenda should be pushed to some centerist positions. I think that is wrong.  I think the parties will try to keep their positions as close to what their ideology requires and then move positions around based on where the marginal gains and losses of votes push them. I'm also assuming that the non-voting population is not some static set of the total population. In that setting the party position should not be expected to only move towards the other party's (or some blended position with multiple parties) position to capture votes. It could just as well move away depending on just what the current population of potential voters is like.

So in a polity like the USA I could easily see that the parties would move to position where, in the extreme, they are talking to completely different groups of people who would never vote for the other party. Here the bit is getting them to vote when they were not voting before. That would produce a bar-bell type graph of position on the left-right spectrum with an increasingly larger gap between the peaks of the curves.

Whether or not that type of outcome is crazy or not, hmmmm. Might be deserving but from the inside of both camps I suspect they think they are all sane and everyone else is mad.

Comment by jmh on Leaving Orbit · 2021-12-08T00:50:22.003Z · LW · GW

"Sorry, gotta go now."?

Or perhaps a phrase the Koreans say "I'll leave first."

Comment by jmh on Leaving Orbit · 2021-12-08T00:47:38.348Z · LW · GW

Unavoidable does seem likely but there may be a positive aspect as well. Since it will be a term that is cryptic to the uninitiated they are likely not to feel confident assigning any particular interpretation to the exit. And, one hopes in this type of environment, will produce a query about the term without feeling anyone was trying to hide something or exclude someone.

Comment by jmh on Privacy and Manipulation · 2021-12-06T16:41:51.472Z · LW · GW

I do like the view expressed here. There is a Occam's Razor aspect that I think helps in thinking about the situation. That said, I do think there might still be some value to the formalizing and publishing policies here.

While one may well find one self on the opposite side from someone that has confided something to you that will often just be one aspect of the larger personal relationship. We often implicitly or explicitly assume that my friend is my friend universally and not just some "fair weather" type friend. Friends accept someone with all their flaws and strengths. 

That is really a bit of a naive view though.

Perhaps by being more open in your own policy with people will make them consider the specifics of what's being shared more critically rather than just assuming the friend is on the same page in this case as they have been in 100 other cases.

While it's clear that once you have the information you either share or keep it confidential and so find you are on one side or the others. In other words, the person sharing imposes that problem on you -- once told you must be on one side or the other. In some cases that might be a hard decision to make. By making known a policy position perhaps the will limit the number of times you are placed in a situation you would really like to have avoided (ignorance can be bliss ;-) ).

So perhaps publishing one's policies is something of a optimal approach both helping reduce the stress in choosing a side and in even finding oneself in the position of having to make that choice.

Comment by jmh on Privacy and Manipulation · 2021-12-05T21:22:29.031Z · LW · GW

I wonder if the qualifier (if you are X) is even needed. Whether the dilemma is created by someone manipulating things or just conflicting values (e.g., confidentiality/one's word and discovered wrong correctable by disclosure) who wants to be on the horns.

Why not simply take the stance that I will always reserve judgment on what confidences I will protect and when you telling me something means you are deferring to my judgement, not binding me to your position?

Comment by jmh on Second-order selection against the immortal · 2021-12-04T19:44:00.985Z · LW · GW

Is there perhaps an unjustified assumption implicit here that somehow immortality implies some level of evolutionary fixed point position? Why wouldn't the pill actually produce an organism that is both in a very stable health equilibrium in stable environments but rapidly able to react to changes correctly?

That might be the story behind the experimental results. The EL group is very well suited to the current environment but unable to adapt to the new later environment while the EW do adapt. Here it seems very much the niche specialist versus the more generalist. Generalists, that are at least able to survive seem to last longer than the niche player.

Comment by jmh on Omicron Post #3 · 2021-12-02T19:32:45.362Z · LW · GW

An entirely lighthearted comment, perhaps in keeping with some humor in your recap of Biden's speech. 

Omicron Everywhere

so it's actually omnicron?

On a more serious note, are there any good, and known, models related to mid-pandemic travel restriction value? Perhaps particularly for mutation cases given the time lag to identify the new mutations. If one is sure the mutation is not yet present (and that it has a very, very low probability of emerging in its own) then restricting travel will absolutely slow down the rate it will eventually arrive.  But that seems like a dream case.

Comment by jmh on Frame Control · 2021-11-29T20:50:11.437Z · LW · GW

When I started reading my first thought was, not independence but competitive alternatives. Then of course you pointed to the same. However, I'm wondering if that is really where it stops.

First I want to say I did not give the OP a full read and second that there are important parts of what I did read that I have fully digested. Given that, I have to wonder if the issue of frame control as raised by the author here is fully solved in the same way we think of economic problem solutions coming out of competitive supply and demand settings. 

Am I really in a good place personally just because I can pick and choose among those controlling my frame? Or, put differently, is multiple support options (i.e., able to expose one's self to multiple other frames) certain to eliminate the problem of frame control for that person? Something is nudging me in the direction of "not quite sure about that". Then again, maybe what we have is that one never escapes frame control so we're always talking about the best of a bunch of "bad" options. 

Comment by jmh on Omicron Variant Post #2 · 2021-11-29T20:07:17.219Z · LW · GW

Regarding the Fauci's statement, I was just reading an article on the NIH site on the history of quarantines which included this observation:

"Decisions made by health authorities often seemed focused more on reassuring the public about efforts being made to stop transmission of the virus rather than on actually stopping transmission of the virus ." ( This was made in the context of the 1918-1919 flu epidemic and Italy.

In some ways it is a bit of a disappointing read in that we don't seem to have really learned anything for centuries in some ways. 

Comment by jmh on [Linkpost] Being Normal by Brian Caplan · 2021-11-29T04:43:28.937Z · LW · GW

I cannot decide if I think the proposition doesn't slide into something of a No True Scotsman type fallacy.

I don't see why most of the weird people are not also just as susceptible to the same hypocrisy and dissonance as the normal person. I'm also a bit lost with regard to just what relative population sizes are needed to define who is or is not weird and who is or is not normal/conforming.

Comment by jmh on A Brief Introduction to Container Logistics · 2021-11-12T15:54:07.646Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the write up Victor. It was an interesting read, though I won't say I read very closely or critically.

I am interested in your views on a question about routing and how it's currently accomplished. I'm putting the containers into a network metaphor so they can be viewed just as any network packet traversing the internet. Is the container routing  similar in that regard where the "packet" hits various hops on the way and some mechanism exists for calculating the current best path to the end point?

It wasn't clear to me from your post if there was anything like a defined path at the outset or what "next ship out" in the case of some container delay on the way meant next ship that was eventually going to the destination or next ship with the quickest expected delivery -- or even if the information for making such an assessment was easily available. 

Comment by jmh on Worth checking your stock trading skills · 2021-11-09T04:29:58.505Z · LW · GW

If you are willing, how did that 600% distribute across your trading -- individual stocks, equity funds/etfs and derivatives (options? futures? both?).

Comment by jmh on How much of the supply-chain issues are due to monetary policy? · 2021-11-08T02:12:31.655Z · LW · GW

Anecdotal and very much "impressionistic" but for me I can look at 4 consumer products and cannot think of a good reason that loose monetary policy would really be driving demand for: auto tires, black stainless steel dishwashers, brake pads and toilet paper. 

My dishwash broke maybe 8 months ago. When I go to stores to look into replacements I'm still getting a story about "we don't know when ...".

I wanted to have replacement brake pads for my car as I will be taking it in for the safety inspection and orders both front and rear from Tire Rack. I got a call from them a bit later telling me they could only provide the front pads and wanted to know if I wanted to wait to get both together, have the fronts sent and revise the order to only front or to cancel or what. While talking with the rep I asked if this was a model issue or more general supply-chain related. He was very clear that it was not just my car's model that was the problem. We also talked a little about tires. Perhaps one of the be quotes from that might be "We will order 3000 tires and when the delivery arrives it's got maybe 300."

In the past week I was thinking I should buy another large pack of toilet paper now the supply from early (and kind of cheap type) purchases when it was a big deal were running out. Those shelves at the store I normally shop are pretty bare and only the cheap brand. That seems to have been the case for the week. Might change so....

So I can see that some of the price inflation that is attributed to the supply chain shock is probably due to monetary and fiscal policies I would suspect that is not the major explanation.

Comment by jmh on We Live in a Post-Scarcity Society · 2021-11-01T18:14:11.401Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure if this will be taking an incorrect conclusion from the post or not. The moral to the story I walked away with was no society will think itself one that is a post-scarcity one.

Comment by jmh on They don't make 'em like they used to · 2021-10-28T01:50:58.587Z · LW · GW

I do frequently find myself in that "they don't make them..." frame of mind. I also believe that part of the answer is located on that planned obsolescence axis but also realize that is a complicated issue to fully establish if you're not part of the decision-making structure for the particular item.

I have also heard of some other views that suggest the less durable nature of many modern products may be influenced a bit by the rate of innovations across a wide range of margins (direct inputs, new functionality/options, build materials,  digital versus analogue process management function...). 

This might be a testable proposition -- if true one would think that in areas where little innovation has existed -- or the significant impact from innovation has been achieved -- competition will push the product towards durability as a positive quality sought by consumers. In the areas where product innovation is just really getting opened up one should see, all things equal, a declining level of durability.

I would think one could also model durability against innovative forces with some degree of accuracy.

Hasn't anyone already done this?

Comment by jmh on What Do GDP Growth Curves Really Mean? · 2021-10-23T14:05:31.420Z · LW · GW

I do agree that the distinction should be made and should be known, and that the confusion around the interpretation be reduced. At the same time calling it an "insight" appears to be due to either that very confusion or ignorance of the actual subject matter.

Since its creation, economists who are familiar with GDP have emphasized that GDP is a measure of economic activity, not economic or social well-being. In 1934, Simon Kuznets, the chief architect of the United States national accounting system and GDP, cautioned against equating GDP growth with economic or social well-being.


(Note -- I take the meaning of "value" above to refer to the more subjective utility-type meaning and not simply the price value for accounting at some aggregate level.)

Perhaps a more interesting question here might be why so many people, and specifically non-lay people who really should know better (professional economists, professional financial journalist, governmental staff and representatives), keep slipping into the error in framing/rhetoric if not flat out error in thought.

Comment by jmh on NATO: Cognitive Warfare Project · 2021-10-21T16:34:18.182Z · LW · GW

In some regards I see this as just more of the same. If we take the old saying about war just being politics on another field the CW seems like it's been around a long time. 

In that sense I wonder if advancements here are improvements to warfare -- a step away from the physical destruction -- or yet another example of why people are increasingly mistrusting in progress and technology/knowledge advancements ability to improve life and society.

Comment by jmh on Explaining Capitalism Harder · 2021-10-20T14:04:28.365Z · LW · GW

"Capitalism" isn't good or bad, it's a tool in the societal design kit.

I often think of markets in that way and think the broad concept of "Capitalism" (and many other isms) fit well.

I think this applies to the OP about explaining harder. While also very market and capital friendly in thought (and action) I do often find the advocates seem to hold (generally implicitly) that somehow capitalism/price markets must be universal and nothing else could displace them. I think that goes too far.

I think framing the subject in that social tool allows for some better discussion. Just as we can talk about building tools, or just carpentry tools, tools serve to resolve a specific type of problem and can be used properly and improperly.  Social level tools like markets or capitalism or law are much more complicated than hammers and saws, or even backhoes or cement trucks, or computer systems controlling a large assembly line but still fit into that model well I think.

So when having those interactions about "Yes, I get that but it shouldn't be that way." I think the tool framework can help get into the discussion about just what it means to "be that way". What shouldn't be that way -- the problem to be solved or the tool being used for the problem?

Comment by jmh on What Do GDP Growth Curves Really Mean? · 2021-10-17T16:36:32.007Z · LW · GW

Are the issues raised here limited to GDP or do these extend to any real price/value accounting based time series? While we don't have a market value estimate for a nation/national economy it seems all the comments and the OP would directly related to pretty much all large corporation to a large extent.

So does changing the title to What do Corporate Income Growth Curves Really Mean? fit as well? (Though with some slightly different points of interest/importance._

Comment by jmh on Book Review: Free Will · 2021-10-12T16:22:20.129Z · LW · GW

Just an incomplete skimming of the post but one thing seemed to jump out at me. Did Harris always cast free will as a act to do something? Did he explore the case where all the external and internal impulses to do something were then overridden by the person and a different choice made?

Comment by jmh on What Do GDP Growth Curves Really Mean? · 2021-10-08T21:41:16.542Z · LW · GW

I think the underlying claim that the numbers for GDP measures are generally pretty problematic in general and particularly when attempting to make comparisons between distant points in time. Part of that is just the mechanics of designing an index. That problem is very much complicated by technology and quality improvements, both resulting in a very real apples-oranges comparison problem between the goods put in the bundle of goods.

I would expect that the errors even in the short term on that comparison aspect to compound over time.

However, I also think there is very much a  problem akin to the interpersonal utility comparison problems that exist. In some ways we can look at the examples you've mentioned and the basic consumption item is something that has been produced and consumed probable at least as long as human have lived in some form of formal civil structure. Much of your tech example is communication related. Just looking at that aspect of the GDP growth, can we really say we think we're now enjoying 100 times more value in our communications?

I think that's a bit of a hard question but just from my own perspective I might say 6 times is perhaps closer than 100 times.

But again, I do agree that what one infers from looking at GDP time series data should come with a lot of footnotes about many different caveats.

Comment by jmh on Consider Taking Zinc Every Time You Travel · 2021-10-02T00:54:35.255Z · LW · GW

A question occurs to me after reading the comments.

Is the implication here that most/many common cold  infection pathway is via the throat rather than the nose?  

Comment by jmh on Insights from Modern Principles of Economics · 2021-09-28T22:13:58.585Z · LW · GW

I will just note that you are making a quantity argument here, not a price argument.

Comment by jmh on EA Hangout Prisoners' Dilemma · 2021-09-28T21:58:57.739Z · LW · GW

And I'm not entirely sure you should call it a defect. Perhaps more a cooperation outcome with a potential side payment. With the single defect and a $100 side payment by the remaining group to the nuked group you've accomplished a Pareto move to a superior outcome. Both organizations are at least as well off as if none were nuked. And if the nuked group just thinks the other is doing just as good work without the side payment they might think it's a wash who actually gets the additional $100.

What I would be really interested in is just how this outcome actually attained. Seems like everyone was pretty smart (and altruistic) to realize retaliation was not the right response. In short, was this a case of a Petrovian restraint in responding to the reported nuke attack in a sense.

Comment by jmh on Insights from Modern Principles of Economics · 2021-09-22T23:29:13.166Z · LW · GW

Some laws ban price gouging. In certain industries and during an emergency, firms basically can't raise prices unless they can prove that their operating costs / input costs increased.


Looking at the graph immediately following seem to over state the shortage or require the assumption that the set price ceiling in fact ignored the clearly demonstrated (S curve) increase in costs. If we move to the view that the administrative price is well informed then you just get market clearing. The argument there should be no gouging is occurring -- that would just be the uninformed rhetoric. 

I suspect the real problem with attempts at price gouging all relate to attempts to restrict supply (at least in some local, short term aspect). Early in the pandemic days when all the store shelves were empty of some items there was a story about some guy that had a garage full of some item (forget if it was disinfectant wipes, toilet papers or what -- one of the high demand items). He had bought out the supplies early with the intent on selling at a high profit when supplies were even tighter. So the dynamics of price gouging and the profit motive can lead to some perverse outcomes that are not consistent with what you could call efficient or welfare positive market outcomes. Of course this is not some new behavior -- used to be called front-running and was consider a violation of the terms of many of the old Merchant Guilds in European history.

Side note on prices as signals. While I'm generally very sympathetic with the prices are signals view, it's not always obvious to infer just what is being signaled. Generally the claim is increasing prices should signal need for more supply while falling prices signal a need for less supply. However reality seems to allow for the reverse to be the case. Declining industries with fixed costs in production will likely see increasing prices as demand falls and suppliers exit -- strange case of being on a negatively sloped portion of the supply curve. Similarly, increasing demand with fixed costs also allows for prices to fall as the increased output takes advantage of the economies of scale from fixed costs in production. Not looking into the details and taking the signal at "face value" would lead to a really bad investment in the first case. In the later case it might lead to missing a great investment.

Comment by jmh on Long Covid Is Not Necessarily Your Biggest Problem · 2021-09-08T03:47:09.479Z · LW · GW

I just scanned the post and comments so may well have missed it. I would think these studies are looking at early in the pandemic patients (perhaps wrong to think that) so just wonder if there is any control over the treatment of the  patients in the early days that might have biased the results at all?

Comment by jmh on The Death of Behavioral Economics · 2021-08-23T15:30:53.680Z · LW · GW

Does this suggest they don't hold to loss aversion in any sense? I'm taking the claim, selective analysis/data presentation, at face value here. If true that seems like it would suggest a very significant loss to current and future status as well as position and potential future positions.

Comment by jmh on Coase's "Nature of the Firm" on Polyamory · 2021-08-18T14:11:28.687Z · LW · GW

That misses the point about transaction costs driving the emergence of the firm in Coase's argument. As I recall the key transaction cost was was not really search related but that for 100 people to work together with some form of legal agreement each person must contract with 99 other people. Once the firm exists then the majority of those contracts go away and the firm contracts with 100 people and the 100 workers have no contract with one another, just the firm.

Comment by jmh on Staying Grounded · 2021-08-16T13:13:55.827Z · LW · GW

I feel a bit like the title is a bit off. I might actually suggest a lot of what is said here is about Getting Grounded, rather than staying grounded.  Staying Grounded implies one was grounded in the first place.

Great post though and I think it points to a number of examples one might consider and compare with their own life to see if perhaps one is as grounded as they think.

Comment by jmh on Coase's "Nature of the Firm" on Polyamory · 2021-08-15T14:16:55.719Z · LW · GW

I'm not sure Coase, here, is a good understanding of specialization at the level you mention in a lot of cases, e.g., specialist programmer in, say, search functions and then one for, say, sort functions rather than the programmer that is a generalist in a particular language. I think Smith's division of labor and extent of the market might be more appropriate here.

It also seems that the one could view the firm very much as a polygamous structure because it includes many people filling similar roles in their relationship to the central contracting party (the firm).

Comment by jmh on What is the name of this fallacy? · 2021-08-11T02:34:15.737Z · LW · GW

I suspect there is a good name for that situation. However, if there isn't one I submit "Don't bite the hand that fed you" fallacy.

But it also seems like there is an element of an assumption of no counter-factual possible underlying the claim.

Comment by jmh on Alarm bell for the next pandemic, V.2 · 2021-08-11T02:25:54.665Z · LW · GW

This doesn't mean those pandemics, with their millions of lives lost, were unimportant. It simply means that they did not suddenly and severely shake the world economy, the way COVID-19 is doing right now.


Not sure this comment changes things much but would point out that the world economies in 2020 were a lot more integrated than in just about all other periods of time one could consider pandemic impacts. In that sense I think the impact, and particularly to things like financial asset prices, may be reduced in a less integrated world.

What might be more relevant here, but I'm not sure how to apply any adjustment factors to your x/14 scale approach is how the observation of tight integration (think all supply chain roads lead to China) and the degree of decoupling that seems to be occurring would impact some of those points.

But I do like the approach in that it does kind of keep it simple in approach and could be applied by anyone that just wanted to think about things without have a good background in math or modeling.

Comment by jmh on Traps of Formalization in Deconfusion · 2021-08-06T19:35:36.473Z · LW · GW

The use of triangulation as an analogy here  seems to suggest the choice of use-cases is critical to minimizing the number needed. In some cases I would think that selection might be rather obvious but not sure that would be generally true. 

The obvious (I would think) goal then would be to seek use-cases that exhibit a high degree of "independence" from one another (much like a regression test should use) rather than "highly correlated" use-cases. But use-cases are not simple variables so may be difficult to assess from that perspective.

Do you have some thoughts on that selection process

Comment by jmh on What made the UK COVID-19 case count drop? · 2021-08-02T21:10:21.682Z · LW · GW

Could this be something of statistical a mirage? (and hopefully this is not too poorly expressed or thought out as it's very much an off the cuff type thought. It's also really just a slightly different statement of the above explanation.)

I don't know if this hypothesis comes close to fitting with the reality in the UK but what if one is looking at general, aggregate statistics but the cases are largely in some "unique" sub populations.

If there were pockets where previously few people were infected, were taking their time (or were anti-vaccers) and then delta hit those areas. Previously COVID was spreading slowly in such areas. Now it starts spreading quickly. The aggregate measures suddenly turn up but as soon as those sub-populations start to look like the general population you see a very rapid drop in transmission and in the aggregate numbers.

Putting it a bit differently, is it maybe one of those devils in the details, but not necessarily a factor that we can really do much with other than note it needs to be kept in mind at times?

Comment by jmh on Black ravens and red herrings · 2021-07-30T20:28:08.724Z · LW · GW

Does an observation of a black herring or black apple reduce the claim of all ravens are black -- or somehow be less forceful a failure to disprove the claim? What about a blackberry?

Comment by jmh on Brief thoughts on inefficient writing systems · 2021-07-30T02:18:38.560Z · LW · GW

You might enjoy the story of how the Korean written language, Hangul, came about. It was developed by one of the Kings because he thought the average Korean should have a language they could read and write and leaning Chinese characters was difficult for many -- probably for no other reason that most didn't have the luxury of time that the nobles and scholars had.

These is an historical movie about the event -- I suspect it's romanticized but the main lines are probably pretty accurate. Called The King's Letters. 

Comment by jmh on Delta variant: we should probably be re-masking · 2021-07-25T14:00:50.310Z · LW · GW

This touches on something I think is an obvious follow up from the experiences we've had but have not really seem anything about it in general public discussion. That might be just that it's not really "news worthy" from media's perspective.

For these airborne diseases it should be obvious (and seems like it's been demonstrated with some empirical findings from reported cases) that recirculating air internally is not the best idea. You do want to pull outside air in, probably do some filtering of it and perhaps even other sanitizing actions (UV light) and the expel the internal air. But I've not heard anything about updates to building code in that regard. Nor have I seen any obvious work on that being done for retail places or apartment/condo or office buildings.

Of course that only works for things like SARS-CoV-2 that doesn't survive well outside a body so leaves open the possibility that the next pandemic would be the one we pump in from the outside air and don't have the right filter/sanitizing tools in place.

Comment by jmh on Working With Monsters · 2021-07-25T13:50:59.723Z · LW · GW

Seems like you're rejecting the idea that a "grossly unjust" law could be a scissors statement?

Comment by jmh on Delta variant: we should probably be re-masking · 2021-07-24T15:37:02.392Z · LW · GW

Just for disclosure purposes I an fully vaccinated (Moderna) and generally have started (never fully stopped) still sport a mask in places I would have before.  For me that is really more about the unvaccinated that I suspect are taking advantage of the new no-mask if fully vaccinated but no one will ever check standard in place now.

I would think one might want to do a quick review of what we got right and what we got wrong in the first year+ of our response and policies related to social interaction with COVID present. If does seem that one of the earlier takeaways was that some policies were mandated too broadly. By the time some regions really needed to be following the policies they were completed burned out on the costs of the too early an adoption. That seems to have helped support a lot of the current resistance we currently see.

Not sure if there are more aspects to consider that are similar to that observation but I do get the sense that our experts are all too happy to follow the old script which was of questionable quality.

Comment by jmh on Working With Monsters · 2021-07-21T14:28:06.817Z · LW · GW

This largely captures my views about myself and choosing to follow a generally civil life -- accepting that I am not the moral authority, judge and jury even when I find my own moral senses insulted by various actions from others.

I think for me though it's about not even making the choice between blue or green explicitly -- perhaps creating an internal ambiguity that I may well be a monster (when I decide to say eff it all for following civil conventions and laws) rather than the moral person I claim (make the appearance to be) by limiting my actions and let social rules govern various outcomes.