Covid 8/13: Same As It Ever Was 2020-08-13T15:40:02.339Z · score: 49 (24 votes)
Covid 8/6: The Case of the Missing Data 2020-08-06T21:40:00.880Z · score: 44 (18 votes)
Unifying the Simulacra Definitions 2020-08-03T12:10:01.076Z · score: 75 (24 votes)
Covid 7/30: Whack a Mole 2020-07-30T15:50:04.756Z · score: 38 (14 votes)
New Paper on Herd Immunity Thresholds 2020-07-29T20:50:01.242Z · score: 41 (19 votes)
Covid 7/23: The Second Summit 2020-07-23T14:40:00.980Z · score: 60 (23 votes)
Fresh Bread 2020-07-21T20:40:00.994Z · score: 23 (7 votes)
Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask 2020-07-16T12:40:00.663Z · score: 88 (30 votes)
Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data 2020-07-11T21:30:01.397Z · score: 32 (13 votes)
Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates 2020-07-09T13:40:01.359Z · score: 55 (27 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: Horizon Zero Dawn 2020-07-07T13:20:00.894Z · score: 10 (2 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (plus a Spoilerific section) 2020-07-04T23:10:03.342Z · score: 14 (4 votes)
Covid 7/2: It Could Be Worse 2020-07-02T20:20:01.045Z · score: 86 (24 votes)
Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks 2020-06-25T18:30:02.899Z · score: 120 (43 votes)
Linkpost: M21 Review: We Have Normality 2020-06-24T16:10:00.775Z · score: 11 (2 votes)
New York Times, Please Do Not Threaten The Safety of Scott Alexander By Revealing His True Name 2020-06-23T12:20:00.788Z · score: 152 (76 votes)
Covid-19 6/18: The Virus Goes South 2020-06-18T20:10:00.820Z · score: 55 (18 votes)
Simulacra Levels and their Interactions 2020-06-15T13:10:00.717Z · score: 144 (51 votes)
Covid-19 6/11: Bracing For a Second Wave 2020-06-11T21:30:00.706Z · score: 61 (24 votes)
Covid-19 6/4: The Eye of the Storm 2020-06-04T20:50:01.199Z · score: 35 (10 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: CrossCells 2020-06-03T18:30:00.873Z · score: 9 (1 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: Monster Train 2020-06-02T13:40:00.868Z · score: 14 (5 votes)
Covid-19: My Current Model 2020-05-31T17:40:00.945Z · score: 187 (90 votes)
Covid-19 5/29: Dumb Reopening 2020-05-29T21:00:01.069Z · score: 26 (8 votes)
Spoiler-Free Review: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 2020-05-26T14:10:01.401Z · score: 8 (2 votes)
Plague in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey 2020-05-24T12:00:00.904Z · score: 30 (12 votes)
Mazes Sequence Summary 2020-05-23T16:40:01.401Z · score: 74 (20 votes)
Get It Done Now 2020-05-22T12:20:00.566Z · score: 52 (26 votes)
Covid 5/21: Limbo Under 2020-05-14T22:30:01.183Z · score: 16 (5 votes)
Legends of Runeterra: Early Review 2020-05-13T10:50:00.696Z · score: 14 (6 votes)
Covid-19: Comorbidity 2020-05-10T21:30:01.304Z · score: 45 (15 votes)
Covid-19 5/7: Fighting Limbo 2020-05-07T19:00:01.414Z · score: 28 (9 votes)
Covid-19: New York’s Antibody Tests 2 2020-05-06T17:40:01.215Z · score: 17 (7 votes)
On Negative Feedback and Simulacra 2020-05-03T17:00:00.558Z · score: 52 (16 votes)
SlateStarCodex 2020 Predictions: Buy, Sell, Hold 2020-05-01T14:30:00.934Z · score: 56 (21 votes)
Covid-19 4/30: Stuck in Limbo 2020-04-30T20:40:00.619Z · score: 30 (11 votes)
On “COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons” 2020-04-29T19:40:01.006Z · score: 68 (26 votes)
On New York’s Antibody Tests 2020-04-25T15:20:01.173Z · score: 32 (16 votes)
My Covid-19 Thinking: 4/23 pre-Cuomo Data 2020-04-23T21:40:00.891Z · score: 25 (11 votes)
My Covid-19 Thinking: 4/17 2020-04-17T19:50:01.710Z · score: 66 (21 votes)
Evaluating Predictions in Hindsight 2020-04-16T17:20:01.054Z · score: 58 (22 votes)
Linkpost: A Comprehensive Review of Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths 2020-04-15T15:10:00.821Z · score: 13 (3 votes)
Seemingly Popular Covid-19 Model is Obvious Nonsense 2020-04-11T23:10:00.594Z · score: 136 (54 votes)
The One Mistake Rule 2020-04-10T14:50:00.413Z · score: 45 (16 votes)
On R0 2020-04-07T23:20:01.205Z · score: 66 (13 votes)
Taking Initial Viral Load Seriously 2020-04-01T10:50:00.542Z · score: 97 (37 votes)
Let My People Stay Home 2020-03-17T12:10:00.594Z · score: 47 (23 votes)
What is a School? 2020-03-13T22:00:00.732Z · score: 48 (19 votes)
An Open Letter To The Congregation Regarding The Upcoming Holiday 2020-03-06T15:40:00.900Z · score: 26 (11 votes)
Coronavirus is Here 2020-03-02T14:10:00.443Z · score: 67 (35 votes)


Comment by zvi on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-03T22:43:12.482Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm looking forward to it.

Comment by zvi on Unifying the Simulacra Definitions · 2020-08-03T22:42:14.570Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

There are three mistakes. One is the one you worry about, that levels 3 and 4 will be seen as evil and dark arts and avoided, preventing effectiveness. You can't just hit ignore.

The second is to fail to understand level 4 and even level 3 and treat them as much less alien than they are with respect to levels 1 and 2.

The third is to gaze into the abyss and let it gaze too far into you, and lose your grip on reality. Elon and Steve and Walt are pretty special. It's something to aspire to.

Balancing all the messages is hard. And right now, I am worried mostly about the first one.

Comment by zvi on New Paper on Herd Immunity Thresholds · 2020-07-30T10:15:08.069Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

No, just no. You are being misled. Lots of people were sick in March and almost none of them caught it again in July. We know it's a minimum of 4 months.

I have talked about this many times in my posts so I won't say more here.

Comment by zvi on "Should Blackmail Be Legal" Hanson/Zvi Debate (Sun July 26th, 3pm PDT) · 2020-07-27T00:27:44.680Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Congrats to Robin. He represented his side well. Looks like the crowd shifted substantially towards him after the debate.

I do not think I did as good a job, and in particular did not think to prepare concrete examples where legal blackmail would do harm, and had trouble thinking of good ones in the moment. Of course, now, it's easy to think of a list.

Part of that, ironically, is that I was afraid of my statements in a public form implicitly endorsing or admitting to something that could be used against me later.

Comment by zvi on "Should Blackmail Be Legal" Hanson/Zvi Debate (Sun July 26th, 3pm PDT) · 2020-07-27T00:19:38.845Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Looks like the meeting got cut off by the host?

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/23: The Second Summit · 2020-07-23T21:19:17.578Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, the free version isn't dragon, you need to pay $10/month, will think about whether it's worth a note up top.

On the fire alarm, it's a metaphor, agreed we're using it slightly differently, if there's a consensus this is a problem I can reword.

Comment by zvi on Criticism of some popular LW articles · 2020-07-19T22:25:16.884Z · score: 21 (8 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think the criticism of post 2 here is on point at all. Elizabeth is making the claim that if everyone shifted from thinking dollars most reliable to thinking euros, that this would be self-fulfilling and have big impacts. This seems right, regardless of why this happened. The response seems wrong in four ways.

One, I don't think that there needs to be an overarching reason. It's not crazy that a propaganda campaign (someone 'talking their book' on a large enough level) combined with large bets could cause a cascade effect in worlds where that wouldn't have otherwise happened.

Two, it's the currency and not the stock market that matters here. Stock market is a different thing. Not central but worth noting.

Three, the currency markets are exactly the thing Elizabeth is talking about - anticipated future prices, which are a function of supply and demand. A lot of the demand for dollars is the expectation that people will demand dollars because business with others is done in dollars, etc. Hitting the tipping point would cause a cascade. The idea that markets are about some 'fundamentals' and causation is one-directional simply isn't right. Expectations are huge.

Four, even if in this particular example we are not close to a switch, that would only mean it's a bad example. The principle certainly holds. E.g. it is easy to imagine worlds in which there was a 'flippening' and ETH took over the BTC role as primary method of cryptocurrency payment some time in 2018, without anything fundamental changing. There's no reason to think that would have become undone - likely the opposite, and if ETH had passed BTC it would have pulled further away over time.

Comment by zvi on Criticism of some popular LW articles · 2020-07-19T22:15:53.167Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

General inquiry as to level of appetite for this type of criticism, and whether doing such for recent posts would be a positive or negative for those writing.

(Not as a 'should this have been written?' but more as a 'should I/others consider writing more similar posts?'

Comment by zvi on Raemon's Scratchpad · 2020-07-18T11:12:08.526Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Sounds like mostly low sample size?

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-17T13:35:26.947Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW


I've noticed there seems to be a policy of not deleting typo threads after they've completed their missions, not sure why that's the case - when I ask for deletion after the fix it doesn't happen.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-17T13:34:23.588Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So we can test AB-blood populations for antibodies and compare that to the general population, and you'll know quickly if this theory is right or not?

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-16T21:25:30.042Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed that this is how most people seem to effectively act, so you need to find a rule to tell them that 80/20s things as best one can. It's unfortunate that this is *wildly* worse than having a gears model, but dunno what can be done about that.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-16T21:24:14.590Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW


What's the practical implication if true? Presumably it implies things like "You're type A so you go to the type O butcher's shop, or have an office meeting with a Type O colleague, and everyone is safe?" Does that mean that type A people become more valuable because there are less of them and they match easier? What about type B? Are ABs worse than As or are they now superstars? Etc.

Does this mean that blood relatives are in general more likely to infect within-household than friends or spouses, since their types match more often? Any implications? Etc.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/16: Becoming the Mask · 2020-07-16T21:19:28.819Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I assume China is at least doing a cost-benefit - it's risky and expensive to do the vaccinations, and it's not a great source of information on whether it works, so the benefits at that scale are mostly because you think it will likely work. I agree that it's much less evidence than if e.g. Germany were doing it!

I dunno if seeing sports played to empty stadiums signals much of a return to normality. I agree that sports shutting down was a big wake-up call, and helped a lot, but I think every game will have a definite air of 'things are not normal' when they pan to empty fan sections, see the sidelines full of masks and distancing, and talk about which teams have had testing concerns. It might even model good behavior.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data · 2020-07-13T20:12:10.526Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, stuff like that. Some real decline definitely happened, but again it can't be in June.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data · 2020-07-13T17:34:08.405Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Positive test percentages are up despite increased testing. This isn't it.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data · 2020-07-12T16:14:50.981Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mods: Please reimport again. Major modifications/additions. Thanks to a comment on DWATV, I've been able to check, and the delays theory has essentially been confirmed.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: Analysis of Mortality Data · 2020-07-11T22:18:19.898Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Mods: Note that this has been edited in original, please reimport and then delete this comment.

(and again at 6:30; Twitter gave me some good leads and I've been revising)

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates · 2020-07-11T10:55:54.329Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's why the third chart each week is positive test rates! And it's the primary stay I look at. I'd do by region but would require a scraper or new data source.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/9: Lies, Damn Lies and Death Rates · 2020-07-10T15:23:15.905Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That's it! Thanks. How did you do that calculation?

I see ways to do it but none that aren't annoying to implement. If I was a better coder I'd be tempted to write a scraper.

Comment by zvi on Survival in the immoral maze of college · 2020-07-09T22:17:43.865Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is quite plausible that the Noble Prize is given to more credentialed people, either for the work/ideas of others or over the more important work/ideas of others, because they are credentialed. There's also a huge selection effect of who chooses to get a PhD, and a large time delay so you're measuring what a PhD used to be when it meant something different.

I also don't think MD is the same thing as a PhD in context, and it is quite the credential - doing the things an MD does without an MD isn't hard to fund, it's outright illegal.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/2: It Could Be Worse · 2020-07-07T10:28:14.782Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Holiday is messing with reporting so I'd wait 2 days before drawing conclusions.

After that... Huge if true. Question in my mind is, do we trust it to be real...

Comment by zvi on Site Redesign Feedback Requested · 2020-07-06T16:32:32.773Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Tag changes seem good.

On color I'm confident I prefer white, but I'm also confident I don't care that much.

Extra tooltips are great.

Comment by zvi on Covid 7/2: It Could Be Worse · 2020-07-05T15:29:10.130Z · score: 12 (3 votes) · LW · GW

1. I don't think mobility data correlates well with risk taken - it's easy to screw up and limit the wrong things (get stuck together indoors), or to limit the right things without changing mobility much (move outdoors). It's indicative of trying to do anything at all, at least. I've talked extensively over many posts about why I think herd immunity is a bigger deal than people think, especially in On R0.

2. Sweden did badly, but it's important to notice that it did far less badly than a naive model would expect it to do. Why did things end up getting contained when they did? Why wasn't it much worse? Pointing out that Norway did better doesn't change the need to answer that. This is not me saying Sweden is a model, it's a control group and we need to understand its data.

4. It's shocking because those people are having very intimate contact over extended periods of time in indoor situations, often sleeping together, touching, sharing food and cooking, over periods of days of infectiousness, etc etc. It's certainly not the naive or public perception of such risks if precautions aren't taken. And it then requires an explanation for why we can't contain this thing with relatively light countermeasures.

On the children, the metastudy doesn't seem like a methodology I'd think would produce good results on such matters. I'm open to evidence that difference is that small but it definitely seems like the vector is mostly harmless...

Comment by zvi on Spoiler-Free Review: Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (plus a Spoilerific section) · 2020-07-05T11:13:16.585Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Haven't read the books, watched two episodes and was deeply bored.

Controls definitely have issues. Number of times I struggled to get the horse to actually gallop was not small.

Comment by zvi on Karma fluctuations? · 2020-07-02T17:24:46.451Z · score: 11 (6 votes) · LW · GW

My model for how people *actually* vote, in practice, is they ask the question: "Does this post have too much or too little Karma on it right now?"

It's not "do I want to see less/more of this" it's "do I want to see less/more of this than the current vote implies"?

Thus, posts generally get a lot of their steady-state Karma quickly (assuming they are going to get any) then voting starts to stabilize and at the end you get almost an equal mix of plus and minus.

My prediction is that if I were to withdraw my own upvote from my posts once they got 20+ karma, that the final karma numbers would change less than half of the amount of my vote.

Comment by zvi on A reply to Agnes Callard · 2020-06-29T23:33:11.517Z · score: 10 (6 votes) · LW · GW

This reply seems to be making two arguments:

1. That there is value in having philosophical 'heroes' who only make arguments on philosophical grounds and avoid anything that might look like arguing from authority or enabling of mobs.

2. That a danger is that NYT may lose the autonomy it needs to pursue truth.

I think I'm basically fine with #1, provided those arguments on philosophical grounds get made. Which seems in this case to have happened - you've clearly done more to help than you would have by only singing a petition.

I agree that #2 is a danger, but don't see how the petition makes the danger worse. NYT already has lots of incentives it responds to beyond 'seeking truth' no matter how charitable we want to be, and all the petition does is alert them to some of their incentives.

Comment by zvi on A reply to Agnes Callard · 2020-06-29T23:15:10.777Z · score: 7 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Let's give that account a shot.

This seems to me like it's "action to improve accuracy of target's map" vs. "action on both map and territory" with the strange case being "action to decrease the accuracy of the target's map".

An agent/person is considering whether to take some action. That action will have consequences, and various justifications other than its consequences for taking or not taking the action. The agent/person also has a map, which includes both what they believe those consequences would be, and what other reasons exist for taking or not taking that action and how much weight each of these things should carry.

Suppose we wish to prevent this action from taking place. We have two basic approaches here:

We can act upon their map alone, or we can act upon the territory and use this to change their map.

When we engage in a philosophical or other argument with them, we're not trying to change what effect the action will have, or change any other considerations. Instead, we are trying to update their map such that they no longer consider the action worthwhile. Perhaps we can get them to adopt new philosophical principles that have this effect. Perhaps we are doing something less abstract, and convincing them that their map of the situation and what actions will cause what consequences is flawed.

When we instead try to incentivize them, we do this by changing the consequences of the action, or altering other considerations (e.g. if someone cares about doing that which is endorsed by some authority, moral or otherwise, without regard to their knowledge or future actions, we could still use that as an incentive). We act upon the territory. We change circumstances such that taking action becomes more expensive, or has undesired consequences. This can include the consequence that we will take actions in response. Alternatively, we can improve the results of not taking action (e.g. bribe them, or promise something, or prevent the bad consequences of inaction by solving the underlying problem, etc etc).

This seems mostly like a clear distinction to me, except there's a tricky situation where you're acting upon their map in a way that makes it less rather than more accurate. For example, you might threaten something, but not intend to carry out the threat. Or you might lie about the situation's details. Did you act to persuade them that the action is not desirable, or did you change their incentives?

One possibility that I'm drawn to is to say there are three things here - persuasion, deception and incentivization. And of course many attempts combine two or three of these.

On the question of what the right action is:

Is the/a petition persuasion, deception or incentivization? In this case, it seems clearly to be persuasion. The mission is not to generate bad consequences and then inform the target of this threat. There are already bad consequences, both to the target and in general, that we are making more visible to the target. Whether or not we should also be doing incentivization in other ways seems like a distinct question. I've chosen yes to at least some extent.

Sometimes someone will want to do or not something, and we'll think they're making a mistake from their perspective, and persuasion should be possible. Other times, we don't think they're making a mistake from their perspective, but still prefer that they change their behavior. We all incentivize people from time to time. It seems quite perverse to think we shouldn't do this in cases where the person is making a mistake! It seems even crazier to not do this when we see someone doing what we believe is the wrong thing because they see incentives (e.g. money or the ability to get clicks) that are compromising what would otherwise be good ethics.

I would strongly agree with your assertion that philosophical questions - and indeed many other questions - should not be settled via majority vote. But does that mean that when the vote is held one must abstain in protest? Do you also believe philosophers should not vote in elections? It's not like one can issue disclaimers there.

I also am confused by the assertion that the petition would benefit in some way from a "if after consideration you decide we're wrong, we'll support you" clause. It does not seem necessary or wise, before one attempts to persuade another that they are wrong, to agree to support their conclusion if they engage in careful consideration. Even when incentives are aligned.

Comment by zvi on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T01:10:43.440Z · score: 6 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Northeastern. Mods can go ahead and fix in this version then delete these.

Comment by zvi on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-26T01:10:15.666Z · score: 13 (8 votes) · LW · GW

The series of updates is clearly focused on the United States. I agree that Europe seems to have been less inadequate. I don't think it covered itself in glory.

Comment by zvi on Covid 6/25: The Dam Breaks · 2020-06-25T21:25:53.892Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, that's the feedback I've been getting. The plan is to do ~2 months of chart plus the full graph in future.

Comment by zvi on What is meant by Simulcra Levels? · 2020-06-25T21:24:44.839Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I feel sufficiently correctly shamed by this that I've ordered the book and will try and read it as soon as possible. It's clearly worth the effort at this point.

As my other comment here notes, I do think the two models fit together, but it's going to be tough to properly describe how.

Comment by zvi on What is meant by Simulcra Levels? · 2020-06-25T21:22:16.383Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'm working on a post to reconcile these. It's a very hard one, so it's at least a few weeks away even if all goes well. I do think they fit together - the one is about individual actions and the other is about overall situations, and the levels are mostly the same.

Thinking of Level 3 as purely 'what team you are on' is narrower than I was aiming for there. I was trying for a more general form of indicating what things/groups you want to support/oppose or raise/lower in status, etc. Every simplification has its cost and even at 5k words for a part 1 I had to simplify in a lot of places.

So, yes, these two things look distinct and are importantly different, but I hope to do a unified theory thing in a month or two. Stay tuned.

Comment by zvi on Preview On Hover · 2020-06-25T12:22:23.603Z · score: 2 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Do you know a good way to implement a preview function in Wordpress?

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-19T23:22:00.698Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

All right, I accept the wager. Done. Your $10 vs. my $30, PayPal upon Scott's resolution post. Since it's been three days, you can back out any time between now and 6/22, if you update again or my note below wasn't properly factored in.

Note that the bet is about what the "scientific consensus" is, rather than whether it actually works - if it works but there's no consensus, I'd still win. I think a lot of the time, likely more than half the time, that HCQ would work if given correctly, the scientific consensus fails to acknowledge this.

Comment by zvi on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-17T21:53:47.800Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The 'bad' word is just not useful in such situations, I think you even noted that a bunch of people wish I hadn't used it in Complexity is Bad and Choices are Bad.

We need some amount of level 4 awareness. We need to be able to change social reality not only communicate inside it. And the level 4 effects happen whether we intend or notice them, or not.

What I'd be tempted to call bad is when the general simulacrum level gets to 4. Or when someone gets into the patterns of inability to think about reality on the object level or even to realize a reality exists. It's still a poor atom blaster that won't point both ways.

Comment by zvi on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-17T16:13:08.002Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't understand why the word "bad" needs to be involved. The motivation of trying to find words that actually describe level 4 even to ourselves, and hopefully to others, to create common knowledge, is a huge motivation. But that has nothing to do with whether level 4 is *bad*. I notice that when I or Benquo (or Jessica or Zack etc etc) describe things while carefully not using "good" or "bad" people constantly ascribe them to us anyway. I understand why, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

Comment by zvi on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-17T16:03:29.318Z · score: 7 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Addressing the full substance of this would be (at least) another long post, and things are really weird and I'm still trying to fully understand them, so this is at best a very quick sketch, but basically...

You're not going to give a good gears-level understanding of the level-4 mindset, be able to predict the actions of those acting with level-4 orientation, or model the actions of a level-4 group/organization/civilization, if you view 4 simply as 4::3 as 2::1, start treating that reduction/abstraction as the thing, and deny the need to think about any of these other dynamics.

What you *can* do, I think (only 80% confident this actually works but 95%+ that it is a good quick heuristic?) is use "are they willing to mislead about *and/or take action to reshape meanings and associations in* level 3, and treat that as necessary and sufficient to identify someone operating at least partly at level 4. Iff they do that, they're at least partly level 4. Note that you can't ask whether they do this *on purpose* if you want the right answer, you only get to ask if they're actually doing it (but same with identifying other levels of action too).

As I said throughout MM, these are things that our brains actively don't want to look at or see. That's true even if we ourselves are on level 4 - it is an instinct of level 4 players to prevent coherent models of all kinds, and in particular of level 4, until the *overall civilization's level* reaches level 4 and then all hell breaks loose and predictions get very hard, before/while all literal hell actually does break loose and you get some form of collapse. So the instinct is constantly to round everything down.

That doesn't mean you can't carve reality very usefully using the 2x2. This post is doing its best to *not rely on* the progression order (beyond keeping the names 1, 2, 3 and 4) and to *not rely on* the True Form of level 4 or what not.

The thing where it looks like I/we are ascribing 'good' things to level 1, and 'bad' things to other levels, is probably not *entirely* objective, but it's mostly because, well, that's the way it is and I'm/we're trying to tell it like it is best we can and understand best we can. If we treat levelism as an ism then that's a good way to *not even look at* most of what Level 4 behavior actually is in any useful way, possibly 2 and/or 3 as well.

Progression is real too, in multiple ways/levels, but yes the system can be useful without them. Note that level 1 proceeded level 2 and level 3 even if all three (or four) pre-date language.

Comment by zvi on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-15T21:59:06.151Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Changed to that in original.

Comment by zvi on Simulacra Levels and their Interactions · 2020-06-15T18:48:30.246Z · score: 5 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It does still use the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic as its motivating example, and I didn't have an obviously better title. Would be happy to change to a good alternative title if one was found.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19 6/11: Bracing For a Second Wave · 2020-06-12T12:09:53.572Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

The first we is everyone collectively.

The second we is also everyone collectively, inside the belief system of those who hold this religious model, which I think is roughly half the country. Will consider editing if I can find a better way to say that.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-06T20:10:02.482Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It is worth noting that the same virus with a higher IFR doesn't obviously kill more people, especially if it kills children, because there would be a more aggressive reaction. Very possible it gets squashed entirely.

And if we had a similarly deadly disease with much more spread, we'd have been forced into herd immunity strategy quickly. Which again, isn't obviously better or worse as an outcome.

If both were much worse, of course, that would be much much worse.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-05T21:09:38.819Z · score: 8 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Indeed, the goal of this post is that long post is long in order to cover all the ground and I'm explicit that I'm not showing my work here. I tried to put up hyperlinks to the previous posts in the relevant places, where work is shown, but that's definitely not covering all bases.

I'm not up for extensive additional hyperlinking work at this time, but if others have suggestions I will likely accept them.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19 6/4: The Eye of the Storm · 2020-06-05T21:07:28.721Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I think the one I disagree with is "Continued increases in testing capacity will slow spread and dramatic outbreaks, if they happen, will trigger the return of more aggressive measures with popular support. " At least for realistic values of dramatic.

As I say explicitly, but perhaps not clearly enough, I'm highly uncertain whether the default level of response that we both kind of expect will be sufficient to beat this thing. I actually think it probably will be relatively fine, but with very low confidence.

The thing this expresses confidence in is that we've lost the state capacity to do anything to alter the course of events, other than somewhat slowing down the pace of reopening, should things not work out. That doesn't mean everyone will party like it's 2019. Whether the new normal is good enough, we'll find out.

It's good feedback that I come off as being much more confident of more things than I meant to express!

Comment by zvi on Covid-19 6/4: The Eye of the Storm · 2020-06-05T20:58:11.060Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I'll consider it. I find graphs more useful myself, so consider this a request to see what others think. Could also do both.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-05T11:11:16.147Z · score: 13 (4 votes) · LW · GW

One can certainly defend South Korea and other non-Western countries. And certainly one can defend European countries compared to USA/England or to each other. Definitely one can say that some of them, once Italy happened, did a non-insane job of "shut things down across the board until things get better than try opening them up again" if you think that you have no other policy tools to work with.

I don't think one can defend their performance against the standards of 'did what was likely to actually do the least harm based on physical considerations, and didn't lie about the situation to their public."

I do think that understanding the distinction is vital to understanding our pandemic, including our potential future responses, and therefore what one should do personally. To me this isn't vague FUD, it's predicting that such failures will continue.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-05T11:01:42.690Z · score: 21 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Believe me, I am also very bothered that I can produce useful Covid-19 content. And also that these statements seem appropriate. But here we are.

Comment by zvi on On “COVID-19 Superspreader Events in 28 Countries: Critical Patterns and Lessons” · 2020-06-05T03:31:11.812Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I mean, I assume that would work...

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-04T11:44:19.906Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Entirely fair. Nothing done, then.

Comment by zvi on Covid-19: My Current Model · 2020-06-02T00:44:25.559Z · score: 4 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Yeah, I can see how that is confusing. Will edit.

Added the following to original, mods please reimport or insert it directly at top of section: Pattern is that the percentages in the statements are Scott Alexander's original predictions. When I say I bought, sold or held, that's what I did in the linked-to post.