I would like to compile an as-comprehensive-as-possible list of known Inadequate Equilibria / large scale coordination problems.

An Inadequate Equilibrium is a situation in which a community, an institution, or society at large is in a bad Nash equilibrium. The group as a whole has some sub-optimal set of norms and it would be better off with a different set of norms, but there's no individual actor who has both the power and the incentive to change the norms for the group. So the bad equilibrium persists.

Eliezer offers the following more specific criteria:

  1. Cases where the decision lies in the hands of people who would gain little personally, or lose out personally, if they did what was necessary to help someone else;
  2. Cases where decision-makers can’t reliably learn the information they need to make decisions, even though someone else has that information; and
  3. Systems that are broken in multiple places so that no one actor can make them better, even though, in principle, some magically coordinated action could move to a new stable state.

I want to generate as many real-life examples of this phenomenon as possible. Help me generate some?

The goal here is quantity. Originality is not required. 

As an additional incentive, I'll award $100 to the user who generates the most examples. (In order to count, each example has to have enough detail, or link to a detailed enough explanation, that I can understand how it is an inadequate equilibrium, and not just an unfortunate state of the world.) And I'll give $50 to the user who produces the second largest number. 

I'll prime the pump with a few (LessWrong-centric) examples.

Widespread adoption of prediction markets

It seems like our world would make saner decisions were prediction markets commonly used and commonly consulted. Making the switch from not relying on prediction markets to relying on prediction markets is fraught, because it might embarrass the leadership of existing institutions by revealing that their professed estimates are not very credible. 

As Robin Hanson said in a recent interview,

I’d say if you look at the example of cost accounting, you can imagine a world where nobody does cost accounting. You say of your organization, “Let’s do cost accounting here.”

That’s a problem because you’d be heard as saying, “Somebody around here is stealing and we need to find out who.” So that might be discouraged.

In a world where everybody else does cost accounting, you say, “Let’s not do cost accounting here.” That will be heard as saying, “Could we steal and just not talk about it?” which will also seem negative.

Similarly, with prediction markets, you could imagine a world like ours where nobody does them, and then your proposing to do it will send a bad signal. You’re basically saying, “People are bullshitting around here. We need to find out who and get to the truth.”

But in a world where everybody was doing it, it would be similarly hard not to do it. If every project with a deadline had a betting market and you say, “Let’s not have a betting market on our project deadline,” you’d be basically saying, “We’re not going to make the deadline, folks. Can we just set that aside and not even talk about it?”

Moving from proprietary journals to open-access journals

There's broad agreement that it is better for science to be open, and for anyone to be able to access scientific papers. 

Unfortunately, scientific publishing is currently dominated by a cabal of journals that can gatekeep access to most scientific papers, charging people (or institutions) for the right to access them.

Individual scientists might prefer to publish in open-access journals instead, but to do so unilaterally means taking a career-hit, because the most prestigious journals are not-open access, and publishing in prestigious journals is an important competent of the academic signaling game. So, modulo coordinated action, scientists in most fields are incentivized to publish in closed journals instead of open ones.

Using Bayesian Methods instead of Frequentist stats

The standard statistical method of hypothesis testing, or testing for statistical significance is fraught with problems. Many of these problems could be avoided if scientists switched to reporting "likelyhoods" instead of p-values. [See the arbital page on this topic.]

But again, for any individual scientist, using a non-standard statistical methodology that is unfamiliar to others in their field is damaging to their career prospects: their papers are less likely to be accepted by journals and less likely to be cited. So no individual scientist benefits from unilaterally switching, even if the any given field would benefit if everyone switched.


Do you guys have more?


[Edit 6:45 PM]: 
To be counted, every entry should include:

  1. How things are currently, and why that's bad.
  2. How they could be instead, and why that's better.
  3. What's blocking the transition from 1 to 2.

It's not sufficient to point a place where things are a mess, if there isn't a clear, stable, alternative. And it isn't sufficient to point out a way that things could be better without an explanation for why the change hasn't already taken place.


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Apparently (link to tweet), most countries have straightforward automated systems for tax collection, requiring minimal user input. Obviously, this setup saves everyone the pain of filling out confusing tax forms.

But the US has confusing tax forms because intuit (the company behind turbo tax), successfully lobbies to keep the current system in place, so that they can charge people for the service of helping them fill out their confusing taxes.

It's true. We usually have a house tax night, and one time this fell when a Latvian guest was present, and we were all crying and tearing our hair out and drinking heavily, and he was like "wtf is this? in Latvia they just send you a bill"

the bottom 50% of taxpayers also contribute 3% of tax receipts. So after accounting for frictional costs it is almost certainly a deadweight loss.

I've heard rumors (and I think a planet money episode) that it's not just them, but also small-government conservatives who think taxes will be easier to raise (less opposition) if they're easier to file (people are less aware of them).

There are two kinds of problems with filling out tax forms:

One is understanding the meaning of inputs, like if they say "income of type X goes here, income of type Y goes there", you need to know whether your income was of type X or Y.

Another is following the processing instructions, such as "line 20 is line 17 plus line 19, assuming that line 19 is not greater than $500 + 0.15 × line 18, in which case line 20 is zero".

In Slovakia, we recently have an online system, where you enter the data, the processing instructions are automatically validated, if all v... (read more)

First past the post voting often leads to undesirable outcomes, as explained by Jameson Quinn in his voting theory primer. There are several newly designed voting methods which are likely to be improvements over the current system, but most have seen limited, if any, uptake.

Some factors blocking such a transition include:

  • it's difficult to change political systems from the outside (e.g. few and infrequent opportunities to place referendum questions on election ballots)
  • within a two-party system, both benefit from first past the post voting, as they know they have a ~50% chance of winning each election, so there is no incentive for them to change from within
  • proponents of voting reform have not yet been able to coordinate on which method they recommend (i.e. establish a Schelling point)
  • individual voters will have to be able to intuitively understand how the new method works and why it should lead to better outcomes for them to consider supporting it

I'm sure there are more that others might think of.

within a two-party system, both benefit from first past the post voting, as they know they have a ~50% chance of winning each election, so there is no incentive for them to change from within

Some politicians inside major parties benefit from first-past-the-post voting, other don't. Centrist politicians who have to fear primary challenges from more extremist members of their party could benefit from a switch to approval voting that disempowers the extremists of their party. A politican like Joe Liberman who had to run outside of the Democrat party after loosing a primary would be more secure under approval voting in his reelection.

1kjz1moAgree that some individual moderate politicians could benefit from a change in voting methods (Romney is another that comes to mind). But I don't see how they could convince the majority of their party to support changes that go against their personal best interests.
2ChristianKl1moA majority of the Democratic congressman are corporate Democrats and those have to fear getting primaried by people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. This is especially the case as the power of far-left activsts to primary corporate Democrats rises. At the same time people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would likely have a hard time publically openly arguing that far-left ideas that wouldn't win under approval voting should win out.
1kjz1moBut each individual "corporate Democrat" congressperson also has huge incentives to cooperate with the rest of the party to maintain the current system. Their party has a ~50% chance of winning each election, and incumbents have a substantial advantage when facing re-election. Any individual (or small group) who proposes to defect in favor of a new, untested voting system would likely face a backlash for not being "true Democrats" and for making it more likely that non-Democrats would win more elections going forward. Also, I notice you mentioned approval voting several times as an alternative voting method. Is the voting theory community unified behind approval voting at this point? I feel 3-2-1 voting has a greater likelihood of becoming widely supported by the general population, for reasons I outlined in this comment. [https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/4vEFX6EPpdQZfqnnS/?commentId=sF9R97pBYsumChdBN]
2ChristianKl1moCongressional seats are not given out by the rest of the party. The decision for them is made by the primary voters in a given I think "there's too much polarization between the political parties" and it would be good to have a voting system isn't a position for which you are likely going to be attacked by people on the fringes who don't like politics as usual. You have centrist Democratic strategists who worry that Democrats don't win certain elections because the primary voters chose a candidate that's too extreme to win the general election. A lot has happened since that discussion. OpenPhil funds the The Center for Election Science which managed to run a successful referenda to get Approval Voting into Fargo, ND. While 3-2-1 voting might be easier then ranked choice voting Approval Voting is even easier to understand (there are not multiple rounds).
1kjz1moHmm. I feel like we are talking past each other to some extent, or not using terms the same way due to inferential differences, or something like that. Sorry if I've been unclear, I'll try to explain my position better. Very true. I was thinking more of the question, "Which actual senator or group of senators would propose an actual bill to effect change to a new voting system?" I still don't see how any have an incentive to do that. Re polarization: I also think there's too much polarization, which is why I support any efforts to get away from FPTP. I agree approval voting is a huge improvement over FPTP, and I'm glad Fargo has adopted it. I don't think getting people to understand [how the rules work] is the key variable to optimize for here. I think it's getting them to understand [why the heck changing to this system will make any difference] in an intuitive way. I think that if I explained approval voting to my friends, they would understand how the rules work in ten seconds. But when they ask why we should switch, I would have to say something that boils down to "well a bunch of nerds ran some simulations, and this one worked better" and they would pretend to fall asleep. I think that if I explained 3-2-1 voting to my friends, they would understand how the rules work in twenty seconds. And when they ask why we should switch, there is the obvious reason that the candidate they most fear winning the election gets knocked out in round 2. Democrats will be relieved that Trump would never win under such a system, and Republicans will be relieved that Bernie/AOC types would never win either. And if it's established as a clear anti-both-party or anti-the-current-two-party-system alternative, it may have a better chance of gaining support from voters from a wide variety of backgrounds.
2ChristianKl1moI think the main issue with that is that senators don't vote on bills that decide how senators get elected. It's state laws that decide how the senators of a given state are elected (and whether they are elected at all or appointed). Change would more likely to happen by a senator saying: "Our state is grid-looked because we don't have enough bipartisanship. We should change our voting system in our state to allow for more bipartisanship." You likely need some grassroots movement for voting reform for a politician to make such a move and be able to portray it as being a noble reformer but it seems possible to me to happen without the politician acting against their interests. Bernie and AOC are very different here. Bernie wins election where he is on a third-party ticket (he got 67.44% as an independent). AOC on the other hand got on the Justice Democrats board which is an organization that promized to support primary challenges of Democrats by candidates that aren't in the board of it. Then Justice Democrats poored all their resources into getting AOC to win her primary challenge and unseat a powerful Democrat.
1kjz1moAgree with how senators are elected. I was thinking of senators proposing a bill to change how federal elections are held, especially for President. As I understand it (90% confident?) such a change would require a constitutional amendment ratified by Congress and the states. Most of my considerations have been around Presidential elections, since they are the focal point of the US political system. As you mention, state laws decide how their senators are elected and it's quite likely that some states (preceded by cities such as Fargo) will change to an alternate voting method before the federal government does. This provides an additional incentive for individual senators to remain unattached to any alternate voting method proposals, as they will be able to watch how public opinion reacts to the experiments on state and local levels. Or a newcomer. Is there a popular grassroots movement taking place right now? For a newcomer, being a noble reformer, and actually being a noble reformer, could squarely align with their interests. Re Bernie/AOC: I was again referring to the chance of them being elected President, which is what I think drives most people's fears. It could make sense they would remain popular locally and maintain their current seats in Congress. I was thinking more of a typical Republican in a red state, who probably doesn't have to worry about losing their own congressional seats, but would be very worried about losing the Presidency. And especially worried that a future Democrat nominee would be more extreme than the current President. Many can probably live with weird Bernie up there in Vermont, at least he's different for a change. Since I'm getting it all out, a couple more advantages of 3-2-1 voting: Assuming people understand how 3-2-1 voting works, they automatically understand how approval voting works, since it's just the first half of 3-2-1. So then you can say things like, "If you understand this one voting method, you'll understand ev
2ChristianKl1moPractically, that means not caring about moves to get alternative voting systems adopted. From a principled reason it's stupid to experiment with new voting systems at the place that's most central instead of other less central places. Practically, senators and congressman from places with an alternative voting system can reasonable make proposals like "Our voting system is much better, everyone should adopt it" without getting punished as being unserious. If you both have established politicians speaking in favor of changing the voting system and a bunch of grassroots reformers it's easier for the proposal to succeed in a state. Most people's fear is a different topic then what's good politically for senators and congressmen. Senators and congressmen fear getting primaried. A typical Republican in a red state has to fear getting successfully primaried by some extreme tea party candidate or Qanon believer under the current system. On the other hand they are unlikely to lose their seat to a Democrat in either the current system or approval voting (and 3-2-1). Approval voting (and 3-2-1) make it less likely that a tea party candidate or Qanon believer manages to unseat them.
1kjz1moSorry, again I realize I didn't explain some of my thoughts clearly enough. I think we are discussing two different but related questions: 1. How do we convince the average voter to support alternate voting systems, vs. 2. How do we convince senators, state and local governments, local political activists, etc. to support alternate voting systems, get them on the ballot, and ultimately passed into law. Most of my thinking and comments in this thread have been more related to question 1, but it feels like you interpreted some as related to question 2. Both are important, but I think the incentives and strategies required are different for the two questions. When I said Presidential elections are the focal point of the political system, I was thinking about how I would try to convince the average voter to support alternate voting systems. In such a conversation, I know I have very limited time to make my argument, and my conversation partner is likely predisposed to doubt me, since I'm sending clear signals that I'm not "on their team" (whichever "team" they are on). Therefore I need to be able to explain very quickly how the alternate system would work and how it would improve outcomes. Since President is the most important office in US politics and most average voters have a decent understanding of how it currently gets elected, my strategy would be to use Presidential elections as an example, and point out how 3-2-1 can help prevent scary extremists from getting elected as President. I think ranked choice voting failed to capture much public support (as seen by its failure in recent state ballot questions) because it's too complicated to explain quickly, and too hard for the average voter to quickly understand how it would improve outcomes. 3-2-1 is substantially better by both measures. Switching over to question 2 now, I agree it would be foolish to start by trying to change federal elections before state and local elections. And I agree that once an alternate
7kjz1moOne last comment/reminder to myself: I read nostalgebrist's summary [https://nostalgebraist.tumblr.com/post/641769028753522688/on-weyls-why-i-am-not-a-technocrat] of Weyl's "Why I am not a technocrat" argument (haven't read the original yet), and his last few points seem very relevant to my argument:

anoter big point is that people who got voted and benefited from first past the post have incentive not to change it

People being held against their will and drugged at long-stay psychiatric hospitals. Psychiatric hospitals profit from keeping their patients looked up instead of them getting their freedom back. Drugs given to calm the patients can make it easier to interact with the patient for the hospital even when the drugs aren't increasing the likelihood of recovery for the patients.

Whichever private or public organisation is paying is not incentivised to pay for long stays.

  1. The FDA (and to a lesser extent regulatory agencies generally) being extremely over-reluctant to approve things, because of the misaligned incentive that heavily punishes approving something that ends up being bad, but doesn't generally punish failing to approve something that would have been good. For the greater public good, individuals within the organization would have to take on substantially more personal risk, with little to no corresponding personal gain.
  2. Much lumber and other treated wood is treated with formaldehyde, a carcinogen, which then vaporizes back out of the wood over time, causing a health risk. The EPA regulates the allowed quantity of formaldehyde emission, but the limits, while they prevent acute poisoning, leave a substantial carcinogenic effect. The costs (an increased level of cancer in some people, likely dozens of years later) are diffuse and hard to notice, so there is no great incentive for the EPA to reduce the requirement, and formaldehyde is a useful treatment, so the companies themselves have no incentive to unilaterally reduce their use of formaldehyde. Thus, people who work with wood and those in newly constructed wooden structures bear an increased risk of cancer.
  3. Schools starting at times much earlier than the window of wakefulness for teenagers. It's likely that the knowledge diffusion problem has some impact (I do not have good information about how many school administrators don't know the science, vs how many are just ignoring it), but even with appropriate knowledge diffusion, a degree of incentive misalignment remains, where the people who suffer the most (the students) have nearly no power to enact the policies, while the adult administrators, with their earlier circadian rhythm, bear no personal cost from the schedule. Likely the combination of both leads to the current state of affairs persisting, as there is some incentive for the administrators to use better schedules, as students would be able to perform better on tests when properly awake.
  4. Ongoing overfishing of ocean fish. Each individual fishery (and, at a higher level, each country) would prefer a world where everyone fishes a sustainable amount, rather than overfishing and crashing the fish populations that they all rely upon, but without a centralized enforcement mechanism, they have no way of ensuring that the other fisheries (or countries) go along with them in cutting back on fishing, so unilaterally doing so would simply make them get out-competed by others.
  5. The lemon problem. Someone is selling their used car, and they know that it works fine, but they have no real way to cheaply, credibly give that information to prospective buyers. Pretty much any assurances that the seller could give the buyer could also be given by someone with a lemon, as long as that lemon works at least some of the time, so the information can't reliably propagate, and the used-car market remain inefficient, with the uncertainty effectively being a tax on all transactions.
  6. Countries building up their militaries. Most of the use of sizable militiaries is fighting against other militaries (and as a deterrent against such), so they are overall a negative-sum game. If countries all agreed to cut back their militaries, they would (for the most part) all benefit, but due to the competitive nature, there is a strong incentive to not cut back. Even if a cutting-back deal were arranged, there would be a strong incentive to merely produce the appearance of cutting back, while maintaining as much capacity as possible, as doing so would lead to an advantage against their newly-weakened rivals. Thus, the combination of the multipolar nature (hindering cooperation in the first place) and the difficulty of credibly demilitarizing puts an upward pressure on military expenditure.
  7. The "race to the bottom" problem. Using companies producing widgets as an example, each company might wish to fairly pay their workers, maintain a safe work environment, and not pollute the environment. However, other companies can gain an edge by sacrificing things in favor of producing more widgets (e.g. hiring more workers at cheaper wages). Thus, the principled company must make similar changes, or get outcompeted. This can continue until the companies have all sacrificed everything they can in favor of more productivity, even if all of them would have preferred to peacefully coexist with comfortable work conditions.
  8. Doctors being overly cautious in treatment. Similarly to the first example, the incentives punish positive mistakes much more heavily than negative ones. In this case, any deviation from what is considered to be the "proper" way of dealing with a case subjects the doctor to risk of being sued for malpractice in a way that sticking to the "proper" method does not, even if the deviation would have been a net positive in expectation for the patient. On a similar note, severe problems as a result of treatment gain much more than proportional negative attention relative to minor problems, so doctors have an incentive to avoid even small chances of severe negative results, in the process causing much larger amounts of harm to patients through large amounts of small harms (e.g., the doctor's more at risk if one patient gets a stroke than if a thousand get headaches).

EDIT: For some of these, the end-state is not especially stable by itself. In those cases, central enforcement would likely be the most realistic way to stabilize it.

A broad range of examples, lots of variety! That's perfect for gesturing at the overarching idea, lest we blow up conversations focusing on specifics in a narrow set.

3. pretty sure the biggest blocker to changing school times is parents' work schedules.  If the schedules diverge too much parents would have a harder time providing transportation to school and mandating adult supervision at all times.
6. it's not entirely about relative armament. there is base benefit to being able to get rid of neighbors you don't like or who are sitting on top of resources you want, independent of whether they pose any military threat to you.

2Viliam1moParents' work schedules are relevant at elementary school, but not at high school, yet high schools keep the same schedule (as far as I know; probably depends on country and school).
3antanaclasis1moAnother few reasons that I've heard for what's opposing later high school start times are 1) due to limited numbers of buses, doing high school later would require the lower schools to be earlier, and parents don't want their elementary schoolers out before sunrise, and 2) after-school activities like sports would be disrupted, both in an absolute sense (they already sometimes run pretty close to sunset) and a relative sense (a school that moved to a later schedule would either not be able to do sports games with other schools, or would have to have the athletes miss much more school than they already do in order to match the schedules of the other schools). To be clear, I do still think that the cost-benefit is clearly in favor of later starting.

Hypnosis + anesthetics is likely better then just anesthetics when doing surgery. It means you need less anesthetics and there's decent evidence that it provides better wound healing. 

As a paper in a reputable anesthetics journal suggests:

Faster wound healing, earlier postoperative gastrointestinal recovery, and less nausea have been reported when hypnosis or positive suggestions were part of the perioperative management 

I have a friend who I knew from having attended hypnosis seminars together who worked as an anesthetic in a hospital who still didn't use hypnosis. It would have meant spending 15-30 minutes more per patient and the hospital was organized in a way to pressure him to do anesthetics as fast as possible. 

Instead of being able to do it, his job demoralized him enough to quit never wanting to work in a hospital again. 

The hospital doesn't profit from the faster wound healing enough to do the nonstandard thing of using hypnosis even when it has skilled personal. 

Sell medical care based on the calibrated likelihood of achieving the wished for medical outcomes.

This would allow treatments that can't be easily standardized (and thus studied with controlled studies) be brought based on their impact.

Make More Land.

—American policing. There's tons of obvious problems with this, and the proposed solutions range from obvious and nearly universally agreed upon (reduce SWAT-style raids by >90%, end/drastically reform qualified immunity, abolish civil asset forfeiture, etc) to speculative and contentious. Such reforms generally don't match the incentives of the police themselves, and civil oversight is currently too diffuse and ineffective to impose reform. National authorities are incapable of any reform, and while a few state and cities have made small changes in the past year, the core issues will not be addressed anywhere in the near future.

—COVID vaccine distribution. Our society can reach better equilibria, as shown by the normal flu vaccine distribution and by the occasional stories where a freezer breaks down and all the shots are administered before they expire. Nevertheless our current system is a mess, no one feels they have responsibility for the mess, and there is no sign it will be fixed before the pandemic ends.

—Whatever made development of the F-35 fighter plane so much worse than the development of previous fighter planes.

—There are several cases in America (and presumably elsewhere, although I'm less familiar) where a relatively small, coordinated group successfully lobbies for laws which benefit themselves by imposing small costs on the country as a whole. Because the costs are so widely distributed, no one has a strong incentive to overturn these, and lawmakers have a moderate incentive to cooperate with the special interest group. The canonical examples include the artificial complexity of the tax code held in place by tax-preparation firms; ethanol subsidies supported by corn growers; and comically long copyright for artistic works, supported by media conglomerates (IIRC these expire 70 years after the death of the author!).

One is blame games. Many problems don’t have a clear cause. Pointing the finger creates stress and defensiveness that’s counterproductive to solving the problem and emotionally harmful, and also doesn’t help identify how to avoid similar problems in the future. It would be better not to even start. But the fact that each person anticipates being on the receiving end of a lot of unfair blame prevents them from not engaging.

Passive investors should want companies they hold to not engage in zero sum games with each other (like advertising), but in practice best corporate governance practices spreading is often limited by the bandwidth of shareholder activists.

From a utilitarian standpoint doing human challenge trials for the covid vaccines would have been preferable to ecological / uncontrolled trials (for instance, we would have clearer data, today about the optimal dosage, which translates into maximizing the number of successful vaccinations from a given batch of the vaccine). 

My current understanding for why the US didn't do human challenge trials comes down to the incentives of the decision makers: they are likely to experience some backlash, especially if something goes wrong, but they don't gain accolades or other rewards for the massive upside.

dating on dating apps (I think) men sends messages or tries to match with as many people as possible to increase their chances of talking to someone. women receives a lot of messages/potential matches so they get more selective. which in turns creates less matches per message sent for men, which reacts by sending more messages

this is from what I read and from my experience and experience of people I talked to. also, it looks like there is still a big heterosexual dynamics in this case (this might not apply to all dating apps but I guess it must apply to the big ones). I stayed a big vague in the description since I have seen different reasons for every of those points (that are not necessarily contradicting each other though: they could be additive)

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There's the large (huge?) category of market failure in politics, both local and national. 

Let's take the simplest example: long term projects. When the private market wants to invest in a very long term project, there are plenty of financial instruments that allow them. For example you can plant a slow growth forest, which takes 20+ years to mature. Then in several years you can sell bonds, or just sell the forest itself at a value proportional to the time left to maturation - to somebody that either wants to wait, or more likely is just looking for a medium term investment and also intends to sell it in a few years for a moderate profit. 

When a local administration wants to invest in a long term project - and by "long term" I mean a project where the benefits will be seen and collected in a few years - there is just no incentive structure to do that, because the elected officials are there for something like 4 years, maybe 8. After that most of them intend to use the quick results shown locally to move to a bigger scene. There is just no way they can start something now and collect (political) benefits partway. Except by the expenditure itself, instead of the results, which creates even more perverse incentives. 

That's compensated for, perhaps over compensated for, by career civil servants who regard elected official as as an inconvenience to their long term goals

The problem also exists for career civil servants when they are moved around before the project completes. 

I think some of these examples are not real examples of "inadequate equilibria".  They are instead situations with real switching costs, or where there are conflicting beliefs or interests.

To illustrate, the authors example of moving from proprietary to open-source journals seems like a real example to me.  But their example of using Bayesian rather than frequentist statistical methods does not seem like a real example.

Note that I'm a Bayesian (though not a rabid one), and that I've taught introductory statistics.  There isn't some easy way to just switch to Bayesian methods.  First, students need to understand the scientific literature, and that includes the past scientific literature.  So for a considerable period of time, students will need to understand frequentist statistics. This is a legacy compatibility problem, not a coordination problem. Second, there are many scientists who don't know Bayesian statistics. This is a retraining problem (which is not cost-free), not a coordination problem. Third, not everyone agrees that Bayesian methods are better.  This is a persuasion problem, not a coordination problem. Fourth, Bayesian methods aren't always better - there really are problems where the correct Bayesian approach is much, much more difficult to carry out than a simple frequentist approach that is usually gives mostly-correct results. So it really is necessary for at least some people to understand frequentist statistics, though it would be good if the emphasis eventually changes in a Bayesian direction. There may be some coordination aspects to the current mess, but to a considerable extent the mess reflects real issues with real costs and benefits.

With Plan S and Project Deal there seems to be good movement on the Open Access front. It wouldn't surprise me if in ten years a majority of the research is published under open access.

Links? Or should I just google?

https://www.coalition-s.org/ and https://www.projekt-deal.de/about-deal/ . Reading the Wikipedia pages might also be useful. 

Just to clarify, what is allowed here.  I can think of tons of scenarios where there are probably better equilibria  (e.g. nuclear disarmament, no starving people, etc) in which clearly the current state is not optimal, and there's some other theoretical equilibria that's more optimal. 

At a minimum, there should be a good argument that the new equilibrium is stable in that no one can benefit by unilaterally defecting.

Yeah. The new equilibrium has to be realistic, and, as Measure says, stable.

Situations where there's almost certainly a better equilibria, but we don't know what it is, don't count.

Every entry should include:

  1. How things are currently, and why that's bad.
  2. How they could be instead, and why that's better.
  3. What's blocking the transition from 1 to 2.