Convict Conditioning Book Review

On the shoulder squat; I agree with you. I can do that no problem, since I was a kid, but many people can't. I know several yoga teachers who have completely removed shoulder pose from their routines for that reason.

Monastery and Throne

Yeah, I totally left that part out. I don't remember the specific situation, but it had to do with starting from a base assumption of factors like institutional inadequacy meaning I expect lots of seriously suboptimal decisions that lead to bad results that no one wanted, and public figures often being incompetent at their supposed jobs because they're picked by selection criteria force them to optimize for something way different from the supposed job requirements, and everyone just constantly talking past each other without even trying to really understand the other side (either due to ignorance, lack of interest, or various forms of group identity signaling).

For context, on an individual level, she's vastly better than me at intuiting what other people are thinking and how they're likely to act. And she does understand the social psychology of groups of people very well. She just doesn't instinctively consider politics in terms of the dynamics and evolution of systems.

Also note: after years of grappling with ideas like that, I've gotten much closer to not always being depressed by this kind of thing, or seeing it as an inescapable trap (and trying, whenever possible, to focus on the side of "Wow, look what we managed to accomplish anyway!"). But it definitely had that effect on me for a long time.

Preventing overcharging by prosecutors

On those points I completely agree.

Covid 4/1: Vaccine Passports

I agree. I'm not sure if I said otherwise anywhere, but if I did, it was a mistake. I do not support enforcing any kind of vaccine passport. I might, if the vaccine rollout were much slower than it currently is and there were an institution I trusted enough to roll out and enforce one thoughtfully enough. But as things are in the US, we're approaching the point where anyone who wants a vaccine is allowed to get one. To me that means that within a month or two, it mostly stops being a valid argument that the unvaccinated-by-choice are putting anyone but themselves at risk, unless they're working directly with vulnerable and un-vaccinatable populations.

Monastery and Throne

This explanation of the experience of Rationalist vs non-Rationalist thinking accurately describes a lot of my experiences in recent years. The following are the first examples that come to mind, of interactions with very smart people, good at thinking, who don't identify with the Rationalist community.

Something my wife last month: "Is this how you think about politics all the time? No wonder you're depressed."

Something I told a coworker two years ago: "Most people really, truly aren't consequentialists. They don't do things because they expect a certain outcome, they do them because that's what's customary in that situation in their community, full stop. That results in behavior that looks like they're implementing something like separate magisteria for each context."

Something I told a different coworker three years ago: "Most people don't actually know how to think. They do something that superficially looks like thinking, but isn't."

Something I told yet another coworker four years ago, "The client asked me X, which is the wrong question for what they're trying to accomplish, but it's his boss that made him ask it, and he's not socially allowed to challenge it, so I answered Y, which hopefully will trickle back in a way that gets the message across about what they actually need to ask, which is Z." Result: they came back and asked Z a few months later. Note: this is dangerously close to trying to "nudge the public" and I'd much prefer to have have to do things like that.

Is there any plausible mechanisms for why taking an mRNA vaccine might be undesirable for a young healthy adult?

I'm not a biologist, and bodies are complicated enough that I'd like an answer to this too.


But to a first glance from a layman: I have a hard time understanding what mechanisms there might be, especially age-dependent ones. The sugars, salts, acids, and stabilizers all either occur naturally in the body or have been used medically long enough to have their risk profiles known. I don't know about the specific lipids used, can't comment there. mRNA only survives in the body for a matter of hours, after that what's present is just the proteins you made from the mRNA, which should work the same way as identical viral-derived proteins would, generating an immune response by the same mechanism.

Preventing overcharging by prosecutors

It takes a lot of effort to understand all the evidence that goes into all the cases where a prosecutor charges people to evaluate the prosecutor. If you have the prosecutor summarize the strength of the evidence that evaluation gets easier.

That's true, but I think you're being very optimistic, both in the ability of defendants and defense council to ignore or evaluate information the other side in an adversarial system claims is their true opinion, and in the ability and interest of the public in properly evaluating the job performance of prosecutors in local elections based on actual data. I think both are possible, and would be very valuable, but can't be achieved without much deeper and broader reforms to make the underlying justice system more open, transparent, and trustworthy.

I don't think you can easily do a trial because it's a systematic intervention that needs to run a few years for people to adept to the new system before it leads it's provides most of it's benefits.

Sorry, I didn't mean a trial as an experiment, I meant literally running legal trials this way, where in general the prosecutor that tries a case is not the one that produces the conviction probability estimate. Then, grade each both on the accuracy of their assessments, and separately on their conviction rates in trials they prosecute. I'd say either the one trying the case or a separate third prosecutor should have final say on which charges to bring. I think this would eliminate a lot of the potential for perverse incentives.

Is there a mu-like term that means something like "why is this any of my business?"

It's very hard to have a word for a concept that doesn't exist in the cultural milieu you share with your conversation partner. Here on LW it might be relatively easy, I'm sure we could coin one, and maybe we use it enough in our own circles and adjacent to those circles that it starts to trickle out. Words are paintbrushes, and all that.

For now I'm amused just imagining trying to explain the concept of "teleology of forming an opinion" to, say, some of my less inquisitive and curious aunts and uncles. I think (after the maximum amount of time I'd be able to sustain the conversation) they'd come away with something like "Oh, he's not really interested in current events, and has his head in the clouds thinking about abstract things I can't understand."

That said, I think a lot of the people I talk to would understand if I said, "I think having an opinion either way is a distraction, since I don't know enough to add anything that hasn't already been said, and in any case it's not something that I can affect or that affects me in any way. [This next sentence is one I would add, but may not apply to you, IDK] And since there are so many stories where similar things do happen, and others where they didn't but people think they did, I care a lot more about why the heck these kinds of things keep happening." Then the next time something comes up, like "What do you think about Meghan Markle?" or "What do you think should/will happen to each member of the Loughlin family?" you can say, "Remember what I said about Woody Allen? I feel the same way about this." You change the local culture by putting that idea into the air enough times that it becomes a concept you can point to.

Preventing overcharging by prosecutors

that's not the issue my post is addressing. 

Sorry, then I think I made a bad assumption about why you were trying to solve the problem of overcharging. I added that at the end of my comment and probably shouldn't have. Still, it's not the reason I initially rejected the proposal. I honestly don't think your proposal actually solves the overcharging problem or would make plea deals much fairer.

Then when I'm in the court room my lawyer can ask the prosecutor "Why did you bring that case when you only think that there's a 10% chance that my client will be found guilty?" Journalists could write story "Prosecutor Smith brings a case against Joe to trial even so he only believes that there's a 10% chance that Joe would be convicted". 

Journalists could write that, true. But if we're relying on juries and voters to properly evaluate that kind of statistic as a reflection on the prosecutor's job performance or the case's merits, then hopefully they'll also understand that the data point is immaterial to the question of whether the defendant is guilty. I can be very confident a policeman is guilty of murder, or a politician is guilty of accepting a bribe, or a frat boy is guilty of rape, and still correctly believe the probability of conviction is low. I'm not sure how a court would regard such an argument, but to this layman it seems that to whatever extent the percentage is based on the evidence, giving the number as an additional data point is double-counting evidence (or a way of introducing information based on evidence not presented at trial or inadmissible at trial, which is just as bad or worse), and to whatever degree it is based on assumptions about the judge and jury's behavior and thinking, it's speculation.

Overall I'm very skeptical that the enforcement mechanism you proposed to incentivize prosecutors to be honest is anywhere near strong enough. It might be better to scale the prosecutor's pay to how well calibrated their estimates are, for those cases that make it to trial, with additional penalties like removal from office for being too far off. Or better yet, do a literal randomized trial where the prosecutor who offers the plea deal and makes the estimate is different from the prosecutor who goes to trial, and evaluate the former by accuracy and the latter by conviction rate. 

Is there a mu-like term that means something like "why is this any of my business?"

"I haven't taken the time to look into it" can sometimes serve the role of redirecting the conversation, but doesn't convey the general sense of "It's a waste of both our time to even be discussing this."

In the specific case of Woody Allen, you could try something like, " I don't know if he's guilty, legally or morally, but either way I think the real problem is that we live in a society where it's likely enough to even be plausible." 

But yeah - I don't know of such a word or phrase. I think establishing one would be much easier in a community where most people were familiar with the kind of ideas in Politics is the Mind-Killer and Your Price for Joining. I say that because I think most people are viewing these kinds of discussions as being, not about the factual question but about tribal affiliation and group identity. In that context, just refusing to state an opinion either looks suspicious or like you're trying to seem wise and high status, like a judge.

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