Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions


Internally, though, people are not monolithic. In some ways, they are more like a mob. Even debating with one person, you can run into the same type of difficulty.

Upvoted. While I would hate to see this forum become another battleground for culture wars, I also don't want to see people avoiding topics because they touch on culture war stuff. Using Rationalist tools to deconstruct the dynamics of these battles (without fighting the battle) seems like a useful thing.

While I don't necessarily agree with the post, and I can see where it might, unfortunately, trigger some negative responses from some, I found parts illuminating, and it got me thinking about some useful reframing tools. All too often, people in the culture wars talk past each other because they are using the same words to point to different things.

It's hard to get good data, yes, particularly in a politically charged environment. But, I would have liked to have seen some evidence that for a given mitigation, our leaders tried to get a best estimate (even if it is not a great estimate) that it will prevent X COVID deaths, at a cost of Y (dollars, QALYs, whatever), and had done some reasoning why utility(X) > cost(Y). We might disagree on the values of X and Y, and how to compare them, but at least we would have a starting point for discussion. Instead, we got either "Don't take away muh freedom!" or "We must stop anyone from dying of COVID at all costs!". And a lot of people died, and we inflicted tremendous damage on ourselves, while doing some things that were maybe beneficial, and a lot of things that were clearly stupid, and we're not in a position to do better next time.

There have been multiple egregious examples of this fallacy with respect to pandemic policy. The complete lack of rational cost benefit analysis (across the political spectrum) for the various measures was truly disheartening.

But to give a less politically charged example: Locally, in response to drought conditions, some restaurants announced they would only bring glasses of water to the table, on request. Now, this might make some sense in terms of reducing labor, although the extra work of having to ask everyone, and possibly bring out additional glasses later, probably cancels this out. But for reducing water usage, this is just silly. Let's do some math:

Total water usage in US is about 1000 gal/person-day (including domestic, agricultural and industrial uses). So, assuming 50% of patrons leave their 12 oz glass of water untouched, you are reducing the daily water consumption of restaurant patrons by less than 0.005%. Of course, it also takes water to wash said glass -- it can vary a lot, but 18 oz of water would be a reasonable estimate (assuming an automatic commercial dishwater). That gets us up around 0.012%, or the water you get from running the faucet in the sink for 5-10 seconds.

I remember as a kid, about 12, loaning my less-mathematically-astute younger brother $4, at 10% interest per day, compounded daily. I remember gloating about how much money he was going to owe me. I was going to be RICH, mwuahh hah hah!!

My Mom told that loan sharking was illegal, and my Dad told me that contracts with minors were not enforceable. My brother I think borrowed some money from one of his friends (on much more favorable terms), paid me back with one day's interest, and never borrowed money from me again.

I'm not sure how I would use my round-bottom wok on an induction burner, but maybe there's something that would make it work? And how I would char the skin on a chili pepper?

The converter plate is an interesting idea.

Maybe my ideal stove has three induction burners and one gas. Maybe I would discover that I rarely used the gas burner, and decide all induction works fine, and that I could just use my camp stove or outdoor grill if I actually need a flame. A hybrid stove could be a useful approach to getting people to overcome their hesitancy in switching to electric. Admittedly, it wouldn't be very practical in most cases, only really feasible in kitchens already built to support both electric and gas. (My kitchen has a gas stove, but actually does have the wiring for an electric stove.)

My ideal stove (which I don't think anyone makes, for various practical reasons) has three burners, one gas, one induction and one electric.

  • Induction because induction is interesting, efficient, clean, and works well with ferrous cookware
  • Gas because induction doesn't work with some cookware, and sometimes you need an actual flame
  • Electric because gas burners suck at low temperature operations -- they get hot spots -- and induction doesn't work with some cookware.

Three burners because that's the most I can effectively use at one time. But maybe having four burners (with a second induction or gas burner) would make sense.

This strategy works for something that happens once, but for something that could be a pattern (e.g. getting ripped off by contractors), allocating thought to it would be worthwhile -- but only if you are focused on learning from the experience, and avoiding this type of problem in the future, as opposed to just wallowing in the fact that you were wronged. (And that's also easier said than done.)