Benquo's Comments

How About a Remote Variolation Study?

A crisis with massive blatant institutional failure seems like exactly the time for courage and the willingness to do things that might get one in trouble, if they're the right thing to do.

REVISED: A drowning child is hard to find

You've given a lot of details specifically about Madagascar, but not actually responded to the substantive argument in the post. What global picture does this correspond to, under which the $5k per life saved figure is still true and meaningful? I don't see how the existence of somewhere for which no lives can be saved for $5k makes that claim any more plausible.

When to Reverse Quarantine and Other COVID-19 Considerations

How did you estimate "Likelihood of secondary long-term effects when getting it" and "Average badness of secondary long-term effects"?

Simulacra and Subjectivity

Someone at level 1 is going to take longer to learn how to get along in a level 3 or 4 environment than a level 3 or 4 player, but is capable of knowing about them, while people who are level 3/4 players at core can't really know about anything. They can acquire know-how by doing, but not know-about, insofar as their language is nonepistemic.

Simulacra and Subjectivity

Does this mean I’m simultaneously at different levels for different purposes?

There's an important difference between:

(1) Participating in fictions or pseudorepresentative communication (i.e. bullshit) while being explicitly aware of it (at least potentially, like if someone asked you whether it meant anything you'd give an unconfused answer). This is a sort of reflective, rational-postmodernist level 1.

(2) Adjusting your story for nonepistemic reasons but feeling compelled to rationalize them in a consistent way, which makes your nonepistemic narratives sticky, and contaminates your models of what's going on. This is what Rao calls clueless in The Gervais Principle.

(3) Acting from a fundamentally social metaphysics like a level 3/4 player, willing to generate sophisticated "logical" rationales where convenient, but not constraining your actions based on your story. This is what cluster thinking cashes out as, as far as I can tell.

Simulacra and Subjectivity

Level 1 (referential, or epistemic): Generating a business plan and financial projections as an integral part of the process by which you decide whether your startup is worth trying.

Level 2 (lying): Publicizing a business plan you don't expect to carry out, to obscure your secret plan to pivot to something that would undercut existing power, so they don't crush you immediately.

Level 3 (relating): Coming up with a business plan so you feel like a Real Business, and feel less impostor anxiety, and then feeling a need to rationalize whatever future decisions you make as somehow Part of the Plan.

Level 4 (magical): Coming up with a business plan and financial projections because that's something venture capitalists want, and no one thinks that anyone else cares whether the plan is literally true or even possible, it's just one of the theatrical hoops you gotta jump through for the vibe to feel right.

When to Reverse Quarantine and Other COVID-19 Considerations

How dangerous is that assumption? What multiple of the impact from death is the impact from disability? How different a decision would that imply?

When to Reverse Quarantine and Other COVID-19 Considerations

Heard it from someone I can't remember on Twitter, and then gave myself a (minor) copper cut.

When to Reverse Quarantine and Other COVID-19 Considerations
Also, reverse-quarantining doesn't just benefit you, it also benefits the people who you might infect if you get the disease, and the person whose hospital bed you might be taking if you get the disease. I don't know what these numbers are but they should probably figure into your calculation.

I wanted to start with something very simple to avoid decision paralysis, but you're right that there are flow-through / flatten-the-curve benefits. I've added a note clarifying that while this consideration matters, I haven't counted it.

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