Bob Baker


What currents of thought on LessWrong do you want to see distilled?

The culture of the FDA didn't spring into being this year, of course. This book covers their failures to regulate foreign manufacturing of generic drugs and it substantially dented my previous belief that generic versions of drugs are equal to the branded. The book is, however, about twice as long as it should be and you may prefer this podcast with the author.

Should I prefer to get a tax refund, or not to?

Don't forget that (in the US, at least) there is a fine for owing too much tax at filing time, while there's no penalty for having paid too much except for opportunity costs. Given the extremely low interest rates currently, the risk is not symmetrical.

Moral intuitions are surprisingly variable

I think that personal choices about morality are unaffected by the fact that significantly different cultures exist. Perhaps they call for a soupçon more humility, but your moral intuitions remain axiomatic for you.

Rather I think the adjustment needed in some cases is a greater weight on the idea that your moral intuitions are significantly shaped by the culture that you found yourself in, and that the scope of possibilities is wide.

Perhaps this has little practical impact because, though your axioms might be more arbitrary than supposed, you have little choice but to use them. But there will exist people shaped by very different cultures, who formed different rules, and it's not clear that there's necessarily any ground for debate; the desire for universal morality might be hopeless.

(Or perhaps communications technology will cause Earth to tend towards a singular culture, giving grounds for a morality universal to all, at least until aliens or disconnected space colonies.)