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Abadarian Trades

Related: probabilistic negotiation (linking to my comment)

Because of asymmetric information about demand schedules in the individual one-off context, either you're guessing or accepting their self-reports (i.e., I agree with Kokotajlo and Shlomi). As nice as probabilistic negotiation is in theory, practically you just hope to converge to splitting the surplus, and giving-in happens for whomever tires of the negotiation first. Depends on how much you know about your counterpart.

It's much easier to set market prices where you have repeated transactions across participants, so "market" demand schedules (i.e., multiple unitary reservation prices) can be "learned" and the "market price" that enables value-maximization reveals itself. I appreciate that it's harder at the individual level - bringing in probability allows working with individual demand schedules (i.e., multiple probabilistic reservation prices rather than a single unitary reservation price), but bringing in probability doesn't exactly solve the problem because probabilities can only be learned through being furnished knowledge of the generating mechanism (e.g., Yudkowsky and Kennedy) or through repeated observation, the exact things that we assume we lack in this situation and that make this a problem in the first place.

Covid 6/16/22: Do Not Hand it to Them

Previously after Pfizer's 11/5 interim report on Paxlovid in high risk patients, you said an 89%, 95% CI: [64, 97] (n=774) was certain enough to conclude efficacy but not certain enough to stop the trial because the CI was uncomfortably wide.
After they had their 12/14 final report on Paxlovid in high risk patients, you said an 89%, 95% CI: [72, 96] (n=1379) looked good.
At that time they also shared the interim report on Paxlovid in standard risk patients, showing 70%, 95% CI: [-8, 92] (n=854).
Now after their 6/14 final report on Paxlovid in standard risk patients, you're saying 51%, 95%: [-44, 83] (n=1145) is just an issue of sample size?

I've really appreciated all of your analysis and curating for us here, but I feel like we're missing a lot about your internal model of evidence for these kinds of studies.

Why it's bad to kill Grandma

It was at that point I thought, "we've rediscovered Kant's categorical imperative."

The "Measuring Stick of Utility" Problem

Transitivity is a fundamental axiom necessary for a consistent utility function, which is central to rational choice theory. Sure, the potential for resource loss makes it more problematic for the agents you're studying, but if you don't have a consistent utility function to support your modeling in the first place, it's already problematic for your studying of the agents. Put another way, you don't even need to "reach" the coherence argument if you can't get over the consistency bar.

 

The "Measuring Stick of Utility" Problem

Why is a resource central here? Consider (if it helps, also change "upgrade" to "switch"):

Let’s start with the simplest coherence theorem: suppose I’ll pay to upgrade pepperoni pizza to mushroom, pay to upgrade mushroom to anchovy, and pay to upgrade anchovy to pepperoni. This does not bode well for my bank account balance. And the only way to avoid having such circular preferences is if there exists some “consistent preference ordering” of the three toppings - i.e. some ordering such that I will only pay to upgrade to a topping later in the order, never earlier. That ordering can then be specified as a utility function: a function which takes in a topping, and gives the topping’s position in the preference order, so that I will only pay to upgrade to a topping with higher utility.

Surely one can notice the circularity problem without using a measuring stick.

Covid 5/19/22: The Law of Five

On fluvoxamine, the FDA's report includes additional analyses that even go beyond what I talked about regarding the NIH's. Though I will say their discussion of the meta-analysis seemed a little disingenuous (though some comments in peer review can feel the same, so) - garbage in, garbage out is always a potential problem, and one should never hope for a meta-analysis to "substantially alter the assessment of the individual trials," so failing to deliver on that is just par for the course and should not be viewed as a negative.

But even just taking the meta-analysis at face value, the summarized evidence of efficacy is kinda weak (a reduction in severe disease that is consistent with reductions ranging from 0-50%...consistent with 0% means "While the FDA has concluded that the existing clinical data are insufficient to support the issuance of an EUA, these data suggest that further clinical investigation may be warranted." At least it's not consistent with, say, -10%-40%, in which case the FDA would presumably not have thrown that bone).

Are smart people's personal experiences biased against general intelligence?

Selection-induced correlation depends on the selection model used. It is valuable to point out that tailcalled implicitly assumes a specific selection model to generate a charitable interpretation of Taleb. But proposing more complex (/ less plausible for someone to employ in their life) models instead is not likely to yield a more believable result.

How Does The Finance Industry Generate Real Economic Value?

It is still tempting to assume each exact transaction is zero sum (while the macro level invisible hand is yielding positive sum) but that would be a mistake. First, there may be a little bit of buyer and seller surplus (represented by a market maker facilitating a strike price between the bid/ask spread). Second, risk matters - could be that gain the seller missed out on was just not the right deployment of their capital for their risk profile, so they actually aren't "missing out" on it at all. Third, you're not observing opportunity costs in strike prices, so could be that gain the seller missed out on was a lower conviction bet they wanted to take off so they could get into a higher conviction bet, so they aren't actually "missing out" on it at all. Fourth, add in a subjective value function and suddenly on a utility basis, it is extremely easy to see the potential for actors to view trading as offering gains (though as mentioned, you don't even need this to begin chipping away at the zero sum notion).

Finance is easy to side-eye, but read Matt Levine, it's just like any other market where people are trying to solve each other's problems and make some margin.

Kosher Hot Dogs

Here's an extremely related episode about Nathan's from the History Channel, addressing signaling.

Covid 3/31/2022: More of the Same

As nuts as IRBs can be, their purpose is not to protect people from research findings but from research (mis)conduct. They are to protect the human subjects.

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