All of dbasch's Comments + Replies

I threw 10% there as an example of a target that you might convince with some intervention. By "long tail" I don't mean a small number of people, a long tail can be 50% of a distribution. I am using the term to refer to the reasons they don't get vaccinated. The post mentions 34 distinct responses, so if one were to optimize for impact then the idea would be to identify the most "nudgeable" class, evaluate the cost/benefit of the nudge, etc. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my original comment.

Right, I did misunderstand. I thought you were proposing taking 10% and trying to convince some of them who can be convinced. But the value of that is decreasing every day now. Half the population has already been infected at least once and recovered which is probably equivalent to vaccination.

The question I would ask is whether the marginal utility of a dollar spent in convincing this long tail of people is actually worth it, compared to other uses of the money. It's obvious that some of us needed no convincing at all, we were just desperate for a vaccine. Other people were ok with getting vaccinated if it were easy or convenient. Some must have been on the fence or mildly against it, but could be convinced with some nudging (see vaccine lotteries and other interventions). So now you have a minority that is stubbornly against getting vaccinated... (read more)

In US, the number of unvaccinated is closer to 30%. This is no long tail. 

This articulates something that I have been thinking about for a while: how to reconcile the fact that people who are extremely strong on the cognitive side often fail to thrive in certain domains because they cannot compensate for their weakness in the other dimensions. We have decent metrics of cognition (standardized testing, for example) but I have not seen much on the others. It seems logical that if I am attempting to build mental strength, I may want to measure progress like I would if I were building physical strength. I wonder how one would go about designing metrics and reliable tests for emotional and behavioral strength.

Better yet, if you could measure both mental strength and tendency to obedience in a fast, Goodhart-resistant way, you could create a credential that could compete with, and undercut, college.

I noticed that this book just came out, and might be relevant. I will probably read it at some point and report back.

1Sean Aubin2y
Started reading this book and made it to chapter 3 before giving up. Mostly ends up being a tour of various pitfalls when pursuing something ambitious. For example: * Your data can come from a fraudulent source. * Confirmation bias can blind you to potential sources of failure. These points felt obvious/familiar and I was hoping for a more systematic treatment.

Humans aren't utility maximizers, but we think of ourselves as them

What makes you believe this? I wouldn't assume that most people think that way. In order to maximize utility you first have to define a utility function. This is impossible for most of us.  I find that I have a fuzzy list of wishes to satisfy, with unclear priorities that shift over time. I imagine that if a rational entity were to try to make sense of other entities that appear similar, it might make an assertion like yours. But what if it turns out that the rest of the entities have ... (read more)

I am interested in books on this topic as well  However, the answer to the original question does not seem that mysterious to me. Most evolutionary psychologists describe the mechanisms of cooperation that made it possible for humans to grow increasingly large organizations (tribes, city states, corporations, nation states) aligned behind some commonality. The forces that make people agree to cooperate don't seem to matter that much. Once there is a social contract in place and a hierarchy of leadership, people align themselves behind objectives that ... (read more)

Suppose you wanted to build, say, a bridge. Knowing how to create the agreements necessary in order to do that might be 'solving a coordination problem' without necessarily being 'why is it natural for these problems to get solved'.
I noticed that this book just came out, and might be relevant. I will probably read it at some point and report back.