All of Dokler's Comments + Replies

I saw someone tweet a successful report of using LSD for this purpose.

Edit: went back to search for it and there seem to be many people discussing this and quite a few have found it helpful (much moreso for smell than taste, but of course the two are closely related and I believe that loss of smell was a more common experience).

Individuals with high slack are significantly rewarded in other ways outside of group contexts. For example, being self-employed with a flexible schedule means that I get to save a bunch of money by flying on Wednesdays and I can do activities during the week when they are less crowded. Financial slack lowers stress, enables one to take advantage of more opportunities, and take greater risks.

These benefits accrued to those with slack may provide some justification for why it isn't rewarded as much as one might expect in a group context.

Another point on how the test-taking sample may be biased- it's possible that those who expect that they have experienced cognitive decline are less likely to take the test as a way to avoid confronting reality.

Or they may be so fatigued and therefore behind on lots of life-admin tasks that signing up for a study is the last thing they'd consider. Also, if there is a 0.5 IQ points loss in expectation, it seems to matter how it's distributed. Would everyone get the same effect or is it mostly no effect + some people lose 5 IQ points? The latter is arguably a lot worse because you can easily compensate for a small loss (drink extra caffeine when you need to be extra sharp) but not for a big one.   

Neither of these numbers sound great. Living past 80 sounds a lot better to me. Why did pre-agricultural communities have early deaths compared to us if "the ills that you highlight all came about following the establishment of agricultural societies"? They had to die somehow. 

This is almost entirely driven by decreases in infant mortality. The article specifically cites the scenario of a mother giving birth while still carrying their last would probably have abandoned that child. Life expectancy for those that reached adulthood was nearly 70, roughly... (read more)

I have wondered how that factored into life expectancy. This is a good point. Incorrect, that quote is ambiguous about whether they are better off compared to pre-agriculture. However, he also says Which is important to match with his classing of most of the U.S. as "elite". He's explicitly saying that if you live in the U.S. today, you are probably better off. That's why I said his argument rests on the poorer countries staying poor. Poverty is obviously a continuum and relative to the context. But my definition is that poorer people have fewer choices, including what goods they can attain, and including how many hours they work. You can live without all the technology and entertainment today if you want. For that life, 15 hours of work per week can be enough if you have a spouse that does the same. (Minimum wage in Australia is enough for that.) If you're a medium-income earner, you can work half of that. Though, admittedly, if you are a middle-income earner probably can't find a job that lets you work that much. But you can retire earlier having done less "total lifetime work". I imagine pre-agricultural people work well into old age. That's surprising to me, and shifts me towards that conclusion. It's not the original question, but is it relevant: Assuming that people were better off back then, what should we do about it today? The answer: nothing. You've changed my view quite a bit, but I'd still easily prefer to live now (albeit in a rich country).

I definitely would not argue that now is the worst time in human history to be alive. My comment was that while humans existed only as hunter-gathers, the average life satisfaction was likely higher than now. Social bonds were closer, there was significantly more leisure time, and labor was maximally fulfilling. The ills that you highlight all came about following the establishment of agricultural societies and indeed continue to exist to a greater degree now than they did for pre-agricultural humans. 

I'd recommend checking out this article by Jared D... (read more)

But see also Many Origins of Agriculture []: Also Romanticizing the Hunter-Gatherer []:
Neither of these numbers sound great. Living past 80 sounds a lot better to me. Why did pre-agricultural communities have early deaths compared to us if "the ills that you highlight all came about following the establishment of agricultural societies"? They had to die somehow.  Early farmers had health issues because they had a handful of crops and just ate those things. If you just eat corn and potatoes, you'll die early. They didn't have nutritional science. To say poor nutrition is a fundamental problem with farming is just incorrect. So I'll concede agriculture made the average people worse off temporarily, but considering our life expectancy increases, I don't see how you can say that the last few decades are still worse than hunter-gathers. In fact, he says as much: So people in rich countries are better off. Then the question becomes "Will the poor countries stay poor?" If they don't, his whole argument is wrong. (Also the "Everyone's poor, so there's no inequality! Hurray!" argument is a bit strange.) I'll bet that before China's wealth increase, he would have said China would stay poor. Why is he assuming that had those same people stayed hunter-gathers, they would treat their women better? It seems like a completely unwarranted assumption. Some epidemic diseases, I'll concede, have been brought to us by farming, indirectly through increased population and population density, and directly through the farming of animals. You're also neglecting the massive population increases that he discusses. An extra life worth living is a net gain. The associated decreases in average wellbeing haven't held up because of better nutritional science and healthcare so there's not even a "repugnant conclusion []" trade-off.

I think the best interpretation of the question would be to strip out one's personal experience and consider it a comparison of two societies. Comparing your life specifically with a hypothetical one doesn't seem productive to me. Therefore, I'd ask it as either:

What time/place would you choose to be born as a random person?


What time/place would you choose to be born as a median person?

In addition to Kaj_Sotala's points about hedonic adaptation, I'd add that many technologies seem on-face to be strictly good, but actually carry significant costs. Additionally, the benefits don't accrue to the individual, but instead towards some vague idea of progress.

It is incredible to have the internet to immediately answer any question I have. However, each question I take to the internet instead of a person in my life, it decreases my connection to community. I take a Lyft to the airport instead of asking a friend for a ride. Instead of stoppin... (read more)

I agree that there are trade-offs between time periods but, for me, those trade-offs favour the present. I did mention addictive innovations as negatives, but they can be handled. For example, I have to type in a long password every time before I can watch a Youtube video, which prevents me from mindlessly entering the website. As for you not asking people for directions, you're also talking to me (in text form, admittedly) probably from the other side of the world. And since we're both on this website, we probably have a lot more in common than we would with a random person off the street. Do people want faster transport? Yes. People then spread out because it's a trade-off they want to make. It means they can retire earlier because they pay lower rental prices, and that's more important than being a neighbour to as many friends as possible. By transitivity, this is an overall increase in wellbeing. It's three steps forward and one step back, not one step forward and two steps back. People can set bad goals that don't make them happy when they achieve them. I think that's what causes some people to want more and more. Because they are rarely actually satisfied. I suspect these people would have the same problem in earlier time periods ("Honey, the neighbours have a bigger grass hut than we do"), except they'd have a greater chance of dying from an infection. If you really want to, and you don't think you're permanently ruined modern technology, you can move to a less-industrialized society. They're still around today. I'd note that the flow of immigration is away from those countries and towards more technologically advanced countries.  People of the past had terrible lives. Correct me if I'm wrong, but racial slavery was more common, witch trials were more common, war killed a greater proportion of the population, more people died from starvation or poor hygiene, religious and homosexual persecution was more common, child brides were more common, women were t

I have no medical background, but wanted to add that the prevalence of Pneumocystis colonization in the general population is approximately the proportion of cases of COVID-19 that are symptomatic (~70%). We don't know either of these numbers with great confidence or precision, but these estimates appear consistent with your hypothesis.

Edit: additional source showing 68% of COVID-19 cases have a dry cough (page 4)

I emailed this comment and my reply to Elodie Ghedin, a molecular parasitologist and virologist at NYU for her thoughts on this. Here is her reply (posted with permission):

"Thanks for reaching out. 

To my knowledge, there has not been an association of PCP with COVID-19. The percentages compared in that comment are not really comparing the same thing.

In severe COVID-19 cases there is indeed pneumonia but that's a general term indicating inflammation due to the virus itself. It can however be followed by an opportunistic infection, ... (read more)

1Nicholas Campbell3y
'' At first blush SARS-CoV-2 is not doing anything all that different to the immune system than any other acute virus infection. '' Not sure about this, it does seem to create a cytokine storm and lypmphopenia in a minority.