Douglas_Knight's Comments

Coronavirus: the four levels of social distancing, and when and why we might transition between them

There is another measure, which you might think of as level 5, but you should probably think of as an independent axis that could be applied at earlier levels, which is quarantining infected people. That is, taking them out of their home and putting them in makeshift hospitals.

Douglas_Knight's Shortform

two tweets:

[Carl Schmitt is a good philosopher but] One nightmarish way to understand The Discourse is that somehow Carl Schmitt became the obvious, agreed-upon, common-sense interpretation of politics. All sides nod sagely, but each fetishizes a different book.
So the left gets Political Theology, the right gets Nomos of the Earth. Quilette-style centrists are 100% indebted to the Concept of the Political.
Douglas_Knight's Shortform

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith is a great book. My favorite part is Book III, Chapter 4 on the end of feudalism. In particular, I like these two paragraphs:

In a country which has neither foreign commerce, nor any of the finer manufactures, a great proprietor, having nothing for which he can exchange the greater part of the produce of his lands which is over and above the maintenance of the cultivators, consumes the whole in rustic hospitality at home. If this surplus produce is sufficient to maintain a hundred or a thousand men, he can make use of it in no other way than by maintaining a hundred or a thousand men. He is at all times, therefore, surrounded with a multitude of retainers and dependants, who, having no equivalent to give in return for their maintenance, but being fed entirely by his bounty, must obey him, for the same reason that soldiers must obey the prince who pays them.

In a country where there is no foreign commerce, nor any of the finer manufactures, a man of ten thousand a year cannot well employ his revenue in any other way than in maintaining, perhaps, a thousand families, who are all of them necessarily at his command. In the present state of Europe, a man of ten thousand a year can spend his whole revenue, and he generally does so, without directly maintaining twenty people, or being able to command more than ten footmen not worth the commanding. Indirectly, perhaps, he maintains as great or even a greater number of people than he could have done by the ancient method of expense. For though the quantity of precious productions for which he exchanges his whole revenue be very small, the number of workmen employed in collecting and preparing it must necessarily have been very great. Its great price generally arises from the wages of their labour, and the profits of all their immediate employers. By paying that price he indirectly pays all those wages and profits and thus indirectly contributes to the maintenance of all the workmen and their employers. He generally contributes, however, but a very small proportion to that of each, to very few perhaps a tenth, to many not a hundredth, and to some not a thousandth, nor even a ten-thousandth part of their whole annual maintenance. Though he contributes, therefore, to the maintenance of them all, they are all more or less independent of him, because generally they can all be maintained without him.
mind viruses about body viruses
Okay, words aside, does the right strat­egy look like the fa­mous GIF taken liter­ally, or like a feed­back sys­tem where we keep turn­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing on and off so the graph looks like a heart rate mon­i­tor, or like a “ham­mer” re­set fol­lowed by a suc­cess­ful em­u­la­tion of South Korea, or
I don’t know and you don’t know and To­mas doesn’t know and Carl doesn’t know. It’s hard!

No, it is really easy. If the society is capable of executing the feedback system, then it has a method of driving R0 below 1. If it can do that, it should execute the hammer. This requires less aggregate time under extreme measures than the feedback system. If the society fails to execute the dance, then it can try the feedback system, but that sounds a lot harder to me than the dance.

Like me, these people make both substantive and semantic objections.  In fact, theirs are a strict superset of mine (see that last Bergstrom thread re: Gaussians!).
I am not saying “look, I was right, the experts agree with me, please recognize this.”  I mean, I am saying that.

But you were wrong about Gaussians. So much the worse for the experts.

There are only two choices: herd immunity, or the dance. Herd immunity can be accomplished by vaccine, by permanent change to society to reduce R0, or by having 1-1/R0 proportion of people survive the disease. Without a vaccine and without permanent change to society, the area 1-1/R0 is fixed, although a full-speed epidemic could infect even more.

Authorities and Amateurs

You've lost track of the object level here.

What did his post originally mean? I'm not allowed to read people's minds. He admits that no one took from it what he wanted them to take from it. Lanrian said that it was "a reasonable critique...that it doesn't make sense to assume a normal distribution." That was a qualitative complaint and he admitted that it was qualitatively wrong.

History's Biggest Natural Experiment

Yes, I meant exactly a 1 year effect and a random 5 year window and I should have spelled that out. Cancer and many autoimmune diseases take years to notice.

And Jim is right that my example is poor because a prenatal effect pinpoints when the exposure must have occurred. But, actually, I believe that such simple studies don't find an effect for the normal variation in flu (3% some years, 15% others), except for the 1918 cohort. The studies that find an effect rely on asking the mother if she had flu during pregnancy (which has some post hoc problems).

Authorities and Amateurs

The gaussian assumption makes no difference. Nostalgebrist's post is a math error. He later admitted that at SSC, but barely updated his post.

Against Dog Ownership

Where can I read about this? It seems easier to verify than the claims in the OP.


I looked at google images for "dog body language." I see some people saying that showing the belly is happy, while others said it was submission (and one saying both!). This seems like a good example of what you are saying, but are there more? Added: nose lick as stressed vs peace, although maybe that isn't even a confusion, but just opening the box of what it means to sue for peace.

History's Biggest Natural Experiment

I am skeptical that this will have measurable effects because most these diseases indirectly caused by infection have long lag times, often years, if only time to diagnosis. For an extreme example, prenatal flu increases the odds of schizophrenia, 20 years later.

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