I'm confused by your sentence about "serving"; are you talking about how both soldiers and politicians are said to "serve"? or are you talking about how people get status points for becoming soldiers? (or police or...)
I think the main use of the word "cult" is something like "illegitimate source of authority." This explains both why "legitimate" sources of authority are similar and why no one wants to call them cults.
But they've got a big supply of legitimacy, so they don't have to do as much nasty stuff as cults. Yes, nations kill a lot of people, but not that many per member. Joining the military is probably a better idea than joining a cult.
If top is by score, then I think popular is by total upvotes, ignoring downvotes.
My understanding is that the best interventions are $1000/life, if everything works as advertised. But big organizations complaining about 10^8 children without bed nets is pretty strong evidence that those particular organizations, at least, do not turn the marginal $2 into a net, which was kebko's point, I think.
(that's what I should have said the first time, but it drowned in other detail)
inventing for free:
but don't bed nets fit that perfectly?
spreading the technology is a big part of the cost. (what did it cost to convince charities that bed nets are a good idea?)
A technology that is so obviously good that people copy their neighbors cuts out this step, but are there examples where this actually happened? (maybe the moneymaker pump?)
kebko & Carl's comments are largely compatible:
if nets cost $1/person and save 1life/$1000, then giving nets to all billion Africans could save a million lives.
There is a serious problem if there is overlap between the popular interventions and those that are best--popularity should drive the intervention to diminishing returns. At least, I think so, but I don't know the numbers; I'd guess a billion has been spent on malaria, but not on nets specifically.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't look to the military as a role-model often enough.
I think Eliezer is just wrong in his use of the words. Maybe he means "following the party line" where the party is Eliezer himself. Then it is clear why such books are hard to find.
Beyond that, there's enough disagreement in everyone's usage that we should stop using "cynism" and "idealism" for this discussion. Or at least the words should be saved for description of social perception, while more specific terms should be used for, say, describing books.
Bruce K. Britton,
Let's start with simpler things, like having people make their data and calculations available. (Or to be really simple, journals with such rules should enforce them!) Without this, you can just hide the data-mining in poorly specified protocols, not to mention fraud.
Data-mining is not that bad because it has systematic effects that an outsider can predict and account for; at least you can hope that it will wash out in the meta-analyses. This reminds me of this Robin Hanson post on how to extract experiments from the medical literature you don't trust.
Perry E. Metzger makes similar recommendations to BKB and RH replies that it's not going to happen. Actually, the medical community is moving towards things like registering studies. I worry that actions taken with a definite sense of who is the bad guy (drug companies) may make us worse off than the status quo, though I don't see any downsides to anything that is actually going forward.
read that post.
varied reproductive expectations which should be predictable by fairly early childhood.
What do you make of the claim that boys are good for marriages?
It fits if you assume that the low variance of the daughter's fitness makes it less responsive to the father's presence. If the son's fitness is predictable early, this should be reflected in modern divorces, though I don't see offhand how to test it.
Are you an old person from the era of Mad Men, shocked at the future of today, in which people drink on the job?
or vice versa?