Why do patients in mental institutions get so little attention in the public discourse?

In the particular case of factory farming, there's a costly-but-simple solution: stop doing it. The animals' lives are not worth having, so we stop creating them.  For some subset of patients in mental hospitals, who can't create good lives for themselves on their own and a further subset of whom are dangerous to others, it's really not clear what we should be doing. Just letting people go created a bunch of negative externalities and it's questionable whether the patients themselves were better off.  Really amazingly good care, when we know how to do it, which is not always, is excruciatingly expensive. So even if someone cares about this issue a lot, it's really not obvious what they should do or ask for.

EDIT: I finished rereading the SSC post I linked to and apparently there just is a better thing, outpatient commitment, and we should get right on that.

Are PS5 scalpers actually bad?

One cost of having prices raised by scalpers rather than retailers is that it's easier for scammers to impersonate scalpers than large retailers, so this raises the rate of scams. I don't really care what price PS5s sell for, but increasing the rate of theft-by-scam seems really bad.

Why I Work on Ads

I agree with you that the best case scenario for ads is very positive sum, but I take issue with...


  • I am mildly happy.  I got to see content I wanted to see, without having to pay for it, but I had to watch a silly ad for an economically illiterate insurance agency.  Meh.

I would frame this as "I paid with time and attention", rather than "I didn't pay for it".  There are definitely times when trading time or attention for money is an excellent trade, but it's not guaranteed and it's not the same as not paying for something. I'm curious if you take advantage of the "get paid to watch ads" programs, and why or why not, since it's essentially the same trade but with a different default.

Give it a google

I am delighted to learn about million short

Quick examination of miles per micromort for US drivers, with adjustments for safety-increasing behavior

Do you have a car? Most rationalists in Berkeley don't, so unless it's nearby or you're doing one of a small set of public-transit compatible routes, Uber/Lyft are the only option.

Young kids catching COVID: how much to worry?

The linked article is low quality. It proposes a mechanism but gives no evidence for its frequency or severity or even if it actually happens at all.  It is clearly not doing cost/benefit calculations.

Overall you seem to be putting the burden on Steven to prove that there isn't a risk to masks, rather than doing anything to demonstrate that there is. I agree with considering the costs as well as benefits of masks and would love to see real data on the costs of masks, but this is an unfair burden to put on Steven in particular as a reward for a pretty useful write-up.

WordPress Destroys Editing Process, Seeking Alternatives

Did you find a new platform you were happy with? I'm launching a new website with an associated blog and would also like to escape Wordpress's terrible new UI.

Don't Sell Your Soul

I figured out the problem. "This is costless in my ontology and expensive in another, making it a good signal of which ontology I believe" is the exact same algorithm that led doctors to go from autopsies to childbirth without washing their hands. It was a way to prove they didn't believe the silly peasant superstitions about disease and demons.

Don't Sell Your Soul

Anyone for whom executive function is a limiting reagent, unless the $10 is exceptionally significant to them.  If it's a one-off transaction, it costs more than just the minute to watch the ad- it's the time and energy to evaluate the offer, see if there are any catches, refocus after disrupting your thoughts, fight against any impact the ad would have on you (they wouldn't keep making this deal if it wasn't positive EV for them. Maybe they're mistaken, maybe you're an exception- but that takes thought to figure out)... The fact that it's a pretty good hourly rate doesn't matter if it's not actually running long enough to amortize the evaluation costs.

Don't Sell Your Soul

Souls aside, if you wouldn't watch an ad for $10, you shouldn't sign a 54 point contract for $10. It's just not a good use of your time.

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