"When you are finished reading this, you will see Bayesian problems in your dreams."
Whaddaya know; he was right.
Also, yes the other version (on Arbital) is better, with more information - though this one has a point or two that aren't in the other version, like the discussion of degrees of freedom.
Ah, thanks; that looks pretty relevant. I'll try to read it in the next day or so.
Yeah, and it would also cut out close contact with a number of people. It's actually looking pretty likely the second of the mentioned alternatives will happen (assuming I go at all) - it's possible I'll stay at home with an immediate family member, rather than go to Utah. This reduces my close contact from ~20 people (in ~4 families) down to like 3 people (1 family), and should significantly reduce the odds of my catching it. I started writing a huge response, but moved it into an update.
I think my own spin on the incorrectness of the article would be, I think some forms of procrastination and laziness are valuable. Sweeping every day will only make the floor so clean. Some tasks truly DO go away if you ignore them long enough.
...But overall, I do firmly agree with the intent of your article.
It's surprisingly hard to consciously notice a bad thing as being a solvable problem, I agree. I will once in a while notice that I've been inconvenienced by X for a long time, but only now am I actively aware of it as a discrete entity. It's a skill I think would be particularly worth learning/improving.
Similarly, with opportunities - this has happened a couple times in my life, but the first I remember was that beforehand, I would hear about people volunteering at animal shelters, and I'd think "that sounds nice/fun"...end of thought. One day, all of a sudden, something clicked, and the thought occurred, "There's nothing fundamentally special about those people. That thing is a Thing I Could Do. There's nothing actually stopping me from doing it." And there wasn't; I did a Google and made a few calls, and in a few weeks I was cleaning kestrel poop out of a concrete enclosure XP. (These days I hand-feed baby squirrels/possums/rabbits, mostly.) But I remember how much of a revelation it was: those people on the other side of the screen are by-and-large the same kind of people I am - if I want to do what they do I can. If I wanted to drop everything and build thatch houses in a third world country, I could. (I just don't really want to, haha.)
It's still a hard skill to learn - I doubt I do it nearly as often as I could, or even perhaps should.
This is my objection to the conclusion of the post: yes, you're unlikely to be able to patch all the leaks, but the more leaks you patch, the less likely it is that a bad solution occurs. The way the Device was described was such that "things happen, and time is reset until a solution occurs". This favors probable things over improbable things, since probable things will more likely happen before improbable things. If you add caveats - mother safe, whole, uninjured, mentally sound, low velocity - at some point the "right" solutions become significantly more probable than the "wrong" ones. As for the stated "bad" solutions - how probable is a nuclear bomb going off, or aliens abducting her, compared to firefighters showing up?
I don't even think the timing of the request matters, since the device isn't actively working to bring the events to fruition - meaning, any outcome where the device resets will have always been prohibited, from the beginning of time. Which means that the firefighters may have left the building five minutes ago, having seen some smoke against the skyline. Etc. ...Or, perhaps more realistically, the device was never discovered in the first place, considering the probabilistic weight it would have to bear over all its use, compared to the probability of its discovery.