All of River's Comments + Replies

Answer by RiverMay 10, 2022Ω21

 For the less cryptographically inclined, or those predicting the failure of computing technology, there is always the old school method: write your prediction on a peace of paper, literally seal it in an envelope, and mail it to yourself. The postal marking they put over the stamp includes the date.

Mailing an envelope to your self does not allow other people to verify whether the envelope wasn't opened in between. Maybe a quality forensic lab has the ability to tell whether the envelope was opened in between but most people you might show the letter don't.

I think many people should be less afraid of lawsuits, though I'm not sure I'd say "almost everyone."

I wouldn't draw much from the infrequency of lawsuits being filed. Many disputes are resolved in the shadow of the legal system, without an actual court being involved. For example, I read a number of cases in law school where one person sued another after a car accident. Yet when I actually got into a car accident myself, no lawsuit was ever filed. I talked to my insurance company, the other driver presumably talked to their insurance company, the two comp... (read more)

When you steal a newspaper from a kiosk, you are taking paper and ink that do not belong to you. The newspaper is harmed because it now has less paper and ink. When you bypass a paywall, the newspaper still has all the same computers and servers that it had before, it hasn't lost any physical object.

The actual costs of producing the newspaper are sunk. So the only relevant part would be the opportunity costs of seeling the paper to someone. So for my question you can assume that in the kiosk there are more newspapers than will be sold that day.

When I hear the words "intelligence" and "wisdom", I think of things that are necessarily properties of individual humans, not groups of humans. Yet some of the specifics you list seem to be clearly about groups. So at the very least I would use a different word for that, though I'm not sure which one. I also suspect that work on optimizing group decision making will look rather different from work on optimizing individual decision making, possibly to the point that we should think of them as separate cause areas.

When I think about some of humanities great... (read more)

I tried to make it clear that I was referring to groups with the phrase, "of humanity", as in, "as a whole", but I could see how that could be confusing.    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I imagine there's a lot of overlap. I'd also be fine with multiple prioritization research projects, but think it's early to decide that.  I'm not arguing that people haven't made successes in the entire field (I think there's been a ton of progress over the last few hundred years, and that's terrific). I would argue though that there's very little formal prioritization of such progress. Similar to how EA has helped formalize the prioritization of global health and longtermism, we have yet to have similar efforts for "humanity's wisdom and intelligence".  I think that there are likely still strong marginal gains in at least some of the intervention areas.

I find this position rather disturbing, especially coming from someone working at a university. I have spent the last sixish years working mostly with high school students, occasionally with university students, as a tutor and classroom teacher. I can think of many high school students who are more ready to make adult decisions than many adults I know, whose vulnerability comes primarily from the inferior status our society assigns them, rather than any inherent characteristic of youth. 

As a legal matter (and I believe the law is correct here), your i... (read more)

Given that you already have reductive explanations of A,B ,C, you can infer that there is a probility of having reductive explanations of D and E in the future. Not a certainty, because induction doesnt work that way.

So you haven't shown that intuition isn't needed to accept the validity of a reductive explanation.


So because something is based on induction and therefor probabilistic, it is somehow based on intuition? That is not how induction and probability theory work. Anyone with a physics education should know that. And if it were how that worked... (read more)

That's not what I said. You substituted "inductive" for "reductive".

Shooting a civilian is murder, whether or not the action is correct. 


Shooting a civilian is not murder if it is self-defense or defense of others, which I think is a very good approximation to the set of circumstances where shooting a civilian is the correct choice.

I don't think it's correct to call the bombing of cities in WW2 a war crime. Under the circumstances I think it was the correct choice. One of the key circumstances was the available targeting technology at the time - the human eye. They didn't have plane-based radar, much less GPS. They didn't have the capacity to target military production specifically, all they could do was target the cities where military production was occurring. The alternative was a greater risk of loosing the war, and all of the evils that that entailed. So yes, bombing cities with civilians in them sucks, but it sucked less than the other options that were available at the time.

I don't have a strong object-level opinion, but I note that it's possible that some of the bombing of cities in WW2 was (or should be considered) a war crime, and some wasn't (or shouldn't be). It might be more helpful to think about specific (possibly hypothetical) bombing of specific (possibly hypothetical) cities, than about the general category "bombing of cities in WW2".

I'm under the impression that bombing cities wasn't even effective for that goal. E.g. this discussion:

The case for strategic bombing against industrial targets is marginally better [than the case for terror bombing civilians], but only marginally. While airpower advocates, particularly in the United States promised throughout WWII that bombing campaigns against German industry could lead to the collapse of the German war machine, in the end many historians posit that the real achievement of the campaign was to lure the Luftwaffe into the air where it coul

... (read more)

Whether an act was a war crime is independent of whether an act was the correct choice. Shooting a civilian is murder, whether or not the action is correct. 

it sucked less than the other options that were available at the time.

What if they had dropped nukes near cities—close enough to scare, far enough to not cause serious civilian casualties? Reading more, there were reasons bombing eg Tokyo Bay wouldn't have worked. So you may be right.

Same as you, physics degree. I'm curious why you picked now to bring that up. I don't think anything I've said particularly depends on it.

Hair colour merely belongs to a subject..and that's not the usual meaning of "subjective". Experiences are only epistemically accessible by a subject .. and that is the usual meaning of "subjective".


It may be more difficult to get evidence about another person's experiences than about their hair color, but there is no fundamental epistemic difference. You can in principle, and often in practice, learn about the experiences of other people.

A lot attempts to, but often fails. Where it succeeds, it is because both speaker and hearer have had the s

... (read more)
You have the intuition that there is not, others have the intuition that there is. You keep stating opinions as facts. Where's the science behind that? You can't prove that an experience has ever been fully communicated. We don't have qualiometers. Because otherwise reductionism is just a dogma. We need to know how A B or C is reducible in order to have evidence for that reduction has ever worked. We don't have quark level reductions , so it is an intuition that the kind of incomplete , hand-wavy inductive explanations we have actually work. Given that you already have reductive explanations of A,B ,C, you can infer that there is a probility of having reductive explanations of D and E in the future. Not a certainty, because induction doesnt work that way. So you haven't shown that intuition isn't needed to accept the validity of a reductive explanation. Also, it's it true that there is an inductive argument to the effect that everything is explicable by exactly the same physics. As I have said, physics is revised from time to time and that happens when it encounters a phenomenon that cannot be explained, and that would not have happened following a rule that unexplained phenomena are always to be derided and dismissed. The topic was reduction. And if it were then case that 100% of scientists were qualiaphobes, you would be into something … but it isn’t. Many scientists agree that we don’t have a satisfactory reductive explanation of consciousness. As explained above, it does, because physics is not static and unrevisable. And yet some things still can’t be explained in terms of our currentunderstanding. You are not advancing the argument at all. The fact that we do have explanations in term of current physics for some things is not certain proof that we will have explanations for everything. Induction is probablistic. The burden isn't on me, because I am not making an extraordinary claim. But anyway, here's Witten and Schrodinger. https://blogs.scienti
Perhaps you could tell me what your science background is before we continue.

There is a difference. One is objective and of describable, the other is subjective and ineffable.


Calling experience "subjective" and "ineffable" isn't doing any work for you - experiences are subjective only in the sense that hair color is subjective - mine might be different from yours - but there is an objective truth about my hair color and about your hair color. And yes, experiences are effable, a lot of language is for describing experiences. You seem to be using the words to do nothing more than invoke an unjustified feeling of mysteriousness,... (read more)

Hair colour merely belongs to a subject..and that's not the usual meaning of "subjective". Experiences are only epistemically accessible by a subject .. and that is the usual meaning of "subjective". A lot attempts to, but often fails. Where it succeeds, it is because both speaker and hearer have had the same experience. Describing novel experiences is generally impossible..."you don't know", "you had to be there". and so on. Yudkowsky uses the word. Is he a philosopher? And my argument is, still, that intuition is always involved in accepting that some high level phenomenon is reductively explicable,because we never have fully detailed quark-level reductions. All you are doing there is contrasting naive, uninformed intuition with informed intuition. And if it were then case that 100% of scientists were qualiaphobes, you would be into something ... but it isn't. Many scientists agree that we don't have a satisfactory reductive explanation of consciousness. You're assuming I'm not a scientist. Why? Because I disagree with you? Actually. I have a physics degree. So I am not arrogantly disagreeing with the scientists...twice over. And yet some things still can't be explained in terms of our currentunderstanding. You are not advancing the argument at all. "Appear" is just an appeal to your own intuition. I am appealing to the arguments made by Chalmers and other qualiphilic philosophers, as well as those by by qualiaphilic scientists. You have not refuted any of them. You have so far only made a false claim that theydont exist.

Nobody is denying consciousness. I'm just denying that there is any serious argument for consciousness not being explainable in terms of the laws of physics that are already well known and accepted.

There is no meaningful difference between a table and a qualia here, so yes, what Chalmers is doing is exactly like that.

Is the presumption falsifiable? In principle, yes. But consider what that falsification would look like. It would look like trained physicists (at the very least, possibly many more people) being able to look at a new phenomenon and immediately intuitively see how it falls out of the laws of physics. And we know that they can't do that. One of Einstein's greatest achievements was explaining Brownian motion, which he did purely in terms o... (read more)

There is a difference . One is objective and of describable, the other is subjective and ineffable. I don't see how that's a falsification of reductionism. You keep talking about understanding phenomena in ternpns of laws alone. As I tried to emphasize last time, that doesn't work, because you also need facts about how things are configured, about starting states. And then you can intuitively see how reductive expanations work...where they work. The basis of reductionism, as a general claim, is the success of specific instances, not an act of faith. And another was overturning the laws of physics of the time. Of you retroactively apply the rule that "any phenomenon iwhich appears inexplicable I terms of the currently known physics must be rejected out of hand", you don't get progress in physics.

It's a game two can play at rhetorically, but only one side of this game has ever landed on the moon, improved the length and quality of the human lifespan, etc.

You don't have to deny consciousness to be a scientist.

The alternative is a presumption that everything we observe in the universe is explainable by the laws of physics as we know them, until someone presents a logical argument, starting from the laws of physics as we know them, not relying on intuition, and leading to the conclusion that the observed thing cannot exist. I would have thought this presumption was part of basic scientific literacy. You seem to have been against it all along, how do you not see it? If we didn't have this presumption, we would have to question whether the existence of chairs was e... (read more)

You are treating the presumption as infallible, as a fixed dogma. Not as a capable of being defeated, in at least some cases. But fallibilism is central to science. Consider the possibilitiy that those you are arguing against are being scientific. If the claim that they every thing has a scientific explanation is capable of being refuted, by some observation..what would that look like? It wouldn't look like rejecting the observation out of hand As a falsifiable presumption it is, as a fixed dogma, it isn't. It is in fact highly intuitive that you can explain a chair in terms of the laws of physics and it's component parts. Chalmers thinks so, too. If he were saying something like chairs are reductively explicable ,but tables aren't, then that would be a problem. But he isn't. And his arguments, are based on intuition. And yours aren't? If they are not, they are based on dogma.

I think what I see you doing is applying the argumentative norms of professional philosophers, and those norms are the reason that philosophy, as a discipline, hasn't made any real progress on anything. It keeps having the same old arguments over and over again, because it can't ever move any position into the category of things that we should laugh at rather than take seriously. But given our finite lifetimes, if we are going to make progress and understand the world around us, there has to be a point at which we stop taking an position seriously and just... (read more)

That's a a game two can play. Plenty of people laugh at qualia denial, or "feigning anaesthesia". Then you can't just assert that it is.

You want to tell me what arguments you are referring to? Cause you haven't mentioned any here.

Maybe here's where we aren't connecting. You seem to be working on the implicit assumption that when somebody organizes words into sentences and paragraphs and publishes them, that we as critical thinkers should necessarily treat that as an argument and engage with it. I don't think that that is the case. I think that when their words boil down to a pure appeal to intuition, we should not engage with it, we should laugh at it. I don't think there is an actual argu... (read more)

I don't think this is true, I see intuitions as more fundamental to phenomenology than say math or logic. I can imagine a conscious person who sucks at reason but yet has intuition, I can't imagine a person who has logic but no intuition to guide them.

No, they don't have them. All they have is their unjustified intuition that there is somehow something special about qualia that places it outside the laws of physics. They have no actual argument for it.

So when I read those arguments in the literature, I didn't, and I was hallucinating?
So when I read those arguments in the literature, I didn't, and I was hallucinating?

I don't know of anyone doing rigorous studies on this. I don't know why anyone would, there is no profit motive for it.

That said, to the extent that the vaccines are the same, it shouldn't matter. To the extent that they are different, we should want to combine the effects, since we know they all work.

For myself, my first two doses were Pfizer/BioNTech. My third dose was Moderna. In terms of side effects, the third dose felt pretty much like the second.

I'm not trying to make progress on solving the hard problem! As I have said, there is no hard problem. There is nothing there to explain. Unless you can point at something needing explaining, you aren't contributing anything.


If I interpret your questions as trying to point at something in need of an explanation, I still just don't see it. When I introspect, I don't perceive anything to be going on inside my head besides the computation. With regard to (3), so long as a computation is occurring (and empirically computations generally do occur in human... (read more)

Yet billions of people throughout history have introspected without noticing any computation! Are you quite sure that your introspection isn't influenced by your theoretical commitments? In any case, the HP is supposed to exist in relation to's not supposed to be discoverable by pure introspection. If the view from the inside is an ineffable, intrinsically subjective feeling , then there is no physical reason it should exist. The idea that physics is a complete map of reality implies that everything can be understood from an objective, mathematical perspective. Can my green be your red?
So all computations feel like something - both computations on the level of head and computations on the level of countries?

Isn't the burden always on the person who says that something is incompatible? Like, there just isn't any reason to think the two things would be incompatible. If you tell me that any two things are incompatible, the burden is on you to tell me why, and if you can't, then I am right to laugh you out of the room.

That's a reasonable assumption, but it doesnt solve the whole problem. The qualiaphiles need arguments for the in-principle inexplicability of qualia, and they have them.
It's more efficient for the person who knows an argument to explain it than for others to rediscover it. But if that isn't happening, boycotting the problem is unlikely to be productive.

And all Chalmers has to suggest incompatibility with physicalism is intuition, and that is no argument at all. It should be laughed out of the conversation.

And all anything else has to suggest compatbility with physicalism is also intuition...

I think the so-called "hard problem" is really an imaginary problem. I don't see any reason to think that experience is anything more than what certain sorts of computation feel like from the inside.

Obvious questions for anyone who espouses this view:

  1. Why should any given computation feel like that from the inside, instead of feeling some different way from the inside?

  2. Why should any given computation feel any way from the inside? (Indeed, why should any computation feel any way from the inside?)

  3. Why should there be any “inside” for things to feel some way from?

Unless you can answer these questions, or else explain in detail why they are confused (i.e., “provide a reduction”, in Eliezer’s terms), you have made absolutely no progress on solving the Hard Problem.

What do you mean by "inside"?
Yes and no. Maybe there is some basic fact to the effect that computations feel like something from the inside. That's pretty much Chalmers solution. The contentious thing is that he thinks that the basic fact is incompatible with physicalism.

If you want to have public goods funded by the users, why not ask them explicitly before you build the public good? This is usually called "crowdfunding". It works pretty well on relatively small scale projects already, and should really be scaled up.

I agree, I want to see a lot more crowdfunding projects for global problems especially. I think things like crowdfunding are great, and if a public good can be provided this way, its usually easier/simpler than retroactive funding. That being said, I still think there are a few cases where retroactive funding and prizes can be useful. For example, these mechanisms can allow people to finance the creation of music they like before hearing the song itself! I talk about this in more depth here [] and it seems that Vitalik Buterin is working on an implementation of something similar []. I don't expect retroactive funding/prizes to be as important as crowdfunding, but I think having a diverse set of goods-funding mechanisms is important.

If a thing says "you will win" and this causes you to bet on the Red Sox and loose, then this thing, whatever it is, is simply not an oracle. It has failed the defining property of an oracle, which is to make only true statements. It is true that there may be cases where an oracle cannot say anything at all, because any statement it makes will change reality in such a way as to make the statement false. But all this means is that sometimes an oracle will be silent. It does not mean that an oracle's statements are somehow implicitly conditioned on a particu... (read more)

Any analogy between the different ways the human brain operates and the different ways that machine learning algorithms operate is very loose, and I think it is important to keep that distinction and not think that we are learning much about one when we study the other. Yes there are issues with the lack of interpretability in neural network models, but the system 1 / system 2 dichotomy doesn't shed any useful light on them.

1Mateusz Mazurkiewicz1y
Motivation for the post was Kahneman himself using []the system 1 / system 2 as comparison when talking about NN / symbolic AI, and the clear connection between Stiegler's philosophy and that dichotomy. Of course, human brain and deep neural networks are not the same, but for example DeepMind advocates []for using one to learn about the other: "We believe that drawing inspiration from neuroscience in AI research is important for two reasons. First, neuroscience can help validate AI techniques that already exist. Put simply, if we discover one of our artificial algorithms mimics a function within the brain, it suggests our approach may be on the right track. Second, neuroscience can provide a rich source of inspiration for new types of algorithms and architectures to employ when building artificial brains. Traditional approaches to AI have historically been dominated by logic-based methods and theoretical mathematical models. We argue that neuroscience can complement these by identifying classes of biological computation that may be critical to cognitive function." A relevant example given in the article is studying firing properties of dopamine neurons in the mammalian basal ganglia [], in which insights from reinforcement learning are applied for neurophysiological research. I think the connection drawn in the post is valuable as it points to considering Stiegler's work in the symbolic / connectionist AI context, which I think would be valuable for philosophical problems we encounter when designing fair or trustworthy AI.

There is a sublinear aspect actually, which is easier to see (because it is a larger effect) for large risks. So lets say you do two 100,000 microcovid (or 10% chance of catching covid) events. Your chances of not catching covid from one event are 90%, so your chances of not catching covid from either event are 90% * 90%, or 81%. So your chances of catching covid from at least one of these events is 19%. 100,000 microcovids + 100,000 microcovids = 190,000 microcovids. The arithmetic we do of adding microcovids by the ordinary rules of arithmetic is a good ... (read more)

More concerning still is the possibility of simultaneous URTI's.

"The MOOC is based on the first course in Yale's MBA program apparently.  He claims it isn't watered down, but probably a smart 10yo could follow it."

That is about what I would expect of an MBA program.

That would probably be true of Yale's maths course, if they started from the beginning. It probably is true of Yale's computer science course.

This may be a result of selection - the military is a couple of orders of magnitude bigger than the rationalist community, and you heard the best of the best that they have.

True, but the mechanisms that cause people to want to join the military (and elite military units in particular) are in my view in scope for this discussion. What would it look like for the rationalist community to be a thing that many intelligent, highly motivated people aspire to join?

I'm assuming he never had symptoms?


In my own experience, I got one positive antibody test (administered as a standard part of donating blood, not because of any suspicion of covid). It took 8 days for me to get the report of that positive result, and I then got two more antibody tests, both "equivocal" rather than positive. I conclude from this that I probably did have it, and the antibodies just faded. (Many months later I got an antibody test that was straight negative).

Tests for actual covid, rather than antibodies, must fade quicker than antibodi... (read more)

I'm not sure why you think it's not legal for employers to ask about vaccination status? I can't think of a law that would prohibit it, and the EEOC says it is legal:

Vaccination status is one thing, asking in 2025 whether you were vaccinated in August 2021 is another.

I'm not sure what you mean by "equivalent of information theory but for computation". Though it can be applied to other things, information theory is fundamentally about computation. Asking what its equivalent for computation is is like asking what the equivalent of a car is for driving on roads.

(Not that it seems to matter, but logic circuits go far beyond or, and and not gates. There are also nand gates, xor gates, really anything you can write a truth table for you can build a gate for.)

I wouldn't try to fill half your college credits with an informal major in rationality, if that's what you are thinking. Things I would pick up:

  • how to prove things - I picked this up taking theory of computation, but a course on something like "introduction to proof" or something in a math department is just as good. The point is to be able to think with mathematical rigor and precision.
  • introductory statistics, if you don't already have it. This could be AP statistics in high school, or any social science department will have its own course that covers bas
... (read more)
Being able to write well is important but it's important to keep in mind that the goal of writting in a college course is very different from the goal of writing [] elsewhere.

"I mean that many actions or states are categorized as good or evil," - you're using the passive voice here. Categorized by who? I can categorize things as good or evil. So can you. Do you mean to write into your definition of "moral world" that god must be the one doing the categorizing? If so, then you have defined your terms in such a way that there cannot be a "moral world" without a god, but also in a way where I at least don't particularly care for a moral world. If not, then you should think out who can do the categorizing and why.

"and that this is ... (read more)

It sounds like the value of the company is in one particular piece of software they have. Another option would be to sell the software to another already-existing company that could then continue licensing it to the current customers, and shut down this business.

I think that that first bayes equation in the SSA section is supposed to be something more like this: (.5 x 10^-24) / (.5 x 10^-24 + .5 x 10^-11) = 10^-13 (sorry I don't know how to enter equations here). The errors are that that first exponent in the numerator should be -24, not -11, and the answer is just 10^-13 or 1 x 10^-13, not 1 - 10^-13.

1Yair Halberstadt2y
That was meant to be the chance of P2, not P1. Fixed now, thanks!

I'm no microbiologist either. I can't cite a paper to tell me there's no risk of heart disease from pumping my own gasoline. But I also don't have a model of the world that suggests any connection between pumping gasoline and heart disease, so I don't worry about it. Most things don't cause most other things. So just on priors, there's no reason to worry about this.

Why do you think there is any risk of long-term loss of quality of life from the vaccine? There just isn't a reason to think there is a risk there. Your only finding one side because there is only one side.

1Niklas Lehmann2y
Since I (or for that matter most people) do not understand the working mechanisms of the vaccines completely, I can not rule out the chance of significant long-term effects.

I've only briefly googled it, so I may have missed something, but so far as I can find, nobody claims to have evidence of Gates being involved in Epstein's crimes. Even if Gates were still running Microsoft, I wouldn't regard the mere friendship as a cause for anger or boycott.

-5Josh Smith-Brennan2y

Another option, which may only work if you own a hybrid vehicle, is to use the vehicle's engine as a generator. Connect the vehicle's battery to an inverter, and plug your house stuff into that. Only requires an inverter of however many watts you expect to use, and an extension cord.

For me at least, the point is to figure out what can substitute for a failure of the patent system. You might see the patent system as likely to fail in the future because Biden just undermined it. I also think patents were just always a bad idea. So I'm trying to think of how we can get vaccines in a world where there just aren't patents. #1 and 4 seem to presuppose a functioning patent system, so I'm not a fan. #2 and 3 are more interesting. They would both require a credible pre-commitment from the government to enforce such taxation and give it to the pharma companies. Do you think it could make such a credible pre-commitment? Especially after what it just did with the vaccine patents?

Leaving "magic" as a pretheoretic pointer doesn't get you unbiased results, it makes your question incoherent. You have to tell me what you mean by "magic" before I can attempt an answer.

If you leave it to me, then I will define magic as "Humans doing things that violate the laws of physics as we know them", in which case the answer is trivially "No, TDT/FDT do not imply that magic is real."

It's true that all notions of property involve some kind of social norm to enforce, usually a social norm in the form of a law backed by government force. What's different is that in the case of literal property, the scarcity is already out there in the world before the government shows up. It is a fact of the world, independent of social norms, that there is only one of each physical thing. If more than one person wants to decide what to do with a given physical thing, then there is an inherent conflict there. All the government is doing is stepping in to... (read more)

Intellectual property is not literal property, it is a metaphor. When we say that you have intellectual property, what we mean is that the government will use its monopoly on force to prevent other people from doing something similar to what you do. To say that Pfizer has a patent is the same as saying that the government will stop other people from manufacturing the Pfizer vaccine. So removing the vaccine patents is the government saying that it will not prevent people from manufacturing vaccines. Which, I believe, is something you have been (rightly) advocating in other contexts for months.

Isn't that true of all property though? Ownership is not an innate property of physical objects. It's just saying that the government will use force etc.
Right, and in this case the US government is not removing/revoking patents.

#3  - it means that when they did the trials, and people in the trials reported symptoms and got tested and it was covid, that happened 20x more often in the control group than the experimental group. 

In 2018, US households' total wealth was $98 trillion. Federal government spending in 2018 was $4.094 trillion. If we take the standard investment advice and assume that the government can spend 4% of its savings each year, that means the government would need to acquire $102.35 trillion in this one-time taxation. The math does not work out. (I picked 2018 simply because it was the year for which I found total wealth quickest in a google search. The federal budget has only grown since then.)

2Matthew Barnett2y
The last section of my post comes to roughly the same conclusion.

When I spoke to someone in a local Walmart pharmacy department in western Maryland a couple of weeks ago, they told me that they weren't sure if they could give a cancelled second shot to someone else, because they are sent exactly the number of shots they need on the assumption that everyone gets their second shot at 3 weeks. So do double check if that cancelled second appointment can actually be given to someone else. If it can't, there is absolutely no reason for you not to take it.

As far as going out and doing things with your spouse (or anyone else), ... (read more)

I did confirm that my slot would be available for someone else, although I can't guarantee that the slot was filled. I have relaxed my own precautions to some extent after the first shot.  I'm not too worried about being barred from anything based on anyone else's policies--the limiting factors are more likely to be my own caution, local prevalence, and whether someone else's onerous policies (general, not specific to my vaccination status) make an activity not worth doing anyway. Do you have a reference for the comparison of first-shot Pfizer vs. J&J?
Answer by RiverApr 07, 202115

If in expectation a life involves more suffering than happiness, then it is immoral to create such a life. I think that that is not the case, for most people, there is more happiness than suffering. We justify making the choice for an as-yet-non-existent person the same way we justify making all choices for very small children, and gradually fewer choices as the child gets older: until they are able to make a decision for themselves, somebody else has to make it for them, and all we can do is give the decision to someone we think will act in the child's best interests.

2[comment deleted]2y
As a rule of thumb: (1) are you happy that you exist? (2) do you have a reason to believe that your children will have life worse than you?

That's not a bug, that's a feature! The prosecutor knows what evidence the prosecutor has, but the defendant knows whether he did the crime. We want the defendant to make the plea decision blind to the strength of the prosecutor's evidence, because guilty defendants will guess that the prosecutor has strong evidence and plead guilty (even if that guess is wrong), and innocent defendants will guess that the prosecutor has weak evidence and proceed to trial. This is how we want the system to work. 

I don't think the intention of the plea deal system should be to get people who wouldn't be found guilty in a court of law to plead guilty for any reason.  I think subverting the right to a trial by jury by creating a system that encourages people to plead guilty who the jury wouldn't find guilty is bad. Overall I think the defendant has to little power in the US system and moving the system to give them more powers is good even if that occasionally means guilty people go free. 

Another idea: as things stand today, prosecutors are only allowed to file charges when they have "probable cause". Courts won't put a number on what that means, but you might reasonably approximate it as 25% certainty that the defendant did it. We could insist on a higher standard - preponderance of the evidence (which courts do define as > 50% certainty) or clear and convincing evidence (which courts won't put a number on but you could reasonably approximate as 75% certainty).

As I wrote, I don't think such a number should be set directly by law.  A judge can however take the number into account when deciding whether there's "probable cause". Individual jurors might also decide to categorically treat charges with are under some number as baseless charges. A voter might decide that he doesn't want to reelect prosecutors that fill charges with <50% or <75% certainty. Prosecutors who fill charges that they believe to be low probability can be judged for that behavior democratically and different voters can disagree with each other what standards they have for prosecutors.  Having new dimensions based on which voters can evaluate prosecutors and thus incentvise different behavior for prosecutors then just a maximum of convictions is part of the point. 
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