Grant

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Making Sense of Coronavirus Stats

I've also been following COVID-19 for investment reasons. Every study I've read of the disease indicates it is extremely contagious relative to the flu. This recent retrospective study indicates that prior to Feb 5th, R0 in China were between 4.7 and 6.6. Time to double was 2.4 days:

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.02.07.20021154v1.full.pdf

However since then China has made herculean efforts to stop the spread of the disease. R0 has certainly plummeted. So I'm not sure what to think. I would imagine officially reported numbers from any country are going to be limited by testing. How many people going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms get a COVID-2019 test? It sounds like no one except Korea and maybe China are testing for community acquired CoV.

What I believe is that if other countries do not take similar measures to China, this thing is going to rapidly spread. From an investment perspective this has created the perfect setup for a short: if a sizable portion of the world's population gets infected, the global economy will greatly suffer. If countries take China-esque measures, the global economy will also suffer.

The rosiest outcome I can imagine is warm weather halts the spread of the disease, and then we get a vaccine ready by the time fall rolls around. It's worth noting I've been the "chicken little" among my investing peers.

One point of optimism is everyone on the Diamond Princess was tested, and "only" 5% of passengers required serious medical care. This number is quite a bit lower than the 10-15% figure I often see thrown around.

Can you link to your source on cremation houses not being able to keep up? That's something I hadn't heard before. Thanks.

Why bitcoin?

It looks like other blockchain technologies (altcoins) have been the victim of 51% attacks, so I'm going to read up on their repercussions. I wonder if they were carried out by bitcoiners who don't like competition?

It occurs to me that little can probably be done to stop attacks on distributed systems by large actors with non-monetary goals. If people are willing to throw a lot of resources into destroying a fledgling technology, they will probably succeed.

I do have an idea for a distributed public ledger in which attacks are possible but always negative-sum. I have little experience with cryptography so its probably rubbish. If it looks to not be terrible I will probably post it here for comment.

Why bitcoin?

Thanks, I did not know about https://blockchain.info/pools.

On the 51% attacks, I was specifically thinking of state actors. However, mightn't any eventuality which leads to a lot of Bitcoiners who aren't enthusiasts or have ulterior motives (Bond villains?) be an issue? The current state of the BC community is probably mostly BC enthusiasts, i.e. people who aren't just in it for the money.

You're right that "wasted" was a poor term; "inefficient" would be better.

Stupid Questions March 2015

Why does anyone think BitCoin is going to work when its users aren't mostly BitCoin enthusiasts?

I'm specifically referring to incentives of 51% attacks. The returns on mining seem to increase as computing power eclipses 50%, creating an economy of scale in mining and incentivicing attacks.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

The information in a science textbook is (or should be) considered scientific because of the processes used to vet it. Absent of this process its just conjecture.

I often wonder if this position is unpopular because of its implications for economics and climatology.

Rationality Quotes Thread March 2015

Macroeconomics? Sure, its highly politicized so in many cases I'll agree with that. But microeconomics is in many ways the study of how to rationally deal with scarcity. IMO, traditional micro assuming homo-economicus is actually more interesting (and useful, outside of politics) than the behavioral stuff for this reason.

Stupid Questions March 2015

Is there overwhelming evidence on the safety (not efficacy) of vaccines somewhere, and I've just missed it?

[QUESTION]: What are your views on climate change, and how did you form them?

I used to just trust the word of the experts, because I am not an expert and had no incentive to become one. I didn't have a lot of faith in such a politicized science, but reasoned it was probably better than anything I could come up with. I trusted the IPCC reports, but after reading about Climategate thought they were exaggerated a bit as a means to gain political power.

Recently I've started to consider investing in alternative energy. Given that most alternative energy (especially with the fracking and shale oil revolutions) is based on AGW being a serious problem, I thought it deserved a real look.

I was appalled to see a non-experimental science call something as complex as the Earth's climate to be "settled", and how even the scientists seemed to degenerate into name-calling ("deniers" and "alarmists"). The issue was even more politicized than I first thought. I was unable to find real public debate between skeptics and supporters, but did come to understand that the disagreement is over feedbacks, specifically the change in water vapor, which respond to an increase in temperature from CO2 emissions.

I was most appalled at the lack of reporting of the global warming pause. I did not find a single supporting scientist seriously reconsider his views in light of the pause. One would think admissions such as "our models were clearly wrong, but AGW may still be a problem because the heat is probably going into the oceans/arctic/whatever" would be commonplace.

To me the "science" of climatology seems very similar to economics: experiments are impossible and it is very politicized. I enjoy and respect economics greatly, but recognized that progress in it has been very slow relative to the harder, experimental sciences.

As a result my faith in climatologists is at an all-time low. If I had to guess, I'd take a shot in the dark and say the feedbacks are being exaggerated by the IPCC, and warming will continue at about 0.10 degrees C per decade. Actually I'd say this whole experience has lowered my faith in politics and made me more libertarian as a result. I am used to people doing and believing disgusting things for power, but something about perverting science especially offends.

So I came here to read some (hopefully) more rational reports on AGW.

I would really like to see a study of the Earth's energy budget - can't we measure radiation lost to space with satellites? Everything else seems rather immaterial (unless the nuclear energy output of the Earth's core varies significantly).

I just read the OP's articles. There is a supporting argument in them which makes me think my sensitivity estimates are too low: the idea that sensitivity can be estimated from any source of forcing (of which there are many), and not just CO2. This would seem to suggest that we have more evidence on climate sensitivity (even if its all proxy records) than I'd of first guessed. However, unless proxy records can cover all significant forcings, I would doubt their usefulness. Do we have a proxy record of cloud cover, for example?

Stranger Than History

Agreed. Powerful people (especially politicians) seem to hold plenty of irrational beliefs. Of course we can't really tell the difference between lying about irrational beliefs and hypocrisy, if there's a meaningful difference for the outside observer at all.

Rationality Quotes October 2013

The quote refers to the (end) market and users, not the internal workings of a software development firm.

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