jmh's Comments

Applications of Economic Models to Physiology?

This is a bit tongue in cheek but " There's a dog in the picture. Once you see the dog, there's still a lot going on in the picture, but the whole thing makes a lot more sense. " suggests we should not be taking pictures of dalmatians with high contrast black and white films ;-)

At the same time I think that does get to the core of the discussion, for me at least. High contrast images are really good for certain things, no so much in other settings. So while economic concepts may shed some light on yet unanswered questions -- or perhaps merely suggest questions we have not yet thought about due to framing type blinders -- I think one needs to tread carefully.

I do agree with your, and ChristianKI's, position that some of the underlying economic concepts, theoretical at least, may actually be wheels we can put on another cart and make some progress. But from that perspective it's really just the abstract math model and not really economics. I do think using existing wheels is often a pretty good idea. But I also think periodically reinventing the existing wheels is also a pretty good idea too.

So here would be more specific questions I have about the general idea:

1) With pricing I'm not convinced by your answer that we really get anything more, even if the additional properties are really anything more than terminological differences from any other signally mechanism. Nor am I really seeing what more we're learning or can learn with the change to the economic price model here. What new insights are expected here -- or what can the current model approach not tell us but that seem to be rather important?

Some other observations. Insulin as a price is problematic to me on two counts. First, even taking it as such it seems to get us a partial equilibrium model at best so tells us very little about the overall state of the system. Second, it's not clear to me just what type of price it would be. It's not like a dollar price where we see the underlying monetary unit as common across all the local prices. Insulin is one of the many hormones in the human body and we don't seem to have a common unit that would underlie all the hormonal signaling mechanisms. If so then that price will be more along the line of a barter market "price".

I think a lot of people lose sight of what prices are and see them purely as a signalling device (the Hayakian information signals in society) but prices are both signalling devices and rationing devices. Is the idea to looks at the relative prices within a body and induce rationing on consumption of certain resources and the increased production of other resources?

2) Discount rates. I cannot really think of a good use here, even if we can (easily I suspect) calculate such a rate. The implication is see is that those with more fat should have a lower discount rate for future energy meaning they save more. But is that a really good description of the amount of fat more people have? I would think a better description might be trash we're unable to dispose of fast enough so it's just pilling up on the streets and empty fields. Still, you might be seeing a number of things I'm not.

3) When thinking about economic processes and physiological process how do things like , production possibility frontiers or scarcity compare? Is the body's normal state of operation one of scarcity or perhaps non-scarcity? Does it the body always operate on it's PPF? If we're not in a state of scarcity will the economic concepts (which I would to some extent separate from the underlying math) that all derive entirely from that starting point really apply?

I do think the ideas of always moving towards some equilibrium state, and generally never actually being at the point, applies to both settings. On that basis I might see where cross pollination might be good -- but I still don't quite see a benefit to adopting any of the terminology and resulting mental imagery will help and have certain fears it will mislead.

Applications of Economic Models to Physiology?

Like one of the comments below I am a bit skeptical. However, I would be curious to learn more about the motivation to apply this type of analysis for physiology.

Anti-social Punishment

I'll lump two thoughts in here -- one relates to SilentCat the other elsewhere but...

Like others I think this is a great insight and should be looked at by the authors, or other interested social scientists. I think it relates to a question I ask myself from time to time, though generally don't get too far in answering. Where do we draw the line between public and private spheres of action?

I don't think that is a fixed/static division over time and seems to have important implication for public policy. I'm tempted to say it might with the above proposed efficiency division. I'm not sure though.

The over-all results and some of the other comments also made me wonder if history -- particularly as most of these locations seem to have been former USSR members. I'm just wondering if perhaps the culture legacy would support the behavior if innocent people were just as likely to be punished for what might be actions of other attempting to make everyone's lives better (but often I suspect viewed as a threat to the authorities and government powers).

Affordance Widths

" One reason I don't like your graph is that I have no idea how to suffer both X and Y at the same time, for the same action. I don't know how a single action can be both too assertive and too weak, as in your example. "

I would think the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement would provide a good case study here. Black/African American leaders seemed to be faced with that dilemma -- the nonviolent view was often seen as passive and ineffective but the threat of violence, much less actual violence, would also be criticized. I think it is inherent in social settings where some form or group affiliation is clear but the group itself covers various factions.

Perhaps the events in Hong Kong over the past 6 month would fit into this analysis as well.

Affordance Widths

It does make sense and I like the visual presentation of the situation as well.

One thing I would also mention, given we're talking about social interactions and behaviors, is that we might not just want to see {B} as the causal source of {X} or {Y}.

I do think that we can consider {B} as a multi-margin type observation-- so we don't get to just look at some metric call amount but also need to look at some qualitative aspect, how {B} is done. I think that is in line with the comment below about being assertive without domineering being a learned skill as much as just learning to be assertive.

But I think {X} and {Y} also need to be put in that social behavior space where we need to learn how to do those as well. If so we might see that David and Edgar's dilemma is less about the amount of {B} they do or quality/how they do {B} but perhaps more about how the culture or society related to those two. Is it really {B} that is driving the response? If not are those {X} and {Y} appropriate or correct responses to David or Edgar doing {B}?

Symbiotic Wars

" The Cold War meme died when the divide between Capitalism and Communism ceased to be meaningful. The Chinese Communist Party manages the world's largest capitalist economy. "

Neither of these claims really seems to be correct to me. They strike me more a memenic statement than a true representation of history or the state of the world today.

I do agree that the terms socialism, capitalism and communism all are poorly defined and enjoy a lot of equivicational use where speakers are talking past one another.

I would say the cold war meme "died" not due to labels having meaning or clearly separating form of governance but because the "radical" communist disappear -- by that I mean the communist regimes (USSR, primarily, and China) both stopped acting in as empires bent on extending imperial reach and dominance and expanding their borders.

Is the rate of scientific progress slowing down? (by Tyler Cowen and Ben Southwood)

TFP may be a proxy for scientific progress but I'm not sure it really captures that cleanly. I think if on tosses in the lens of external economies of scale (think network type effects or Smithian type division of labor and wealth of nations) then I think the mental image of "scientific progress" most hold in their heads doesn't quite fit. I think much of that then is more viewed as improved management or coordination or resources.

The question, at least to me, then is do we want to lump the knowledge on how we combine existing resources into "science" or something else. The case can be made either way but I think it needs to be made explicitly.

Why aren't assurance contracts widely used?
Answer by jmhDec 01, 20192

Perhaps one way of looking at this is:

1) Assurance contracts have been used in the past, just in a non-obvious way. The type of collective actions problems being solved traditionally have been via government or clubs and other, non-collective action/public good type settings by things like escrow type solutions.

2) Until the internet and this form of mass communication/connect emerged the "problem" was not the assurance of commitment to contribute but the problem of cost in coordinating any such effort. The "fixed" costs of just proposing a solution and gathering a bunch of people to take action dominated and most of the big issues were being addressed by existing institutions.

Open-Box Newcomb's Problem and the limitations of the Erasure framing

I did a quick search but didn't find any nuggets so perhaps someone here might know. What is the back story here, why was the problem even constructed?

Is daily caffeine consumption beneficial to productivity?

misread and though you were saying the caffeine was suppressing -- not that it was preventing the suppression!

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