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Covid 3/4: Declare Victory and Leave Home

- Is there any reason to think research that could lead to malaria vaccines is funding-constrained? There doesn't seem to be any shortage of in-mice studies, and in light of Eroom's Law the returns on marginal biomedical research investment seem low.
- Malaria is preventable and curable with existing drugs, so vaccines for it only make sense if their cost (including required research) works out lower than preventing it in other ways, which means some strategies that made sense for something like Covid won't make sense here.
- That's not how international waters works, you're still subject to the jurisdiction of the flag country and if they're okay with your trial you could do it more cheaply on land there.
- If you attempt an end-run of the developed-country regulators with your trial they will just refuse to approve anything based on your trial data, which is why pharma companies don't jurisdiction-shop much at present.
- That said developed country regulators do in fact approve challenge trials for malaria vaccines (as I noted) and vaccines for other curable diseases. Regulatory & IRB frameworks no doubt still add a bunch of overhead but this does further bound the potential benefits of attempting to work outside them.
- I don't know what "focusing on epistemics" could possibly entail in terms of concrete interventions. Trying to develop prediction markets I suppose? I have updated away from the usefulness of those based on their performances over the past past year though, and it seems like they are more constrained by policy than by lack of marginal funding (at retail donor levels).
- Policy change is still intractable.
- In general there are lots of margins on which the world might be improved, but the vast majority of them are not plausibly bottlenecked on resources that I or most EAs I know personally control. Learning about a few more such margins is not a significant update. I focus on bednets not because I think it's unusually much more important than other world-improving margins, nor because I think it will be a margin where unusually much improvement happens in coming years, but because it's a rare case of a margin where I think decisions I can make personally (about what to do with my disposable income dollars) are likely to have a nontrivial impact.

Covid 3/4: Declare Victory and Leave Home

It’s plausible that the Covid-19 pandemic could end up net massively saving lives, and a lot of Effective Altruists (and anyone looking to actually help people) have some updating to do. It’s also worth saying that 409k people died of malaria in 2020 around the world, despite a lot of mitigation efforts, so can we please please please do some challenge trials and ramp up production in advance and otherwise give this the urgency it deserves?

What update is this supposed to cause for Effective Altruists? We already knew that policy around all sorts of global health (and other) issues is very far from optimal, but there's nothing we can do about that. Even a global pandemic wasn't enough to get authorities to treat trials and approvals with appropriate urgency and consideration of the costs of inaction, so what hope would a tiny number of advocates have? We can fantasize all day about what we'd do if we ran the world, but back in reality policy change is intractable and donating to incrementally-scalable interventions like bednets remains the best most of us can personally do. Or am I misunderstanding what you meant here?

(Note also that malaria vaccine human challenge trials were already a thing; Effective Altruist John Beshir participated as a subject in one in 2019.)

$1,000 Bounty for Pro-BLM Policy Analysis
Yes, I'm conflating "BLM movement" and "individual Americans who want to help BLM achieve its goals" because isn't it the same thing.

No? I want to help BLM achieve its goals, but "launch a nationwide discussion" and "come to a consensus policy" are not actions I can personally take. If I post policy proposals on Facebook it seems unlikely to me that many people will read or be influenced by them; it also seems unlikely that they would be better than many other policy ideas already out there. If you actually do think that lack of policy ideas is the most important bottleneck for BLM and that personal Facebook posts by non-experts is a promising way of addressing it then that's a possible answer, but if so I'd like to see your analysis for why you believe that.

find solutions that both sides support

Note that at the national level this is inherently very difficult because for any proposal made by one party, the other party has an incentive to oppose it in order to deny the proposing party a victory (and the accompanying halo of strength and efficacy). But fortunately this is not necessarily a problem for at least some approaches to the police reform issue, because police are mostly controlled by state & city governments, and as noted many states and cities are under undisputed Democratic Party control, so the relevant politics are within rather than between parties.

defend shops from looters so people have more sympathy for your side

This seems to have already been done; reports of looting have become increasingly rare and polls report public sympathy for BLM is very high.

$1,000 Bounty for Pro-BLM Policy Analysis

The question was not what the "BLM movement" should do, but what an individual Americans should do; your steps do not seem actionable for individuals. Your steps 1 and 2 also partly beg the question.

Additionally, assuming the support of all Democratic politicians is highly dubious; a number of cities that have been marked by highly visible abusive police behavior in recent weeks are already controlled by Democratic mayors and city councils, who in many cases have nonetheless refused to hold the police accountable. And support of 50% of the population (which BLM now has) is certainly not always enough to pass "whatever policy you want" absent coordinated organization and in the face of political inertia; for example marijuana legalization has had majority nationwide support for years but has no near-term prospect of passage at the federal level.

English Bread Regulations

1) People are probably less likely to throw out stale bread if it's impossible to obtain fresh bread?

2) If the price of e.g. fish is less regulated but generally higher than that of bread, banning fresh bread would lead to a larger rise in the price of fish as more rich people switch to it, which would perhaps lead to fishermen working longer hours and catching more fish, helping make up the overall calorie shortfall from the poor harvest without increasing costs for poor people who could never afford fish in the first place. Whereas letting the price of bread itself rise would be more regressive?

3) Same as with fish but with meat from livestock, pushing tradeoffs in the direction of "slaughter this year" vs "keep fattening up for next year", which could be desirable if the wheat shortage is expected to be temporary, and might even decrease demand for wheat as livestock feed if that was a thing at the time?

Not sure how large any of these effects would be.

How long should someone quarantine to be sure they aren't contagious with Covid?

Since apparently some confirmed cases never develop symptoms (this study of Diamond Princess passengers estimates 18%), it seems the answer to your second question is "never"?

Rent Needs to Decrease

The world population is not infinite. If somebody moves to San Francisco that means lower demand and lower rents wherever they came from (and conversely many other US cities now have housing crises caused by exiles from San Francisco). The desirable cities should be allowed to expand until there is more than enough room for everybody (yes, everybody) who wants to live in them to live in them, at which point landlords will no longer have the leverage to keep rents high.

The Rocket Alignment Problem

Next time I see somebody say "shoot for the moon so if you miss you'll land among the stars" I'm going to link them here.

Secondary Stressors and Tactile Ambition
You seem to be saying that you prefer general words that encompass many concepts rather than specific and more precise words.

I can believe that you meant something more specific and precise than "worrying sometimes makes things worse" when you said "secondary stressors", but your post failed to get any more precise distinction across, and if people used the term as jargon they wouldn't be using it for anything more precise than "worrying making things worse". (Less sure about the motivation vs "tactile ambition" example since I don't know of any decent framework for thinking about motivation.)

The Craft And The Codex

Yeah, Lesswrong sometimes feels a bit like a forum for a fad diet that has a compelling story for why it might work and seemed to have greatly helped a few people anecdotally, so the forum filled up with people excited about it, but it doesn't seem to actually work for most of them. Yet they keep coming back because their friends are on the forum now and because they don't want to admit failure.

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