Transportation as a Constraint

Re: your speculation regarding future transportation costs, I vaguely recall something by an economist a couple of years ago (maybe on the Krugman blog), stating that economic reasons by themselves were enough to ensure that transportation couldn't get arbitrarily cheap. But I can't recall the specifics.

Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner

Have you seen VaccinateCA, a volunteer effort that hopes to help CA citizens make sense of the mess in that state?

Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner

Missing text:

  • There's a paragraph that only says "Without vaccinations, they "
  • There's another paragraph that ends with a comma: "If you don’t want to succeed, there are always plausible ways to not succeed. For example," But maybe that's intentional to lead into the following paragraph with "California has decided to [...]".
Covid 1/21: Turning the Corner

It's amazing how many problems were caused by using a political rather than monetary prioritisation scheme for the scarce vaccines.

Lots of head-meets-wall moments this week. Like every week. My "favorite" as an EU citizen was the EU criticizing the UK for trying to secure more than way-too-few vaccines. The notion that an entire first-world continent somehow failed so epically in one of the single most important challenges of 2020 (namely, securing enough vaccine) indicates that our leaders somehow weren't living anywhere close to reality.

And that no leaders worldwide thought of any non-zero-sum solutions to the problem (like paying to increase vaccine production capacity) does not bode well for our ability to solve more difficult coordination problems.

What is going on in the world?

These narratives are frameworks, or models. There's the famous saying that all models are wrong, but some are useful. Here, the narratives take the complex world and try to simplify it by essentially factoring out "what matters". Insofar as such models are correct or useful, they can aid in decision-making, e.g. for career choice, prioritisation, etc.

Even Less Wrong itself was founded on such a narrative, one developed over many years. Here's EY's current Twitter bio, for instance:

Ours is the era of inadequate AI alignment theory. Any other facts about this era are relatively unimportant, but sometimes I tweet about them anyway.

Similarly, a political science professor or historian might conclude a narrative about trends in Western democracies, or something. And the narrative that "Everyone is going to die, the way things stand." (from aging, if nothing else) is as simple as it is underappreciated by the general public. If we took it remotely seriously, we would use our resources differently.

Finally, another use of the narratives in the OP is to provide a contrast to ubiquitous but wrong narratives, e.g. the doomed middle-class narrative that endless one-upmanship towards neighbors and colleagues will somehow make one happy.

In Defense of Twitter's Decision to Ban Trump

In response to your second point re: free speech, a cross-post of a comment I made on Facebook on a related issue:

I'm not from the US, but despite knowing the common counter-arguments, I don't understand how platform censorship is consistent with your 1st amendment.

Technically, the 1st amendment only prevents the government from censoring stuff; in practice, that has IIRC meant that e.g. a recruitment twitch stream by the US military is arguably not allowed to block spam.

And if that isn't allowed, surely a system where any powerful member of government can pressure any private platform holder to censor arbitrary stuff doesn't make sense. All you've done is to add a level of indirection to the government censorship. Here's a story by Glenn Greenwald on the issue of platform censorship, and he ultimately resigned from The Intercept because he got censored while trying to report on the same story, too.

The Power to Demolish Bad Arguments

The notion of specificity may be useful, but to me its presentation in terms of tone (beginning with the title "The Power to Demolish Bad Arguments") and examples seemed rather antithetical to the Less Wrong philosophy of truth-seeking.

For instance, I read the "Uber exploits its drivers" example discussion as follows: the author already disagrees with the claim as their bottom line, then tries to win the discussion by picking their counterpart's arguments apart, all the while insulting this fictitious person with asides like "By sloshing around his mental ball pit and flinging smart-sounding assertions about “capitalism” and “exploitation”, he just might win over a neutral audience of our peers.".

In contrast to e.g. Double Crux, that seems like an unproductive and misguided pursuit - reversed stupidity is not intelligence, and hence even if we "demolish" our counterpart's supposedly bad arguments, at best we discover that they could not shift our priors.

And more generally, the essay gave me a yucky sense of "rationalists try to prove their superiority by creating strawmen and then beating them in arguments", sneer culture, etc. It doesn't help that some of its central examples involve hot-button issues on which many readers will have strong and yet divergent opinions, which imo makes them rather unsuited as examples for teaching most rationality techniques or concepts.

Covid 1/7: The Fire of a Thousand Suns

Zvi, my heartfelt thanks once again for the herculean efforts you're going to in creating these Covid posts.


Tiny formatting error: The link on "even though doing that made them look superficially like the complete and total idiots they are:" points to a Google Doc that prompts me with "You need access" instead of to the Twitter image immediately below.

Covid 12/31: Meet the New Year

Reasoning by analogy, via some googling:

Here is how it works for the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella):

Children should get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 to 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age.

Or here are the WHO recommendations for various vaccines (from the larger source here) for children. The times in the Booster Dose column span months or years. This doesn't quite answer the question of how soon you need to be, but does provide an intuition for the orders of magnitude which are typically involved, at least for children. Though besides age, I suppose part of the epidemiological reasoning here must involve not just the reaction of the immune system, but also the prevalence of the disease.

Luna Lovegood and the Chamber of Secrets - Part 13

Thanks for writing and finishing this story! There's something particularly commendable about the act of finishing any kind of project. Kudos!


"In the First Wizarding War, your mother contributed to the development of a secret weapon intended to neutralize Lord Voldemort." (chapter 4)

Given the incompetence of the wizarding world, it seems very appropriate that the way they'd come up with to defeat a powerful evil wizard would be to... offer him godhood and make him someone else's problem.


Alternative story ending: Lord Voldemort defeats himself by using Legilimency on Luna.


The curse on the position of Hogwarts' Defense Professor still seems to be active. How unfortunate for Mr. Lockhart. Though what was he thinking when he accepted the position in the first place?


Does anyone know what the 7 and 0s thing on the astrolabe is a reference for?
Same question regarding the tactical reality anchors.

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