mwacksen

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especially if Ukraine disperses their population.

Something that sounds simple - "dispersing" your population - really comes with a huge cost. You can't just send your population into the fields and expect them to live there.

And trucks can still drive off-road.

For which they require gasoline.

With NATO supply lines, Ukraine can afford to lose a million trucks a month to mud

I don't think this is accurate, Nato doesn't just have a million trucks a month lying around somewhere to send.

If the people aren't in cities, what is Russia going to target?

I don't particularly enjoy playing this morbid game of guessing what Russia could do, but targeting things like dams, bridges, power-plants, and other infrastructure would do far more damage than you seem to acknowledge.

Then continues to drive into Crimea.

Do they drive through the water, or how does this work? I feel like your arguments prove to much. If Ukraine had it that easy, why haven't they taken even Kherson yet?

Me: Do you agree reviewers aim to only accept valid papers, and care more about validity than interestingness?

I've reviewed papers. I didn't spend copious amounts of time checking the proofs. Some/most reviewers may claim to only accept "valid papers" (whatever that means), but the way the system is set up peer review serves mainly as a filter to filter out blatantly bad papers. Sure, people try to catch the obviously invalid papers. And sure, many researches really try to find mistakes. But at the end of the day, you can always get your results published somewhere, and once something is published, it is almost never retracted.

If retractions were common, surely you would have said that was evidence peer review didn't accomplish much!

Sure, let me retract my previous argument and amend it with the additional statement that even when a paper is known to have mistakes by the community, it is almost never retracted.

2: Some amount of trust is taken for granted in science. The existence of trust in a scientific field does not imply that the participants don't actually care about the truth. Bounded Distrust.

I don't think that this refutes my argument like you think it does. Reviewers don't check software because they don't have the capacity to check software. It is well-known that all non-trivial software contains bugs. Reviewers accept this, because at the end of the day they don't comprehensively check validity.

because the latter would have rubbed you the wrong way even more

No, I think that peer review at a good journal is worth much more than peer review at a bad journal.

I think our disagreement comes down to the stated intent being to check validity, and me arguing that the actual effect is to offer a filter for poorly written/ not interesting articles. There is obviously some overlap, as nobody will find an obviously invalid article interesting! Depending on the journal, this may come close to checking some kind of validity. I trust an article in Annals of Mathematics to be correct in a way that I don't trust an article in PNAS to be. We can compare peer-review with the FDA - the stated intent is to offer safe medications to the population. The actual effect is ...

I previously did an analysis of the tactical utility of nuclear weapons and came to the conclusion that they aren't as cost-effective as precision weapons.

We still live in a world where all use of nuclear weapons is strategic.

What if the Ukrainians take the nuclear threat seriously and disperse their civilian population?

So what? the point of Russia using nukes is to signal that it will do whatever it takes to defeat Ukraine. The tactical effects are beside the point. It's hard to predict what will happen exactly, but if a nuke gets used anywhere, there will be panic in every European city worse than the covid panic of 2020. The knock-on effects are debatable, but the ones that primarily affect this conflict will be the effects on the population in the West, who after all elect their leaders and therefore constrain them. I do not think there is an appetite for unlimited support of Ukraine, and I think the use of any nuke fundamentally changes the equation in a way that is very hard to predict. This is especially true if the nuke is used e.g. in the context of a nuclear test on Crimea.

But your discussion on tactical nukes misses an important point: Russia is so far not trying to exterminate Ukraine and its people. If it were willing to do so and use nukes, it could wreck havoc on Ukranian supply-chains and leadership in a way that goes for beyond "50% combat ineffective". Armies needs supplies, working logistics, etc. If someone is reckless enough to start using nuclear weapons, I don't think it's safe to assume they will be prudent enough only to use them on military targets.

Yes, I agree, and my argument was an oversimplification. That said, I don't think you're properly considering its context. The context here is that if Ukraine were to be in a situation where it had no chance of winning the war (e.g. due to nuclear weapons being in play). Here is what I'm replying to:

As for Ukrainians there are reasons to believe they're much more willing to die than Japanese in 1945. Anecdotes first. I asked a Ukrainian yesterday what should Ukraine do if nuked. She said obviously keep fighting.

Many of your examples (1-3, arguably 4) apply to individual local events/battles, or are hard to apply as-is to this context (6, 8).

There is a lesson here.

The lesson is that even the defenders of Mariupol eventually decided to stop fighting rather than to die. And those defenders were highly motivated, patriotic/nationalistic soldiers. I would expect and hope that the threshold for "normal" citizens is lower.

whether it's morally good, etc., but they work.

Define "work". They may "work" for an individual battle, but they tautologically don't win the war. It's telling that almost all of your examples are fictional or have unreliable (ancient) sources. I've never heard of a last-stand involving an entire army, and even completely crazy countries (WW2 Japan, Germany) capitulate eventually when faced with overwhelming firepower. And nuclear weapons are overwhelming firepower.

Care to bet on the results of a survey of academic computer scientists? If the stakes are high enough, I could try to make it happen.

No, no more than I would bet on a survey of <insert religious group here> whether they think <religious group> is more virtuous than <non-religious group>. Academics may claim that peer review is to check validity but their actions tell a different story. This is especially true in "hard" fields like mathematics where reviewers may even struggle to follow an argument, let alone check its validity. Given that most papers are never read by others, this is really not a big deal though.

But I'll offer three further arguments for why I don't think peer review ensures validity.

Argument 1: a) Humans (including reviewers) make mistakes all the time, but b) Retractions/corrections in papers are very rare.

Unless academics are better at spotting mistakes immediately when reviewing than everyone else (they are not), we should expect lots of peer-reviewed articles to therefore have mistakes because invalid papers rarely get retracted.

Argument 2: Computer science papers don't always include reproducible software, but checking code would absolutely be required to check validity.

Argument 3: It is customary to submit papers that are rejected by one journal to another journal. This means that articles that fail "peer review" at one journal can obtain "peer review" at a different journal.

PS: For CS it's harder to check "validity", but here's how papers replicate in other fields: https://fantasticanachronism.com/2021/11/18/how-i-made-10k-predicting-which-papers-will-replicate/

Peer review can definitely issue certificates mistakenly, but validity is what it aims to certify.

No it doesn't. It's hard to say what the "aims" of peer-review are, but "ensuring validity" is certainly not one of them. As a first approximation, I'd say that peer-review aims to certify that the author is not an obvious crank, and that the argument being made is an interesting one to someone in the field.

You just have to twist my words and make such an offensive response, don't you? To restate - the siege of Mariupol didn't stop Ukraine from defending Ukraine.

I don't see what's offensive, and I'm not twisting your words but pointing out something that's almost obvious: IF you have no chance of winning THEN you should stop fighting. This was true in Mariupol, and is true for the rest of Ukraine also. The siege of Mariupol absolutely stopped Ukraine from defending Mariupol. The important question is whether the IF applies. But once it does, throwing away human life just to make a point strikes me as somewhat nihilistic.

We're afraid he may start a nuclear war. That's pretty bad already.

Yes, is there anyone who could lead Russia of whom you would not be afraid that they'd start a nuclear war?

Yet you want to give him an opportunity to build a bigger army. To eventually give it to a successor who you think will be even worse.

No I don't "want" to "give" him anything, I'm just recognizing the realities of the situation, and noticing that what you're describing could happen with or without Putin.

Any proposed solution that relies on him promising to not invade again has very low probability of working.

I agree. But this doesn't mean that compromises can't be worked out, see e.g. the Black sea grain deal.

As I said in the comment above the perfect endgame is Putin no longer in power.

Not it isn't, because there are alternatives that are worse than Putin. I hope there are alternatives to Putin that are both realistic and also better, but I haven't seen much evidence for this coming out of Russia.

As for Ukrainians there are reasons to believe they're much more willing to die than Japanese in 1945

Are you familiar with Japan pre 1945 at all? You have heard of kamikaze pilots at the very least, right? I will quote the Wikipedia article on them: "The tradition of death instead of defeat, capture, and shame was deeply entrenched in Japanese military culture; one of the primary values in the samurai life and the Bushido code was loyalty and honor until death". Unless your argument is "Ukraine and its leaders are a death cult", I'm going to respectfully ignore this point as "throwaway62... has no idea what they're talking about".

This didn't stop Ukrainians.

Yes it did. Unless you're living in a weird alternative history where Ukraine still controls Mariupol. Sure, Ukrainians in the West will wax poetic about how they will rather die than submit, but when push comes to shove one hopes that this kind of idiotic WWI-style nationalism will give way to cooler heads.

Ukrainians understand it too well now and some are just plainly saying that they would rather die than live under Russian rule.

the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

The legalese was very thinly veiled (removing all NATO forces from those countries).

You've made a number of very questionable claims in your comment, so I think I'll start winding down this conversation. Removing NATO forces from post-soviet countries is not "thinly veiled" legalese for returning Soviet republics to Russia, it's not even close.

one should treat this as an open declaration of his plans

Words have meanings: is it "thinly veiled", or is it "open"?

I agree, though sanctions are always sold as being strategic even when they are moral.

The fact that Putin has not used nukes yet is to his credit, but I do think that there is a marked shift in his demeanor from how would sound in speeches before to now. Make of that what you will.

Then yeah, sure. Everybody would laugh themselves to death.

It's not that simple. Nobody in the West is even in principle open to Crimea becoming Russian (and for good reason). So this wouldn't be as ridiculous as you make it sound, especially given Putin's rhetoric over the years and how salty he is about Kosovo.

But that's the whole point. A dragged out war steadily destroys Russian firepower and manpower.

That's one way of seeing it, but neither Russian firepower nor manpower should be thought of as a fixed finite resource. If Russia's current strategy does not work, it would be idiotic for it to keep its current strategy, so it will adapt. We know that it is capable of doing so, see e.g. the withdrawal at Kiev. If Russia were fighting an existential war for survival and had already pulled all the stops, steadily destroying Russia would be a viable strategy. But Russia has no interest in being steadily destroyed, and still has plenty of ways it could escalate, especially when it comes to actions that hurt the West.

At some point Ukraine probably goes "too far" and nukes may be used in Ukraine. At this point the US can either engage directly, continue support Ukraine or negotiate some kind of a deal for Ukraine. The first may start WW3. A deal would mean Putin wins. Continuing to support Ukraine would mean millions more dead. But it would be contained to Ukraine and Russia.

I'm so confused. So the endgame you would like is that Russia nukes Ukraine, but Ukraine keeps fighting Russia (who has nukes, and is willing to use them). Does this keep going until there is no Ukranian left to fight, at which point the US just sends drones to Ukraine to keep fighting? Are Ukranians more willing to die for their country than Japan was in 1945?

But it would be contained to Ukraine and Russia.

It's already not contained to Ukraine and Russia (see: the shattered remains of NS1 and NS2 on the sea floor), so even more magical thinking here. If Russia detonates a nuke in Ukraine, the best case is that absolute chaos breaks out in European cities.

Make a peace deal. Putin repeats after a couple of years and wins.

Why would he win in a few years if he cannot win now?

As I said before if Putin wins chances of WW3 become too high.

You really haven't explained this reasoning? So Putin "wins", and therefore decides to nuke Europe to celebrate?

You could easily solve the whole crisis by admitting Ukraine to NATO overnight with a condition that it recognizes 5 already annexed regions as Russian. But then again, unrealistic.

Russia would call that bluff the moment it was made.

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