PhD in math. MIRI Summer Fellow in 2016. Worked as a professor for a while, now I run my family's business.

Wiki Contributions


I agree that this is a risk, but I'm not sure whether it's the main risk. Another risk is that if somebody gets access to the encrypted store, they can use it to steal all your passwords.

I read a lot of Derek Lowe early in the pandemic and regard him highly, but in this case I think he's wrong. Going through the comments of Lowe's post, I came across a link to this essay by a distinguished biologist, Stephen Salzberg, at Johns Hopkins agreeing with Zvi's perspective.

Salzberg is a computational biologist, not a virologist, but he's a distinguished professor at a prestigious school and does not seem to be on the fringe politically as far as I can tell  If anybody knows more about him, please let me know. 

Overall, experts seem to be split on this matter. Which is strong enough evidence for me that the research should have been disallowed or at least regulated to the highest security level. The risks are just too great relative to what was learned from the research.

I have written a letter to my representative in the House encouraging her to legislate more restrictions on gain of function research and referencing the article linked above.

This is a fascinating essay that made me think of some of my personal experiences with having my boundaries violated in a new light. Thank you.

You pointed out that just asking for consent can be costly. I think an important social/communication/culture technology to consider is how to make consent requests less costly and/or less frequently necessary, while still allowing a strong social norm around consent.. For instance, having meta-discussions about consent with your friends or meta-rules about consent in your social group or community, that are organized in such a way that asking for consent is seen as easy. Giving close friends broad consent to a wide range of acts, and occasionally checking in on that over time. Etc.

I agree that living conditions are better today than several decades ago and worse today than 3 years ago.

That being said, I have seen a lot of mixed evidence and arguments about long covid and haven't figured out how to best think about it.

I'm confused by your use of "no longer" above. I don't believe we have ever lived in such a world., even before covid. We live in such a world to less of an extent now than we did before. Covid is one more thing that sometimes doesn't turn out ok in the end. But there are many other such thing, including many other diseases.

Could you provide more details on getting Paxlovid? My understanding was that it was only authorized for people with certain health conditions.

I agree that the degree of air circulation within the terminal is an important factor. I'm not certain that the terminal is safer than the plane, but I think more likely than not the terminal is safer.

This link from my previous comment is not exactly a peer reviewed article, but it suggests that the difference in air replacement rate in a well-ventilated versus poorly-ventilated space (the terms they use for mixture of the air, not for air change rate) is only about a factor of 3. Of course, there are different degrees of poor ventilation.

I would be really interested to hear the perspective of somebody with greater expertise in the relevant engineering and physics.

Airplanes do an excellent job circulating air, and are relatively safe places to be. Your risk in the terminal and the taxi greatly exceeds your risk on the plane.


I used to agree with this. But I recently realized it likely isn't true. Consider the following:

So if the airport terminal is about 30 times less crowded than an airplane (as measured by number of people per unit volume of air), then all else being equal, the risk of covid for each hour spent in the terminal would be comparable to that in the airplane. It's more complicated because the air in the airplane is mixed better than in the terminal most likely.  But I think the airplane is actually way more crowded than the terminal, by a factor orders of magnitude larger than 30.  Airport terminals typically have high ceilings. Overall, I think the terminal is much safer per unit time than the airplane, even considering the better ventilation on the airplane. 

On top of that, the air filtration on an airplane is often turned off while the airplane is sitting at the gate.

Regarding more people declining the second shot than the first shot, my best guess would be that people took the first shot, and either they themselves or one of their acquaintances had an extremely bad side effect, either actual or perceived, so they decided not to take the second shot. I know one person who followed this reasoning. Her husband fell ill after his vaccination with unclear causes, and she attributed it to the vaccine. She finally did decide to get her second shot and booster recently.

Another possibility could be that some financial incentives incentivized the first shot but not the second shot.

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