PeterMcCluskey

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Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work

Yes, Scott's first 25% appears to be only about preventing infection.

Covid 2/18: Vaccines Still Work

These two numbers being identical thus suggests Scott doesn’t see it that way, and in particular that he’s thinking that if it doesn’t work in a hospital (or doesn’t work in a hospital for any given reasonable dosing method) it also doesn’t work as a supplement.

I don't imagine Scott thinks that. I assume the most important difference is between vitamin D working to prevent infections, versus vitamin D preventing serious harm given infection.

Could the difference between the Spain and Brazil studies be due to bigger vitamin D deficiencies in Spain?

Book review: The Geography of Thought

That might have some interesting implications for where mind uploading will initially become popular.

How would free prediction markets have altered the pandemic?

Here are some pairs of contracts that would have been informative last spring:

  • Vaccinations in 2020 if human challenge trials are started by June 1.

  • Vaccinations in 2020 if human challenge trials are not started by June 1.

  • COVID deaths in 2020 if rapid at-home tests are approved by July 1.

  • COVID deaths in 2020 if rapid at-home tests are not approved by July 1.

  • COVID deaths in 2020 if most states keep schools closed all year.

  • COVID deaths in 2020 if most states reopen schools in September.

  • Vaccinations in winter 2021 if vaccine manufacturers are paid at least $1000 per dose for the first 10 million doses.

  • Vaccinations in winter 2021 if vaccine manufacturers are paid at most $100 per dose for the first 10 million doses.

Some contracts that would have been informative in October:

  • COVID deaths in 2021 if state health agencies are put in charge of most vaccinations.
  • COVID deaths in 2021 if drug stores are put in charge of most vaccinations.
  • COVID deaths in 2021 if hospitals are put in charge of most vaccinations.

It would likely require decades of advocacy by prediction market supporters before mainstream opinion shapers feel constrained to acknowledge that these markets constitute expert opinions. But if they did acknowledge that expertise enough for it to alter government policies, I'd guess that 2 or 3 of those policy changes would have cut COVID deaths by about 10% each.

ESRogs's Shortform

I'm unsure why you'd expect anything to be better than pure plays such as shorting bond or Eurodollar futures.

I expect the effects on value minus growth to be rather small.

If you're betting that rising rates will be due to increased inflation, more than rising real rates, then it's worth looking at companies that have borrowed at low long-term rates. Maybe shipping companies (dry bulk?), homebuilders, airplane leasing companies?

Maybe ask him when was the right time for doctors to start having an opinion about whether smoking is unhealthy?

Benefits of "micro-tracking" for personal health measurements?

For food, I've found macro-tracking to be sustainable for 5+ years, whereas I would not be willing to sustain micro-tracking for more than a few weeks.

Anti-Aging: State of the Art

Baze has technology for cheaper and more convenient blood tests. So far they're only using it to sell vitamins. I presume regulatory obstacles are delaying more valuable uses.

Where do (did?) stable, cooperative institutions come from?

I've put together some guesses about what's important for US competence as a nation, loosely based on ideas from WEIRDest People and Where is my Flying Car?.

Human societies likely default to small groups that fragment (due to disagreements) if they grow much above 20 people.

Over the past 10 millennia or so, it has become common to use extended ties of kinship to scale up to the Dunbar number, and sometimes well beyond that.

Western civilization scaled up to unprecedented levels of trust and cooperation via a set of fairly new cultural features: moral universalism, use of impartial rules rather than contextual particularism, the expectation of supernatural punishment for undetected crimes, more emphasis on analytical thinking, and more positive-sum thinking.

The US has been partly held together by a shared religion, whose teachings promote trust between co-religionists, and which also encourage treating others as potential converts.

Shared enemies (Nazis, Communism, maybe briefly Islam) created additional, but temporary, boosts to cooperation within the English speaking world. Some of the polarization we've recently experienced is just a return to patterns that were previously common. If that were most of what's going wrong, I'd be fairly optimistic about the future of the US.

Over the past few decades, the US has experienced a decline in religion (or a least in a shared religion).

Science got too aggressive about demanding that we disbelieve any knowledge beyond what scientific journals would publish. That eroded beliefs in supernatural phenomena, and also eroded beliefs in the religion(s) that helped to promote large-scale trust and cooperation.

Science didn't succeed in replacing religion with something more rigorous. Instead, new quasi-religions sprouted (e.g. Green fundamentalism, and the cult of Trump). They're optimized more for features such as compatibility with forager instincts, than the ability to promote prosperity.

In contrast, the Protestant religion was selected in part for its ability to foster cooperation between distant strangers.

I'm concerned that many US problems of the past few decades (including The Great Stagnation) can only be solved by something like a return to being a Christian nation. The tension between Science and Christianity seems strong enough that it's hard to see how that is feasible.

Another problem is that democracy has morphed from a tool, to a goal in itself.

That has undercut the authority of political parties. They used to have near total control over what candidates were on the ballot. Then, starting around 1970, there was a massive shift toward direct voter control over who each party nominated.

That made it harder to hold any institution accountable for political results. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that this trend started around the same time as The Great Stagnation. It seems correlated with reduced trust in authority in general, although I can't tell whether this is a cause or effect.

WEIRDest People also claims that WEIRD cultures have produced lower testosterone levels, via monogamy. That's important, since it reduces impulsivity, reduces competitive urges, and increases positive-sum thinking.

But testosterone seems to have decreased over the past few decades, so the US ought to be in a better position than most societies to rebuild institutions.

I'm maybe 90% confident that the US still has enough competence to postpone collapse and civil war for a few decades.

It seems like there should be some research on how companies, nonprofits, etc. scale up past the Dunbar number. But I'm unclear whether it's relevant to groups as big as the US, but WEIRDest People has led me to expect that the optimal approach for a group of 300 million people will be rather different from the optimal approach for 200,000 people.

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