Wiki Contributions


IMO, both U.S. and UK libel suits should both be very strongly discouraged, since I know of dozens of cases where organizations and individuals have successfully used them to prevent highly important information from being propagated, and I think approximately no case where they did something good (instead organizations that frequently have to deal with libel suits mostly just leverage loopholes in libel law that give them approximate immunity, even when making very strong and false accusations, usually with the clarity of the arguments and the transparency of the evidence taking a large hit).

(Unavoidably political, as lawsuits often are)

A central example of the court system broadly, and libel lawsuits narrowly, promoting better epistemics are the allegations that the 2020 election was fraudulent.

It is certainly not true that there are always loopholes that give immunity, see e.g. Fox News' very expensive settlement in Dominion v. Fox News.

More broadly: "Trump, his attorneys, and his supporters falsely asserted widespread election fraud in public statements, but few such assertions were made in court." The false allegations of fraud were dependent on things like hearsay, false claims that opponents weren't given a chance to respond to, and vague or unsupported claims; virtually all discussion on the internet, and this post in particular, feature all three; the court system explicitly bans these. (Note that people who can't support their case under legal standards of evidence often just settle or don't bring a case in the first place.)

I'm not disputing that specific people at Skunk Works believed that their tech was disliked for being good; but that's a totally insane belief that you should reject immediately, it's obviously self-serving, none of those people present any evidence for it, and the DoD did try to acquire similar technology in all these cases.

Again, this is a direct quote on procurement incentives from a guy who was involved on both the buy and sell side of the SR-71 back in the day.

This is quote from, per you, somebody from the CIA. The CIA and Air Force are different organizations; he was presumably not involved in the Air Force's decision not to acquire the F-12B. We have definitive proof that the Air Force's procurement decisions weren't necessarily opposed to high performing planes, since they had planned on acquiring different, but similarly capable, planes.

There's also a more gnarly philosophical issue here, in terms of the "insane" belief you're pointing to. I find it fairly plausible that individual commanders might have incentives that are different from those of the Navy, or the Air Force, as a whole, and that this might drive procurement decisions.

I am very confident that the book-length sequence you linked to doesn't contain a justification for the claim that "individual Air Force commanders hate fast planes". But if it does, please provide the actual justification instead of linking to a ~150 page book ("go read the sequences").

ETA: I may have misunderstood your point; if you instead meant literally just to justify the sentence you wrote, that principal-agent problems are possible, then I don't disagree; that does absolutely nothing to justify the specific claimed principal-agent problem.

Your discussion of Skunk Works is significantly wrong throughout. (I am not familiar with the other examples.)

For example, in 1943 the Skunk Works both designed and built America’s first fighter jet, the P80 Shooting Star, in just 5 months. Chief engineer Kelly Johnson worked with a scrappy team of, at its peak, 23 designers and 105 fabricators. Nonetheless, the resulting plane ended up being operationally used by the air force for 40 years.

The P80 was introduced in 1945; the US almost immediately decided to replace it with the F-86, introduced in 1949. The phrase "operationally used by the air force for 40 years" is only technically true because rather than scrap existing P80 production, they were modified slightly and used as training aircraft.

Our ship had a four-man crew — commander, helmsman, navigator and engineer. By contrast, a frigate doing a similar job had more than three hundred crewmen. ... Our stealth ship might be able to blast out of the sky a sizable soviet attack force, but in terms of an officer’s future status and promotion prospects, it was about as glamorous as commanding a tugboat. At the highest levels, the Navy brass was equally unenthusiastic about the small number of stealth ships they would need to defend carrier task forces. Too few to do anyone’s career much good in terms of power or prestige.

This is wrong. Their stealth ship wasn't able to "blast out of the sky a sizable soviet attack force", or to do literally anything; it was just a testbed for exploring automation and stealth hulls, totally incapable of doing anything. Skunk Works didn't actually successfully build anything here! (The stealth design was later used on the Zumwalt class of destroyers, which had unrelated issues.)

Not sure where he got the 300 crew figure from? Even beyond the fact that the Sea Shadow wasn't actually designed to do anything (and so would need more specialized crew to do so), the Sea Shadow was only a tenth of a the size of the frigates it's being compared with. (The Navy has since tried to use similar automation to reduce the crew of newer ships; the Gerald Ford class of aircraft carriers represent the realistically achievable reduction in crew via automation: 3,200 -> 2,600 or so, so ~20%.) (Note that this also trivially falsifies the claim that the Navy rejects automation to reduce crew sizes?)

"The Navy rejected our ship design because it was totally too good, you just gotta believe me, even though we've never ever successfully produced ships" is an insane thing for you to accept with zero evidence.

Yet Lockheed could barely sell [the SR-71]. As described by a CIA engineer inside the Skunk Works:

> ... But I never gave him much chance to sell a lot of those airplanes because they were so far ahead of anything else flying that few commanders would feel comfortable leading a Blackbird wing or squadron. I mean this was a twenty.-first-century performer delivered in the early 1960s. No one in the Pentagon would know what to do with it.

This is totally wrong. You are again putting forth the insane claim that people rejected Skunk Work's technology because of how good it was, with zero actual evidence of why the SR-71 wasn't mass produced.

The SR-71 (Mach 3.3, 85,000 feet) wasn't significantly better than planned contemporary planes like the B-70 (Mach 3.1, 77,350 feet) or the F-108 (Mach 3, 80,100 feet). Both of those planes were cancelled, because the development of missiles meant that flying higher and faster was no longer a viable strategy; since then, military planes like the the F-18 (Mach 1.8, 50,000 feet), and the F-35 (Mach 1.6, 50,000 feet) have often been lower and slower. This is a deliberate choice: unmanned, one-way missiles can always go faster than a manned plane. Most of the SR-71's advantages come not from it being inherently better than any possible missile, but from it being faster and higher than the planes early SAM's were intended to target; mass production and usage in other roles would inherently make this go away.

(To be clear, Skunk Works was successful and build many things successfully; it's specifically your claims and examples that are wrong. In particular, you left out most of their successful planes like the F-117.)


I'm pretty negative on how you fail to discuss any specific claim or link to any specific evidence, but you spend your longest paragraph speculating about the supposed bias of unnamed people.

You haven't really written enough to be clear, but I suspect that you have confused concentration camps with death or extermination camps? Regardless, the recent UN report did pretty specifically support claims of concentration camps- see points 37-57

I also found that, controlling for rents, the partisanship of a state did not predict homelessness (using the Partisan Voting Index)


This is not a useful way of looking at this; homelessness would be almost entirely controlled by city, not state, policies. State partisanship in large part measures not how blue or red the states' cities are, but rather how urban or rural the state as a whole is.

This, and the Bahrain/UAE cases, seem more likely to be driven by concerns about whether/how well the Chinese vaccines work?

On the other hand, look at the US wars in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. The outcomes of these wars were determined much more by political forces (in both of the relevant countries) than by overwhelming force.

Insurgencies aren't a good comparison for conventional wars like the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The overall thrust here seems like an application of Clausewitz's maxim that "war is the extension of politics by other means". However, the specific politics suggested seem very unrealistic.

  • You suggest ways to impact Azerbaijan's internal politics by targeting harm to specific groups. I see no reason to believe that Armenia had any substantial ability to deal much harm to Azerbaijan at all, so this isn't relevant. In general, it would be much harder for Armenia to advance to deal significant damage to Azerbaijan's homeland than it would be to defend.
  • Assassinations are practically universally a bad way to change a country's politics; they usually result in a direct backfire.
  • Your advice seems to lack object-level knowledge of the conflict itself; in particular, Azerbaijan is not a liberal democracy; its current leader has been in power for decades, and won ~86% of the vote in the most recent election.
  • The second Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was indeed a populist war: the two main causes were racial conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and the result of the First Nagorno-Karabakh war, in which Armenia overran and occupied Nagorno-Karabakh. "We will end racism against us" is not in fact a realistic short-term plan; it would take decades to have relevance. Resolving the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh would presumably involve returning Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan; this is not a good plan for retaining Nagorno-Karabakh! More generally, you can usually prevent a war by just giving in, and maybe Armenia should have given that they lost the war. It's also not politically realistic, given Armenia's domestic politics.
  • Your plans for improving Armenia's popularity in Azerbaijan (a) wouldn't stop the war, (b) likely wouldn't help end the war, and (c) are irrelevant to actually existing war, since they assume that Armenia is overrunning Azerbaijan, occupying their citizens, taking significant numbers of prisoners, etc.
  • It is not clear to me how Armenia would go about creating a recession or a famine in Azerbaijan?
  • Pretty much all of these plans are underspecified outcomes, not realistic plans. For example, for "we should do propaganda" you haven't specified what Armenia should have actually done for it to matter. *In practice*, actually Azerbaijan had an *overwhelming* advantage in propaganda, making use of new channels like TikTok and Youtube to quickly disseminate videos of military successes.

So how should Armenia have retained Nagorno-Karabakh?  Given that Azerbaijan is about 3 times its size, and that it has substantial oil reserves that can be used to fund military spending, Armenia would have little chance on its own. Even worse, Azerbaijan is supported by their co-ethnics in Turkey, which is vast and wealthy in comparison to both states; Armenia would not realistically have been able to disrupt this relationship.

Armenia would need a powerful patron to counter this. Three options:

  • Iran supported Armenia in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, but developed closer ties with Azerbaijan more recently. I don't know how realistic blocking this would be, I'm not very familiar with regional politics.
  • Russia has also historically backed Armenia, but didn't intervene until late in the conflict (Russian peacekeepers are now in the region). This was likely for two reasons: first, Russia is already somewhat overstretched, with concerns in ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Syria, and Libya. Second, Armenia's 2018 Revolution brought to power a more democratic government that leaned away from Russia and towards the West. The answer here would be for Armenia to become a more dependent Russian client state, although this may have been impossible for domestic political reasons. Armenia will likely now pursue this strategy.
  • Armenia has an extensive diaspora in the West, which it used to mobilize political support; using the diaspora and the Armenian realignment towards the West to secure military aid and security guarantees could have been useful, although in practice I don't think Armenia could have secured anything of much significance.

The source article is here. The numbers are not how much of the total the subgroups make up, they are how quickly each subgroup is growing. The text continues:

The number critically ill with covid-19 in that age group grew by about 30% in the week before January 2nd, and also in the following week—but by just 7% in the week after that (see chart 2). By contrast, among those aged between 40 and 55 (who were vaccinated at a much lower rate at the time) the weekly change in the number of critically ill remained constant, with a 20-30% increase in each of those three weeks.

Load More