RedMan's Comments

What Surprised Me About Entrepreneurship

Hy is amazing, and I want to learn more about your small data approach. I do not work in quant finance

What will the economic effects of COVID-19 be?

We need a rapid test to identify people with immunity, so they can go back to work.

Quarantine is worth it, hospitals are overwhelmed, but it is failing, and will continue to fail. The sooner we can identify people who have gotten it and recovered, then put those people to work in high exposure occupations, the sooner we can restart the economy.

The classes of treatment needed here are as follows:

Rapid pcr test: expensive, and needed for surveillance of key workers, as well as contact tracing. We have this, but it won't scale.

Vaccine: this enables eradication, but is a minimum of 18 months away, and the effort may fail

Post exposure prophylaxis: something given before or immediately after exposure that stops the disease in its tracks (healthcare workers need this, if antimalarials do the job, yay we know those are safe and effective prophylactically)

Symptomatic relief: something given when early symptoms show, which pregents the development of catastrophic symptoms (the malaria drug will hopefully fit this)

Catastrophic care: more and better ventilators and ways of managing ards/cytokine storm. Gl with this, we wanted it before thia crisis.

Rapid antibody test: identifies patients who are exposed. Two weeks after a positive test, if the patient hasn't been admitted to a hospital, it will be safe to say that that particular patient will not require that level of care and is probably no longer contagious.

We need the rapid antibody test, and we need about a billion of them, do rolling tests, if someone has a positive test and thinks they had symptoms > 1 week prior, return them to work and tell them to avoid anyone with a negative test for a week, if they can.

Rationalists, Post-Rationalists, And Rationalist-Adjacents

Is there a working definition for anti-rationalist?

The questions one needs not address

I think that people have to use abstractions and beliefs taken on faith just to exist in the world. I also think that if you are not really disciplined about stating your 'I just assume blank to be true' beliefs, you will end up with a bunch of unstated assumptions worming their way into your psyche that will lead you to weird and unhealthy places (would SSC categorize this as 'Moloch'?)

Puritanical sexual beliefs (those practiced by 1600s Puritans in Massachusetts Bay) are in my opinion a good example of potentially healthy, but utterly irrational dogmas. To summarize (I have a source somewhere):

Married sex is a sacrament, unmarried sex is a grave sin. (Married being a social state that is easy for two people to enter but hard for them to leave)

Conceiving children is important and good.

Both parties much achieve orgasm during the act of intercourse to conceive a child.

Lack of sexual satisfaction is grounds for divorce by either party.

The details of 'sex' are explicitly left undefined.

One of those beliefs (orgasm and conception) is objectively false, but may be socially useful. The others are simply communally agreed upon truths.

Rationalism that leads to nihilistic hedonism and acrasia seems like a bad idea, even if life is pointless and the universe is actively hostile. I think I'm in step with this community's ethos when I assert that most people accidentally end up with a variety of false beliefs. I think I break with the rest of this community in my assertion that maintaining carefully chosen, but objectively false, beliefs is a good idea.

Life has been way better since becoming an adherent of

You should try it!

More Dakka for Coronavirus: We need immediate human trials of many vaccine-candidates and simultaneous manufacturing of all of them

From a strictly lolbertarian perspective, good vaccines are a shitty business to be in, shitty vaccines are a great business to be in.

Real vaccine: capital intensive, may or may not succeed despite best efforts, side effects will probably be present, requires that you produce insane amounts and successfully market to every potential customer or it doesn't work. In the best case where you actually achieve maximum distribution, the pathogen is gone, and you'll never sell another one, so if you didn't profit in the first rush, you'll never see your money again.

Alex jones colloidal silver: I tell you it works, if you're not dead in a year, you're obviously another satisfied customer, here buy another bullshit vaccine from me.

Second product is better for the seller than the first, capital investment is zero, marketing cost can find efficiencies in cost per customer, repeat business is probable.

If you can come up with a business model that makes good vaccines profitable in the current environment, absent aggressive government subsidies, you should start that business and shout your model from the rooftops, because most people in biotech would (angrily) agree with my summary.

Source: have thrown this at many biotech executives and government officers involved in vaccine procuremrnt. Have gotten head nodding.

How can we protect economies during massive public health crises?

Here's the squeeze. Jobs slow down, people are told to quarantine, people who are paycheck to paycheck fail to make rent. People renting to them have mortgages, they don't get rent, they miss their mortgage payment.

That happens enough, bank is now a landlord, bank does not want to be a landlord, house rots, tenant is booted.

Same for a business, business operates on margin, customers stop paying, margin debts not paid, bank now owns failing business. Bank does firesale, functioning business is now a pile of auctioned off crap.

Monetary policy tools (zero interest rate overnight loans, no reserve requirement) don't trickle down to the masses. I can't get a zero interest loan, neither can anyone who is paycheck to paycheck, but I sure can get extortionate rates from a payday lender or a credit card! I also can't negotiate my existing rates to zero interest.

If someone wants a new loan for a new venture, now is a great time, maybe.

If you are the Fed and want to intervene to protect banks margins, do what you're doing. The banks now own a bunch of small businesses and houses. If you want to help small business owners and homeowners, maybe buy soon to be delinquent debt from the banks at a deep discount, forgive portions of it, sell it back to the banks at a profit later. Is this quantitative easing?

If you want to protect everyone...I have this idea and need to be told why it is dumb (seriously, not an economist, pretty sure this sucks just don't see why)

Use IRS estimates of income from the previous year, create 'universal economic manipulation fund'. Every month, everyone, based on tax bracket gets either a check or a bill, the amount is unknown prior to the end of the month. In fat years, everyone pays, in bad times when the Fed needs to "drop $100s from helicopters" the check is big, biggest at the bottom. Nobody can rely on it as a source of living expenses and become 'welfare or UBI dependent', but a sudden windfall gets spent instantly by people at the bottom and lets people do things like make rent, pay utility bills, and go grocery shopping.

Again, I'm sure this is stupid, I just don't see why. If it isn't stupid, please call someone wth access to Mnuchin and tell him.

Coronavirus Justified Practical Advice Summary

Plan: continue to avoid contact with others as practicable, if sick, treat at home exactly as I would any other flu-like illness (rest, electrolytes, etc), begin using pulse oximeter if sickness progresses to shortness of breath, if number hits 90 or less, put on n95 mask and go to hospital.

Assorted thoughts on the coronavirus

I made minimal lifestyle changes, made no unusual purchases, and did not participate in any of the shopping rushes.

I will continue grocery shopping as needed for perishable goods (which I expect to get cheaper) during off-peak hours (mostly empty means no need for me to burn a N95 mask--I have plenty), and my job has limited human contact and is unlikely to go bankrupt or otherwise cease to exist during the pandemic.

Unfortunately, as I now realize, I am a weirdo who is 'prepared' for this sort of thing at all times, and when this craziness ends, I should probably make a concerted effort to get out more.

Anyone else in the same boat?

What are good ways of convincing someone to rethink an impossible dream?
Answer by RedManMar 19, 202023

I have done this successfully, though I am not a success story myself, so I must accept that I can be seen as either a wise person dissuading people from stupid ideas, just as much as I can be seen as an idiot with no vision who would have told the beatles that the guitar is on the way out. This process takes a decent amount of emotional energy and probably isn't worth it in most cases.

Bring forward more enthusiasm for their ridiculous idea than they have, suggest concrete actions that they can take which will provide real feedback. They will either shrink from doing them (and be annoyed that you smile and ask them 'so have you ______ yet' without fail every single time they see you), or actually go and try it, hopefully failing early.

Here are some examples:

Guy has shitty movie idea he keeps pitching to everyone he knows (none of whom know anything about making movies), uses this to dominate conversations. I bought him a copy of 'Save the Cat' (didn't work), asked him what he was doing on a specific weekend ('nothing') and enthusiastically told him 'the (named) pitchfest is that weekend in burbank, plane tickets are $200 and the hotel is cheap AF, the whole trip costs less than I've seen you spend on stupid shit, you can really make this movie dream happen!!!!!!'

'thats an awesome app idea, let's get it working in an excel spreadsheet and see how it goes'

'thats an awesome product idea, grab a domain, put up a blank page, and spend $500(0 for the richer people) on google display network ads to drive traffic to an ad for the idea, see what your click numbers look like'

'oh yeah people would definitely pay for this art, throw up an ad on fiverr and see if you get any bites'

In every case, they either do it (rare, some people would rather have the identity as 'someone with ideas too good for the world' than having to actually risk failing at something and maybe losing that identity), or don't do it.

Three possible outcomes:

They do it, fail, and stop talking about it.

They don't do it, and stop talking about it because every time you bring it up, they get annoyed that they're being called out for being more talk than walk.

They do it and succeed, in which case, you were the person who believed in them and now a valued friend (also, you'll probably want them to keep talking about it, because the world has shown you that your model wasn't quite right)

I personally have some actually creative ideas (metric: can't find the idea expressed anywhere on the internet and experts in the relevant field say they have not seen it before), more 'almost' creative ideas (has been stated by a kook somewhere in the fringes), and a lot of misguided ideas (experts in the field have seen similar ideas many times from people new to the field) most are absolutely awful and none have made me rich. The ones directly related to my area of expertise are generally better than the ones which are not. The above advice for dealing with others mirrors the way I deal with my own ideas.

The ones I don't have the resources to test are available to anyone who cares to ask and possesses said resources btw.

I'm an undiscovered geniu...oh no.

March Coronavirus Open Thread

In the usa, much of the workforce is paycheck to paycheck and does not have paid leave or short term disability, and health issues are a common cause for bankruptcy. So the following is applicable to a lot of people who probably are not in this (rationalist/lesswrong) community:

If you don't work, you don't get paid, so you don't make rent. If you get quarantined by the state after a positive test, you don't go to work, you don't get paid, and you don't make rent. If you don't make rent, you probably will not have a place to live. If you end up in the hospital, you will probably go bankrupt, and may not have a place to live when you get out. Therefore with the incentives in front of you, take the following advice: 'do as you would normally, go to work no matter how you feel, do not under any circumstances get a coronavirus test, as that might provoke some authority to put you in a position where you cannot get paid.' This is particularly relevant if you live in a state that decides to be aggressive and punitive about quarantining.

Walmart appears to have realized this and is taking measures to adjust the incentives, but it's probably too little too late.

I also expect red states to adopt punitive legislation and pundits representing those communities to not understand why it makes things worse (I've seen right wing blog comments that go something like this: hurr in the days of bubonic plague communities in Italy bricked up houses around infected families, we r not hard enough nowdays durrr).

For the rest of us, recognize that when you interact with a gig worker or any other member of the public with those incentives, they have a high risk of exposure from the community, are unlikely to use PPE (not part of the uniform, not affordable, etc), and regardless of whether they are showing symptoms, will probably work until either prohibited from doing so, or physically unable to due to symptoms.

I'd prefer to live in a community that took effective large scale action (lock down access to vulnerable groups, mass test the healthy, and create strong incentives to self-isolate), but I don't so whatever.

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