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The track record of survey-based macroeconomic forecasting

"For mature and well-understood economics such as that of the United States, consensus forecasts are not notably biased or inefficient. In cases where they miss the mark, this can usually be attributed to issues of insufficient information or shocks to the economy."

Maybe it's the allure of alarmism, but aren't we mostly concerned with predicting catastrophe? This is kind of like saying you can predict the weather except for typhoons and floods.

How long will Alcor be around?

It's fair to assume that a Cryonics company would be set up to endure in the long term. Otherwise they dramatically reduce the number of people willing to sign up. This is different from a startup tech company who does not have to promise its investors and consumers that it will be around for the next 50 years. It's kind of like the opposite of a netflix account. This should give us a lot of hope because even Netflix seems to be pretty robust.

Additionally, just because a company goes out of business doesn't mean that all its capital is thrown away. You liquidate factories and equipment etc. It's been pointed out that frozen people are a "liability", but this is dependent on the contract you pay with the company.

If your estate is set up to pay $X to whatever organization is housing you, then it stands to reason that cryonics companies could move frozen bodies around.

The question is not "will my cryonics company go bankrupt", but whether the entire cryonics industry will cease to exist. That seems pretty unlikely as we become MORE technologically advanced...

The Problem of "Win-More"

The real problem with "win-more" cards is that they're conditional. Being conditionally good is a common criticism of many magic cards. The advice to new players is simple: think about how likely these conditions are to be met. If they can't make this estimate, copy a more experienced player's opinion.

It's also possible that a "win-more" card is also just a decent card even when you're not winning. For example, if you play MTG now, you'll know that 2 desecration demons on the play against G/R monsters is both very good, and that the second demon is "win more".

So I don't really see a problem with playing "win more" cards. The problem is playing too many conditional cards.

What legal ways do people make a profit that produce the largest net loss in utility?

How do you measure arms-race type goods? For example, the world would be better off without any nuclear weapons. However the world is made better off if several reasonable countries can obtain nuclear weapons to serve as deterrents to others using them.

A similar analysis exists for guns.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

See Yvain's post on Schelling Fences on Slippery Slopes.

This is not a blanket reason to defend all ideologies against censorship. The analysis of many religions also implicitly assumes that there is no cost to tolerating competing religions, whereas there is a definite cost to hearing out many of the worst political ideologies.

It's almost as if the slippery slope works both ways. If you can't filter anything, your energy is drained by a thousand paper cuts.

You do realize that most people have the same opinion about the Singularity?

I wasn't aware that the general public was angry about Singularity nerds. I was talking more about like teenage neo-nazis. Extremely high probability to contribute nothing, piss a bunch of people off, and waste all our time.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

Therefore it is particularly important that we are able to evaluate all ideas as accurately as we can, and particularly important not to spread lies, etc.

Okay, so, we don't know what the right answer is. But we know what the right answer ISN'T, right? We know that Westboro Baptist Church isn't going to lead the human race into a new golden age. Why not try to limit their influence?

And even if there were some seemingly bad ideas that could, through some twist, actually be good ideas, there are still nonzero costs to considering them. Like if there is a 0.00001% chance it is "the answer", but a 99.99999% chance to waste everyone's time and making some people angry, we should probably discard it. Why waste time when we can pursue that handful of ideas that have a much higher chance of improving the world?

But if the fate of the human race hangs in the balance, then you can afford the luxury of that assumption.

I'm going to assume you meant that you can't afford the luxury of that assumption, and actually yes I can. In fact, I have no choice. I have a finite amount of computational power and if I go through all possible permutations of ideas then the probability of me coming out with The Right Answer becomes vanishingly small. Instead, I can apply some very defensible heuristics to write off huge sections of thought wholesale. I should focus my efforts on ideas that are not obviously wrong.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

Simple examples of playing dirty:

  • Someone links a URL but it is broken in an obvious way. If you truly interested in arguing for the sake of argument, you could fix the URL and go to their link. But you could also take the opportunity to complain that they are just wasting your time and aren't really serious.

  • Sometimes, there is a finite amount of time or space for your opponents to reply to you in. You can pick arguments whose articulation is economic, but whose rebuttal is not. This puts a huge volumetric burden on them such that they will be unlikely to be able to reply to all your points. Later you can point out that they "ignored many of your best arguments". This is an old debater's trick.

  • You're going to have a live debate online for a public audience. 45 minutes beforehand, you receive an e-mail from your opponent indicating that they are having difficulty connecting to Skype and suggest the debate be moved to Omegle. You can play nice and get the debate to happen, or you can pretend that you didn't see the e-mail in time and then gloat that your opponent didn't show up because of "technical difficulties" har har har.

  • Abuse the last word. If you're in the final stretch of a debate, bring up new issues that your opponent cannot address because they are out of time. This technique is actually heavily penalized in high school debate competitions, but people get away with it regularly because adults are more biased than teenagers.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

Addressing the most stupid of opposition's arguments is not an enlightened way of discussion, but it's still way better than manufacturing and spreading widely false statistics.

You seem to be confused. Both of the things you mentioned are examples of "playing dirty".

If the other side played equally dirty, we would see articles like: "Did you know that 95% of violent crimes are committed by Social Justice Warriors?" or "Woman is most likely to get raped at the feminist meeting (therefore, ladies, you should avoid those meetings, and preferably try to ban them at your campus)".

But this is a very stupid way to play dirty because it is transparent and can backfire. Making a public example of the other side's inarticulate idiots is extremely unlikely to backfire.

Just leaving a hint: Imagine how a successful support for a false statistics could be used to design an ironic revenge at the very person who supported it.]

Just a hint: If you are using consequentialist arguments against playing dirty, then you are open to playing dirty if you can be shown it works. I submit to you that you have a failure of imagination.

I hope this sufficiently illustrates that the belief that the other side already is fighting as dirty as they can, and you cannot give them ideas by fighting dirty yourself, is completely false.

Strategic mimicry is not one of my arguments. You seem to be arguing with someone else. Regardless, see the "consequentialist" point above.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

Just think about how much more persuasive fighting dirty sounds if the whole fate of the human race hangs in the balance. As is, there is an underlying assumption that we have infinite time to grind down our opposition with passive logical superiority.

LINK: In favor of niceness, community, and civilisation

I don't understand all the consequentialist arguments against playing dirty. If your only objections are practical, then you're open to subtle dirty maneuvers that have very high payoffs.

A really simple example of this would be to ignore articulate opponents and spend most of your energy publicly destroying the opposition's overzealous lowest-common-denominators. This is actually how most of politics works...

... and also how this conversation seems to be working, since the Scott Alexander side seems more intent on arguing through hyperbole than addressing the actual spirit of what is being suggested. A simple example could be to deliberately misinterpret what the other side is saying, and force them to clarify themselves ad nauseam until they run out of energy, "conceding" the issue by default.


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