All of sjs's Comments + Replies

The "Spot the Fakes" Test

My favorite example of this kind of phenomenon is water quality. Everyone and their mother claims they can taste the difference between tap water, tap water filtered through a Brita, and bottled water (and some people are even dumb enough to say that they prefer one brand of bottled water over another). But give them a blind taste test (very easy to perform at home – I encourage you all to do it), and nobody even tries to discern the difference – they usually admit immediately that they taste no difference between the waters.

I just performed this experiment, agreeing with the general point but still moderatly confident I'd be able to tell the difference.

I couldn't.

The Tragedy of the Anticommons

If you're sympathetic to libertarian ideas, I'm surprised you're not interested in furthering discussion about libertarian approaches to spectrum allocation and land use and transportation policy. What mainstream websites/blogs/pundits do you know of who give anything more than a passing mention of these issues? I find that these issues in particular (IP not so much) are woefully neglected by...just about everyone. Even libertarian organizations (Reason magazine and foundation come to mind) often have very statist stances when it comes to land use and spectrum regulation.

If you're sympathetic to libertarian ideas, I'm surprised you're not interested in furthering discussion about libertarian

"A fanatic is someone who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." Not every conversation on the Internet has to be about libertarianism. Anyone who can't accept that about any of their pet topics is a commenter we can't afford to have.

2thomblake12yNotice you didn't mention 'human rationality' at all. From our vague semi-non-official guidelines []:
Closet survey #1

I think bisexuality is present (but not ubiquitous) in women, and extremely rare in men.

8wedrifid10yI agreed with you as far as this. As for the rest it seems unlikely that our genetics implement a complete jump from male desiring to female desiring with no grey area (sweet spot?) in between.
8Broggly10ySo why is bisexuality so common in women? Why don't you think female bisexuals are lesbians in denial, or under duress to sleep with women? I just don't see how women who have sex with both men and women enjoy it but men who have sex with both men and women are clearly just keeping up appearances.

So he's been out as bisexual for twenty years, slept with dozens of women and dozens of men in that time, is currently sleeping with four different women and showing every sign of enjoying it lots, and you think he's 100% gay? Are you sure your beliefs about this are paying rent?

The Tragedy of the Anticommons

I wouldn't want to be so absolute and say there is no such thing as the tragedy of the commons, but I am saying that I think it's vastly overblown, and that in most cases when it's invoked, it isn't actually present.

-1AndySimpson12yYou're right about that: Many people use the spectre of the tragedy of the commons ad nauseum to sound clever and insulate their own ideological attachments to property rights and private ownership. Usually, when there's a commons, some sturdy, democratic, responsive trustee entity or market can take care of problems of overuse.
The Tragedy of the Anticommons

As is all too common, though, with eminent domain, often the government is (surprise!) not very good at playing real estate developer, and the land that is seized is not put to very good use. A great example of this is with the property that was taken in the Kelo case, which to this day remains undeveloped.

2Technologos12yIronically, the government wasn't actually the real estate developer in this case. In fact, this was the point of the Kelo case; government has long had the power to take land for public use, and the case was about whether the government could act as something of a coercive coordinator for collecting land for private development. Of course, had the case not taken several years to resolve, who knows what might have happened. There are plenty of these anti-commons cases in real life, however; in my Law and Economics class we discussed a similar one in Russia, where nobody occupied the stores in a particular street because the requisite property rights were too difficult to collect, so everybody was forced into stalls right in front of the stores.
The Tragedy of the Anticommons

The purported reason for each of these government interventions is to enforce property rights where they don't exist.

No doubt. I'm not ignoring the tragedy of the commons, though – I'm just saying that I have yet to see compelling evidence that it actually exists.

A free-for-all spectrum might have some interference, but then again, the concept of "interference" is a bit dated anyway, as modern technology can much more effectively filter it out than it could when the Titanic sunk (which was when we got a lot of these spectrum regulations in the f... (read more)

3thomblake12yCurious about the downvoting of parent. It's concise, informative, well-argued (in a sense), and contains references for further reading. It therefore seems like a candidate for the top 20 or so comments we've had so far.
2PaulG12yAre you saying that there is no incidence of the tragedy of the commons at all, or just that these things are not tragedies of the commons? If it's the latter, I think it's pointless to argue the specifics of any particular examples when the broader point still stands. When there is a tragedy of the commons, one possible solution is to create property rights so that incentives align with social optima, but the problem of the tragedy of the anticommons can arise if the property rights you create are too strong. In practice, there will be cases where you don't want to try to re-align incentives. If you have a situation where you are going to be naturally close to the social optimum (maybe the spectrum or the skyline are good examples of this - I'm not familiar with these cases intimately), then unless you have a well-calibrated government you are more likely than not to over-shoot the social optimum. If you have something that's seriously misaligned - maybe people burning huge amounts of neurotoxin-containing wood and wearing a mask or something - you might overshoot or undershoot the social optimum, but even a poorly-calibrated government might be able to get you closer.
The Tragedy of the Anticommons

Covenants can only exist if there's a party to enforce them. And that party has to be paid, since preventing people from doing something costs money. Unfortunately, often the government takes that job upon itself (as in Houston).

A more realistic and free market-oriented approach would be to force people who want access to their neighbor's property it! Sure, it would encourage people to own larger plots of land, but given the inherent perils of homeownership, I'm not entirely sure that converting a nation of homeowners to a nation of renters would be such a bad idea.

The Tragedy of the Anticommons

Something interesting about the tragedy of the anticommons is that it is created entirely by government. Intellectual property, spectrum allocation, and zoning/land use regulations would not exist in an anarchic world. I've heard incredibly cogent and compelling arguments against each type of government-created "market," and it's a damn shame that people look at you like you're a crazed lunatic when you suggest that either a) people shouldn't be granted monopolies on ideas and mathematical equations (i.e., computer code); b) the government shou... (read more)

5PaulG12yIt sounds to me like you are ignoring the Tragedy of the Commons there, though. The purported reason for each of these government interventions is to enforce property rights where they don't exist. I think the whole point of this post about the tragedy of the anticommons is to illustrate that you are finding an optimum, not a single limit. The fact that all of these things mentioned here are created by government (and I am not sure that you've proven that tragedies of the anticommons can't arise naturally) just gets to the point that you can easily over-correct for a failure of natural incentives, which means that you should probably be putting some thought into designing feedback mechanisms to naturally find the optima that you are looking for.
6CarlShulman12y"Something interesting about the tragedy of the anticommons is that it is created entirely by government." Watch out for the affective death spiral. If we had no zoning regulation and no restrictions on contractual disposition of land property rights, we'd get a crazy-quilt of restrictive covenants.
Closet survey #1

I don't believe in male bisexuality, though I do believe in it for women.

3AndyCossyleon8yFrom your other comments, I believe you're confusing "I don't believe men who say they are bisexual" with "I don't believe men can be bisexual." It's clear to me that, in American society at least, the majority of bisexual men are to be found among the ranks of men who would never identify as anything but straight, sometimes even to the men they have sex with(!). Conversely, many of the men that DO identify as bisexual are merely finding a graceful way to transition to a homosexual love life. Thus, that a man who identifies as bisexual is mostly likely gay may be true (though I doubt it--especially among men who have been out as bisexual for more than, say, 5 years) is not an indication that male bisexuality doesn't exist--only that self-professed bisexuality is scantily coterminous with a bisexual orientation in males. Being wrong in the way that you are wrong will probably not damage the accuracy of your insight when conversing with individuals about their sexuality (you'll correctly assign a high probability to his being gay if he says he's bisexual), but it probably WILL damage that accuracy when analyzing human populations in the abstract (you'll incorrectly assign a low probability to the existence of large ranks of males who engage in and enjoy sexual relations with both men and women).
4Sengachi8yI am a male bisexual. I believe this with a high level of probability, primarily due to my ability to have erections from naked or sexual pictures of both genders. Also the fact that I have felt heavy romantic interest for both genders would seem to indicate that this is very possible. If you want documented research done into male bisexuality, look into the research of Alfred Kinsey. He researched all forms of sexuality extensively, and was a male bisexual himself. Edit: Also, the society I have been raised in has practically no instances of homophobia, so I don't believe that could be a factor.
3RichardKennaway11yIf it's not against the implicit rules of this thread to ask, on what evidence do you believe this? BTW, it may not be obvious, but I can tell you that ciphergoth is not talking about a hypothetical example.
3MichaelBishop12yDefine bisexuality.
3Hans12yVoted up from -1 because I want you to clarify. Do you believe that bisexuality in women is ubiquitous, while not ubiquitous, but present in some men? Or that it is completely absent in men, but present though not ubiquitous in women? Or any other combination of absent, present or ubiquitous in either women or men?
8Paul Crowley12yYou believe it's much rarer than female bisexuality, or you believe there are literally zero instances? If you met a man who had slept with several men and several women and continued to sleep with both, what would you tend to assume about his sexuality?
Talking Snakes: A Cautionary Tale

She sounds like someone who has never seen a monkey.

But more seriously, given that she's never met a creationist, it's unlikely that she's ever actually read anything at all about it, or heard a cogent argument. On the contrary, you (and probably a lot of other atheists in the world) are comparatively very knowledgeable about religions, have probably read about as much of the Bible/Koran/Torah/etc. as most believers, and likely even have parents who believe in a god. Being an atheist in many societies requires a sort of active choice – one that most children of believers don't take.

If there were books on the science (or even theology) of talking snakes, I'd be glad to read them.