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Caplan's thought experiment does seem confused to me, so I'm not sure exactly what his position is and I'm not confident that it's coherent. But his being told of the prediction in advance is a very deliberate feature of the thought experiment, so I don't think you can make it testable by removing that.

As for whether being owned at RPS should surprise him, or should in general shake the confidence of a free-will libertarian -- I can't imagine anyone having failed to notice that better-than-chance predictions of human behaviour are often possible, so I still don't see why a direct demonstration of this would threaten their beliefs. Any thoughtful free-will libertarian must have a theory that is (believed to be) compatible with partial predictability.

We could reduce this risk by wearing helmets while driving, yet no one does.

Arguments like this, while strictly about consistency, tend to implicitly take the correctness of the status quo for granted. Unless you have thoroughly evaluated all of your current habits, this is unjustified. I'd prefer to be inconsistent and sometimes right than consistently wrong. 

Caplan is definitely aware that people are at least somewhat predictable at least some of the time. Why would his beliefs be challenged by the existence of rock-paper-scissors players who are good at predicting their opponents' choices? I'm not playing dumb here, it really doesn't make sense to me.

(He also strikes me as the sort of person who, given sufficient incentive, would run a randomised strategy. But that's a sidenote.)

To add to Raemon's reply: there are also browser extensions that allow you select text on the page (including input fields) and encode/decode it by selecting 'rot13' from the right-click context menu. In Chrome I use this one, which works fine (but I haven't looked at the code or anything, so I can't actually guarantee there's nothing dodgy about it).

Even if the alternative is minimal exposure but regular vaccination? I would have expected that to give most of the immunity boost at significantly lower risk. 

One thing I'm not clear on is the effect of exposure that doesn't lead to a detectable infection. (I mean a situation where a person has definitely breathed in or otherwise ingested some virus particles, but they don't last long enough or multiply sufficiently to cause symptoms or register on a test.) My current impression is that it probably tends not to make any significant difference to the body's ability to deal with subsequent exposures, but I haven't seen strong evidence either way. (It seems like observational studies would struggle to distinguish between those casual contacts who breathed in some virus and those who didn't; and for household contacts who ~certainly must have got some virus in them, but didn't get infected, it would be hard to tease out the protective effect of this exposure from the selection effect.)

I have returned to normal life and am essentially ignoring Covid risk going forward.


what's the alternative? Covid's not going to go anywhere. You can live your life or you can... never live your life and hide in your apartment forever.

This seems to require the premise that ~all of the risk comes from your first covid infection (or perhaps from your first few). If that were true, then most people would indeed have to choose between accepting that risk or living an extremely restricted lifestyle indefinitely. But if it's not true, the huge middle ground between 'precautions necessary to avoid covid forever' and 'precautions necessary to significantly reduce the number of times you get covid' comes into play.

There's also the value of buying time. Our understanding of covid will only grow, and the future could bring any or all of much more effective vaccines, much more effective treatments, and new knowledge that meaningfully changes your personal risk calculation. In the first two cases, avoiding covid for [unpredictable but finite length of time] could have similar value to avoiding covid entirely, even if we never come close to literally eradicating it.

What gives?

Some people may simply have been nerd-sniped, but the OP does seem to present the air conditioner thing as a real piece of evidence, not just a shallow illustrative analogy. When they get literal at the end, they say:

admittedly I did not actually learn everything I need to know about takeoff speeds just from air conditioner ratings on Amazon. It took a lot of examples in different industries.

Also, given that the example was presented with such high confidence, and took up a significant portion of a post that was otherwise only moderately detailed, I don't think it's unreasonable for people's confidence in the poster and the post to drop if the example turns out to be built on a misunderstanding. 

(I'm not suggesting the OP was right or wrong, I have no object-level knowledge here.)

The reason I don't find this explanation satisfying is that it didn't need to be a 'failed' policy; the policy was very successful in suppressing/eliminating the virus during the first couple of years, while vaccines were developed, treatments improved, and uncertainty about severity reduced. 

Did the Chinese government really intend to keep covid out of the country forever? At least since the emergence of Omicron it must have been clear how difficult and costly that would be.  

And if 'failure' in that sense is inevitable, why not get ahead of the news and celebrate the success of the early response, while framing the next phase as necessary and at least partially controlled, rather than letting it look like defeat and a loss of control?

Gwern writes elsewhere in this comment section that this may be a critical and precarious year in Xi Jinping's career. So perhaps the simplest explanation is that he is desperate to defer any appearance of failure or weakness, believing that he is vulnerable now but will soon be in a better position to ride out the consequences.

I can't speak for the other commenter, but 'planning for' might have been intended in the sense of 'planning to respond to' (or at least to have been ambiguous between that and the more sinister meaning)

That's not how things work.

I expect you're right, but can you elaborate? For the sake of discussion, suppose it was accidentally released but deliberately created. Couldn't the 'designers' of such a virus have knowledge about its capacities that might elude outside researchers?

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